Chapter Forty

All the English papers had some variation of the same headline, but Ysabeau thought the one in the Times was the cleverest.

English Man Wins Race to See into Space

30 June 2010

The world's leading expert on early scientific instruments at Oxford University's Museum of the History of Science, Anthony Carter, confirmed today that a refracting telescope bearing the names of Elizabethan mathematician and astronomer Thomas Harriot and Nicholas Vallin, a Huguenot clockmaker who fled France for religious reasons, is indeed genuine. In addition to the names, the telescope is engraved with the date 1591.

The discovery has electrified the scientific and historical communities. For centuries, Italian mathematician Galileo Galilei had been credited with borrowing rudimentary telescope technology from the Dutch in order to view the moon in 1609.

"The history books will have to be rewritten in light of this discovery," said Carter. "Thomas Harriot had read Giambattista della Porta's Natural Magic and become intrigued with how convex and concave lenses could be used to 'see both things afar off, and things near hand, both greater and clearly.'"

Thomas Harriot's contributions to the field of astronomy were overlooked in part because he did not publish them, preferring to share his discoveries with a close group of friends some call "The School of Night." Under the patronage of Walter Raleigh and Henry Percy, the "Wizard Earl" of Northumberland, Harriot was financially free to explore his interests.

Mr I. P. Riddell discovered the telescope, along with a box of assorted mathematical papers in Thomas Harriot's hand and an elaborate silver mousetrap also signed by Vallin. He was repairing the bells of St. Michael's Church, near the Percy family's seat in Alnwick, when a particularly strong gust of wind brought down a faded tapestry of St. Margaret slaying the dragon, revealing the box that had been secreted there.

"It is rare for instruments of this period to have so many identifying marks," Dr Carter explained to reporters, revealing the date mark stamped into the telescope, which confirms the item was made in 1591-92. "We owe a great debt to Nicholas Vallin, who knew that this was an important development in the history of scientific instrumentation and took unusual measures to record its genealogy and provenance."

"They refuse to sell it," Marcus said, leaning against the doorframe. With his arms and legs crossed, he looked very much like Matthew. "I've spoken with everyone from the Alnwick church officials to the Duke of Northumberland to the Bishop of Newcastle. They're not going to give up the telescope, not even for the small fortune you've offered. I think I've convinced them to let me buy the mousetrap, though."

"The whole world knows about it," Ysabeau said. "Even Le Monde has reported the story."

"We should have tried harder to squash it. This could give Knox and his allies vital information," Marcus said. The growing number of people living inside the walls of Sept-Tours had been worrying for weeks about what Knox might do if the exact whereabouts of Diana and Matthew were discovered.

"What does Phoebe think?" Ysabeau asked. She had taken an instant liking to the observant young human with her firm chin and gentle ways.

Marcus's face softened. It made him look as he had before Matthew left, when he was carefree and joyful. "She thinks it's too soon to tell what damage has been done by the telescope's discovery."

"Smart girl," Ysabeau said with a smile.

"I don't know what I'd do-" Marcus began. His expression turned fierce. "I love her, Grand-mere."

"Of course you do. And she loves you, too." After the events of May, Marcus had wanted her with the rest of the family and had brought her to Sept-Tours to stay. The two of them were inseparable. And Phoebe had shown remarkable savoir faire as she met the assembly of daemons, witches, and vampires currently in residence. If she had been surprised to learn there were other creatures sharing the world with humans, she had not revealed it.

Membership in Marcus's Conventicle had swelled considerably over the past months. Matthew's assistant, Miriam, was now a permanent resident at the chateau, as were Philippe's daughter Verin and her husband Ernst. Gallowglass, Ysabeau's restless grandson, had shocked them all by staying put there for six whole weeks. Even now he showed no signs of leaving. Sophie Norman and Nathaniel Wilson welcomed their new baby, Margaret, into the world under Ysabeau's roof, and now the baby's authority in the chateau was second only to Ysabeau's. With her grandchild living at Sept-Tours, Nathaniel's mother Agatha appeared and reappeared without warning, as did Matthew's best friend, Hamish. Even Baldwin flitted through occasionally.

Never in her long life had Ysabeau expected to be chatelaine of such a household.

"Where is Sarah?" Marcus asked, tuning in to the hum of activity all around. "I don't hear her."

"In the Round Tower." Ysabeau ran her sharp nail around the edge of the newspaper story and neatly lifted the clipped columns from their printed surround. "Sophie and Margaret sat with her for a while. Sophie says Sarah is keeping watch."

"For what? What's happened now?" Marcus said, snatching at the newspaper. He'd read them all that morning, tracking the subtle shifts in money and influence that Nathaniel had found a way to analyze and isolate so that they could be better prepared for the Congregation's next move. A world without Phoebe was inconceivable, but Nathaniel had become nearly as indispensable. "That damn telescope is going to be a problem. I just know it. All Knox needs is a timewalking witch and this story and he'll have everything he needs to go back into the past and find my father."

"Your father won't be there for much longer, if he's still there at all."

"Really, Grand-mere," Marcus said with a note of exasperation, his attention still glued to the text surrounding the hole that Ysabeau had left in the Times. "How can you possibly know that?"

"First there were the miniatures, then the laboratory records, and now this telescope. I know my daughter-in-law. This telescope is exactly the kind of gesture Diana would make if she had nothing left to lose." Ysabeau brushed past her grandson. "Diana and Matthew are coming home."

Marcus's expression was unreadable.

"I expected you to be happier about your father's return," Ysabeau said quietly, stopping by the door.

"It's been a difficult few months," Marcus said somberly. "The Congregation made it clear they want the book and Nathaniel's daughter. Once Diana is here . . ."

"They will stop at nothing." Ysabeau took in a slow breath. "At least we will no longer have to worry about something happening to Diana and Matthew in the past. We will be together, at Sept-Tours, fighting side by side." Dying side by side.

"So much has changed since last November." Marcus stared into the shining surface of the table as though he were a witch and it might show him the future.

"In their lives, too, I suspect. But your father's love for you is a constant. Sarah needs Diana now. You need Matthew, too."

Ysabeau took her clipping and headed for the Round Tower, leaving Marcus to his thoughts. Once it had been Philippe's favorite jail. Now it was used to store old family papers. Though the door to the room on the third floor was ajar, Ysabeau rapped on it smartly.

"You don't have to knock. This is your house." The rasp in Sarah's voice indicated how many cigarettes she'd been smoking and how much whiskey she'd been drinking.

"If that's how you behave, I am glad not to be your guest," Ysabeau said sharply.

"My guest?" Sarah laughed softly. "I would never have let you into my house."

"I don't usually require an invitation." Ysabeau and Sarah had perfected the art of acerbic banter. Marcus and Em had tried without success to persuade them to obey the rules of courteous communication, but the two clan matriarchs knew that their sharp exchanges helped maintain their fragile balance of power. "You should not be up here, Sarah."

"Why not? Afraid I'll catch my death of cold?" Sarah's voice hitched with sudden pain, and she doubled over as if she'd been struck. "Goddess help me, I miss her. Tell me this is a dream, Ysabeau. Tell me that Emily isn't dead."

"It's not a dream," Ysabeau said as gently as she could. "We all miss her. I know that you are empty and aching inside, Sarah."

"And it will pass," Sarah said dully.

"No. It won't."

Sarah looked up, surprised at Ysabeau's vehemence.

"Every day of my life, I yearn for Philippe. The sun rises and my heart cries out for him. I listen for his voice, but there is silence. I crave his touch. When the sun sets, I retire in the knowledge that my mate is gone from this world and I will never see his face again."

"If you're trying to make me feel better, it's not working," Sarah said, the tears streaming.

"Emily died so that Sophie and Nathaniel's child might live. Those who killed her will pay for it, I promise you. The de Clermonts are very good at revenge, Sarah."

"And revenge will make me feel better?" Sarah squinted up through her tears.

"No. Seeing Margaret grow to womanhood will help. So will this." Ysabeau dropped the cutting into the witch's lap. "Diana and Matthew are coming home."

New World, Old World

P/S: Copyright -->www_novelfreereadonline_Com