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Frank Preston Stearns, Cambridge Sketches, Doctor Holmes. (search)
edical profession should take an exceptional interest in poisonous reptiles? Professor Reichert and Dr. S. Weir Mitchell spent a large portion of their leisure hours for several years in experimenting with the virus of rattlesnakes, and of the Gila monster, without, however, quite exhausting the subject. Doctor Holmes kept a rattlesnake in a cage for a pet, and was accustomed to stir it up with an ox-goad. A New York doctor lost his life by fooling with a poisonous snake, and another in Liverpool frightened a whole congregation of scientists with two torpid rattlesnakes which suddenly came to life on the president's table. Does it arise from their custom of dealing with deadly poisons, or is it because they officiate as the high priests of mortality? Doctor Holmes's Elsie Venner was one of the offshoots of this peculiar medical interest, and when we think of it in that light the story seems natural enough. The idea of a snaky woman is as old as the fable of Medusa. I read the