Dunstable, June 1862
For the third day, Jason spent the morning working with Stephan on the water heater. Stephan was truly gifted in designing the heating element. He added features that increased gas flow, made better mixtures of gas and air, vented better and moved more water. Jason worked on the equations to determine how long the tubes should be. But Stephan’s estimates were right nearly every time. Jason’s work progressed, but remained largely theoretical. The turbine design seemed complete. The solenoid switch was very basic. He couldn’t be sure that the turbine would produce enough electricity to make the solenoid work. As he worked the equation to see if enough current would be produced, he heard Stephan say loudly “Break.”
Jason looked up at the clock. “I’ve just got to finish this calculation. I don’t know if the turbine will produce enough electricity for the solenoid to work.”
“Lad. I said ‘break’ and I am not used to being ignored,” the comment came out in a growl.
“If you keep working on those equations, I shall have you cleaning beer vats the entire afternoon. “
Jason protested and waved at the kitchen.
“The vats need to be cleaned. It will build character. Jolene will forgive me when I tell her why. In fact I might have you do them anyway,” Stephen looked in the direction of the beer room and rubbed his beard.
“I’m stopping,” Jason said in mock resignation and sat back from the table.
“That’s more like it. Now relax and I’ll get us something – coffee or tea?,” Stephan asked.
“Coffee, please” Jason said. He had acquired the taste over the past two weeks at that pub.
“I’ll make a proper engineer of you yet. I won’t be a tick.” And Stephan headed out of the room.
Stephan left and Jason wandered over to the book case. He scanned the books. Several were on thermodynamic theory. One was an ancient tome in Latin by Agricola. There was a more modern book on metallurgy. At the end of one row were four volumes that Jason hadn’t noticed before. They had the look of lab data books. Jason hadn’t known Stephan was an experimentalist. He picked up the first one and opened it up to some of the early pages. It was data on an experiment looking at conductivity of various metals. But some of the symbols were odd. He recognized a fundamental equation that measured resistivity of a given length of metal. Some of the metals he recognized such as iron , tungsten or copper. Others he hadn’t heard of such as Cesium or Rubidium. The resistivity seemed to go down when temperatures dropped. He was studying the experiment when Stephan came in with two mugs of coffee.
“What are you looking at?” Stephan asked sounded a little worried.
Jason replied, “I didn’t know you did work in electrics. There is information in here that I could use to help me.”
“I was holding those books for someone. Why don’t you hand it over to me,” Stephan held his hand out.
“It’s brilliant work. Did you know that resistivity goes down with temperature? How in the world did this person test to those temperatures?” Jason asked looking intently at the figures on the paper.
“He never told me. Jason, please hand over the books now.” Stephan’s voice started to sound angry.
Jason glanced at the cover and then the book plate – Sean McNeil. For a moment it didn’t connect. And then it became very clear all of a sudden.
“This is my father’s work.” Jason opened each volume and read the bookplates. His father’s name was on each in a tight cornered script. Jason’s anger grew with each volume. “How long have you had these?”
Stephan set the mugs down. “Jason. Those volumes are… It’s difficult..”
“How long have you had them? That is not a difficult question.” Jason demanded.
“Sean passed them to me shortly before the accident.” Stephan sat down in his chair and looked at Jason steadily.
“And when were you going to show them to me?” Jason asked quietly. His eyes burned at Stephan.
“Jason, it’s not that easy.” Stephan’s frustration showing as wrung his hands a bit.
“How can it not be easy? I am his son. I am doing some of the same work,” Jason said and pointed to his diagrams on the workbench. The pitch and loudness of his voice was growing.
“I can’t. I shouldn’t have had them in the first place. Will you listen if I tell you?” Stephan made the statement a challenge. Jason was angry. He wasn’t sure he would. He had been asked to “understand” far too much lately.
“Why should I? You didn’t tell me anything for years,” Jason spat back.
“What I have to say is complicated and you might not believe me. And I can’t tell you everything anyway, but it will be as much of the truth as I can,” Stephan sat back and folded his arms on his laps.
“You call that an answer? Tell me a bit and I am to expect that to be plenty?“ Jason shouted.
“It’s the best I can offer” Stephan said quietly looking at the books on the table.
Jason fumed. Then took his cup of coffee and started towards the door. “I don’t know if that is enough. “ He grabbed one of the books as he left.
“The books stay here”, Stephan rumbled. “They won’t disappear. But they stay. Those are my conditions.”
Angry, Jason slammed the book down and stormed out of the room sloshing his coffee a good bit. In a few paces, he was in the kitchen. Jolene and Peter were prepping the meals for the day. Jason sat on a stool. Jolene glanced at him and said “It was noisy in there.”
Deciding direct was best, Jason said “Tell me about Stephan and my father.”
Jolene stopped mid chop. “Peter, now is a good time for a break. Go have some tea in the dining room. We aren’t to be bothered.”
“And if Stephanie asks?” Peter asked.
“Especially not by her” Jolene said emphatically.
Jolene carefully cleaned her hands. Then started a kettle of water. “I don’t know you stand that stuff” nodding to the cup of coffee. “ It’s so Dark and bitter.” Jason remained quiet as Jolene completed the tea ritual, the strainer holding the last of the leaves and stirring in some cream and sugar. She sat down on a stool and sipped her tea. Jason took a drink of the lukewarm coffee. It was cold and tasted a bit bitter. He grimaced after the sip. Jolene smiled over her warm tea, “told you.”
“You’re avoiding the topic,” he said angrily.
“I am composing my thoughts. You would do well to learn the skill.” She took a sip of tea, letting another moment pass. “Very well. Sean and Stephan were close friends. Nobody has told you how close. I expect you are a bit angry to find out now. “
“I feel like everyone is keeping some secret about my parents from me. No one dares tell me who they were or what they did for fear of…I don’t know what. A few days I learned about my mother’s difficult personality that no one dared mention. So what secret does my father hold?,” Jason’s voice came out high and sounded desperate and on the border of hysterical laughing.
“You’ll have to ask Stephan, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t say. Stephan and Sean arrived in town together. They were like partners or even brothers. Both were brilliant. Both seemed to be extremely well off. Stephan used his money to buy the pub and has built that out. Your father decided to try the ‘country gentleman’ career. Although I think it was more the ‘country scientist’. Stephan met me. Sean met Martha, but the two men continued to spend time together. “ Jolene gave a bit of history.
“What about the books in his office?” Jason asked.
“I don’t know about any books in his office. No one has spent any time in Stephan’s office since your father. You shouldn’t dismiss that lightly.” Jolene said and took a sip of tea.
“Why didn’t you or Stephan or anyone talk to me? Tell me something? Anything?” he asked. He moved over to the tea pot and poured a cup for himself. He stirred in the milk and sugar and then sat on a stool.
“Stephan told me not to discuss history with you. I think he talked to your aunt and uncle as well. He said something wasn’t right about the accident. It would be safer for you, me, Stephanie, your guardians, if we asked few questions and talked about your parents less.” Jolene said with a bit of sadness.
“Why? Why hide the relationship?” Jason asked.
“I don’t know. You can ask Stephan, but I don’t think he’ll answer. Stephan and Sean never said where they came from or where they made their money. I don’t know after twenty years. Stephan only said they worked on some distant projects and that it was all honest work.“ She drank a bit of tea.
“You aren’t bothered by the mystery?” Jason asked.
“Of course I am bothered. But Stephan’s bothered he can’t tell me as well. And that helps. He is kind. He has been a loyal husband and loving father. Stephan says he agreed to not to talk and ‘please don’t press’. He was a catch and he was smitten with me. After a point, it seemed a fair trade.” Jolene shrugged and smiled a bit.
“And my father?” he asked.
“I would guess he had the same conversation with your mother, but I couldn’t know for sure. Martha was eventually polite with me, be we were never close,“ she said.
“Another little secret my uncle finally let me on to.” Jason said bitterly. “My mother was unpleasant.”
“Don’t be too harsh. She did really shine around Sean. And a cook and engineer don’t have much to say,” Jolene said a bit defensively.
“Unless they own a pub together,” Jason said with a smile.
“Toche! Unless they own a pub.” She raised her cup of tea in mock defeat. “Sean and
Stephan would head off to the office. Martha and I would try to converse. The arrivals of you and Stephanie made conversation easier and so the silence was less awkward. Babies are wonderful that way and Martha doted on you both,“ Jolene said.
“What did they do?,” Jason asked.
Jolene shrugged and asked “I don’t know. What do you do in the office?”
“We are designing an automated water heater.”
Jolene smiled genuinely, “How fantastic. Please do finish. Stephan hasn’t done anything like that since the accident. Stephan and Sean would never say what they did. I think Martha knew, but she had the learning. I do know they had a couple of bad rows shortly before the accident. Martha looked worried. Stephan looked furious and called Sean and idiotic fool. Sean didn’t disagree which surprised me. He only said he had been helping Martha. Stephan said ‘they’ll find out’ and then they went quiet.” Jolene paused and thought. “It’s hard to forget such a strange conversation. They always got along. I asked Martha what it was about. She said they were looking at electrics and couldn’t say more.” She sipped her tea. Jason emptied his cup and poured some more hot tea.
“What happened the night of the accident?” he asked.
“They had a large house a couple of blocks away. She had a beautiful garden: fruit trees, roses, herbs, and vegetables. There was still some of that farm girl there. I think Stephan did some design work at the factory. Your mother did some work at the chemist, but for the most part, they stayed at home. Stephan believed they had an underground lab in the back, but I never saw it. Anyway, it was a Wednesday night. It was after dinner and we were all relaxing like you’ve seen, when the whole building seemed to rock and one of the windows blew in. Stephan just seemed to know. He leapt the bar and left leaving the mess. I was annoyed at first. The fire brigade was just arriving as he arrived. The lab was just gone – a crater. The house was half blown in and on fire. Your nanny was unconscious on the second floor. But everyone could hear you. Stephan and one of the brigade ran into the crumbling, burning house. I’ve never been so mad and scared at once. Anyway, clearly he got out with you and the brigade man saved the nanny.” She paused and smiled. “I think they got married not too long afterwards. I’ve never been quite so proud and I let him know if he ever did that again, I would kill him myself afterwards,“ Jolene said with a smile.
“Why did Stephan say it wasn’t right?” Jason asked.
“You’d have to ask him. We went the next day. Stephan walked all over the ruins. By then the house was nearly gone. There was a crater a couple of feet deep. Stephan looked close. The trees and the grass were scorched by the crater. He looked worried. Not sad. Not angry – worried. That was when he told me we had to distance ourselves from you. Stephanie was upset at first when your visits stopped. You two had become friends.“ Jolene looked sad and stared at her empty tea cup.
Jason sipped his tea. “And the rest is history. Everyone agreed to keep quiet about the accident and I am shuffled off to a farm where I can’t hurt anyone. “
Jolene pleaded with Jason, “Everyone was scared. It is easy to say it is an experiment that went wrong. Your Aunt certainly thought that. But for that to happen in someone’s house just didn’t make sense to anyone. Stephan made sure that any investigation remained fairly cursory. You’ll have to ask him why. He seemed to know more than was obvious and was genuinely scared.”
“Jolene, what am I supposed to think, to do? Everyone, including you and Stephan, has been hiding my past from me. I am angry at him for hiding the books and now it seems I should be angry for hiding me out on the farm. According to you he had a reason. But how many more secrets do I have to uncover? “ His voice was tense and his hands shook.
She took his hand for a moment. “Jason, maybe we made mistakes. The shock of the event may have clouded our judgments. And then we decided it was easier to let things go as time went on. I don’t know. If I were in your place, I would be angry as well. The world hasn’t been fair. Your aunt hasn’t been fair. We haven’t been fair. I do know something else. And I will admit I am being selfish. I know he has been more his old self than he has been in the last 20 years since the accident. He has been carrying something alone since Sean left. Maybe it’s time he let someone else help him carry it. Please give him a chance to explain.”
Jason looked at the ceiling and said quietly “Will I learn anything? Will I feel better?”
“I don’t know. I can’t say. I do know he has let you into his office. I know he has had a bounce that hasn’t been there in years. I don’t’ want to lose that again.” Jolene pled.
Jason signed and sipped his tea. Why did it always seem he was the one who was supposed to compromise, to forgive, to listen? Findley seemed to have it so much easier not caring. He set his cup down. “I guess should see if he still wants to explain.”
“Oh dear boy. If he says no, give me three minutes with him and I will fix that. It is a charity you do,” Jolene said with a bit of fierceness.
Jason laughed in a frustrated way. “At some point, somebody is going to have to compromise with me. It doesn’t feel fair. All the dandies in school, my Aunt, and now Stephan. When do I get to stay angry? Why don’t my feelings matter?”
She stood up and gave him a hug. “Oh they do matter. Do not doubt that. But ask yourself dear boy, if you want to be angry all the time like Findley Brown, or your Aunt or your mother? Is that what you long for? It’s not hard. Findley has less cause than you.“ She stood back. “Now go. I am going to freshen up. I think those onions must have been stronger than usual.” She pulled a cloth out, went to the sink and washed her face. Jason headed back to the office. The door was open and there was a glow coming out.
Stephan was sitting at his chair. There was an odd device at the table. It was a box. But it was trapezoidal in shape. There was a loop of wire attached and nobs of brass with several switches. The top seemed to glow a bit.
“You came back”, Stephen said.
“Jolene can be quite convincing. I agreed to come back, but I am not sure what the point is. She said you’ve been keeping secrets for years. Why am I to believe you’d start lifting the veil now?” Jason asked.
“I don’t think Jolene has seen this device. It was something your father and I snuck back,” Stephan said.
Curiosity distracting him for a moment, Jason asked “What does it do?”
“I will tell you, but you need some history first. Your father, Sean, and I were recruited (I guess that is the word) right out of University. We were told we would have the journey of a lifetime and come back very wealthy. But there were catches.” He pulled two glasses out of a closet and a dusty bottle of whisky. He poured generous fingers in each. “It’s 5 somewhere he muttered.” He pointed to the stool. “Have a seat. This is going to take a while. “
Jason sat at the proffered stool. He ignored the whiskey for the moment.
Stephan took a sip of the whisky. “Sean always liked the stuff. He was from the North so he was probably weaned on it. “
Jason looked annoyed. “You were saying there was a catch.”
“Ah yes. The catch was that we would be so far, communications would be impossible. And, when we came back we were not allowed to contact our families.”
“That seems rather harsh,” Jason said.
“Aye it did. If she had been more accurate in her language, she might have said we wouldn’t be able to contact our relations,” Stephan said.
“That sounds a bit confusing. I am not sure I hear the difference,” Jason said.
“For us, the contract was 10 years. I believe we were told we would design and build machines for a sort of exhibit,” Stephan said.
“10 years is a long time, but it sounded like an interesting deal. “ Jason commented.
Stephan laughed without humor and took a small drink, “You have no idea how long or how interesting. I think it was an easy call for both of us. I was the fourth of eight on a farm. I was like you. I got nothing for University. Lord, the debt I had in the end. Your father…well I got the impression that he was the ‘blow by’ of some Lord or Lady up North. That was enough to pay for school. But he ended with little of the privilege at the end. And I got the impression that home life was less than perfect. So it was easy for us to leave everything. “ Stephan took another sip. Jason took his glass and smelled it and took a sip. The strong and mediciney taste shocked him.
“We worked 10 years. Doing exactly what the contract said – we designed and made machines, buildings, systems for our exhibit. It seems our team was quite popular. And it was quite lucrative. At the end of the contract, three of us choses to come back – myself, Sean and Abigail.” Stephan paused and smiled and pointed at Jason with the glass, “ Here is the funny thing. The three of us had the least to return to. It was then she let us know the reality.” He took a drink. Then he looked squarely at Jason. “I can’t explain next part. You don’t know enough and I agreed not to talk about this. It turns out that 10 years was really more like 60 years here. My parents were gone. Most of my brothers and sisters had passed as well. I had a baby sister who was seven at the time. She was now 69 years old. I couldn’t go back to friends of family – they were gone.”
Jesse exclaimed, “That makes no sense.”
Stephan nodded and took a drink and said, “Apparently it is a feature of traveling faster than light.”
Jason cocked his head, “Wait. Light has a speed. And it is possible to out run light?”
Stephan mused and was apparently enjoying Jason’s confusion and frustration. “I wouldn’t say out run as much as taking a shorter path” and took another sip.
Jason groaned as more strangeness was uttered. He took another sip and shivered. How did they stand this stuff? Then shook his head and waved his hand. “All right, something strange happened. You and my father came back, something strange happened, it was now 60 years later. Now what?”
“Precisely boy. Now what? We had knowledge that could make us immensely rich and powerful. Do you think that the powers that showed us all that would let us run loose? Making death rays and transporting people and things willy nilly? Our agent was better than most I came to understand. But she is most protective of local culture. We were warned not to exercise that knowledge, divulge it, or even admit its existence.”
Jason stared at him open mouthed. He wasn’t sure Stephan was entirely sane at that moment.
Stephen stared back and asked “What do you know about the Aztecs?”
“Who?” Jason asked.
“They were THE empire of Mezo America. That is until Cortez found them. Between Cortez’ guns and disease, a thousand year old empire disappeared in about a year. If you took some amazing device of ours and plopped it in the middle of dark Africa or aboriginal Australia, what is going to happen?”
“Nothing? It breaks?” Jason said.
“Maybe. But it will change what might have been. What if some enterprising fool like me introduced steam engines in Ancient Rome?” Stephan asked.
“I am lost in this conversation. I have no idea.” Jason pleaded.
“What do they teach in University these days? The Romans would have had technology that could have withstood the sieges of the barbarians. No fall of Rome. A good thing? Right?” Stephan asked?
“I suppose so.” Jason agreed.
Stephan closed his eyes and leaned back. “So caught up in empiricism and equations. No conjecture. A pox on David Hume and his ilk.” Stephan opened his eyes and leaned forward, “ No fall of Rome, no split of Roman empire. No split of Roman empire, no Christian dominance of the continent. We would still be speaking Latin. We probably would be worshiping Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. I won’t say the Catholic Church was great. But no Norman invasion. No Kings of England. Look at the architecture – we would be surrounded by marble columns or what passes for that in England.”
“That’s absurd.” Jason practically laughed.
“Is it? Let’s look at my device now. Here’s Sean’s goggles. Now come around to my side. “
Jason donned the thick brass goggles and everything had an odd green hue. Stephan flick a switch and he could see flashes and sparks across the loop of the wire.
Stephan muttered as he moved nobs this way and that. “Adjust the range. Set the ambient temperature. Focus a bit. Sean was always better at this stuff. There we go.”
In the loop, Jason could see into the kitchen. It was as if the wall wasn’t there. The pots on the stove were white and red. Jolene and Peter had continued prepping the meals. Their hands were green. Their faces were yellow, orange and red in places. Their clothes seemed to be generally blue hues, although one felt like one could almost see through the clothes to the bodies. The chicken that Jolene was working on was violet. Jason watched as the two worked unaware of they were being spied on. Stephen stood behind Jason as he watched the meals be prepared. “I am told that we will have this technology in about 100 years – more or less.”
“I am not sure what to say.” Jason stared at the weirdly colored scene.
“When we asked to go back, we were told the rules: you can’t meet friends or family; you can’t tell anyone where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, or what you’ve done; You can only invent or discover based on current cultural technology; you can’t introduce anything you’ve learned. The three of us had seen the damage to places where those rules weren’t followed. Hell we’ve seen it on earth –the Aztecs are gone; the Indus and the Mandinka are gone too. Our agent was better than most in the galaxy. We could leave at the end of our contract. But she was very adamant with her consultants when they return. “
“But following the rules was harder in reality than theory” suggested Jason.
Stephan sighed and took a sip and watch Jolene work in the strange device. “I understand that most of us who return take up new professions. It is just too hard to separate what is ok and what is not if we were to return to our old trades. So we start new businesses and we add touches that help but are not too much: the beer is stouter or the coffee darker. Abigail and I could do this. We were from the working class. We knew how to set things up. Sean…well not so much.“ Stephan looked at Jason and asked, “What do the landed gentry do with themselves all day?” He nodded away the thought, “Anyway, Sean started making money thorough investing. That’s ok – we can’t see into the future even if we have a good idea what it looks like. But…he started advising companies and that is bound to get the attention of powers that care. Even with this rule bending, he was bored. Martha was as bright as a flame. They fed off one another and soon he was doing experiments with Martha that weren’t …acceptable. They relied too much on undiscovered principles. “
He put his hand on the books and said “So boy. These books are forbidden knowledge.”
“That’s it. Somebody sets up the rules and you just live by them?” Jason sounded appalled.
“I do. They make sense. Sean thought so too, but couldn’t help himself. “ Stephan lifted his chin and sounded defiant.
“The knowledge in those books could save people.” Jason countered.
“The knowledge in these books could destroy the world. Is that a bet you’re willing to make?” Stephan said with finality.
“You are exaggerating.“ Jason said although he wasn’t sure.
“Am I? I could switch this device to transmit as opposed to passive receiving. I could also switch what it is transmitting to something deadly. Tell me –do you believe that Findley Brown wouldn’t find some new way to bully people in this town? “Jason was silent having no retort. Stephan was right that the world tended to do significant damage with new technology. He understood that the Americans had found some new way to fire multiple bullets quickly. And cannon technology was increasingly more lethal. Truth be told, most of modern thermodynamics came from engineers trying to a make a better cannon.
Stephan continued, “I’ve said far more than I should. But you need to understand violating these rules has consequences.”
Jason snorted, “What consequences?”
“I suspect your father paid those consequences, and your mother with him. Only occasionally would we hear of ‘removal and disposition…’. The circumstances of the blast were curious. And Sean was a cautious lab rat especially after your birth. And nothing that they were working on (that I could tell) should have caused such a blast. “
Jason was stunned silent and took another sip. It was smoother now. He watched Jolene and Peter as they worked. Nothing he knew could explain anything about this machine. Stephan gave no hints.
Jason asked, “Do you think my parents are alive?”
Stephan looked at the work being done in the kitchen. “I don’t know. To be honest, I hope not. We met other ‘contractors’ who weren’t treated as well as us. It was slavery with a nice title. I looked at the blast site There were no bodies. The ground and the plants were scorched, but nothing was so hot as to destroy the bodies. The explosion might have, but that ‘explosion’ didn’t really square either. Four blocks away, windows were blown in. But the house right next to the blast was still half standing? What’s likely? They’re dead and we need to move on. Could they be alive? They could be, but if they are, their life is unlikely to be pleasant. I wish I could say for sure, but I have no one to contact even I could.”
It was a glimmer of hope and then nothing. It left a taste that was bitter and unsatisfying.
“Will you let me see the books?” Jason asked.
“Did I not say the knowledge is forbidden? I should have burned them after the ‘accident’” and then he picked them up and made to carry them out of the room.
Jason called out. “No, wait. Please don’t. I have so little of them. My aunt can tell me of my mother, but no one knew my father other than you. Please don’t – they are all I’ve got. Perhaps there are pages I could see.” He asked with feeling. Somehow he needed this connection with his father and with Stephan.
“Humph. I will review them. If one should be out on the table while we are working and you are looking in that direction, I can’t rightly do anything about that.” Stephan said a bit more gently.
“I would just be glancing. Utterly harmless.” Jason said agreeably.
Stephan spat,“Bah. Nothing in these books is harmless.” But he relaxed and said, “But Sean was a good man and brilliant. ‘Tis only fair you might see some of it. He asked me to take care of these books. I suspect he would have wanted you to have them . But, boy there are two legends you will read and will discourse on in your lab book before you set your eyes on these. You need to know these legends because they are real. One is Pandora’s box. These books are Pandora’s box and those of us who have returned, have seen Pandora’s legacy.”
“And the other?” Jason asked.
“Are you saying their punishments or deaths were orchestrated by your agents?” Jason asked.
“Of course not. I have no proof. But I am saying that the world has a way of treating visionaries and it isn’t nice. My little adventure has made me think that it wasn’t just a closed minded world that caused those persecutions or deaths. I won’t say I did you favor by keeping these journals. But I will say history supports my decision.” Stephan said.
They were quiet for a bit. And finally Jason asked, “Now what?”
“I ask you the same. I’d like to finish the water heater. But I understand if you don’t, or that you want to leave entirely. I’ll review the journals and figure out what’s safe are at least less harmful. We can talk about those topics if you want. The books will stay with me and will now be properly locked up.
“That’s it?” Jason asked.
“That’s the best I can offer. You know more than Jolene at this point. I would like to keep it that way.” Stephan said.
“Why tell me? Why not tell Jolene?” Jason asked.
“Why you and not Jolene? Well first, I don’t think I’ve done you a favor by showing this or telling you things you can’t repeat. I am serious that information has a way of finding the right ears. I think my world would collapse if something I said or something she saw resulted in her being lost in an event like your parent’s.” He turned off the machine and sat and sighed for a moment. “Why tell you? You’re Sean’s and Martha’s son. How do I explain the ‘accident’ without background? How do I explain those books?”
Jason pondered the question. He was still angry at the volumes being hidden and not knowing about them. He was resentful that Stephan was “protecting” him. But Stephan’s fear gave him pause. If Stephan was to be believed, he was protecting England, Europe, and the world. Whatever one decided, it was bigger than Jason and that scared him because crazy as it sounded, Stephan sounded perfectly sane.
Jason said, “I would like to finish the water heater. It is something of mine and I don’t have a lot of that. A patent or two would be nice, if only to hang on the wall.”
Stephan smiled, “Oh it will be more than that, I assure you.”
“Then I guess we move forward.” Jason stuck out his hand to shake. Stephan ignored the hand and gave him bear hug.
 Antoine Lavoisier: discoverer of Oxygen, developer of chemistry nomenclature, stoichiometry, key developer of the metric system; was killed in the “Reign of Terror” during the French Revolution.
 Blaise Pascal: laid groundwork for modern theory of probability; inventor of the hydraulic press; had a religious epiphany in his late twenties and wrote articles that implicitly opposed the Catholic hierarchy; died at age 38 of unknown causes.