Imatges de pÓgina
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gather as much strange and horrible

ger, unguarded movement, and information as it is good for the lay death has us in its grip, as surely as if mind to acquire. The difficulty of the some silly bayonet had rammed it preliminary process lay in the fact that through our heart. Yet, when one of it was impossible to tell what particu- us falls a victim to the death that en. lar exhibition of ignorance would goad compasses us on every side, you talk of the Professor out of his wonted taci- reckless folly and fill your papers with turnity. Just then he was simmering; unctuous claptrap. When one of your but the explosion did not seem imme- soldiers dies in the field of battle bediately imminent. I had so far only cause some other idiot hits him on the succeeded in making him brood in long- head with a scrap of iron, or drills a suffering silence in which he sank more bit of lead through him, do you talk deeply as the smoke issued thicker from of a criminal lack of precautions then? his pipe. Then I chanced to comment Your fighting-men die in scores on -a reminiscence of some leading arti- every battle-field to take a red rag a cle or other-with the air of one who few hundred miles farther into a councommits a truism on the wicked folly try where it isn't wanted. Yet when whereby, owing to the lack of proper one of us dies in the wide cause of all precautions, a valuable life had been humanity, you mouth your stale catchidly thrown away.

words at us anew. Mind you, I am not That was the cue. The empty remark talking of the hewers of wood and the stung my host on the raw. He came drawers of water. Let the little men out of his lair of tobacco smoke with look after them, lest by their death they a bound, his eyes ablaze; assault and tell the people of the dangers we are battery seemed probable. The storm fighting. I am speaking of those who had evidently been brewing for some are in the forefront of the battle. Dare time, and it broke with violence. For- you talk of precautions to them? Do tunately, the first ravages of its fury you expect your soldiers never to move spattered away in words.

unless they are slinking under cover, "What do you know? What do your

where no stray bullet can reach them? poor little inflated newspapers know

Is this the way your victories were when you glibly talk of a life thrown won? And are we never to move a away? What do you know of the per- step forward lest, perchance, we pay ils that beset on every side the bacteri- the penalty of it with our lives? No! ologist who dares original research? Do not revile us if perchance we die; What do you know? You talk of hold- rather marvel that one of us is left ing your life in your hand whenever alive." some chance blow may, by favor of

The Professor had been pacing up fortune, teach you what silence is. We and down the room during this outhold death in our hands-death in its burst-mouth, eyes, arms, legs, all most insidious and loathsome form, working and threatening. I had never with every groping step we take along before seen him so greatly moved. He the dark road to knowledge. We

was one of those self-contained men handle it; we foster it into yet more

who, once roused, are formidable. venomous activity; we make death our They have long accumulations to work tool, our toy, until we wring its secrets

off. The torrent of words that had from it. Death! What is death to us?

overwhelmed me seemed to have reIt lies in wait for us in every slide, in

lieved my host. It had certainly left every test tube, and in every instru- me limp. After a few minutes' silence ment we touch. A scratch on the fin- he continued, more calmly, wrestling

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with himself rather than addressing was standing before a solid cabinet of me:

polished wood beneath which a flicker "Let us look facts in the face. Was of gas gave, or seemed to give, a pallid, ever a great achievement wrought ghastly light. He unlocked and opened without its cost? Did Koch learn what one side of it, revealing an inner shell cholera was without paying the toll of of burnished glass. The laboratory human life? Do you expect us to with its gleaming microscopes and unawait the advent of an epidemic with canny glass instruments looked innofolded arms for fear lest we lose a life cent enough in the glare of the electric in trying to learn its cure? It is good, light. Nevertheless, I wished myself you teach, that one man should die for safely out of it. The limitations of the the many, yet you raise a howl if a lay mind, of course. But there are rabbit be done to death to save count- times when the Professor gets on to less human lives. And when a man one's nerves. So I watched him jealwho, knowing the risk he runs, dies, ously. He had taken two commonyou talk of recklessness. Who knows place test tubes thinly coated with a the hazard better than the bacteriolo- gelatinous layer halfway up the sides gist? Yet he dares, and at times pays and half a potato, partially covered the penalty of his daring. No great with insignificant mildew, from the discovery, I tell you, has ever been won safe. until the stakes were laid. For myself. "Typhoid, cholera and diphtheria,” ... Yes! don't gape at me so owlishly. he remarked, genially, as he laid them I myself have laid the stakes more severally down with care, "also erysipe. than once, and I have once paid forfeit. las. We keep them all in stock ... I have told you about my researches efficiency guaranteed from our into the Kampuli plague. What I have cultures." Qever told you is— Come with me and He was brisk and cheerful again, but I will show you. The price of it was his humor does not always exhilarate two human lives. And-be careful not the lay mind. At length, from the reto knock anything over in the labora- cesses of the unholy cavern, he drew tory."

out another test tube with infinite tenThe Professor picked up his keys. derness. He dipped a slim platinum He was his wonted self again. Action rod into the viscous fluid and spread a always restored his balance.

tiny speck with the delicacy of a minjaHe unlocked the folding doors which ture painter on a slip of glass. He shut off his study from the laboratory added a drop of water and a dot of verand passed into the farther darkness. milion to the unholy brew. After a It was the first time I had seen them minute he covered it with another glass open. I followed reluctantly, wishing slip, and waved the slide rapidly once greatly that I had not adventured in or twice over the gas jet. “To fix it," these matters. The sentiment was in- he explained, in answer to the silent tensified when my guide into these question which these cabalistic preparrealms locked the doors behind me. The ations challenged. foregoing conversation had not been a "Kampuli bacteria," he said. There bracing introduction to a locked bacteri. was great solemnity in his voice, as of ological laboratory with the Professor one who is showing a pearl of great in an unprobed mood. Consequently I price. I gazed at the slide respectfully. stepped delicately; nor did I knock any- It was an ordinary slip of glass, slightthing over. I was relieved when the ly blurred in the middle. There was Professor switched on the light. He nothing to be seen. The Professor put

it under a large microscope, and switched on a convenient light. I saw countless hundreds of tiny reddish whorls. I was not impressed.

"That is Kampuli,” said the Professor, who evidently expected me to be.

"You don't say so," I answered, feeling guilty of another manifestation of the inanity of the lay mind. “They seem to be remarkably fine-er-specimens."

“They are remarkably fine cultures," said the Professor, gravely. "I tOOK them from young Hardy.”

The blankness of the lay mind was probably reflected in my face. In any case the Professor went on immediately:

“You know what Kampuli in the remote interior of East Africa is. You may call it the bubonic plague of Africa, if you like. It isn't that, as a matter of fact, but still it is near enough for you. You will recall the symptoms of it, the swelling of the”

“I remember,” I said, hastily. I began to feel it would not be good to go into details.

"You remember how the epidemic ravages the southeast of Uganda," continued my host. It annihilates whole villages, and in an epidemic the natives die like flies; well, we are now going up the Nile, and we have taken cholera with us. It would profit us little to bring Kampuli back with us. But should the danger arise it is the duty of science to meet it forearmed. That is the task of the bacteriologist.”

“And a very interesting and agreeable duty it is." The lay mind felt the need of keeping its courage up.

"I wouldn't finger that test tube about too much," returned the Professor, grimly. "You'll be smashing it in another minute. It's rather a valuable culture.”

I put the bottled death out of harm's way with edifying alacrity. "As I was telling you,” the Professor

LIVING AGE. VOL. VIII. 412

went on more placably, “very soon after Kampuli had been definitely reported—we heard of it first of all from the missionaries, who, of all sources of information, are the most hopelessly unsatisfactory-I became deeply interested in the epidemic, but I was groping in the dark for want of anything like accurate data. Then I did obtain certain material, the usual thing, you know, specimens of the diseased intest-"

“Oh, yes! the usual thing, of course,” I interposed hurriedly. It is always as well for the lay mind to keep the Professor to generalities. The particulars of his work do not appeal to it.

“Dr. Simpson sent them, Simpson of the London; you remember him? He had gone out to Uganda on some special mission or other and had drifted into the interior. He was a very well-meaning fellow was Simpson, but he had no more idea of how to send home the material for a bacteriological investigation than Hagebitter has of conducting a controversy with any degree of decency. He died shortly afterwards, somewhere on the Victoria Nyanza. Caught blackwater fever, which he insisted on treating as malaria, according to Hagebitter's theory. Consequently he killed himself with overdoses of quinine. Hagebitter, I remember, adopted a very unbecoming tone when I pointed out that quinine_"

"Did you get any results from the er-stuff which Simpson forwarded ?

The Professor was in the habit of drifting from the point whenever the mention of his dearest enemy crossed the track of his story.

“Well, enough to put forward a cautious theory, though it was, of course, impossible to speak with any degree of certainty. Hagebitter railed against it in the Review in a manner that would have been unbecoming in a medical student. I had, at that time, a young assistant working in the laboratory,

though, as you know, I don't care for cases of blackwater fever be might assistants; they are clumsy and spoil come across, and gave him full instrucany experiment that requires delicate tions to bring duplicate specimens. manipulation. I never had another Hardy was away for about twelve since young Hardy. Hardy was an ex- months, and I bad a lot of difficulty in ceptionally promising lad. His heart squeezing the necessary funds out of was in his work and he had enough the Council for him. They will spend courage for original research. He had money like water when it is a question just left Oxford, where they succeed in of getting some chemist to perform turning out a man every now and monkey tricks at one of their converagain. They train them to use their saziones, but when it comes to supbrains, and not to be frightened when porting an important scientific mission, they do happen to stumble across some- they_" thing new. Young as he was, he had "So he did come back safely," I inalready published a paper in the Re- terrupted. view which deserved serious attention. "Oh, certainly; and brought the most Hagebitter, it is true,"

valuable material back with him. It "Hardy was very young, you said ?" seems that he had great trouble in get

“Yes. When Hardy had once got ting it to the coast in safety. A silly over certain outside distractions-he tribe attacked the expedition in the inwas very young, as I said I could fore- terior, and Hardy only just succeeded see a very distinguished and useful in escaping with the all-important part career for him. He had helped me la of his baggage. As it was, his clinical my researches in Kampuli, and was and ætiological notes were lost, which keenly interested in my speculations. was the more vexatious as we wanted Intelligently interested, what's more. to make Hagebitter eat his words on When he came in one morning—it's all points. Scarcity of provisionsabout a couple of years ago now-I they had to be sacrificed when the showed him Hagebitter's article. He camp was attacked-and mutiny among read it through without saying any. the survivors of the expedition, acthing. Then he handed the Review counted for the delay in reaching the back to me and put on his hat.

coast. However, he had carried out • 'Where are you going?' I asked. the main object of his mission most ex“ 'To Buddu,' he said. "They say it's cellently. We set to work on our invesvery bad out there just now. I am con. tigations at once. The bacteriological vinced you are right, but we must have nature of the disease was soon estabcertainty!

lished beyond all shadow of doubt. It “So we arranged—"

then became our duty to discover a "But what did you—?" I asked. prophylactic and a curative serum, if

It was a foolish question that once possible. Our experiment-Kampull is again betrayed the limitations of the most terribly virulent-required the lay mind. I might have known, with- most careful handling. More than once out making him say so, that the Pro- I suggested to Hardy that he should fessor was quite capable of aiding and leave the whole business to me-I was abetting a misguided youngster in his an old hand and not likely to run any zeal to hunt a deadly disease through risks. But the boy insisted on taking the wilds of Central Africa. But I was his share of the work, and, as he had thinking of Hardy's "certain outside already done so much and was so eager distractions" at the moment

to associate his name with mine in the “I told him to keep an eye on any discoveries he believed we should make,

me.

it would have been churlish for me to much faith in that serum of yours. We have refused him. But from the very are getting near it, but it is not poweroutset I had misgivings for which I ful enough yet. That brings me to the could not account. I was, as a matter point I want to impress on you. Sheof fact, uneasy from the first day the that is, my people, if they should find bacteria were brought into the labora- out I am ill, will probably try to see tory, the effect of a little overwork,

You must on no account allow probably. We adopted every precau- this. We can't risk it. I have seen tion, and only worked behind locked Kampuli at work, and I know how the doors. But in the laboratory, as in the contagion spreads. That stuff may field of battle, there are accidents which pull you through. I hope it will. In defy precautions. How it happened I any case, you will be able to take notes do not know to this day. I was not in first.' the room at the time. When I came in "Well, we went away at once. I I saw Hardy standing at the window was the only person who saw him after with his lips glued to his wrist. De the accident. The people at the hosshowed me tiny puncture in his fore- pital I went to were trustworthy and arm. He was very pale and one or two knew enough about the case to recog. beads of perspiration stood on his fore- nize the need of strict precautions. head.

Everything we wanted was left in the 'My God! I said, and seized his lift outside the ward, and no one, ex. wrist.

cept one of the staff, was allowed to set "He nodded.

foot in the courtyard. To be prepared “"Why didn't you call me in to ampu- for every emergency I had dropped tate?" I asked.

Hagebitter a line. I knew that if any. “ 'I hardly know,' he said; 'I suppose thing went wrong with me, a wire I lost my head. It all happened in an would bring him to watch my case instant. I had rested the syringe within four and twenty hours. To it was charged right enough-on the give Hagebitter his due, he does not edge of the table. I had to fetch an an- lack courage, and he can be relied on aesthetic. It was careless, I know. when vital interests are at stake. Ве. Coming back I slipped. That bit of sides, it would be his only chance of orange peel was sticking to the sole of seeing Kampuli with his own eyes. For my boot. I must have picked it up on the first three days Hardy was busy my way down here. I half fell and

writing up the results of our previous saved myself by the table. The thing investigations. He worked feverishly ran deep into my wrist. Well, it's no hard, as if determined not to give himuse making a fuss. That, I suppose, is self a moment for any thought apart the end of the story.'

from his great work. Once or twice he "From the first I could see that he handed me a note in which some point knew himself to be a dead man that remained to be cleared up was surely as if a bullet had passed through jotted down for future reference. I his heart. I knew it, too.

had to ask him, as a personal favor, " 'You must isolate me now at once,' to stop doing this. He was, of course, he went on, after a minute's silence. quite right, and, looking back I am 'The thing will take three or four days ashamed of my weakness when I comto declare itself. If you are going to pare it with his quiet strength. But look after me I beg your pardon, I the long days of waiting had unnerved know you will-you had better inocu- me. I could not lose myself in my late yourself at once, though I haven't work as that boy did. On the evening

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