The Dead Man And Anatomical Professor

Many, who were personally acquainted with Mr. Junker, have frequently

heard him relate the following anecdote.

Being Professor of Anatomy, he once procured, for dissection, the bodies

of two criminals who had been hanged. The key of the dissecting room not

being immediately at hand, when they were carried home to him, he

ordered them to be laid down in a closet which opened into his own

apartment. The evening came; and Junker, according to custom, proceeded

to resume his literary labour before he retired to rest. It was now near

midnight, and all his family were fast asleep, when he heard a rumbling

noise in his closet. Thinking that, by some mistake, the cat had been

shut up with the dead bodies, he arose, and, taking the candle, went to

see what had happened. But what must have been his astonishment, or

rather his panic, on perceiving that the sack which contained the two

bodies was rent through the middle. He approached, and found that one

of them was gone.

The doors and windows were well secured, and he thought it impossible

the bodies could have been stolen. He tremblingly looked round the

closet, and observed the dead man seated in a corner.

Junker stood for a moment motionless: the dead man seemed to look

towards him; he moved both to the right and left, but the dead man still

kept his eyes upon him.

The Professor then retired, step by step, with his eyes still fixed upon

the object of his alarm, and holding the candle in his hand, until he

reached the door. The dead man instantly started up, and followed him. A

figure of so hideous an appearance, naked, and in motion--the lateness

of the hour--the deep silence which prevailed--every thing concurred to

overwhelm him with confusion. He let fall the only candle which he had

burning, and all was darkness. He made his escape to his bed-chamber,

and threw himself on the bed: thither, however, he was pursued; and he

soon felt the dead man embracing his legs, and loudly sobbing. Repeated

cries of "Leave me! leave me!" released Junker from the grasp of the

dead man; who now exclaimed, "Ah! good executioner! good executioner!

have mercy upon me."

Junker soon perceived the cause of what had happened, and resumed his

fortitude. He informed the re-animated sufferer who he really was, and

made a motion, in order to call up some of the family. "You wish then to

destroy me," exclaimed the criminal. "If you call any one, my adventure

will become public, and I shall be taken and executed a second time. In

the name of humanity, I implore you to save my life."

The physician struck a light, decorated his guest with an old

night-gown, and, having made him take off a cordial, requested to know

what had brought him to the gibbet. It would have been a truly singular

exhibition, observed Junker, to have seen me, at that late hour, engaged

in a tete-a-tete with a dead man decked out in a night-gown.

The poor wretch informed him, that he had enlisted as a soldier, but

that, having no great attachment to the profession, he had determined to

desert; that he had unfortunately entrusted his secret to a kind of

crimp, a fellow of no principle, who recommended him to a woman, in

whose house he was to remain concealed: that this woman had discovered

his retreat to the officers of police, &c.

Junker was extremely perplexed how to save the poor man. It was

impossible to retain him in his own house, and keep the affair a secret;

and to turn him out of doors, was to expose him to certain destruction.

He therefore resolved to conduct him out of the city, in order that he

might get into a foreign jurisdiction; but it was necessary to pass the

gates of the city, which were strictly guarded. To accomplish this

point, he dressed the man in some of his old clothes, covered him with a

cloak, and, at an early hour, set out for the country, with his

protege behind him. On arriving at the city gate, where he was well

known, he said in a hurried tone, that he had been sent for to visit a

sick person who was dying in the suburbs. He was permitted to pass.

Having both got into the open fields, the deserter threw himself at the

feet of his deliverer, to whom he vowed eternal gratitude; and, after

receiving some pecuniary assistance, departed, offering up prayers for

his happiness.

Twelve years after, Junker, having occasion to go to Amsterdam, was

accosted on the Exchange by a man well-dressed and of the best

appearance, who, he had been informed, was one of the most respectable

merchants in that city. The merchant, in a polite manner, inquired

whether he was not Professor Junker of Halle; and, on being answered in

the affirmative, he requested, in an earnest manner, his company to

dinner. The Professor consented. Having reached the merchant's house,

he was shewn into an elegant apartment, where he found a beautiful wife,

and two fine healthy children: but he could scarcely suppress his

astonishment at meeting with so cordial a reception from a family with

whom, he thought he was entirely unacquainted.

After dinner, the merchant, taking him into his counting-room, said,

"You do not recollect me?"--"Not at all."--"But I well recollect you;

and never shall your features be effaced from my remembrance. You are my

benefactor. I am the person who came to life in your closet, and to whom

you paid so much attention. On parting from you, I took the road to

Holland. I wrote a good hand, was tolerably expert at accounts; my

figure was somewhat interesting; and I soon obtained employment as a

merchant's clerk. My good conduct, and my zeal for the interests of my

patron, procured me his confidence, and his daughter's love. On his

retiring from business, I succeeded him, and became his son-in-law. But

for you, however, I should not have lived to experience all these

enjoyments. Henceforth, look upon my house, my fortune, and myself, as

at your disposal."

Those who possess the smallest portion of sensibility can easily

represent to themselves the feelings of Junker.

The Cry Of The Peacock The Dead Valley facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail