(By A. Conan Doyle)
Of all the sciences which interested people, none had such an attraction for the learned professor von Baumgarten as psychology and the relations between mind and matter. By experiments which lasted over 20 years he obtained facts upon which he intended to build up a new science which would embrace mesmerism (гипнотизм), spiritualism and all related subjects. In this he was much helped by his profound knowledge of physiology which explains the work of the brain, for Alexis von Baumgarten was professor of Physiology at the University of Keinplatz and had a laboratory to help him in his profound researches.
Professor von Baumgarten was popular among the students, who often gathered round him after his lectures and listened enthusiastically to his strange theories. He often called for volunteers from them in order to conduct some experiments. So there was hardly a fellow in the class who had not, at one time or another, been thrown into a mesmeric trance by his Professor.
Among all his students there was none who could be compared in enthusiasm with Fritz von Hartmann. He was a clever fellow. Months before he had given his heart to young Elise, the blue-eyed daughter of the Professor. Although she was not indifferent to him either, he had never dared to propose to her. So it would have been difficult for him to sее his young lady if he had not made himself useful to the Professor. By this means he frequently was asked to the old man’s house, where he willingly agreed to be experimented upon in any way in the hope of receiving one glance from Elise or one touch of her little hand.
To tell the truth, Fritz had a bad record in Keinplatz. Never was there a scandal or a duel in which the young student wouldn’t take the most active part. No one used more free and violent language, no one drank more, no one played cards more habitually than he. No wonder that the Professor‘s wife did not like his presence in the house. As to the Professor, he was too much busy with his strange studies to form a definite opinion of the student.
For many years there was one question which had especially interested the Professor. A hundred times a day he asked himself whether it was possible for the human spirit to exist apart from the body for some time and then to return to it once again. There were many things which made him believe that it was possible. At last it occurred to him that by a daring and original experiment the question could be definitely decided.
One day Fritz von Hartmann came to the Professor.
‘I know, Professor, that you want to do some wonderful experiment in which you hope to take a man’s soul out of his body and then put it back again. Is it so?’ ‘It is true, Fritz.’
‘And don’t you think that you may have some difficulties in finding someone on whom to try this? Suppose, that the soul went out and wouldn’t come back. Who will take the risk?’
‘But, Fritz,’ cried out the Professor, ‘I had relied upon your assistance. I am sure you will not desert me.’
‘Then listen,’ said Fritz solemnly. ‘If you give your word that after this experiment I may have the hand of your daughter, then I agree to assist you; but if not, I shall have nothing to do with it. These are my terms.’
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The students at the University of Keinplatz_______.
- often missed the Professor’s lectures
- often helped him in his experiments
- were afraid of his experiments
- knew nothing about the Professor’s researches.
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