The Last Galley Impressions and Tales HTML version

The Great Brown-Pericord Motor
It was a cold, foggy, dreary evening in May. Along the Strand blurred patches of light
marked the position of the lamps. The flaring shop windows flickered vaguely with
steamy brightness through the thick and heavy atmosphere.
The high lines of houses which lead down to the Embankment were all dark and deserted,
or illuminated only by the glimmering lamp of the caretaker. At one point, however, there
shone out from three windows upon the second floor a rich flood of light, which broke
the sombre monotony of the terrace. Passers-by glanced up curiously, and drew each
other's attention to the ruddy glare, for it marked the chambers of Francis Pericord, the
inventor and electrical engineer. Long into the watches of the night the gleam of his
lamps bore witness to the untiring energy and restless industry which was rapidly
carrying him to the first rank in his profession.
Within the chamber sat two men. The one was Pericord himself-- hawk-faced and
angular, with the black hair and brisk bearing which spoke of his Celtic origin. The other-
-thick, sturdy, and blue-eyed-- was Jeremy Brown, the well-known mechanician. They
had been partners in many an invention, in which the creative genius of the one had been
aided by the practical abilities of the other. It was a question among their friends as to
which was the better man.
It was no chance visit which had brought Brown into Pericord's workshop at so late an
hour. Business was to be done--business which was to decide the failure or success of
months of work, and which might affect their whole careers. Between them lay a long
brown table, stained and corroded by strong acids, and littered with giant carboys, Faure's
accumulators, voltaic piles, coils of wire, and great blocks of non-conducting porcelain.
In the midst of all this lumber there stood a singular whizzing, whirring machine, upon
which the eyes of both partners were riveted.
A small square metal receptacle was connected by numerous wires to a broad steel girdle,
furnished on either side with two powerful projecting joints. The girdle was motionless,
but the joints with the short arms attached to them flashed round every few seconds, with
a pause between each rhythmic turn. The power which moved them came evidently from
the metal box. A subtle odour of ozone was in the air.
"How about the flanges, Brown?" asked the inventor.
"They were too large to bring. They are seven foot by three. There is power enough there
to work them, however. I will answer for that."
"Aluminium with an alloy of copper?"