Nicholas Vance, a student in Harvard University, had the misfortune to suffe_lmost incessantly with acute neuralgia during the second term of his senio_ear. The malady not only caused him great anguish of face, but it als_eprived him of the benefit of Professor Surdity's able lecture on speculativ_ogic, a study of which Vance was passionately fond.
If Vance had gone in the first place to a sensible physician, as Miss Margare_tull urged him to do, he would undoubtedly have been advised that it wa_ental friction that had set his face on fire. To extinguish the conflagratio_e would have been told to abandon speculative logic for a time and go _ishing.
But although the young man loved Miss Margaret Stull, or at least loved her a_uch as it is possible to love one who feels no interest in hypotheses, he ha_ittle respect for her opinion in a matter such as the neuralgia. Instead o_onsulting with a duly qualified member of the faculty of medicine, he rushe_cross the bridge one morning, in a paroxysm of pain, to seek counsel o_ithami Concannon, the very worst person, under the circumstances, to whom h_ossibly could have applied.
Tithami was himself a speculative logician. He lived up four pairs of stairs,
and his one window overlooked a dreary expanse of back yards and clotheslines.
By a subtle process of reasoning he knew that the window commanded a super_iew of the sunset, granted only that the sun rose in the west and set in th_ast. As Tithami was aware, moreover, that east and west are relative terms,
arbitrarily employed, and that inherently and absolutely there is no mor_eason why the sun should travel from east to west than from west to east, h_erived a great deal of enjoyment from the sunsets he did notice. Such are th_esources of speculative logic.
Tithami owed his education to his name. Thomas Concannon, who thirty years ag_aught the Harvard freshmen how to pronounce the digamma, died a month befor_ithami was born. Poor little Mrs. Concannon, sincerely desiring to complimen_he memory of her deceased husband, named the infant after a Greek verb whic_he tutor had held in especial esteem, and of whose capabilities she had ofte_eard him speak with enthusiasm. Her family tried in vain to persuade th_imple-minded mother to give up the idea, or at least to compromise o_imothy, approximate in form to the heathen verb, but thoroughly respectabl_n its associations. She would not yield—not one final iota—and Tithami th_aby was baptized. This queer christening proved both the making and th_arring of the child. A rich, eccentric great uncle, mightily tickled by th_nconscious humor of the appellation, offered to give young Tithami the bes_chooling that money could buy, and he kept his word, all the way from _indergarten to Heidelberg. At the latter institution Tithami learned so muc_ogic from the renowned Speisecartius, and went so deep into metaphysics wit_he profound Zundholzer, that he thoroughly unfitted himself for all practica_ork in life. He came home and speedily argued his benevolent uncle to death,
but not before the old gentleman had stricken the logician from his will an_iverted his entire property to the endowment of an asylum for deaf mutes.
"My dear Nicholas," said Tithami, when Vance had sung all twelve books of hi_pic of pain, "you are the luckiest individual in the city of Boston. _ongratulate you from the bottom of my heart. Take your hand away from you_heek and sit down in that easy chair and rejoice."
"Thank you," groaned Vance, who knew the chair. "I prefer to stand up."
"Well," said Tithami cheerfully, "stand up if it pleases you so long as yo_tand still. The floor creaks and my landlady, who is absurdly fussy over _rifle of rent, has a way of rushing in when the slightest noise reminds he_f the fact of my existence. You've read how, in the Alps, a breeze sometime_rings down an avalanche?"
"Hang your landlady!" shouted Nicholas. "I came to you as a friend, fo_ympathy, not to be jeered at."
"If you must walk up and down like a maniac, Nicholas," continued Tithami,
"pardon me for suggesting that you keep off that third plank from th_ireplace. It's particularly loose. I repeat, Nicholas, that you are a luck_og. I would give my dinners for a week for such a neuralgia."
"Can you do anything for me or not?" demanded Nicholas, fiercely. "I don'_ike to exercise intimidation, but, by Jupiter, if you don't stop chaffing,
I'll raise a yell that will start the avalanche."
A perceptible tremor passed over Tithami's frame. It was evident that th_hreat was not ineffectual. He arose hastily and assured himself that the doo_as securely bolted. Then he returned to Vance and addressed him wit_onsiderable impressiveness of manner.
"Nicholas," said he, "I was perfectly serious when I congratulated you upo_our neuralgia. You, like myself, are a speculative logician. Although not i_n entirely candid and reasonable frame of mind just now, you will not, I a_ure, refuse a syllogism. Let me ask you two plain Socratic questions an_resent one syllogism, and then I'll give you something that will subdue you_ain—under protest, mind you, for I shall feel that I am wronging you,
"Confound your sense of justice!" exclaimed Nicholas. "I accept th_roposition."
"Well, answer me this. Do you like a hot Indian curry?" "Nothing better," sai_icholas.
"But suppose someone had offered you a curry when you were fifteen year_ounger—during the bread and milk era of your gastronomic evolution. Would yo_ave partaken of it with signal pleasure?"
"No," said Vance. 'I should have as soon thought of sucking the red-hot end o_ poker."
"Good. Now we will proceed to our syllogism. Here it is. Sensations that ar_rimarily disagreeable may become more or less agreeable by a proper educatio_f the senses. Physical pain is primarily disagreeable. Therefore, eve_hysical pain, by judicious cultivation, may be made a source of exquisit_leasure"
"That doesn't help my neuralgia," said Nicholas. "What does it all mean,
"I never heard you speak unkindly of a syllogism before," said Tithami,
sorrowfully. Then he took a small jar from a closet in the corner and shoo_ut of it a little pile of fine white powder, of which he gave Nicholas a_uch as would cover an old-fashioned copper cent. This he did with eviden_eluctance.
"Come here tonight," he added, "at half past nine, and I will try to show yo_hat it all means, my young friend."