Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bonding Moment

I totally ganked this idea from Jen's excellent post about bonding moments. Here's a cute one that came to me a couple weeks ago. (Very rough draft.)

From One Highland Night (c) 2007

“Enter.”

Alec poked his head in, grinning like the cat who ate the canary. “Come wi’ me, mo phiseag, I’ve a surprise for ye.” He said nothing further, just turned back the way he came, so she rose quickly and followed.

Once they were out on the street and she pulled level with him, she asked, “Where are we going?”

He still did not answer, though his grin grew—if possible—wider. She followed him through street after street, utterly lost, until suddenly she spotted the spires of St. Mungo’s Cathedral.

“Are you taking me to church?”

“Nae, to University.”

Not knowing what to say to that, she consented to follow him further. They rounded a corner and she saw the buildings of the original Glasgow University [spread out before her]. A steady stream of people was trickling into one building in particular, and it was in that direction Alec steered her. At length they reached a crowded auditorium, where they were consigned to the back of the standing-room-only crowd. She noticed she was the only woman present.

She poked Alec with her elbow and whispered into his ear, “Now will you tell me what’s going on?”

“Just ye bide a moment.”

Then a hush fell over the crowd and she strained to see beyond to the front of the room, where a tall, thin man with a hawkish face and mass of wavy silver hair stood before them.

Oh. My. God. It was Isaac Newton; she’d recognize his face anywhere from all the times his portrait appeared in her physics textbooks. She drew an excited breath, then turned to Alec, beaming. He grinned right back. She would have thrown her arms about him, but for the fact that they were in public, and she wasn’t sure how he would take it. So she merely continued to smile like a fool as she turned her attention back to one of the fathers of modern science.

To her dismay, the lecture was in Latin. But Alec kept up a low running commentary for her, despite censorious looks from some of the surrounding attendees. It was a presentation on the Philosophi√¶ Naturalis Principia Mathematica—Newton’s work published four years earlier in which he stated his famous laws of motion and universal gravitation. She knew the content, of course; any physicist learned it as a foundation of their studies. Still, to hear it presented from the man himself… Wow. Just wow.

At the conclusion of the talk, many went forward to speak with the scientist. Alec captured her hand and drew her to the front. When it was their turn, he bowed formally and said something in Latin to Newton, who turned to her with eyebrows raised. Nevertheless, he clasped her hand in both his own and smiled after her somewhat-stilted curtsy.

A million thoughts and questions raced through her mind, but all she managed to get out was

“Sir, it is an unspeakable honor to meet you.”

“And I am most pleased to have a woman in attendance. MacAlpin here tells me you yourself are a natural philosopher?”

“I…yes…something of the sort.” You have no idea.

“Excellent. Well, you are most welcome to attend any of my lectures in the future.”

“I would be honored.”

Then their time was up and they were moving along as the person behind them stepped up for a moment of Newton’s time. Once outside she squealed and slapped Alec playfully on the shoulder.

“Dear God, how did you manage that? Do you have any idea who that is?”

“So ye were pleased, then?” He was still grinning like a schoolboy. “I came by to speak wi’ one of my former professors, and he told me of the lecture. Ye said you were a natural philosopher, so I thought ye’d enjoy it and came straightaway back to fetch ye.”

“Pleased would be an understatement.” All playfulness aside, she said sincerely, “That was incredible. Thank you.”

They had stopped in the street, and she was looking into his eyes. A current passed between them, one that almost—almost—drew their lips together. Then the moment ended and both of them stepped apart.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Jenny,

Fun scene. :) Building the tension between them, I see...verra nice. (g)

Jen