Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, Part 1

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Adapted to chat story format by Captivated Chat

Dr. Heidegger invited four old friends to meet him in his study for a Frankenstein-like experiment, including three white-bearded gentlemen—the ruined merchant and speculator Mr. Medbourne, the physically wrecked libertine and gourmand Colonel Killigrew, and the disgraced politician and xenophobe Mr. Gascoigne. Appearing there, too, was a formerly renowned beauty, the widow Wycherly, whom all three had once loved.

Me
My dear old friends I ask your assistance in one of my little experiments. Please take your seats.
Colonel Killigrew
Why the four champagne glasses on your little table?
Me
Just sparkling water, Colonel. After all, I approve of your vow against strong drink! My dear old friends, will you aid me in a curious experiment?
Colonel Killigrew
First off, what does this have to do with that tome before you, your book of magic, as most of us believe it to be?
Me
The book is only tangentially related. I pressed a rose inside its pages, and the rose is the object we will be using.
Me
Sylvia Ward, whose portrait hangs yonder, gave it to me five and fifty years ago. I meant to wear it on my lapel at our wedding. Therefore I have treasured it. But the point is, could it ever bloom again?
The Widow Wycherly
Nonsense! After all, you might as well ask whether an old woman’s wrinkled face could ever bloom again.
Me
See! I place it into the water. At first it lays lightly on the surface. Soon, however, a singular change is visible. A very pretty deception
Mr. Gascoigne
The brown petals do seem to be assuming a deepening tinge of red, as if reviving.
Medbourne
The slender stalk and twigs and foliage are becoming green!
Me
And the rose of half a century is looking as fresh as when Sylvia Ward first gave it to me!
The Widow Wycherly
That is certainly a very pretty deception.
Colonel Killigrew
Nevertheless, I have witnessed greater miracles at a conjurer’s show. How did you effect it?
Me
Did you never hear of the Fountain of Youth?
The Widow Wycherly
I am sure we all have, but so what?
Me
I have asked all of you here to try the waters of it, as this rose has just done!