Morning sunlight shined through the train compartment’s window and glinted in the twelve brilliant jewels as Albert swung his treasure back and forth. The stones shimmered like stars in a rainbow of light. A spiral of light seemed to project from the compass and Albert floated up into it and into another dimension of time. Mesmerized, Albert drifted off.
The smell of frankincense woke him. He saw enormous flying buttresses and realized he must be in a Gothic Cathedral. Seated next to him in the pew was a bearded, balding gentleman. He stared at the man watching the swings of a bronze chandelier that hung from the ceiling on a long metal chain and swung back and forth at regular intervals.
After a moment, the man spoke. It was not a language Albert knew, but he somehow understood. “Most interesting, don’t you think?”
“Uh, I’m not quite sure what I’m looking at, sir,” Albert responded.
The man nodded, then said, “Put your hand over your heart for a moment, then touch your wrist with your fingers.”
Albert complied, “Your heart goes bump, bump, yes?” Albert nodded. “And your pulse does the same.”
“It does,” Albert confirmed.
With his arm, the man mirrored the swing of the lamp. “You see, young man? We can measure time with the swing of the .”
It began to dawn on Albert who he was speaking to. Awed, he hesitantly asked, “Would you be, uh, Galileo, sir?”
With a twinkle in his eye, the man nodded, “I must admit I am he.”
Thoroughly intrigued, Albert ask, “Just what are you observing here with the chandelier?”
“We have established that we can measure time, correct?” Albert nodded. “Then remember that and come with me,” Galileo said, setting down a prayer book and motioning for Albert to follow.”
As they strolled outside to a leaning tower nearby. Galileo picked up two rocks, one twice the size of the other. With Albert in tow, he climbed the stairs to the top of the tower. Leaning over the edge, Galileo said, “Watch. I drop them at the same time.”
The rocks fell and both landed together with a distant thump. “See, gravity! You must use gravity with time.”
Albert nodded thoughtfully, then leaned further over the ledge to stare again at the rocks. Suddenly he was falling over the ledge of the tower and came back to awareness in the train car compartment with a jerk.
“I have been with the father of physics,” Albert thought with awe as he put the compass back into his pocket and absently gazed out the compartment window, considering what Galileo had said.
His thoughts were nearly enough to distract him from his worry about how he would be received by his family.
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