found himself at fault. Yet stay! One Fact had escaped his notice.
While all the rest were grouped in twos and in threes, Arthur was
alone: while all tongues were talking, his was silent: while all faces
were gay, his was gloomy and despondent. Here was a Fact indeed!
The Researcher felt that a Theory must be constructed without delay.
Lady Muriel had just risen and left the party. Could that be the cause
of his despondency? The Theory hardly rose to the dignity of a Working
Hypothesis. Clearly more Facts were needed.
The Researcher looked round him once more: and now the Facts accumulated
in such bewildering profusion, that the Theory was lost among them.
For Lady Muriel had gone to meet a strange gentleman, just visible in
the distance: and now she was returning with him, both of them talking
eagerly and joyfully, like old friends who have been long parted:
and now she was moving from group to group, introducing the new
hero of the hour: and he, young, tall, and handsome, moved gracefully
at her side, with the erect bearing and firm tread of a soldier.
Verily, the Theory looked gloomy for Arthur! His eye caught mine,
and he crossed to me.
“He is very handsome,” I said.
“Abominably handsome!” muttered Arthur: then smiled at his own bitter
words. “Lucky no one heard me but you!”
“Doctor Forester,” said Lady Muriel, who had just joined us, “let me
introduce to you my cousin Eric Lindon Captain Lindon, I should say.”
Arthur shook off his ill-temper instantly and completely, as he rose
and gave the young soldier his hand. “I have heard of you,” he said.
“I’m very glad to make the acquaintance of Lady Muriel’s cousin.”
“Yes, that’s all I’m distinguished for, as yet!” said Eric (so we soon
got to call him) with a winning smile. “And I doubt,” glancing at Lady
Muriel, “if it even amounts to a good-conduct-badge!
But it’s something to begin with.”
“You must come to my father, Eric,” said Lady Muriel. “I think he’s
wandering among the ruins.” And the pair moved on.
The gloomy look returned to Arthur’s face: and I could see it was only
to distract his thoughts that he took his place at the side of the
metaphysical young lady, and resumed their interrupted discussion.
“Talking of Herbert Spencer,” he began, “do you really find no logical
difficulty in regarding Nature as a process of involution, passing from
definite coherent homogeneity to indefinite incoherent heterogeneity?”
Amused as I was at the ingenious jumble he had made of Spencer’s words,
I kept as grave a face as I could.
No physical difficulty,” she confidently replied: “but I haven’t
studied Logic much. Would you state the difficulty?”
“Well,” said Arthur, “do you accept it as self-evident? Is it as
obvious, for instance, as that ‘things that are greater than the same
are greater than one another’?”
“To my mind,” she modestly replied, “it seems quite as obvious.
I grasp both truths by intuition. But other minds may need some
logical–I forget the technical terms.”
“For a complete logical argument,” Arthur began with admirable
solemnity, “we need two prim Misses–”
“Of course!” she interrupted. “I remember that word now.
And they produce–?”
“A Delusion,” said Arthur.
“Ye–es?” she said dubiously. “I don’t seem to remember that so well.
But what is the whole argument called?”
“Ah, yes! I remember now. But I don’t need a Sillygism, you know,
to prove that mathematical axiom you mentioned.”
“Nor to prove that ‘all angles are equal’, I suppose?”
“Why, of course not! One takes such a simple truth as that for granted!”
Here I ventured to interpose, and to offer her a plate of strawberries
and cream. I felt really uneasy at the thought that she might detect
the trick: and I contrived, unperceived by her, to shake my head
reprovingly at the pseudo-philosopher. Equally unperceived by her,
Arthur slightly raised his shoulders, and spread his hands abroad,
as who should say “What else can I say to her?” and moved away, leaving
her to discuss her strawberries by ‘involution,’ or any other way she
By this time the carriages, that were to convey the revelers to their