The Ungrateful House
Publication date: June 2011
Digital Book format: PDF (Adobe DRM)
MAN AND HIS MACHINES ARE DOING A GREAT JOB OF CONQUERING NATURE, OF COURSE. DOES ANYONE DOUBT IT? Excerpt The point about all these queer people you can run into from time to time is just that they aren't really certifiable," said Tex Harrigan in answer to a question of mine. "They're sane enough, and no alienist would give them any more than the normal amount of aberrant concepts or actions." "What's normal?" I asked. "You tell me. Take Peyton Farquahr," Harrigan went on, his pale gray eyes looking far back into the past. "I suppose he was one of the first of those I put into my File of Queer People. You've never heard of him; I needn't ask if you have. He was a gadget inventor; he had no less than sixty-four patents on household gadgets ranging all the way from his 'Little Gem Potato Peeler' and his 'Peerless Magic Eraser' down to his 'Patented Bed-warmer'." "He sounds like a handy man to have around a house," I said. Harrigan laughed long and heartily. "You don't know how ironic that is," he said. "Wait till you hear about him. Like all gadget inventors, he wanted to try his hand at something big, and at last he conceived it- a mechanical house. A house that did everything for you, like a combination maid and housekeeper and valet." "What a pipe dream!" "Take it easy. He built it." "Where?" "Not far outside Denver. I was on the Rocky Mountain Gazette at that time, just beginning my newspaper career. The city editor was a hard-boiled old boy named Davis, Hickman Davis! He called me in one day and gave me a lead. 'Go easy on this boy,' he said. 'We used to go to school together. He's probably nuts, but he's made money on it. He's got a new invention.' So I went out to his place. Farquahr was a skinny, longhaired fellow with baggy pants and a sports coat, which he appeared never or seldom to change. Not that he was exactly dirty- just careless. I introduced myself and got down to the story. Was it true, I wanted to know, that he was building himself a mechanical house? He admitted it. But so far, he said, the story was under wraps. " What will it do?" I wanted to know. "Everything, Mr. Harrigan, everything," he said to me. "Except, of course, those more intimate little chores and duties performed by one's wife." "Interesting," I said. "But I'm skeptical." "It's your business to be," he agreed.