Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/83

This page has been validated.


I WAS once sitting in a cool underground saloon at Leipsic, while without people were ready to die from the heat, when a new guest entered and took a seat opposite to me. The sweat rolled in great drops down his face, and he was kept busy with his handkerchief, till at last he found relief in the exclamation, "Fearfully hot!" I watched him attentively as he called for a cool drink, for I expected every moment that he would fall from his chair in a fit of apoplexy. The man must have noticed that I was observing him, for he turned toward me suddenly, saying, "I am a curious sort of person, am I not?" "Why?" I asked. "Because I perspire only on the right side." And so it was; his right cheek and the right half of his forehead were as hot as fire, while the left side of his face bore not a trace of perspiration. I had never seen the like, and, in my astonishment, was about to enter into conversation with him regarding this physiological curiosity, when his neighbor on the left broke in with the remark, "Then we are the opposites and counterparts of each other, for I perspire only on the left side." This, too, was the fact. So the pair took seats opposite to each other, and shook hands like two men who had just found each his other half. "Well! this makes an end of natural history," exclaimed another guest, who hitherto had quietly gazed on this strange performance as though it were a play; and every one that had overheard what was said came to look at this novel wonder.

"This makes an end of natural history!" This expression excited me to laughter, and involuntarily I exclaimed: "No, sir, this is just the beginning of natural history; for Nature has many strange caprices even as regards her symmetry. I then mentioned the case of a man I had known in my boyhood, who, Janus-like, had two totally different faces—on one side laughing, on the other crying. Naturally I dreaded this strange double face, with its one side smooth, plump, and comely, like a girl's cheek, while the other side was all scarred by the small-pox. This side of the face denoted churlishness; and, while the other side wore a smile, this boded mischief. In this instance disease had been unsymmetrical.

Seated again in a different place, I mentioned to a friend, a physiologist, the wonderful anomaly I had seen. "Why," said he, "only look at the young Assessor von Th., yonder; he will show you an asymmetry such as you will not meet with every day." Sure enough, this man had a nose which was situated by no means in the middle of his face. I had seen this young man often before, but had never clearly made out what it was in his face that impressed me. Now I saw it at once: it was the man's nose; and since then I have come to see that