English for Everybody - Intermediate reading comprehension


Page 22

The 'Eater of Life'


11 pm. I gave Renfield a strong dose of drugs tonight, enough to make even him sleep. Then I took away his notebook to look at it. A thought has been buzzing about in my brain lately. Now it is complete, and the theory is proved.

My homicidal maniac is of a peculiar kind. I shall have to invent a new classification for him. I will call him a zoophagous (life-eating) maniac. What he wants is to absorb as many lives as he can. He has set out to do this in a cumulative way. He gave many flies to one spider and many spiders to one bird, and then wanted a cat to eat the many birds. What would have been his later steps?

It would almost be worth while to complete the experiment. It might be done if there were only a good enough reason. Men sneered at vivisection, and yet look at the results today! The most difficult and vital part of science is the knowledge of the brain. If I understood the secret of one such mind, if I held the key to the fancy of even one lunatic, I might help to improve my own branch of science.


Theory: An idea about how something works
Homicidal: A man-killer
Classification: Things listed under one name
Absorb: Soak up
Cumulative: Adding things together
Sneer: To make fun of something inferior
Vivisection: Experiments on animals
Vital: Of essential importance
Fancy: Here it means 'strange idea'

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