This story was originally written for the Z post of A to Z 2013. As posts in the #flashbackfriday go, it’s probably received more reads than others, but as I come to the end of Camp Nano for another year, with Book 7 of the Princelings of the East series written, and Book 8, well in progress, I realise there’s no place for this vignette, showing Fred at home with his family and his interests. It’s one of my favourites and, of course, pre-dates our interview with Fred and George at the beginning of this month. That’s why there’s going to be a book 9.
In which Crown Prince Fred of Marsh prepares to present his paper at the inaugural Natural Philosophy Summer School 2011
Prince Engineer George watched as his brother paced around the room muttering under his breath. Every now and then Crown Prince Fred would stop, raise his eyes to the ceiling, and either carry on, or lean on a nearby flat surface and change something on the paper he carried in his hand. Sometimes he’d ask George or Princess Kira their opinion on what he was writing.
“Listen to this!” Fred instructed them, and read:
“A continuing theme in our Chronicles is my experimentation relating to topics of natural philosophy and in particular the nature and behaviour of wind. The machines that my brother, Prince Engineer George, set up to record the strength and direction of wind in various places, including Castles Marsh and Buckmore, have produced masses of data. Mapping the wind has been my life’s work. What do you think of that for an opening?”
“Very nice,” murmured Kira.
“Have you described the wind-mapping machines in the paper?” asked George. He received a nod from Fred, so continued, “Well, that’s good then, they don’t need the detail. They could always go out and look at them later.”
Fred nodded some more. “I think I ought to tell them about the nature of wind, but do you think that’s going too far?”
“What are you going to say?” George replied.
“By observation, we can feel that the wind is a movement of air. Exactly what air is I am not going to explore further but state that I am considering it to be a thin fluid, like water but much, much thinner, so we can see through it and can’t actually see it unless there are clouds travelling in it. In fact the clouds could be considered to be a bit like pond weed or muddy water travelling in a river. The Castle in the Marsh is surrounded by water, some of which is contained like a river, so I have used the technical process of Analogy and applied it to my Wind Thinking.”
“That’s a bit boring,” said George.
“They can see Marsh is surrounded by water,” added Kira, who was shaping some woven reeds into more toys for the craft fair she was running alongside the Summer School. They had already proved extremely popular.
“Well, I’ll say something about wind and water, before I say:
“Winds ebb and flow, but not in the pattern of the river, which has a pattern of rising and falling which we theorise is connected to the tides. There are relationships of wind direction to the state of the tide, and also to day and night, but these are overlain by stronger winds which have a mind, direction and season of their own. My theory of the day and night winds is that the wind responds to the warmer place – at night the sea is warmer and the wind goes from the cooling land to the warm sea. During the day the reverse holds true. The trouble is, the direction also changes when the tide is coming in or going out. It all makes for a very confused pattern.”
“Are you sure that’s the right way round?” asked George.
Fred looked at what he’d written and thought about it some more. “Cool air over the sea moves to the warmer land,” he muttered.
“Yes,” he announced, “but of course there’s a time lag. Stronger seasonal winds have their own dominance over these local winds,” he read again.
“Well that’s good,” said George, leaving his diagram of a large biplane that he was working on to look at the wind-maps Fred had framed and propped up against the wall, ready to take to his presentation. “Are you going to show them these maps?”
“Yes, I’m going to tell them about the Gales first, that we get those mainly in spring and autumn, and that Buckmore doesn’t get them much at all, so I suggest that gales are associated with the sea. Then I’m going to tell them about the Howlers and Bracers.”
“The what?” asked Kira, frowning.
“Those cold winter winds. Howlers are the ones from the east that suck the warmth from you. Bracers are the north ones, the ones that bring ice and snow in gusts and blizzards.”
“Oh,” Kira nodded. “Are you going to tell them about zephyrs?”
“Yes, of course. First I do westerlies, though.”
“I’d rather think of zephyrs.”
“Listen. Westerlies are wet winds from any quarter in the west. They occur at any time of year. Some are warmer and some are colder. In summer the rains seem colder, in winter they seem warmer. Perhaps they are the same, year round. My measurements suggest they are much wetter in the west, at Buckmore, than they are here, and I Think that they drop their rain progressively across the country leaving not so much for us in the east.”
“That’s good,” said George. “Do you think anyone’s done any measurement of the warmth of rain?”
“I hope not,” replied Fred.
“Zephyrs are my favourite,” said Kira.
“Mine too. I’ve said so: Zephyrs are my favourite These are soft, warm breezes generally from the west or south. They caress your hair and make you feel that life is worth living.”
Kira sighed as Fred continued, “they are most commonly dominant around the summer solstice, and associate with a settled period of sunny, warm, pleasant weather.”
“I like that,” said George.
“Me too,” said Kira.
“This is how I intend to finish,” Fred continued, pleased with the reaction of his most critical audience. “Prince Engineer George is just beginning to report differences in flying through and above these different winds, and that will be a subject of a report for the next summer school in 2013. Thank you for your attention.”
“Thanks, bro,” George said with a smile. “What if I don’t want to report on them next time? The passenger carrying flying machine should be ready by then.”
“I’d leave out the last bit about thanking them for their attention. It sounds silly,” commented Kira.
“They’ll never remember I said that by next time. Everyone says that, it’s normal. You can always do two papers, anyway,” said Fred answering both of them in one breath.
“It may be normal but it’s still silly.”
“Maybe I’ll just give a demonstration. When are you giving this presentation?”
“Well, you’d better tidy it up and take the maps down then.”
“Oh, gosh, is it that time already? I should have gone to the session before. What’ll I do if people ask difficult questions?”
“You’ll be fine, dear,” said Kira, smoothing his coat, and they helped Fred collect his maps and then escorted him down to the room below. As they arrived, forty eminent Natural Philosophers, Scientists, Engineers and Technologists were applauding Dr Zelli as he completed his presentation on Alternative Approaches to Governance in the Modern World.
“Darn, I wanted to see that!” muttered Fred.
“I spoke to him last night, darling; he’s going to spend a couple of days with us afterwards. You’ll have plenty of time to discuss his ideas. They’re very interesting.”
Fred relaxed and joined the rest of his guests as they milled around in the break, helping themselves to mint tea and biscuits.
“Come on George, let’s leave him to it. He’ll do better without us, I think.”
“Yes, Kira, I think you’re right, although I always like to be with him when he’s in a tight spot. Just for once though, I think I’ll abandon him. How about you and I taking the new flying machine up to catch a few of those zephyrs?”
So they did, with George supervising as Kira gained more hours towards her pilot’s certificate.
(c) Princelings Publications 2013
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