Dr. Heidegger presents the rose to his guests at the beginning of his proposed "experiment," the nature of which remains a mystery to his friends who are just about to be experimented upon. As Dr. Heidegger takes out the remains of a rose from his folio, he tells his guests its origin:
"This rose," said Dr. Heidegger, with a sigh, "this same withered and crumbling flower, blossomed five and fifty years ago. It was given me by Sylvia Ward, whose portrait hangs yonder; and I mean tot wear it in my bosom at our wedding. Five and fifty years it has been treasured between the leaves of this old volume. Now, would you deem it possible that this rose of half a century could ever bloom again?"
Thus we are told that the rose relates to Dr. Heidegger's only love of long ago, who, we have already been told, was killed in a terrible accident when Sylvia Ward took a medicine prescribed to her by her fiancé. Dr. Heidegger uses it as a demonstration of the power of the Water of Youth, but also he uses it at the end to highlight the message of the story about the value of old age.