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TO-OAY'S SHORT STORY.] I IA…

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TO-OAY'S SHORT STORY.] A Novel Invention. [ALL EIGHTS RESERVED.] Poor odd Billy Millwaters! I never watch a balloon ascent without thinking of him. It -was like this. Billy and I met in the far East. I won't describe our meeting, because it was not an unconventional one, it was neither under tragic circumstances or otherwise, if I remember rightly. I think we were both at a convivial gathering one evening, and both of us seemingly enjoying the same amount of boredom, we naturally took compassion on each other. Since that night we became staunch friends; PÖ staunch, in fact, that we eventually shared a well-appointed bungalow together. My friend suffered from insomnia ter- ribly, occasioned by a too great indulgence in the fragrant weed. I became absolutely weary of telling him that he ought to give up smoking altogether; but, no, he wouldn't. and nightly he used to endeavour to coax old Morpheus by the aid of a musical box. This delightful instrument of harmony, lie confided to me. only kept him awake more than ever, because it was merely a six-tuned lyre—the box, dear reader, not Millwaters and every ten minutes or so it required re- winding. The bother of it was that this confounded piece of musical mechanism kept me awake also. Sometimes Mill waters would wind it up only once. But it was more often that he would re-wind it every time it stopped with a determination worthy of an African lion hunter. In fact. I have known him remark, as he wound up ten minutes before our time for taking coffee, that it was the one hundred and tenth time. I have no personal animosity against poor old Mitywate-rs; neither do I want to write iny bitter things about him, but this musical box manoeuvring made me wild, and I told him point blanok that he would have to stop walking up and dow. the room at night and kicking sundry articles over in the dark. Rather cynically, too, I advised him to take the box in bed and wind it up \.la8! it must have been then that he started to invent, for three days afterwards that fifty rupee paece of musical mechanism was re- modell ed into an "everlsstincr, ever-winding, comp}e cabinet of music." Yes, my friend had made a re-winder, worked by water-power—and it might be mentioned that his old bedroom is still black damp from the results. Now, I contend that if my friend had allowed his inventive genius to terminate there he would be ,here now, but he didn't. The next of Millwat?rs' contrivances was an automatic wrestling man—full of powerful springs and many othr strange clockwork devices. Although hel often said that the thing was nothing like perfect, it proved perfect enough to hack his fare to pieces one night, and also break the bri<^?e of his noble Roman nose. Then there was a folding-bed. One night that I had been induced to sleep with him the blessed thing, without a moment's warning, doubled up and nearly smothered us out of existence. I told him that it was absolutely unsafe to be in the same room with qim, and that he ought to send the bed to Madame Tussaud's as a treasure for the Chamber of Horrors. In reply he only said that I could not appreciate true inventive genius. However, every week there was some new idea, and, to say the least, his wonder- fal conception was extraordinary, if not prac- I ticable. One day Millwaters informed me whilst we were taking our evening "peg" that he had an idea "worth millions." I'm afraid," Millwaters," I said, sadly shaking my head, "that the climate out here is affecting you mentally, for of the rot you-" But he out me short and commenced to explain. There are thousands upon thousands of precious lives lost annually through the sudden foundering of ships and other acci- dents at sea," he remarked, with intense eagerness, and there is nothing email enough invented that can be carried in one's ¡' pocket to prevent this." I commenced to laugh at this latest idea— it eclipsed his previous ones by miles. I "What!" I screamed, "are you going to invent something, that when a ship founders you may bring an arrangement out of your hat, or your waistcoat pocket, and, by cast- ing it upon the sea, you immediately dry it up and then walk home?" "Shut up! You silly fool!" he impatiently added. "Just listen to what I am about to teil you, and don't interrupt. Now," he re-commenced, very seriously, my idea will be—if it can be successfully carried out-a revelation to the entire world. I propose 1,(. insert in a silk balloon of moderate dimenr- sions a small quantity of certain chemicals, fix the balloon inside of a cord net. attached to which is a cord swing arrangement, wherein a person may comfortably be eea.ted. The whole iinvention, of course, when dry will fold up and easily slip into one's pocket, but immediately it is inserted in water the chemicals will instantly dissolve into a very strong gas, inflating the balloon with sufficient power to raise the person to a II height of three or four hundred feet. Then, with the cord saving to sit on, it will be Le a pleasure trip in the sky. After it has risen to the height I've already mentioned the chemicals will begin to dry and re-form back into their natural cry stallised state, the balloon descending gradually until it beeoraee wet. So 't will go on, alternately rising and dipscending rn-til the attention of some parsing vessel is attracted to the rescue, or, better still, until land is reached. As I have before intimated, all you have to do is to sat in the sving—my invention I does the rest. Now. what do you think of it, my boy?" he finished up by saying enthu- siastically. "Oh, Billy! Oh, Billy!" I laughed, until the tears camo into my eyes. What next, 1 wond«T?" "Sceptical again!" he scoffed. "But I'll show you whether it is possible or no. That idiotic grin of yours will immediately vanish when you see me ascend into the air from ¡ perilous waters of the ocean." But Mill waters was longer than usual bringing his invention to perfection, as he so aptly termed it. but at last he succeeded—atj least, he told me so. Bventu- ally, one day he suggested that we should experiment with his patent arrangement in cor little harbour, and, to humour him, I acquiesced. Millwaters, tugged with his invention under his arm—I especially noted: that he carry it in his pocket—to his tffnall caiioe, and then went out in it, whilst I was in a small sailing boat. The arrange- ments were that he was to deliberately cap- size his boat and hoid fast to his balloon, whilst in case it wouldn't act, I was to be near at hand and rescne him! When we had got out about a quarter of a mile, Millwaters gave the signal and I stood in readiness with the life-buoy. My whole. frame trembled with excitement lest his invention should fail to work. However, over went the canoe, and, much to my astonish- ment the silk of the balloon commenced to expand the moment it touched the water lattle by little it raised itself up, and my ingenious friend, Billy Millwaters, with it—heavens! not too soon, either, for the great head of a* monstrous shark appeared, just where his legs had been a second before Never in my life shall I ever forget that picture, for Millwaters deftly jerked- himself round, swinging into the loop arrangement. end then be shot up fairly rapidly into the air. holding on quite carelessly with one hand, apparently delighted. His words about my idiotic grin disappearing when I should see him ascending into the air out of the perilous waters of the ocean, came back to nte now, and I fully realised their worth. I felt that I had terribly misjudged my friend's abilities as an inventor. The bailoon apparently was an im.menee tuoeeas. and in a moment I could see that the expanding gas was a sure fortune. By now he had gained such a high altitude that it was necessary for me to shade my eyes with my hands to properly locate bis position. I carefully noted the direc- tion in which he was floating, and sailed on merrily in my own little boat, holding a rope in readiness to throw to him when he descended. His calculation about the four hundred feet appeared to be correct, for when it reached about that height it stopped and was slowly descending when I noticed it had commenced to rain. Almost immediately I observed the balloon atop again and start its onward and upward career once more. Something akin to horror swept across my I mind as I watched these proceedings. Mill- waters—the future rival of the great Edison, the future millionaire—had omitted to allow for the probability of rain, and, behold! the ohemlcals had received sufficient moisture from it to re-inflate the spherical bag of silk. For considerably over twenty-four hours it I rained the proverbial "cats and dogs," and iy that time I reckoned Billy Millwaters must Have bumped against the moon. He must taTe 'bumped somewhere—and stuck, because ae never came back. I thought, perhaps, he aright return when the weather had cleared tip a bit, but he never did, and I paid up all his accounts"with a very sorry heart. Of course, it is a satisfaction to me to know that if Millwaters really landed in the moon he has company there, for tradition has I always had it that there was already masculine resident. There must be two now.

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