The Lucifer Code (Thomas Lourds, Book 2)

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His eyes were intent, his lips compressed. Tubby frowned, and continued. One never knows what may come forth from this exclusive group. Sometimes we run along for years, in this Medical College, without observing the rise of a student who promises to make an important contribution. Once in a blue moon, the upper tenth delivers to Medical Science an explorer, a discoverer, a trail-blazer.

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Tubby's next sentence sent a thrill through the closely integrated audience. You could feel it bang at your heart and magnetize your spine. You not only felt it yourself, but you knew that everybody else—to a degree—was experiencing this sensation. Will one of you—some day—give us a prophylaxis for infantile paralysis? The two important gentlemen who are to perform these feats are—if I may venture the prediction—already born.


May I be still more hopeful and hazard the guess that they are already of age? It may be that they are experienced scientists, now on the eve of their discoveries. It may be that they are students in some medical school. The class sat transfixed, welded into one solid chunk. He suddenly booted them out of their hypnosis. He tugged out his watch, shuffled his thick sheaf of registration papers, shifted his stance to the end of the autopsy table. His face lighted a little with a smile that suggested he was going to be funny again. The class straightened its back and drew a long breath, the first long one it had felt the need of for some time.

The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw

Nobody looked at his neighbour. Nobody wanted anyone else to know how deeply he had been stirred. Tubby had gone at it again in another mood.

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Keep your emotions out of it, and give your brains a chance. The less sentiment you apply to this enterprise, the better will be your workmanship. I have often thought of suggesting to my peers," extemporized Tubby, "that at least one year's internship should be spent in a veterinary hospital where the young medical student might pursue his work without the emotional interference of the patient's family. This, thought the weary class, was very good indeed. Tubby gave them all a chance to laugh merrily. Even the face in the upper tier broke into a grin.

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  • But it was far, far too late for this young Rip Van Winkle to wake up and take an interest. It wouldn't do him very much good now. Tubby sniffed and went on. Unquestionably there is a place where it is in order to consider Shakespeare's apostrophe—'What a piece of work is man! If you are wise, my Christian Friends, you will leave all that to the poets and parsons.

    It's their job; not yours. Your business is to study man as a badly made contraption in need of repair.

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    Whether the human animal committed a blunder when—in the course of his evolution—he resolved to stand on his hind legs and face the world in an upright position, is a question I should not presume to discuss in all its phases. Personally, I am just as well satisfied not to be walking on all fours. But when this animal tipped his viscera from horizontal to perpendicular he incurred a flock of disabilities. They begin to show up as soon as he learns to walk. It wasn't Adam's fall that caused the trouble: it was his rise.

    A dog may become so sycophantic that he will sit up, now and then, for a moment, just to flatter his master by imitation; but he has sense enough not to do it very often or for very long. According to the Bible, Eve was sentenced to bear her young in pain because she plucked an apple from a tree, in disobedience to a divine command.

    Had she been content to munch the apples that had fallen on the ground she could have borne her cubs without risk and without help. Your whole training is for the purpose of fitting you to promote the cause of civilization. And the more civilization we achieve, the poorer we are, physically.

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    Civilization has given us many benefits, no doubt; it has also developed habits that have produced defective teeth, defective eyes, ears, noses, bronchia. We still have a few of the old glands that were of earlier value; now a menace. May I repeat—you are to study man as a poorly made machine that can't even support its own weight for very long at a time, in testimony whereof you are all sitting down to ease your freight at age twenty-three.

    By the time you're sixty-three, solicitous relatives will be following you about with a chair. You will still have a few years to spend here, perhaps.

    During the course of your career you may have become wise, noble, renowned. You will also have had your tonsils removed, and your appendix; perchance a kidney. You will be wearing artificial teeth and glasses and maybe a gadget to aid your hearing I want you to go into the anatomical laboratory with the understanding that a great many of the things you find out are not as they ought to be. The vital organs were originally intended to function in another position.

    Forget all this prattle about man being made in the image of God. If it's true, it's no credit to him. Anybody who wants to believe in that sort of thing had better keep out of the dissecting room.

    You are here in quest of truth. Once a fact is amply attested you are to accept it, no matter how ugly it is; no matter how much you wish it wasn't so; no matter how violently it collides with what you have previously thought and would still prefer to think. And don't make the mistake of imagining that the testimony is all in, and on file.

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    Many a scientist, six feet underground, would suffer all the agonies of the supposedly damned if he could come forth to-day and read some of his own dogmatic remarks, long since reduced to utter nonsense by new findings. Remember that until a theory has been disproved—no matter how fantastic it may appear in the light of our current knowledge—it should be accorded the respect due to a proposition that might be proved—sometime. Tubby closed this sentence in an impressive tone that signified he had said about everything.

    He looked up, and consulted the face that had annoyed him. The eyes were wide with interest.

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    They were intensely aware and deeply thoughtful. Tubby didn't care what they thought. He disliked them. The fellow needed a trimming. Tossing open a huge portfolio of papers on the autopsy table, the professor—with a flash-back to the earlier mood of studied mockery—drawled: "Now, with your patient indulgence, we will call the roll. On this occasion you will stand when your name is spoken, so that I may identify you, and also that you—for purpose of acquaintance—may identify one another Kindly arise, John Wesley, wherever you are, and let the congregation see you.

    There was a stir in the top row. Amused faces, at all angles, turned in that direction.