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THE PROFESSOR’S EXPERIMENT., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 319, 14 April 1881
THE PROFESSOR’S EXPERIMENT.
(From the Neza Yotk Sun.) 111. Strout was stretched upon a reclining chair, his coat and waistcoat off. Professor Schwank stood over him. In his hand was a hollow cone, rolled from a newspaper. He held the cone by the apex; the broad aperture at the base was closely pressed against Strout’s face, covering all but his eyes and his forehead.
‘By long, steady, regular inspirations,’ said the Professor, in a soothing, monotonous voice. * That is right ; that—is —right; there—there—there !’ With every inhalation Strout drew in the pleasant, tingling coolness of the ether fiimes. At first his breathing was forced ; at the end of each inspiration he experienced for an instant a sensation as if mighty waters were rushing through his brain. Gradually the period of the rushing sensation extended itself, until it began with the beginning of each breath. Then the ether seemed to seize possession of his breathing, and to control the expansions and contractions of his chest independently of his own will. The ether breathed for him. He sur rendered himself to its influence with a feeling of delight. The rushing became rhythmic, and the intervals shorter and shorter. His individuality seemed to be wrapt up in the rushings, and to be borne to and fro in their tremendous flux and reflux. * I shall be gone in one second more,’ he thought ; and his consciousness sank in the whirling flood.
Professor Schwank nodded to Dr Diggleraann. The Dr nodded back to the Professor.
Dr Diggleraann was a dry little old man, who weighed hardly more than xoo pounds. He wore a black wig, too large for his head. His eyes were deep set under corrugated brows, while strongly marked lines running from the corners of his nostrils to the corners of his mouth gave his face a lean, sardonic expression, in striking contrast with the jolly rotundity of Professor Schwank’s visage. Dr Diggleraann was taciturn but observant. At the Professor’s nod he opened his case of surgical instruments and selected a scalpel with a keen curved blade, and also a glittering piece of steel, which looked like an exaggerated auger bit with a* gimlet handle. Having satisfied himself that these instruments were in good condition, he deliberately rolled up the sleeves of his coat and approached the unconscious Strout.
4 About the medium line, just behind the junction of the coronal and saggital sutures,’ whispered Professor Schwank eagerly. 4 Yes, I know—l know,’ replied Diggleraann. He was on the point of cutting away with his scalpel some of the brown hair that encumbered operations on the top of Strout’s head, when the door was quickly opened from the outside and a young lady, attended by a maid, entered without ceremony. 4 1 am Blanche Bellglory,’ the young
iady announced to the astonished savants, as spon as she had recovered her breath. '* I have come to .’ At this moment she perceived the motionless form of Strout upon the reclining * chair; while the gleaming steel in Dr Diggletnann’s hand caught her alert eyes. She uttered a little shriek and ran towards the group. ‘ Gh, this is terrible !’ she cried. I am too late, and you have already killed him.’ ‘ Calm yourself, I beg you,’ said the polite Professor. ‘No circumstance is ■« terrible to which we are indebted for a visit from so charming a young lady.’ ‘So great an honor!’ added. Dr Digglemann, grinning diabolically and . rubbing his hands.
‘And Herr Strout,’ continued th£ Professor, ‘is unfortunately, hot yet trephined. As you entered, we wete about beginning the operation’ Miss Bellglory gave a sob of relief and sank into a chair. In a few well-chosen words the Professor explained the theory of, his experiment, dwelling especially upon the effect it was expected to have on the fortunes of the young people. When he finished the American girlV eyes were full of tears, but the firm lines of her mouth showed she had already resolved upon her own course. , \ 4 How noble in him,’ she exclaimed, ‘to submit to be trephined-for my sake! But that must not be. 1 can’t consent to have this poor, dear head mutilated. I should never forgive myself. The trouble all originates from my decision not to marry him without papa’s approval. With my present views of duty, I can not alter that decision. But don’t you think,’ she con- - tinued dropping her voice to a whisper, ‘that if you should trephine me, I might see my duty in a different light?* *lt is extremely probable, my dear young lady,’ replied the Professor, • throwing a significant glance at Dr Diggelmann, who responded with the faintest wink imaginable. ‘ Then,’ said Miss Blanche, arising and beginning to remove her bonnet, ‘ please proceed to trephine me immediately. I insist on it.’ : ‘What is all this?’ demanded the deep voice of the Rev. Dr Bellglory, who had entered the room unnoticed, piloted by Fritz. ,_*l came as rapidly as I could, Blanche, but not early enough, it appears, to, learn the first principles of your singular actions.’ ‘My papa, gentlemen,’ said Miss Bellglory. The two Germans bowed courteously. Dr Bellglory affably returned their salutation.
‘ These gentlemen, . papa/ Miss Blanche explained, ‘ have kindly undertaken to reconcile the difference of opinion between poor George and ourselves by means of a surgical operation. I don’t at all understand it, but George does, for you see that he has thought best to submit to the operation, which they were about to - begin when I arrived. Now, lean not allow him to suffer for my obstinacy ; and, therefore, dear papa, I have requested the gentlemen to trephine me instead of him.’
Prof. Schwank repeated for Dr Bellglory’s information the ‘explanation which he had already made to the young lady. On learning' of Strout’s course in the matter, Dr Bellgloty was greatly affected. * No, Blanche !’ he said; ‘our young friend must not be trephined. Although lean not conscientiously accept him as a son-in-law while our views on the verity of subjective knowledge differ so widely, I can at least emulate his . willingness to open his intellect to conviction. It is I who will be trephined, provided these gentlemen will courteously substitute me for the patient now in their hands.’
‘ We shall be most, happy,’ said Prof. Schwank and Dr Digglemann, in the same breath.
‘ Thanks ! Thanks I* cried Dr- Bell* glory, with genuine emotion. ‘ But I shall not permit ybu to sacri- T ‘ fice your life-long convictions- to my happiness, papa,’ interposed Blanche. The Doctor insisted that he was only doing his duty as a parent. The ami* able dispute went on for some time, : the Germans listening with indifference. Sure of a subject for their experiment at any rate, they cared little which, one of the three Americans came under the knife. Meanwhile, Strout opened his eyes, slowly raised himself on one elbow, vacantly gazed about the room for a few seconds, and then sank back, relapsing temporarily into unconsciousness.
Professor Schwank, who perceived that father and daughter were equally fixed in their determination, and each unlikely to yield to the other, was on the point of suggesting that the question be settled by trephining both of them, when Strout again regained his senses. He sat bolt upright, staring fixedly at the glass jar which contained the positivist’s brain. Then he pressed both hands to his head, muttering a few incoherent words. Gradually as he recovered from the clutch of the ether one after another of his faculties, his eyes brightened and he appealed to recognise the faces around him. After some time he opened his lips and spoke. ‘ Marvelous !’ he exclaimed.
Miss Bellglory ran to him and took his hand. The Doctor hurried forward, intending to renounce his own resolution to be trephined. Strout pressed Blanche’s hand to his lips for an instant, gave the Doctor’s hand a cordial grasp, and then seized the hand of Prof.
Schwank, which he wrung, with the warmth of respectful gratitude. ‘ My dear Herr Professor,’ he said 4 how can I ever repay you ? The experiment is a perfect success.’ 4 But ’ —began the astonished Professor.
4 Don’t try to depreciate your own share in my good fortune,’ interrupted Strout. 4 The theory was yours, and all the triumph of the practical success belongs to you—to you and to Dr Digglemann’s skill’ , ,• Strout, still holding Blanched hand, ' now turned to her father. 4 There is now no obstacle to our union Doctor,’ he said. ‘Thanks to Prof. Schwank’s operation. I see the blind folly of my late attitude toward the Subjective. I recant. I am no longer a positivist. My intellect has leaped the narrow limits that hedged it in. I know now that there is more in our philosophy* than can be * with metric rule or weighed in a Coulomb balance. Ever since I passed under the influence of the ether, 1 have:
been floating in Jhe infinite. i been freed from conditions of tinv- and space. I have lost my own individual ity in the immensity of the All. A d«yj»n times I have been absorbed in Brahma; a dozen times I have emanated from Brahma, a new being, forgetful of my old self. I have stood face to face with the mystic and awful Om,; my world-soul, descending to the Infinite, has floated calmly on for centuries over, an ocean of Affenthaler, My consciousness has leaped back as far as the thirtieth century yet to come. There is nq lime; there is no space; there 1$ nq individual existence; there is nothing save the All, and the faith that guides Reason through the changeless night. P For more than one million years my identity was that of the positivist in the glass jar yonder. Pardon me, Prof. Schwank, but for the same period of time yours was that of the celebrated thief in the other jar. Great heavens ! How mistaken I have been up to the night when you, Herr Professor, took charge of my intellectual destiny.’ He paused for want of breath, but the glow of the mystic’s rapture still lighted up his handsome , features. There was ah awkward silence in the room fora considerable time. 1 hen it was .broken by the dry, harsh voice of
Diggelmann. ‘ You labor under a somewhat ridiculous delusion, young gentleman. You havn’t been trephined yet.’ Strout looked. in amazement from one to another of his friends ; but their faces confirmed the surgeon’s statement. ‘ What was it then ?’ he gasped. ‘ Sulphuric ether,’ replied the surgeon, laconically. * But, after all,’ interposed Dr Bellglory, *it makes little difference what agent has opened your friend’s mind to a perception of the truth. It is a matter for congratulation that the surgical operatiqn becomes no longer necessary.’ ThetwoGermansexchanged glancesof dismay. ‘We shall lose the opportunity for our experiment,’ the Professor whispered to Digglemann. Then he continued aloud, addressing Strout: * I should advise you to submit to the operation, nevertheless. There can be no permanent intellectual cure without It These effects of the ether will pass away.’ ; . ‘Thank you,’ returned Strout, who at last read correctly the cold, calculating expression that lurked behind the scientist’s spectacles. ‘ Thank you, I am very well as I
am.’ * Bat you might, for the sake of Science, consent—■’ persisted Schwank.’ ‘Yes, for the sake of Science,’ echoed Digglemann. * Hang Science,’ replied Strout fiercely. .. ‘ Don’t you know that I no longer believe in Science ?’ Blanche also began to understand the true motives, which had led the German Professor to interfere in her love affair. She cast an approving glance-at Sti out, and arose to depart. .The three Americans moved towards the door. Prof. Schwank and Dr Digglemann fairly gnashed their teeth with rage. Miss Bellglory turned and made them a low courtesy. *lf you must trephine somebody for the sake. Of Science, gentlemen,’ she remarked, with her sweetest smile, ‘you might .draw lots to see which of you shall trephine the other. ( Concluded .)
THE PROFESSOR’S EXPERIMENT., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 319, 14 April 1881
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