Recently I’ve come into the possession of a few short story collections, today I will be talking about The Stolen Bacillus by H.G. Wells.
This was the first story in the book I purchased recently: H.G. Wells Short Stories - Gothic Fantasy. It’s deep red, black and gold tones transfixed me as I picked it from the bookshelf, almost not noticing the black lettered title GOTHIC FANTASY, of which I can’t say that I’ve read any. 'A perfect opportunity to expand my reading both in genre and by the classic H.G. Wells.' I thought, already deciding to buy the book.
After taking it home and getting comfortable to read I opened the elaborately designed hardcover and began to read. THE STOLEN BACILLUS the title informed me and so I read on.
The story tells the tale of a scientist who is visited by a stranger, curiously interested in his bacteria collection. The scientist relishes the opportunity to drivel on about his work with this pale-faced man, whom we know little about besides just that. The pale-faced man has his own monologue, revealing his excitement of the destruction such a small organism could bring - provided it could get into a supply of water.
He soon leaves, the scientist perplexed as to his purpose before he quickly realizes his precious work has been taken and sets out on pursuit. The pale-faced man was an anarchist! Driven purely by the desire to bring chaos to order. The scientist takes a cab, a horse drawn carriage and sets to the chase.
He soon catches up to the anarchist, who decides martyrdom for his cause would be better than facing the consequences of his actions. He swallows the stolen bacillus and plunges into the water under a bridge, hoping to poison the water and all to whom it would flow.
The bacteriologist is more puzzled and bothered than alarmed. He seems unsure of whether the infected water will be of much effect on the drinkers. He observed that it has turned several animals blue, but not much else. And by the end of the story we are unsure of whether the action of the anarchist will cause trouble at all!
Closing Review Statements
I hope you enjoyed this short story review, I thought the only way to describe my experience of reading this story was to write in a like manner. You see the style is quite old, charming but sometimes difficult to understand. This was made even more evident by the slang of the common cab drivers, a stark contrast to the way the bacteriologist and anarchist spoke.
Overall I thought it was an interesting read, if only a little strange compared to more modern stories.