They had been dining for once in a way tête-à-tête, and she--that is
to say, Mrs. Sidney Calvert, a bride of eighteen months' standing--was
half lying, half sitting in the depths of a big, cosy, ...
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A Corner in Lightning

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They had been dining for once in a way tête-à-tête, and she--that is
to say, Mrs. Sidney Calvert, a bride of eighteen months' standing--was
half lying, half sitting in the depths of a big, cosy, saddle-bag
armchair on one side of a bright fire of mixed wood and coal that was
burning in one of the most improved imitations of the mediaeval
fireplace. Her feet--very pretty little feet they were, too, and very
daintily shod--were crossed, and poised on the heel of the right one
at the corner of the black marble curb.

Dinner was over. The coffee service and the liqueur case were on the
table, and Mr. Sidney Calvert, a well set-up young fellow of about
thirty, with a handsome, good-humoured face which a close observer
would have found curiously marred by a chilly glitter in the eyes and
a hardness that was something more than firmness about the mouth, was
walking up and down on the opposite side of the table smoking a

Mrs. Calvert had just emptied her coffee cup, and as she put it down
on a little three-legged console table by her side, she looked round
at her husband and said:

"Really, Sid, I must say that I can't see why you should do it. Of
course it's a very splendid scheme and all that sort of thing, but,
surely you, one of the richest men in London, are rich enough to do
without it. I'm sure it's wrong, too. What should we think if somebody
managed to bottle up the atmosphere and made us pay for every breath
we drew? Besides, there must surely be a good deal of risk in
deliberately disturbing the economy of Nature in such a way. How are
you going to get to the Pole, too, to put up your works?"

"Well," he said, stopping for a moment in his walk and looking
thoughtfully at the lighted end of his cigarette, "in the first place,
as to the geography, I must remind you that the Magnetic Pole is not
the North Pole. It is in Boothia Land, British North America, some
1500 miles south of the North Pole. Then, as to the risk, of course
one can't do big things like this without taking a certain amount of
it; but still, I think it will be mostly other people that will have
to take it in this case.

"Their risk, you see, will come in when they find that cables and
telephones and telegraphs won't work, and that no amount of steam-
engine grinding can get up a respectable amount of electric light--
when in short, all the electric plant of the world loses its value,
and can't be set going without buying supplies from the Magnetic Polar
Storage Company, or, in other words, from your humble servant and the
few friends that he will be graciously pleased to let in on the ground
floor. But that is a risk that they can easily overcome by just paying
for it. Besides, there's no reason why we shouldn't improve the
quality of the commodity. 'Our Extra Special Refined Lightning!' 'Our
Triple Concentrated Essence of Electric Fluid' and 'Competent Thunder-
Storms delivered at the Shortest Notice' would look very nice in
advertisements, wouldn't they?"

"Don't you think that's rather a frivolous way of talking about a
scheme which might end in ruining one of the most important industries
in the world?" she said, laughing in spite of herself at the idea of
delivering thunder-storms like pounds of butter or skeins of Berlin
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940013769113
  • Publisher: WDS Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/6/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 18 KB

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