The Scientific Circle

Clyde Newkirk | published Mar, 1900

added May 26, 2024
cover Image
First Date of Publication
Mar, 1900
Original Source
The Black Cat
Original Source Type
Magazine - Old
Short Story
Original Language
Kasman Review
Not in Kasman Database
Summary: A soft, gently-paced tale of a mathematics professor outwitting a bandit in Old Mexico.

Story Tag Line: Against the wall in the scientist’s library’ rests a rifle. It is silver mounted and beautifully carved, with its rich ebony stock artistically inlaid with curious designs in ivory. Ward prizes it, not so much because it was once the property of a man who would have taken his life in a far-away country, but because it is a souvenir of a problem which his science solved.

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  • Vijay Fafat
    Published on

    I am not sure if this story fits the bill on mathfiction - I am on the border but leaning toward it since the full arc of the story does use a mathematical fact - that there is no “front” or “back” to a circle. The story itself contains no math but has a “Professor Ward” whom his students call “Old Cube Root” so I suppose he is a math professor - but the story does not mention this - he is just “a man of science” and holds “a chair of natural science”. For health reasons, he sets out on a 3-month vacation in the Jalapa region of Mexico (he has no wife or other attachments. In a funny stereotype of a scientist / mathematician, it is written, “It is needless to add that Ward was never married and probably never will be. He would not know what to do with a wife. Probably such a thing as marrying has never occurred to him.”)

    So of course, a bandit starts chasing him in a leisurely manner with none-too-good an intention. The professor is no match for him physically so devises a plan to walk a large circle and come up behind the bandit to shoot him. And so it turns out.

    I liked the writing style even if there is no big development of plot or suspense or any such thing.