The Feline Light and Power Company is Organized can be found in






SCIENCE is not the dry thing that some people would like us to believe. Mr. Fosdick, in this captivating tale, demonstrates this most aptly. Did you ever stroke a cat in the dark, and watch the sparks leap between your hand and the cat's fur? Perhaps you did. But it remained for the illustrious Foselick to commercialize this great inherent power. The results were most amazing, as the readers will soon find out.

Starting with a single cat, highly charged with electricity, see what a catastrophe-no pun intended—he brings upon himself. There is only one point we missed and that is "What electrode in the experiment was the CAThode?"

JASON Q. FOSDICK closed the book that he had received by mail that morning, "Electricity at a Glance," and for a long time stared at at the blank wall of the tinshop. Mr. Fosdick was thinking. Mr. Fosdick spent a great deal of his time in thought—probably most of his time. It was a common saying in Whiffleville that "When Mr. Fosdick gets through his thinking something is going to happen!" And in this the citizens were never disappointed, for invariably when Mr. Fosdick did get through his thinking something always did happen. Everybody liked the homely little man with the kindly face and the mild eyes, and in all the countryside none enjoyed a greater confidence and respect than Mr. Fosdick, for he was an inventor and genius. In all matters pertaining to science he was the village authority-even a greater authority than old Professor Snooks, the fiercely bewhiskered savant of Doolittle College up on the hill. Snooks had once called him "a doddering tinker," but this Mr. Fosdick attributed to jealousy as did all the inhabitants of Whiffleville, for the llrofessor was a pompous man and an unpopular one. No fair-minded person could doubt Mr. Fosdickls versatility in the arts and crafts, for upon the signboard that hung over the sidewalk, in front oi the door of the tinshop, was lettered his many accomplishments:

JASON QUINCY FOSDICK
Tinsmith, Key-Fitter and Scissors-Grinder

As an inventor Mr. Fosdick had achieved great success. True, his patent corkscrew had never drawn a a cork, but it had made a fair hairpin, and he had disposed of it as such for a dignified sum. His patent pump refused flatly to perform the duty for which it had been designed, but it turned out to be an excellent churn and the favorite creature of his inventive brain, his patent curling iron, was in service in countless homes throughout the broad land as a nut-cracker.

AS Mr. Fosdick gazed abstractedly at the bare wall in front of him he beetled his brows after the manner of all geniuses when concentrating their minds upon some great and suddenly discovered phenomenon in the wonderful world of science. And the thing that immersed him so deep in thought was a sentence that he had just read in the book. Many would have passed it by, but Mr. Fosdicks eyes had no sooner fallen on the lines of type—less than a score of words in all—than it immediately revealed to him a wide field of experimental research and one replete with thrilling possibilities. The momentous truth as told in the single, short and unobstrusive sentence was: "Static electricity may be generated by rubbing together such substances as resin and fur." Little did Mr. Fosdick at the time suspect that his stumbling upon this bit of elementary science was to result in focusing upon him the fierce limelight of international publicity and to make Whiffleville, for a brief forty-eight hours, the breathless topic of conversation throughout the civilized world.

Fully an hour passed. The noon whistle blew at Eben Stetzle's chop mill announcing to all Whiffleville the arrival of the dinner hour, and then Mr. Fosdick with the sigh of a tired man arose from his chair and started to close the shop. Had he followed out his intention this story would never have been written; but just as he was about to lock the front door there happened one of those strange and inexplicable things that so often change the destiny of men and nations—a large black cat walked across the threshold and sniffed contemptuously at Mr. Fosdickls shins!

Mr. Fosdick stared at the cat for a full minute and then he slowly put the key back in his pocket. "It's John L.!" he exclaimed. "By thunder, I'll try it!"

Pulling out a drawer of the workbench he, after fumbling about in a bushel or so of wheels, springs, screw-eyes and other odds and ends so dear to the hearts of all geniuses, eventually drew forth a large chunk of resin. And then picking up the unsuspecting John L.—so named after a highly successful pugilist on account of his extremely belligerent disposition—he laced the cat upon the bench and began to gently stroke him fore and aft with the resin. Slowly the hair upon the cat's back began to rise and in a few minutes John L. had apparently grown to twice his normal size. No astronomer discovering some hitherto unknown planet—no mother gazing with loving eyes, at her first born, ever experienced the rapturous tumult of feelings that suffused Mr. Fosdick as he watched the rapidly expanding John L. Quickly wrapping a piece of copper wire around a water pipe, Mr. Fosdick with eyes burning with the excitement of the experiment, slowly pushed the other end of the wire in the direction of John L.'s nose. Suddenly and without warning there was a loud cracking sound, a hot blue flame shot out from the cat's nose to the end of the wire, and John L., with a wild cry of rage, leaped some dozen feet in the air, and coming down, executed a neat right and left scratch upon the inventor's face; then with a single bound sprang through the door.

"By Jinks!" cried Fosdick. "She works—she works— she works!"

LESS than a week after Mr. Fosdick had made his experiment, all Whiffleville was thrown into a turmoil of excitement by the erection of a mysterious crib-like structure back of his tinshop. Only a chosen few knew the purpose of the strange building, and they, Eben Stetzle and five othor friends and admirers of Mr. Fosdick, maintained a sphynx-like silence. In fact these men, having paid in ten dollars apiece to Mr. Fosdick, constituted the stockholders and the first board of directors of The Feline Light and Power Co.

The plan of organization was broad and comprehensive. The Feline Light and Power Co. was to be the parent company. Mr. Fosdick assured the directors that it should, by virtue of the ownership of basic patents which he was sure to obtain, control all the other companies that would spring up throughout the country, just as soon as the parent company had demonstrated the success of the new method of power generation.

Briefly, the new power plant consisted of a room hardly larger than a piano box elevated some three feet from the ground by insulating pillars of glazed brick. The floor and the walls of the room were coated with a four-inch lining of pure resin. Into this room a "plurality of cats," so the patent application read, "were to be liberated therein by dropping them through the trap door (A) to the resin-covered floor (B) upon which surface they will conduct themselves in the manner hereinafter described." The prospectus which Mr. Fosdick had already started to work upon told in simpler language that the friction of the cats against the surface of the resin would generate electricity, which would be conveyed to consumers within a radius of ten miles—and possibly to the street railway and light stations in the city, fifty miles distant. Eben Stetzle was the first to foresee that there would be an immediate market for cats and secretly he and his brother-in-law set about organizing a cat-breeding corporation under the laws of New Jersey to be known as "The General Feline Co., Limited."

IT took some pretty hard hustling upon the part of the directorate, but by the time the power house was completed twenty "units," as Mr. Fosdick called them, had been lured from as many back yards and for a day languished in the back room of the tinshop. In the evening, when night had thrown its shade over Whiffleville and left the world in darkness to Mr. Fosdick and his cats, as Mr. Thomas Gray would doubtlessly have written, had he thought about it when composing his famous elegy—at any rate it was after dark when Mr. Fosdick stole out of the tinshop and one by one dropped his units through the trapdoor of the power house roof. Twenty trips he made and twenty units were installed. Then he listened intently—there was not a sound. With a heart sickened with the apprehension of failure, Mr. Fosdick made one more journey back to the tinshop and reappeared this time with John L.—the "exciter," as he afterwards called him. Hardly had he dropped the hero of a thousand back-fence encounters into the dark and silent hole than things began to happen. Such a bedlam of yowling and caterwauling Whiffleville had never heard—the plant was in operation.

The next morning when President Fosdick and the other officers and directors of "The Feline Light and Power Company" elbowed their way through the crowd of curious citizens that had gathered about the power house it was evident from the noise that came from the units inside that the charging process was still in progress. With some trepidation they mounted the ladder and looked down into the generating room. A strange and wonderful sight met their gaze. Twenty-one cats, each of them the size of a beer keg, were fighting each other in a grand battle royal. Their hair stood straight out and sparks played over dully luminous bodies incessantly. The crackling noise of electrical discharges was continuous and the peculiar odor of ozone filled the air. The directors were awed.

QUICKLY handing Vice-President Stetzle the voltmeter he had brought with him, Mr. Fosdick slipped down into the room. Picking up a unit he handed it up through the door for more thorough examination. But the unit did not propose being examined. With a yowl of rage it sank its teeth into the vice-president's arm and then with a loud and furious hiss leaped to the ground. Upon just what happened then none could ever agree. Stetzle afterwards described the explosion as being like that of the sudden eruption of a volcano, other spectators when brought to their senses were sure there had been an earthquake. But Mr. Fosdick with his calm, unemotional mind of a born investigator believed neither of these theories. He saw the cat as is touched the ground—saw the sudden flare of blue fire— heard the tremendous report—saw the unit disappear in a dense cloud of white smoke, and afterwards identified all that was left of it—small patch of fur about the size of a dime—probably an ear.

Hardly had the breeze wafted the dust and smoke aside when Mr. Fosdick became aware of a strange and startling phenomenon—his hair and whiskers stood out from his head and face like the quills of a porcupine. Mr. Stetzle was similarly affected.

"Don't touch the ground, Eben!" shouted Mr. Fosdick warningly. "If you do you will blow up like the cat did. We're charged with millions of volts!"

It was a terrible situation and the two men looked anxiously about for assistance, but the frightened spectators had fled to that haven safety and gossip—the postoffice.

EXCITEMENT was at fever heat in the town. All sorts of rumors filled the air, and the telegraph was sending them to the remotest corners of the earth. Before noon extras were upon the streets of a score of cities telling in columns and columns of the terrible catastrophe and giving illustrations of it "Drawn by our special artist upon the ground."

All day long the two terrorized men cowered in the generating room. Outside at a safe distance a great crowd gathered. No one dared go near and it was generally believed that the unfortunate Fosdick and Stetzle must eventually starve to death. During the afternoon correspondents from the great city dailies poured in on every train and camera men clicked their instruments about "the death shed" in shoals. Towards evening it became known that the casualties were "one cat dead and two men electrified."

About supper time Prof. Snouks arrived, and it was owing to his suggestions to have food passed to them at the end of long glass poles that the men were saved from starvation.

In the generating room life was well nigh insufferable. The constant electrical discharges were irritating in the extreme and both men and units were in a vicious humor. It must be said, however, that President Fosdick made some attempt to bear the strain with the fortitude of a martyr to science; but the unhappy Stetzle displayed no such courage—he had a wife and family, he said, and he wanted to get out. Mr. Fosdick counseled the vice-president to have his family brought in, but to this suggestion Stetzle only replied with curses. In calmer moments Stetzle said that with two men and twenty cats in the bin there could be no room for Mrs. Stetzle and nine children.

THE next afternoon Prof. Snooks from a safe distance shouted to them that they might, perhaps, regain their liberty by wearing rubber boots; but that they should try the idea on a cat first. In this suggestion Mr. Fosdick saw a ray of hope, and Mr. Stetzle was so cheered that he offered to dispose of his stock in the company of Mr. Fosdick for a mere song. The offer was refused. Mr. Fosdick said that he was not interested particularly in financial matters at that time. He wrote a note to Josh Little, the harnessmaker, ordering a pair of rubber boots made, cat-size. Then the inventor by eloquent gestures attracted the attention of the crowd and threw the note towards it at which there was a great scattering. A moment later he sank back in despair, for just as the epistle touched the ground there was a slight explosion, a vivid red flash, and it burned up before his very eyes. Well might he shudder, for now he realized the tremendous electrical pressure with which he was charged.

A bolt of sheet rubber was passed in the next morning, however, and Fosdick set to work fashioning some insulating shoes for John L. These were completed by noon and the fifty thousand morbid spectators that had come in by special trains breathlessly watched the experiment. Rubbershod, the cat was dropped to the ground—and it survived. A great cheer went up from the crowd. This had no sooner subsided than Prof Snooks realized that a terrible mistake had been made. Hastily grabbing a megaphone from a barker of one of the numerous side shows that had set up their tents everywhere, he addressed the crowd. He told them that John L. was at liberty charged with perhaps a hundred million volts of electricity, and that contact with him could mean but one thing—death. Instantly there was a wild commotion in the terrorized crowd and then a wild flight from the awful peril. By nightfall the railroads had deported thirty-nine train loads of people and, save for the few that could find rubber boots, the streets of Whiffleville were as lifeless as the shady paths of the neighboring cemetery.

Rubber and rubber alone could protect them against the deadly menace of John L. This, all realized. A thoughtless humanitarian, Bill Hitchcock by the name, made rubber boots for his three dogs. One of the dogs that very aftternoon, spying John L., set sail for him and although he managed only to touch the tail of the cut he became charged with the deadly electrical pressure. And worse, the dog coining home rubbed noses with Hitchcock's other two dogs, charging them. With three electrical dogs and one electrical cat at large only the foolhardy ventured abroad.

WITHIN the next twenty-four hours there were a number of casualties. About nine in the evening Old Tige, the largest of the dogs, came in contact with a lamp post. The post was instantly fused off even with the ground and the gas became ignited, making a geyser of flame that shot a hundred feet heavenward. The dog died. Later in the night another one of the dogs ran against a barbwire fence, killing ten head of stock four miles away. That dog also died. At daybreak there was a loud explosion in the outskirts of the town. It is thought that this came from a cat fight in which John L. participated. At any rate he has never been seen since and to-day only a pathetic hole in the ground marks his probable last battlefield.

The remaining dog was captured at great peril to life, and turned over to Prof. Snooks for experimental purposes. By gradually drawing off the electrical charge by means of a condenser, the Professor in a week's time reduced the dogs pressure to approximately five thousand volts and then the animal was further discharged by hooking him up to the town arc light system of fifty lamps which he maintained in the splendid.effulgence of over two thousand candle power for a period of nine hours and eleven minutes before his power ran down.

Mr. Fosdick and Mr. Stetzle are now living on two insulated stools in the laboratory of Doolittle College. Their potential is dropping at the rate of ten volts a day, and Prof. Snooks, has calculated that they rnust remain there for the next 957 years, three months and two days before being fully discharged. It seems a great pity.

THE END