“This,” said the scientist taking a glass slide and putting it under the microscope, “is the famous cholera bacillus.”
The young man looked into the microscope. “Little pieces of pink,” he muttered, “and yet they could destroy a city. Are theses dangerous now?”
“No, not very dangerous. But here is the living thing. “The scientist picked up a test tube. “This is bottled cholera.”
The rather nervous young man
looked at the test tube with satisfaction. He was at the scientist’s house that afternoon with a letter of introduction from an old friend. The scientist explained the terrible effects of cholera and added, “But it is very safe here, you know, very safe.”
Just then there was a knocked on the lab door. The scientist immediately gat up and opened it. “Just a minute, dear,” he whispered to his wife, Minnie.
When he came back, his visitor was looking at his watch. “I must be going,” he said.
The scientist showed him out of the house but when he got back to the laboratory, he suddenly had a really horrible thought. “Oh no!” he cried and rushed after the young man.
Minnie heard the door close very violently. She went to the window and looked out. The young man was getting into a cab and her husband, in his skippers, was running after him, shouting.
“He has gone completely mad!” said Minnie. “It’s that horrid science of his.” The horse and cab left and then her husband stopped another cab and followed it. “I know he is a bit eccentric,” Minnie said to herself, “but this!” She put on her coat and hat, picked up her husband’s shoes and went out. She stopped a passing cab. “Drive me up the road,” she said. “I am looking for a gentleman with no shoes and hat.”
By this time, three cabs were driving extremely fast through the streets of London. The man in the first cab sat holding the test tube. He was quite afraid, but also incredibly excited. He was the first anarchist to do such a thing. He had planned everything brilliantly, forging a letter of introduction for the scientist. Now, he would be famous if he could put the contents of the tube into the water supply.
The anarchist looked back. The scientist’s cab was catching up. He stood up and gave the driver more money saying, “Hurry up! Faster!” The cab moved suddenly and when the anarchist put his hand down to keep his balance, he broke the test tube. He looked at the two or three drops of liquid on his hand. “Well, I’ll be the first to die,” he said and drank the remaining drops.
Then, he realized that there was no need to get away. He told the driver to stop and got out. He waited for the scientist’s cab and said to him, “It is too late. I have drunk it. I’ll be the first person with cholera!”
The scientist looked at him. “I see now.” Then a big smile came over the scientist’s face. The anarchist waved goodbye and walked away.
Suddenly, the scientist saw Minnie holding his top hat, shoes and coat. “Very good of you to bring my things,” he said. They got into his cab and asked the driver to take them back home. Minnie was now absolutely convinced that her husband was totally mad.
“You see, that man who came round to the house is an anarchist, though I didn’t know that at the time. I was showing him a new bacteria we have that makes monkeys turn blue. Like a fool I said it was cholera. And he stole it and ran away, probably to poison the water of London. And now he has drunk it. And he’ll turn blue! But my problem is I’ll have to prepare more bacteria. What?
“the stolen bacillus” by h. g. wells