[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

quite easy to explain; which was doubtless true, as he was always
explaining it. But he often ended by affirming fallaciously that it
was quite easy to understand, and it would be an exaggeration to say
that it was always understood. Anyhow, he was just about to read
his great paper on his great theory at the great Astronomical Congress
that was to be held that year at Bath; which was one reason why he
had pitched his astronomical camp, or emplaced his astronomical gun,
in the house of Farmer Dale on the hills of Somerset. Mr. Enoch Oates
could not but feel the lingering hesitation of the landlord when he
heard that his proteges the Dales were about to admit an unknown
stranger into their household. But Pierce sternly reminded him
that this paternal attitude was a thing of the past and that a free
peasant was free to let lodgings to a homicidal maniac if he liked.
Nevertheless, Pierce was rather relieved to find the maniac was only
an astronomer; but it would have been all the same if he had been
an astrologer. Before coming to the farm, the astronomer had set
up his telescope in much dingier places--in lodgings in Bloomsbury
and the grimy buildings of a Midland University. He thought he was,
and to a great extent he was, indifferent to his surroundings.
But for all that the air and colour of those country surroundings
were slowly and strangely sinking into him.
"The idea is simplicity itself," he said earnestly, when Pierce
rallied him about the theory. "It is only the proof that is,
of course, a trifle technical. Put in a very crude and popular shape,
it depends on the mathematical formula for the inversion of the sphere."
"What we call turning the world upside down," said Pierce.
"I'm all in favour of it."
"Everyone knows the idea of relativity applied to motion," went on
the Professor. "When you run out of a village in a motor-car,
you might say that the village runs away from you."
"The village does run away when Pierce is out motoring," remarked Crane.
"Anyhow, the villagers do. But he generally prefers to frighten
them with an aeroplane."
"Indeed?" said the astronomer with some interest. "An aeroplane
would make an even better working model. Compare the movement
of an aeroplane with what we call merely for convenience the fixity
of the fixed stars."
"I dare say they got a bit unfixed when Pierce bumped into them,"
said the Colonel.
Professor Green sighed in a sad but patient spirit. He could not help
being a little disappointed even with the most intelligent outsiders
with whom he conversed. Their remarks were pointed but hardly
to the point. He felt more and more that he really preferred those
who made no remarks. The flowers and the trees made no remarks;
they stood in rows and allowed him to lecture to them for hours
on the fallacies of accepted astronomy. The cow made no remarks.
The girl who milked the cow made no remarks; or, if she did,
they were pleasant and kindly remarks, not intended to be clever.
He drifted, as he had done many times before, in the direction of
the cow.
The young woman who milked the cow was not in the common connotation
what is meant by a milkmaid. Margery Dale was the daughter of a
substantial farmer already respected in that county. She had been
to school and learnt various polite things before she came back
to the farm and continued to do the thousand things that she could
have taught the schoolmasters. And something of this proportion
or disproportion of knowledge was dawning on Professor Green, as he
stood staring at the cow and talking, often in a sort of soliloquy.
For he had a rather similar sensation of a great many other things
growing up thickly like a jungle round his own particular thing;
impressions and implications from all the girl's easy actions
and varied avocations. Perhaps he began to have a dim suspicion
that he was the schoolmaster who was being taught.
The earth and the sky were already beginning to be enriched
with evening; the blue was already almost a glow like apple-green
behind the line of branching apple-trees; against it the bulk
of the farm stood in a darker outline, and for the first time
he realized something quaint or queer added to that outline by
his own big telescope stuck up like a gun pointed at the moon.
Somehow it looked, he could not tell why, like the beginning
of a story. The hollyhocks also looked incredibly tall.
To see what he would have called "flowers" so tall as that seemed
like seeing a daisy or a dandelion as large as a lamp-post. He
was positive there was nothing exactly like it in Bloomsbury.
These tall flowers also looked like the beginning of a story--
the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Though he knew little enough
of what influences were slowly sinking into him, he felt something
apt in the last memory. Whatever was moving within him was something
very far back, something that came before reading and writing.
He had some dream, as from a previous life, of dark streaks of field
under stormy clouds of summer and the sense that the flowers to be
found there were things like gems. He was in that country home
that every cockney child feels he has always had and never visited.
"I have to read my paper to-night," he said abruptly. "I really
ought to be thinking about it."
"I do hope it will be a success," said the girl; "but I rather
thought you were always thinking about it."
"Well, I was--generally," he said in a rather dazed fashion;
and indeed it was probably the first time that he had ever found
himself fully conscious of not thinking about it. Of what he was
thinking about he was by no means fully conscious.
"I suppose you have to be awfully clever even to understand it,"
observed Margery Dale conversationally.
"I don't know," he said, slightly stirred to the defensive.
"I'm sure I could make you see--I don't mean you aren't clever,
of course; I mean I'm quite sure you're clever enough to see--
to see anything."
"Only some sorts of things, I'm afraid," she said, smiling. "I'm sure
your theory has got nothing to do with cows and milking-stools."
"It's got to do with anything," he said eagerly; "with everything,
in fact. It would be just as easy to prove it from stools and cows [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]