of them – gracious! Could I manage it? Would they speak together or separately?
Should I look at one as I asked a question of the other? Were the Wright
brothers to be regarded as a single being or could I charge the Sunday
World for TWO interviews?
(What ho, a brilliant thought!)
were to leave for Boston
at 8 and had made hurried arrangements to give me a few minutes between
dinner and train time – a flying talk with
the flying men, so to speak.
a brave background for the interview – lots of marble and onyx and
sweeping palms with troops of well-fed hotel guests marching and
countermarching digestively to the strains of an embowered band.
and by they came up from the grill, MM. Wright frères, as
they say in France, and ambled unhappily in my direction, keeping close
together for moral support and looking as if they devoutly wished the roof
would open and let them fly away in a Wright biplane–indeed, I believe
they’d have strapped themselves to a monoplane or even a sufficiently
know that feeling so well my heart fairly ached for those young men, but
just the same it gave me a malicious satisfaction for once to see the
other side do the suffering, leaving me to play the self-possessed part.
I did. My dears, you should have just seen me. I’ve long suspected, and
now I’m perfectly sure that if destiny had been decent enough to make me
a duchess I’d have –
of the Wright brothers dropped his hat and the other very nearly dropped
his, but I rose to the occasion with that exquisite tact which – well,
anyhow we got ourselves settled without further accident and made a nice
little triangle, me on a sofa and the Wright brothers on two chairs. I had
hoped they would sit on ONE chair, which would have made it easier for me,
but perhaps they feared it might attract too much attention.
attracted a good deal as it was, for this was in the main corridor of the
Hotel Manhattan. Many a head was turned our way, with many a whispered
word and nudging elbow, but – would you believe – it was all on
account of the fame of those two Wright brothers – no, dears, not a word
or glance at your Aunt Kate, though she looked as duchessy as she could.
Wright brothers by this time had stopped being frightened and started to
giggle – especially the one on my left. I had never assisted at a
giggling interview and didn’t know how it would work, but obviously the
first thing to do was to get them separated and identified, so I should
know which was which, and I hastened to call them to order with this
proposal, whereupon the one on my left – the giggler of the two
it doesn’t matter in the least.”
which the one on my right added facetiously: “There are only a few hairs
chirruped and crowed in chorus, and I observed that while the left Mr.
Wright was quite bald on top, the right Mr. Wright still had a fluffy
topknot, jutting out like a peninsula between his ample and ivoried
temples. Also, he looked younger and more sentimental. Item: One dark,
neat little mustache.
sure to get us mixed up anyway and put our names under the wrong
pictures,” said the first one, who was the taller of the two and had a
fight face, rough-hewn, as if with an axe, on the old Uncle Sam model. And
oh, how he laughed! I looked appealingly at the younger one and he
instantly sobered down and tried to catch the big one’s eye, failing
which he enlightened me with:
Wilbur and I’m Orville.”
them while you think of it, please. Wilbur is the bald Wright brother,
Orville the Wright brother with a mustache; Wilbur is all action, Orville
looks as if he has affections as well; Wilbur is a family cut-up, Orville
you’d go to with your troubles.
flying a healthy sport,” I demanded, trying to look them both in the
eye, but making such a wobbly performance of it that I ended by settling
my wistful gaze on Wilbur.
all depends,” said Wilbur, choking back a fresh crop of chortles, “on
how slow you fly.”
do you mean?”
it mightn’t be at all healthy if you flew too fast” – and he cut
loose so explosively that again my eyes flew appealingly to Orville.
means,” translated Orville, chivalrously suppressing his own chuckles,
“that you might get a fall, and, of course, that wouldn’t be
then Wilbur then controlled his risibles long enough to say:
yes, I guess it’s healthy enough. You get away from the dust and
microbes, and mosquitoes.”
then,” added Orville, “you can get up high enough to get a mountain
you ever been up that far?”
yes,” he murmured in his modest way, and I had to drag from him the fact
that at Potsdam, Germany, he climbed the sky 1,000 feet, which is a good
elevation in the Adirondacks. It was in the presence of the German Emperor
and Court, but he didn’t think it worth while to mention that.
you find it wonderfully stimulating?”
didn’t have time to think about that.”
looked uneasily across at Wilbur, struggling to keep a straight face, and
I became aware that Wilbur was trying to upset his gravity by making
mouths. Master Wilbur should have been stood in a corner or packed off to
bed without any supper, but as both courses seemed impracticable, I tried
to keep him out of mischief with a question.
you ever felt afraid up in the air?”
more than on the water,” grinned Wilbur. “There are not so many rocks
up in the air, and there’s certainly no more danger.”
flying as safe as motoring?”
You’re not always wondering what’s going to come round the corner
there any signs of our young millionaires taking up flying as a sport?”
I think there are.”
you manufacturing any racing machines?”
just now, but we intend to.”
much can I buy one for?”
thousand five hundred-dollars.”
that all? It doesn’t seem like an outside price for a perfectly good
shouted the Wright brothers indignantly.
that the wrong word?”
airship,” said Wilbur contemptuously, “is a big, clumsy balloon filled
I don’t see why your biplane shouldn’t be called an airship, too.”
a flying machine,” said Wilbur.
name we prefer is ‘flyer,’” said Orville.
airship would cost $50,000,” said Wilbur.
like $150,000,” said Orville, and they argued the question.
long will it take you to build your flyers,” I asked.
expect to have some on the market be June,” said Wilbur.
of course, dears, I tried my level best to find out who among our gilded
youth had ordered flyers for the next season at Newport,
but those unfeeling Wright brothers wouldn’t mention a single name, so
you’ll have to keep on guessing.
would they say a word about the law suits they’re brining right and left
against other flying men to stop them from using devices which other
flying men say should be free to all flying men, inasmuch as they were
used by pioneer experimenters long before the Wright brothers stopped
mending their bicycles and took to the air.