And one day Bradley asked a select party to come down to the river to see him make a trial-trip. At the appointed time he appeared with something that looked like a small frigate under each arm; and when he had fastened them securely upon his feet, he prepared to lower himself over the edge of the wharf. He asked the spectators to designate a point upon the thither shore at which they wished him to land. It was immaterial to him, he said, whether he went one mile or ten, up stream or down, because he should glide around upon the surface of the stream with the ease and grace of a swallow. Then they fixed a point for him; and when he had dropped into the water, he steadied himself for a moment by holding to the pier while he fastened his eye upon his destination and prepared to start.
At last he said the experiment would begin; and he struck out with his left foot. As he did so the front end of that particular scow scuttled under water, and as he tried to save himself by bringing forward his right foot, that section of Bradley’s Water Perambulator also dipped under, and Bradley fell.
[Illustration: THE NEW MOTOR]
A moment later he was hanging head downward in the river, with nothing visible to the anxious spectators but the bottoms of two four-foot frigates. The perambulator simply kept the body of Bradley under the water. Then a man went out in a skiff and pulled the inventor in with a boat-hook. When he came ashore, they unbuckled his scows, took off his clothing and rolled him upon an oil-barrel. In half an hour he revived, and with a deep groan he said,
“Where am I?”
His friends explained his situation to him, and then he asked,
“What drowned me?”
They told him sadly that he was injured during an attempt to revolutionize navigation and to prepare the way for a walk to India.
“How did I try to do it?” he inquired.
They wept as they reminded him that he had started to skim over the river like a swallow, with a scow upon each foot, and then he faintly said,
“Where in thunder are those machines?”
His friends produced, the new motor with which Bradley intended to break up the steamship lines; and when he had looked at them for a moment, he fell back and whispered,
“It’s no use. I can’t do ’em justice. Eight men couldn’t cuss ’em to satisfy me. But split ’em up! Have ’em mashed into kin’lin-wood before I get well, or the sight of ’em’ll set me crazy.”
Then he was carried home, and after being in bed about a fortnight he came out with a pallid cheek, a sorrowful heart and ideas for six or seven new machines.
THE TRIALS OF MR. KEYSER, GRANGER.