The Dream Doctor HTML version
16. The Blood Test
We arrived late at night, or rather in the morning, but in spite of the late hour Kennedy
was up early urging me to help him carry the stuff over to Cushing's laboratory. By the
middle of the morning he was ready and had me scouring about town collecting his
audience, which consisted of the Winslows, Borland and Lathrop, Dr. Howe, Dr. Harris,
Strong and myself. The laboratory was darkened and Kennedy took his place beside an
electric moving picture apparatus.
The first picture was different from anything any of us had ever seen on a screen before.
It seemed to be a mass of little dancing globules. "This," explained Kennedy, "is what
you would call an educational moving picture, I suppose. It shows normal blood
corpuscles as they are in motion in the blood of a healthy man. Those little round cells are
the red corpuscles and the larger irregular cells are the white corpuscles."
He stopped the film. The next picture was a sort of enlarged and elongated house fly,
apparently, of sombre grey color, with a narrow body, thick proboscis and wings that
overlapped like the blades of a pair of shears. "This," he went on, "is a picture of the now
well known tse-tse fly found over a large area of Africa. It has a bite something like a
horse-fly and is a perfect blood- sucker. Vast territories of thickly populated, fertile
country near the shores of lakes and rivers are now depopulated as a result of the death-
dealing bite of these flies, more deadly than the blood-sucking, vampirish ghosts with
which, in the middle ages, people supposed night air to be inhabited. For this fly carries
with it germs which it leaves in the blood of its victims, which I shall show next."
A new film started.
"Here is a picture of some blood so infected. Notice that worm- like sheath of undulating
membrane terminating in a slender whip- like process by which it moves about. That
thing wriggling about like a minute electric eel, always in motion, is known as the
"Isn't this a marvellous picture? To see the micro-organism move, evolve and revolve in
the midst of normal cells, uncoil and undulate in the fluids which they inhabit, to see
them play hide and seek with the blood corpuscles and clumps of fibrin, turn, twist, and
rotate as if in a cage, to see these deadly little trypanosomes moving back and forth in
every direction displaying their delicate undulating membranes and shoving aside the
blood cells that are in their way while by their side the leucocytes, or white corpuscles,
lazily extend or retract their pseudopods of protoplasm. To see all this as it is shown
before us here is to realise that we are in the presence of an unknown world, a world
infinitesimally small, but as real and as complex as that about us. With the cinematograph
and the ultra-microscope we can see what no other forms of photography can reproduce.
"I have secured these pictures so that I can better mass up the evidence against a certain
person in this room. For in the blood of one of you is now going on the fight which you