03.Chapter 3

03.Chapter 3


  For seventeen years my life was very happy. Then the first sad thing happened. My mother became very ill,and soon she knew that she was dying. Just before she died,she asked Elizabeth and me to go to her room. She held our hands and said:

  ‘My children, I am very happy because you love each other,and because one day you will get married. Everyone in the family loves you, Elizabeth. Will you take my place in the family, my dear? I can die happy if you will look after them when I have gone.’

  My mother died, and we were very sad, because we loved her dearly Elizabeth was brave and helped us; her sweet smile gave us some happiness in the unhappy days after my mother's death.

  The time came for me to go to university.I did not want to leave my sad family, but we all knew that I should go. It was hard to leave, too, because the parents of my good friend Henry Clerval would not let him go to university with me. And so I had to go alone.

  On my first day at the university I met my teacher, Professor Waldman, who was one of the greatest scientists in the world. He gave a wonderful talk to all the students who were starting at the university. He ended his talk by saying:‘Some of you will become the great scientists of tomorrow. You must study hard and discover everything that you can. That is why God made you intelligent—to help other people.’

  After the professor's talk,I thought very carefully.I remembered the storm when I was fifteen. I remembered how the lightning had destroyed the tree.I wanted to use electricity to help people, and I wanted to discover the secrets of life.I decided to work on these two things. I did not know then that my work would destroy me and the people that I loved.

  I started work the next day. I worked very hard and soon Professor Waldman and I realized that I could learn to be a very good scientist.

  The professor helped me very much, and other important scientists who were his friends helped me,too. I was interested in my work and I did not take one day's holiday during the next two years. I did not go home, and my letters to my family were very short.

  After two years I had discovered many things and I built a scientific machine that was better than anything in the university. My machine would help me answer the most important question of all. How does life begin? Is it possible to put life into dead things? To answer these questions about life I had to learn first about death.I had to watch bodies from the moment when they died and the warm life left them. In the hospital and in the university, I watched the dying and the dead.Day after day, month after month, I followed death.It was a dark and terrible time.

  Then one day, the answer came to me. Suddenly I was sure that I knew the secret of life. I knew that I could put life into a body that was not alive.

  I worked harder and harder now. I slept for only a short time each night, and I did not eat much food.I wrote to my family less often. But they loved me and did not stop writing to me.They said they understood how busy I was. They did not want me to stop work to write or to see them. They would wait until I had more time. They hoped to see me very soon.

  The professors realized that I was doing very important work, and so they gave me my own laboratory. There was a small flat above the laboratory, where I lived, and sometimes I stayed inside the building for a week and did not go out.

  Above the laboratory I built a very tall mast. It was 150metres high, and higher than the tallest building in the city.The mast could catch lightning and could send the electricity down to my machine in the laboratory. I had never forgotten the lightning that had destroyed the tree. There had been so much power in the electricity of that lightning. I believed I could use that electricity to give life to things that were dead.

  I will say no more than that. The secret of my machine must die with me. I was a very clever scientist, but I did not realize then what a terrible mistake I was making.