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Of all the sciences which interested the sons of men, none had such an attraction for the learned professor von Baumgarten as psychology and the relation between mind and matter. For many years there was one question which especially interested the Professor. A hundred times a day he asked himself whether it was possible for the human spirit to exist apart from the body for some time and then to return to it again. There were many things which made him believe that it was possible for mind to exist apart from matter. At last it occurred to him that by a daring and original experiment the question could be definitely decided.
Shortly after the time when the idea of the experiment came to his head Professor was walking home after a long day in the laboratory, when he met a crowd of noisy students who had just come out of a beer-house. At the head of them, half-drunk, was young Fritz von Hartmann.
“Hey! My worthy master,” he said, taking the old man by the sleeve. “There is something that I have to say to you, and it is easier for me to say it now, when the good beer is humming in my head, than at another time.”
“What is it, Fritz?” the psychologist asked, looking at him in surprise.
“I know, Professor, that you want to do some wonderful experiment in which you hope to take a man’s soul out of his body, and then to put it back again. Is it so?”
“It is true, Fritz.”
“And don’t you think, my dear sir, that you may have some difficulties in finding someone on whom to try this? Suppose, that the soul went out and wouldn ‘t come back. Who will take the risk?”
“But, Fritz,” cried out the Professor, “I had relied upon your assistance. I am sure you will not desert me.”
“Then listen,” said Fritz solemnly. “If you give your word that after this experiment I may have the hand of your daughter, then I agree to assist you; but if not, I shall have nothing to do with it. These are my terms.”
“And what would my daughter say to this?” the Professor exclaimed after a pause of astonishment.
“She would be happy,” the young man replied. “We love each other.”
“Then she will be yours,” the psychologist said with determination, “for you are a nice man and one of the best students that I have ever known – of course, when you arc not under the influence of alcohol.
It will be a great experiment, Fritz. The best men of science from all South Germany will be there.”
“I shall be punctual,” the student said briefly. And so the two parted.
After ” The Great Keinplatz Experiment” by A. Conan-Doyle