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Welsh Rarebit Tales

118 pages
Library of Alexandria
WHEN Professor Aloysius Holbrok resigned his chair as head of the department of Synthetic Chemistry in one of the famous American colleges his friends wondered; for they well knew that his greatest pleasure in life lay in original investigations. When two weeks later the papers stated that the learned chemist had been taken to the Rathborn Asylum for the Insane, wonder changed to inordinate curiosity. Although nothing definite was published in the papers, there were hints of strange things which had taken place in the private laboratory on Brimmer Street; and before long a story was current that, as a result of dabbling in the mysteries of psychology, a man had been killed while undergoing one of Professor Holbrok’s experiments. It is to clear up this mystery and to refute the charges of murder that I, who served for ten years as his assistant, am about to write this account, which, to the best of my knowledge and belief, contains the facts of the case. I had noticed for the year previous that Professor Holbrok was much preoccupied; but I knew that he was working over some new experiment. Many times when I came to his door at five o’clock to clean up as usual for the next day, I found a notice pinned on the door telling me that he was in the midst of important work and would not need me again that day. I thought nothing about it at the time; for when he was experimenting with Dr. Bicknell, performing operations with hypnotism instead of anæsthetics, there were weeks at a time when I was not allowed even a glimpse of the inside of the laboratories. One day, however, as I came in to report, the professor called me aside and told me that he wanted to have a talk with me. “You know, Frederick,” he began, “that I have been working and experimenting for a long time on a new problem, and I have not told you or anyone else the object of my toil. But now I have come to a point where I must take some one into my confidence. I need an assistant; and I know of no one I can trust more than you, who have been with me now nearly a dozen years.”