Professor Albrecht von Apfel Struedel and the inmate

When the new wing of a prestigous lunatic asylum for the very rich was opened, the eminent Professor Albrecht von Apfel Struedel was formally invited to give the auspicious occasion the mark of great respectability by consenting to address the honoured guests. Being an enthusiast of gardens he had arrived early rather than punctually so that he might take in a tour of the grounds, which he had heard were magnificent. Being assured that such would be no trouble whatsoever, after his guide had shown him the facilities, he set off in the direction of the horticultural delights he was so eager to see.

At length, having rambled through arbours and orchards, dells and ferneries, he came upon an academic looking fellow sitting on a park bench. He introduced himself and asked “Are you a doctor here, or have you come for the opening?”

“Neither, actually.”

“Oh, I see,” said the professor.

“No, I’m here because of my theory,” said the man, and he pulled at a beard that was patently not there, a useless gesture but one which gave him an air of having encapsulated his entire situation.

“Oh,” said the professor again. “You interest me more and more. What is your theory?”

“Well,” said the man, and shot a glance at the professor, “it’s probably better illustrated than explained…..” and at that he appeared to rummage around in his pockets, at last holding in his hand the biggest spider the professor had ever seen.

The man placed the spider on his left hand and held out his arm, and with the other he waggled his finger and said, with great portent, “Observe.”

Turning now to the spider, which appeared to be awaiting commands, he roared “Forward, march!” The spider, suddenly galvanised into action, marched briskly towards the man’s shoulder, at which point the man roared again “Halt!”

The spider was obedient to a fault, stopping just short of the man’s neck, and Professor Albrecht von Apfel Struedel was completely amazed. Mouth open and eyes boggling he watched as the man shouted “About face!” and the spider rapidly executed the order, standing at attention once more until the man again yelled “Forward, march!” and finally, the spider reaching the man’s hand, “Halt!”

“My God,” spluttered the professor, “You have this… this…. capability and they incarcerate you?!”

“No, no,” said the man, “we haven’t gotten to my theory yet.”

“Of course,” said the professor, “please continue.”

The man, encouraged by the other’s interest and keen attention, turned back to the spider, and picking it up began to pull off each one of its legs, and with great ceremony replaced the legless carcass on his hand. “Forward, march!” he yelled again. No result. “Forward, march!!” he screamed. He looked at the professor, and with narrowed eyes, the spider remaining still on his outstretched hand, he nearly whispered, “This,” and then he paused for maximum effect,  “is my theory. You pull out their legs and the beggars go deaf.”


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