Page:Weird Tales volume 31 number 02.djvu/20

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146
WEIRD TALES

terly absurd. When a person dies, he's dead, and I'd stake my reputation that's nothing but a lovely corpse in there," I nodded toward the bathroom where the plinth of ice stood in the tub and Aksakoff stretched on a pallet by the bolted door, a pistol ready in his hand.

De Grandin pursed his lips, then turned an impish grin on me. "You have logic and die background of experience to support your claims," he nodded, "but as Monsieur Shakespeare says, heaven and earth contain things our philosophy has not yet dreamed of. As for logic, eh bien, what is it? A reasoning from collated data, from known facts, n'est-ce-pas? But certainly. Logically, therefore, wireless telegraphy was scientifically impossible before Marconi. Radio communication was logically an absurd dream till invention of the vacuum tube made former scientific logic asinine. Yet the principles that underlay these things were known to physicists for years; they simply had not been assembled in their proper order. Let us view this case:

"Take, by example, hibernating animals, the tortoise of our northern climates, the frog, the snake; every autumn they put by their animation as a housewife folds up summer clothes for winter storage. They appear to die. yet in the spring they sally forth as active as they were before. One not versed in natural lore might come upon them in their state of hibernation and say as you just said, 'This is a corpse.* His experience would tell him so, yet he would be in error. Or take the fish who freezes in the ice. When spring dissolves his icy prison he swims off in search of food as hungrily as if he had not paused a moment in his quest. The toad encrusted in a block of slate, such as we sec unearthed in coal mines now and then, may have been 'dead' le bon Dieu only knows how many centuries; yet once release him from encasement and he hops away in search of bugs to fill his little belly. Again——"

"But these are all cold-blooded creatures," I protested. "Mammals can't suspend the vital process——"

"Not even bears?" he interrupted with mock-mildness. "Or those Indians who when hypnotized fall into such deep trances that accredited physicians do not hesitate to call them dead, and are thereafter buried for so long a time that crops of grain are sown and harvested above them, then, disinterred, are reawakened at the hypnotist's command?"

"Humph, I answered, nettled. "I've never seen such things."

"Précisément. I have. I do not know how they can be. I only know they are. When things exist we know that they are so, whether logic favors them or not."

"Then you think that this preposterous tale is true; that we can thaw this woman out and awaken her, after she's lain dead and tombed in ice for almost twenty years?"

"I did not say so——"

"Why, you did, too."

"It was you, not I, who called her dead. Somatically she may be dead—clinically dead, in that her heart and lungs and brain have ceased to function, but that is not true death. You yourself have seen such cases revived, even when somatic death has lasted an appreciable time. She was not diseased when animation was suspended, and her body has been insulated from deteriorative changes. I think it possible the vital spark still slumbers dormant and can be revived to flame if we have care—and luck."


The bathroom vigil lasted five full days and nights. There seemed a steel-like quality to the icy catafalque that defied summer heat and gently-drip-