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Page 199

PART III - THE PAST
CHAPTER VI - VOLTAIRE'S LABORATORY

1. HOW THEY WEIGHED FIRE
DURING the spring of i737 the iron foundries in a remote district of Lorraine were often visited by a thin middleaged man with a notebook. He would weigh out two pounds of iron, have them heated till they were red-hot, and then weigh them again. He repeated the experiment, increasing the amount until he had weighed up to a thousand pounds. Three cauldrons were next prepared under his directions, they were placed on scales, so that their weight could be estimated, and then molten metal was poured into them from the furnace, a hundred pounds into the first cauldron, thirty-five pounds into the second, twenty-five into the third, and when the cauldrons were cold the mass was weighed again. As the title of this article suggests, the thin, middle-aged man is Voltaire, but what on earth is he doing in an iron foundry ? Wait a minute. Here comes a still more remarkable figure.
The newcomer is a lady of about thirty, with a long thin face, a commanding nose, and greenish eyes. Her appearance is masculine but not mannish ; in spite of her earnest mien she is gay and charming, she dresses well, and is very kind-hearted. It will be easy to make fun of her. For she, too, holds a notebook in her hand, in which she enters the weights of the hot and cold iron. She is quite as keen as Voltaire, arrti even more serious. She has taken up science, not because it is fashionable and brings her into contact with celebrities, but because she hopes to discover the nature of the universe. Facts, facts ! A theory may come later-if there is one. She gives up acting, dancing, games, in order to do experiments. Voltaire calls her 'divine Emilie.' She is his mistress, Madame du Chdtelet, and she owns Cirey, the great house where he is stopping.
On returning to Cirey, the investigators separate, and Voltaire goes to his own suite, which contains half a dozen ground-floor

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