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"And then, I dare say," he suggested good-humouredly, "young Guy made an ass of himself, and you were obliged to squash him?"

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Thought speeds where light plods. The mind of Herrell McCray covered light-millenia in a moment. It skipped the drifty void between spiral arms, threaded dust clouds, entered the compact central galactic sphere to which our Earth's sector of the galaxy is only a remote and unimportant appendage. Here a great globular cluster of suns massed around a common center of gravity. McCray shrank himself to the perspective of a human body and stared in wonder. Mankind's Sol lies in a tenuous, stretched-out arm, thinly populated by stellar standards: if Earth had circled one of these dense-clustered suns, what a different picture of the sky would have greeted the early shepherds! Where Man's Earthbound eyes are fortunate to count a thousand stars in a winter sky, here were tens of thousands, bright enough to be a Sirius or a Capella at the bottom of a sink of atmosphere like Earth's—tens of billions of stars in all, whirling close to each other, so that star greets star over distances that are hardly more than planetary. Sol's nearest neighbor star is four light-years away. No single sun in this dense, gyrating central mass was as much as one light-year from its fellows.

"Buried it," said Markham briefly, "and said nothing about it."

He took wry pleasure in imagining what was going on aboard Jodrell Bank at that moment. At least not all the bewilderment was his own. They would be utterly baffled. As far as they were concerned, their navigator had been on the bridge at one moment and the next moment gone, tracelessly. That in itself was a major puzzle; the only way off an FTL ship in flight was in the direction called "suicide." That would have been their assumption, all right, as soon as they realized he was gone and checked the ship to make sure he was not for some reason wandering about in a cargo hold or unconscious in a closet after some hard-to-imagine attack from another crewman. They would have thought that somehow, crazily, he had got into a suit—there was the suit—and jumped out of a lock. But there would have been no question of going back to look for him. True, they could have tracked his subspace radio if he had used it. But what would have been the good of that? The first question, an all but unanswerable one, would be how long ago he had jumped. Even if they knew that, Jodrell Bank, making more than five hundred times light-speed, could not be stopped in fewer than a dozen light-years. They could hardly hope to return to even approximately the location in space where he might have jumped; and there was no hope of reaching a position, stopping, casting about, starting again—the accelerations were too enormous, a man too tiny a dust-mote.

10

"Do they?" cried the sergeant roughly and fiercely. "Do they, I say? I'll get over mine by trying to get to the front all the time, and hopin' some rebel bullet'll end everything. For a man

Retief selected a grape and ate it thoughtfully. "These aren't bad, Georges. You might consider taking on a few Aga Kagan vine-growers—purely on a yearly contract basis, of course."

However, these remarks relate only to two famous writers on the subjects with which this History is concerned. If the work had been brought to a close with the year 1850 instead of 1860, I should hardly have found it necessary to give them so prominent a position in it. Their names are Charles Darwin and Karl Nägeli. I would desire that whoever reads what I have written on Charles Darwin in the present work should consider that it contains a large infusion of youthful enthusiasm still remaining from the year 1859, when the ‘Origin of Species’ delivered us from the unlucky dogma of constancy. Darwin’s later writings have not inspired me with the like feeling. So it has been with regard to Nägeli. He, like Hugo von Mohl, was one of the first among German botanists who introduced into the study that strict method of thought which had long prevailed in physics, chemistry, and astronomy; but the researches of the last ten or twelve years have unfortunately shown that Nägeli’s method has been applied to facts which, as facts, were inaccurately observed. Darwin collected innumerable facts from the literature in support of an idea, Nägeli applied his strict logic to observations which were in part untrustworthy. The services which each of these men rendered to the science are still

"You admit that I shan't do any good to Hubert," he said. "Why are you so anxious that I should get myself into trouble by interfering—unless it is that you want to be rid of me? Because if that's all, I can go at any time of my own free will."

[pg 172]

of inexpressible relief: “We’ve had a tough job of it—ouf!”

1.162“Very sorry, sir,” said the boy, “but I’ve got no change. I’ve got no halfpennies.”

2.CHAPTER XIX. Ephialtes’ Plot.

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As regards the choice of topics, I have given prominence to discoveries of facts only when they could be shown to have promoted the development of the science; on the other hand, I have made it my chief object to discover the first dawning of scientific ideas and to follow them as they developed into comprehensive theories, for in this lies, to my mind, the true history of a science. But the task of the historian of Botany, as thus conceived, is a very difficult one, for it is only with great labour that he succeeds in picking the real thread of scientific thought out of an incredible chaos of empirical material.

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