- Project Runeberg -  The story of San Michele /

(1929) [MARC] Author: Axel Munthe - Tema: Medicine
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second thought was to stay where I was and play
the game. There was no time to lose. With
the powerful help of Professor Bruzelius I
succeeded with great difficulty in obtaining the
permission to open the coffin in order to proceed to
a summary disinfection of the remains if it should
prove necessary, which I was convinced was the
case. Shortly after midnight I descended to the
vault under the church accompanied by the
custodian of the cemetery and a workman who
was to open the two coffins. When the lid of the
inner lead coffin was unsoldered the two men
stood back in silent reverence before the awe of
death. I took the lantern from the custodian
and uncovered the face. The lantern fell on the
floor, I reeled back as if struck by an invisible

I have often wondered at my presence of mind
that night, I must have had nerves of steel in
those days.

“It is all right,” said I, rapidly covering the
face again, “screw on the lid, there is no need
for any disinfection, the body is in perfect state
of preservation.”

I called on Professor Bruzelius in the early
morning. I told him that the sight I had seen
in the night would haunt the poor mother for
life, that he must at all costs prevent the opening
of the coffin.

I assisted at the funeral. I have never assisted
at another since that day. The coffin was
carried to the grave on the shoulders of six of the
boy’s schoolfellows. The clergyman in a moving

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