Professor Carbonic was diligently at work in his spacious laboratory, analyzing, mixing and experimenting. He had been employed for more than fifteen years in the same pursuit of happiness, in the same house, same laboratory, and attended by the same servant woman, who in her long period of service had attained the plumpness and respectability of two hundred and ninety pounds.
[Illustration: The electric current lighted up everything in sight!]
“Mag Nesia,” called the professor. The servant’s name was Maggie Nesia--Professor Carbonic had contracted the title to save time, for in fifteen years he had not mounted the heights of greatness; he must work harder and faster as life is short, and eliminate such shameful waste of time as putting the “gie” on Maggie.
“Mag Nesia!” the professor repeated.
The old woman rolled slowly into the room.
“Get rid of these and bring the one the boy brought today.”
He handed her a tray containing three dead rats, whose brains had been subjected to analysis.
“Yes, Marse,” answered Mag Nesia in a tone like citrate.
The professor busied himself with a new preparation of zinc oxide and copper sulphate and sal ammoniac, his latest concoction, which was about to be used and, like its predecessors, to be abandoned.
Mag Nesia appeared bringing another rat, dead. The professor made no experiments on live animals. He had hired a boy in the neighborhood to bring him fresh dead rats at twenty-five cents per head.
Taking the tray he prepared a hypodermic filled with the new preparation. Carefully he made an incision above the right eye of the carcass through the bone. He lifted the hypodermic, half hopelessly, half expectantly. The old woman watched him, as she had done many times before, with always the same pitiful expression. Pitiful, either for the man himself or for the dead rat. Mag Nesia seldom expressed her views.
Inserting the hypodermic needle and injecting the contents of the syringe, Professor Carbonic stepped back.
Prof. Carbonic Makes a Great Discovery
“Great Saints!” His voice could have been heard a mile. Slowly the rat’s tail began to point skyward; and as slowly Mag Nesia began to turn white. Professor Carbonic stood as paralyzed. The rat trembled and moved his feet. The man of sixty years made one jump with the alacrity of a boy of sixteen, he grabbed the enlivened animal, and held it high above his head as he jumped about the room.
Spying the servant, who until now had seemed unable to move, he threw both arms around her, bringing the rat close to her face. Around the laboratory they danced to the tune of the woman’s shrieks. The professor held on, and the woman yelled. Up and down spasmodically on the laboratory floor came the two hundred and ninety pounds with the professor thrown in.
Bottles tumbled from the shelves. Furniture was upset. Precious liquids flowed unrestrained and unnoticed. Finally the professor dropped with exhaustion and the rat and Mag Nesia made a dash for freedom.
Early in the morning pedestrians on Arlington Avenue were attracted by a sign in brilliant letters.
Professor Carbonic early in the morning betook himself to the nearest hardware store and purchased the tools necessary for his new profession. He was an M.D. and his recently acquired knowledge put him in a position to startle the world. Having procured what he needed he returned home.
Things were developing fast. Mag Nesia met him at the door and told him that Sally Soda, who was known to the neighborhood as Sal or Sal Soda generally, had fallen down two flights of stairs, and to use her own words was “Putty bad.” Sal Soda’s mother, in sending for a doctor, had read the elaborate sign of the new enemy of death, and begged that he come to see Sal as soon as he returned.
Bidding Mag Nesia to accompany him, he went to the laboratory and secured his precious preparation. Professor Carbonic and the unwilling Mag Nesia started out to put new life into a little Sal Soda who lived in the same block.
Reaching the house they met the family physician then attendant on little Sal. Doctor X. Ray had also read the sign of the professor and his greeting was very chilly.
“How is the child?” asked the professor.
“Fatally hurt and can live but an hour.” Then he added, “I have done all that can be done.”
“All that you can do,” corrected the professor.
With a withering glance, Doctor X. Ray left the room and the house. His reputation was such as to admit of no intrusion.
“I am sorry she is not dead, it would be easier to work, and also a more reasonable charge.” Giving Mag Nesia his instruments he administered a local anesthetic; this done he selected a brace and bit that he had procured that morning. With these instruments he bored a small hole into the child’s head. Inserting his hypodermic needle, he injected the immortal fluid, then cutting the end off a dowel, which he had also procured that morning, he hammered it into the hole until it wedged itself tight.
Professor Carbonic seated himself comfortably and awaited the action of his injection, while the plump Mag Nesia paced or rather waddled the floor with a bag of carpenter’s tools under her arm.
The fluid worked. The child came to and sat up. Sal Soda had regained her pep.
“It will be one dollar and twenty-five cents, Mrs. Soda,” apologized the professor. “I have to make that charge as it is so inconvenient to work on them when they are still alive.”
Having collected his fee, the professor and Mag Nesia departed, amid the ever rising blessings of the Soda family.
At 3:30 P.M. Mag Nesia sought her employer, who was asleep in the sitting room.
“Marse Paul, a gentleman to see you.”
The professor awoke and had her send the man in.
The man entered hurriedly, hat in hand. “Are you Professor Carbonic?”
“I am, what can I do for you?”
“Can you--?” the man hesitated. “My friend has just been killed in an accident. You couldn’t--” he hesitated again.
“I know that it is unbelievable,” answered the professor. “But I can.”
Professor Carbonic for some years had suffered from the effects of a weak heart. His fears on this score had recently been entirely relieved. He now had the prescription--Death no more! The startling discovery, and the happenings of the last twenty-four hours had begun to take effect on him, and he did not wish to make another call until he was feeling better.
“I’ll go,” said the professor after a period of musing. “My discoveries are for the benefit of the human race, I must not consider myself.”
He satisfied himself that he had all his tools. He had just sufficient of the preparation for one injection; this, he thought, would be enough; however, he placed in his case, two vials of different solutions, which were the basis of his discovery. These fluids had but to be mixed, and after the chemical reaction had taken place the preparation was ready for use.
He searched the house for Mag Nesia, but the old servant had made it certain that she did not intend to act as nurse to dead men on their journey back to life. Reluctantly he decided to go without her.
“How is it possible!” exclaimed the stranger, as they climbed into the waiting machine.