Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/26

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MARIETTA, OR

"It is impossible, Dr. to make a clean cut with this. However, it is but a moment's work to bring it to an edge." Saying this, the student commenced the task of sharpening his instrument, which he bid fair to finish shortly, for he did it with the skill of a master.

"Don't you think, Dr., that I made quite a handsome amputation the other night?"

"You amputated it evidently, but such a stump as you made."

"Ah! that stump, I shall never hear the last of it—but confess that I did the business expeditiously, and very well for a tyro."

"Yes, Eugene, but if you had been operating on the living subject, you would have found it more difficult. And then such unheard-of strokes, and such mangling—why—I should seriously have thought that that limb was bitten off by a shark, had I not known to the contrary,—no offence, Eugene,—but really, I cannot help laughing. However, I dare say you did as well as I when no more practised."

"Better, no doubt," replied Eugene testily, and no more was said of the unfortunate stump.

The doctor then took the large pipe, prepared on purpose for the business, and was about to fill it with the colored wax which he was to throw into the vessels of the subject, when a new idea seemed to strike him.

"Eugene, I think we had better make a few experiments on this subject with the Galvanic battery."

"Excellent, Dr., let us proceed at once," cried Eugene, delighted at the idea of witnessing the wonderful power of electricity upon the dead body.

The battery was produced and properly charged, the white cloth drawn from that which lay upon the table. Amazement—it was the same body that had been carried from the dissecting room of Levator the preceeding night; and there it was—that corpse—in all its unearthly beauty about to be offered for the advancement of science,

"Did you ever look on anything so calmly beautiful, Eugene, so serenely expressive of peace?"

"Never?" replied the student in a low, subdued voice; for the sight of that corpse had softened his heart.

"I cannot blame Levator much for what we termed his squeamishness."

"You are not about to form the same resolution, are you, Eugene?"

"Not I. I am not so easily turned from my purpose."

"Make a very small incision, Eugene, just back of the ear, near the occipital foramen. Now place the conductor in the orifice, and I will throw in a current of the Galvanic fluid."

A spark of the mysterious agent coursed along the wire, but produced no other effect than a slight shuddering motion of the trunk and limbs, and a nervous twitching of the eye-lids.

The machine was charged still higher and applied as before, but with more frightful effect. The eye-lids were thrown open, and the sightless balls rolled over in the sockets, and were fixed in a glassy stare upon the operators, while a frightful grimace disfigured the mouth, and a prolonged, terrible tremor convulsed the whole frame. So powerful was the effect, that even the operators were appalled, but quickly collecting themselves, they resolved on making another experiment. Charging the machine as high as possible, they again applied it. This time, the body was agitated more fearfully than before—quivered an instant, then raised itself partly in a sitting posture, fell back, and a deep painful groan issued from its white lips, while the hand, which but a moment before lay so listless by the side, seized