Page:Marietta, or the Two Students.djvu/9

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The Dissecting Room.

"How pale and still is the face of this fair corse; what a mild, softened expression lingers about the yet fair mouth, how indicative of rest.

See the eyelids, with their dark fringes closed fast over the sightless balls; mark the "rapture of repose" upon the changeless brow; note how quietly those jetty tresses of hair lay on the colorless cheek.

This little white hand, with its long taper fingers, which has been, doubtless, clasped in, and returned the warm pressure of a lover's, lays like a lump of ice in mine, or falls inertly to the table.—And these beautifully rounded limbs, which bespeak the highest effort of a creative power, how unconsciously they rest here.

Gods! how lovely. And yet this is death; but never before gazed I upon death in such a guise;—never saw so much calm beauty pictured upon the features of the dead.

I shrink from, and falter in my purpose; I would not mar such a model of human loveliness. How can I disfigure that angelic face—how can I cut, piece meal, the flesh from those delicate limbs, and observe daily the ravages of the scalpel, coupled with the wasting progress of decay, converting it—that corse—into all that is loathsome.

And yet, forsooth, I must do it. The noble study which I am pursuing demands it, though the gentler impulses revolt from the procedure.

Why should I hesitate? Would not the foul lips of the worm, and the chill breath of the tomb produce more awful changes upon this symmetrical clay?—Aye! the primeval curse still rests upon it, and it shall crumble again to its dust, although the protection of a score of leaden coffins were thrown about it. I feel this mode of reasoning is correct, yet I shudder at the idea of mutilating the body of this young girl."

Having uttered slowly, and with a saddened expression these words, the medical student—for so it was—seated himself thoughtfully beside the subject,