The Master Key Page 01
The Master Key
An Electrical Fairy Tale
Founded Upon The Mysteries Of Electricity
And The Optimism Of Its Devotees. It Was Written For Boys, But Others May Read It
by L. Frank Baum
1. Rob's Workshop
2. The Demon of Electricity
3. The Three Gifts
4. Testing the Instruments
5. The Cannibal Island
6. The Buccaneers
7. The Demon Becomes Angry
8. Rob Acquires New Powers
9. The Second Journey
10. How Rob Served a Mighty King
11. The Man of Science
12. How Rob Saved a Republic
13. Rob Loses His Treasures
14. Turk and Tatar
15. A Battle With Monsters
16. Shipwrecked Mariners
17. The Coast of Oregon
18. A Narrow Escape
19. Rob Makes a Resolution
20. The Unhappy Fate of the Demon
These things are quite improbable, to be sure; but are they impossible?
Our big world rolls over as smoothly as it did centuries ago, without a squeak to show it needs oiling after all these years of revolution. But times change because men change, and because civilization, like John Brown's soul, goes ever marching on.
The impossibilities of yesterday become the accepted facts of to-day.
Here is a fairy tale founded upon the wonders of electricity and written for children of this generation. Yet when my readers shall have become men and women my story may not seem to their children like a fairy tale at all.
Perhaps one, perhaps two--perhaps several of the Demon's devices will be, by that time, in popular use.
1. Rob's Workshop
When Rob became interested in electricity his clear-headed father considered the boy's fancy to be instructive as well as amusing; so he heartily encouraged his son, and Rob never lacked batteries, motors or supplies of any sort that his experiments might require.
He fitted up the little back room in the attic as his workshop, and from thence a net-work of wires soon ran throughout the house. Not only had every outside door its electric bell, but every window was fitted with a burglar alarm; moreover no one could cross the threshold of any interior room without registering the fact in Rob's workshop. The gas was lighted by an electric fob; a chime, connected with an erratic clock in the boy's room, woke the servants at all hours of the night and caused the cook to give warning; a bell rang whenever the postman dropped a letter into the box; there were bells, bells, bells everywhere, ringing at the right time, the wrong time and all the time. And there were telephones in the different rooms, too, through which Rob could call up the different members of the family just when they did not wish to be disturbed.
His mother and sisters soon came to vote the boy's scientific craze a nuisance; but his father was delighted with these evidences of Rob's skill as an electrician, and insisted that he be allowed perfect freedom in carrying out his ideas.
"Electricity," said the old gentleman, sagely, "is destined to become the motive power of the world. The future advance of civilization will be along electrical lines. Our boy may become a great inventor and astonish the world with his wonderful creations."
"And in the meantime," said the mother, despairingly, "we shall all be electrocuted, or the house burned down by crossed wires, or we shall be blown into eternity by an explosion of chemicals!"
"Nonsense!" ejaculated the proud father. "Rob's storage batteries are not powerful enough to electrocute one or set the house on fire. Do give the boy a chance, Belinda."
"And the pranks are so humiliating," continued the lady. "When the minister called yesterday and rang the bell a big card appeared on the front door on which was printed the words: 'Busy; Call Again.' Fortunately Helen saw him and let him in, but when I reproved Robert for the act he said he was just trying the sign to see if it would work."
"Exactly! The boy is an inventor already. I shall have one of those cards attached to the door of my private office at once.