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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/846

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

case as a simple expression of the Polly-Lucian shade of character. This is the rule in nine cases out of ten; twins are all but absolutely identical.

Still, there is such a thing as idiosyncrasy, and the reason for its existence is a very simple one. Each separate human being, it is true, is on the average an equal compound of his father and his mother, his grandfathers and grandmothers; but not necessarily or even probably the same compound. Suppose you take a lot of red and white ivory billiard-balls, say a thousand, and cast them down upon the surface of the billiard-board. Let five hundred be red and five hundred white; then every time the total result will be in one sense the same, while in another sense it will be quite different. For there will always be five hundred of each, but the arrangement will never be exactly identical; each throw will give you a new combination of the balls—a combination which will often put a totally different aspect upon the entire picture. Now, in the case of a human being you deal with infinitely more subtile factors, combined in infinitely more subtile fashions. Father and mother have each in their being myriads of traits, both mental and physical, any one of which may equally happen to be handed down to any of their children. And the traits handed down from each may not happen to be by any means always the same in the same family. Though each child resembles equally on the average both father and mother, yet this child may resemble the father in this, and that child in that; each may combine in any possible complexity of intermixture traits derived from either at random.

Here, for example, are an English father with light hair and blue eyes; a Spanish mother with black locks, an iris dark as night, and a full olive-colored southern complexion. Clearly, the children may differ indefinitely in appearance, some with darker eyes, some with lighter; some as men may grow dark-brown beards, and some may have black whiskers and hazel eyes, and clear half-Spanish dusky skin. One may have wavy hair like the mother, yet almost as light in hue as the father's; another may have it rather straight, but dark. Similarly, too, with the features. The forehead and chin may resemble the father, the nose and mouth may rather approximate to the maternal pattern. So, at least, we often say in our folly; but in reality, when we come to examine closely, we see that no single feature, even, owes everything absolutely to one parent only. Those dark eyes may indeed be Spanish in color, with a gleam of bull-fighting in their cruel depths, but they are set in the head after an English pattern, and have an English solidity of Philistine hardness. That pretty little nose may have much of the father in the bridge and the tip, but don't you catch faint hints of the mother, too, in the quivering nostril and the expanded wings? The chin recalls an Andalusian type, to be sure, but the tiny fold of flesh beneath foreshadows the fat double crease of later life derived from that old burly Lincolnshire grandfather. And so on