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Twelve Stories and a Dream

8. The New Accelerator
Certainly, if ever a man found a guinea when he was looking for a pin it is my good
friend Professor Gibberne. I have heard before of investigators overshooting the mark,
but never quite to the extent that he has done. He has really, this time at any rate, without
any touch of exaggeration in the phrase, found something to revolutionise human life.
And that when he was simply seeking an all-round nervous stimulant to bring languid
people up to the stresses of these pushful days. I have tasted the stuff now several times,
and I cannot do better than describe the effect the thing had on me. That there are
astonishing experiences in store for all in search of new sensations will become apparent
Professor Gibberne, as many people know, is my neighbour in Folkestone. Unless my
memory plays me a trick, his portrait at various ages has already appeared in The Strand
Magazine--I think late in 1899; but I am unable to look it up because I have lent that
volume to some one who has never sent it back. The reader may, perhaps, recall the high
forehead and the singularly long black eyebrows that give such a Mephistophelian touch
to his face. He occupies one of those pleasant little detached houses in the mixed style
that make the western end of the Upper Sandgate Road so interesting. His is the one with
the Flemish gables and the Moorish portico, and it is in the little room with the mullioned
bay window that he works when he is down here, and in which of an evening we have so
often smoked and talked together. He is a mighty jester, but, besides, he likes to talk to
me about his work; he is one of those men who find a help and stimulus in talking, and so
I have been able to follow the conception of the New Accelerator right up from a very
early stage. Of course, the greater portion of his experimental work is not done in
Folkestone, but in Gower Street, in the fine new laboratory next to the hospital that he has
been the first to use.
As every one knows, or at least as all intelligent people know, the special department in
which Gibberne has gained so great and deserved a reputation among physiologists is the
action of drugs upon the nervous system. Upon soporifics, sedatives, and anaesthetics he
is, I am told, unequalled. He is also a chemist of considerable eminence, and I suppose in
the subtle and complex jungle of riddles that centres about the ganglion cell and the axis
fibre there are little cleared places of his making, little glades of illumination, that, until
he sees fit to publish his results, are still inaccessible to every other living man. And in
the last few years he has been particularly assiduous upon this question of nervous
stimulants, and already, before the discovery of the New Accelerator, very successful
with them. Medical science has to thank him for at least three distinct and absolutely safe
invigorators of unrivalled value to practising men. In cases of exhaustion the preparation
known as Gibberne's B Syrup has, I suppose, saved more lives already than any lifeboat
round the coast.
"But none of these little things begin to satisfy me yet," he told me nearly a year ago.
"Either they increase the central energy without affecting the nerves or they simply
increase the available energy by lowering the nervous conductivity; and all of them are