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Title: The Tachypomp and Other Stories
Author: Edward Page Mitchell
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Language: English
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The Tachypomp and Other Stories
Edward Page Mitchell



A Mathematical Demonstration

There was nothing mysterious about Professor Surd's dislike for me. I
was the only poor mathematician in an exceptionally mathematical
class. The old gentleman sought the lecture-room every morning with
eagerness, and left it reluctantly. For was it not a thing of joy to
find seventy young men who, individually and collectively, preferred x
to XX; who had rather differentiate than dissipate; and for whom the
limbs of the heavenly bodies had more attractions than those of
earthly stars upon the spectacular stage?

So affairs went on swimmingly between the Professor of Mathematics and
the junior Class at Polyp University. In every man of the seventy the
sage saw the logarithm of a possible La Place, of a Sturm, or of a
Newton. It was a delightful task for him to lead them through the
pleasant valleys of conic sections, and beside the still waters of the
integral calculus. Figuratively speaking, his problem was not a hard
one. He had only to manipulate, and eliminate, and to raise to a
higher power, and the triumphant result of examination day was

But I was a disturbing element, a perplexing unknown quantity, which
had somehow crept into the work, and which seriously threatened to
impair the accuracy of his calculations. It was a touching sight to
behold the venerable mathematician as he pleaded with me not so
utterly to disregard precedent in the use of cotangents; or as he
urged, with eyes almost tearful, that ordinates were dangerous things
to trifle with. All in vain. More theorems went on to my cuff than
into my head. Never did chalk do so much work to so little purpose.
And, therefore, it came that Furnace Second was reduced to zero in
Professor Surd's estimation. He looked upon me with all the horror
which an unalgebraic nature could inspire. I have seen the professor
walk around an entire square rather than meet the man who had no
mathematics in his soul.

For Furnace Second were no invitations to Professor Surd's house.
Seventy of the class supped in delegations around the periphery of the
professor's tea-table. The seventy-first knew nothing of the charms of
that perfect ellipse, with its twin bunches of fuchsias and geraniums
in gorgeous precision at the two foci.

This, unfortunately enough, was no trifling deprivation. Not that I
longed especially for segments of Mrs. Surd's justly celebrated lemon
pies; not that the spheroidal damsons of her excellent preserving had
any marked allurements; not even that I yearned to hear the
professor's jocose tabletalk about binomials, and chatty illustrations
of abstruse paradoxes. The explanation is far different. Professor
Surd had a daughter. Twenty years before, he made a proposition of
marriage to the present Mrs. S. He added a little corollary to his
proposition not long after. The corollary was a girl.

Abscissa Surd was as perfectly symmetrical as Giotto's circle, and as
pure, withal, as the mathematics her father taught. It was just when
spring was coming to extract the roots of frozen-up vegetation that I
fell in love with the corollary. That she herself was not indifferent
I soon had reason to regard as a self-evident truth.

The sagacious reader will already recognize nearly all the elements
necessary to a well-ordered plot. We have introduced a heroine,
inferred a hero, and constructed a hostile parent after the most
approved model. A movement for the story, a Deus ex machina, is alone
lacking. With considerable satisfaction I can promise a perfect
novelty in this line, a Deus ex machina never before offered to the

It would be discounting ordinary intelligence to say that I sought
with unwearying assiduity to figure my way into the stern father's
good-will; that never did dullard apply himself to mathematics more
patiently than I; that never did faithfulness achieve such meagre
reward. Then I engaged a private tutor. His instructions met with no
better success.

My tutor's name was Jean Marie Rivarol. He was a unique Alsatian--
though Gallic in name, thoroughly Teuton in nature; by birth a
Frenchman, by education a German. His age was thirty; his profession,
omniscience; the wolf at his door, poverty; the skeleton in his
closet, a consuming but unrequited passion. The most recondite
principles of practical science were his toys; the deepest intricacies
of abstract science his diversions. Problems which were foreordained
mysteries to me were to him as clear as Tahoe water. Perhaps this very
fact will explain our lack of success in the relation of tutor and
pupil; perhaps the failure is alone due to my own unmitigated
stupidity. Rivarol had hung about the skirts of the University for
several years; supplying his few wants by writing for scientific
journals, or by giving assistance to students who, like myself, were
characterized by a plethora of purse and a paucity of ideas; cooking,
studying and sleeping in his attic lodgings; and prosecuting queer
experiments all by himself.

We were not long discovering that even this eccentric genius could not
transplant brains into my deficient skull. I gave over the struggle in
despair. An unhappy year dragged its slow length around. A gloomy year
it was, brightened only by occasional interviews with Abscissa, the
Abbie of my thoughts and dreams.

Commencement day was coming on apace. I was soon to go forth, with the
rest of my class, to astonish and delight a waiting world. The
professor seemed to avoid me more than ever. Nothing but the
conventionalities, I think kept him from shaping his treatment of me
on the basis of unconcealed disgust.

At last, in the very recklessness of despair, I resolved to see him,
plead with him, threaten him if need be, and risk all my fortunes on
one desperate chance. I wrote him a somewhat defiant letter, stating
my aspirations, and, as I flattered myself, shrewdly giving him a week
to get over the first shock of horrified surprise. Then I was to call
and learn my fate.

During the week of suspense I nearly worried myself into a fever. It
was first crazy hope, and then saner despair. On Friday evening, when
I presented myself at the professor's door, I was such a haggard,
sleepy, dragged-out spectre, that even Miss Jocasta, the harsh-favored
maiden sister of the Surd's, admitted me with commiserate regard, and
suggested pennyroyal tea.

Professor Surd was at a faculty meeting. Would I wait?

Yes, till all was blue, if need be. Miss Abbie?

Abscissa had gone to Wheelborough to visit a school friend. The aged
maiden hoped I would make myself comfortable, and departed to the
unknown haunts which knew Jocasta's daily walk.

Comfortable! But I settled myself in a great uneasy chair and waited,
with the contradictory spirit common to such junctures, dreading every
step lest it should herald the man whom, of all men, I wished to see.

I had been there at least an hour, and was growing right drowsy.

At length Professor Surd came in. He sat down in the dusk opposite me,
and I thought his eyes glinted with malignant pleasure as he said,

"So, young man, you think you are a fit husband for my girl?"

I stammered some inanity about making up in affection what I lacked in
merit; about my expectations, family and the like. He quickly
interrupted me.

"You misapprehend me, sir. Your nature is destitute of those
mathematical perceptions and acquirements which are the only sure
foundations of character. You have no mathematics in you.

You are fit for treason, stratagems, and spoils.--Shakespeare. Your
narrow intellect cannot understand and appreciate a generous mind.
There is all the difference between you and a Surd, if I may say it,
which intervenes between an infinitesimal and an infinite. Why, I will
even venture to say that you do not comprehend the Problem of the

I admitted that the Problem of the Couriers should be classed rather
without my list of accomplishments than within it. I regretted this
fault very deeply, and suggested amendment. I faintly hoped that my
fortune would be such-

"Money!" he impatiently exclaimed. "Do you seek to bribe a Roman
senator with a penny whistle? Why, boy, do you parade your paltry
wealth, which, expressed in mills, will not cover ten decimal places,
before the eyes of a man who measures the planets in their orbits, and
close crowds infinity itself?"

I hastily disclaimed any intention of obtruding my foolish dollars,
and he went on:

"Your letter surprised me not a little. I thought you would be the
last person in the world to presume to an alliance here. But having a
regard for you personally"--and again I saw malice twinkle in his
small eyes--"an still more regard for Abscissa's happiness, I have
decided that you shall have her--upon conditions. Upon conditions," he
repeated, with a half-smothered sneer."

"What are they?" cried I, eagerly enough. "Only name them."

"Well, sir," he continued, and the deliberation of his speech seemed
the very refinement of cruelty, "you have only to prove yourself
worthy an alliance with a mathematical family. You have only to
accomplish a task which I shall presently give you. Your eyes ask me
what it is. I will tell you. Distinguish yourself in that noble branch
of abstract science in which, you cannot but acknowledge, you are at
present sadly deficient. I will place Abscissa's hand in yours
whenever you shall come before me and square the circle to my
satisfaction. No! That is too easy a condition. I should cheat myself.
Say perpetual motion. How do you like that? Do you think it lies
within the range of your mental capabilities? You don't smile. Perhaps
your talents don't run in the way of perpetual motion. Several people
have found that theirs didn't. I'll give you another chance. We were
speaking of the Problem of the Couriers, and I think you expressed a
desire to know more of that ingenious question. You shall have the
opportunity. Sit down some day, when you have nothing else to do, and
discover the principle of infinite speed. I mean the law of motion
which shall accomplish an infinitely great distance in an infinitely
short time. You may mix in a little practical mechanics, if you
choose. Invent some method of taking the tardy Courier over his road
at the rate of sixty miles a minute. Demonstrate me this discovery
(when you have made itl) mathematically, and approximate it
practically, and Abscissa is yours. Until you can, I will thank you to
trouble neither myself nor her."

I could stand his mocking no longer. I stumbled mechanically out of
the room, and out of the house. I even forgot my hat and gloves. For
an hour I walked in the moonlight. Gradually I succeeded to a more
hopeful frame of mind. This was due to my ignorance of mathematics.
Had I understood the real meaning of what he asked, I should have been
utterly despondent.

Perhaps this problem of sixty miles a minute was not so impossible
after all. At any rate I could attempt, though I might not succeed.
And Rivarol came to my mind. I would ask him. I would enlist his
knowledge to accompany my own devoted perseverance. I sought his
lodgings at once.

The man of science lived in the fourth story, back. I had never been
in his room before. When I entered, he was in the act of filling a
beer mug from a carboy labelled aqua fortis.

"Seat you," he said. "No, not in that chair. That is my Petty Cash
Adjuster." But he was a second too late. I had carelessly thrown
myself into a chair of seductive appearance. To my utter amazement it
reached out two skeleton arms and clutched me with a grasp against
which I struggled in vain. Then a skull stretched itself over my
shoulder and grinned with ghastly familiarity close to my face.

Rivarol came to my aid with many apologies. He touched a spring
somewhere and the Petty Cash Adjuster relaxed its horrid hold. I
placed myself gingerly in a plain cane-bottomed rocking-chair, which
Rivarol assured me was a safe location.

"That seat," he said, "is an arrangement upon which I much felicitate
myself. I made it at Heidelberg. It has saved me a vast deal of small
annoyance. I consign to its embraces the friends who bore, and the
visitors who exasperate, me. But it is never so useful as when
terrifying some tradesman with an insignificant account. Hence the pet
name which I have facetiously given it. They are invariably too glad
to purchase release at the price of a bill receipted. Do you well
apprehend the idea?"

While the Alsation diluted his glass of aqua fortis, shook into it an
infusion of bitters, and tossed off the bumper with apparent relish, I
had time to look around the strange apartment.

The four corners of the room were occupied respectively by a turning
lathe, a Rhumkorff Coil, a small steam engine and an orrery in stately
motion. Tables, shelves, chairs and floor supported an odd aggregation
of tools, retorts, chemicals, gas receivers, philosophical
instruments, boots, flasks, paper-collar boxes, books diminutive and
books of preposterous size. There were plaster busts of Aristotle,
Archimedes, and Comte, while a great drowsy owl was blinking away,
perched on the benign brow of Martin Farquhar Tupper. "He always
roosts there when he proposes to slumber," explained my tutor. "You
are a bird of no ordinary mind. Schlafen Sie wohl."

Through a closet door, half open, I could see a humanlike form covered
with a sheet. Rivarol caught my glance.

"That," said he, "will be my masterpiece. It is a Microcosm, an
Android, as yet only partially complete. And why not? Albertus Magnus
constructed an image perfect to talk metaphysics and confute the
schools. So did Sylvester II; so did Robertus Greathead. Roger Bacon
made a brazen head that held discourses. But the first named of these
came to destruction. Thomas Aquinas got wrathful at some of its
syllogisms and smashed its head. The idea is reasonable enough. Mental
action will yet be reduced to laws as definite as those which govern
the physical. Why should not I accomplish a manikin which shall preach
as original discourses as the Reverend Dr. Allchin, or talk poetry as
mechanically as Paul Anapest? My android can already work problems in
vulgar fractions and compose sonnets. I hope to teach it the Positive

Out of the bewildering confusion of his effects Rivarol produced two
pipes and filled them. He handed one to me.

"And here," he said, "I live and am tolerably comfortable. When my
coat wears out at the elbows I seek the tailor and am measured for
another. When I am hungry I promenade myself to the butcher's and
bring home a pound or so of steak, which I cook very nicely in three
seconds by this oxy-hydrogen flame. Thirsty, perhaps, I send for a
carboy of aqua fortis. But I have it charged, all charged. My spirit
is above any small pecuniary transaction. I loathe your dirty
greenbacks, and never handle what they call scrip."

"But are you never pestered with bills?" I asked. "Don't the creditors
worry your life out?"

"Creditors!" gasped Rivarol. "I have learned no such word in your very
admirable language. He who will allow his soul to be vexed by
creditors is a relic of an imperfect civilization. Of what use is
science if it cannot avail a man who has accounts current? Listen. The
moment you or any one else enters the outside door this little
electric bell sounds me warning. Every successive step on Mrs.
Grimler's staircase is a spy and informer vigilant for my benefit. The
first step is trod upon. That trusty first step immediately telegraphs
your weight. Nothing could be simpler. It is exactly like any platform
scale. The weight is registered up here upon this dial. The second
step records the size of my visitor's feet. The third his height, the
fourth his complexion, and so on. By the time he reaches the top of
the first flight I have a pretty accurate description of him right
here at my elbow, and quite a margin of time for deliberation and
action. Do you follow me? It is plain enough. Only the A B C of my

"I see all that," I said, "but I don't see how it helps you any. The
knowledge that a creditor is coming won't pay his bill. You can't
escape unless you jump out of the window."

Rivarol laughed softly. "I will tell you. You shall see what becomes
of any poor devil who goes to demand money of me--of a man of science.
Ha! ha! It pleases me. I was seven weeks perfecting my Dun Suppressor.
Did you know"--he whispered exultingly--"did you know that there is a
hole through the earth's center? Physicists have long suspected it; I
was the first to find it. You have read how Rhuyghens, the Dutch
navigator, discovered in Kerguellen's Land an abysmal pit which
fourteen hundred fathoms of plumb-line failed to sound. Herr Tom, that
hole has no bottom! It runs from one surface of the earth to the
antipodal surface. It is diametric. But where is the antipodal spot?
You stand upon it. I learned this by the merest chance. I was deep-
digging in Mrs. Grimler's cellar, to bury a poor cat I had sacrificed
in a galvanic experiment, when the earth under my spade crumbled,
caved in, and wonder-stricken I stood upon the brink of a yawning
shaft. I dropped a coal-hod in. It went down, down, down, bounding and
rebounding. In two hours and a quarter that coal-hod came up again. I
caught it and restored it to the angry Grimler. Just think a minute.
The coal-hod went down, faster and faster, till it reached the center
of the earth. There it would stop, were it not for acquired momentum.
Beyond the center its journey was relatively upward, toward the
opposite surface of the globe. So, losing velocity, it went slower and
slower till it reached that surface. Here it came to rest for a second
and then fell back again, eight thousand odd miles, into my hands. Had
I not interfered with it, it would have repeated its journey, time
after time, each trip of shorter extent, like the diminishing
oscillations of a pendulum, till it finally came to eternal rest at
the center of the sphere. I am not slow to give a practical
application to any such grand discovery. My Dun Suppressor was born of
it. A trap, just outside my chamber door: a spring in here: a creditor
on the trap: need I say more?"

"But isn't it a trifle inhuman?" I mildly suggested. "Plunging an
unhappy being into a perpetual journey to and from Kerguellen's Land,
without a moment's warning."

"I give them a chance. When they come up the first time I wait at the
mouth of the shaft with a rope in hand. If they are reasonable and
will come to terms, I fling them the line. If they perish, 'tis their
own fault. Only," he added, with a melancholy smile, "the center is
getting so plugged up with creditors that I am afraid there soon will
be no choice whatever for'em."

By this time I had conceived a high opinion of my tutor's ability. If
anybody could send me waltzing through space at an infinite speed,
Rivarol could do it. I filled my pipe and told him the story. He heard
with grave and patient attention. Then, for full half an hour, he
whiffed away in silence. Finally he spoke.

"The ancient cipher has overreached himself. He has given you a choice
of two problems, both of which he deems insoluble. Neither of them is
insoluble. The only gleam of intelligence Old Cotangent showed was
when he said that squaring the circle was too easy. He was right. It
would have given you your Liebchen in five minutes. I squared the
circle before I discarded pantalets. I will show you the work--but it
would be a digression, and you are in no mood for digressions. Our
first chance, therefore, lies in perpetual motion. Now, my good
friend, I will frankly tell you that, although I have compassed this
interesting problem, I do not choose to use it in your behalf. I too,
Herr Tom, have a heart. The loveliest of her sex frowns upon me. Her
somewhat mature charms are not for Jean Marie Rivarol. She has cruelly
said that her years demand of me filial rather than connubial regard.
Is love a matter of years or of eternity? This question did I put to
the cold, yet lovely Jocasta."

"Jocasta Surd!" I remarked in surprise, "Abscissa's aunt!"

"The same," he said, sadly. "I will not attempt to conceal that upon
the maiden Jocasta my maiden heart has been bestowed. Give me your
hand, my nephew in affliction as in affection!"

Rivarol dashed away a not discreditable tear, and resumed:

"My only hope lies in this discovery of perpetual motion. It will give
me the fame, the wealth. Can Jocasta refuse these? If she can, there
is only the trap-door and--Kerguellen's Land!"

I bashfully asked to see the perpetual-motion machine. My uncle in
affliction shook his head.

"At another time," he said. "Suffice it at present to say, that it is
something upon the principle of a woman's tongue. But you see now why
we must turn in your case to the alternative condition--infinite
speed. There are several ways in which this may be accomplished,
theoretically. By the lever, for instance. Imagine a lever with a very
long and a very short arm. Apply power to the shorter arm which will
move it with great velocity. The end of the long arm will move much
faster. Now keep shortening the short arm and lengthening the long
one, and as you approach infinity in their difference of length, you
approach infinity in the speed of the long arm. It would be difficult
to demonstrate this practically to the professor. We must seek another
solution. Jean Marie will meditate. Come to me in a fortnight. Good-
night. But stop! Have you the money--das Geld?"

"Much more than I need."

"Good! Let us strike hands. Gold and Knowledge; Science and Love. What
may not such a partnership achieve? We go to conquer thee, Abscissa.

When, at the end of a fortnight; I sought Rivarol's chamber, I passed
with some little trepidation over the terminus of the Air Line to
Kerguellen's Land, and evaded the extended arms of the Petty Cash
Adjuster. Rivarol drew a mug of ale for me, and filled himself a
retort of his own peculiar beverage.

"Come," he said at length. "Let us drink success to the TACHYPOMP."


"Yes. Why not? Tachu, quickly, and pempo, pepompa, to send. May it
send you quickly to your wedding-day. Abscissa is yours. It is done.
When shall we start for the prairies?"

"Where is it?" I asked, looking in vain around the room for any
contrivance which might seem calculated to advance matrimonial

"It is here," and he gave his forehead a significant tap. Then he held
forth didactically.

"There is force enough in existence to yield us a speed of sixty miles
a minute, or even more. All we need is the knowledge how to combine
and apply it. The wise man will not attempt to make some great force
yield some great speed. He will keep adding the little force to the
little force, making each little force yield its little speed, until
an aggregate of little forces shall be a great force, yielding an
aggregate of little speeds, a great speed. The difficulty is not in
aggregating the forces; it lies in the corresponding aggregation of
the speeds. One musket ball will go, say a mile. It is not hard to
increase the force of muskets to a thousand, yet the thousand musket
balls will go no farther, and no faster, than the one. You see, then,
where our trouble lies. We cannot readily add speed to speed, as we
add force to force. My discovery is simply the utilization of a
principle which extorts an increment of speed from each increment of
power. But this is the metaphysics of physics. Let us be practical or

"When you have walked forward, on a moving train, from the rear car,
toward the engine, did you ever think what you were really doing?"

"Why, yes, I have generally been going to the smoking car to have a

"Tut, tut--not that! I mean, did it ever occur to you on such an
occasion, that absolutely you were moving faster than the train? The
train passes the telegraph poles at the rate of thirty miles an hour,
say. You walk toward the smoking car at the rate of four miles an
hour. Then you pass the telegraph poles at the rate of thirty-four
miles. Your absolute speed is the speed of the engine, plus the speed
of your own locomotion. Do you follow me?"

I began to get an inkling of his meaning, and told him so.

"Very well. Let us advance a step. Your addition to the speed of the
engine is trivial, and the space in which you can exercise it,
limited. Now suppose two stations, A and B, two miles distant by the
track. Imagine a train of platform cars, the last car resting at
station A. The train is a mile long, say. The engine is therefore
within a mile of station B. Say the train can move a mile in ten
minutes. The last car, having two miles to go, would reach B in twenty
minutes, but the engine, a mile ahead, would get there in ten. You
jump on the last car, at A, in a prodigious hurry to reach Abscissa,
who is at B. If you stay on the last car it will be twenty long
minutes before you see her. But the engine reaches B and the fair lady
in ten. You will be a stupid reasoner, and an indifferent lover, if
you don't put for the engine over those platform cars, as fast as your
legs will carry you. You can run a mile, the length of the train, in
ten minutes. Therefore, you reach Abscissa when the engine does, or in
ten minutes--ten minutes sooner than if you had lazily sat down upon
the rear car and talked politics with the brakeman. You have
diminished the time by one half. You have added your speed to that of
the locomotive to some purpose. Nicht wahr?"

I saw it perfectly; much plainer, perhaps, for his putting in the
clause about Abscissa.

He continued, "This illustration, though a slow one, leads up to a
principle which may be carried to any extent. Our first anxiety will
be to spare your legs and wind. Let us suppose that the two miles of
track are perfectly straight, and make our train one platform car, a
mile long, with parallel rails laid upon its top. Put a little dummy
engine on these rails, and let it run to and fro along the platform
car, while the platform car is pulled along the ground track. Catch
the idea? The dummy takes your place. But it can run its mile much
faster. Fancy that our locomotive is strong enough to pull the
platform car over the two miles in two minutes. The dummy can attain
the same speed. When the engine reaches B in one minute, the dummy,
having gone a mile a-top the platform car, reaches B also. We have so
combined the speeds of those two engines as to accomplish two miles in
one minute. Is this all we can do? Prepare to exercise your

I lit my pipe.

"Still two miles of straight track, between A and B. On the track a
long platform car, reaching from A to within a quarter of a mile of B.
We will now discard ordinary locomotives and adopt as our motive power
a series of compact magnetic engines, distributed underneath the
platform car, all along its length."

"I don't understand those magnetic engines."

"Well, each of them consists of a great iron horseshoe, rendered
alternately a magnet and not a magnet by an intermittent current of
electricity from a battery, this current in its turn regulated by
clock-work. When the horseshoe is in the circuit, it is a magnet, and
it pulls its clapper toward it with enormous power. When it is out of
the circuit, the next second, it is not a magnet, and it lets the
clapper go. The clapper, oscillating to and fro, imparts a rotatory
motion to a fly wheel, which transmits it to the drivers on the rails.
Such are our motors. They are no novelty, for trial has proved them

"With a magnetic engine for every truck of wheels, we can reasonably
expect to move our immense car, and to drive it along at a speed, say,
of a mile a minute.

"The forward end, having but a quarter of a mile to go, will reach B
in fifteen seconds. We will call this platform car number 1. On top of
number 1 are laid rails on which another platform car, number 2, a
quarter of a mile shorter than number 1, is moved in precisely the
same way. Number 2, in its turn, is surmounted by number 3, moving
independently of the tiers beneath, and a quarter of a mile shorter
than number 2. Number 2 is a mile and a half long; number 3 a mile and
a quarter. Above, on successive levels, are number 4, a mile long;
number 5, three quarters of a mile; number 6, half a mile; number 7, a
quarter of a mile, and number 8, a short passenger car, on top of

"Each car moves upon the car beneath it, independently of all the
others, at the rate of a mile a minute. Each car has its own magnetic
engines. Well, the train being drawn up with the latter end of each
car resting against a lofty bumping-post at A, Tom Furnace, the
gentlemanly conductor, and Jean Marie Rivarol, engineer, mount by a
long ladder to the exalted number 8. The complicated mechanism is set
in motion. What happens?"

"Number 8 runs a quarter of a mile in fifteen seconds and reaches the
end of number 7. Meanwhile number 7 has run a quarter of a mile in the
same time and reached the end of number 6; number 6, a quarter of a
mile in fifteen seconds, and reached the end of number 5; number 5,
the end of number 4; number 4, of number 3; number 3, of number 2;
number 2, of number 1. And number 1, in fifteen seconds, has gone its
quarter of a mile along the ground track, and has reached station B.
All this has been done in fifteen seconds. Wherefore, numbers 1, 2, 3,
4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 come to rest against the bumping-post at B, at
precisely the same second. We, in number 8, reach B just when number 1
reaches it. In other words, we accomplish two miles in fifteen
seconds. Each of the eight cars, moving at the rate of a mile a
minute, has contributed a quarter of a mile to our journey, and has
done its work in fifteen seconds. All the eight did their work at
once, during the same fifteen seconds. Consequently we have been
whizzed through the air at the somewhat startling speed of seven and a
half seconds to the mile. This is the Tachypomp. Does it justify the

Although a little bewildered by the complexity of cars, I apprehended
the general principle of the machine. I made a diagram, and understood
it much better. "You have merely improved on the idea of my moving
faster than the train when I was going to the smoking car?"

"Precisely. So far we have kept within the bounds of the practicable.
To satisfy the professor, you can theorize in something after this
fashion: If we double the number of cars, thus decreasing by one half
the distance which each has to go, we shall attain twice the speed.
Each of the sixteen cars will have but one eighth of a mile to go. At
the uniform rate we have adopted, the two miles can be done in seven
and a half instead of fifteen seconds. With thirty-two cars, and a
sixteenth of a mile, or twenty rods difference in their length, we
arrive at the speed of a mile in less than two seconds; with sixty-
four cars, each travelling but ten rods, a mile under the second. More
than sixty miles a minute! If this isn't rapid enough for the
professor, tell him to go on, increasing the number of his cars and
diminishing the distance each one has to run. If sixty-four cars yield
a speed of a mile inside the second, let him fancy a Tachypomp of six
hundred and forty cars, and amuse himself calculating the rate of car
number 640. Just whisper to him that when he has an infinite number of
cars with an infinitesimal difference in their lengths, he will have
obtained that infinite speed for which he seems to yearn. Then demand

I wrung my friend's hand in silent and grateful admiration. I could
say nothing.

"You have listened to the man of theory," he said proudly. "You shall
now behold the practical engineer. We will go to the west of the
Mississippi and find some suitably level locality. We will erect
thereon a model Tachypomp. We will summon thereunto the professor, his
daughter, and why not his fair sister Jocasta, as well? We will take
them a journey which shall much astonish the venerable Surd. He shall
place Abscissa's digits in yours and bless you both with an algebraic
formula. Jocasta shall contemplate with wonder the genius of Rivarol.
But we have much to do. We must ship to St. Joseph the vast amount of
material to be employed in the construction of the Tachypomp. We must
engage a small army of workmen to effect that construction, for we are
to annihilate time and space. Perhaps you had better see your

I rushed impetuously to the door. There should be no delay. "Stop!
stop! Um Gottes Willen, stop!" shrieked Rivarol. "I launched my
butcher this morning and I haven't bolted the-"

But it was too late. I was upon the trap. It swung open with a crash,
and I was plunged down, down, down! I felt as if I were falling
through illimitable space. I remember wondering, as I rushed through
the darkness, whether I should reach Kerguellen's Land or stop at the
center. It seemed an eternity. Then my course was suddenly and
painfully arrested.

I opened my eyes. Around me were the walls of Professor Surd's study.
Under me was a hard, unyielding plane which I knew too well was
Professor Surd's study floor. Behind me was the black, slippery,
haircloth chair which had belched me forth, much as the whale served
Jonah. In front of me stood Professor Surd himself, looking down with
a not unpleasant smile.

"Good evening, Mr. Furnace. Let me help you up. You look tired, sir.
No wonder you fell asleep when I kept you so long waiting. Shall I get
you a glass of wine? No? By the way, since receiving your letter I
find that you are a son of my old friend, Judge Furnace. I have made
inquiries, and see no reason why you should not make Abscissa a good

Still I can see no reason why the Tachypomp should not have succeeded.
Can you?


The Singular Materialism of a Progressive Thinker


BOSTON, December 13--Professor Dummkopf, a German gentleman of
education and ingenuity, at present residing in this city, is engaged
on experiments which, if successful, will work a great change both in
metaphysical science and in the practical relationships of life.

The professor is firm in the conviction that modern science has
narrowed down to almost nothing the border territory between the
material and the immaterial. It may be some time, he admits, before
any man shall be able to point his finger and say with authority,
"Here mind begins; here matter ends." It may be found that the
boundary line between mina and matter is as purely imaginary as the
equator that divides the northern from the southern hemisphere. It may
be found that mind is essentially objective as is matter, or that
matter is as entirely Subjective as is mind. It may be that there is
no matter except as conditioned in mind. It may be that there is no
mind except as conditioned in matter. Professor Dummkopf's views upon
this broad topic are interesting, although somewhat bewildering. I can
cordially recommend the great work in nine volumes,
Koerperliehegelswissenschaft, to any reader who may be inclined to
follow up the subject. The work can undoubtedly be obtained in the
original Leipzig edition through any responsible importer of foreign

Great as is the problem suggested above, Professor Dummkopf has no
doubt whatever that it will be solved, and at no distant day. He
himself has taken a masterly stride toward a solution by the brilliant
series of experiments I am about to describe. He not only believes
with Tyndall that matter contains the promise and potency of all life,
but he believes that every force, physical, intellectual, and moral,
may be resolved into matter, formulated in terms of matter, and
analyzed into its constituent forms of matter; that motion is matter,
mind is matter, law is matter, and even that abstract relations of
mathematical abstractions are purely material.


In accordance with an invitation extended to me at the last meeting of
the Radical Club--an organization, by the way, which is doing a noble
work in extending our knowledge of the Unknowable--I dallied yesterday
at Professor Dummkopf's rooms in Joy Street, at the West End. I found
the professor in his apartment on the upper floor, busily engaged in
an attempt to photograph smell.

"You see," he said, as he stirred up a beaker from which strongly
marked fumes of sulphuretied hydrogen were arising and filling the
room, "you see that, having demonstrated the objectiveness of
sensation, it has now become my privilege and easy task to show that
the phenomena of sensation are equally material. Hence I am attempting
to photograph smell."

The professor then darted behind a camera which was leveled upon the
vessel in which the suffocating fumes were generated and busied
himself awhile with the plate.

A disappointed look stole over his face as he brought the negative to
the light and examined it anxiously. "Not yet, not yet!" he said
sadly, "but patience and improved appliances will finally bring it.
The trouble is in my tools, you see, and not in my theory. I did fancy
the other day that I obtained a distinctly marked negative from the
odor of a hot onion stew, and the thought has cheered me ever since.
But it's bound to come. I tell you, my worthy friend, the actinic ray
wasn't made for nothing. Could you accommodate me with a dollar and a
quarter to buy some more collodion?"


I expressed my cheerful readiness to be banker to genius.

"Thanks," said the professor, pocketing the scrip and resuming his
position at the camera. "When I have pictorially captured smell, the
most palpable of the senses, the next thing will be to imprison
sound--vulgarly speaking, to bottle it. Just think a moment. Force is
as imperishable as matter; indeed, as I have been somewhat successful
in showing, it is matter. Now, when a sound wave is once started, it
is only lost through an indefinite extension of its circumference.
Catch that sound wave, sir! Catch it in a bottle, then its
circumference cannot extend. You may keep the sound wave forever if
you will only keep it corked up tight. The only difficulty is in
bottling it in the first place. I shall attend to the details of that
operation just as soon as I have managed to photograph the confounded
rotten-egg smell of sulphydric acid."

The professor stirred up the offensive mixture with a glass rod, and

"While my object in bottling sound is mainly scientific, I must
confess that I see in success in that direction a prospect of
considerable pecuniary profit. I shall be prepared at no distant day
to put operas in quart bottles, labeled and assorted, and contemplate
a series of light and popular airs in ounce vials at prices to suit
the times. You know very well that it costs a ten-dollar bill now to
take a lady to hear Martha or Mignon, rendered in first-class style.
By the bottle system, the same notes may be heard in one's own parlor
at a comparatively trifling expense. I could put the operas into the
market at from eighty cents to a dollar a bottle. For oratorios and
symphonies I should use demijohns, and the cost would of course be
greater. I don't think that ordinary bottles would hold Wagner's
music. It might be necessary to employ carboys. Sir, if I were of the
sanguine habit of you Americans, I should say that there were millions
in it. Being a phlegmatic Teuton, accustomed to the precision and
moderation of scientific language, I will merely say that in the
success of my experiments with sound I see a comfortable income, as
well as great renown.


By this time the professor had another negative, but an eager
examination of it yielded nothing more satisfactory than before. He
sighed and continued:

"Having photographed smell and bottled sound, I shall proceed to a
project as much higher than this as the reflective faculties are
higher than the perceptive, as the brain is more exalted than the ear
or nose.

"I am perfectly satisfied that elements of mind are just as
susceptible of detection and analysis as elements of matter. Why, mind
is matter.

"The soul spectroscope, or, as it will better be known, Dummkopf's
duplex self-registering soul spectroscope, is based on the broad fact
that whatever is material may be analyzed and determined by the
position of the Frauenhofer lines upon the spectrum. If soul is
matter, soul may thus be analyzed and determined. Place a subject
under the light, and the minute exhalations or emanations proceeding
from his soul--and these exhalations or emanations are, of course,
matter--will be represented by their appropriate symbols upon the face
of a properly arranged spectroscope.

"This, in short, is my discovery. How I shall arrange the
spectroscope, and how I shall locate the subject with reference to the
light is of course my secret. I have applied for a patent. I shall
exploit the instrument and its practical workings at the Centennial.
Till then I must decline to enter into any more explicit description
of the invention."


"What will be the bearing of your great discovery in its practical

"I can go so far as to give you some idea of what those practical
workings are. The effect of the soul spectroscope upon everyday
affairs will be prodigious, simply prodigious. All lying, deceit,
double dealing, hypocrisy, will be abrogated under its operation. It
will bring about a millennium of truth and sincerity.

"A few practical illustrations. No more bell punches on the horse
railroad. The superintendent, with a smattering of scientific
knowledge and one of my soul spectroscopes in his office, will examine
with the eye of infallible science every applicant for the position of
conductor and will determine by the markings on his spectrum whether
there is dishonesty in his soul, and this as readily as the chemist
decides whether there is iron in a meteorolite or hydrogen in Saturn's

"No more courts, judges, or juries. Hereafter justice will be
represented with both eyes wide open and with one of my duplex self-
registering soul spectroscopes in her right hand. The inmost nature of
the accused will be read at a glance and he will be acquitted,
imprisoned for thirty days, or hung, just as the Frauenhofer lines
which lay bare his soul may determine.

"No more official corruption or politicians' lies. The important
element in every campaign will be one of my soul spectroscopes, and it
will effect the most radical, and, at the same time, the most
practicable of civil service reforms.

"No more young stool pigeons in tall towers. No man will subscribe for
a daily newspaper until a personal inspection of its editor's soul by
means of one of my spectroscopes has convinced him that he is paying
for truth, honest conviction, and uncompromising independence, rather
than for the false utterances of a hired conscience and a bought

"No more unhappy marriages. The maiden will bring her glibly promising
lover to me before she accepts or rejects his proposal, and I shall
tell her whether his spectrum exhibits the markings of pure love,
constancy, and tenderness, or of sordid avarice, vacillating
affections, and post-nuptial cruelty. I shall be the angel with
shining sword (or rather spectroscope] who shall attend Hymen and
guard the entrance to his paradise.

"No more shame. If anything be wanting in the character of a mean, no
amount of brazen pretension on his part can place the missing line in
his spectrum. If anything is lacking in him, it will be lacking there.
I found by a long series of experiments upon the imperfectly
constituted minds of the patients in the lunatic asylum at Taunton-"

"Then you have been at Taunton?"

"Yes. For two years I pursued my studies among the unfortunate inmates
of that institution. Not exactly as a patient myself, you understand,
but as a student of the phenomena of morbid intellectual developments.
But I see I am wearying you, and I must resume my photography before
this stuff stops smelling. Come again."

Having bid the professor farewell and wished him abundant success in
his very interesting experiments, I went home and read again for the
thirty-ninth time Professor Tyndall's address at Belfast.


On a shelf in the old Arsenal Museum, in the Central Park, in the
midst of stuffed hummingbirds, ermines, silver foxes, and bright-
colored parakeets, there is a ghastly row of human heads. I pass by
the mummied Peruvian, the Maori chief, and the Flathead Indian to
speak of a Caucasian head which has had a fascinating interest to me
ever since it was added to the grim collection a little more than a
year ago.

I was struck with the Head when I first saw it. The pensive
intelligence of the features won me. The face is remarkable, although
the nose is gone, and the nasal fossae are somewhat the worse for
wear. The eyes are likewise wanting, but the empty orbs have an
expression of their own. The parchmenty skin is so shriveled that the
teeth show to their roots in the jaws. The mouth has been much
affected by the ravages of decay, but what mouth there is displays
character. It seems to say: "Barring certain deficiencies in my
anatomy, you behold a man of parts!" The features of the Head are of
the Teutonic cast, and the skull is the skull of a philosopher. What
particularly attracted my attention, however, was the vague
resemblance which this dilapidated countenance bore to some face which
had at some time been familiar to me--some face which lingered in my
memory, but which I could not place.

After all, I was not greatly surprised, when I had known the Head for
nearly a year, to see it acknowledge our acquaintance and express its
appreciation of friendly interest on my part by deliberately winking
at me as I stood before its glass case.

This was on a Trustees' Day, and I was the only visitor in the hall.
The faithful attendant had gone to enjoy a can of beer with his
friend, the superintendent of the monkeys.

The Head winked a second time, and even more cordially than before. I
gazed upon its efforts with the critical delight of an anatomist. I
saw the masseter muscle flex beneath the leathery skin. I saw the play
of the glutinators, and the beautiful lateral movement of the internal
playtsyma. I knew the Head was trying to speak to me. I noted the
convulsive twitchings of the risorius and the zygomatie major, and
knew that it was endeavoring to smile.

"Here," I thought, "is either a case of vitality long after
decapitation, or, an instance of reflex action where there is no
diastaltic or excitor-motory system. In either case the phenomenon is
unprecedented, and should be carefully observed. Besides, the Head is
evidently well disposed toward me." I found a key on my bunch which
opened the glass door.

"Thanks," said the Head. "A breath of fresh air is quite a treat."

"How do you feel?" I asked politely. "How does it seem without a

The Head shook itself sadly and sighed. "I would give," it said,
speaking through its ruined nose, and for obvious reasons using chest
tones sparingly, "I would give both ears for a single leg. My ambition
is principally ambulatory, and yet I cannot walk. I cannot even hop or
waddle. I would fain travel, roam, promenade, circulate in the busy
paths of men, but I am chained to this accursed shelf. I am no better
off than these barbarian heads--I, a man of science! I am compelled to
sit here on my neck and see sandpipers and storks all around me, with
legs and to spare. Look at that infernal little Oedieneninus longpipes
over there. Look at that miserable gray-headed porphyric. They have no
brains, no ambition, no yearnings. Yet they have legs, legs, legs, in
profusion." He cast an envious glance across the alcove at the
tantalizing limbs of the birds in question and added gloomily, "There
isn't even enough of me to make a hero for one of Wilkie Collins's

I did not exactly know how to console him in so delicate a manner, but
ventured to hint that perhaps his condition had its compensations in
immunity from corns and the gout.

"And as to arms," he went on, "there's another misfortune for you! I
am unable to brush away the flies that get in here--Lord knows how--in
the summertime. I cannot reach over and cuff that confounded Chinook
mummy that sits there grinning at me like a jack-in-the-box. I cannot
scratch my head or even blow my nose (his nose!) decently when I get
cold in this thundering draft. As to eating and drinking, I don't
care. My soul is wrapped up in science. Science is my bride, my
divinity. I worship her footsteps in the past and hail the prophecy of
her future progress. I-"

I had heard these sentiments before. In a flash I had accounted for
the familiar look which had haunted me ever since I first saw the
Head. "Pardon me," I said, "you are the celebrated Professor

"That is, or was, my name," he replied, with dignity.

"And you formerly lived in Boston, where you carried on scientific
experiments of startling originality. It was you who first discovered
how to photograph smell, how to bottle music, how to freeze the aurora
borealis. It was you who first applied spectrW analysis to Mind."

"Those were some of my minor achievements," said the Head, sadly
nodding itself--"small when compared with my final invention, the
grand discovery which was at the same time my greatest triumph and my
ruin. I lost my Body in an experiment."

"How was that?" I asked. "I had not heard."

"No," said the Head. "I being alone and friendless, my disappearance
was hardly noticed. I will tell you."

There was a sound upon the stairway. "Hush!" cried the Head. "Here
comes somebody. We must not be discovered. You must dissemble."

I hastily closed the door of the glass case, locking it just in time
to evade the vigilance of the returning keeper, and dissembled by
pretending to examine, with great interest, a nearby exhibit.

On the next Trustees' Day I revisited the museum and gave the keeper
of the Head a dollar on the pretense of purchasing information in
regard to the curiosities in his charge. He made the circuit of the
hall with me, talking volubly all the while.

"That there," he said, as we stood before the Head, "is a relic of
morality presented to the museum fifteen months ago. The head of a
notorious murderer guillotined at Paris in the last century, sir."

I fancied that I saw a slight twitching about the corners of Professor
Dummkopf's mouth and an almost imperceptible depression of what was
once his left eyelid, but he kept his face remarkably well under the
circumstances. I dismissed my guide with many thanks for his
intelligent services, and, as I had anticipated, he departed forthwith
to invest his easily earned dollar in beer, leaving me to pursue my
conversation with the Head.

"Think of putting a wooden-headed idiot like that," said the
professor, after I had opened his glass prison, "in charge of a
portion, however small, of a man of science--of the inventor of the
Telepomp! Paris! Murderer! Last century, indeed!" and the Head shook
with laughter until I feared that it would tumble off the shelf.

"You spoke of your invention, the Telepomp," I suggested.

"Ah, yes," said the Head, simultaneously recovering its gravity and
its center of gravity; "I promised to tell you how I happen to be a
Man without a Body. You see that some three or four years ago I
discovered the principle of the transmission of sound by electricity.
My telephone, as I called it, would have been an invention of great
practical utility if I had been spared to introduce it to the public.
But, alas-"

"Excuse the interruption," I said, "but I must inform you that
somebody else has recently accomplished the same thing. The telephone
is a realized fact."

"Have they gone any further?" he eagerly asked. "Have they discovered
the great secret of the transmission of atoms? In other words, have
they accomplished the Telepomp?"

"I have heard nothing of the kind," I hastened to assure him, "but
what do you mean?"

"Listen," he said. "In the course of my experiments with the telephone
I became convinced that the same principle was capable of indefinite
expansion. Matter is made up of molecules, and molecules, in their
turn, are made up of atoms. The atom, you know, is the unit of being.
The molecules differ according to the number and the arrangement of
their constituent atoms. Chemical changes are effected by the
dissolution of the atoms in the molecules and their rearrangements
into molecules of another kind. This dissolution may be accomplished
by chemical affinity or by a sufficiently strong electric current. Do
you follow me?"


"Well, then, following out this line of thought, I conceived a great
idea. There was no reason why matter could not be telegraphed, or, to
be etymologically accurate, 'telepomped.' It was only necessary to
effect at one end of the line the disintegration of the molecules into
atoms and to convey the vibrations of the chemical dissolution by
electricity to the other pole, where a corresponding reconstruction
could be effected from other atoms. As all atoms are alike, their
arrangement into molecules of the same order, and the arrangement of
those molecules into an organization similar to the original
organization, would be practically a reproduction of the original. It
would be a materialization--not in the sense of the spiritualists'
cant, but in all the truth and logic of stern science. Do you still
follow me?"

"It is a little misty," I said, "but I think I get the point. You
would telegraph the Idea of the matter, to use the word Idea in
Plato's sense."

"Precisely. A candle flame is the same candle flame although the
burning gas is continually changing. A wave on the surface of water is
the same wave, although the water composing it is shifting as it
moves. A man is the same man although there is not an atom in his body
which was there five years before. It is the form, the shape, the
Idea, that is essential. The vibrations that give individuality to
matter may be transmitted to a distance by wire just as readily as the
vibrations that give individuality to sound. So I constructed an
instrument by which I could pull down matter, so to speak, at the
anode and build it up again on the same plan at the cathode. This was
my Telepomp."

"But in practice--how did the Telepomp work?"

"To perfection! In my rooms on joy Street, in Boston, I had about five
miles of wire. I had no difficulty in sending simple compounds, such
as quartz, starch, and water, from one room to another over this five-
mile coil. I shall never forget the joy with which I disintegrated a
three-cent postage stamp in one room and found it immediately
reproduced at the receiving instrument in another. This success with
inorganic matter emboldened me to attempt the same thing with a living
organism. I caught a cat--a black and yellow cat--and I submitted him
to a terrible current from my two-hundred-cup battery. The cat
disappeared in a twinkling. I hastened to the next room and, to my
immense satisfaction, found Thomas there, alive and purring, although
somewhat astonished. It worked like a charm."

"This is certainly very remarkable."

"Isn't it? After my experiment with the cat, a gigantic idea took
possession of me. If I could send a feline being, why not send a human
being? If I could transmit a cat five miles by wire in an instant by
electricity, why not transmit a man to London by Atlantic cable and
with equal dispatch? I resolved to strengthen my already powerful
battery and try the experiment. Like a thorough votary of science, I
resolved to try the experiment on myself.

"I do not like to dwell upon this chapter of my experience," continued
the Head, winking at a tear which had trickled down on to his cheek
and which I gently wiped away for him with my own pocket handkerchief.
"Suffice it that I trebled the cups in my battery, stretched my wire
over housetops to my lodgings in Phillips Street, made everything
ready, and with a solemn calmness born of my confidence in the theory,
placed myself in the receiving instrument of the Telepomp at my Joy
Street office. I was as sure that when I made the connection with the
battery I would find myself in my rooms in Phillips Street as I was
sure of my existence. Then I touched the key that let on the
electricity. Alas!"

For some moments my friend was unable to speak. At last, with an
effort, he resumed his narrative.

"I began to disintegrate at my feet and slowly disappeared under my
own eyes. My legs melted away, and then my trunk and arms. That
something was wrong, I knew from the exceeding slowness of my
dissolution, but I was helpless. Then my head went and I lost all
consciousness. According to my theory, my head, having been the last
to disappear, should have been the first to materialize at the other
end of the wire. The theory was confirmed in fact. I recovered
consciousness. I opened my eyes in my Phillips Street apartments. My
chin was materializing, and with great satisfaction I saw my neck
slowly taking shape. Suddenly, and about at the third cervical
vertebra, the process stopped. In a flash I knew the reason. I had
forgotten to replenish the cups of my battery with fresh sulphuric
acid, and there was not electricity enough to materialize the rest of
me. I was a Head, but my body was Lord knows where."

I did not attempt to offer consolation. Words would have been mockery
in the presence of Professor Dummkopf's grief.

"What matters it about the rest?" he sadly continued. "The house in
Phillips Street was full of medical students. I suppose that some of
them found my head, and knowing nothing of me or of the Telepomp,
appropriated it for purposes of anatomical study. I suppose that they
attempted to preserve it by means of some arsenical preparation. How
badly the work was done is shown by my defective nose. I suppose that
I drifted from medical student to medical student and from anatomical
cabinet to anatomical cabinet until some would-be humorist presented
me to this collection as a French murderer of the last century. For
some months I knew nothing, and when I recovered consciousness I found
myself here.

"Such," added the Head, with a dry, harsh laugh, "is the irony of

"Is there nothing I can do for you?" I asked, after a pause.

"Thank you," the Head replied; "I am tolerably cheerful and resigned.
I have lost pretty much all interest in experimental science. I sit
here day after day and watch the objects of zoological,
ichthyological, ethnological, and conchological interest with which
this admirable museum abounds. I don't know of anything you can do for

"Stay," he added, as his gaze fell once more upon the exasperating
legs of the Oedienenius longpipes opposite him. "If there is anything
I do feel the need of, it is outdoor exercise. Couldn't you manage in
some way to take me out for a walk?"

I confess that I was somewhat staggered by this request, but promised
to do what I could. After some deliberation, I formed a plan, which
was carried out in the following manner:

I returned to the museum that afternoon just before the closing hour,
and hid myself behind the mammoth sea cow, or Manatus Americanus. The
attendant, after a cursory glance through the hall, locked up the
building and departed. Then I came boldly forth and removed my friend
from his shelf. With a piece of stout twine, I lashed his one or two
vertebrae to the headless vertebrae of a skeleton moa. This gigantic
and extinct bird of New Zealand is heavy-legged, full-breasted, tall
as a man, and has huge, sprawling feet. My friend, thus provided with
legs and arms, manifested extraordinary glee. He walked about, stamped
his big feet, swung his wings, and occasionally broke forth into a
hilarious shuffle. I was obliged to remind him that he must support
the dignity of the venerable bird whose skeleton he had borrowed. I
despoiled the African lion of his glass eyes, and inserted them in the
empty orbits of the Head. I gave Professor Dummkopf a Fiji war lance
for a walking stick, covered him with a Sioux blanket, and then we
issued forth from the old arsenal into the fresh night air and the
moonlight, and wandered arm in arm along the shores of the quiet lake
and through the mazy paths of the Ramble.



It may or may not be remembered that in 1878 General Ignatieff spent
several weeks of July at the Badischer Hof in Baden. The public
journals gave out that he visited the watering-place for the benefit
of his health, said to be much broken by protracted anxiety and
responsibility in the service of the Czar. But everybody knew that
Ignatieff was just then out of favor at St. Petersburg, and that his
absence from the centers of active statecraft at a time when the peace
of Europe fluttered like a shuttlecock in the air, between Salisbury
and Shouvaloff, was nothing more or less than politely disguised

I am indebted for the following facts to my friend Fisher, of New
York, who arrived at Baden on the day after Ignatieff, and was duly
announced in the official list of strangers as "Herr Doctor Professor
Fischer, mit Frau Gattin and Bed. Nordamerika."

The scarcity of titles among the traveling aristocracy of North
America is a standing grievance with the ingenious person who compiles
the official list. Professional pride and the instincts of hospitality
alike impel him to supply the lack whenever he can. He distributes
governor, major-general, and doctor professor with tolerable
impartiality, according as the arriving Americans wear a
distinguished, a martial, or a studious air. Fisher owed his title to
his spectacles.

It was still early in the season. The theatre had not yet opened. The
hotels were hardly half full, the concerts in the kiosk at the
Conversationshaus were heard by scattering audiences, and the
shopkeepers of the bazaar had no better business than to spend their
time in bewailing the degeneracy of Baden Baden since an end was put
to the play. Few excursionists disturbed the meditations of the
shriveled old custodian of the tower on the Mercuriusberg. Fisher
found the place very stupid--as stupid as Saratoga in June or Long
Branch in September. He was impatient to get to Switzerland, but his
wife had contracted a table d'hte intimacy with a Polish countess,
and she positively refused to take any step that would sever so
advantageous a connection.

One afternoon Fisher was standing on one of the little bridges that
span the gutter-wide Oosbach, idly gazing into the water and wondering
whether a good sized Rangely trout could swim the stream without
personal inconvenience, when the porter of the Badischer Hof came to
him on the run.

"Herr Doctor Professorl" cried the porter, touching his cap. "I pray
you pardon, but the highborn the Baron Savitch out of Moscow, of the
General Ignatieff's suite, suffers himself in a terrible fit, and
appears to die."

In vain Fisher assured the porter that it was a mistake to consider
him a medical expert; that he professed no science save that of draw
poker; that if a false impression prevailed in the hotel it was
through a blunder for which he was in no way responsible; and that,
much as he regretted the unfortunate condition of the highborn the
baron out of Moscow, he did not feel that his presence in the chamber
of sickness would be of the slightest benefit. It was impossible to
eradicate the idea that possessed the porter's mind. Finding himself
fairly dragged toward the hotel, Fisher at length concluded to make a
virtue of necessity and to render his explanations to the baron's

The Russian's apartments were upon the second floor, not far from
those occupied by Fisher. A French valet, almost beside himself with
terror, came hurrying out of the room to meet the porter and the
doctor professor. Fisher again attempted to explain, but to no
purpose. The valet also had explanations to make, and the superior
fluency of his French enabled him to monopolize the conversation. No,
there was nobody there--nobody but himself, the faithful Auguste of
the baron. His Excellency, the General Ignatieff, His Highness, the
Prince Koloff, Dr. Rapperschwyll, all the suite, all the world, had
driven out that morning to Gernsbach. The baron, meanwhile, had been
seized by an effraying malady, and he, Auguste, was desolate with
apprehension. He entreated Monsieur to lose no time in parley, but to
hasten to the bedside of the baron, who was already in the agonies of

Fisher followed Auguste into the inner room. The Baron, in his boots,
lay upon the bed, his body bent almost double by the unrelenting gripe
of a distressful pain. His teeth were tightly clenched, and the rigid
muscles around the mouth distorted the natural expression of his face.
Every few seconds a prolonged groan escaped him. His fine eyes rolled
piteously. Anon, he would press both hands upon his abdomen and shiver
in every limb in the intensity of his suffering.

Fisher forgot his explanations. Had he been a doctor professor in
fact, he could not have watched the symptoms of the baron's malady
with greater interest.

"Can Monsieur preserve him?" whispered the terrified Auguste.

"Perhaps," said Monsieur, dryly.

Fisher scribbled a note to his wife on the back of a card and
dispatched it in the care of the hotel porter. That functionary
returned with great promptness, bringing a black bottle and a glass.
The bottle had come in Fisher's trunk to Baden all the way from
Liverpool, had crossed the sea to Liverpool from New York, and had
journeyed to New York direct from Bourbon County, Kentucky. Fisher
seized it eagerly but reverently, and held it up against the light.
There were still three inches or three inches and a half in the
bottom. He uttered a grunt of pleasure.

"There is some hope of saving the Baron," he remarked to Auguste.

Fully one half of the precious liquid was poured into the glass and
administered without delay to the groaning, writhing patient. In a few
minutes Fisher had the satisfaction of seeing the baron sit up in bed.
The muscles around his mouth relaxed, and the agonized expression was
superseded by a look of placid contentment.

Fisher now had an opportunity to observe the personal characteristics
of the Russian baron. He was a young man of about thirty-five, with
exceedingly handsome and clear-cut features, but a peculiar head. The
peculiarity of his head was that it seemed to be perfectly round on
top-that is, its diameter from ear to ear appeared quite equal to its
anterior and posterior diameter. The curious effect of this unusual
conformation was rendered more striking by the absence of all hair.
There was nothing on the baron's head but a tightly fitting skullcap
of black silk. A very deceptive wig hung upon one of the bed posts.

Being sufficiently recovered to recognize the presence of a stranger,
Savitch made a courteous bow.

"How do you find yourself now?" inquired Fisher, in bad French.

"Very much better, thanks to Monsieur," replied the baron, in
excellent English, spoken in a charming voice. "Very much better,
though I feel a certain dizziness here." And he pressed his hand to
his forehead.

The valet withdrew at a sign from his master, and was followed by the
porter. Fisher advanced to the bedside and took the baron's wrist.
Even his unpractised touch told him that the pulse was alarmingly
high. He was much puzzled, and not a little uneasy at the turn which
the affair had taken. "Have I got myself and the Russian into an
infernal scrape?" he thought. "But no--he's well out of his teens, and
half a tumbler of such whiskey as that ought not to go to a baby's

Nevertheless, the new symptoms developed themselves with a rapidity
and poignancy that made Fisher feel uncommonly anxious. Savitch's face
became as white as marble--its paleness rendered startling by the
sharp contrast of the black skull cap. His form reeled as he sat on
the bed, and he clasped his head convulsively with both hands, as if
in terror lest it burst.

"I had better call your valet," said Fisher, nervously.

"No, no!" gasped the baron. "You are a medical man, and I shall have
to trust you. There is something-wrong-here." With a spasmodic gesture
he vaguely indicated the top of his head.

"But I am not-" stammered Fisher.

"No words!" exclaimed the Russian, imperiously. "Act at once--there
must be no delay. Unscrew the top of my headl"

Savitch tore off his skullcap and flung it aside. Fisher has no words
to describe the bewilderment with which he beheld the actual fabric of
the baron's cranium. The skullcap had concealed the fact that the
entire top of Savitch's head was a dome of polished silver.

"Unscrew it!" said Savitch again.

Fisher reluctantly placed both hands upon the silver skull and exerted
a gentle pressure toward the left. The top yielded, turning easily and
truly in its threads.

"Faster!" said the baron, faintly. "I tell you no time must be lost."
Then he swooned.

At this instant there was a sound of voices in the outer room, and the
door leading into the baron's bed-chamber was violently flung open and
as violently closed. The newcomer was a short, spare man, of middle
age, with a keen visage and piercing, deepset little gray eyes. He
stood for a few seconds scrutinizing Fisher with a sharp, almost
fiercely jealous regard.

The baron recovered his consciousness and opened his eyes.

"Dr. Rapperschwyll!" he exclaimed.

Dr. Rapperschwyll, with a few rapid strides, approached the bed and
confronted Fisher and Fisher's patient. "What is all this?" he angrily

Without waiting for a reply he laid his hand rudely upon Fisher's arm
and pulled him away from the baron. Fisher, more and more astonished,
made no resistance, but suffered himself to be led, or pushed, toward
the door. Dr. Rapperschwyll opened the door wide enough to give the
American exit, and then closed it with a vicious slam. A quick click
informed Fisher that the key had been turned in the lock.


The next morning Fisher met Savitch coming from the Trinkhalle. The
baron bowed with cold politeness and passed on. Later in the day a
valet de place handed to Fisher a small parcel, with the message: "Dr.
Rapperschwyll supposes that this will be sufficient" The parcel
contained two gold pieces of twenty marks.

Fisher gritted his teeth. "He shall have back his forty marks," he
muttered to himself, "but I will have his confounded secret in

Then Fisher discovered that even a Polish countess has her uses in the
social economy.

Mrs. Fisher's table d'hte friend was amiability itself, when
approached by Fisher (through Fisher's wife) on the subject of the
Baron Savitch of Moscow. Know anything about the Baron Savitch? Of
course she did, and about everybody else worth knowing in Europe.
Would she kindly communicate her knowledge? Of course she would, and
be enchanted to gratify in the slightest degree the charming curiosity
of her Americaine. It was quite refreshing for a blase old woman, who
had long since ceased to feel much interest in contemporary men,
women, things and events, to encounter one so recently from the
boundless prairies of the new world as to cherish a piquant
inquisitiveness about the affairs of the grand monde. Ah! yes, she
would very willingly communicate the history of the Baron Savitch of
Moscow, if that would amuse her dear Americaine.

The Polish countess abundantly redeemed her promise, throwing in for
good measure many choice bits of gossip and scandalous anecdotes about
the Russian nobility, which are not relevant to the present narrative.
Her story, as summarized by Fisher, was this:

The Baron Savitch was not of an old creation. There was a mystery
about his origin that had never been satisfactorily solved in St.
Petersburg or in Moscow. It was said by some that he was a foundling
from the Vospitatelnoi Dom. Others believed him to be the
unacknowledged son of a certain illustrious personage nearly related
to the House of Romanoff. The latter theory was the more probable,
since it accounted in a measure for the unexampled success of his
career from the day that he was graduated at the University of Dorpat.

Rapid and brilliant beyond precedent this career had been. He entered
the diplomatic service of the Czar, and for several years was attached
to the legations at Vienna, London, and Paris. Created a Baron before
his twenty-fifth birthday for the wonderful ability displayed in the
conduct of negotiations of supreme importance and delicacy with the
House of Hapsburg, he became a pet of Gortchakoff's, and was given
every opportunity for the exercise of his genius in diplomacy. It was
even said in wellinformed circles at St. Petersburg that the guiding
mind which directed Russia's course throughout the entire Eastern
complication, which planned the campaign on the Danube, effected the
combinations that gave victory to the Czar's soldiers, and which
meanwhile held Austria aloof, neutralized the immense power of
Germany, and exasperated England only to the point where wrath expends
itself in harmless threats, was the brain of the young Baron Savitch.
It was certain that he had been with Ignatieff at Constantinople when
the trouble was first fomented, with Shouvaloff in England at the time
of the secret conference agreement, with the Grand Duke Nicholas at
Adrianople when the protocol of an armistice was signed, and would
soon be in Berlin behind the scenes of the Congress, where it was
expected that he would outwit the statesmen of all Europe, and play
with Bismarck and Disraeli as a strong man plays with two kicking

But the countess had concerned herself very little with this handsome
young man's achievements in politics. She had been more particularly
interested in his social career. His success in that field had been
not less remarkable. Although no one knew with positive certainty his
father's name, he had conquered an absolute supremacy in the most
exclusive circles surrounding the imperial court. His influence with
the Czar himself was supposed to be unbounded. Birth apart, he was
considered the best parti in Russia. From poverty and by the sheer
force of intellect he had won for himself a colossal fortune. Report
gave him forty million roubles, and doubtless report did not exceed
the fact. Every speculative enterprise which he undertook, and they
were many and various, was carried to sure success by the same
qualities of cool, unerring judgment, far-reaching sagacity, and
apparently superhuman power of organizing, combining, and controlling,
which had made him in politics the phenomenon of the age.

About Dr. Rapperschwyll? Yes, the countess knew him by reputation and
by sight. He was the medical man in constant attendance upon the Baron
Savitch, whose high-strung mental organization rendered him
susceptible to sudden and alarming attacks of illness. Dr.
Rapperschwyll was a Swiss-had originally been a watchmaker or artisan
of some kind, she had heard. For the rest, he was a commonplace little
old man, devoted to his profession and to the baron, and evidently
devoid of ambition, since he wholly neglected to turn the
opportunities of his position and connections to the advancement of
his personal fortunes.

Fortified with this information, Fisher felt better prepared to
grapple with Rapperschwyll for the possession of the secret. For five
days he lay in wait for the Swiss physician. On the sixth day the
desired opportunity unexpectedly presented itself.

Half way up the Mercuriusberg, late in the afternoon, he encountered
the custodian of the ruined tower, coming down. "No, the tower was not
closed. A gentleman was up there, making observations of the country,
and he, the custodian, would be back in an hour or two." So Fisher
kept on his way.

The upper part of this tower is in a dilapidated condition. The lack
of a stairway to the summit is supplied by a temporary wooden ladder.
Fisher's head and shoulders were hardly through the trap that opens to
the platform, before he discovered that the man already there was the
man whom he sought. Dr. Rapperschwyll was studying the topography of
the Black Forest through a pair of field glasses.

Fisher announced his arrival by an opportune stumble and a noisy
effort to recover himself, at the same instant aiming a stealthy kick
at the topmost round of the ladder, and scrambling ostentatiously over
the edge of the trap. The ladder went down thirty or forty feet with a
racket, clattering and banging against the walls of the tower.

Dr. Rapperschwyll at once appreciated the situation. He turned sharply
around, and remarked with a sneer, "Monsieur is unaccountably
awkward." Then he scowled and showed his teeth, for he recognized

"It is rather unfortunate," said the New Yorker, with imperturbable
coolness. "We shall be imprisoned here a couple of hours at the
shortest. Let us congratulate ourselves that we each have intelligent
company, besides a charming landscape to contemplate."

The Swiss coldly bowed, and resumed his topographical studies. Fisher
lighted a cigar.

"I also desire," continued Fisher, puffing clouds of smoke in the
direction of the Teufelmfihle, "to avail myself of this opportunity to
return forty marks of yours, which reached me, I presume, by a

"If Monsieur the American physician was not satisfied with his fee,"
rejoined Rapperschwyll, venomously, "he can without doubt have the
affair adjusted by applying to the baron's valet."

Fisher paid no attention to this thrust, but calmly laid the gold
pieces upon the parapet, directly under the nose of the Swiss.

"I could not think of accepting any fee," he said, with deliberate
emphasis. "I was abundantly rewarded for my trifling services by the
novelty and interest of the case."

The Swiss scanned the American's countenance long and steadily with
his sharp little gray eyes. At length he said, carelessly:

"Monsieur is a man of science?"

"Yes," replied Fisher, with a mental reservation in favor of all
sciences save that which illuminates and dignifies our national game.

"Then," continued Dr. Rapperschwyll, "Monsieur will perhaps
acknowledge that a more beautiful or more extensive case of trephining
has rarely come under his observation."

Fisher slightly raised his eyebrows.

"And Monsieur will also understand, being a physician," continued Dr.
Rapperschwyll, "the sensitiveness of the baron himself, and of his
friends upon the subject. He will therefore pardon my seeming rudeness
at the time of his discovery."

"He is smarter than I supposed," thought Fisher. "He holds all the
cards, while I have nothing--nothing, except a tolerably strong nerve
when it comes to a game of bluff."

"I deeply regret that sensitiveness," he continued, aloud, "for it had
occurred to me that an accurate account of what I saw, published in
one of the scientific journals of England or America, would excite
wide attention, and no doubt be received with interest on the

"What you saw?" cried the Swiss, sharply. "It is false. You saw
nothing--when I entered you had not even removed the-"

Here he stopped short and muttered to himself, as if cursing his own
impetuosity. Fisher celebrated his advantage by tossing away his half-
burned cigar and lighting a fresh one.

"Since you compel me to be frank," Dr. Rapperschwyll went on, with
visibly increasing nervousness, "I will inform you that the baron has
assured me that you saw nothing. I interrupted you in the act of
removing the silver cap."

"I will be equally frank," replied Fisher, stiffening his face for a
final effort. "On that point, the baron is not a competent witness. He
was in a state of unconsciousness for some time before you entered.
Perhaps I was removing the silver cap when you interrupted me-"

Dr. Rapperschwyll turned pale.

"And, perhaps," said Fisher, coolly, "I was replacing it."

The suggestion of this possibility seemed to strike Rapperschwyll like
a sudden thunderbolt from the clouds. His knees parted, and he almost
sank to the floor. He put his hands before his eyes, and wept like a
child, or, rather, like a broken old man.

"He will publish it! He will publish it to the court and to the
world!" he cried, hysterically. "And at this crisis-"

Then, by a desperate effort, the Swiss appeared to recover to some
extent his self-control. He paced the diameter of the platform for
several minutes, with his head bent and his arms folded across the
breast. Turning again to his companion, he said:

"If any sum you may name will-"

Fisher cut the proposition short with a laugh.

"Then," said Rapperschwyll, "if-if I throw myself on your generosity--

"Well?" demanded Fisher.

"And ask a promise, on your honor, of absolute silence concerning what
you have seen?"

"Silence until such time as the Baron Savitch shall have ceased to

"That will suffice," said Rapperschwyll. "For when he ceases to exist
I die. And your conditions?"

"The whole story, here and now, and without reservation."

"It is a terrible price to ask me," said Rapperschwyll, "but larger
interests than my pride are at stake. You shall hear the story.

"I was bred a watchmaker," he continued, after a long pause, "in the
Canton of Zurich. It is not a matter of vanity when I say that I
achieved a marvellous degree of skill in the craft. I developed a
faculty of invention that led me into a series of experiments
regarding the capabilities of purely mechanical combinations. I
studied and improved upon the best automata ever constructed by human
ingenuity. Babbage's calculating machine especially interested me. I
saw in Babbage's idea the germ of something infinitely more important
to the world.

"Then I threw up my business and went to Paris to study physiology. I
spent three years at the Sorbonne and perfected myself in that branch
of knowledge. Meanwhile, my pursuits had extended far beyond the
purely physical sciences. Psychology engaged me for a time; and then I
ascended into the domain of sociology, which, when adequately
understood, is the summary and final application of all knowledge.

"It was after years of preparation, and as the outcome of all my
studies, that the great idea of my life, which had vaguely haunted me
ever since the Zurich days, assumed at last a well-defined and perfect

The manner of Dr. Rapperschwyll had changed from distrustful
reluctance to frank enthusiasm. The man himself seemed transformed.
Fisher listened attentively and without interrupting the relation. He
could not help fancying that the necessity of yielding the secret, so
long and so jealously guarded by the physician, was not entirely
distasteful to the enthusiast.

"Now, attend, Monsieur," continued Dr. Rapperschwyll, "to several
separate propositions which may seem at first to have no direct
bearing on each other.

"My endeavors in mechanism had resulted in a machine which went far
beyond Babbage's in its powers of calculation. Given the data, there
was no limit to the possibilities in this direction. Babbage's
cogwheels and pinions calculated logarithms, calculated an eclipse. It
was fed with figures, and produced results in figures. Now, the
relations of cause and effect are as fixed and unalterable as the laws
of arithmetic. Logic is, or should be, as exact a science as
mathematics. My new machine was fed with facts, and produced
conclusions. In short, it reasoned; and the results of its reasoning
were always true, while the results of human reasoning are often, if
not always, false. The source of error in human logic is what the
philosophers call the `personal equation.' My machine eliminated the
personal equation; it proceeded from cause to effect, from premise to
conclusion, with steady precision. The human intellect is fallible; my
machine was, and is, infallible in its processes.

"Again, physiology and anatomy had taught me the fallacy of the
medical superstition which holds the gray matter of the brain and the
vital principle to be inseparable. I had seen men living with pistol
balls imbedded in the medulla oblongata. I had seen the hemispheres
and the cerebellum removed from the crania of birds and small animals,
and yet they did not die. I believed that, though the brain were to be
removed from a human skull, the subject would not die, although he
would certainly be divested of the intelligence which governed all
save the purely involuntary actions of his body.

"Once more: a profound study of history from the sociological point of
view, and a not inconsiderable practical experience of human nature,
had convinced me that the greatest geniuses that ever existed were on
a plane not so very far removed above the level of average intellect.
The grandest peaks in my native country, those which all the world
knows by name, tower only a few hundred feet above the countless
unnamed peaks that surround them. Napoleon Bonaparte towered only a
little over the ablest men around him. Yet that little was everything,
and he overran Europe. A man who surpassed Napoleon, as Napoleon
surpassed Murat, in the mental qualities which transmute thought into
fact, would have made himself master of the whole world.

"Now, to fuse these three propositions into one: suppose that I take a
man, and, by removing the brain that enshrines all the errors and
failures of his ancestors away back to the origin of the race, remove
all sources of weakness in his future career. Suppose, that in place
of the fallible intellect which I have removed, I endow him with an
artificial intellect that operates with the certainty of universal
laws. Suppose that I launch this superior being, who reasons truly,
into the burly burly of his inferiors, who reason falsely, and await
the inevitable result with the tranquillity of a philosopher.

"Monsieur, you have my secret. That is precisely what I have done. In
Moscow, where my friend Dr. Duchat had charge of the new institution
of St. Vasili for hopeless idiots, I found a boy of eleven whom they
called Stpan Borovitch. Since he was born, he had not seen, heard,
spoken or thought. Nature had granted him, it was believed, a fraction
of the sense of smell, and perhaps a fraction of the sense of taste,
but of even this there was no positive ascertainment. Nature had
walled in his soul most effectually. Occasional inarticulate
murmurings, and an incessant knitting and kneading of the fingers were
his only manifestations of energy. On bright days they would place him
in a little rocking-chair, in some spot where the sun fell warm, and
he would rock to and fro for hours, working his slender fingers and
mumbling forth his satisfaction at the warmth in the plaintive and
unvarying refrain of idiocy. The boy was thus situated when I first
saw him.

"I begged Stpan Borovitch of my good friend Dr. Duchat. If that
excellent man had not long since died he should have shared in my
triumph. I took Stpan to my home and plied the saw and the knife. I
could operate on that poor, worthless, useless, hopeless travesty of
humanity as fearlessly and as recklessly as upon a dog bought or
caught for vivisection. That was a little more than twenty years ago.
To-day Stpan Borovitch wields more power than any other man on the
face of the earth. In ten years he will be the autocrat of Europe, the
master of the world. He never errs; for the machine that reasons
beneath his silver skull never makes a mistake."

Fisher pointed downward at the old custodian of the tower, who was
seen toiling up the hill.

"Dreamers," continued Dr. Rapperschwyll, "have speculated on the
possibility of finding among the ruins of the older civilizations some
brief inscription which shall change the foundations of human
knowledge. Wiser men deride the dream, and laugh at the idea of
scientific kabbala. The wiser men are fools. Suppose that Aristotle
had discovered on a cuneiform-covered tablet at Nineveh the few words,
'Survival of the Fittest' Philosophy would have gained twenty-two
hundred years. I will give you, in almost as few words, a truth
equally pregnant. The ultimate evolution of the creature is into the
creator. Perhaps it will be twenty-two hundred years before the truth
finds general acceptance, yet it is not the less a truth. The Baron
Savitch is my creature, and I am his creator--creator of the ablest
man in Europe, the ablest man in the world.

"Here is our ladder, Monsieur. I have fulfilled my part of the
agreement. Remember yours."


After a two months' tour of Switzerland and the Italian lakes, the
Fishers found themselves at the Hotel Splendide in Paris, surrounded
by people from the States. It was a relief to Fisher, after his
somewhat bewildering experience at Baden, followed by a surfeit of
stupendous and ghostly snow peaks, to be once more among those who
discriminated between a straight flush and a crooked straight, and
whose bosoms thrilled responsive to his own at the sight of the star-
spangled banner. It was particularly agreeable for him to find at the
Hotel Splendide, in a party of Easterners who had come over to see the
Exposition, Miss Bella Ward, of Portland, a pretty and bright girl,
affianced to his best friend in New York.

With much less pleasure, Fisher learned that the Baron Savitch was in
Paris, fresh from the Berlin Congress, and that he was the lion of the
hour with the select few who read between the written lines of
politics and knew the dummies of diplomacy from the real players in
the tremendous game. Dr. Rapperschwyll was not with the baron. He was
detained in Switzerland, at the death-bed of his aged mother.

This last piece of information was welcome to Fisher. The more he
reflected upon the interview on the Mercuriusberg, the more strongly
he felt it to be his intellectual duty to persuade himself that the
whole affair was an illusion, not a reality. He would have been glad,
even at the sacrifice of his confidence in his own astuteness, to
believe that the Swiss doctor had been amusing himself at the expense
of his credulity. But the remembrance of the scene in the baron's
bedroom at the Badischer Hof was too vivid to leave the slightest
ground for this theory. He was obliged to be content with the thought
that he should soon place the broad Atlantic between himself and a
creature so unnatural, so dangerous, so monstrously impossible as the
Baron Savitch.

Hardly a week had passed before he was thrown again into the society
of that impossible person.

The ladies of the American party met the Russian baron at a ball in
the New Continental Hotel. They were charmed with his handsome face,
his refinement of manner, his intelligence and wit. They met him again
at the American Minister's, and, to Fisher's unspeakable
consternation, the acquaintance thus established began to make rapid
progress in the direction of intimacy. Baron Savitch became a frequent
visitor at the Hotel Splendide.

Fisher does not like to dwell upon this period. For a month his peace
of mind was rent alternately by apprehension and disgust. He is
compelled to admit that the baron's demeanor toward himself was most
friendly, although no allusion was made on either side to the incident
at Baden. But the knowledge that no good could come to his friends
from this association with a being in whom the moral principle had no
doubt been supplanted by a system of cog-gear, kept him continually in
a state of distraction. He would gladly have explained to his American
friends the true character of the Russian, that he was not a man of
healthy mental organization, but merely a marvel of mechanical
ingenuity, constructed upon a principle subversive of all society as
at present constituted--in short, a monster whose very existence must
ever be revolting to right-minded persons with brains of honest gray
and white. But the solemn promise to Dr. Rapperschwyll sealed his

A trifling incident suddenly opened his eyes to the alarming character
of the situation, and filled his heart with a new horror.

One evening, a few days before the date designated for the departure
of the American party from Havre for home, Fisher happened to enter
the private parlor which was, by common consent, the headquarters of
his set. At first he thought that the room was unoccupied. Soon he
perceived, in the recess of a window, and partly obscured by the
drapery of the curtain, the forms of the Baron Savitch and Miss Ward
of Portland. They did not observe his entrance. Miss Ward's hand was
in the baron's hand, and she was looking up into his handsome face
with an expression which Fisher could not misinterpret.

Fisher coughed, and going to another window, pretended to be
interested in affairs on the Boulevard. The couple emerged from the
recess. Miss Ward's face was ruddy with confusion, and she immediately
withdrew. Not a sign of embarrassment was visible on the baron's
countenance. He greeted Fisher with perfect self-possession, and began
to talk of the great balloon in the Place du Carrousel.

Fisher pitied but could not blame the young lady. He believed her
still loyal at heart to her New York engagement. He knew that her
loyalty could not be shaken by the blandishments of any man on earth.
He recognized the fact that she was under the spell of a power more
than human. Yet what would be the outcome? He could not tell her all;
his promise bound him. It would be useless to appeal to the generosity
of the baron; no human sentiments governed his exorable purposes. Must
the affair drift on while he stood tied and helpless? Must this
charming and innocent girl be sacrificed to the transient whim of an
automaton? Allowing that the baron's intentions were of the most
honorable character, was the situation any less horrible? Marry a
Machine! His own loyalty to his friend in New York, his regard for
Miss Ward, alike loudly called on him to act with promptness.

And, apart from all private interest, did he not owe a plain duty to
society, to the liberties of the world? Was Savitch to be permitted to
proceed in the career laid out for him by his creator, Dr.
Rapperschwyll? He (Fisher) was the only man in the world in a position
to thwart the ambitious programme. Was there ever greater need of a

Between doubts and fears, the last days of Fisher's stay in Paris were
wretched beyond description. On the morning of the steamer day he had
almost made up his mind to act.

The train for Havre departed at noon, and at eleven o'clock the Baron
Savitch made his appearance at the Hotel Splendide to bid farewell to
his American friends. Fisher watched Miss Ward closely. There was a
constraint in her manner which fortified his resolution. The baron
incidentally remarked that he should make it his duty and pleasure to
visit America within a very few months, and that he hoped then to
renew the acquaintances now interrupted. As Savitch spoke, Fisher
observed that his eyes met Miss Ward's, while the slightest possible
blush colored her cheeks. Fisher knew that the case was desperate, and
demanded a desperate remedy.

He now joined the ladies of the party in urging the baron to join them
in the hasty lunch that was to precede the drive to the station.
Saviteh gladly accepted the cordial invitation. Wine he politely but
firmly declined, pleading the absolute prohibition of his physician.
Fisher left the room for an instant, and returned with the black
bottle which had figured in the Baden episode.

"The Baron," he said, "has already expressed his approval of the
noblest of our American products, and he knows that this beverage has
good medical endorsement." So saying, he poured the remaining contents
of the Kentucky bottle into a glass, and presented it to the Russian.

Saviteh hesitated. His previous experience with the nectar was at the
same time a temptation and a warning, yet he did not wish to seem
discourteous. A chance remark from Miss Ward decided him.

"The baron," she said, with a smile, "will certainly not refuse to
wish us bon voyage in the American fashion."

Savitch drained the glass and the conversation turned to other
matters. The carriages were already below. The parting comphments were
being made, when Savitch suddenly pressed his hands to his forehead
and clutched at the back of a chair. The ladies gathered around him in

"It is nothing," he said faintly; "a temporary dizziness."

"There is no time to be lost," said Fisher, pressing forward. "The
train leaves in twenty minutes. Get ready at once, and I will
meanwhile attend to our friend."

Fisher hurriedly led the baron to his own bedroom. Savitch fell back
upon the bed. The Baden symptoms repeated themselves. In two minutes
the Russian was unconscious.

Fisher looked at his watch. He had three minutes to spare. He turned
the key in the lock of the door and touched the knob of the electric

Then, gaining the mastery of his nerves by one supreme effort for
self-control, Fisher pulled the deceptive wig and the black skullcap
from the baron's head. "Heaven forgive me if I am making a fearful
mistake!" he thought. But I believe it to be best for ourselves and
for the world." Rapidly, but with a steady hand, he unscrewed the
silver dome. The Mechanism lay exposed before his eyes. The baron
groaned. Ruthlessly Fisher tore out the wondrous machine. He had no
time and no inclination to examine it. He caught up a newspaper and
hastily enfolded it. He thrust the bundle into his open traveling bag.
Then he screwed the silver top firmly upon the baron's head, and
replaced the skullcap and the wig.

All this was done before the servant answered the bell. "The Baron
Savitch is ill," said Fisher to the attendant, when he came. "There is
no cause for alarm. Send at once to the Hotel de l'Athne for his
valet, Auguste." In twenty seconds Fisher was in a cab, whirling
toward the Station St. Lazare.

When the steamship Pereire was well out at sea, with Ushant five
hundred miles in her wake, and countless fathoms of water beneath her
keel, Fisher took a newspaper parcel from his traveling bag. His teeth
were firm set and his lips rigid. He carried the heavy parcel to the
side of the ship and dropped it into the Atlantic. It made a little
eddy in the smooth water, and sank out of sight. Fisher fancied that
he heard a wild, despairing cry, and put his hands to his ears to shut
out the sound. A gull came circling over the steamer--the cry may have
been the gull's.

Fisher felt a light touch upon his arm. He turned quickly around. Miss
Ward was standing at his side, close to the rail.

"Bless me, how white you are!" she said. "What in the world have you
been doing?"

"I have been preserving the liberties of two continents," slowly
replied Fisher, "and perhaps saving your own peace of mind."

"Indeed!" said she; "and how have you done that?"

"I have done it," was Fisher's grave answer, "by throwing overboard
the Baron Savitch."

Miss Ward burst into a ringing laugh. "You are sometimes too droll,
Mr. Fisher," she said.



On the evening of the fourth of March, year of grace nineteen hundred
and thirty-seven, Mr. Daniel Webster Wanlee devoted several hours to
the consummation of a rather elaborate toilet. That accomplished, he
placed himself before a mirror and critically surveyed the results of
his patient art.

The effect appeared to give him satisfaction. In the glass he beheld a
comely young man of thirty, something under the medium stature,
faultlessly attired in evening dress. The face was a perfect oval, the
complexion delicate, the features refined. The high cheekbones and a
slight elevation of the outer corners of the eyes, the short upper
lip, from which drooped a slender but aristocratic mustache, the
tapered fingers of the hand, and the remarkably small feet, confined
tonight in dancing pumps of polished red morocco, were all
unmistakable heirlooms of a pure Mongolian ancestry. The long, stiff,
black hair, brushed straight back from the forehead, fell in profusion
over the neck and shoulders. Several rich decorations shone on the
breast of the black broadcloth coat. The knickerbocker breeches were
tied at the knees with scarlet ribbons. The stockings were of a
flowered silk. Mr. Wanlee's face sparked with intelligent good sense;
his figure poised itself before the glass with easy grace.

A soft, distinct utterance, filling the room yet appearing to proceed
from no particular quarter, now attracted Mr. Wanlee's attention. He
at once recognized the voice of his friend, Mr. Walsingham Brown.

"How are we off for time, old fellow?"

"It's getting late," replied Mr. Wanlee, without turning his face from
the mirror. "You had better come over directly."

In a very few minutes the curtains at the entrance to Mr. Wanlee's
apartments were unceremoniously pulled open, and Mr. Walsingham Brown
strode in. The two friends cordially shook hands.

"How is the honorable member from the Los Angeles district?" inquired
the newcomer gaily. "And what is there new in Washington society?
Prepared to conquer tonight, I see. What's all this? Red ribbons and
flowered silk hose! Ah, Wanlee. I thought you had outgrown these

The faintest possible blush appeared on Mr. Daniel Webster Wanlee's
cheeks. "It is cool tonight?" he asked, changing the subject.

"Infernally cold," replied his friend. "I wonder you have no snow
here. It is snowing hard in New York. There were at least three inches
on the ground just now when I took the Pneumatic."

"Pull an easy chair up to the thermo-electrode," said the Mongolian.
"You must get the New York climate thawed out of your joints if you
expect to waltz creditably. The Washington women are critical in that

Mr. Walsingham Brown pushed a comfortable chair toward a sphere of
shining platinum that stood on a crystal pedestal in the center of the
room. He pressed a silver button at the base, and the metal globe
began to glow incandescently. A genial warmth diffused itself through
the apartment. "That feels good," said Mr. Walsingham Brown, extending
both hands to catch the heat from the thermo-electrode.

"By the way," he continued, "you haven't accounted to me yet for the
scarlet bows. What would your constituents say if they saw you thus--
you, the impassioned young orator of the Pacific slope; the thoughtful
student of progressive statesmanship; the mainstay and hope of the
Extreme Left; the thorn in the side of conservative Vegetarianism; the
bete noire of the whole Indo-European gang--you, in knee ribbons and
florid extensions, like a club man at a fashionable Harlem hop, or a-"

Mr. Brown interrupted himself with a hearty but goodnatured laugh.

Mr. Wanlee seemed ill at ease. He did not reply to his friend's
raillery. He cast a stealthy glance at his knees in the mirror, and
then went to one side of the room, where an endless strip of printed
paper, about three feet wide, was slowly issuing from between
noiseless rollers and falling in neat folds into a willow basket
placed on the floor to receive it. Mr. Wanlee bent his head over the
broad strip of paper and began to read attentively.

"You take the Contemporaneous News, I suppose," said the other.

"No, I prefer the Interminable Intelligencer," replied Mr. Wanlee.
"The Contemporaneous is too much of my own way of thinking. Why should
a sensible man ever read the organ of his own party? How much wiser it
is to keep posted on what your political opponents think and say."

"Do you find anything about the event of the evening?"

"The ball has opened," said Mr. Wanlee, "and the floor of the Capitol
is already crowded. Let me see," he continued, beginning to read
aloud: "'The wealth, the beauty, the chivalry, and the brains of the
nation combine to lend unprecedented luster to the Inauguration Ball,
and the brilliant success of the new Administration is assured beyond
all question.'"

"That is encouraging logic," Mr. Brown remarked.

"'President Trimbelly has just entered the rotunda, escorting his
beautiful and stately wife, and accompanied by ex-President Riley,
Mrs. Riley, and Miss Norah Riley. The illustrious group is of course
the cynosure of all eyes. The utmost cordiality prevails among
statesmen of all shades of opinion. For once, bitter political
animosities seem to have been laid aside with the ordinary habiliments
of everyday wear. Conspicuous among the guests are some of the most
distinguished radicals of the opposition. Even General Quong, the
defeated Mongol-Vegetarian candidate, is now proceeding across the
rotunda, leaning on the arm of the Chinese ambassador, with the
evident intention of paying his compliments to his successful rival.
Not the slightest trace of resentment or hostility is visible upon his
strongly marked Asiatic features.'

"The hero of the Battle of Cheyenne can afford to be magnanimous,"
remarked Mr. Wanlee, looking up from the paper.

"True," said Mr. Walsingham Brown, warmly. "The noble old hoodlum
fighter has settled forever the question of the equality of your race.
The presidency could have added nothing to his fame."

Mr. Wanlee went on reading: "'The toilets of the ladies are charming.
Notable among those which attract the reportorial eye are the peacock
feather train of the Princess Hushyida; the mauve-'"

"Cut that," suggested Mr. Brown. "We shall see for ourselves
presently. And give me a dinner, like a good fellow. It occurs to me
that I have eaten nothing for fifteen days."

The Honorable Mr. Wanlee drew from his waistcoat pocket a small gold
box, oval in form. He pressed a spring and the lid flew open. Then he
handed the box to his friend. It contained a number of little gray
pastilles, hardly larger than peas. Mr. Brown took one between his
thumb and forefinger and put it into his mouth. "Thus do I satisfy
mine hunger," he said, "or, to borrow the language of the opposition
orators, thus do I lend myself to the vile and degrading practice,
subversive of society as at present constituted, and outraging the
very laws of nature."

Mr. Wanlee was paying no attention. With eager gaze he was again
scanning the columns of the Interminable Intelligencer. As if
involuntarily, he read aloud: "'-Secretary Quimby and Mrs. Quimby,
Count Schneeke, the Austrian ambassador, Mrs. Hoyette and the Misses
Hoyette of New York, Senator Newton of Massachusetts, whose arrival
with his lovely daughter is causing no small sensation-'"

He paused, stammering, for he became aware that his friend was
regarding him earnestly. Coloring to the roots of his hair, he
affected indifference and began to read again: "'Senator Newton of
Massachusetts, whose arrival with his lovely-"'

"I think, my dear boy," said Mr. Walsingham Brown, with a smile, "that
it is high time for us to proceed to the Capitol."


Through a brilliant throng of happy men and charming women, Mr. Wanlee
and his friend made their way into the rotunda of the Capitol.
Accustomed as they both were to the spectacular efforts which society
arranged for its own delectation, the young men were startled by the
enchantment of the scene before them. The dingy historical panorama
that girds the rotunda was hidden behind a wall of flowers. The
heights of the dome were not visible, for beneath that was a temporary
interior dome of red roses and white lilies, which poured down from
the concavity a continual and almost oppressive shower of fragrance.
From the center of the floor ascended to the height of forty or fifty
feet a single jet of water, rendered intensely luminous by the newly
discovered hydrolectric process, and flooding the room with a light
ten times brighter than daylight, yet soft and grateful as the light
of the moon. The air pulsated with music, for every flower in the dome
overhead gave utterance to the notes which Ratibolial, in the
conservatoire at Paris, was sending across the Atlantic from the
vibrant tip of his baton.

The friends had hardly reached the center of the rotunda, where the
hydrolectric fountain threw aloft its jet of blazing water, and where
two opposite streams of promenaders from the north and the south wings
of the Capitol met and mingled in an eddy of polite humanity, before
Mr. Walsingham Brown was seized and led off captive by some of his
Washington acquaintances.

Wanlee pushed on, scarcely noticing his friend's defection. He
directed his steps wherever the crowd seemed thickest, casting ahead
and on either side of him quick glances of inquiry, now and then
exchanging bows with people whom he recognized, but pausing only once
to enter into conversation. That was when he was accosted by General
Quong, the leader of the MongolVegetarian party and the defeated
candidate for President in the campaign of 1936. The veteran spoke
familiarly to the young congressman and detained him only a moment.
"You are looking for somebody, Wanlee," said General Quong, kindly. "I
see it in your eyes. I grant you leave of absence."

Mr. Wanlee proceeded down the long corridor that leads to the Senate
chamber, and continued there his eager search. Disappointed, he turned
back, retraced his steps to the rotunda, and went to the other
extremity of the Capitol. The Hall of Representatives was reserved for
the dancers. From the great clock above the Speaker's desk issued the
music of a waltz, to the rhythm of which several hundred couples were
whirling over the polished floor.

Wanlee stood at the door, watching the couples as they moved before
him in making the circuit of the hall. Presently his eyes began to
sparkle. They were resting upon the beautiful face and supple figure
of a girl in white satin, who waltzed in perfect form with a young
man, apparently an Italian. Wanlee advanced a step or two, and at the
same instant the lady became aware of his presence. She said a word to
her partner, who immediately relinquished her waist.

"I have been expecting you this age," said the girl, holding out her
hand to Wanlee. "I am delighted that you have come."

"Thank you, Miss Newton," said Wanlee.

"You may retire, Francesco," she continued, turning to the young man
who had just been her partner. "I shall not need you again."

The young man addressed as Francesco bowed respectfully and departed
without a word.

"Let us not lose this lovely waltz," said Miss Newton, putting her
hand upon Wanlee's shoulder. "It will be my first this evening."

"Then you have not danced?" asked Wanlee, as they glided off together.

"No, Daniel," said Miss Newton, "I haven't danced with any gentlemen."

The Mongolian thanked her with a smile.

"I have made good use of Francesco, however," she went on. "What a
blessing a competent protectional partner is! Only think, our
grandmothers, and even our mothers, were obliged to sit dismally
around the walls waiting the pleasure of their high and mighty-"

She paused suddenly, for a shade of annoyance had fallen upon her
partner's face. "Forgive me," she whispered, her head almost upon his
shoulder. "Forgive me if I have wounded you. You know, love, that I
would not-"

"I know it," he interrupted. "You are too good and too noble to let
that weigh a feather's weight in your estimation of the Man. You never
pause to think that my mother and my grandmother were not accustomed
to meet your mother and your grandmother in society--for the very
excellent reason," he continued, with a little bitterness in his tone,
"that my mother had her hands full in my father's laundry in San
Francisco, while my grandmother's social ideas hardly extended beyond
the cabin of our ancestral san-pan on the Yangtze Kiang. You do not
care for that. But there are others-'

They waltzed on for some time in silence, he, thoughtful and moody,
and she, sympathetically concerned.

"And the senator; where is he tonight?" asked Wanlee at last.

"Papa!" said the girl, with a frightened little glance over her
shoulder. "Oh! Papa merely made his appearance here to bring me and
because it was expected of him. He has gone home to work on his
tiresome speech against the vegetables."

"Do you think," asked Wanlee, after a few minutes, whispering the
words very slowly and very low, "that the senator has any suspicion?"

It was her turn now to manifest embarrassment. "I am very sure," she
replied, "that Papa has not the least idea in the world of it all. And
that is what worries me. I constantly feel that we are walking
together on a volcano. I know that we are right, and that heaven means
it to be just as it is; yet, I cannot help trembling in my happiness.
You know as well as I do the antiquated and absurd notions that still
prevail in Massachusetts, and that Papa is a conservative among the
conservatives. He respects your ability, that I discovered long ago.
Whenever you speak in the House, he reads your remarks with great
attention. I think," she continued with a forced laugh, "that your
arguments bother him a good deal."

"This must have an end, Clara," said the Chinaman, as the music ceased
and the waltzers stopped. "I cannot allow you to remain a day longer
in an equivocal position. My honor and your own peace of mind require
that there shall be an explanation to your father. Have you the
courage to stake all our happiness on one bold move?"

"I have courage," frankly replied the girl, "to go with you before my
father and tell him all. And furthermore," she continued, slightly
pressing his arm and looking into his face with a charming blush, "I
have courage even beyond that."

"You beloved little Puritanl" was his reply.

As they passed out of the Hall of Representatives, they encountered
Mr. Walsingham Brown with Miss Hoyette of New York. The New York lady
spoke cordially to Miss Newton, but recognized Wanlee with a rather
distant bow. Wanlee's eyes sought and met those of his friend. "I may
need your counsel before morning," he said in a low voice.

"All right, my dear fellow," said Mr. Brown. "Depend on me." And the
two couples separated.

The Mongolian and his Massachusetts sweetheart drifted with the tide
into the supper room. Both were preoccupied with their own thoughts.
Almost mechanically, Wanlee led his companion to a corner of the
supper room and established her in a seat behind a screen of
palmettos, sheltered from the observation of the throne.

"It is nice of you to bring me here," said the girl, "for I am hungry
after our waltz."

Intimate as their souls had become, this was the first time that she
had ever asked him for food. It was an innocent and natural request,
yet Wanlee shuddered when he heard it, and bit his under lip to
control his agitation. He looked from behind the palmettos at the
tables heaped with delicate viands and surrounded by men, eagerly
pressing forward to obtain refreshment for the ladies in their care.
Wanlee shuddered again at the spectacle. After a momentary hesitation
he returned to Miss Newton, seated himself beside her, and taking her
hand in his, began to speak deliberately and earnestly.

"Clara," he said, "I am going to ask you for a final proof of your
affection. Do not start and look alarmed, but hear me patiently. If,
after hearing me, you still bid me bring you a pt, or the wing of a
fowl, or a salad, or even a plate of fruit, I will do so, though it
wrench the heart in my bosom. But first listen to what I have to say."

"Certainly I will listen to all you have to say," she replied.

"You know enough of the political theories that divide parties," he
went on, nervously examining the rings on her slender fingers, "to be
aware that what I conscientiously believe to be true is very different
from what you have been educated to believe."

"I know," said Miss Newton, "that you are a Vegetarian and do not
approve the use of meat. I know that you have spoken eloquently in the
House on the right of every living being to protection in its life,
and that that is the theory of your party. Papa says that it is
demagogy--that the opposition parade an absurd and sophistical theory
in order to win votes and get themselves into office. Still, I know
that a great many excellent people, friends of ours in Massachusetts,
are coming to believe with you, and, of course, loving you as I do, I
have the firmest faith in the honesty of your convictions. You are not
a demagogue, Daniel. You are above pandering to the radicalism of the
rabble. Neither my father nor all the world could make me think the

Mr. Daniel Webster Wanlee squeezed her hand and went on:

"Living as you do in the most ultra-conservative of circles, dear
Clara, you have had no opportunity to understand the tremendous
significance and force of the movement that is now sweeping over the
land, and of which I am a very humble representative. It is something
more than a political agitation; it is an upheaval and reorganization
of society on the basis of science and abstract right. It is fit and
proper that I, belonging to a race that has only been emancipated and
enfranchised by the march of time, should stand in the advance guard--
in the forlorn hope, it may be--of the new revolution."

His flaming eyes were now looking directly into hers. Although a
little troubled by his earnestness, she could not hide her proud
satisfaction in his manly bearing.

"We believe that every animal is born free and equal," he said. "That
the humblest polyp or the most insignificant mollusk has an equal
right with you or me to life and the enjoyment of happiness. Why, are
we not all brothers? Are we not all children of a common evolution?
What are we human animals but the more favored members of the great
family? Is Senator Newton of Massachusetts further removed in
intelligence from the Australian bushman, than the Australian bushman
or the Flathead Indian is removed from the ox which Senator Newton
orders slain to yield food for his family? Have we a right to take the
paltriest life that evolution has given? Is not the butchery of an ox
or of a chicken murder--nay, fratricide--in the view of absolute
justice? Is it not cannibalism of the most repulsive and cowardly sort
to prey upon the flesh of our defenseless brother animals, and to
sacrifice their lives and rights to an unnatural appetite that has no
foundation save in the habit of long ages of barbarian selfishness?"

"I have never thought of these things," said Miss Clara, slowly.
"Would you elevate them to the suffrage--I mean the ox and the chicken
and the baboon?"

"There speaks the daughter of the senator from Massachusetts," cried
Wanlee. "No, we would not give them the suffrage--at least, not at
present. The right to live and enjoy life is a natural, an inalienable
right. The right to vote depends upon conditions of society and of
individual intelligence. The ox, the chicken, the baboon are not yet
prepared for the ballot. But they are voters in embryo; they are
struggling up through the same process that our own ancestors
underwent, and it is a crime, an unnatural, horrible thing, to cut off
their career, their future, for the sake of a meal!"

"Those are noble sentiments, I must admit," said Miss Newton, with
considerable enthusiasm.

"They are the sentiments of the Mongol-Vegetarian party," said Wanlee.
"They will carry the country in 1940, and elect the next President of
the United States."

"I admire your earnestness," said Miss Newton after a pause, "and I
will not grieve you by asking you to bring me even so much as a
chicken wing. I do not think I could eat it now, with your words still
in my ears. A little fruit is all that I want."

"Once more," said Wanlee, taking the tall girl's hand again, "I must
request you to consider. The principles, my dearest, that I have
already enunciated are the principles of the great mass of our party.
They are held even by the respectable, easygoing, not oversensitive
voters such as constitute the bulk of every political organization.
But there are a few of us who stand on ground still more advanced. We
do not expect to bring the laggards up to our line for years, perhaps
in our lifetime. We simply carry the accepted theory to its logical
conclusions and calmly await ultimate results."

"And what is your ground, pray?" she inquired. "I cannot see how
anything could be more dreadfully radical--that is, more bewildering
and generally upsetting at first sight--than the ground which you just

"If what I have said is true, and I believe it to be true, then how
can we escape including the Vegetable Kingdom in our proclamation of
emancipation from man's tyranny? The tree, the plant, even the fungus,
have they not individual life, and have they not also the right to

"But how--"

"And indeed," continued the Chinaman, not noticing the interruption,
"who can say where vegetable life ends and animal life begins? Science
has tried in vain to draw the boundary line. I hold that to uproot a
potato is to destroy an existence certainly, although perhaps remotely
akin to ours. To pluck a grape is to maim the living vine; and to
drink the juice of that grape is to outrage consanguinity. In this
broad, elevated view of the matter it becomes a duty to refrain from
vegetable food. Nothing less than the vital principal itself becomes
the test and tie of universal brotherhood. 'All living things are born
free and equal, and have a right to existence and the enjoyment of
existence.' Is not that a beautiful thought?"

"It is a beautiful thought," said the maiden. "But-I know you will
think me dreadfully cold, and practical, and unsympathetic--but how
are we to live? Have we no right, too, to existence? Must we starve to
death in order to establish the theoretical right of vegetables not to
be eaten?"

"My dear love," said Wanlee, "that would be a serious and perplexing
question, had not the latest discovery of science already solved it
for us."

He took from his waistcoat pocket the small gold box, scarcely larger
than a watch, and opened the cover. In the palm of her white hand he
placed one of the little pastilles.

"Eat it," said he. "It will satisfy your hunger."

She put the morsel into her mouth. "I would do as you bade me," she
said, "even if it were poison."

"It is not poison," he rejoined. "It is nourishment in the only
rational form."

"But it is tasteless; almost without substance."

"Yet it will support life for from eighteen to twenty-five days. This
little gold box holds food enough to afford all subsistence to the
entire Seventy-sixth Congress for a month."

She took the box and curiously examined its contents.

"And how long would it support my life--for more than a year,

"Yes, for more than ten--more than twenty years."

"I will not bore you with chemical and physiological facts," continued
Wanlee, "but you must know that the food which we take, in whatever
form, resolves itself into what are called proximate principles--
starch, sugar, oleine, flurin, albumen, and so on. These are selected
and assimilated by the organs of the body, and go to build up the
necessary tissues. But all these proximate principles, in their turn,
are simply combinations of the ultimate chemical elements, chiefly
carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. It is upon these elements that
we depend for sustenance. By the old plan we obtained them indirectly.
They passed from the earth and the air into the grass; from the grass
into the muscular tissues of the ox; and from the beef into our own
persons, loaded down and encumbered by a mass of useless, irrelevant
matter. The German chemists have discovered how to supply the needed
elements in compact, undiluted form--here they are in this little box.
Now shall mankind go direct to the fountainhead of nature for his
aliment; now shall the old roundabout, cumbrous, inhuman method be at
an end; now shall the evils of gluttony and the attendant vices cease;
now shall the brutal murdering of fellow animals and brother
vegetables forever stop--now shall all this be, since the new, holy
cause has been consecrated by the lips I love!"

He bent and kissed those lips. Then he suddenly looked up and saw Mr.
Walsingham Brown standing at his elbow.

"You are observed--compromised, I fear," said Mr. Brown, hurriedly.
"That Italian dancer in your employ, Miss Newton, has been following
you like a hound. I have been paying him the same gracious attention.
He has just left the Capitol post haste. I fear there may be a scene."

The brave girl, with clear eyes, gave her Mongolian lover a look worth
to him a year of life. "There shall be no scene," she said; "we will
go at once to my father, Daniel, and bear ourselves the tale which
Francesco would carry."

The three left the Capitol without delay. At the head of Pennsylvania
Avenue they entered a great building, lighted up as brilliantly as the
Capitol itself. An elevator took them down toward the bowels of the
earth. At the fourth landing they passed from the elevator into a
small carriage, luxuriously upholstered. Mr. Walsingham Brown touched
an ivory knob at the end of the conveyance. A man in uniform presented
himself at the door.

"To Boston," said Mr. Walsingham Brown.


The senator from Massachusetts sat in the library of his mansion on
North Street at two o'clock in the morning. An expression of
astonishment and rage distorted his pale, cold features. The pen had
dropped from his fingers, blotting the last sentences written upon the
manuscript of his great speech--for Senator Newton still adhered to
the ancient fashion of recording thought. The blotted sentences were

"The logic of events compels us to acknowledge the political equality
of those Asiatic invaders--shall I say conquerors?--of our Indo-
European institutions. But the logic of events is often repugnant to
common sense, and its conclusions abhorrent to patriotism and right.
The sword has opened for them the way to the ballot box; but, Mr.
President, and I say it deliberately, no power under heaven can unlock
for these aliens the sacred approaches to our homes and hearts!"

Beside the senator stood Francesco, the professional dancer. His face
wore a smile of malicious triumph.

"With the Chinaman? Miss Newton--my daughter?" gasped the senator. "I
do not believe you. It is a lie."

"Then come to the Capitol, Your Excellency, and see it with your own
eyes," said the Italian.

The door was quickly opened and Clara Newton entered the room,
followed by the Honorable Mr. Wanlee and his friend.

"There is no need of making that excursion, Papa," said the girl. "You
can see it with your own eyes here and now. Francesco, leave the

The senator bowed with forced politeness to Mr. Walsingbam Brown. Of
the presence of Wanlee he took not the slightest notice.

Senator Newton attempted to laugh. "This is a pleasantry, Clara," he
said; "a practical jest, designed by yourself and Mr. Brown for my
midnight diversion. It is a trifle unseasonable."

"It is no jest," replied his daughter, bravely. She then went up to
Wanlee and took his hand in hers. "Papa," she said, "this is a
gentleman of whom you already know something. He is our equal in
station, in intellect, and in moral worth. He is in every way worthy
of my friendship and your esteem. Will you listen to what he has to
say to you? Will you, Papa?"

The senator laughed a short, hard laugh, and turned to Mr. Walsingham
Brown. "I have no communication to make to the member of the lower
branch," said he. "Why should he have any communication to make to

Miss Newton put her arm around the waist of the young Chinaman and led
him squarely in front of her father. "Because," she said, in a voice
as firm and clear as the note of a silver bell "-because I love him."

In recalling with Wanlee the circumstances of this interview, Mr.
Walsingham Brown said long afterward, "She glowed for a moment like
the platinum of your thermo-electrode."

"If the member from California," said Senator Newton, without changing
the tone of his voice, and still continuing to address himself to Mr.
Brown, "has worked upon the sentimentality of this foolish child, that
is her misfortune, and mine. It cannot be helped now. But if the
member from California presumes to hope to profit in the least by his
sinister operations, or to enjoy further opportunities for pursuing
them, the member from California deceives himself."

So saying he turned around in his chair and began to write on his
great speech.

"I come," said Wanlee slowly, now speaking for the first time, "as an
honorable man to ask of Senator Newton the hand of his daughter in
honorable marriage. Her own consent has already been given."

"I have nothing further to say," said the Senator, once more turning
his cold face toward Mr. Brown. Then he paused an instant, and added
with a sting, "I am told that the member from California is a prophet
and apostle of Vegetable Rights. Let him seek a cactus in marriage. He
should wed on his own level."

Wanlee, coloring at the wanton insult, was about to leave the room. A
quick sign from Miss Newton arrested him.

"But I have something further to say," she cried with spirit. "Listen,
Father; it is this. If Mr. Wanlee goes out of the house without a word
from you--a word such as is due him from you as a gentleman and as my
father--I go with him to be his wife before the sun rises!"

"Go if you will, girl," the senator coldly replied. "But first consult
with Mr. Walsingham Brown, who is a lawyer and a gentleman, as to the
tenor and effect of the Suspended Animation Act."

Miss Newton looked inquiringly from one face to another. The words had
no meaning to her. Her lover turned suddenly pale and clutched at the
back of a chair for support. Mr. Brown's cheeks were also white. He
stepped quickly forward, holding out his hands as if to avert some
dreadful calamity.

"Surely you would not-" he began. "But no! That is an absolute low, an
inhuman, outrageous enactment that has long been as dead as the
partisan fury that prompted it. For a quarter of a century it has been
a dead letter on the statute books."

"I was not aware," said the senator, from between firmly set teeth,
"that the act had ever been repealed."

He took from the shelf a volume of statutes and opened the book. "I
will read the text," he said. "It will form an appropriate part of the
ritual of this marriage." He read as follows:

  "Section 7.391. No male person of Caucasian descent, of or under the
age of 25 years, shall marry, or promise or contract himself in
marriage with any female person of Mongolian descent without the full
written consent of his male parent or guardian, as provided by law;
and no female person, either maid or widow, under the age of 30 years,
of Caucasian parentage, shall give, promise, or contract herself in
marriage with any male person of Mongolian descent without the full
written and registered consent of her male and female parents or
guardians, as provided by law. And any marriage obligations so
contracted shall be null and void, and the Caucasian so contracting
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and liable to punishment at the
discretion of his or her male parent or guardian as provided by law.

  "Section 7.392. Such parents or guardians may, at their discretion
and upon application to the authorities of the United States District
Court for the district within which the offense is committed, deliver
the offending person of Caucasian descent to the designated officers,
and require that his or her consciousness, bodily activities, and
vital functions be suspended by the frigorific process known as the
Werkomer process, for a period equal to that which must elapse before
the offending person will arrive at the age of 25 years, if a male, or
30 years, if a female; or for a shorter period at the discretion of
the parent or guardian; said shorter period to be fixed in advance."

"What does it mean?" demanded Miss Newton, bewildered by the verbiage
of the act, and alarmed by her lover's exclamation of despair.

Mr. Walsingbam Brown shook his head, sadly. "It means," said he, "that
the cruel sin of the fathers is to be visited upon the children."

"It means, Clara," said Wanlee with a great effort, "that we must

"Understand me, Mr. Brown," said the senator, rising and motioning
impatiently with the hand that held the pen, as if to dismiss both the
subject and the intruding party. "I do not employ the Suspended
Animation Act as a bugaboo to frighten a silly girl out of her
lamentable infatuation. As surely as the law stands, so surely will I
put it to use."

Miss Newton gave her father a long, steady look which neither Wanlee
nor Mr. Brown could interpret and then slowly led the way to the
parlor. She closed the door and locked it. The clock on the mantel
said four.

A complete change had come over the girl's manner. The spirit of
defiance, of passionate appeal, of outspoken love, had gone. She was
calm now, as cold and self-possessed as the senator himself. "Frozen!"
she kept saying under her breath. "He has frozen me already with his
frigid heart."

She quickly asked Mr. Walsingham Brown to explain clearly the force
and bearings of the statute which her father had read from the book.
When he had done so, she inquired, "Is there not also a law providing
for voluntary suspension of animation?"

"The Twenty-seventh Amendment to the Constitution," replied the
lawyer, "recognizes the right of any individual, not satisfied with
the condition of his life, to suspend that life for a time, long or
short, according to his pleasure. But it is rarely, as you know, that
any one avails himself of the right--practically never, except as the
only means to procure divorce from uncongenial marriage relations."

"Still," she persisted, "the right exists and the way is open?" He
bowed. She went to Wanlee and said:

"My darling, it must be so. I must leave you for a time, but as your
wife. We will arrange a wedding"--and she smiled sadly--"within this
hour. Mr. Brown will go with us to the clergyman. Then we will proceed
at once to the Refuge, and you yourself shall lead me to the cloister
that is to keep me safe till times are better for us. No, do not be
startled, my love! The resolution is taken; you cannot alter it. And
it will not be so very long, dear. Once, by accident, in arranging my
father's papers, I came across his Life Probabilities, drawn up by the
Vital Bureau at Washington. He has less than ten years to live. I
never thought to calculate in cold blood on the chances of my father's
life, but it must be. In ten years, Daniel, you may come to the Refuge
again and claim your bride. You will find me as you left me."

With tears streaming down his pale cheeks, the Mongolian strove to
dissuade the Caucasian from her purpose. Hardly less affected, Mr.
Walsingham Brown joined his entreaties and arguments.

"Have you ever seen," he asked, "a woman who has undergone what you
propose to undergo? She went into the Refuge, perhaps, as you will go,
fresh, rosy, beautiful, full of life and energy. She comes out a
prematurely aged, withered, sallow, flaccid body, a living corpse--a
skeleton, a ghost of her former self. In spite of all they say, there
can be no absolute suspension of animation. Absolute suspension would
be death. Even in the case of the most perfect freezing there is still
some activity of the vital functions, and they gnaw and prey upon the
existence of the unconscious subject. Will you risk," he suddenly
demanded, using the last and most perfect argument that can be
addressed to a woman "-will you risk the effect your loss of beauty
may have upon Wanlee's love after ten years' separation?"

Clara Newton was smiling now. "For my poor beauty," she replied, "I
care very little. Yet perhaps even that may be preserved."

She took from the bosom of her dress the little gold box which the
Chinaman had given her in the supper room of the Capitol, and hastily
swallowed its entire contents.

Wanlee now spoke with determination: "Since you have resolved to
sacrifice ten years of your life my duty is with you. I shall share
with you the sacrifice and share also the joy of awakening."

She gravely shook her head. "It is no sacrifice for me," she said.
"But you must remain in life. You have a great and noble work to
perform. Till the oppressed of the lower orders of being are
emancipated from man's injustice and cruelty, you cannot abandon their
cause. I think your duty is plain."

"You are right," he said, bowing his head to his breast.

In the gray dawn of the early morning the officials at the Frigorific
Refuge in Cambridgeport were astonished by the arrival of a bridal
party. The bridegroom's haggard countenance contrasted strangely with
the elegance of his full evening toilet, and the bright scarlet bows
at his knees seemed a mockery of grief. The bride, in white satin,
wore a placid smile on her lovely face. The friend accompanying the
two was grave and silent.

Without delay the necessary papers of admission were drawn up and
signed and the proper registration was made upon the books of the
establishment. For an instant husband and wife rested in each other's
arms. Then she, still cheerful, followed the attendants toward the
inner door, while he, pressing both hands upon his tearless eyes,
turned away sobbing.

A moment later the intense cold of the congealing chamber caught the
bride and wrapped her close in its icy embrace.


Rapidly turning into the Fifth Avenue from one of the cross streets
above the old reservoir, at quarter past eleven o'clock on the night
of November 6, 1879, I ran plump into an individual coming the other

It was very dark on this corner. I could see nothing of the person
with whom I had the honor to be in collision. Nevertheless, the quick
habit of a mind accustomed to induction had furnished me with several
well-defined facts regarding him before I fairly recovered from the
shock of the encounter.

These were some of the facts: He was a heavier man than myself, and
stiffer in the legs; but he lacked precisely three inches and a half
of my stature. He wore a silk hat, a cape or cloak of heavy woolen
material, and rubber overshoes or arctics. He was about thirty-five
years old, born in America, educated at a German university, either
Heidelberg or Freiburg, naturally of hasty temper, but considerate and
courteous, in his demeanor to others. He was not entirely at peace
with society: there was something in his life or in his present errand
which he desired to conceal.

How did I know all this when I had not seen the stranger, and when
only a single monosyllable had escaped his lips? Well, I knew that he
was stouter than myself, and firmer on his foot, because it was I, not
he, who recoiled. I knew that I was just three inches and a half
taller than he, for the tip of my nose was still tingling from its
contact with the stiff, sharp brim of his hat. My hand, involuntarily
raised, had come under the edge of his cape. He wore rubber shoes, for
I had not heard a footfall. To an observant ear; the indications of
age are as plain in the tones of the voice as to the eye in the lines
of the countenance. In the first moment of exasperation of my
maladroitness, he had muttered "Ox!" a term that would occur to nobody
except a German at such a time. The pronunciation of the guttural,
however, told me that the speaker was an American German, not a German
American, and that his German education had been derived south of the
river Main. Moreover, the tone of the gentleman and scholar was
manifest even in the utterance of wrath. That the gentleman was in no
particular hurry, but for some reason anxious to remain unknown; was a
conclusion drawn from the fact that, after listening in silence to my
polite apology, he stooped to recover and restore to me my umbrella,
and then passed on as noiselessly as he had approached.

I make it a point to verify my conclusions when possible. So I turned
back into the cross street and followed the stranger toward a lamp
part way down the block. Certainly, I was not more than five seconds
behind him. There was no other road that he could have taken. No house
door had opened and closed along the way. And yet, when we came into
the light, the form that ought to have been directly in front of me
did not appear. Neither man nor man's shadow was visible.

Hurrying on as fast as I could walk to the next gaslight, I paused
under the lamp and listened. The street was apparently deserted. The
rays from the yellow flame reached only a little way into the
darkness. The steps and doorway, however, of the brownstone house
facing the street lamp were sufficiently illuminated. The gilt figures
above the door were distinct. I recognized the house: the number was a
familiar one. While I stood under the gaslight, waiting, I heard a
slight noise on these steps, and the click of a key in a lock. The
vestibule door of the house was slowly opened, and then closed with a
slam that echoed across the street. Almost immediately followed the
sound of the opening and shutting of the inner door. Nobody had come
out. As far as my eyes could be trusted to report an event hardly ten
feet away and in broad light, nobody had gone in.

With a notion that here was scanty material for an exact application
of the inductive process, I stood a long time wildly guessing at the
philosophy of the strange occurrence. I felt that vague sense of the
unexplainable which amounts almost to dread. It was a relief to hear
steps on the sidewalk opposite, and turning, to see a policeman
swinging his long black club and watching me.


This house of chocolate brown, whose front door opened and shut at
midnight without indications of human agency, was, as I have said,
well known to me. I had left it not more than ten minutes earlier,
after spending the evening with my friend Bliss and his daughter
Pandora. The house was of the sort in which each story constitutes a
domicile complete in itself. The second floor, or flat, had been
inhabited by Bliss since his return from abroad; that is to say, for a
twelvemonth. I held Bliss in esteem for for his excellent qualities of
heart, while his deplorably illogical and unscientific mind commanded
my profound pity. I adored Pandora.

Be good enough to understand that my admiration for Pandora Bliss was
hopeless, and not only hopeless, but resigned to its hopelessness. In
our circle of acquaintance there was a tacit covenant that the young
lady's peculiar position as a flirt wedded to a memory should be at
all times respected. We adored Pandora mildly, not passionately--just
enough to feed her coquetry without excoriating the seared surface of
her widowed heart. On her part, Pandora conducted herself with signal
propriety. She did not sigh too obtrusively when she flirted: and she
always kept her flirtations so well in hand that she could cut them
short whenever the fond, sad recollections came.

It was considered proper for us to tell Pandora that she owed it to
her youth and beauty to put aside the dead past like a closed book,
and to urge her respectfully to come forth into the living present. It
was not considered proper to press the subject after she had once
replied that this was forever impossible.

The particulars of the tragic episode in Miss Pandora's European
experience were not accurately known to us. It was understood, in a
vague way, that she had loved while abroad, and trifled with her
lover: that he had disappeared, leaving her in ignorance of his fate
and in perpetual remorse for her capricious behavior. From Bliss I had
gathered a few, sporadic facts, not coherent enough to form a history
of the case. There was no reason to believe that Pandora's lover had
committed suicide. His name was Flack. He was a scientific man. In
Bliss's opinion he was a fool. In Bliss's opinion Pandora was a fool
to pine on his account. In Bliss's opinion all scientific men were
more or less fools.


That year I ate Thanksgiving dinner with the Blisses. In the evening I
sought to astonish the company by reciting the mysterious events on
the night of my collision with the stranger. The story failed to
produce the expected sensation. Two or three odious people exchanged
glances. Pandora, who was unusually pensive, listened with seeming
indifference. Her father, in his stupid inability to grasp anything
outside the commonplace, laughed outright, and even went so far as to
question my trustworthiness as an observer of phenomena.

Somewhat nettled, and perhaps a little shaken in my own faith in the
marvel, I made an excuse to withdraw early. Pandora accompanied me to
the threshold. "Your story," said she, "interested me strangely. I,
too, could report occurrences in and about this house which would
surprise you. I believe I am not wholly in the dark. The sorrowful
past casts a glimmer of light--but let us not be hasty. For my sake
probe the matter to the bottom."

The young woman sighed as she bade me good night. I thought I heard a
second sigh, in a deeper tone than hers, and too distinct to be a

I began to go downstairs. Before I had descended half a dozen steps I
felt a man's hand laid rather heavily upon my shoulder from behind. My
first idea was that Bliss had followed me into the hall to apologize
for his rudeness. I turned around to meet his friendly overture.
Nobody was in sight.

Again the hand touched my arm. I shuddered in spite of my philosophy.

This time the hand gently pulled at my coat sleeve, as if to invite me
upstairs. I ascended a step or two, and the pressure on my arm was
relaxed. I paused, and the silent invitation was repeated with an
urgency that left no doubt as to what was wanted.

We mounted the stairs together, the presence leading the way, I
following. What an extraordinary journey it was! The halls were bright
with gaslight. By the testimony of my eyes there was no one but myself
upon the stairway. Closing my eyes, the illusion, if illusion it could
be called, was perfect. I could hear the creaking of the stairs ahead
of me, the soft but distinctly audible footfalls synchronous with my
own, even the regular breathing of my companion and guide. Extending
my arm, I could touch and finger the skirt of his garment--a heavy
woolen cloak lined with silk.

Suddenly I opened my eyes. They told me again that I was absolutely

This problem then presented itself to mind: How to determine whether
vision was playing me false, while the senses of hearing and feeling
correctly informed me, or whether my ears and touch lied, while my
eyes reported the truth. Who shall be arbiter when the senses
contradict each other? The reasoning faculty? Reason was inclined to
recognize the presence of an intelligent being, whose existence was
flatly denied by the most trusted of the senses.

We reached the topmost floor of the house. The door leading out of the
public hall opened for me, apparently of its own accord. A curtain
within seemed to draw itself aside, and hold itself aside long enough
to give me ingress to an apartment wherein every appointment spoke of
good taste and scholarly habits. A wood fire was burning in the
chimney place. The walls were covered with books and pictures. The
lounging chairs were capacious and inviting. There was nothing in the
room uncanny, nothing weird, nothing different from the furniture of
everyday flesh and blood existence.

By this time I had cleared my mind of the last lingering suspicion of
the supernatural. These phenomena were perhaps not inexplicable; all
that I lacked was the key. The behavior of my unseen host argued his
amicable disposition. I was able to watch with perfect calmness a
series of manifestations of independent energy on the part of
inanimate objects.

In the first place, a great Turkish easy chair wheeled itself out of a
corner of the room and approached the hearth. Then a square-backed
Queen Anne chair started from another corner, advancing until it was
planted directly opposite the first. A little tripod table lifted
itself a few inches above the floor and took a position between the
two chairs. A thick octavo volume backed out of its place on the shelf
and sailed tranquilly through the air at the height of three or four
feet, landing neatly on top of the table. A finely painted porcelain
pipe left a hook on the wall and joined the volume. A tobacco box
jumped from the mantlepiece. The door of a cabinet swung open, and a
decanter and wineglass made the journey in company, arriving
simultaneously at the same destination. Everything in the room seemed
instinct with the spirit of hospitality.

I seated myself in the easy chair, filled the wineglass, lighted the
pipe, and examined the volume. It was the Handbuch der Gewebelehre of
Bussius of Vienna. When I had replaced the book upon the table, it
deliberately opened itself at the four hundred and forty-third page.

"You are not nervous?" demanded a voice, not four feet from my


This voice had a familiar sound. I recognized it as the voice that I
heard in the street on the night of November 6, when it called me an ox.

"No," I said. "I am not nervous. I am a man of science, accustomed to
regard all phenomena as explainable by natural laws, provided we can
discover the laws. No, I am not frightened."

"So much the better. You are a man of science, like myself"--here the
voice groaned--"a man of nerve, and a friend of Pandora's."

"Pardon me," I interposed. "Since a lady's name is introduced it would
be well to know with whom or with what I am speaking."

"That is precisely what I desire to communicate," replied the voice,
"before I ask you to render me a great service. My name is or was
Stephen Flack. I am or have been a citizen of the United States. My
exact status at present is as great a mystery to myself as it can
possibly be to you. But I am, or was, an honest man and a gentleman,
and I offer you my hand."

I saw no hand. I reached forth my own, however, and it met the
pressure of warm, living fingers.

"Now," resumed the voice, after this silent pact of friendship, "be
good enough to read the passage at which I have opened the book upon
the table."

Here is a rough translation of what I read in German:

  As the color of the organic tissues constituting the body depends
upon the presence of certain proximate principles of the third class,
all containing iron as one of the ultimate elements, it follows that
the hue may vary according to well-defined chemico-physiological
changes. An excess of hematin in the blood globules gives a ruddier
tinge to every tissue. The melanin that colors the choroid of the eye,
the iris, the hair, may be increased or diminished according to laws
recently formulated by Schardt of Basel. In the epidermis the excess
of melanin makes the Negro, the deficient supply the albino. The
hematin and the melanin, together with the greenish-yellow biliverdine
and the reddish-yellow urokacine, are the pigments which impart color
character to tissues otherwise transparent, or nearly so. I deplore my
inability to record the result of some highly interesting histological
experiments conducted by that indefatigable investigator Frliker in
achieving success in the way of separating pink discoloration of the
human body by chemical means.

"For five years," continued my unseen companion when I had finished
reading, "I was Frliker's student and laboratory assistant at
Freiburg. Bussius only half guessed at the importance of our
experiments. We reached results which were so astounding that public
policy required they should not be published, even to the scientific
world. Frliker died a year ago last August.

"I had faith in the genius of this great thinker and admirable man. If
he had rewarded my unquestioning loyalty with full confidence, I
should not now be a miserable wretch. But his natural reserve, and the
jealousy with which all savants guard their unverified results, kept
me ignorant of the essential formulas governing our experiments. As
his disciple I was familiar with the laboratory details of the work;
the master alone possessed the radical secret. The consequence is that
I have been led into a misfortune more appalling than has been the lot
of any human being since the primal curse fell upon Cain.

"Our efforts were at first directed to the enlargement and variation
of the quantity of pigmentary matter in the system. By increasing the
proportion of melanin, for instance, conveyed in food to the blood, we
were able to make a fair man dark, a dark man black as an African.
There was scarcely a hue we could not impart to the skin by modifying
and varying our combinations. The experiments were usually tried on
me. At different times I have been copper-colored, violet blue,
crimson, and chrome yellow. For one triumphant week I exhibited in my
person all the colors of the rainbow. There still remains a witness to
the interesting character of our work during this period."

The voice paused, and in a few seconds a hand bell upon the mantel was
sounded. Presently an old man with a close-fitting skullcap shuffled
into the room.

"Kspar," said the voice, in German, "show the gentleman your hair."

Without manifesting any surprise, and as if perfectly accustomed to
receive commands addressed to him out of vacancy, the old domestic
bowed and removed his cap. The scanty locks thus discovered were of a
lustrous emerald green. I expressed my astonishment.

"The gentleman finds your hair very beautiful," said the voice, again
in German. "That is all, Kspar."

Replacing his cap, the domestic withdrew, with a look of gratified
vanity on his face.

"Old Kspar was Frliker's servant, and is now mine. He was the
subject of one of our first applications of the process. The worthy
man was so pleased with the result that he would never permit us to
restore his hair to its original red. He is a faithful soul, and my
only intermediary and representative in the visible world.

"Now," continued Flack, "to the story of my undoing. The great
histologist with whom it was my privilege to be associated, next
turned his attention to another and still more interesting branch of
the investigation. Hitherto he had sought merely to increase or to
modify the pigments in the tissues. He now began a series of
experiments as to the possibility of eliminating those pigments
altogether from the system by absorption, exudation, and the use of
the chlorides and other chemical agents acting on organic matter. He
was only too successful!

"Again I was the subject of experiments which Frliker supervised,
imparting to me only so much of the secret of this process as was
unavoidable. For weeks at a time I remained in his private laboratory,
seeing no one and seen by no one excepting the professor and the
trustworthy Kspar. Herr Friiliker proceeded with caution, closely
watching the effect of each new test, and advancing by degrees. He
never went so far in one experiment that he was unable to withdraw at
discretion. He always kept open an easy road for retreat. For that
reason I felt myself perfectly safe in his hands and submitted to
whatever he required.

"Under the action of the etiolating drugs which the professor
administered in connection with powerful detergents, I became at first
pale, white, colorless as an albino, but without suffering in general
health. My hair and beard looked like spun glass and my skin like
marble. The professor was satisfied with his results, and went no
further at this time. He restored to me my normal color.

"In the next experiment, and in those succeeding, he allowed his
chemical agents to take firmer hold upon the tissues of my body. I
became not only white, like a bleached man, but slightly translucent,
like a porcelain figure. Then again he paused for a while, giving me
back my color and allowing me to go forth into the world. Two months
later I was more than translucent. You have seen floating those sea
radiates, the medusa or jellyfish, their outlines almost invisible to
the eye. Well, I became in the air like a jellyfish in the water.
Almost perfectly transparent, it was only by close inspection that old
Kspar could discover my whereabouts in the room when he came to bring
me food. It was Kspar who ministered to my wants at times when I was

"But your clothing?" I inquired, interrupting Flack's narrative. "That
must have stood out in strong contrast with the dim aspect of your

"Ah, no," said Flack. "The spectacle of an apparently empty suit of
clothes moving about the laboratory was too grotesque even for the
grave professor. For the protection of his gravity he was obliged to
devise a way to apply his process to dead organic matter, such as the
wool of my cloak, the cotton of my shirts, and the leather of my
shoes. Thus I came to be equipped with the outfit which still serves

"It was at this stage of our progress, when we had almost attained
perfect transparency, and therefore complete invisibility, that I met
Pandora Bliss.

"A year ago last July, in one of the intervals of our experimenting,
and at a time when I presented my natural appearance, I went into the
Schwarzwald to recuperate. I first saw and admired Pandora at the
little village of St. Blasien. They had come from the Falls of the
Rhine, and were traveling north; I turned around and traveled north.
At the Stern Inn I loved Pandora; at the summit of the Feldberg I
madly worshiped her. In the Hllenpass I was ready to sacrifice my
life for a gracious word from her lips. On Hornisgrinde I besought her
permission to throw myself from the top of the mountain into the
gloomy waters of the Mummelsee in order to prove my devotion. You know
Pandora. Since you know her, there is no need to apologize for the
rapid growth of my infatuation. She flirted with me, laughed with me,
laughed at me, drove with me, walked with me through byways in the
green woods, climbed with me up aeclivities so steep that climbing
together was one delicious, prolonged embrace; talked science with me,
and sentiment; listened to my hopes and enthusiasm, snubbed me, froze
me, maddened me--all at her sweet will, and all while her matter-of-
fact papa dozed in the coffee rooms of the inns over the financial
columns of the latest New York newspapers. But whether she loved me I
know not to this day.

"When Pandora's father learned what my pursuits were, and what my
prospects, he brought our little idyl to an abrupt termination. I
think he classed me somewhere between the professional jugglers and
the quack doctors. In vain I explained to him that I should be famous
and probably rich. 'When you are famous and rich,' he remarked with a
grin, 'I shall be pleased to see you at my office in Broad street' He
carried Pandora off to Paris, and I returned to Freiburg.

"A few weeks later, one bright afternoon in August, I stood in
Frliker's laboratory unseen by four persons who were almost within
the radius of my arm's length. Kspar was behind me, washing some test
tubes. Frliker, with a proud smile upon his face, was gazing intently
at the place where he knew I ought to be. Two brother professors,
summoned on some pretext, were unconsciously almost jostling me with
their elbows as they discussed I know not what trivial question. They
could have heard my heart beat. 'By the way, Herr Professor,' one
asked as he was about to depart, 'has your assistant, Herr Flack,
returned from his vacation?' This test was perfect.

"As soon as we were alone, Professor Frliker grasped my invisible
hand, as you have grasped it tonight. He was in high spirits.

"'My dear fellow,' he said, 'tomorrow crowns our work. You shall
appear--or rather not appear--before the assembled faculty of the
university. I have telegraphed invitations to Heidelberg, to Bonn, to
Berlin. Schrotter, Haeckel, Steinmetz, Lavallo, will be here. Our
triumph will be in presence of the most eminent physicists of the age.
I shall then disclose those secrets of our process which I have
hitherto withheld even from you, my colaborer and trusted friend. But
you shall share the glory. What is this I hear about the forest bird
that has flown? My boy, you shall be restocked with pigment and go to
Paris to seek her with fame in your hands and the blessings of science
on your head.'

"The next morning, the nineteenth of August, before I had arisen from
my cot bed, Kspar hastily entered the laboratory.

"'Herr Flack! Herr Flack!' he gasped, 'the Herr Doctor Professor is
dead of apoplexy.'"


The narrative had come to an end. I sat a long time thinking. What
could I do? What could I say? In what shape could I offer consolation
to this unhappy man?

Flack, the invisible, was sobbing bitterly.

He was the first to speak. "It is hard, hard, hard! For no crime in
the eyes of man, for no sin in the sight of God, I have been condemned
to a fate ten thousand times worse than hell. I must walk the earth, a
man, living, seeing, loving, like other men, while between me and all
that makes life worth having there is a barrier fixed forever. Even
ghosts have shapes. My life is living death; my existence oblivion. No
friend can look me in the face. Were I to clasp to my breast the woman
I love, it would only be to inspire terror inexpressible. I see her
almost every day. I brush against her skirts as I pass her on the
stairs. Did she love me? Does she love me? Would not that knowledge
make the curse still more cruel? Yet it was to learn the truth that I
brought you here."

Then I made the greatest mistake of my life.

"Cheer up!" I said. "Pandora has always loved you."

By the sudden overturning of the table I knew with what vehemence
Flack sprang to his feet. His two hands had my shoulders in a fierce

"Yes," I continued; "Pandora has been faithful to your memory. There
is no reason to despair. The secret of Frliker's process died with
him, but why should it not be rediscovered by experiment and induction
ab initio, with the aid which you can render? Have courage and hope.
She loves you. In five minutes you shall hear it from her own lips."

No wail of pain that I ever heard was half so pathetic as his wild cry
of joy.

I hurried downstairs and summoned Miss Bliss into the hall. In a few
words I explained the situation. To my surprise, she neither fainted
nor went into hysterics. "Certainly, I will accompany you," she said,
with a smile which I could not then interpret.

She followed me into Flack's room, calmly scrutinizing every corner of
the apartment, with the set smile still upon her face. Had she been
entering a ballroom she could not have shown greater self-possession.
She manifested no astonishment, no terror, when her hand was seized by
invisible hands and covered with kisses from invisible lips. She
listened with composure to the torrent of loving and caressing words
which my unfortunate friend poured into her ears.

Perplexed and uneasy, I watched the strange scene.

Presently Miss Bliss withdrew her hand.

"Really, Mr. Flack," she said with a light laugh, "you are
sufficiently demonstrative. Did you acquire the habit on the

"Pandora!" I heard him say, "I do not understand."

"Perhaps," she calmly went on, "you regard it as one of the privileges
of your invisibility. Let me congratulate you on the success of your
experiment. What a clever man your professor--what is his name?--must
be. You can make a fortune by exhibiting yourself."

Was this the woman who for months had paraded her inconsolable sorrow
for the loss of this very man? I was stupefied. Who shall undertake to
analyze the motives of a coquette? What science is profound enough to
unravel her unconscionable whims?

"Pandora!" he exclaimed again, in a bewildered voice. "What does it
mean? Why do you receive me in this manner? Is that all you have to
say to me?"

"I believe that is all," she coolly replied, moving toward the door.
"You are a gentleman, and I need not ask you to spare me any further

"Your heart is quartz," I whispered, as she passed me in going out.
"You are unworthy of him."

Flack's despairing cry brought Kspar into the room. With the instinct
acquired by long and faithful service, the old man went straight to
the place where his master was. I saw him clutch at the air, as if
struggling with and seeking to detain the invisible man. He was flung
violently aside. He recovered himself and stood an instant listening,
his neck distended, his face pale. Then he rushed out of the door and
down the stairs. I followed him.

The street door of the house was open. On the sidewalk Kspar
hesitated a few seconds. It was toward the west that he finally
turned, running down the street with such speed that I had the utmost
difficulty to keep at his side.

It was near midnight. We crossed avenue after avenue. An inarticulate
murmur of satisfaction escaped old Kspar's lips. A little way ahead
of us we saw a man, standing at one of the avenue corners, suddenly
thrown to the ground. We sped on, never relaxing our pace. I now heard
rapid footfalls a short distance in advance of us. I clutched Kspar's
arm. He nodded.

Almost breathless, I was conscious that we were no longer treading
upon pavement, but on boards and amid a confusion of lumber. In front
of us were no more lights; only blank vacancy. Kspar gave one mighty
spring. He clutched, missed, and fell back with a cry of horror.

There was a dull splash in the black waters of the river at our feet.


A row of Lombardy poplars stood in front of my great-aunt Gertrude's
house, on the bank of the Sheepscot River. In personal appearance my
aunt was surprisingly like one of those trees. She had the look of
hopeless anemia that distinguishes them from fuller blooded sorts. She
was tall, severe in outline, and extremely thin. Her habiliments clung
to her. I am sure that had the gods found occasion to impose upon her
the fate of Daphne she would have taken her place easily and naturally
in the dismal row, as melancholy a poplar as the rest.

Some of my earliest recollections are of this venerable relative.
Alive and dead she bore an important part in the events I am about to
recount: events which I believe to be without parallel in the
experience of mankind.

During our periodical visits of duty to Aunt Gertrude in Maine, my
cousin Harry and myself were accustomed to speculate much on her age.
Was she sixty, or was she six score? We had no precise information;
she might have been either. The old lady was surrounded by old-
fashioned things. She seemed to live altogether in the past. In her
short half-hours of communicativeness, over her second cup of tea, or
on the piazza where the poplars sent slim shadows directly toward the
east, she used to tell us stories of her alleged ancestors. I say
alleged, because we never fully believed that she had ancestors.

A genealogy is a stupid thing. Here is Aunt Gertrude's, reduced to its
simplest forms:

Her great-great-grandmother (1599-1642) was a woman of Holland who
married a Puritan refugee, and sailed from Leyden to Plymouth in the
ship Ann in the year of our Lord 1632. This Pilgrim mother had a
daughter, Aunt Gertrude's great-grandmother (1640-1718). She came to
the Eastern District of Massachusetts in the early part of the last
century, and was carried off by the Indians in the Penobscot wars. Her
daughter (1680-1776) lived to see these colonies free and independent,
and contributed to the population of the coming republic not less than
nineteen stalwart sons and comely daughters. One of the latter (1735-
1802) married a Wiscasset skipper engaged in the West India trade,
with whom she sailed. She was twice wrecked at sea--once on what is
now Seguin Island and once on San Salvador. It was on San Salvador
that Aunt Gertrude was born.

We got to be very tired of hearing this family history. Perhaps it was
the constant repetition and the merciless persistency with which the
above dates were driven into our young ears that made us skeptics. As
I have said, we took little stock in Aunt Gertrude's ancestors. They
seemed highly improbable. In our private opinion the great-
grandmothers and grandmothers and so forth were pure myths, and Aunt
Gertrude herself was the principal in all the adventures attributed to
them, having lasted from century to century while generations of
contemporaries went the way of all flesh.

On the first landing of the square stairway of the mansion loomed a
tall Dutch clock. The case was more than eight feet high, of a dark
red wood, not mahogany, and it was curiously inlaid with silver. No
common piece of furniture was this. About a hundred years ago there
flourished in the town of Brunswick a horologist named Cary, an
industrious and accomplished workman. Few well-to-do houses on that
part of the coast lacked a Cary timepiece. But Aunt Gertrude's clock
had marked the hours and minutes of two full centuries before the
Brunswick artisan was born. It was running when William the Taciturn
pierced the dikes to relieve Leyden. The name of the maker, Jan
Lipperdam, and the date, 1572, were still legible in broad black
letters and figures reaching quite across the dial. Cary's
masterpieces were plebeian and recent beside this ancient aristocrat.
The jolly Dutch moon, made to exhibit the phases over a landscape of
windmills and polders, was cunningly painted. A skilled hand had
carved the grim ornament at the top, a death's head transfixed by a
two-edged sword. Like all timepieces of the sixteenth century, it had
no pendulum. A simple Van Wyck escapement governed the descent of the
weights to the bottom of the tall case.

But these weights never moved. Year after year, when Harry and I
returned to Maine, we found the hands of the old clock pointing to the
quarter past three, as they had pointed when we first saw them. The
fat moon hung perpetually in the third quarter, as motionless as the
death's head above. There was a mystery about the silenced movement
and the paralyzed hands. Aunt Gertrude told us that the works had
never performed their functions since a bolt of lightning entered the
clock; and she showed us a black hole in the side of the case near the
top, with a yawning rift that extended downward for several feet. This
explanation failed to satisfy us. It did not account for the sharpness
of her refusal when we proposed to bring over the watchmaker from the
village, or for her singular agitation once when she found Harry on a
stepladder, with a borrowed key in his hand, about to test for himself
the clock's suspended vitality.

One August night, after we had grown out of boyhood, I was awakened by
a noise in the hallway. I shook my cousin. "Somebody's in the house,"
I whispered.

We crept out of our room and on to the stairs. A dim light came from
below. We held breath and noiselessly descended to the second landing.
Harry clutched my arm. He pointed down over the banisters, at the same
time drawing me back into the shadow.

We saw a strange thing.

Aunt Gertrude stood on a chair in front of the old clock, as spectral
in her white nightgown and white nightcap as one of the poplars when
covered with snow. It chanced that the floor creaked slightly under
our feet. She turned with a sudden movement, peering intently into the
darkness, and holding a candle high toward us, so that the light was
full upon her pale face. She looked many years older than when I bade
her good night. For a few minutes she was motionless, except in the
trembling arm that held aloft the candle. Then, evidently reassured,
she placed the light upon a shelf and turned again to the clock.

We now saw the old lady take a key from behind the face and proceed to
wind up the weights. We could hear her breath, quick and short. She
rested a band on either side of the case and held her face close to
the dial, as if subjecting it to anxious scrutiny. In this attitude
she remained for a long time. We heard her utter a sigh of relief, and
she half turned toward us for a moment. I shall never forget the
expression of wild joy that transfigured her features then.

The hands of the clock were moving; they were moving backward.

Aunt Gertrude put both arms around the clock and pressed her withered
cheek against it. She kissed it repeatedly. She caressed it in a
hundred ways, as if it had been a living and beloved thing. She
fondled it and talked to it, using words which we could hear but could
not understand. The hands continued to move backward.

Then she started back with a sudden cry. The clock had stopped. We saw
her tall body swaying for an instant on the chair. She stretched out
her arms in a convulsive gesture of terror and despair, wrenched the
minute hand to its old place at a quarter past three, and fell heavily
to the floor.


Aunt Gertrude's will left me her bank and gas stocks, real estate,
railroad bonds, and city sevens, and gave Harry the clock. We thought
at the time that this was a very unequal division, the more surprising
because my cousin had always seemed to be the favorite. Half in
seriousness we made a thorough examination of the ancient timepiece,
sounding its wooden case for secret drawers, and even probing the not
complicated works with a knitting needle to ascertain if our whimsical
relative had bestowed there some codicil or other document changing
the aspect of affairs. We discovered nothing.

There was testamentary provision for our education at the University
of Leyden. We left the military school in which we had learned a
little of the theory of war, and a good deal of the art of standing
with our noses over our heels, and took ship without delay. The clock
went with us. Before many months it was established in a corner of a
room in the Breede Straat.

The fabric of Jan Lipperdam's ingenuity, thus restored to its native
air, continued to tell the hour of quarter past three with its old
fidelity. The author of the clock had been under the sod for nearly
three hundred years. The combined skill of his successors in the craft
at Leyden could make it go neither forward nor backward.

We readily picked up enough Dutch to make ourselves understood by the
townspeople, the professors, and such of our eight hundred and odd
fellow students as came into intercourse. This language, which looks
so hard at first, is only a sort of polarized English. Puzzle over it
a little while and it jumps into your comprehension like one of those
simple cryptograms made by running together all the words of a
sentence and then dividing in the wrong places.

The language acquired and the newness of our surroundings worn off, we
settled into tolerably regular pursuits. Harry devoted himself with
some assiduity to the study of sociology, with especial reference to
the round-faced and not unkind maidens of Leyden. I went in for the
higher metaphysics.

Outside of our respective studies, we had a common ground of unfailing
interest. To our astonishment, we found that not one in twenty of the
faculty or students knew or cared a sliver about the glorious history
of the town, or even about the circumstances under which the
university itself was founded by the Prince of Orange. In marked
contrast with the general indifference was the enthusiasm of Professor
Van Stopp, my chosen guide through the cloudiness of speculative

This distinguished Hegelian was a tobacco-dried little old man, with a
skullcap over features that reminded me strangely of Aunt Gertrude's.
Had he been her own brother the facial resemblance could not have been
closer. I told him so once, when we were together in the Stadthuis
looking at the portrait of the hero of the siege, the Burgomaster Van
der Werf. The professor laughed. "I will show you what is even a more
extraordinary coincidence," said he; and, leading the way across the
hall to the great picture of the siege, by Warmers, he pointed out the
figure of a burgher participating in the defense. It was true. Van
Stopp might have been the burgher's son; the burgher might have been
Aunt Gertrude's father.

The professor seemed to be fond of us. We often went to his rooms in
an old house in the Rapenburg Straat, one of the few houses remaining
that antedate 1574. He would walk with us through the beautiful
suburbs of the city, over straight roads lined with poplars that
carried us back to the bank of the Sheepscot in our minds. He took us
to the top of the ruined Roman tower in the center of the town, and
from the same battlements from which anxious eyes three centuries ago
had watched the slow approach of Admiral Boisot's fleet over the
submerged polders, he pointed out the great dike of the Landscheiding,
which was cut that the oceans might bring Boisot's Zealanders to raise
the leaguer and feed the starving. He showed us the headquarters of
the Spaniard Valdez at Leyderdorp, and told us how heaven sent a
violent northwest wind on the night of the first of October, piling up
the water deep where it had been shallow and sweeping the fleet on
between Zoeterwoude and Zwieten up to the very walls of the fort at
Lammen, the last stronghold of the besiegers and the last obstacle in
the way of succor to the famishing inhabitants. Then he showed us
where, on the very night before the retreat of the besieging army, a
huge breach was made in the wall of Leyden, near the Cow Gate, by the
Walloons from Lammen.

"Why!" cried Harry, catching fire from the eloquence of the
professor's narrative, "that was the decisive moment of the siege."

The professor said nothing. He stood with his arms folded, looking
intently into my cousin's eyes.

"For," continued Harry, "had that point not been watched, or had
defense failed and the breach been carried by the night assault from
Lammen, the town would have been burned and the people massacred under
the eyes of Admiral Boisot and the fleet of relief. Who defended the

Van Stopp replied very slowly, as if weighing every word:

"History records the explosion of the mine under the city wall on the
last night of the siege; it does not tell the story of the defense or
give the defender's name. Yet no man that ever lived had a more
tremendous charge than fate entrusted to this unknown hero. Was it
chance that sent him to meet that unexpected danger? Consider some of
the consequences had he failed. The fall of Leyden would have
destroyed the last hope of the Prince of Orange and of the free
states. The tyranny of Philip would have been reestablished. The birth
of religious liberty and of self-government by the people would have
been postponed, who knows for how many centuries? Who knows that there
would or could have been a republic of the United States of America
had there been no United Netherlands? Our University, which has given
to the world Grotius, Scaliger, Arminius, and Descartes, was founded
upon this hero's successful defense of the breach. We owe to him our
presence here today. Nay, you owe to him your very existence. Your
ancestors were of Leyden; between their lives and the butchers outside
the walls he stood that night."

The little professor towered before us, a giant of enthusiasm and
patriotism. Harry's eyes glistened and his cheeks reddened.

"Go home, boys," said Van Stopp, "and thank God that while the
burghers of Leyden were straining their gaze toward Zoeterwoude and
the fleet, there was one pair of vigilant eyes and one stout heart at
the town wall just beyond the Cow Gate!"


The rain was splashing against the windows one evening in the autumn
of our third year at Leyden, when Professor Van Stopp honored us with
a visit in the Breede Straat. Never had I seen the old gentleman in
such spirits. He talked incessantly. The gossip of the town, the news
of Europe, science, poetry, philosophy, were in turn touched upon and
treated with the same high and good humor. I sought to draw him out on
Hegel, with whose chapter on the complexity and interdependency of
things I was just then struggling.

"You do not grasp the return of the Itself into Itself through its
Otherself?" he said smiling. "Well, you will, sometime."

Harry was silent and preoccupied. His taciturnity gradually affected
even the professor. The conversation flagged, and we sat a long while
without a word. Now and then there was a flash of lightning succeeded
by distant thunder.

"Your clock does not go," suddenly remarked the professor. "Does it
ever go?"

"Never since we can remember," I replied. "That is, only once, and
then it went backward. It was when Aunt Gertrude-"

Here I caught a warning glance from Harry. I laughed and stammered,
"The clock is old and useless. It cannot be made to go."

"Only backward?" said the professor, calmly, and not appearing to
notice my embarrassment. "Well, and why should not a clock go
backward? Why should not Time itself turn and retrace its course?"

He seemed to be waiting for an answer. I had none to give.

"I thought you Hegelian enough," he continued, "to admit that every
condition includes its own contradiction. Time is a condition, not an
essential. Viewed from the Absolute, the sequence by which future
follows present and present follows past is purely arbitrary.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow; there is no reason in the nature of things
why the order should not be tomorrow, today, yesterday."

A sharper peal of thunder interrupted the professor's speculations.

"The day is made by the planet's revolution on its axis from west to
east. I fancy you can conceive conditions under which it might turn
from east to west, unwinding, as it were, the revolutions of past
ages. Is it so much more difficult to imagine Time unwinding itself;
Time on the ebb, instead of on the flow; the past unfolding as the
future recedes; the centuries countermarching; the course of events
proceeding toward the Beginning and not, as now, toward the End?"

"But," I interposed, "we know that as far as we are concerned the-"

"We know!" exclaimed Van Stopp, with growing scorn. "Your intelligence
has no wings. You follow in the trail of Compte and his slimy brood of
creepers and crawlers. You speak with amazing assurance of your
position in the universe. You seem to think that your wretched little
individuality has a firm foothold in the Absolute. Yet you go to bed
tonight and dream into existence men, women, children, beasts of the
past or of the future. How do you know that at this moment you
yourself, with all your conceit of nineteenth-century thought, are
anything more than a creature of a dream of the future, dreamed, let
us say, by some philosopher of the sixteenth century? How do you know
that you are anything more than a creature of a dream of the past,
dreamed by some Hegelian of the twenty-sixth century? How do you know,
boy, that you will not vanish into the sixteenth century or 2060 the
moment the dreamer awakes?"

There was no replying to this, for it was sound metaphysics. Harry
yawned. I got up and went to the window. Professor Van Stopp
approached the clock.

"Ah, my children," said he, "there is no fixed progress of human
events. Past, present, and future are woven together in one
inextricable mesh. Who shall say that this old clock is not right to
go backward?"

A crash of thunder shook the house. The storm was over our heads.

When the blinding glare had passed away, Professor Van Stopp was
standing upon a chair before the tall timepiece. His face looked more
than ever like Aunt Gertrude's. He stood as she had stood in that last
quarter of an hour when we saw her wind the clock.

The same thought struck Harry and myself.

"Hold!" we cried, as he began to wind the works. "It may be death if

The professor's sallow features shone with the strange enthusiasm that
had transformed Aunt Gertrude's.

"True," he said, "it may be death; but it may be the awakening. Past,
present, future; all woven together! The shuttle goes to and fro,
forward and back-"

He had wound the clock. The hands were whirling around the dial from
right to left with inconceivable rapidity. In this whirl we ourselves
seemed to be borne along. Eternities seemed to contract into minutes
while lifetimes were thrown off at every tick. Van Stopp, both arms
outstretched, was reeling in his chair. The house shook again under a
tremendous peal of thunder. At the same instant a ball of fire,
leaving a wake of sulphurous vapor and filling the room with dazzling
light, passed over our heads and smote the clock. Van Stopp was
prostrated. The hands ceased to revolve.


The roar of the thunder sounded like heavy cannonading. The
lightning's blaze appeared as the steady light of a conflagration.
With our hands over our eyes, Harry and I rushed out into the night.

Under a red sky people were hurrying toward the Stadthuis. Flames in
the direction of the Roman tower told us that the heart of the town
was afire. The faces of those we saw were haggard and emaciated. From
every side we caught disjointed phrases of complaint or despair.
"Horseflesh at ten schillings the pound," said one, "and bread at
sixteen schillings." "Bread indeed!" an old woman retorted: "It's
eight weeks gone since I have seen a crumb." "My little grandchild,
the lame one, went last night." "Do you know what Gekke Betje, the
washerwoman, did? She was starving. Her babe died, and she and her

A louder cannon burst cut short this revelation. We made our way on
toward the citadel of the town, passing a few soldiers here and there
and many burghers with grim faces under their broad-brimmed felt hats.

"There is bread plenty yonder where the gunpowder is, and full pardon,
too. Valdez shot another amnesty over the walls this morning."

An excited crowd immediately surrounded the speaker. "But the fleet!"
they cried.

"The fleet is grounded fast on the Greenway polder. Boisot may turn
his one eye seaward for a wind till famine and pestilence have carried
off every mother's son of ye, and his ark will not be a rope's length
nearer. Death by plague, death by starvation, death by fire and
musketry--that is what the burgomaster offers us in return for glory
for himself and kingdom for Orange."

"He asks us," said a sturdy citizen, "to hold out only twenty-four
hours longer, and to pray meanwhile for an ocean wind."

"Ah, yes!" sneered the first speaker. "Pray on. There is bread enough
locked in Pieter Adriaanszoon van der Werf's cellar. I warrant you
that is what gives him so wonderful a stomach for resisting the Most
Catholic King."

A young girl, with braided yellow hair, pressed through the crowd and
confronted the malcontent. "Good people," said the maiden, "do not
listen to him. He is a traitor with a Spanish heart. I am Pieter's
daughter. We have no bread. We ate malt cakes and rapeseed like the
rest of you till that was gone. Then we stripped the green leaves from
the lime trees and willows in our garden and ate them. We have eaten
even the thistles and weeds that grew between the stones by the canal.
The coward lies."

Nevertheless, the insinuation had its effect. The throng, now become a
mob, surged off in the direction of the burgomaster's house. One
ruffian raised his hand to strike the girl out of the way. In a wink
the cur was under the feet of his fellows, and Harry, panting and
glowing, stood at the maiden's side, shouting defiance in good English
at the backs of the rapidly retreating crowd.

With the utmost frankness she put both her arms around Harry's neck
and kissed him.

"Thank you," she said. "You are a hearty lad. My name is Gertruyd van
der Wert."

Harry was fumbling in his vocabulary for the proper Dutch phrases, but
the girl would not stay for compliments. "They mean mischief to my
father"; and she hurried us through several exceedingly narrow streets
into a three-cornered market place dominated by a church with two
spires. "There he is," she exclaimed, "on the steps of St. Pancras."

There was a tumult in the market place. The conflagration raging
beyond the church and the voices of the Spanish and Walloon cannon
outside of the walls were less angry than the roar of this multitude
of desperate men clamoring for the bread that a single word from their
leader's lips would bring them. "Surrender to the King!" they cried,
"or we will send your dead body to Lammen as Leyden's token of

One tall man, taller by half a head than any of the burghers
confronting him, and so dark of complexion that we wondered how he
could be the father of Gertruyd, heard the threat in silence. When the
burgomaster spoke, the mob listened in spite of themselves.

"What is it you ask, my friends? That we break our vow and surrender
Leyden to the Spaniards? That is to devote ourselves to a fate far
more horrible than starvation. I have to keep the oath! Kill me, if
you will have it so. I can die only once, whether by your hands, by
the enemy's, or by the hand of God. Let us starve, if we must,
welcoming starvation because it comes before dishonor. Your menaces do
not move me; my life is at your disposal. Here, take my sword, thrust
it into my breast, and divide my flesh among you to appease your
hunger. So long as I remain alive expect no surrender."

There was silence again while the mob wavered. Then there were
mutterings around us. Above these rang out the clear voice of the girl
whose hand Harry still held-unnecessarily, it seemed to me.

"Do you not feel the sea wind? It has come at last. To the tower! And
the first man there will see by moonlight the full white sails of the
prince's ships."

For several hours I scoured the streets of the town, seeking in vain
my cousin and his companion; the sudden movement of the crowd toward
the Roman tower had separated us. On every side I saw evidences of the
terrible chastisement that had brought this stout-hearted people to
the verge of despair. A man with hungry eyes chased a lean rat along
the bank of the canal. A young mother, with two dead babes in her
arms, sat in a doorway to which they bore the bodies of her husband
and father, just killed at the walls. In the middle of a deserted
street I passed unburied corpses in a pile twice as high as my head.
The pestilence had been there-kinder than the Spaniard, because it
held out no treacherous promises while it dealt its blows.

Toward morning the wind increased to a gale. There was no sleep in
Leyden, no more talk of surrender, no longer any thought or care about
defense. These words were on the lips of everybody I met: "Daylight
will bring the fleet!"

Did daylight bring the fleet? History says so, but I was not a
witness. I know only that before dawn the gale culminated in a violent
thunderstorm, and that at the same time a muffled explosion, heavier
than the thunder, shook the town. I was in the crowd that watched from
the Roman Mound for the first signs of the approaching relief. The
concussion shook hope out of every face. "Their mine has reached the
wall!" But where? I pressed forward until I found the burgomaster, who
was standing among the rest. "Quick!" I whispered. "It is beyond the
Cow Gate, and this side of the Tower of Burgundy." He gave me a
searching glance, and then strode away, without making any attempt to
quiet the general panic. I followed close at his heels.

It was a tight run of nearly half a mile to the rampart in question.
When we reached the Cow Gate this is what we saw:

A great gap, where the wall had been, opening to the swampy fields
beyond: in the moat, outside and below, a confusion of upturned faces,
belonging to men who struggled like demons to achieve the breach, and
who now gained a few feet and now were forced back; on the shattered
rampart a handful of soldiers and burghers forming a living wall where
masonry had failed; perhaps a double handful of women and girls,
serving stones to the defenders and boiling water in buckets, besides
pitch and oil and unslaked lime, and some of them quoiting tarred and
burning hoops over the necks of the Spaniards in the moat; my cousin
Harry leading and directing the men; the burgomaster's daughter
Gertruyd encouraging and inspiring the women.

But what attracted my attention more than anything else was the
frantic activity of a little figure in black, who, with a huge ladle,
was showering molten lead on the heads of the assailing party. As he
turned to the bonfire and kettle which supplied him with ammunition,
his features came into the full light. I gave a cry of surprise: the
ladler of molten lead was Professor Van Stopp.

The burgomaster Van der Werf turned at my sudden exclamation. "Who is
that?" I said. "The man at the kettle?"

"That," replied Van der Werf, "is the brother of my wife, the
clockmaker Jan Lipperdam."

The affair at the breach was over almost before we had had time to
grasp the situation. The Spaniards, who had overthrown the wall of
brick and stone, found the living wall impregnable. They could not
even maintain their position in the moat; they were driven off into
the darkness. Now I felt a sharp pain in my left arm. Some stray
missile must have hit me while we watched the fight.

"Who has done this thing?" demanded the burgomaster. "Who is it that
has kept watch on today while the rest of us were straining fools'
eyes toward tomorrow?"

Gertruyd van der Werf came forward proudly, leading my cousin. "My
father," said the girl, "he has saved my life."

"That is much to me," said the burgomaster, "but it is not all. He has
saved Leyden and he has saved Holland."

I was becoming dizzy. The faces around me seemed unreal. Why were we
here with these people? Why did the thunder and lightning forever
continue? Why did the clockmaker, Jan Lipperdam, turn always toward me
the face of Professor Van Stopp? "Harry!" I said, "come back to our

But though he grasped my hand warmly his other hand still held that of
the girl, and he did not move. Then nausea overcame me. My head swam,
and the breach and its defenders faded from sight.


Three days later I sat with one arm bandaged in my accustomed seat in
Van Stopp's lecture room. The place beside me was vacant.

"We hear much," said the Hegelian professor, reading from a notebook
in his usual dry, hurried tone, "of the influence of the sixteenth
century upon the nineteenth. No philosopher, as far as I am aware, has
studied the influence of the nineteenth century upon the sixteenth. If
cause produces effect, does effect never induce cause? Does the law of
heredity, unlike all other laws of this universe of mind and matter,
operate in one direction only? Does the descendant owe everything to
the ancestor, and the ancestor nothing to the descendant? Does
destiny, which may seize upon our existence, and for its own purposes
bear us far into the future, never carry us back into the past?"

I went back to my rooms in the Breede Straat, where my only companion
was the silent clock.


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