THE EPISODE OF THE DARKENED ROOM
What shall we say when Dream-Pictures
leave their frames
of night and push us from the waking world?
As the part I played in the events I am about to narrate was rather that of a passive observer than of an active participant, I need say little of myself. I am a graduate of a Western university and, by profession, a physician. My practice is now extensive, owing to my blundering into fame in a somewhat singular manner, but a year ago I had, I assure you, little enough to do. Inasmuch as my practice is now secure, I feel perfectly free to confess that the cure I effected in the now celebrated case of Mrs. P— was altogether the result of chance, and not, as I was then only too glad to have people believe, due to an almost supernatural power of diagnosis.
Mrs. P— was not more surprised at the happy result than was I; the only difference being that she showed her astonishment, while I endeavoured to conceal mine, and affected to look upon the whole thing as a matter of course.
My fame spread; the case got into the medical journals, where my skill was much lauded, and my practice became enormous. There is but one thing further I need mention regarding myself: that is, that I am possessed of a memory which my friends are pleased to consider phenomenal. I can repeat a lecture, sermon, or conversation almost word for word after once hearing it, provided always, that the subject commands my interest. My humble abilities in this direction have never ceased to be a source of wonderment to my acquaintance, though I confess, for my own part, when I compare them with those of Blind Tom, or of the man who, after a single reading, could correctly repeat the London Times, advertisements and all, they seem modest indeed.
It was about the time when, owing to the blessed Mrs. P—, my creditors were beginning to receive some attention, that I first met George Maitland. He had need, he said, of my professional services; he felt much under the weather; could I give him something which would brace him up a bit; he had some important chemical work on hand which he could not afford to put by; in fact, he didn’t mind saying that he was at work upon a table of atomical pitches to match Dalton’s atomic weights; if he succeeded in what he had undertaken he would have solved the secret of the love and hatred of atoms, and unions hitherto unknown could easily be effected.
I do not know how long he would have continued had not my interest in the subject caused me to interrupt him. I was something of an experimenter myself, and here was a man who could help me.