Page:Dick Hamilton's Fortune.djvu/131

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though only on account of the strong springs. The balls, as they rolled down the inclined spokes, imparted a swift motion to the wheel. The released balls ran down an incline to the foot of the chute, and the lifting belt began to slowly turn over on the wheels on which it worked. Then something happened.

Whether Silas had not built his machine strong enough to stand the strain, or whether the perpetual motion was too much for it, was never disclosed. At any rate, when the big wheel was revolving at a rapid rate, and the balls were dropping out like immense hail stones, there was a sudden rending, splitting, breaking and cracking of wood. Then the machine seemed to creak and groan in agony. Next there was a snapping sound and the air was filled with a shower of black iron balls, as though a bombshell had burst.

"Duck, everybody!" yelled Dick. "The thing's exploded!"

The machine fairly flew apart, splinters of wood, bits of iron, belts, spokes, chute, inclines and everything was scattered to the thirty-two points of the compass.

"Oh, Silas!" exclaimed Mrs. Kendall. "There it goes!"

"Yep," answered Silas, as he ran to get under a tree. "Thar she goes, sure enough, Mandy!"

There sounded dull thuds as the balls struck the earth. Fortunately no one was hit. Then it began to rain bits of wood.