Van Wageners Ways by W. L. Alden

Van Wageners Ways by W. L. Alden

Author:W. L. Alden [Alden, W. L.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


8: A Scientific Trap

“I WAS speaking to Professor Van Wagener about a new burglar alarm that I had ordered for my house, and that was warranted to ring a bell in my bedroom every time a burglar should try to open a window or a door. Van Wagener took the ground that any contrivance for notifying a householder of the presence of burglars, was unscientific, and when he called anything unscientific, it meant that he regarded it with loathing and contempt.

" 'All these burglar alarms, and I've seen dozens of them,' said Van Wagener, 'are intended to frighten burglars away from a house. Now what would you think of a mousetrap that was designed to frighten mice away from its neighbourhood? Wouldn't you call that an unscientific method of dealing with the mouse evil? The aim of every man who lives in a house should be to catch burglars, not to frighten them away. I don't want anything about my house that will frighten a burglar if he attempts to break into it. On the contrary, I want to encourage him to break in, and then prevent him from breaking out again.'

" 'You had better invent some scientific method of dealing with burglars that will put an end to burglary for ever,' said I. Van Wagener didn't know it, but my intention was to say something sarcastic, for I had never yet known him to make an invention that wasn't a failure. However, he instantly said that my suggestion was an excellent one, and that he thanked me warmly for it. He was always a grateful sort of chap. I've known him to thank a man for blowing him up in his laboratory, merely because the explosion led to the discovery of a new explosive about fifty times more dangerous than dynamite.

"Well, about a month or so later, Van Wagener came to me and said: 'Colonel! You remember, perhaps, our little conversation about burglar alarms. I have followed your advice, and invented a method of protecting a house from burglars which is not only scientific, but practicable.

" 'Then it must be something entirely new in science,' said I.

" 'So it is,' said Van Wagener, never noticing my little sarcasm. That was the only fault the man had. You might just bury him twenty feet deep in sarcasm, so to speak, and he wouldn't notice it.

" 'As I told you,' resumed the Professor, 'the object of a man who attacks the burglar problem from a scientific standpoint, should be to catch burglars instead of frightening them. Now this is precisely what my invention does. I make my house a burglar trap, and I bait it with silver or money, or anything else that is portable and valuable. The burglars enter the trap, but they can't get out again, and in the morning I hand them over to the police. Thus, you see, I not only prevent my house from being robbed, but I constantly diminish the number of burglars in the community by the exact amount of my midnight catch.


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