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The Demon Engine
by [?]

“Perpetual motion sounds foolish, I’ll admit. But, Professor Kennedy, this Creighton self-acting motor does things I can’t explain.”

Craig looked perplexed as he gazed from Adele Laidlaw, his young and very pretty client, to me. We had heard a great deal about the young lady, one of the wealthiest heiresses of the country. She paused a moment and looked at us, evidently thinking of the many schemes which people had devised to get her money away from her.

“Really,” she went on, “I haven’t a friend to whom I can go, except Mr. Tresham–no one on whom I can rely for advice in a case of this kind.”

Several times, I recollected, there had been rumors that she was engaged to Leslie Tresham, who had been the lawyer for her father before his death. The rumors had always been denied, however, though I am sure it was not Tresham’s fault.

“You see,” she continued, as Craig still said nothing, “father was of a mechanical turn of mind; in fact so was the whole family, and I suppose I have inherited it. I’m just crazy over cars and boats. Anyhow, I was introduced to Mr. Creighton and he seemed so earnest and his work was so interesting that I bought a little of his stock. Now he needs more money to perfect his motor. Perhaps the thing is all right, but,–well, what do I really know about it?”

One could not help feeling a great deal of sympathy for her. She was not the type of woman who would be easily misled, yet I could imagine that she must constantly be on her guard against schemers of every sort lurking to take advantage of every whim.

“H’m,” mused Kennedy, with a smile, eyeing our visitor keenly. “I’ve been consulted on about everything from pickpockets to the fountain of youth. Now it’s perpetual motion. I must say, Miss Laidlaw, your case has a decided scientific interest for me, anyhow, as well as personal. I’d like to look at this wonderful machine, if you can arrange it.”

“I can do that,” she answered confidently with a glance of thanks to Kennedy for his help. “May I use your telephone?”

She had to wait some time for an answer to her call, but finally she got Creighton on the wire.

“He had just come in,” she said, hanging up the receiver. “He’ll be there if we come down right away.”

Adele Laidlaw drove us downtown in her own high-powered car, which, true to her mechanical instincts, she handled herself. She drove it very well, too. In fact, I felt safer than with Kennedy, who, like many drivers, was inclined to take chances when he was at the wheel himself and could see what he was up against, though he balked severely when anyone else did it.

“How did you become interested in this perpetual motion machine, Miss Laidlaw?” he asked as we threaded our way through the dense traffic.

“Well, I suppose everyone knows that I’m interested in engines,” she replied, as we waited for the signal from a policeman at a cross-street. “I’ve spent a good deal on them in speed-boats and in racing cars, too. An acquaintance, a friend of Mr. Creighton’s, a Mrs. Barry,–Mr. Tresham knows her,–thought perhaps I might use the motor somehow and told me of it. I went down to see it and–I must confess that it fascinated me.”

I had not yet quite got myself accustomed to a girl who was interested in such things, though, in these days, I must confess, saw no reason why she should not be. Kennedy was dividing his attention between the admirable manner in which she handled the car and her very expressive face. Was it really, I wondered, that Creighton, more than his motor, has fascinated her?

She drew up before the Consolidated Bank Building, a modern steel and concrete structure in the uptown business section.