“The professor is expecting you, sir,” she said.
“Archy, my friend!” came a loud voice a moment later from the inner doorway. “How delightful that you could join me.”
Professor Haversham swept into the room, a bottle of champagne in one hand, two flutes in the other. Placing the glasses on an end-table, he popped the cork and poured. “Success!” he said, and tilted back his glass.
Bemused, I echoed his toast. “I must confess,” I added, “that I am quite at a loss. Your request induced me to board the first train to town, and your greeting implies some celebration, but so far I have not a clue as to the cause.”
“I want you to witness something that the world has never before seen,” he said, pouring himself another glass. “A machine like no other.”
“You’ve invented the chess-playing automaton?” I asked—for such, indeed, was the challenge of the age. Modern scientific engineering stood poised on the verge of turning Von Kempelen’s Mechanical Turk from hoax to reality, and competition was fierce among the savants of the city.
“No, no, dear boy. Better. Come, let me show you.” The professor led the way, up two flights of stairs, to a combination workshop and laboratory under the garret. Boxes, jars, and tools filled shelves along three walls, while the fourth held a chalkboard covered with mathematical formulae and schematic diagrams. Benches and tables were piled with papers, electrical apparatus, and chemical flasks. Notebooks, opened, lay scattered on the floor. A sheeted object stood on a pedestal against the far wall.
“Archy,” Haversham said to me, “have you any pocket change?”
“Yes, but what has that to do…?”
“Everything.” He whipped away the sheet to reveal what appeared to be a human arm and hand, attached to an iron framework. Pneumatic tubes ran into the arm, connected to pressure bottles and a baffling array of mechanical switches. Palm up, elbow slightly bent, the arm extended into the room.
“Here,” Haversham said. “I have no idea what money you have in your pocket, do I? No way of knowing in advance, will you grant me as much?”
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Recent Posts by Dr. Doyle: Dr. Doyle's Blog
Originally posted on Madhouse Manor:
While streaking in my rocket ship through space, Galactic empires seeking to destroy, Subsonic signals hailed me with “Ahoy! O spaceman launched from secret lunar base! Turn back your craft at once!” Sour was my face. Switched off the signal; turned then to deploy My proton missiles. With those I’d…
I’ll admit to a certain amount of partisan rooting interest, here, since the No Story Is Sacred crew are, in fact, my own offspring: It is the last day of Hugo nominations. I just want to say that @NoStoryIsSacred is eligible for Best Fancast. Even if you don’t nominate, I’d appreciate y’all listening. ❤️https://t.co/BotP2iOmFc — […]
But where I am, in far northern New Hampshire, it’s snowing. Again. We’re under a winter storm warning until 2AM, and it’s been snowing with steady determination since mid-morning. And even after the storm warning has passed, the weather forecast is still calling for snow every day until the weekend. To which I can only […]