Queer Street, number forty
Lady Muriel was the speaker. And, for the moment, that was the only fact I could clearly realise. But how she came to be there and how I came to be there----and how the glass of champagne came to be there----all these were questions which I felt it better to think out in silence, and not commit myself to any statement till I understood things a little more clearly.
'First accumulate a mass of Facts: and then construct a Theory.' That, I believe, is the true Scientific Method. I sat up, rubbed my eves, and began to accumulate Facts.
A smooth grassy slope, bounded, at the upper end, by venerable ruins half buried in ivy, at the lower, by a stream seen through arching trees----a dozen gaily-dressed people, seated in little groups here and there----some open hampers----the debris of a picnic----such were the Facts accumulated by the Scientific Researcher. And now, what deep, far-reaching Theory was he to construct from them? The Researcher 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.
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