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The door was not notable. Made of pocked brown wood, it lacked a door knob, and the hinges were white with rust. Nwoye shook his head- incredulous – material for power was found in such odd places. The door was locked by a chain passed through the socket intended for the door knob. There was no other protection against intruders. Could a man regarded as a genius really be so idiotic? Apparently so. Nwoye shrugged slightly and inserted a pin into the dusty padlock. After a moment of intense concentration, Nwoye managed to jab a miniscule lever. The lock clicked smoothly and fell to the floor. The door creaked softly, revealing a room which uncannily reminded Nwoye of his own. The floor was littered with papers, sketches and writing alike, as was the wide desk shoved into a corner. The other furniture consisted of an old leather chair beside the desk, and tumble-down bedstead piled high with blankets. Out of these protruded a foot. Nwoye laughed lightly, and crossing to the bed tore off the coverings.
“What? Huh? Millicent? It’s too early to clean my room. I’m tired……”
A bewildered Robert Fulton stared, blinking slowly. Nwoye laughed.
“Hello, Fulton. Ha! I know your name, but I don’t believe you know mine. Allow me to introduce myself.”
“I am Nwoye Aokeli.”
Fulton was still to drowsy to realize the singularity of the situation.
“Nwoye? Nwoye. Hmmm…. I can’t see you properly - fetch a light. There’s a boy.”
Nwoye lit a stubby candle from the desk.
Then Fulton comprehended the situation. His eyes widened, and his hand groped wildly as if searching for a weapon.
“What are you doing in my home?” And the with a shake of his head, “And what sort of name is Nwoye?”
“I could return the compliment with regards to Robert as well. As for what I am doing, I’m here to offer a trade.”
Nwoye extracted a closely scrawled document from his coat. Fulton took it.
“What’s this, now? Well my-! Hmm…. Yes, that sounds like him.”
Robert Fulton smiled.
“Have you any proof that this is genuine?”
“Check the seal.”
He turned the page over and ran an uncut nail over the paper.
“Ah! It is! ‘Fitch’s Treatise on Steam, and It’s Potential.’ This combined with my work…”
Fulton crossed to his desk in one fluid motion, tossing the remaining bedding on the floor.
“Wait! We yet to discuss my half of the deal.”
Fulton looked irritated. Now that he had the material, his sole wish was to study in peace.
“Right. What did you want?”
“Your prototype torpedoes.”
“I will need that back then.”
Fulton stared greedily at the paper in his hands.
“You don’t understand. Torpedos can start and end wars. I can’t simply give them away.”
“No more can I ‘simply give away’ priceless documents.”
“Please. Anything else – even my submarine design.”
“My paper, if you please.”
Fulton had a rapid war with his common sense. His hand clenched and his tongue protruded as he weighed his options. In the end his love of knowledge won.
Fulton opened a drawer and handed Nwoye a thick envelop. After skimming its contents, Nwoye tucked it into his coat.
“Thank you. I’ll leave you to your studies. I hope I can trust to your silence as to where you got this paper?”
“Yes, yes, of course. Now go - leave!! And - don’t use the torpedos here in France, alright?”
“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. We shall see. Now, good evening.”
Fulton rose to reclaim his papers. Before Fulton reached the door however, Nwoye was gone. The hallway was empty and dark, his room deserted. The only proof of the meeting was the flimsy paper in his hand. The flimsy paper that would make him famous. If all went as planned he could be gone with a fortune before the torpedos were finished. He grinned to himself, and shut the door.