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The Gravity Experiment

By J. U. Giesy

"MEOUW!" The sound was one of feline protestation, a sort of outraged plaint, uttered in the accents of a snarling rage.

"Goodness! Was that Fluffy?" exclaimed Miss Nellie Zapt to her fiancé, Bob Sargent, with whom she was sitting in the dusk, back of the vines on the porch of her father's house.

"Sounded like her voice, at any rate," Bob agreed.

"Meouw! Psst! Zit!"

Nellie started to her feet and stood slenderly poised as a fresh outburst of something suspiciously like inarticulate profanity drifted to her ears. And then she laid hold of her companion.

"Come along, there's something wrong," she urged, and dragged him to his feet.

She darted into the house intent on learning what had evoked the outcries so vociferously emitted by her pet, and Sargent followed very much as he had been following her for something like a year. She was a dainty, glowing creature, and Bob was all tangled up in her feminine charms. So he kept close now as with a tapping of quick little heels on polished wood she entered the living-room of the house via the entrance hall.

And then Nellie paused. She stared at the figure of a small man with spectacles iron-gray whiskers. He stood with back-tilted head, beside a small tin pail deposited on the table in the center of the room.

"Father!" Miss Zapt gasped.

And Sargent also exclaimed. "Good Lord!"

"Eh?" Xenophon Xerxes Zapt, "Unknown Quantity Zapt," as his associates sometimes called him because of the double "X" in his name, the celebrated investigator of the unknown in science, lowered his head and jerked it around in the direction of his daughter's voice. There was the atmosphere about him of a small boy apprehended in some prank. He put out a hand and laid it on the little tin pail. "Did you speak, my dear?" Out of nearsighted blue eyes, he peered at his radiant offspring who had drawn herself up in an indignant fashion.

"I did," said Miss Zapt firmly. "I suppose you're responsible for that?"

She lifted a graceful arm and pointed overhead, as indeed she very well might, considering that she pointed at the wildly gyrating form of a superb Angora cat.

One would hardly expect to find a Persian Angora flattened, with no visible means of support, against the ceiling of a room, as this one certainly was. She hung there threshing with frantic legs at the impalpable air, with a motion not unlike a rather desperate effort at swimming. Then she spun herself about in a circle, marked by a rapidly alternating head, from which gleamed yellow eyes and a twitching bushy tail. Her behavior was little short of hysteria.

"Meouw!" she voiced her troubled state once more as she heard her mistress's voice.

With poor tact Sargent chuckled. "Seems to have got the Angora's angora," he began.

Miss Zapt gave him a withering glance.

"Never mind, Fluffy pet," she called encouragement to the glaring creature that had temporarily given over its efforts and rested with back pressed against the ceiling.

And then she bore down on the little man who had once more lifted his eyes to the animal above him. "I suppose this is another of your detestable experiments," she went on in a voice half tears and half rage. "What have you done to my cat?"

"Nothing, nothing—about the seventy-fifth of an ounce." Professor Zapt fumbled in his pocket for notebook and pencil, opened the former and touched the latter to his lips.

"Father!" Miss Zapt seized both book and pencil. She stamped her foot.

"Eh? Oh, yes, yes—exactly." Xenophon Xerxes glanced into her flushed face. "As a matter of fact I have done nothing to your pet, my child. Nothing at all worth mentioning, that is. Indeed, as you will note I have even exercised extreme caution. I have closed the windows, and the ceiling, of course, prevents her further ascension. But if you refer to her present position—"

"It is rather unusual, don't you think, professor?" said Bob. "Now if she were a flying squirrel—"

"Exactly," Xenophon Zapt cut him short. "The term flying-squirrel is a misnomer, however, Robert. The animal so-called is incapable of sustaining itself for any considerable time in the air. As to the former part of your remark, however, hers is indeed a most unusual position. It is that which proves the complete success of my experiment. You are now witnessing one of the marvels of the ages—voluntary levitation. The rediscovery of one of the lost secrets of the ancients. The means by which—"

Abruptly Nellie caught up the little pail. "I suppose your lost secret's in this?"

And swiftly Xenophon Zapt put out a hand to retrieve what she had seized. "Nellie," he commanded sternly, "replace that receptacle where you found it. As you surmise, it contains a substance of incalculable value. The first practical preparation of Zapt's Repulsive Paste."

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