Electro-episoded in A.D. 2025

By E. D. Skinner

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Title: Electro-episoded in A. D. 2025

Author: E. D. Skinner

Release date: July 8, 2024 [eBook #73988]

Language: English

Original publication: New York: Experimenters Publishing Company, 1927

Credits: Roger Frank and Sue Clark


                    ELECTRO-EPISODED IN A.D. 2025

                            By E. D. Skinner

    [Illustration: Inserting a needle-point barely beyond and to the
    left of the higher of the two mountain peaks, he took a delicate
    copper wire and connected this with “Local.” Throwing the clutch
    back into “Local” the faint outline of the mountain disappeared,
    and a vivid picture of the “Parker Pass” replaced it....]

    [Publisher’s note: Humor, we have been told by some of our
    critics, can never amount to much in scientifiction. If we may
    let a secret out of the bag, the Editor has been on a rampage,
    lately, to find a scientifiction story in which there really
    could be a subtle humor without weakening the narrative. Well,
    we believe we have found it in this tale, which not only has all
    of the above-mentioned qualifications, but a fine O. Henry
    ending thrown in for good measure. Only when you have read it
    for the second time will you appreciate it to its fullest

If Lieutenant-Colonel Algernon Sidney St. Johnstone, N.Y.N.G., had been
in a normal condition, he would certainly have been aware of a peculiar
buzzing sensation in the region of his upper left-hand vest pocket; but
unfortunately it so happened that his actual physical state was most
emphatically sub-normal. Still he could hardly avoid the suspicion that
something out of the ordinary had disturbed him; and, with blinking
eyes, he searched the apartment for possible inordinate things.

The first to attract his attention was a neatly folded copy of the
eleven o’clock edition of the _Hourly Bulletin_, bearing the date:
“Tuesday, January 7, 2025”; which, with its “up-to-the-minute” Wall
street market quotations, lay unread upon the desk before him. This he
swept to the floor with an impatient sweep of his arm!

Next his left hand instinctively sought, with practiced precision, a
black bottle on a side-desk close by. Holding the bottle to the light,
his eyes told him that it was empty. Tipping it upside down above his
wide-open mouth, his tongue repeated the information with emphasis.
Dejectedly keeping the bottle before him, he glared in an insane fury at
two green labels--one the trade mark of a by-gone century, and the other
a “Bottled in Bond” stamp dated: “July 1, 1916”--which his wisdom told
him were both forgeries.

Then, as the topographical details of his “den” became clearer to his
blurred vision, his eyes picked out the recumbent form of his correctly
attired and correctly featured valet slumbering peacefully and audibly
in a Morris chair in the far corner--and this under the very nose of his
master! Instantly the bottle was hurled at the valet’s head!--and the
latter promptly proved his trained efficiency in the art of sleeping
“with one eye open,” by automatically and unnecessarily dodging.

Finally Algernon’s superheated emotions found vent in speech. Glaring
savagely at his valet, he said:

“Shay you varlet!--”

He paused and chuckled for a moment at the humor of the “pun”--then he
repeated loudly: “Shay you varlet, wake up! Lishen t’me. You gesh bishy
on ’phone, tell thash booshlegger hosh-thief o’ mine ’f ’ee shends me
more schtuff like thish, I shee nash’nal head booshlegger’s trust ’nd
gesh him fired. Thash schtuff kill ’mule! You tell’sh him t’ shave money
’ee shpends on labels ’n buy shumpin’ fit f schen’lemen’s schtomach.
Thash schtuff kill ’mule!”

The valet fixed one eye on his master, the other being blackened and
fully closed, and answered promptly and precisely:

“Yes, sir! As you say, sir! But, begging your pardon, sir, the gentleman
sent word yesterday that you should not drink any of that, as it was
dangerous. He said, begging your pardon, sir, that the goods they make
for the common people had been sent you by mistake. He apologized most

Algernon turned on his valet in a fury.

“’N you lesh me kill m’self wish thash schtuff?” he cried. “Thash
schtuff kill ’mule.”

“Begging your pardon, sir,” replied the valet, “I did object to the best
of my ability. But you resisted most violently, blackening my eye and
knocking me unconscious into this chair, so that I only recovered just
as you spoke a moment ago. That poison must have temporarily deranged
your intellect, sir.”

“Thash it! S’poison d’ranged in’lect. Thash schtuff kill ’mule. S’too
bad! Here, s’take thish.” And Algernon took a bill from his pocket and
tossed it at his valet.

For a moment he sat quietly as if in a profound study, and then another
idea struck him.

“Shay you schrimp! Whash shtaring t’me like owl for?” he said,
addressing the valet. “Gesh bishy on ’phone, tell booshlegger-dog shend
me ’nozzer case quick. S’tell him I got awfu’ thirst.”

“Yes, sir! As you say, sir,” replied the valet with alacrity. “But,
begging your pardon, sir, the gentleman did promise to send another case
yesterday; and, begging your pardon, sir, I believe he would have done
so, if the federal officers had not raided him and put him in jail.”

For a moment Algernon stared at his valet in a speechless rage that
partly sobered him. Then the words came in a torrent of choice but
incoherent invective.

“Whazzat!” he cried. “Thosh--curs gesh my booshlegger! I gesh them

He paused a second for breath, eyeing his valet the while with maudlin
profundity, and then he continued:

“Shay you monkey-face’ weptile, whash shtaring me for?” he exploded.
“Gesh bishy! Gesh bishy on ’phone. Use p’vate code. Tell nash’nal schief
t’ call hish dogs of my booshlegger a’ once. Tell him I get his scalp
shure. Tell him thish Alg’non Shid’ey Shaint Shons’one. Y’un’erstan’?
Alg’non Shid’ey Shain’ Shons’one!”

With a “Yes, sir! At once, sir! As you say, sir!” the valet obeyed
promptly, and was soon buried in his master’s private code-book; while
Algernon, now considerably sobered by his rage, became fully conscious
of the peculiar buzzing sensation in the region of his upper left-hand
vest pocket--and of the fact that this buzzing indicated beyond a doubt
that his fiancee, Esmeralda Clementine Jones-Bronson, desired to
communicate with him.

Well versed as he was in the art of “managing” the
“female-of-the-species” in the infinite variety of moods to which she is
addicted, a quizzical smile played for a moment around his lips as he
realized that his inadvertent delay in answering his Esmeralda’s “call,”
had accidentally turned out a masterstroke. She had “ridden her high
horse” in the recent row, had flaunted a daring defiance of his most
earnest wishes in his very face, and had finished by throwing her
engagement-ring contemptuously at his feet! Presumably she was contrite
now, and ready for a reconciliation. But he well knew that, if he would
not be bullied through life by his future wife, he must maintain the
upper hand throughout the engagement period; and--his delay in answering
would have a chastening effect!

                   *       *       *       *       *

The row had started when he presented Esmeralda, as a birthday present,
with one of two specially-designed miniature radio
receiving-and-broadcasting sets. His own carried the equipment in a
small gold case in his vest pocket; while the wiring, the antenna, and
the steel frame which held the head-phone in place with microphone
pendant before the mouth, was coiled and folded in a tiny golden
receptacle on the outside of the pocket. The steel wiring was “Electro
re-tempered” by a new process, which increased its tensile strength one
hundred fold; while the copper was first tempered by the re-discovered
process which for centuries had been a “lost art,” and then “Electro
re-tempered” the same as the steel. So that, while of gossamer-like
delicacy in appearance, the whole apparatus was in fact much stronger
than the old styles. Both sets were permanently adjusted to the
delicately-complicated, alternating “E.V.R.-X.Y.Z.” wavelength, which
the makers believed proof against duplication, and which they guaranteed
against static within a radius of 10,000 miles under any possible
conditions. The cover of the outer receptacle of his own set was in
shape a gold shield, with a “spread-eagle” engraved rampant upon a South
Sea Island golden-sunset field on its face. This was liable to be
mistaken, by its appearance, for a decoration of European royalty; and
Esmeralda had agreed with him that it was quite nifty.

But hers was contained in the back of a “veri-thin” wrist watch, and
that was where the trouble started. She wanted a lavalliere as a
decoration for her bosom! And, growing sarcastic towards the last, he
had admitted that that portion of her anatomy did need some kind of
covering; but he had denied the efficacy of the “lavalliere” idea for
that special purpose. He had contended that both the décolletté in the
front and the “open-back” features of her gowns, should stop at the
“lines of curvature.” He had even launched into a general tirade against
a number of her recent costumes, and had called them “picture-frame”
conceptions; because “they performed a similar function,” in that “they
merely furnished the setting for emphasizing the details of the things

That, as he had believed, had settled their argument! But two days
before this, she had appeared adorned with the best that Wertheimer, the
Paris arbiter of the world’s fashions, could devise in the way of a
realization of his “picture-frame” sarcasm; and the row that resulted
had, this time, been hectic on both sides--with her scoring the final
“point” by throwing her engagement ring at his feet.

Then, through the great “Electro-visional” dial attached to his general
radio outfit, he had watched her “take off” from the roof in her
runabout monoplane, had noted the reckless speed with which she drove it
through the air, had chuckled when an aerial speed-cop took her license
number and “tagged” her by shooting the citation into the rear of her
machine, had seen her land on her own roof and, a moment later, had
watched her “take off” again in her large touring biplane and rapidly
grow into a tiny speck in the western sky. Evidently his Esmeralda was a
high-strung thoroughbred, who meant business when her dander was up!

For a brief moment Algernon made a profound effort to solve the problem
as to just how long he should keep her waiting before he answered her
“call.” The nice adjustment of _time_ to the particular individuality of
the person concerned under the correlated circumstances enumerated, was
a matter of supreme importance! Then, suddenly, the idea occurred that
she might have met with an accident. Instantly he acted!

Touching a spring on the golden radio-receptacle on his vest pocket, he
caught the released framework in his hand, slipped the catch that
allowed it to snap into shape, and quickly adjusted it to his face.
Then, choosing his words carefully and sparingly, he spoke into the
pendant microphone with an attempted precision to conceal his thick
tongue, asking:

“This you, Esm’alda?”

“Yes, this is me!” she snapped back promptly. “Who did you suppose it
was? Have you been giving away any more of these ‘special’ radio sets to
any other female? If I catch you playing any tricks on me with any other
huzzy, I’ll make you wish that you had never been born! If--”

Patiently, and speaking more clearly than before, Algernon stopped the
flow of words by interjecting another query.

“Want an’thin’ p’ticular?” he asked.

“Yes! I want help quick--right this minute,” she answered. “My leg is
broken and I can’t move, and there is a nasty big tiger on the ledge
right over my head just ready to spring on me and eat me up! I was
flying west in my big ’plane, and I was out of our district where
everybody knows me and papa has them all ‘fixed,’ and I was away out
here where nobody knows me, and one of those beastly ‘Purity League’
sleuths caught me powdering my nose, and he chased me, and I ‘stepped on
the gas’ and hit the two-hundred-miles-an-hour clip, and I thought of
that new ‘Electric Spark-screen Broadcaster’ you had attached to the
’plane, and I turned that loose, and then I circled behind the screen,
and that brute must have chased me into the ocean, for I ran straight
into this mountain before I could see where I was going, and I fell a
thousand feet or more, and I broke my leg so I can’t move, and that
horrid tiger--”

Algernon’s stoppage of the verbal torrent was decidedly impatient this

“Shay lis’en,” he broke in. “If you don’t tell where at, I can’t find
you. Tell in code.”

“Ain’t I telling you just as fast as I can?” she retorted. “I’ve been
talking just as fast as I could make my tongue go ever since you finally
answered me, and you took an awful long time in answering, and I can’t
tell you where I am at if you don’t let me talk, and I think you are a
brute, and I believe you are still drunk, and here is the location in
code: ‘693-1-41: 396-1-141: 356-1-22: 690-2-142: and be sure you put it
down on paper right away so you don’t forget, and--”

But Algernon had “hung up.”

By now he was sober enough to realize that he was not sober enough for
the task in hand, so he quickly snapped the bracelets of an “Electric
Regenerator” around his wrists, set the regulator at “2 seconds,” lapsed
into unconsciousness--and awoke at the end of that time an entirely
different man, as the result of the equivalent of two nights’ natural

                   *       *       *       *       *

His first move on awakening was to reach for a button in the desk before
him marked “Package Transporter”; but he paused with the movement half
completed, as a look of pain distorted his face. For a moment he clasped
both hands across his forehead, moaning, in helpless misery: “My God!
What a headache!”

His helplessness, however, was only temporary. Turning to a silver urn
behind him, which bore the golden-inlaid legend: “Pasteurized Water,” he
pressed what appeared to be a part of a carved figure in the mahogany
base and a secret drawer shot out revealing a number of coffee cups,
spoons and a box of tablets labeled: “Equivalent--2 Spoons Sugar and 1
Jigger Cream.” Dropping one of these tablets and a spoon into a cup, he
set it down on his desk. Next he took a diminutive collapsible
microscope, with a lens of flexible glass, out of his pocket; and, with
its aid, picked out an all-but-invisible needle-point concealed in the
filigree ornamentation of the faucet of the urn. This he pressed with
his finger nail. Then he pushed a button in the faucet labeled “Hot,”
and filled the coffee cup as he mumbled jubilantly to himself: “Some
trick this! You get your ‘pasteurized water’ according to government
regulations all right, but--oh! You naughty little needle.” He eyed the
dubious looking mixture that flowed into the cup for a suspicious
moment, tasted it hopefully--and then, livid with rage, spat the stuff
out and hurled the cup across the room.

Speechless for a moment, he controlled himself with an effort; and then,
with desperate haste, unlocked a private drawer in his desk and opened
it half-way to a visible line. Pulling a cord hanging over his head,
which started an electric fan going--and which, in this precise
connection, also caused a slight orifice in the panel of the drawer to
unfold, revealing an assortment of crystalline-white and
brownish-looking pills--he selected one of the white pills, placed it in
his mouth and crunched it between his teeth to get quick action, in
spite of his vigilant valet’s “Begging your pardon, sir,” protest.

“Can’t help it, John,” he said. “This is a real emergency and I simply
have got to have something. On the face of things, it looks like the
narcotics are the only genuine stuff left to us by the
‘Bootlegger-Smuggler-Prohibitionist Combine’.”

The look of pain that had distorted his features quickly disappeared,
and in its place there came the comforting jubilance of an anticipated
pleasure. Turning to a combination-lock to the cash drawer of his desk;
he set the knob at “0,” turned it forward to “20,” back to “15,” forward
again to “2,” back to “1,” again forward to “3,” back a full revolution
again to “3” and lastly forward to the final “15.” Then he applied a
firm, steady pressure to the knob, and a circular segment of the floor
upon which the desk stood, and whose scarcely discernable outline
blended so perfectly with the inlaid floral scroll design of the floor
as to appear an integral part of it, revolved half-around, disclosing a
considerable compartment filled with sealed tins of tobacco, and a
varied assortment of pipes. Filling a “briar” from a half-empty tin, he
adjusted the patent “Smoke Consumer,” pushed a button in the desk which
caused the room to be sprayed with an atomized disinfectant which
deodorized the fumes and prevented external detection of the felonious
act, “lit up,” and took long, deep draughts at the pipe. The serene
content of an anticipated joy realized, stole over his face; and,
discreetly to himself, he murmured defiantly: “The skunks caught me
napping with their ‘Anti-coffee’ law all right, but I was
‘Johnnie-on-the-spot’ when they prohibited tobacco, and I prepared
myself for life.”

Then, with clear-headed precision, he proceeded to business.

Instructing his valet to make careful notations on a tablet to avoid
mistakes, he dictated:

“As soon as you are through with that booze-prohibition officer, prepare
a message in code for this white-livered rat who sold me this trick
(pointing to the urn). Tell him to take back this synthetic ‘Coffee
Extract’ he stung me with, and credit its cost on my account. I won’t
pay for it. Tell him to send me at once one gallon _genuine_ centuple
extract of Mocha coffee, if he has it--and be sure to emphasize the
‘_genuine_.’ If he hasn’t the Mocha, tell him to get it as soon as
possible; and, in the meantime, he shall send me one gill of any
_genuine_ (emphasize that ‘_genuine_’) coffee extract that he has. If he
claims that he can’t get the _genuine_ through--as he probably will, for
the crook is without doubt trying to ‘bull the market’--tell him that I
know positively that he is in with the opium smuggling gang, that I know
he can get the genuine coffee through just as they get genuine dope
through, if he wants to; and that I will set the federal officers after
him, and see to it that he gets life, if he is gay with me. Get the fact
into the numskull’s head, if you can, that he is dealing with Algernon
Sidney St. Johnstone and not with one of the common people!”

With the dictation completed, Algernon suddenly became conscious of the
fact that his system was demanding sustenance after his prolonged
fast--in plain words, that he was vulgarly hungry--and so, having no
time to partake of a regulation repast in the regulation manner, he
pulled a gold case from his pocket, extracted a couple of tablets

“Equivalent--One Full Meal,” and hastily swallowed them.

Refreshed and invigorated by the nourishment so seriously needed, he
proceeded to quick, effective action.

Pressing a button in his desk marked: “P.T.”, an apparently ornamental
filigree upon the ceiling dropped and snapped into the form of a
suspended package transporter. Pushing a button on the receiver of the
transporter numbered: “7826,” a book, stamped with that number, promptly
slid into his hand. The book proved to be a Laird and Lee’s “Common
School Edition” of “Webster’s New Standard Dictionary” of the copyright
date of “1912.” He had chosen this as his and Esmeralda’s private
code-book, because he believed that the two copies possessed by them
were all that remained in existence.

Slipping the book into his “Lightning Code-decipherer,” he touched the
numbered keys of its keyboard in the numerical combination given him by
Esmeralda in her message, and the delicate wire arms quickly turned the
pages and picked out for him the words: “Parker,” “pass,” “mount,” and
“McKinley.” Remembering the “tiger” she had spoken of, he was puzzled
for a moment by the manifest absurdity of looking for such an animal in
the eternal snows of the Alaskan mountains!--and then he thought of the
“Electro-visional” dial.

Turning to a globe contained in a complicated mechanism behind him, he
picked two fine needle-points out of a holder, pressed one through its
gelatine surface at “Mt. McKinley” and the other into “New York City.”
Giving the globe a single revolution, the indicator of the “Lightning
Air-line Distance Calculator” promptly registered “3668 miles, 264 feet,
00 inches.” Throwing the clutch of his “Electro-visional” into the “3670
mile” circuit, he picked out, with the aid of his microscope, the faint
outline of the twin heads of “Denali and his Wife” barely within the
“W.N.W.” sector of the white circle that appeared on the dial. Inserting
a needle-point barely beyond and to the left of the higher of the two
mountain peaks, he took a delicate copper wire and connected this with
“Local.” Throwing the clutch back into “Local,” the faint outline of the
mountain disappeared, and a vivid picture of “Parker Pass” replaced it.
But, even with his microscope, he could find nothing of his Esmeralda!
Finally, in the lower end, he picked out a faint blur of fine
lines--flashing, disappearing, and flashing again--and, remembering that
she had her “Electric Spark-screen Broadcaster” working at the time of
her mishap, he reasoned that the thing was probably operating even yet,
and that, therefore, he had at last definitely located his beloved.

                   *       *       *       *       *

For a moment the incongruous “tiger” tormented him, but he figured that
she, in her evident excitement, had probably distorted or incorrectly
expressed a glimpse at a mountain goat, or something of that sort.

Having successfully solved the problem of his Esmeralda’s whereabouts,
his next move was to apply to the “National Aerial-control Bureau” in
Washington for a special permit, with “right-of-way,” for an
“Electric-flash” transit to Mt. McKinley, Alaska, between the 20,000 and
22,000 feet strata, with return privilege “under his own power,”
starting “three minutes from moment of application.” He also demanded
photographed copies of permit and necessary orders.

“Permit, etc., scarcely needed at that altitude, especially as only one
other ‘Electric-flash’ machine yet in existence; and that--,” the clerk
attempted to expostulate.

But Algernon peremptorily shut off the sluggish clerk’s remonstrances.

“Cut advice--stunt about what I need,” he broke in, “and get busy with
what I want, or I’ll call the chief. Do you realize whom you are dealing
with? Now get busy, and SNAP TO IT!”

And, seeing in his “Electro-visional” that the magic of his name had
produced instant “snapping-to-it” activities on the part of the clerk,
he connected up his “Radio Electro-photographing” camera, and turned his
attention to the last necessary detail to be arranged before his

Slipping the plug of his “Radiophone” into the “E.V.R.” wavelength
socket, he snapped the framework of its head-phone and microphone
combination over his face, and called softly: “Charlie Grant there?”

“Yep! This is Charlie speaking,” his broker’s voice replied, with terse
economy of words.

Recognizing the voice, Algernon’s next question was to the point.

“Anything doing on ’change?” he asked.

“Quiet as a ‘chink’ funeral now--just over flurry,” his broker answered.
“Two weeks ago rumor broadcast President sore about inefficiency of old
Jim Macdonald--chief ‘National Law-enforcement Bureau’--and ‘National
Bootlegger Consolidated’ dropped ten points. Two days later Jim
resigned, and N.B.C. lost twenty points. Next day President appointed
Wheeler Wayne (who has never taken a drink in his life, where anybody
could catch him at it), and ‘N.B.C.’ hit the skids for fifty points.
Wayne’s first move was to order your local bootlegger, Lippincott,
raided and jailed, and the bottom fell clear out of ‘N.B.C.’ For nearly
a whole day the Pit was stormed by a mob of the fainthearted in a panic,
begging anybody and everybody to take their ‘Bootlegger’ stock off their
hands for anything they would give. I had inside tip that officers only
found one quart in Lippincott’s possession, so I did the charitable act
(in your name) by relieving them of ten millions. Would have plunged
deeper but afraid of complicating other deals. Two days later old Jim
Macdonald and Bill Jenkins (head National Bootlegger Trust) settled
squabble about Jim’s demand for more dough; and the ‘evidence’ against
Lippincott’ was ‘lost,’ he was turned loose, and ‘N.B.C.’ floated back
to normal. With care can unload and clean up about two millions, or can
hang on--just as you say.”

Turning to one side Algernon slipped a sheet of paper into, and switched
the connection into what looked like a complicated development of the
original typewriter; and then replied to his broker.

“You did fine, Charlie,” he said. “Don’t forget that you double your
regular percentage when I am ‘off the reservation’.” Then, after a
momentary hesitation to consider, he continued: “Tell bookkeeper to read
statement into private radiophone at once, as I already have
‘Radioelectrodictaphonotypograph’ connected. Unload ‘Bootlegger’ stock
as soon as you can without sacrificing profits that you are sure of, as
I don’t want my name publicly mixed in the business. And now listen,
Charlie! I’m going away for a bit--probably for only a day or so, if
nothing unforeseen happens. If you want me, call on regular ‘E.V.R.,’
but use ‘long distance.’ If you think it best to look for me, come over
here and use my ‘Electro-visional.’ Will probably be in neighborhood of
Mt. McKinley in 3670-mile circuit and ‘W.N.W.’ sector. Good-bye!”

                   *       *       *       *       *

As Algernon ceased speaking, the silvery “ting” of a little bell on his
“Radio Electro-photographing” camera notified him of the receipt of the
photographed copies of his government permit and the correlating orders
issued; while the discontinuance of the rapid “tick-tick” of his
“Radioelectrodictaphonotypograph” told him that his broker’s bookkeeper
had completed his statement. From the former he extracted two slips of
paper, and found them correct. But he studied the sheet of paper that he
took from the latter for a moment, in a perplexed confusion at the
phonetic simplicity of the spelling of the words. Then, reflecting that
this mathematically-exact translation of oral sound would eventually
assist in the elimination of the orthographic absurdities which always
had burdened a language that is too complex at its best, he shoved this
into an inside pocket along with the other two; and, pressing a button
in the side-wall which opened a small door leading into a “one-person”
sized compartment in a perpendicular pneumatic tube, he stepped within,
and was shot to the roof.

Going to the largest of the hangars that dotted the roof, he pushed a
button--and the door flew open, and a glistening “Electro re-tempered”
copper monstrosity trundled out on a truck. The best that could be said
for its shape was that it looked like a gigantic beer bottle. Stepping
to the mouth of the “bottle,” he pressed a button, and the stopper flew
out with a loud report. Entering the narrow passage-way through the
“neck,” he switched on the electric lights and found himself in a
spacious, tempered-glass compartment “blown-into” the framework in such
a way as to practically surround itself with a vacuum space, and with
the few necessary contacts elaborately insulated. A yank at a lever
started an “Oxygen Supply” apparatus (already set at “One Person”)
going, and a touched button caused the “stopper” to fly back into place
with another loud report.

From a mahogany wardrobe he took a bear-skin fur suit which was lined
with finely-woven copper-wire cloth. Stepping into this, he set the
“Interior Heat Regulator” at 65° Fahrenheit, adjusted the connection
with the concealed storage battery, and pushed the spring which caused
the suit to “snap-to” and fasten.

A shifted lever on a large keyboard set the “Interior Temperature
Regulator” of the compartment going at a “65°” adjustment, another
started the “Electro-visional,” a third connected a small dynamo with
the “Atomic-energy Reservoir” and started it supplying the comparatively
trifling electrical needs, a fourth completed a similar direct
connection with the rest of the mechanism and a fifth released an
electron of atomic-energy from the basic atom into the “Atomic-energy
Reservoir” to maintain the parity of the supply.

Seating himself in an upholstered chair, he prepared for quick and
decisive action. With one hand he pulled down the “Helicopter” lever,
and, through the “Electro-visional,” saw a huge, “Electro re-tempered”
steel solid corkscrew-like device with a “screw” fifty feet deep in the
groove, shoot into the air. Setting its regulator at “Half-speed,” he
touched a button and began to ascend slowly. When the “Altitude
Indicator” registered “1000 Feet,” he turned “full speed” into the
helicopter device and finished with a rush. At “20,000 Feet” he shut the
helicopter down to “Maintenance of Altitude” speed, pulled a lever which
released a huge propeller from its underneath pocket, and set it going
at full speed “In Reverse,” yanked the lever back at “21,500 Feet,” and
came to a full stop at “22,000 Feet” with the underneath propeller
roaring noisily but harmlessly in its enclosed pocket.

Turning to the “Electro-visional” dial, he threw the clutch into the
“3670 Mile” circuit, picked out the faint outline of the higher peak of
Mt. McKinley, and stuck a needle-point into it. This he connected, by
means of a delicate copper wire, with “Local”--which he knew was
permanently connected in a similar manner with the gigantic dynamo at
Niagara Falls--set the regulator of his “Electric-flash” at “.017
Seconds,” pushed a button which shut off the helicopter, yanked back the
lever which collapsed it into its overhead pocket; and, as he heard the
heavy copper plates bang shut over all, he closed his eyes and touched
the final button.

Then, in spite of all precautions, he was nearly blinded by the vivid
lightning that enveloped the entire machine; and, notwithstanding the
intricate system of “Shock Absorbers,” he thought for a moment that he
had been yanked in two as he was shot through space at the rate of
186,000 miles per second. And then, as if it was a reflex of the
original yank, came the answering “tug” of the rear propeller as it
automatically shot out of its pocket going full speed “In Reverse.”

Opening his eyes with nerves taut for the crucial moment, he reached for
the “Plane-wing” lever with one hand, and glanced at the “Speedometer”
for the indication of the moment when it would be safe, and necessary,
that he throw-out his biplane-wings of “Electro re-tempered” steel with
a “spread” of one hundred and fifty feet.

Then, suddenly, the dual peaks of Mt. McKinley appeared directly in
front of his “Electro-visional”; and, throwing caution to the winds, he
yanked down the “Plane-wing” lever, and heard the rattle and bang of the
adjustments, and saw that the apparatus was withstanding a severer test
than it was guaranteed for.

And then, even as he looked, the higher peak of the mountain appeared
directly underneath; and, with instinctive recklessness, he gave the
“Steering-lever” a yank which turned the machine “on its tail” at a
sharp right-angle--missing a spill by a fraction of a hair--jerked
another lever which tipped it into a practically-perpendicular
“nosedive,” snapped that lever back again and righted himself,
shoved down the helicopter lever and touched the button which shot that
corkscrew-like device aloft going at “Maintenance-of-Altitude” speed,
yanked back the lever of the rear propeller which brought that
instrument rattling back into its pocket where it roared in a harmless
fury--and, with a jolt, came to a full stop; while beads of perspiration
broke out on his forehead at his narrow escape, though a triumphant
smile played about his lips as he thought of the sensation he would
create in the next “Aerial Olympic,” and his brain registered the mental
note for future reference that it was his rear propeller going full
speed “in reverse,” that had held him and saved a spill on that acute,
right-angle turn.

                   *       *       *       *       *

A glance at his “Electro-visional” showed that he was parallel with, and
but a few feet away from, the top of the cliff above Parker Pass; and
the first thing he saw was Esmeralda’s biplane with its nose buried in a
cake of ice. But its “Spark-screen Broadcaster” was humming merrily, and
its rear “spot-light” revealed the details below, behind the “screen,”
in vivid detail.

Directly below the wrecked biplane, he quickly discovered his beloved
Esmeralda standing waist-deep in the snow, with one arm raised as if to
repel an expected attack, and still clad in the “picture-frame” costume
which had caused their row. A glimpse at his “Exterior Temperature”
indicator which registered “60° below zero,” caused a fleeting fear of
dire results from her bare-skinned exposure; but a reflection on the
proven ability of the “female of the species” for facing wintry blasts
in scanty attire, quickly chased his fears away, and he turned his
attention to the direction indicated by her upraised, protesting arm.


With frantic energy he “yanked-down” the “Landing” lever of the
helicopter, grabbed the parachute, pushed the button which “unstoppered”
the “bottle,” and jumped--making the descent in “record” time, but
landing so violently that he was buried in the snow, because, in his
panic, he forgot to pull the string of his parachute until he was
two-thirds down.

A momentary fear of being smothered in the snow, was followed by a spasm
of skilled “football” tactics in “bucking” and squirming his way out;
and, floundering frantically towards his beloved, he yelled at the top
of his voice:

“Esmeralda! My darling! I am here!”

With the stately grace of a real “blue-blooded” aristocrat, the royal
maiden turned majestically, and froze the heart within him with a frigid
glare--such as only those with four centuries of unmixed “Mayflower”
blood in their veins, can hope to aspire to.

“Your presence is sufficiently perceptible,” she said in measured tones,
“to preclude any necessity for such boisterous conduct. In the future,
when we are abroad together, it will please me greatly if you bring your
manners along with you, instead of leaving them at home. Also, I would
remind you that you have been fifteen whole minutes in answering my

And then Nature claimed its own, and, womanlike, Esmeralda fell fainting
into her lover’s arms, murmuring as she lost consciousness: “Algy! My
darling! My savior!”

For a brief moment Algernon pressed the inanimate form of his sweetheart
to his manly breast, and showered a storm of passionate kisses upon a
wisp of her hair as it floated in the breeze against his nose--and then
he bethought him of that poised tiger on the ledge above!

Quickly he pulled his “Electric Automatic,” aimed carefully at the
beast’s heart, and pressed the button. A black spot showed on the spot
he had aimed at, and the air became filled with the pungent odor of
burned hair--but the brute above remained in an apparently statuesque
unconsciousness of the assault!

Nonplussed and dumfounded, Algernon pulled out his collapsible opera
glasses, adjusted them, and studied the perplexing phenomenon closely.
Then at last a ray of light penetrated his brain as the memory of a
forgotten incident recurred to him, and he mentally connected this
incident with the enigma above. Realizing the simple truth at last, he
burst into uproarious laughter and yelled at the top of his voice in
unrestrained glee--until the dormant echoes of the “Great Silent North”
awakened from their age-old slumbers, and an avalanche of snow was
loosened from its mooring on the opposite mountain-side.

Algernon had remembered that, some six months before, a Royal Bengal
tiger had escaped from “Barnum and Bailey’s” circus, while it was
showing at Des Moines, Iowa; and that the efforts to recapture it, had
only resulted in driving it into the northern wilderness. This, then,
was that tiger! Happening in the neighborhood and naturally in a
famished condition, a scent of Esmeralda had reached it and had aroused
its savage instincts. But, as it stole out onto the ledge for the final,
fatal spring, being unused to northern temperatures, the 60° below zero
gale had frozen it dead in its tracks!

And then, just as all his troubles and worries seemed to have vanished,
the “whir” of an airplane engine turned his eyes upwards; and, directly
overhead, he saw a “Purity League” biplane circling for a landing.

With frantic energy he shook the unconscious form that reposed in his
arms, and shouted into her ear at the top of his voice:

“Esmeralda! Darling! Wakeup! That ‘Purity League’ sleuth has found us!
He is sure to be one of those ‘ex-convict’ crooks working on a
percentage for what he can get, and, if he catches you out here in
public in that costume, he will rush you into one of his ‘kangaroo’
courts, and ‘railroad’ you into jail! Wake up! Es----”

                   *       *       *       *       *

The sharp angle of Mary Jane’s bony knee-cap, adeptly from practice and
forcibly by instinct, projected into my left-hand lower short-ribs,
finally aroused me; and, as if it were an echo of my dream, I distinctly
heard the dulcet tones of her gentle voice in my ear, shouting:

“Wake up you, John Henry! You’re snoring like a horse! Haven’t I told
you times enough never to sleep on your back? Turn over on your right
side! And you’ve been talking something awful in your sleep, too! Who’s
this ‘darling Esmeralda,’ anyway? If I catch her monkeying with you,
I’ll scratch her eyes out! None of your lies, now! There wasn’t any
‘Esmeralda’ in that picture-play we saw tonight, so you better not try
to spring anything of that sort on me! Why don’t you----”

But, peeved by my rude awakening, and not feeling well anyway, I stopped
the verbal torrent by breaking in.

“If you can’t be satisfied with nagging at me about nothing all day, but
you must go waking me up in the middle of the night to keep it up, I’ll
move into the spare room, and let you sleep by yourself,” I threatened.
“Besides,” I added, “you’ve got me crowded clear off onto the bedrail,
and nobody could sleep like that, anyway.”

Mary Jane, my wife, was contrite and very humble at once, which shows
that I know how to manage her properly when I really want to.

“I didn’t wake you up to nag at you, John,” she said penitently, as she
snuggled up to me and reached out her hand to caress me. “But that stuff
of yours down in the cellar has been popping-off to beat the band for an
hour, and I just know that you’ll lose the whole batch if you don’t tend
to it right away. I told you that you were bottling it too soon, but it
never does any good for me to say anything. You’ll just----”

“Well, if it’s going to ‘pop,’ it’s going to and that’s all there is to
it,” I broke in petulantly. “If you think you know so much more about it
than I do, you can just make the next batch yourself and see if you can
do any better. Now move over and give me enough of the bed to lie
comfortably in, and give me a chance to get a little sleep.”

And, as my “better-half” squirmed back to her own side of the bed, I
turned over upon my right side and slept fairly well for the rest of the

The End.

[Transcriber’s Note: This story appeared in the August 1927 issue of
_Amazing Stories_ magazine.]



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