And what of Charley Huyck? It was his anticipation, and his training whic_eaves us here to tell the story. Were it not for the strange manner of hi_earing, and the keen faith and appreciation of Dr. Hobold there would be to- day no tale to tell. The little incident of the burning-glass had grown. I_here is no such thing as Fate there is at least something that comes ver_lose to being Destiny.
On this night we find Charley at the observatory in Arizona. He is a grown ma_nd a great one, and though mature not so very far drawn from the lad we me_n the street selling papers. Tall, slender, very slightly stooped and wit_he same idealistic, dreaming eyes of the poet. Surely no one at first glanc_ould have taken him for a scientist. Which he was and was not.
Indeed, there is something vastly different about the science of Charle_uyck. Science to be sure, but not prosaic. He was the first and perhaps th_ast of the school of Dr. Robold, a peculiar combination of poetry and fact, _an of vision, of vast, far-seeing faith and idealism linked and based on th_oldest and sternest truths of materialism. A peculiar tenet of the theory o_obold: "True science to be itself should be half poetry." Which any of us wh_ave read or been at school know it is not. It is a peculiar theory and thoug_ather wild still with some points in favor.
We all of us know our schoolmasters; especially those of science and what the_tand for. Facts, facts, nothing but facts; no dreams or romance. Looking bac_e can grant them just about the emotions of cucumbers. We remember thei_old, hard features, the prodding after fact, the accumulation of data. Surel_here is no poetry in them.
Yet we must not deny that they have been by far the most potent of all men i_he progress of civilzation. Not even Robold would deny it.
The point is this:
The doctor maintained that from the beginning the progress of materia_ivilization had been along three distinct channels; science, invention, an_dministration. It was simply his theory that the first two should be one; that the scientist deal not alone with dry fact but with invention, and tha_he inventor, unless he is a scientist, has mastered but half his trade. "Th_eally great scientist should be a visionary," said Robold, "and an invento_s merely a poet, with tools."
Which is where we get Charley Huyck. He was a visionary, a scientist, a poe_ith tools, the protégé of Dr. Robold. He dreamed things that no scientist ha_hought of. And we are thankful for his dreaming.
The one great friend of Huyck was Professor Williams, a man from Charley'_ome city, who had known him even back in the days of selling papers. They ha_een cronies in boyhood, in their teens, and again at College. In after years, when Huyck had become the visionary, the mysterious Man of the Mountain, an_illiams a great professor of astronomy, the friendship was as strong as ever.
But there was a difference between them. Williams was exact to acuteness, wit_ot a whit of vision beyond pure science. He had been reared in the old stone- cold theory of exactness; he lived in figures. He could not understand Huyc_r his reasoning. Perfectly willing to follow as far as facts permitted, h_efused to step off into speculation.
Which was the point between them. Charley Huyck had vision; although exact a_ny man, he had ever one part of his mind soaring out into speculation. Wha_s, and what might be, and the gulf between. To bridge the gulf was the lif_ork of Charley Huyck.
In the snug little office in Arizona we find them; Charley with his fee_oised on the desk and Williams precise and punctilious, true to his training, defending the exactness of his philosophy. It was the cool of the evening; th_un was just mellowing the heat of the desert. Through the open door an_indows a cool wind was blowing. Charley was smoking; the same old pipe ha_een the bane of Williams's life at college.
"Then we know?" he was asking.
"Yes," spoke the professor, "what we know, Charley, we know; though of cours_t is not much. It is very hard, nay impossible, to deny figures. We have no_nly the proofs of geology but of astronomical calculation, we have facts an_igures plus our sidereal relations all about us.
"The world must come to an end. It is a hard thing to say it, but it is a fac_f science. Slowly, inevitably, ruthlessly, the end will come. A mere questio_f arithmetic."
Huyck nodded. It was his special function in life to differ with his forme_oommate. He had come down from his own mountain in Colorado just for th_elight of difference.
"I see. Your old calculations of tidal retardation. Or if that doesn't wor_he loss of oxygen and the water."
"Either one or the other; a matter of figures; the earth is being drawn ever_ay by the sun: its rotation is slowing up; when the time comes it will act t_he sun in exactly the same manner as the moon acts to the earth to-day."
"I understand. It will be a case of eternal night for one side of the earth, and eternal day for the other. A case of burn up or freeze up."
"Exactly. Or if it doesn't reach to that, the water gas will gradually los_ut into sidereal space and we will go to desert. Merely a question of the ol_ynamical theory of gases; of the molecules to be in motion, to be foreve_olliding and shooting out into variance.
"Each minute, each hour, each day we are losing part of our atmospheri_nvelope. In course of time it will all be gone; when it is we shall be al_esert. For intance, take a look outside. This is Arizona. Once it was th_ottom of a deep blue sea. Why deny when we can already behold the beginning."
The other laughed.
"Pretty good mathematics at that, professor. Only—"
"That it is merely mathematics."
"Merely mathematics?" The professor frowned slightly. "Mathematics do not lie, Charlie, you cannot get away from them. What sort of fanciful argument are yo_ringing up now?"
"Simply this," returned the other, "that you depend too much on figures. The_re material and in the nature of things can only be employed in a calculatio_f what may happen in the future. You must have premises to stand on, facts.
Your figures are rigid; they have no elasticity. Unless your foundations ar_ermanent and faultless your deductions will lead you only into error."
"Granted; just the point: we know where we stand. Wherein are we in error?"
It was the old point of difference. Huyck was ever crashing down the idols o_ure materialism. Williams was of the world-wide school.
"You are in error, my dear professor, in a very little thing and a very larg_ne."
"What is that?"
"Yes. He's a great little bug. You have left him out of your calculation—whic_e will upset."
The professor smiled indulgently. "I'll allow; he is at least a conceited bug; but you surely cannot grant him much when pitted against the Universe."
"No? Did it ever occur to you, Professor, what the Universe is? The stars fo_nstance? Space, the immeasurable distance of Infinity. Have you neve_reamed?"
Williams could not quite grasp him. Huyck had a habit that had grown out o_hildhood. Always he would allow his opponent to commit himself. The professo_id not answer. But the other spoke.
"Ether. You know it. Whether mind or granite. For instance, your desert." H_laced his finger to his forehead. "Your mind, my mind—localized ether."
"What are you driving at?"
"Merely this. Your universe has intelligence. It has mind as well as matter.
The little knot called the earth is becoming conscious. Your deductions ar_ncompetent unless they embrace mind as well as matter, and they cannot do it.
Your mathematics are worthless."
The professor bit his lip.
"Always fanciful.." he commented, "and visionary. Your argument is beautiful, Charley, and hopeful. I would that it were true. But all things must mature.
Even an earth must die."
"Not our earth. You look into the past, professor, for your proof, and I loo_nto the future. Give a planet long enough time in maturing and it wil_evelop life; give it still longer and it will produce intelligence. Our ow_arth is just coming into consciousness; it has thirty million years, a_east, to run."
"This. That man is a great little bug. Mind: the intelligence of the earth."
This of course is a bit dry. The conversation of such men very often is t_hose who do not care to follow them. But it is very pertinent to what cam_fter. We know now, everyone knows, that Charley Huyck was right. Eve_rofessor Williams admits it. Our earth is conscious. In less than twenty-fou_ours, it had to employ its consciousness to save itself from destruction.
A bell rang. It was the private wire that connected the office with th_esidence. The professor picked up the receiver. "Just a minute. Yes? Al_ight." Then to his companion: "I must go over to the house, Charley. We hav_lenty of time. Then we can go up to the observatory."
Which shows how little we know about ourselves. Poor Professor Williams!
Little did he think that those casual words were the last he would ever spea_o Charley Huyck.
The whole world seething! The beginning of the end! Charley Huyck in th_ortex. The next few hours were to be the most strenuous of the planet'_istory.