The Head and the Heart
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© Gavin Sinclair 2000

     "Yes, it's ironic, isn't it Baron. That I should be sacrificed to the irrational lusts of the very men I sought only to serve through science."
     "If they only understood what you were trying to do. If only they had fully read your work, your theories of democracy."
     "If only they
could read. To them I am merely another aristocrat and my death is merited by my birth."
     "Robespierre can read."
     "That, Baron, is my misfortune. He reads, but does not comprehend. How else could he condemn me as an
Hébertiste? Hébert is a fool and a rabble-rouser. I am a man of reason."
     The Baron raised himself, not without some difficulty, from the cot and began to pace the cell. Suddenly he turned sharply, knocking over a jug of water that stood on the small rude table that was the cell's only furnishing, aside from the cot and the little stool on which Leboeuf squatted, picking his finger nails.
     "He's jealous, you know, Comte. That's why you're here. He fears your brilliance. If only you were fat like me! Nobody is jealous of the fat, or fears them."
     "I'll admit, Baron, that at this moment, it is I who am envious of Monsieur Robespierre. He shall have dinner tomorrow, while I shall not."
     The reference to dinner seemed to have moved the Baron deeply. He stopped pacing and fell silent. After a few seconds, the Comte rose, walked the few steps to where the fallen water jug lay and bent to pick it up. As he moved to replace it on the table, the top of the jug snapped off in his hand. Both men stood looking at the broken vessel.
     "Oh, my friend!" cried the Baron. Tears welled up in his eyes and he dabbed them with the lace of his cuff."
     "Now, now old friend. Let's be rational."
     "Is it not rational to miss a dear comrade and collaborator?"
     The Comte laid down the pieces of the jug, put a hand on his friend's shoulder and said quietly, "Yes, you're right. Of course it is." Thus they stood in silence, until the Comte broke away and sat down on his cot with a sigh.
     "My greatest regret, Baron, is that we shall leave unfinished our most important collaboration."
     The Baron nodded sadly. "A tragedy, Comte!"
     "The location of the soul. Or what men are in the habit of calling the soul."
     "The seat of consciousness."
     "Yes, Baron. The heart or the head."
     "A formidable challenge to philosopher and scientist. I fear that without you, it will remain a mystery at least in our generation, for I see no one of your genius amongst the charlatans and featherbrains who these days pass themselves off as scientists. And I am certainly not capable, for I do not fool myself, Comte, that my talents extend far beyond the recording of your theories and experiments." The Baron sighed deeply. "It is a tragedy to leave such important work unfinished, and when we both felt that we were so near to the proof."
     "The head. Logic and empirical observation combine to indicate the head."
     "Of course, but proving it, Comte, proving it."
     "Ah yes, proof. Amazing how those old fossils continue to argue for the heart. How they cling to the doctrine of unenlightened centuries. Many would still have the world flat, and deny that any have voyaged around it!" The Comte's voice rose with passion. "I tell you, Baron, priests and pious fools are the curse of this country. They stand in the way of all progressive thought."

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