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Round the Red Lamp

The Los Amigos Fiasco
I used to be the leading practitioner of Los Amigos. Of course, everyone has heard of the
great electrical generating gear there. The town is wide spread, and there are dozens of
little townlets and villages all round, which receive their supply from the same centre, so
that the works are on a very large scale. The Los Amigos folk say that they are the largest
upon earth, but then we claim that for everything in Los Amigos except the gaol and the
death-rate. Those are said to be the smallest.
Now, with so fine an electrical supply, it seemed to be a sinful waste of hemp that the Los
Amigos criminals should perish in the old-fashioned manner. And then came the news of
the eleotrocutions in the East, and how the results had not after all been so instantaneous
as had been hoped. The Western Engineers raised their eyebrows when they read of the
puny shocks by which these men had perished, and they vowed in Los Amigos that when
an irreclaimable came their way he should be dealt handsomely by, and have the run of
all the big dynamos. There should be no reserve, said the engineers, but he should have
all that they had got. And what the result of that would be none could predict, save that it
must be absolutely blasting and deadly. Never before had a man been so charged with
electricity as they would charge him. He was to be smitten by the essence of ten
thunderbolts. Some prophesied combustion, and some disintegration and disappearance.
They were waiting eagerly to settle the question by actual demonstration, and it was just
at that moment that Duncan Warner came that way.
Warner had been wanted by the law, and by nobody else, for many years. Desperado,
murderer, train robber and road agent, he was a man beyond the pale of human pity. He
had deserved a dozen deaths, and the Los Amigos folk grudged him so gaudy a one as
that. He seemed to feel himself to be unworthy of it, for he made two frenzied attempts at
escape. He was a powerful, muscular man, with a lion head, tangled black locks, and a
sweeping beard which covered his broad chest. When he was tried, there was no finer
head in all the crowded court. It's no new thing to find the best face looking from the
dock. But his good looks could not balance his bad deeds. His advocate did all he knew,
but the cards lay against him, and Duncan Warner was handed over to the mercy of the
big Los Amigos dynamos.
I was there at the committee meeting when the matter was discussed. The town council
had chosen four experts to look after the arrangements. Three of them were admirable.
There was Joseph M`Conner, the very man who had designed the dynamos, and there
was Joshua Westmacott, the chairman of the Los Amigos Electrical Supply Company,
Limited. Then there was myself as the chief medical man, and lastly an old German of
the name of Peter Stulpnagel. The Germans were a strong body at Los Amigos, and they
all voted for their man. That was how he got on the committee. It was said that he had
been a wonderful electrician at home, and he was eternally working with wires and
insulators and Leyden jars; but, as he never seemed to get any further, or to have any
results worth publishing he came at last to be regarded as a harmless crank, who had
made science his hobby. We three practical men smiled when we heard that he had been
 
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