Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Chapter 6, A special place

Beswick, went back into the kitchen to see the table set with three bowls, a couple of glasses of pop and a platter full of bread rolls.
Mr. Biggles hopped up onto the table and sat contently, waiting for the other two to sit down. Mr. Featherstone ladled soup into two of the bowls. Mr. Biggles bowl was already filled with chunks of meat and gravy.
"Sit down Master Beswick, sit down"
Beswick sat down beside Mr Biggles, and waited for Mr Featherstone to join them.
The soup was tasty and filling, Beswick sopped up the juices with a plump bread roll.
"You are going back to school soon Beswick., do you find that exciting?"
"Sometimes I do Mr Featherstone, I like to learn new things, but I don't look forward to Cedric and the rest of his bullies." Beswick said.
"Ah yes, the bullies, funny thing about bullies Beswick. they are controlled by chaos, and you know I don't care for chaos. I prefer things in order." Mr Featherstone said. "When things are organized, you can see what is out of place, then if you think about it you can make sense out of what remains, like a puzzle."
"In Chaos, when something is missing, the rest fall apart and go on their own direction.. It may be good to remember that in the future."
"Do you have any friends at school Master Beswick?"
"Yes Mr. Featherstone, Isaac Ramsbottom he is a good friend, he went away this summer to visit his aunt and uncle in the Rocky Mountains. I am sure he will have lots to tell me when he gets home. And there is Abigail Ford, we call her Abby for short. She likes to talk lots." Beswick was thinking of all his other friends at school too, like Billy Johnson, the mailman's son, and Nancy Ridley, her family owned the store. He would meet up with lots of his friends, the summer was fading away fast.
But he did not look forward to the bullies, not at all.
Mr Featherstone cut in "what is your favorite subject Master Beswick" he asked?
"Oh that would have to be science I think" he replied.
"I really like science but I don't care for history too much"
"That is funny Master Beswick, they go hand in hand. Isn't the science you learn at school a records of someone's discoveries, a history?" Mr. Featherstone asked.
"I guess so" Beswick answered" but it is exciting. I can use what I learn in science every day."
"This is true, but the same can be said about history. As a matter of fact the same can be said about anything you learn. Knowledge is a wonderful thing but the real art is knowing how to apply that knowledge, That is wisdom, and that is what separates you from the ordinary people, You are extraordinary Beswick, You have a gift, you see things in a different light. I have seen it in the way you look upon things you have learned. I have been watching you for some time now."
Beswick was smiling, I am extraordinary he thought to himself.
"Many times you will know the correct questions to ask in order for you to understand what you need to know. Like the spectacles for instance. You discovered that crystals now coat the lenses. There will be times, Master Beswick, when you will ask me questions, and I will answer them with a question. I am not being awkward, I am just wanting you to think about the possibilities. There is much to learn in this world and I will sharpen your tools so you can learn it well. We will finish up our lunch, then we will check the library one more time, After that we will be going somewhere very special. Now eat up and we can get going"
The three friends finished off the bread rolls and soup. Mr Biggles licked the last of the gravy from the bowl and jumped over to Beswicks lap. He purred loudly as Beswick rubbed him behind the ears. Mr Featherstone took the dishes and placed them in the dishwasher. He cleared the rest of the table.
They got up and walked into the library. Beswick was still in awe over the number of books in the shelves surrounding the room.
Mr Featherstone scanned the shelves, Everything was in fine order. "I believe we have done a good job here Beswick, Everything in its proper home. Now it is time for us to go to that special place I mentioned." and with a grin Mr Featherstone turned around and marched right back into the kitchen. Mr Biggles scurried behind, stopping every once in a while to look over his shoulder and see if Beswick was following.
The went through the back door and into the back yard, Down the two steps across the flagstones towards the shed. Mr Featherstone turned to the stone wall surrounding the yard and walked over to the big wooden door with the large hinges and the old metal padlock.
we must be going for a walk somewhere in town Beswick thought.
Mr Featherstone took a key from his pocket and placed it in the padlock.
He turned the key, the lock clicked and slipped open. He unlatched the door and swung it back. It was heavy and slow, the hinges didn't creak like Beswick thought they would, the swung slowly open.

Beswick walked towards the door, expecting to go into the alley. But there was another stone wall on the other side of the door. He was puzzled. The wall bust have been about six feet thick, there was a staircase going down inside the wall!
"Come Master Beswick" Mr Featherstone requested as he slipped through the doorway.
Beswick followed, Mr Featherstone waved his arm in front of himself. "Down the stairs lad. I need to close the door after. Mr Biggles will show you the way."
Down the staircase they went, Mr Biggles stopping every once in a while to make surte Beswick was following. It wasn't very bright but the light from the yard was enough to see the steps.
Mr Featherstone closed the door behind them, The stairway went pitch black for just one moment. The stones in the wall started to glow!
Each one a slightly different colour. Some had swirls of colour like the rainbow of oil in a puddle on the street. Beswick was lookind around the staircase, awestruck!
Mr Biggles meowed at the bottom of the stairs There was another heavy wooded door waiting for Mr Featehrstone to open it.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Chapter 5, The Library

Beswick fastened the wheel back on the bike, spun it around and listened to the whirr it made.
He squeezed the breaks and watched the pads rub against the rim. So smooth! he was proud of his achievement. He looked up at Mr Featherstone who was grinning away.

"Come Master Beswick" he said " Leave your bike here until it is time for you to go"
Mr Biggles jumped of the bench and ran ahead of them to the backdoor. Beswick followed them both. They went up the two small steps through the back door and into the kitchen.
Mr Featherstone went down the hall and opened a door on his right. Beswick followed a few steps behind, He entered the room. A Library!
The room was very tall, bookcases covered three walls, the fourth wall had another door and a bay window. In the bay window was a bench. The center of the room had a large oak rolltop desk, each pigeonhole was neatly stuffed with papers. Beside the desk was a very old globe. A large table behind the desk was covered in stacks of books. Old marvelous books with leather bindings.

"There must be more books here than the Public Library" he said,
Mr Featherstone, smiled" Not really Master Beswick, but I do have a better selection that suites my interests. Today you will help me put the piles of books back on the appropriate shelves. Sometimes I get carried away with my research and I let things get a little messy. I don't like chaos, although it is an interesting field of study."
"People study chaos?" Beswick asked.
"Some do Master Beswick, but it is not my cup of tea. I prefer optics, chemistry and physics. I have dabbled in some botany, but I prefer the physical sciences."
I will give you a few minutes to get familiar with the library, I am going to the kitchen to get us each a nice mug of root beer. I can always use something sweet before I start work" he smiled.
Beswick slowly walked around the room gazing at the shelves like a child in a candy store.
There were books on astronomy, botany, chemistry. It seemed like every topic under the sun.
Each one was alphabetized in its own section.
He strolled over to the table, even though the books were piled high he could see Mr Featherstone had them in order. The first stack must have been chemistry.
Growing crystals by professor Justin Marks.
Crystal Recipes.
The growth of Crystals in Zero Gravity. a paper by Dr. J Deans. N.A.S.A.
Magnetism and Crystal growth.
Mr Featherstone came back with two cold glasses of root beer. "Ah, crystals, a fascinating subject" he smiled. "There will always be room for more studying of crystals. There optic properties, how the resonate, how they glow."
"Think of the possibilities Master Beswick, if you could grow crystals that had the exact properties you wanted them to have. To bend light at just the correct amount. To resonate at just the right frequency. To actually amplify light as it passes through the crystal."
Beswick was trying to understand what resonate meant when suddenly a light came on in his head. "Amplify light! Bend it just right! That is how you fixed my glasses isn't it Mr Featherstone? You grew crystals on them, or covered them with crystals. Something like that!"
"Something like that indeed!" Mr Featherstone chuckled. He took a big swig of root beer. "Master Beswick I do think you have the brains of a scientist! Quite remarkable!
Yes that is what we did, coat the lenses with crystals. Not just any crystal but one that will bend the light to the precise spot required for you to see. For anyone to see for that matter. Your glasses will work for anyone Beswick. The light is amplified too. That is why you can see so clearly, so far away."
"You know what is more remarkable Master Beswick. The fact that you discovered that by yourself. I didn't have to tell you. What an extraordinary young man you are!
Drink up Beswick, there is work to be done!"
Beswick gulped the rootbeer down so fast it burned his throat. He let out a big belch! "Excuse me" he exclaimed!
Mr Featherstone belched too! They both laughed out loud.
Mr Featherstone walked over to the table and scooped the pile of books on crystals. He started placing them back on the shelf in alphabetical order.
Beswick took a smaller pile, he looked at the top book. "Rare Earth Magnets". "Hmm he thought to himself. Where would this go" The next book was entitled " Supercooled Electrical Conductors" Beswick took the books and started placing them in the electrical section of the library.
Back and forth they went, scooping piles of books and placing them back on the shelves. Time whizzed by. Before they realized, it was time for lunch!
Beswick had one last stack of books to put away.
Bioluminescence, the Organic Flashlight by Seymour Midnight.
Bioluminescence of Aequorea.
"I have a hard time reading these titles" Beswick said.
Mr Featherstone smiled back. "Yes I was in the dark with that subject once before too" He chuckled at the thought. Beswick was lost it was way over his head.
"Place them in the organic chemistry section. Alphabetically, just like the other books. You don't have to understand the words just yet. We won't have a test until tomorrow" He laughed out loud at the joke he just made, the look on Beswicks face make him laugh even louder!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Chapter 4, Plunk Plunk Plink

Mr Biggles led the way into the kitchen. Beswick looked around the room just as he did yesterday, but today he could read the labels on the jars. Everything was written in Latin. He really couldn't understand a word.
Mr Featherstone pulled a chair from the table. "Sit down Master Beswick" he said " we will discuss the tasks at hand. I believe the first thing would be to repair your bicycle"
"I didn't see it when I came here" Beswick said.
"that's right I took it to the the workshop. Tell me Beswick, have you ever trued a wheel before?"
Beswick looked a little puzzled. "I am not sure, what does true a wheel mean?"
Mr Featherstone chuckled. "It means repair the wheel, make the shape of it a true circle with no wobbles. I think your front bicycle wheel would be a good place to start!"
"Is it hard to do?" Beswick asked.
"No, but it will let me see how patient you are." Mr Featherstone smiled. "Come now Master Beswick, lets get started."
Mr Featherstone got up from the table and started for the back door, Beswick close on his heels and Mr Biggles winding his way between them.
Through the back door Beswick could see a remarkable back yard surrounded by a stone fence. A large wooden door with strong steel hinges led out to the alley. The door was locked with an old iron padlock.
In the corner was the workshop. It was a wooden building with a roof that was staggered.
Along the length of the roof was skylights, The front of the workshop had a heavy wooden door hanging on on overhead track, beside the door was a large wooden barrel filled with water collected from the roof. With the amount of rain that fell in the past weeks the barrel was brimming.
Mr Featherstone slid back the heavy wooden door, there was a workbench up against the far wall of the shed. He had already removed the front wheel from the bicycle and placed it in an old set of forks clamped into a vice. There was an assortment of tools layed out on the bench. Beswick also noticed a piece of chalk, an old rag and a pan of water.
He followed Mr, Featherstone into the shed. Mr Featherstone took a stool down from the rafters and placed it next to the bench
"Master Beswick, sit down her so you can have a close look at the wheel."
Beswick sat down and watched as Mr Featherstone spun the wobbly wheel on the forks.
"See how much the wheel wobbles?" he asked.
"Yes, Mr Featherstone". he replied.
"I am going to take a piece of chalk and put it on the side of the fork, just away from the wheel."
Beswick watched intently.
"As the wheel spins around I will move the chalk closer and closer to the tire, When the chalk touches the tire it will rub only on the wobble" Mr Featherstone told him.
Sure enough there was a white mark only on part of the tire.
"Can you think of why we do this Master Beswick?"
Beswick thought for a minute. "To show where the wobble is" he said.
"Indeed!" Mr Featherstone replied. "And why would we need to know where the wobble is?"
Again there was a pause from Beswick. "If we know where the wobble is then we know what part of the wheel needs fixing?" he answered with the tone of someone unsure.
"precisely!" Mr Featherstone replied." You think like a scientist Master Beswick, open eyes and open mind!"
Beswick grinned, thinking "that must be the way Leonardo thought too"

Mr Featherstone, turned to the bench and picked up a small tool. He turned back to Beswick and asked, "Why do you suppose the spokes on the wheel have square ends?"
Much as Beswick thought and thought, he had no idea!
"I, don't know Mr Featherstone." he said sheepishly.

"Not to worry Master Beswick, you will figure it out soon enough." he smiled.
He placed his finger close to the spokes, resting it on them. A rhythmic plunking sound filled the shed.
Plink, plink, plink, plink, plunk, plunk, plink.
Plink, plink, plink, plink, plunk, plunk, plink.
"Do you hear the sounds? " he asked?
"Yes Mr Featherstone, some spokes sound different." Beswick replied
"That is because some spokes are tighter than others." Mr Featherstone told him.
He then took the small tool and placed it on the square end of a spoke. He gave it a twist and plucked the spoke again. This time the plunk sounded higher.
A light came on in Beswicks face "The square ends are to tighten and loosen the spokes!" he exclaimed.
"Indeed" mused Mr Featherstone. "And why would we do that?
Beswick stopped and had to think rather a long time.
"Why would we need to pull on some spokes more than others? Mr Featherstone asked.
"Oh...Oh... To make the wheel not wobble anymore" Beswick exclaimed.
"Precisely." Mr Featherstone said, handing the tool over to Beswick.
He took a rag soaked it in water and washed away the chalk.
Then he turned to Beswick and said.
"I have given you the tools, and shown you what happens with the chalk and the spoke wrench. You know the object is to make the wheel not wobble anymore. I am going inside to do some chores and I will come back from time to time to see how you are making out. Mr Biggles will keep you company. Now you can get to work and I can see just how much patience you really have." With that he turned around and marched out of the shed.

Beswick looked at Mr Biggles and smiled, He grabbed the chalk, spun the wheel and moved the chalk till it made a mark. Then he stopped the wheel. He plucked the spokes by the mark, one side of the spokes was a dull low plunk, the other side was a high pitched plink.
He place the spoke wrench on the spokes and turned. He made some spokes sound lower and some spokes sound higher. He wiped the chalk off and spun the wheel again. This time when he marked the tire the chalk line was smaller.
"This is easy he thought to himself." Back and forth he went. Chalk, tighten, loosen wipe. Chalk, tighten loosen wipe.
Mr Biggles was sitting on the bench watching him contently. Back and forth Beswick went, his fingers were getting sore from the spokes, but each time he marked with the chalk the marks got smaller and smaller.
Time went by quite quickly for Beswick, Mr Featherstone came back in half an hour to see how he was making out.
Beswick was quite pleased with his progress and was ready to show Mr Featherstone just how well he had done.
He placed the chalk on the side of the tire and spun it around. There was such a small amount of chalk on the tire he knew he was almost done!
Mr Featherstone smiled, he wiped the tire clean and placed the chalk on the other side. A rather large white stripe appeared.
Beswick looked up with a little dissapointment in his eye. Mr Featherstone winked kindly. handed the chalk back to Beswick and said "I will come back in a short time to see how you are making out"
So once more Beswick marked with chalk, tightened, loosened and wiped. This time he did one side of the wheel and then the other. The wheel would be better than new when he was finished.
Half an hour went by and out came Mr Featherstone. Beswick put the chalk and the wrench down. He wipped the tire and stepped out of the way for Mr Featherstone to examine it.
Mr Featherstone spun the wheel very fast, it whirred as it spun. He placed the chalk on one side of the wheel. A white mark spun around the entire tire. He placed the chalk on the other side. Once again the white went all around the tire.
Beswick was shocked. He said" But the marks were getting smaller and smaller!"
Mr Featherstone grinned" Yes, and the wheel now runs true. The chalk markes all of the tire because there is no wobble. Very good work Master Beswick, very good work indeed!"
"I think if we put the wheel back on the bike it will run faster than it ever did before!"

"I sure hope so" Beswick said." I wish I could make it run faster than Cedric and his bullies!"
"Well Master Beswick, we can make the bike go faster than the bullies but I dont think that will help. Sometimes we need to face our problems head on."
"I did that last time Mr Featherstone, and I got a bent wheel and broken glasses."
"That is true Beswick, but you also learned how to true a wheel and your glasses are fixed now, even better than before arent they?" Mr Featherstone replied.
"My glasses, I was going to ask you about that, I can see so much better than I could before. How is that possible?"
"All in good time Master Beswick, all in good time. Today you learned how to true a wheel, there will be lots of time to learn the other lessons I have to teach you, lots of time indeed"