"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 preferred.
By this time the carriages, that were to convey the revelers to their respective homes, had begun to assemble outside the Castle-grounds: and it became evident--now that Lady Muriel's cousin had joined our party that the problem, how to convey five people to Elveston, with a carriage that would only hold four, must somehow be solved.
The Honorable Eric Lindon, who was at this moment walking up and down with Lady Muriel, might have solved it at once, no doubt, by announcing his intention of returning on foot. Of this solution there did not seem to be the very smallest probability.
The next best solution, it seemed to me, was that I should walk home: and this I at once proposed.
"You're sure you don't mind?', said the Earl. "I'm afraid the carriage wont take us all, and I don't like to suggest to Eric to desert his cousin so soon."
"So far from minding it," I said, "I should prefer it. It will give me time to sketch this beautiful old ruin."
"I'll keep you company," Arthur suddenly said. And, in answer to what I suppose was a look of surprise on my face, he said in a low voice, "I really would rather.