Once Joly arrived in Musichetta's apartment, he began to think that the whole come-upstairs-and-read-creepy-apocalyptic-poetry idea was really just a pretext for something far more interesting. He formed this impression when, after Musichetta had lit several candles, she very playfully took the ends of his scarf in either hand and said, "The color brings out your eyes marvelously, but why not take it off and stay—"
Feuilly banged on the wall.
"Ignore that," said Musichetta. Joly was very happy to do so, and put his arms around her waist, with a quizzical half smile. She did not protest.
Feuilly, however, did.
"Go to hell, Feuilly!"
He did not. He stuck his head through the bookshelf instead. "Oi, Musichetta."
"Feuilly, Musetta doesn't live here anymore. This is no longer hell. Get your head out of my room."
"So this is stargazing is it?" Feuilly asked, looking pointedly at Joly, who removed his arms from around Musichetta's waist.
"We went to the Observatoire earlier," said Musichetta.
Joly picked up the telescope case from where he had put it on the floor. "We're high enough up—I think you can at least see the moon from here. Would you like to borrow this?"
Feuilly looked extremely tempted. "Ah…."
"Yes, take it back to your room," said Musichetta, taking the case from Joly and pointedly putting it on the bookshelf.
"No, you need it," replied Feuilly. "Just point it at the street rather than the sky."
"Your poet's come back again."
"Oh, has he?" Musichetta unlatched the window and peered out, one hand resting on the sill. "He… oh my God. What is he doing?"
"Handstands," replied Feuilly.
Then, Musichetta said, with utmost horror, "What the hell is he wearing?"
Joly looked over Musichetta's shoulder. In a fit of Romantic nonconformity, Jehan had decided that he was going to dress like a Turkish sultan. Why he had chosen to interpret this as a much-too small vest of hideous purple brocade with orange piping and red buttons, a pair of truly awful yellow trousers much too big for him and tied oddly at the ankle, so that the hems of his trousers flared out, no cravat or coat, and a lump of fabric tied to his head in what Joly thought was supposed to be a turban, was one of those grand mysteries of life, like is light a wave or a particle, or how does Grantaire know to show up every time someone opens a bottle of brandy?
"He wore a perfectly respectable overcoat yesterday and the day before," said Musichetta, transfixed by the sight of the vest. "I mean, a decade out of fashion, but well-cut, black not… does he dress like this all the time?"
"That's the worst I've ever seen him," said Feuilly, eyeing the telescope case. "Are you going to set that thing up?"
"Might as well," Joly said gloomily. He took the telescope out of its case and began to set it up by the window, in the vague hope of either distracting Musichetta, or providing a reason not to look at Jehan's latest fashion disaster.
Musichetta stared at Jehan, utterly transfixed. "It… oh, it just gets worse the longer I look at it. Jolllly, you know him?"
"Euh, yes, he's a friend of mine. His name's Jean Prouvaire, but he went through a fit of medievalism in the middle of the semester and asked everyone to start calling him Jehan."
"Oh God. He was dressed up like Mozart when he played the flute, but I thought it was just a costume. You mean he goes out in public dressed like that? He wears… that to class?"
"Well, not the turban," said Joly, adjusting the legs of the stand.
Musichetta collapsed into a chair. "He's a bohemian. Oh God. And an Orientalist at that." She looked over at her wall with the ravages of a fit of Romanticism could still be seen beneath the plaster. "Oh no."
"He's got an oriental disemboweling knife tied to his waist, too," said Feuilly, coming in. "Citizen Joly, is he drunk?"
"Sometimes it's hard to tell," Joly said, honestly. "He's not really a bohemian, though; he doesn't live in voluntary poverty."
"So you mean he actually pays for those… clothes?" Musichetta asked, looking at Joly with such horror Joly coughed to avoid answering the question straight away. "He doesn't have to buy things second hand? He actually chose to buy that vest? He actually made someone sew it?"
"Ah… it seems like it."
Musichetta groaned and buried her face in her hands. "A bohemian! I thought I was done with them! Oh no, it's nothing to throw your sewing scissors out the window, just because they felt like it, or to start singing arias when you're hung over and just want to sleep on a Saturday morning, or to take your curling iron with them overnight because property ownership is just a stuffy bourgeoisie notion, or to set your copy of Don Juan on fire because they really wanted it to be full of incendiary wit!"
"I take it Musetta was a bohemian," said Joly, screwing the telescope in place.
Musichetta gave a hollow laugh and looked up. "Oh, you don't know the half of it. I like a bit of fun, and I'd say I'm adventurous enough but you ought to at least warn a girl before you decide to have a naked string quartet in your shared apartment. What the hell was she going to do with four men anyways? Two I understand, two I approve of, but four? And one of them was old and fat and just… ugh! I never needed to see him playing at Adam before the fall."
"How did she not get kicked out of here?" asked Feuilly, eyeing Jehan with the air of someone trying to figure out the cause of a massive carriage pile-up.
"She always had someone paying her rent," Musichetta replied. "The landlady grumbled, but as long as Musetta kept paying, it didn't matter. We were up in the garret and weren't going to bother the first-floor tenants. Oh God, I need a drink." She went to the cupboard and pulled out a bottle of gin and three cups.
"I think that he realized you're home now," said Feuilly, who was still staring out the window.
Musichetta tossed back of cup of gin. "I don't want to see this. I just don't. It was bad enough when he was across the street—"
"The violet brocade sort of gleams in the lamplight," said Feuilly. "It's like looking at an oil spill, almost. Is Citizen Prouvaire color-blind, do you think?"
Musichetta dazedly gave each of them a cup, without thinking to fill them first, and went to hide her head under a pillow. "First time I get poetry in my honor and he has to be a bohemian."
Joly took out his flask of brandy and served them all, since Musichetta was too busy hiding from Jehan's bizarre wardrobe to share the gin. "As someone who is going to be a doctor, I advise a little medicinal brandy. It's the only way you're going to make the vest slightly less awful. It's… I don't know what Jehan was thinking. I'm not sure if he was thinking. This is one of the oddest things he's ever done, and he's done some odd things before."
"Euh… he dragged me into the catacombs once, so he could get a skull."
Musichetta sat straight up, the pillow sliding off and taking several hairpins with it. "A skull?"
"He wanted to drink out of it," said Joly.
"Give me the flask," said Musichetta and, since her hair was half-down, Joly could not think of doing anything but exactly what she wanted.
"Fair muse, my Juliet, will you let me look upon you?" Jehan called, righting the wad of fabric on his head meant to be a turban. Joly decided that the telescope needed more adjusting and fiddled with it in lieu of making the situation any more awkward than it already was.
Musichetta thrust the flask at Feuilly, moving him back, stuck her head out the window. "Monsieur Prouvaire, I am deeply flattered, but please go home and change."
Jehan was trying to remember the rest of Romeo and Juliet, however, and did not listen. His English was not very good, however, and his translation was therefore halting. "What light from… yonder breaking window… in the east… is the sun—"
"Look, this is really very sweet of you," said Musichetta, in some desperation, "but there's no need to…just please, no." She pulled her head back in. "God, I can't look at that any longer. Just to think that someone had to sit down and sew that- that god-awful insult to fabric, taste, the Orient and whichever grisette was unlucky enough to land the order!"
Jehan apparently interpreted Musichetta's inability to look at his vest as natural modesty, quite fitting in the muse inspiring him to higher flights of poetry, and began to recite one of his own poems, which, as per usual, had a startling high body count.
"You, euh… you can see Venus," said Joly, fiddling with the telescope. "Want to see, Citizen Feuilly?"
"Didn't think anything could outshine that vest," muttered Feuilly, bending down to look through the telescope. "Hunh, there it is. Is this thing strong enough to let you see the craters in the moon?"
"Only indistinctly. If you would allow me? Thank you." Joly swung the telescope around. "There's the moon and… oh, there's an end of our tour through Elizabethan England and contemporary France. We have now landed in ancient Rome." He offered his position in front of the telescope to Feuilly, who accepted eagerly.
Joly, deprived of distraction, half-listened to Jehan's Latin verses. "That's… hunh."
"What?" asked Musichetta, looking apprehensive.
Joly pretended to see a smudge on the body of the telescope and buffed it with his handkerchief. "Euh, it's, ah… Catullus. Veranius, being superior to all… oh, this is the one where Catullus takes Veranius by the neck and kisses him on the lips after he comes back from Spain."
"Catullus?" Musichetta asked.
"No, euh, Veranius. They're both men."
Musichetta bolted to the window and leaned past the telescope to shout, "You really don't have to do this!"
"I know," said Jehan, "but I want to." This meant, of course, that there was absolutely no stopping him and he continued on serenely, now threatening to sodomize anyone who thought he was floofy for writing love poetry.
"I can't help but think he chose the wrong poet," said Joly, as Musichetta mimed beating her head against the wall. "I mean, Jehan's taste runs to end-of-the-world type stuff, so he's probably reciting the love poetry he learned back when he first started in on Latin, since he knows no others—"
"Comparing Musichetta to a man is the wrong tactic," agreed Feuilly.
"That and Catullus is, euh…."
"A vulgar, mean-spirited bastard hung up on Lesbia, but willing to kiss his friends and threaten to rape anyone who displeases him?"
Musichetta grimaced and took a hearty swing from Joly's flask, which Feuilly had placed on the window sill. "Now, normally, I have nothing against two men kissing. I rather like the mental image. If that painter of Musetta's fantasized about me and Musetta together, why can't I fantasize about him and his friend the philosopher?"
"That is one of the most original applications of gender equality I've heard of," said Joly.
"Well, why shouldn't it be true? We're all equal in imagination, if not in actuality."
"We can be equal in scientific discovery," Joly pointed out, sitting down on Musichetta's bed, as Feuilly had taken one chair, to be able to look through the telescope without giving himself a backache, and it looked like Musichetta was about to collapse into the other. "It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman when you try to find the answers. I mean, du Châtelet found out more than Voltaire. It's just the application of natural laws. I think everyone ought to have equal access to the materials, so they can experiment and find the truth themselves. The discovery on your own is just as important as the truth itself. I mean, I'm all for objective truth, but it loses something if you don't make it true for you and find a way to apply it."
"Amen to that," said Feuilly, turning from the telescope to sort-of smile at Joly.
"I think it can work both ways too," Joly went on, as Jehan reached a particularly vulgar bit of verse. "As Voltaire has it, one must cultivate one's own garden. By self-cultivation, we can turn our own little patches into paradise, enter into the community with that scrap of heaven, and combine it all together to recreate Eden. Subjective truth becomes objective, then. It's all in the application and combination."
"If only he didn't apply his truth by reciting erotic poetry in Latin outside my window while wearing that vest," said Musichetta, dragging her chair over to Joly, and turning it so that she faced away from the window. "What's worse, homoerotic, vulgar, vaguely threatening Latin poetry."
Feuilly scratched at his sideburn. "My Latin's a little rough, but did I hear the phrase 'lowest part of her loins'? And… hunh, honey-sweet Juventius. That's another man, isn't it?"
"I wouldn't mind it if my land lady wasn't leaning out her window to listen," Musichetta said, managing to find her point again. "Honey-sweet Juventius can go to hell. Oh God, I'm going to get kicked out."
Joly managed to catch Musichetta before she toppled face-first to the ground in despair. She rested her head in his lap and did not complain when Joly very tentatively stroked her hair. "Jolllly, you're acceptably eccentric. I think it's charming that you get so enthusiastic about Arago and make hot air balloons. Besides, you just keep it to a very flattering scarf, not a turban and the ugliest piece of clothing any grisette in the history of Paris has had to sew."
"I suppose I ought to take that as a compliment," Joly said, a little doubtfully. "I should get it tattooed somewhere, 'Musichetta knows I am not stupid enough to wear a turban'."
"Just as you ought," replied Musichetta, albeit to his knee. "Though, I do realize saying that you know better than to order a purple brocade vest with orange trimmings is not the greatest compliment anyone could receive. Feuilly am I hallucinating, or has he stopped?"
Feuilly got up to go look out the window. "He's taking out a… what-d'you-call it. It was in Zaire."
"A zither?" Musichetta demanded, horrified. "He could barely play the flute!"
"That's a damn sight better than he can play the zither," replied Feuilly, as Jehan twanged some of the strings. Musichetta hid her face against Joly's knee, and clutched at his free hand for comfort. Joly grew somewhat emboldened and ran his thumb across her knuckles. She had such lovely, small hands.
"Oh fair Muse, let my voice be pleasing unto thee," Jehan began, strumming the zither in accompaniment.
It very obviously wasn't. Musichetta groaned and pushed herself off of Joly's lap. "This has got to end." She leaned out of the window, careful not to bang into the telescope. "Monsieur Prouvaire, I really am flattered, but haven't you indulged me enough?"
"The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom," Jehan said. "If music be the food of love, play on, let me have surfeit of it—"
"No, let's not have surfeit of it," Musichetta said desperately. "There is no need for surfeit of it!"
"No need, perhaps, but the desire?"
Musichetta leaned her forehead against the side of the windowsill. "I have no desire to hear more of the zither!"
"Neither do I!" piped in one of her neighbors.
"No desire?" asked Jehan, gaping at her. "Surely your soul is not so shackled as all that?"
"My chief desire at the moment is to set that vest on fire," muttered Musichetta. "Oh God, I am too drunk to stand without support and I'm still not drunk enough to look at that vest."
"Let your soul be freed by the application of art! Let my poetry unlock the shackles so cruelly imposed upon you by society—"
"Oh please no," said Musichetta. "Having some sense of decorum is not being shackled. Realizing that there are some desires you ought not to indulge—" she eyed Jehan's vest with distaste "—or indulge in only in private is not being shackled."
"Better stab an infant in its cradle than to nurse unacted desires," Jehan protested.
"Do you really want me to set fire to your vest?" Musichetta demanded.
Jehan did not seem to know how to react to this and had to think a moment. "If you really wanted to, that's fine. I suppose it would be exciting, to see the conflagration of societal limitations of self-expression, and this has grown rather too small for me. I used to wear it under an incroyables coat—oh, I could get you an early 1800s muslin gown, I have a wonderful supplier, and you would look just like a merveilleuse if you trimmed your hair! We would match."
"As a merveilleuse! I—what the hell are you thinking? Are you thinking? Never mind, I give up. I'm going to drink myself asleep."
Feuilly had work in the morning, so he drank with them only until he tired of looking through the telescope and Jehan tired of getting with garbage from Musichetta's neighbors. At that point, Jehan went home and Feuilly went back to his room to sleep. Musichetta then took out the poems Jehan had been sending her and showed them to Joly. "I begin to think all his ranting about desire is only about his, and not anyone else's."
"In his defense, Jehan still has a cold," said Joly, shuffling through the poems. "One is always a little self-absorbed when one has a cold."
"Some of them are just odd too. End of the world, yes, I understand, he's a man, he likes to see things getting blown up, even if he contains his raptures in alexandrine couplets. The light imagery is beautiful, the classical allusions are apt, if a little odd, but his symbolism... God, I couldn't even understand it when I was sober. What, exactly, am I supposed to symbolize?"
"I think," said Joly, after skimming through the first few stanzas, "that we have to return to the empirical evidence, or else we'll just get bogged down in the body count and the foreshadowed romantic apocalypse. I don't know, perhaps I'm showing the deficiencies of an Enlightenment education, but I cannot always understand all his heady flights of Romanticism."
"No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking."
Joly searched his memory for a suitable witticism. "One merit of poetry few persons will deny. It says more, and in fewer words than in prose. Though, euh, this is ten pages long, so... perhaps not."
"Alas, Voltaire cannot stand against the onslaught of Romanticism." She shook her head. "What, exactly, does he think I am?"
"A symbol of the People, I think."
Musichetta tilted her head to the side, her gaze somehow teasing in its curiosity. "And what do you think I am?"
Joly smiled, rather ashamedly. "Musichetta Poquelin. I'm sorry, no imagination, or rather, a misapplied one. I get bogged down in particulars and once you have to dissect a person, it's hard to idealize anyone. People are people and have odd mooshy bits inside them. You're... well, you're Musichetta and you don't mind when I get excited over magnets and have a literary mind and lovely hands and the eyes of a fortune teller." Then, without really realizing what he was saying until after he had said it, "You're a thoroughly fascinating woman and one with whom I could see myself falling quite dangerously in love."
At that point, Joly turned a very bright pink, realized he had just ruined any chance he might have had and began stammering incoherently. Somehow or another, he managed to grab his overcoat, hat, scarf and walking stick and bolt out the door, down the stairs and out of the house without breaking a limb or dying of embarrassment.
He was considering whether it would be more embarrassing to chase down a cab or to run back to the Latin Quarter when he heard an amused, "Jolllly!"
Joly glanced up automatically and saw Musichetta leaning on her windowsill, not quite smiling, but not looking offended either. Joly buried his face in his scarf so that she wouldn't see that he was still a very ugly shade of pink. Damn the lamp and damn his father's northern genetic heritage. He wasn't a swarthy fellow like Bahorel; whenever he got embarrassed, everyone could tell.
"Joly, will you come again tomorrow?"
Would he...? Were his ears working correctly? Joly pulled his scarf away from them and experimentally rubbed one to be sure. She... she really had asked him to come again tomorrow, even though he was an insane failure of a medical student with no impulse control and no imagination. He started to smile again. "I... euh...."
"You could show me du Châtelet's experiment."
"I... right. If you want me to come?"
"As long as you dress appropriately and promise to speak in prose. Besides, you left your telescope here. Come back for it tomorrow."
She shut the window after that and Joly, about an hour later, found himself in the Café Musain without having made any conscious decision to walk back to the Latin Quarter, and without any memory of actually walking back. Though on any other day this would disturb him to the point of hysteria over the state of his health, fevers, the miasmas of Paris and the spread of contagion from the poor people who had the misfortune to be his patients, Musichetta wanted to see him again, so Joly took this with uncharacteristic aplomb, checked his tongue in his hand mirror only once, and then went to find Bossuet and buy him a drink.
The next day, Joly scarcely paid attention to his lecture and managed to get through his dissection lab only by the grace of God, some rambling on Hahnemann's theories of magnetic homeopathy and Saint-Hilaire's explanation of the carotid artery, and the unexpected incompetence of the students next to him, who had somehow managed to send the heart they were trying to diagram shooting off their dissection tray and into the professor. As soon as he had washed the blood out from underneath his fingernails, Joly bought a crystal prism (or rather, a chandelier pendant in the right shape), stuffed every thermometer he owned into his pockets, bewildered Combeferre by showing up at his apartment and demanding any thermometer Combeferre owned and then answering the question, "what do you need them for?" by holding up the chandelier pendant and grinning like an idiot.
When he had made his way up the stairs, Musichetta tied the pendant to a bit of string as Joly very carefully tried to get the thermometers to stick to the wall. He ended up just pasting them to the wall, as Musichetta told him that Musetta had put up the god-awful wallpaper and she had been meaning to take it down anyways.
"By the by," said Musichetta, glancing at him over her shoulder, "Feuilly seemed rather impressed with your theories on education."
"Euh? They're really Combeferre's. I'm more a doctor than a scientist—I take what someone else has already discovered and try to apply it as best I can to heal anyone in need of it."
"You've been convincing him to join your… study group, as it is?"
"The education of a society and a people," said Joly, absent-mindedly. "We are more than your average study-group, as Courfeyrac likes to point out. We concern ourselves with the liberation of mankind, not just the education of children."
"Through the application of science?"
"And posters, pamphlets, poems—anything we can, really. Combeferre and I volunteer at a clinic near Gobelins, that's where we met Feuilly, and Enjolras, he's our chief, though he sort of—I don't quite know how to describe it. He's the best kind of leader there is, keeping order without crushing creativity. He knows us quite thoroughly and pulls the best out from behind our flaws without ever bullying or forcing an issue. He has the same effect on everyone, and he's always doing something. I don't know how he does it- he sees where the ideal is in the world and he helps us all figure out ways to bring it out into the open. There we are, all set up." Joly stepped back, hands still outstretched and slightly above the thermometers to make sure said thermometers would stay in place. "There, that ought to do it. And… is that leprosy on my hand? Ah no, just the prism. I'm surprised my calculations actually worked out."
Musichetta laughed. "You are absolutely darling. Step out of the way and come watch with me."
Joly did so, and the two of them stood to the side of the window, watching the sunlight, divided into all its parts, each part as beautiful and brilliant as the whole, make a graceful ascent up the wall. "Thank you."
"I ought to thank you. I have never met anyone quite like you."
Joly made a face. "How kindly you phrase it."
"Kindness has nothing to do with it." She added to this a smile so wicked that Joly got hopelessly flustered and started to blush. He was conscious of a sudden happiness he could not quite control—she genuinely liked him, despite all his eccentricity and odd obsessions and compulsions, she liked him and Joly was absolutely wild for her. He was not entirely sure how he had fallen so hard and so fast, but he there he was, positively in love, and she liked him, she honestly liked him and—and there was the rainbow, drifting ever upwards towards the thermometers—
"Oh, it's almost there," Joly said, in some surprise.
The rainbow crept slowly up the wall. Musichetta seized Joly's hand. Joly was almost wild with joy, but could not bring himself to look at Musichetta and see if she had done it unthinkingly. Instead he focused on the slow ascent of the rainbow and thought it the most marvelous thing he had ever seen in his life. He was so incredibly happy his cheeks almost ached from smiling. There was nothing so wonderful in the world as that slow upward climb of light, the sudden squeeze from Musichetta's hand as it hit the thermometers, the rising temperatures even on the thermometer next to the red bar of light, Musichetta's happy, "Oh, Jolllly, it worked!" and the feel of her arms around his neck as the temperature of the infrared light increased and proved to all the world that Emilie du Châtelet was right and there was more wonder to the world than could ever meet the eye.
Into this moment of scientific geekery bordering on ecstasy came Prouvaire's voice and a lilting, "She walks in beauty like the night/of cloudless climes and starry skies/ and all that's best of dark and bright/meet in her aspect and her eyes—Jolllly?"
Joly had leaned out the window, too happy to contain himself, and waved ecstatically at Jehan. "Hallo!"
Jehan, today wearing a knock-off Byronic outfit, frowned. "You look happy. Why?"
Jehan clearly did not know how to react. He shielded his eyes to get a better look at Joly and said, a little uncertainly, "You mean... hm, I cannot quite grasp onto your symbolism. You have passed out of the darkness of societally-imposed thought, or have opened your eyes to the truth, or—"
"I just mean light!" Joly cried, leaning further out the window. "Musichetta and I have been recreating du Chatalet's experiment on the temperature of colored light when white light is divided into colors through a prism, and there's a shade that we cannot see that still has a rising temperature! Isn't it marvelous? There's this whole other part of light that we cannot see, but that we can understand!"
"Oh Joly, how could you?" Jehan demanded. "You are taking the mystery out of the universe and vivisecting it until there's nothing left of dead pieces of what was once alive and sublime—"
"You don't understand at all," said Joly, much aggrieved. "By studying light, you take nothing away from it; you kill nothing in understanding what it is and how it works and what makes it what it is. You love it the more because you know; you personally know what it is about light that makes it so sublime! It's an objective truth that loses nothing in becoming a subjective reality."
"It's an objective truth, Jehan! Anyone can find out that there's a color we can't see. Well, I suppose anyone can read a poem too, so there's probably some truth in writing and all, but it's so democratic, science! The result's the same for everyone if it's true. Everyone feels light; everyone sees its effects and anyone can find out just why it is the wonderfully sublime thing that it is! Oh, isn't it marvelous? It's light!"
Musichetta was laughing, probably at him, but Joly was too happy to care. He pulled himself out of the window and turned to smile at her, hitting his head against the prism as he did so, and causing the rainbow to swing across her lovely, lovely face. Joly felt a delicious, delirious surge of happiness.
"Joly, you are too darling," she said, with such a smile. Joly wanted to keep her smiling forever. She held out her pretty hands to him, streaked with color from the prism and Joly was reminded of how, when he was a child, he used to love being in church just to sit under the stained glass windows and watch the colors drift across the floor and over all the parishioners. Joly was almost afraid to take her hands, but he did, and they were warm and soft in his own.
"I have another experiment for you," said Musichetta. "You mentioned yesterday a rather... interesting hypothesis as to the composition of one Musichetta Poquelin."
Joly felt himself blushing. "I, euh... yes, I believe I did."
"I think it's a worthwhile one," she replied, her beautiful dark eyes laughing up at him, "and I think you ought to pursue it. You never know the truth of something until you test it. That isn't to say I mean to make the process easy for you; any scientist ought to prove himself before embarking on an experiment of this magnitude. One never ought to be flippant when one experiments with the heart."
"Ha, euh, right," said Joly, whose ability to speak or think rationally had completely disappeared in a wave of overwhelming happiness.
"But... perhaps you ought to gather some empirical evidence?" She tilted her face up and Joly, having absolutely no control of his impulses what-so-ever, leaned down and kissed her.
He would have liked to have thought something poetic, like 'she tastes of love' or 'the kiss tasted of victory', but he was not thinking at all when he kissed her and Joly was too terrified of ending his sudden happiness and offending Musichetta to do anything involving tongues or tasting. He was quite simply happy.
And then, when he got embarrassed and pulled back to stammer incoherently at her, Musichetta told him, with a delightfully wicked smile, that one never knew the veracity of a conclusion until one had performed the same experiment multiple times and gotten the same result.
Before Joly hurtled headlong into bliss and shut off his brain completely, he thought, rather giddily, that Condorcet was right, the progress of science was the progress of humanity, one layered, wonderful search for understanding and the unexpected discovery of happiness.