Page:Amazing Stories Volume 01 Number 02.djvu/43

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metal was now set as rigid as steel. The master hand of the physicist had given it eternal solidity.

The party gazed in silence and wonder for a moment at the collossal creation of the human mind, and then turned and followed their guides up a long flight of stairs to a large room under the center of the huge dome.

It was a marvelous room, filled with an intricate complication of ingenious apparatus. Upon one side was banked series after series of vacuum tubes, mounted upon long panels of shining bakelite. Another wall was completely hidden by a huge switch-board, studded with a seemingly endless array of switches, control knobs, rheostats and levers.

In the center of the floor was mounted a shining silver screen about six feet square. Looking down upon it, the men could see the reflection of a strange piece of apparatus pointing directly down upon it, from the ceiling above.

For some moments the party stood gazing in mute wonderment at their surroundings. Then Faxworthy, as you may have guessed the identity of the tall dark man, spoke to them in his quiet level voice.


"GENTLEMEN," he said, "here before you lies the results of ten years of intensive labor by Mr. Holton and myself—the product of the million dollars with which you so kindly provided me. Whether you have received an ample return on your investment, only you can judge to-night. However, I do not expect you to be disappointed."

Then walking over to the board, he threw one of the switches. Instantly the low hum of an electric motor was heard from below.

"The power comes from a good-sized hydro-electric plant down on the other side of the mountain," he explained. "It was Holton's idea. And," he added, smiling gently, "Holton was an invaluable factor in the construction of the mounting for the reflector and other requisite auxiliary apparatus. If we are successful tonight, he shares all honors."

Then, turning to the board again, he moved a lever which brought the aperture of the huge dome around to the east. Another switch, and upon the very apex of the dome, mounted upon a small steel tower, a weird piece of apparatus, much resembling a huge X-ray tube sprang into life, unseen to the watchers below. Then, guided by the master hand, it swung upward until it pointed full upon the rising moon.

Faxworthy spoke again. "Gentlemen, I now have the reflector in the room below trained upon the moon. Watch the screen closely."

He threw another switch. A low hum came from above, which speedily grew in pitch to a piercing whine, which soon became inaudible to the listeners below.

He turned a control knob, and two of the vacuum tubes lighted up. Simultaneously a strange beam of luminescence shot downward from the apparatus above.

Gazing down upon the screen the men saw an object that riveted their immediate attention. There, as though floating upon the silvery depths, was a beautifully detailed image of the moon.

Rapturously the group looked upon it. Then Faxworthy, with a dexterous twist of his wrist, snapped two more of the tubes into the circuit. The first image faded away, and was replaced by one, filling the entire screen. Then, as bulb after bulb flashed in, the screen showed only portions of the golden surface, and the image grew more and more detailed. Now only one great mountain was visible to the watchers; now only a portion of that mountain; now only a half dozen rocks upon its surface, and finally the surface of one rock.

Then the scientist, with an admonition to his companions, threw in a switch which brought the last bank of tubes simultaneously into light.

The former vision faded away, and in its place appeared a whirling mass of transparent spheres, visible only by the opalescent light reflected from their surfaces.


"GENTLEMEN," said Faxworthy, his usually quiet voice trembling slightly with emotion, "here you see the quartz molecules of one of the rocks on the surface of our satellite. I can only hope that the sight will repay you for the money, which you so kindly provided."

A subdued murmur of approbation was the only reply he received from the enchanted group of scientists, as they rapturously watched the flitting shapes before them.

For some moments they stood, struck with the wonder of it. Then Faxworthy abruptly pulled open the switches, and the image faded from the screen.

"Perhaps you would like a brief explanation of the apparatus, before we engage in the final test of the evening," he suggested, at the same time glancing at his watch.

There was a general nodding of heads in assent and he began. "As you probably know, I have been engaged in research work in Physics and Chemistry, from the age of twenty. During that time I have made some discoveries on these subjects, certain of which have proven very useful in this present undertaking. Up to this time I have revealed their nature to no one except Holton, who has been completely in my confidence. If you will excuse me, gentlemen, I will soon be back with you." And he disappeared up a ladder, leading to a room higher up in the center of the dome.

In a moment he returned, holding something tightly clasped in his hand. Opening it, he disclosed a small flat tube, filled with a reddish viscid liquid, in the extremities of which were sealed several fine platinum wires.

"This tube, gentlemen," explained the scientist, "is the very heart of the apparatus you see about you. Without it, all would be entirely useless. It contains a quantity of a previously unknown element, which I call Lucium. It took me and my laboratory assistants twenty years to isolate the amount of Lucium you see in the tube.

"The essential fact is that this element has the same properties as selenium, only in a million times more sensitive a degree. In absolute darkness it is an absolute non-conductor of electricity, but let the tiniest ray of light strike it—though that ray came across the universe—the substance immediately becomes proportionately conductive. Within the light-proof room above, the light from the mercury reflector comes to a focus upon this tube. I shall not