On the day of her sale, however, she looked at her reflection in the mirror rather more attentively than usual, just to make certain that her hair was as tidy as troublesome curls and waves would permit, that primrose soap and hot water had effectively cleaned her face after her busy morning, that her plain straw hat, bound by a white ribbon, and her linen collar were straight. She felt a trifle guilty because she desired to look her best, an ambition that was somehow entangled, quite unaccountably, with the prospect of meeting Captain Coventry again. She had never met anyone quite like Captain Coventry; he was so handsome and he seemed to be so nice. She looked forward with an odd and unwonted agitation to his arrival. She hoped, though she was teased by a slight suspicion to the contrary, that he was a good man, that he was a teetotaller, and did not smoke or play cards.
Coventry had intended to remain at the club till her husband must have started for the mess. She was only aware that Rafella was reluctant to leave.
CHAPTER VI THE BACHELORS' BALL
First or last, he would have to look once more upon the inimical presences that had peered out at him from the Central Masses. It might as well be now.
He dismounted and searched about the ground for a pebble that might suit his purpose. Anyone passing would have supposed that the big, bronzed young man scraping in the dust of the country road must have dropped some treasured possession.
He was more than free, he was extended—increased—enlarged. He was inside the body of an alien, and the alien was in him. He was also outside both, looking at them.
Someone else could.
The descriptions were at first extremely inartistic and unmethodical; but the effort to make them as exact and clear as was possible led from time to time to perceptions of truth, that came unsought and lay far removed from the object originally in view. It was remarked that many of the plants which Dioscorides had described in his Materia Medica do not grow wild in Germany, France, Spain, and England, and that conversely very many plants grow in these countries, which were evidently unknown to the ancient writers; it became apparent at the same time that many plants have points of resemblance to one another, which have nothing to do with their medicinal powers or with their importance to agriculture and the arts. In the effort to promote the knowledge of plants for practical purposes by careful description of individual forms, the impression forced itself on the mind of the observer, that there are various natural groups of plants which have a distinct resemblance to one another in form and in other characteristics. It was seen that there were other natural alliances in the vegetable world, beside the three great divisions of trees, shrubs, and herbs adopted by Aristotle and Theophrastus. The first perception of natural groups is to be found in Bock, and later herbals show that the natural connection between such plants as occur together in the groups of Fungi, Mosses, Ferns, Coniferae, Umbelliferae, Compositae, Labiatae, Papilionaceae was distinctly felt, though it was by no means clearly understood how this connection was actually expressed; the fact of natural affinity presented itself unsought as an incidental and indefinite impression, to which no great value was at first attached. The recognition of these groups required no antecedent philosophic reflection or conscious attempt to classify the objects in the vegetable world; they present themselves to the unprejudiced eye as naturally as do the groups of mammals, birds, reptiles,
"But, sir...." Hatcher swung closer, his thick skin quivering slightly; he would have gestured if he had brought members with him to gesture with. "We've done everything we dare. We've made the place homey for him—" actually, what he said was more like, we've warmed the biophysical nuances of his enclosure—"and tried to guess his needs; and we're frightening him half to death. We can't go faster. This creature is in no way similar to us, you know. He relies on paranormal forces—heat, light, kinetic energy—for his life. His chemistry is not ours, his processes of thought are not ours, his entire organism is closer to the inanimate rocks of a sea-bottom than to ourselves."
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