2. CHAPTER II. THE SCIENCE OF DEDUCTION.
The reader may set me down as a hopeless busybody,
when I confess how much this man stimulated my curiosity,
and how often I endeavoured to break through the reticence
which he showed on all that concerned himself. Before
pronouncing judgment, however, be it remembered, how objectless
was my life, and how little there was to engage my attention.
My health forbade me from venturing out unless the weather
was exceptionally genial, and I had no friends who would call
upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence.
Under these circumstances, I eagerly hailed the little mystery
which hung around my companion, and spent much of my time in
endeavouring to unravel it.
He was not studying medicine. He had himself, in reply
to a question, confirmed Stamford's opinion upon that point.
Neither did he appear to have pursued any course of reading
which might fit him for a degree in science or any other
recognized portal which would give him an entrance into the
learned world. Yet his zeal for certain studies was
remarkable, and within eccentric limits his knowledge was so
extraordinarily ample and minute that his observations have
fairly astounded me. Surely no man would work so hard or
attain such precise information unless he had some definite
end in view. Desultory readers are seldom remarkable for the
exactness of their learning. No man burdens his mind with
small matters unless he has some very good reason for doing so.
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge.
Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared
to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle,
he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had
done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found
incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory
and of the composition of the Solar System. That any
civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not
be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to
be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly
"You appear to be astonished," he said, smiling at my
expression of surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my
best to forget it."
"To forget it!"