Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 9. The Achievement
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Mystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 9. The Achievement Post by :huberth Category :Long Stories Author :Samuel Hopkins Adams Date :May 2012 Read :1767

Click below to download : Mystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 9. The Achievement (Format : PDF)

Mystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 9. The Achievement

PART THREE. THE MAROON CHAPTER IX. THE ACHIEVEMENT

For some moments Darrow sat gazing fixedly at the table before him. His cigarette tip glowed and failed. Someone suggested drinks. The captain asked Darrow what he would have, but the question went unnoted.

"How I passed the next six months I could hardly tell you," he began again, quite abruptly. "At times I was bored--fearfully bored. Yet the element of mystery, of uncertainty, of underlying peril, gave a certain zest to the affair. In the periods of dulness I found some amusement in visiting the lower camp and baiting the Nigger. Slade will have told you about him; he possessed quite a fund of bastard Voodooism: he possessed more before I got through with him. Yes; if he had lived to return to his country, I fancy he would have added considerably to Afro-American witch- lore. You remember the vampire bats, Slade? And the devil-fires? Naturally I didn't mention to you that the devil-fire business wasn't altogether as clear to me as I pretended. It wasn't, though. But at the time it served very well as an amusement. All the while I realised that my self- entertainment was not without its element of danger, too: I remember glances not altogether friendly but always a little doubtful, a little awed. Even Handy Solomon, practical as he was, had a scruple or two of superstition in his make-up, on which one might work. Only Eagen--Slade, I mean--was beyond me there. You puzzled me not a little in those days, Slade. Well....

"Did I say that I was sometimes annoyed by the doctor's attitude? Yes: it seemed that he might have given me a little more of his confidence; but one can't judge such a man as he was. Among the ordinary affairs of life he had relied on me for every detail. Now he was independent of me. Independent! I doubt if he remembered my existence at times. Even in his blackest moods of depression he was sufficient unto himself. It was strange.... How he did rage the day the chemicals from Washington went wrong! I was washing my shirt in the hot water spring when he came bolting out of the laboratory and keeled me over. I came out pretty indignant. Apologise? Not at all. He just sputtered. His nearest approach to coherence seemed to indicate a desire that I should go back to Washington at once and destroy a perfectly reputable firm of chemists. Finally he calmed down and took it out in entering it in his daily record. He was quite proud of that daily record and remembered to write in it on an average of once a week.

"Then the chest went wrong. Whether it had rusted a bit, or whether the chemicals had got in their work on the hinges, I don't know; but one day the Professor, of his own initiative, recognised my existence by lugging his box out in the open and asking me to fix it. Previously he had emptied it. It was rather a complicated thing, with an inner compartment over which was a hollow cover, opening along one rim. That, I conjectured, was designed to hold some chemical compound or salt. There were many minor openings, too, each guarded by a similar hollow door. My business was with the heavy top cover.

"'It should shut and open softly, gently,' explained the Professor. 'So. Not with-a-grating-sound-to-be-accompanied,' he added, with his curious effect of linked phraseology.

"Half a day's work fixed it. The lid would stand open of itself until tipped at a considerable angle, when it would fall and lock. Only on the outer shell was there a lock: that one was a good bit of craftsmanship.

"'So, Percy, my boy,' said the doctor kindly. 'That will with-sufficient- safety guard our treasure. When we obtain it, Percy. When it entirely- finished-and-completed shall be.'

"'And when will that be?' I asked.

"'God knows,' he said cheerfully. 'It progresses.'

"Whenever I went strolling at night, he would produce his curious lights. Sometimes they were fairly startling. One fact I made out by accident, looking down from a high place. They did not project from the laboratory. He always worked in the open when the light was to be produced. Once the experiment took a serious turn. The lights had flickered and gone. Dr. Schermerhorn had returned to his laboratory. I came up the arroyo as he flung the door open and rushed out. He was a grotesque figure, clad in an undershirt and a worn pair of trousers, fastened with an old bit of tarred rope in lieu of his suspenders, which I had been repairing. About his waist flickered a sort of aura of radiance which was extinguished as he flung himself headforemost into the cold spring. I hauled him out. He seemed dazed. To my questions he replied only by mumblings, the burden of which was:

"'I do not understand. It is a not-to-be-comprehended accident.' It appears that he didn't quite know why he had taken to the water. Or if he did, he didn't want to tell.

"Next day he was as good as new. Just as silent as before, but it was a smiling, satisfied silence. So it went for weeks, for months, with the accesses of depression and anger always rarer. Then came an afternoon when, returning from a stalk after sheep, I heard strange and shocking noises from the laboratory. Strict as was the embargo which kept me outside the door, I burst in, only to be seized in a suffocating grip. Of a sudden I realised that I was being embraced. The doctor flourished a hand above my head and jigged with ponderous steps. The dismal noises continued to emanate from his mouth. He was singing. I wish I could give you a notion of the amazement, the paralysing wonder with which.... No, you did not know Dr. Schermerhorn: you would not understand....

"We polkaed into the open. There he cast me loose. He stopped singing and burst into a rhapsody of disjointed words. Mostly German, it was--a wondrous jumble of the scientific and poetic. 'Eureka' occurred at intervals. Then he would leap in the air. It was weird, it was distressing. Crazy? Oh, quite. For the time, you understand. If any of us should suddenly become the most potent individual in the world, wouldn't he be apt to lose balance temporarily? One must make allowances. There was excuse for the doctor. He had reached the goal.

"'Percy, you shall be rewarded,' he said. 'You haf like-a-trump-card stuck by me. You shall haf riches, gold, what you will. You are young; your blood runs red. With such riches nothing is beyond you. You could the ancient-tombs-of-Egypt explore. It is open to you such collections-as- have-never-been-gathered to make. What shall it be? Scarabs? Missals? Prehistoric implements? Amuse yourself, _mein kind_. We shall be able the- bills-with-usurious-interest to pay. What will you haf?'

"I said I'd like a vacation, if convenient.

"'Presently,' he replied. 'There yet remains the guardianship to be perfected. Then to-a-world-astonished-and-respectful we return. To-night we celebrate. I play you a rubber of pinochle.'

"We played. With the greatest secret of science resting at our elbows, we played. The doctor won; my mind was not strictly on the game. In the morning the doctor sang once more.... I shall never hear its like again. Was it a week, or a month, after that?... I cannot remember. I fancy I was excited. Then, too, there was something in the atmosphere about the laboratory ... I don't know; imagination, possibly. Once we had a little manifestation: the night that the Nigger and Slade were terrified by the rock fires. Days of excitement and pleasant work, with the little volcano grumbling more sulkily all the time ... I have spent worse days.

"Such indifference as the doctor displayed toward the volcano I have never known. If I ventured to warn him he would assure me that there was no cause for alarm. I think he regarded that little hell's kitchen as merely a feed-spout for his vast enterprise. He felt a sort of affection toward it; he was tolerant of its petty fits of temper. That he completed his work before the destruction came was sheer luck. Nothing else. The day before the outburst he came to me with a tiny phial of complicated design.

"'Percy, I will at-a-reasonable-price sell this to you,' he said.

"'How much?' I inquired, responding to his playfulness.

"'A bargain,' he cried gaily. 'Five millions dollars. No! Shall I upon-a- needy-friend hard-press? Never. One million. One little million dollars.'

"'I haven't that amount with me,' I began.

"'Of no account,' he declared airily. 'Soon we shall haf many more times as that. Gif me your C.O. D.'

"'My I. O. U.?' I inquired.

"'It makes no matter. See. I will gif it to you gratis.'

"He handed me the metal contrivance. It was closed.

"'Inside iss a little, such a very little. Not yet iss it arranged the motive-power to give-forth. One more change-to-be-made that shall require. But the other phenomena are all in this little half-grain comprised. Later I shall tell you more. Take it. It iss without price.' He laid his hand on my shoulder. 'Like the love of friends,' he said gently."

Feeling in his upper waistcoat pocket, Darrow brought out a phial, so tiny that it rolled in the palm of his hand. He contemplated it, lost in thought.

"Radium?" queried Barnett, with the keen interest of the scientist.

"God knows what it is," said Darrow, rousing himself. "Not the perfected product; the doctor said that when he gave it to me. If I could remember one-tenth of what he told me that night! It is like a disordered dream, a phantasmagoria of monstrous powers, lit up with an intolerable, almost an infernal radiance. This much I did gather: that Dr. Schermerhorn had achieved what the greatest minds before him had barely outlined. Yes, and more. Becquerel, the Curies, Rutherford--they were playing with the letters of the Greek alphabet, Alphas, Gammas, and Rhos, while the simple, gentle old boy that I served had read the secret. From the molten eruptions of the racked earth he had taken gases and potencies that are nameless. By what methods of combination and refining I do not know, he produced something that was to be the final word of power. Control-- control--that was all that lacked.

"Reduced to its simplest terms, it meant this: the doctor had something as much greater than radium as radium is greater than the pitchblende of which a thousand tons are melted down to the one ounce of extract. And the incredible energies of this he proposed to divide into departments of activity. One manifestation should be light, a light that would illuminate the world. Another was to make motive power so cheap that the work of the world could be done in an hour out of the day. Some idea he had of healing properties. Yes; he was to cure mankind. Or kill, kill as no man had ever killed, did he choose. The armies and navies of the powers would be at his mercy. Magnetism was to be his slave. Aerial navigation, transmutation of metals, the screening of gravity--does this sound like delirium? Sometimes I think it was.

"That night he turned over to me the key of the large chest and his ledger. The latter he bade me read. It was a complete jumble. You have seen it.... We were up a good part of the night with our pet volcano. It was suffering from internal disturbances. 'So,' the doctor would say indulgently, when a particularly active rock came bounding down our way. 'Little play-antics-to-exhibit now that the work iss finished.'

"In the morning he insisted on my leaving him alone and going down to give the orders. I took the ledger, intending to send it aboard. It saved my life possibly: Solomon's bullet deflected slightly, I think, in passing through the heavy paper. Slade has told you about my flight. I ought to have gone straight up the arroyo.... Yet I could hardly have made it.... I did not see him again, the doctor. My last glimpse ... the old man--I remember now how the grey had spread through his beard--he was growing old--it had been ageing labour. He stood there at his laboratory door and the mountain spouted and thundered behind.

"'We will a name-to-suit-properly gif it,' he said, as I left him. 'It shall make us as the gods. We will call it celestium.'

"I left him there smiling. Smiling happily. The greatest force of his age--if he had lived. Very wise, very simple--a kind old child. May I trouble you for a light? Thanks."

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

All Roads Lead To Calvary - Chapter 3 All Roads Lead To Calvary - Chapter 3

All Roads Lead To Calvary - Chapter 3
CHAPTER IIIIt was at Madge Singleton's rooms that the details of Joan's entry into journalistic London were arranged. "The Coming of Beauty," was Flora Lessing's phrase for designating the event. Flora Lessing, known among her associates as "Flossie," was the girl who at Cambridge had accidentally stumbled upon the explanation of Joan's influence. In appearance she was of the Fluffy Ruffles type, with childish innocent eyes, and the "unruly curls" beloved of the _Family Herald novelist. At the first, these latter had been the result of a habit of late rising and consequent hurried toilet operations; but
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Mystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 8. The Maker Of Marvels Mystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 8. The Maker Of Marvels

Mystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 8. The Maker Of Marvels
PART THREE. THE MAROON CHAPTER VIII. THE MAKER OF MARVELSAs they had gathered to hear Ralph Slade's tale, so now the depleted mess of the _Wolverine grouped themselves for Percy Darrow's sequel. Slade himself sat directly across from the doctor's assistant. Before him lay a paper covered with jotted notes. Trendon slouched low in the chair on Slade's right. Captain Parkinson had the other side. Convenient to Darrow's hand lay the material for cigarettes. As he talked he rolled cylinder after cylinder, and between sentences consumed them in long, satisfying puffs. "First you will want to learn of the fate of
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT