On the 24th of May, 1863, my uncle, Professor Liedenbrock, rushed into his little house, No. 19 Königstrasse, one of the oldest streets in the oldest portion of the city of Hamburg.
Martha must have concluded that she was very much behindhand, for the dinner had only just been put into the oven.
"Well, now," said I to myself, "if that most impatient of men hungry, what a disturbance he will make!"
"M. Liedenbrock so soon!" cried poor Martha in great alarm, opening the dining-room door.
"Yes, Martha; but very likely the dinner is not half cooked, for is not two yet. Saint Michael's clock has only just struck half- one."
"Then why has the master come home so soon?" "Perhaps he will tell us that himself."
"Here he is, Monsieur Axel; I will run and hide myself while argue with him."
And Martha retreated in safety into her own dominions.
I was left alone. But how was it possible for a man of my turn of mind to argue successfully with so irascible a person as Professor?
With this persuasion I was hurrying away to my own retreat upstairs, when the street door creaked upon its hinges;
feet made the whole flight of stairs to shake; and the master of house, passing rapidly through the dining-room, threw himself haste into his own sanctum.
But on his rapid way he had found time to fling his hazel stick a corner, his rough broadbrim upon the table, and these few words at his nephew:
"Axel, follow me!" I had scarcely had time to move when the Professor was again after me:
"What! not come yet?" And I rushed into my redoubtable master's study.
Otto Liedenbrock had no mischief in him, I willingly allow that; unless he very considerably changes as he grows older, at the end will be a most original character.
He was professor at the Johannæum, and was delivering a series lectures on mineralogy, in the course of every one of which he into a passion once or twice at least.
Not at all that he over-anxious about the improvement of his class, or about the of attention with which they listened to him, or the success might eventually crown his labours. Such little matters of never troubled him much.
His teaching was as the German calls it, 'subjective'; it was to benefit himself, not others.
He a learned egotist. He was a well of science, and the pulleys uneasily when you wanted to draw anything out of it. In a word, was a learned miser.
Germany has not a few professors of this sort.
To his misfortune, my uncle was not gifted with a sufficiently utterance; not, to be sure, when he was talking at home, certainly in his public delivery; this is a want much to be in a speaker.
The fact is, that during the course of his lectures the Johannæum, the Professor often came to a complete standstill;
fought with wilful words that refused to pass his struggling such words as resist and distend the cheeks, and at last break into the unasked-for shape of a round and most unscientific oath: then his fury would gradually abate.