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Meanwhile our lively host had uncorked a bottle
of ancient champagne. It might be a century old, he
said, or it might be less. But it was probably the most
absurdly obsolete bottle of champagne in Edinburgh,
and might, he added, be a bit insipid. He had dis-
covered it in his cellar; some previous astronomer had
left it there, and by miraculous oversight it had sur-
vived to be sniffed and inspected by Father Rosary
and finally subjected to the tasting test of his impec-
cable palate for wine. Rivers, who was a good judge
of water, sipped it respectfully and (after admiring
the delicate old glass from which it was fulfilling its
destiny by being at last imbibed) remarked that he'd
never tasted anything like it in his life. Father Rosary
commented on its "solemn stillness", and then, he
alone knew why, began talking about Tennyson. "Do
you young men read Tennyson?" he asked me, and
quoted "Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white"
with the subdued relish of an epicure. The astrono-
mer, however, hadn't much use for poetry. Astronomy
made it seem a bit unnecessary, he thought. "JVbr0
slides the silent meteor on—pretty enough—but if he'd
known what I do about meteors he wouldn't have
put it into a poem."

"But I thought he took a great interest in astrono-
my," I ventured.

"Yes; but he used it to suit his own game of idea-
lizing the universe, and never really faced those
ghastly immensities I'm always staring at," he replied,
revealing for a moment the "whatever brute or black-
guard made the world" outlook which showed itself
in his face when he wasn't cracking jokes with
Father Rosary, whose personality seemed to imply
that Heaven was an invisible Vatican, complete with
library, art-collection, and museum. Rivers, who