The Descent of Man and Other Stories HTML version

When Professor Linyard came back from his holiday in the Maine
woods the air of rejuvenation he brought with him was due less to
the influences of the climate than to the companionship he had
enjoyed on his travels. To Mrs. Linyard's observant eye he had
appeared to set out alone; but an invisible traveller had in fact
accompanied him, and if his heart beat high it was simply at the
pitch of his adventure: for the Professor had eloped with an idea.
No one who has not tried the experiment can divine its
exhilaration. Professor Linyard would not have changed places
with any hero of romance pledged to a flesh-and-blood abduction.
The most fascinating female is apt to be encumbered with luggage
and scruples: to take up a good deal of room in the present and
overlap inconveniently into the future; whereas an idea can
accommodate itself to a single molecule of the brain or expand to
the circumference of the horizon. The Professor's companion had
to the utmost this quality of adaptability. As the express train
whirled him away from the somewhat inelastic circle of Mrs.
Linyard's affections, his idea seemed to be sitting opposite him,
and their eyes met every moment or two in a glance of joyous
complicity; yet when a friend of the family presently joined him
and began to talk about college matters, the idea slipped out of
sight in a flash, and the Professor would have had no difficulty in
proving that he was alone.
But if, from the outset, he found his idea the most agreeable of
fellow-travellers, it was only in the aromatic solitude of the woods
that he tasted the full savour of his adventure. There, during the
long cool August days, lying full length on the pine-needles and
gazing up into the sky, he would meet the eyes of his co mpanion
bending over him like a nearer heaven. And what eyes they
were!—clear yet unfathomable, bubbling with inexhaustible
laughter, yet drawing their freshness and sparkle from the central
depths of thought! To a man who for twenty years had faced an
eye reflecting the obvious with perfect accuracy, these escapes into