The first chapter of "The Goldsmith´s Parchment"
Professor Allknowing invents in order to make the world a better place
Once upon a time, in the provinces of a small country lived a very very absent- minded professor. His absent mindedness resulted from the fact that he always came up with ideas for new inventions and when a certain idea would dawn upon him he would forget everything else. The inventor was very popular in the small town where people called him professor Allknowing. He was fifty five years of age and the thick glasses that he wore and the books that he always had with himself spoke of a learned man. The professor was perhaps the only man in town to use a magnifying glass when reading a newspaper. He was bald except for a few hairs here and there, short and hunched; his hands were always calloused and his nails always broken like the hands and nails of those who toil a lot.
He had chosen a life in the country so that he could carry on his scientific researches undisturbed. The professor was very communicative and frequented the local sweet shop in the centre of the town where he talked with everyone who entered. Thus he learnt of society’s problems and being very compassionate gave away his contrivances to the people he met there. Allknowing didn’t only help people- he also helped animals. His courtyard was full of cats and dogs- all homeless before. Now they had a master who could shout at them at times or even give them light kicks but who also took care of them and loved and caressed them. He was helped by his adopted son who was twelve and who lived with him since he was three. He was a quick vigorous boy with freckles. His name was Peter.
‘Do you know what, Peter’ said one day professor Allknowing.
‘I work so much, I have made so many things and people are none the richer for that. How can I change this? What shall I do?’
‘Professor,’ answered the freckled boy.
‘it is no easy task to change the world. I have heard that a lot of times. And it is not your job to do it.’
‘Ho! Not my job? And if scientists are not the ones who can change the world who is to change it then? That is exactly my job.’
The professor was tossing his head waywardly.
‘All right professor’ agreed Peter quickly.
‘Change the world. And how you should do it is a question I cannot answer. I could think of no answer.’
The professor couldn’t sleep that night. He was tortured by the question: How can I improve the lives of my fellow countrymen? What shall I do?
After a few hours a very clever idea dawned upon him.
‘I will invent a machine and will radiate the town with it. The machine should be of such a kind that when radiated the citizens should become more talented and smarter than before. But I should be extremely careful. No one knows what will happen if I make a mistake’
The professor was talking to himself, pacing the floor of his bedroom barefooted with his pyjama on and inobservant of the late hour.
The next day he took to making important calculations, to perusing the dusty books on the shelves and cupboards in his cabinet, kitchen and bedroom. He never showed his nose outside the whole week.
No one having seen the professor around the town, the people started to worry about him. ‘Hi Steven! Have you seen Allknowing this week?’ The pastry cook Ivan Sheatfish who was very much like a sheatfish himself for his plumpness and thin curved moustache was in front of his sweet shops. He was shouting after Steven the postman who was passing by on his bike.
‘No, I haven’t seen him for a while.’ answered Steven, slowing down for a while. He was different from the pastry cook- he was tall and slender and had beautiful blue eyes.
‘He will probably show up before long. If not, I will drop by his place and see how he is doing.’
And Allknowing’s house was outside town, near the vast meadows where no one could see that in his spacious yard with a short wooden fence there was a tall metal machine with something like a telescope in front. Peter was constantly circling it counting its buttons. And they were in no way small in number! Apart from everything else, they were of many colours- red, blue, green, yellow and the professor had strictly instructed him not to touch them.
One day Allknowing told the boy.
‘We will test the machine tomorrow, Peter’ he said while checking once again the scheme he had sketched.
‘Tomorrow we will find out if this was worth the sleepless nights and the hard work.’
The next day, after Allknowing, Peter and all of the cats and dogs had their breakfast came the time to test the machine.
‘We will start it now, now we will see what will happen.’
The professor spoke under his breath while his trembling finger was touching a big yellow button.
The telescope started to shake and sway on all directions. The cats and dogs in the yard ran away startled by the monster that had just come into life. The birds flew from a few apple trees in the yard that shook as if there was an earthquake. Then there was a bright and noisy explosion after which the machine rattled like an old washing machine and stopped.
‘I think it broke down, professor’ the boy ventured to comment.
‘I must fix it.’ murmured Allknowing with an obvious disappointment.
‘I must dismantle it and see what have happened.’
He had been working for a whole week on the machine, looking on the sketch, dismantling and assembling the parts several time; and Peter helped him whenever the professor allowed him to. The boy was very curious to find out how the machine was to be made and never got out of his home, resolute to spy on Allknowing. Fortunately, it was July and he didn’t have to go to school. One day, angry and dirty, the professor decided that the approach must be changed.
‘I should better buy some new parts. I’m going to town.’
‘I’ll come with you, professor.’ decided Peter.
The two of them took two bicycles from the barn which was the favourite play corner of the kittens right next to the house and set off for the town. And the closer they got to it, the stranger it seemed. In front of the sweet shop now stood a large - lettered sign saying Sweet Shop for good moods. On the window display there were sweets of such magnificence that neither the professor nor the boy had seen in the shop before. There too were notes with descriptions- Inspirational, Hope- giving, Courage- giving, Ready wits- bestowing sweets… The whole display was full of so many and so interesting offers that they could do nothing but enter. The shop was packed with clients. One of the tables was occupied by the journalist from the town. His brown hair as usual needed hairdressing or at least combing and his suite was creased but of course he didn’t pay any attention because his mind was occupied with lofty things. His boss’ scalding, however, were the arrows that always landed him on earth. That day, Scribes was eating a sweet, crying with all heart and writing something on a piece of paper.
‘Every creator needs inspiration!’ mumbled the journalist at the visitors that would throw a baffled look at him. Suddenly, the confectioner noticed the two newly comers.
‘Professor Allknowing, Peter, what a big surprise! You are most welcome! You will never believe what happened to me. I was in the kitchen, working as I always do and suddenly I started coming up with ideas for new recipes, many recipes. I made the apprentice work, he is not much of a hard worker anyway, this rascal is, and I started putting down everything. And when I started to prepare the sweets… Lo! They were so fine, it was all so easy, the sweets were miraculously good, I am short for words to say more! And this pal Scribes /he pointed at the journalist/ his writings become so good that he was offered to write articles for the national newspaper.’
In that moment the librarian and the policeman entered the sweet shop and both of them queued with the rest of the clients. As usual, they were having a vigorous argument. The librarian was black- haired, tall, slender woman with thin legs and skin so white that one might think she never exposed herself to the sun, her nose reminded of a beak. The students had a secret nickname for her “Magpie” and called her this way when they came to borrow the compulsory books. Had the policeman known it he would agree with them- she often annoyed him probably with her verbosity or else with her height- he was twelve centimetres shorter. However, he had beautiful tanned skin and muscled arms. That day his hair was styled backside with gel and on his uniform there was a golden medal.
Suddenly the librarian noticed the professor.
‘Ha! Professor Allknowing!’ she started at his direction with a quick pace. Her pale face blushed suddenly.
‘I haven’t seen you in the library for quite a while! I am indeed crossed at you! If you only knew what happened to me! I don’t know how it happened but now I have an extremely well developed visual memory. I have read every single book in the library and now I /she turned her pointy nose upwards/now I can consult and guide through every single client!’
The policeman neared them, pacing heavily, his chest swelled proudly.
‘Good afternoon, professor,’ saluted he. ‘It is a pity that you couldn’t attend the ceremony. I was given a medal of bravery. I am so very proud.’
There was something to this- the policeman was very young and has already received a medal!
When Allknowing got at his home, Peter made a few euphoric rolls on the ground together with the cats and the dogs to celebrate the occasion.
‘You made it professor, you made it!’ he couldn’t stop repeating, happy beyond measure.
‘There was a broadcast about the town on the news. Journalists from all over the country wrote stories about it.’
‘It’s a phenomenon. Probably this is the place of the most talented people in the country.’ decided the president.
‘Aliens have come to this place.’ was the comment of a tabloid.
‘The climate there is a bit different’ the meteorologists explained.
‘that too is a nourishing factor.’
‘You fascinated everybody, professor!’ Peter was laughing.
‘Ha! there are things that need improvement’ said Allknowing but he prided himself on his work. Then he receded to his cabinet to draw sketches of the new inventions that he had in mind.