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A View of Pascal.
It was a thick tome. Large and musty with a grey cover and closely scrawled text, first written in 155 BC. Not what you’d expect to be lying on a five-year-old’s bed, or anyone’s bed for that matter. But, there it was, proudly displayed atop a crumpled baby blue blanket. The only sign of a child in this room was a stuffed dog, its limbs tangled and ears sucked upon. Sacha shook his head in disgust and crossed to the door.
“Etienne! Where’s that son you’re so desperate for me to meet? You know my schedule – I have no time for childish games of Hide and Find Me.”
“I’m so sorry, Monsieur Ines – his governess said he would be in his room… Never mind, he will be here in moments.”
Etienne picked up a silver bell and rang it, a sharp, clear note. A housemaid scurried in, bobbing curtsies wildly.
“Find Blaise. And make sure he is in suitable array.”
Sacha raised his impressive eyebrows.
“Your son tends towards disorder?”
“Non Monsieur. But”- here Etienne paused. “Blaise enjoys his ‘experiments.’ Quite insightful for a boy his age, but they tend do towards chaos.”
Sacha wet his lips daintily and glanced at the book near his chair. It was part of the series from the child’s bed room.
“Yes, one of Blaise’s favorites.”
“He and I are of like mind in that matter…. I remember an amusing anecdote from here pertaining to disorderly experiments.” Sacha thumbed through the pages. “Here it is:
King Hiero II of Syracuse commanded me to commission a crown for his coronation. When it was delivered, Hiero noticed that a single, scrawny messenger carried it. Because he believed that the gold which he had commissioned the crown to made of far too heavy to be carried in such a way, he became convinced that I had stolen some of the gold meant for the crown. In his anger, he published a decree stating that unless I could prove the crown was of purest gold within a day, I would be sold as a gladiator. I was distressed, and hurried to the baths where I often had my most impressive thoughts. Before I got in, I noticed that the water lapped at the bottom of a narrow shelf. When I got in and reached to place my soap upon the shelf, I saw that the water was overflowing it. I got in and out several times, and on each try the water level changed. I had solved how to prove the worth of my crown! I could demonstrate that the crown displaced an amount of water equal to that which the gold provided by thing king would displace! So great was my joy that I ran into the street shouting Eureka! I had stood for some time, deliriously expressing my joy, when I realized that the sun was setting. My day of grace was almost over! Quickly, I dashed to the castle.”
Sacha shut the book.
“After that, it lapses into bland court proceedings that I shan’t trouble you with. The gist is that his proof was generally accepted, and he lived a long and merry life. And his salvation comes from a bath! The epitome of disorderly experiments.”
Etienne smiled weakly, surprised that any hint of humor still inspired this dour scholar. He opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the arrival of a sopping wet maid. In her arms wriggled Blaise, his son and heir, his brightest child, tearstained, wet, and clutching their grandmother’s heirloom tiara. Etienne’s face turned red with anger.
“What are you doing? Did I not tell you to prepare for Monsieur Ines?”
There was a long and ominous pause. Then Sacha let out a long, rasping, chuckle.
“Recreating this experiment, Blaise?”
He opened Archimedes to the page he had just read from.
“Yes Sir. My sister Gilberte said that this tiara was a worthless piece of painted iron. Jacqueline said it was not, but Gilberte wouldn’t believe her. That made Jacqueline cry, so I said that I could prove that it was truly pure silver. I saved it for when you would come, as Father said I ought to show the result of one of my experiments.”
“Smart boy you have here. Too much and too lively an imagination for my sort of school, however. As you said, he appears to have an affinity for chaos.”
Etienne opened his mouth to reply. Before he could, Sacha rose, neatly tucking his hat beneath his arm.