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The Unpleasant Adventure Of The Faithless Woman
by [?]

Dr. August Moehrlein, Ph. D., was a professor of the languages and religions of India. A man of great gravity of countenance and of impressive port, he was popularly reputed to have a complete knowledge of the occult learning of the adepts of India, that nebulous and mysterious philosophy which irreducible to the laws of nature as recognized by Occidentals, is by them pronounced either magic and feared as such, or ridiculed and despised as pretentious mummery and deluding prestidigitation. There was a legend among the students of his department that he was wont to project himself into the fourth dimension and thus traveling downtown, effect a substantial saving of street-car fare. This is clearly impossible, for the yogis do not thus move about in their own persons. It is only the astral self that flies leagues through the air with the rapidity of thought, only the spiritual essence, the living man’s ghost flying abroad while the living man’s corpse lies inanimate at home. But even this, Dr. August Moehrlein could not do, for the yogis do not initiate men of Western nations into their mysteries. Dr. Moehrlein’s knowledge of the occult of India was wholly empirical. He knew that certain things were done and could recount them, but as to how they were done, he could tell nothing. It must not be thought that of all the marvelous and awe-compelling things the yogis of India are accustomed to do, none can be assigned to any other origin than cunning legerdemain and hypnotism, or to the exercise of supernatural powers. Many of them are due to a strange and wonderful knowledge of nature which the science of the Occident has not yet reached in all its boasted advance. Yet when once explained, the Westerner understands some of these phenomena and is able to repeat them. Into this region of the penumbra of science and exact knowledge the researches of Dr. Moehrlein had taken him a little way and it was this that had gained him his reputation among his pupils as a thaumaturgist.

Along with the learning which this country has imported from Germany have come some customs to which the savants of both that country and this ascribe a certain fostering influence, if not a creative impulse, highly advantageous to the national scholarship. It is the habit of the university men of Germany to foregather of nights in the genial pursuit of drinking beer, and many of the notable theories which German scholarship has propounded are to be directly attributed to this stimulating good fellowship known as kommers. Indeed, when one has imbibed twelve or fourteen steins of beer and sat in an atmosphere of tobacco smoke for some hours, his mind attains a clarity, a sense of proportion, a power of reflection, speculation, and intuition which enables him to evolve those notable theories for which German scholarship is so famous. It is under the intellectual stimulus of the kommers, when the foam lies thick in the steins and blue clouds of tobacco smoke roll overhead, that the great classical scholars of Germany perceive that the classical epics, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, are but the typifying of the rolling of the clouds in the empyrean, the warfare of the foam-crested waves dashing upon the land, that the metamorphoses and amours of the gods and all the myths of the elder world, are but the mutations of the clouds and the fanciful figures they take on and the metamorphoses and hurryings of the ever-changing sea with its foam forms and the shadows that lie across its unquiet surface. Wonderful indeed is the scientific imagination that thus accounts for, classifies, and labels the imagination of the poets, which otherwise we might think a thing defying classification, an inspiration, a creative genius taking nothing from a dim suggestion of the cold clouds and sea, but weaving its tales from the suggestion of human lives and human passions. Wonderful indeed is the good sense of the rest of the world in accepting unquestioned these important discoveries of German scholars in the beer kellars, which well might be called the laboratories of the classical department of the German universities.