I could do this:
It seemed like only yesterday when Agathe had taken Heinrich under her aegis, tasking him with a panoptic study of the nature of life, and of death. Townspeople whispered about their peculiar relationship – her, a widow of a certain age, and him, a young university student who had barely a wisp of a beard. It was easy to assume that the boy had provided Agathe with certain “services” in exchange for an education. That he had long since finished his formal schooling, and continued to live in her magnificent home, further convinced some, and vaguely baffled others.
She watched from the hallway as he worked, and recalled the shy student who had come to her door one evening nine autumns ago, inquiring about lodging as several canids howled in the nearby woods. His shabby clothes had made it clear that he possessed no wealth. Heinrich had roomed there for several weeks before he had admitted that he suffered from taphephobia, the same condition that had plagued Agathe’s beloved Wilhelm. At that moment, she decided to open her entire home to him, including the laboratory and the library. He had heard rumors of her late husband’s experiments, and when he saw the long-dormant rooms, full of dusty journals and test tubes and a large Tesla coil, Heinrich’s face lit up with such verve that Agathe knew she would allow him to stay indefinitely. It was an eleemosynary gesture, of course, but she delighted in the fecund spirit that filled house while he was at work.
Heinrich stood facing a device that appeared to be a small wood stove with semaphore arms attached to either side. After adjusting several pieces, he looked up and saw his patroness in the doorway. “I think it’s ready,” he said. “Would you like to be the first to try it out?”