The Assembler

Chapter 39 - Bow to the Inevitable

Jean G Hontz

@copyright 2009 all rights reserved

“A knighthood?” Ned repeated tonelessly, staring at Lord Laurence Mallister as if he’d taken complete leave of his senses. Then his eyes swung round to the amused Royal who was sitting comfortably in the chair beside Ned’s bed - the one only lately occupied by Emmie. “I don’t want it,” he said flatly. “I want nothing whatever to do with any of you. I just want to be left alone.”

“My dear Ned,” Bertie said, his grin lighting up his eyes. “If you think Lady Emiline is stubborn you haven’t yet run afoul of my mother. She’s decided and so it shall be, if she has to have you dragged, bound hand and foot into the throne room to do it, it shall be done. Bow to the inevitable, son. Believe me, it’s for the best.”

“How can it possibly be for the best?” Ned demanded. He'd have gotten up out of bed and run for it right then had he been able.

The Prince sobered. “Ned, listen to me. This is important. Too important for you to be reacting without thinking things through. Firstly, with a knighthood you’ll have status enough that no one will be able to cut you, or dismiss you as someone who deserves no voice. Especially one given directly to you, not inherited. It means you’ve been of service to the Crown. Even more importantly, such an honor is a clear sign of Royal support and favor. Everyone will know you’ve earned the Queen’s, and my, trust.Thusly, you CAN tell nearly anyone to just leave you alone.”

“And do I get to tell you and your Mo.. the Queen, to leave me alone?” Ned demanded. “Or do I sell my soul and become enslaved for this honor I don't want?”

“I understand, son. I do. But please, hear me out,” the Prince replied. “You see, there’s this place. We’re setting it up as a haven just for men and women like you and Lady Emiline. A safe and protected world especially designed to accomodate scientists, educators, thinkers. and others with unique talents. I’m convinced you and Lady Emiline will fit in there perfectly. So would Septimus if he’s interested. You’ll have freedom to think and create and take risks and let your imagination fly.”

Ned looked over at Richard, who’d been a silent witness, standing off by the windows.

Richard met Ned’s eyes and replied, “I’ve already agree to go to Bletchley Park. Granted, I had far less choice in the matter than you do. But still. I can’t help but be hopeful regarding it, Ned. Think of it. A place where we can confer with others like ourselves, combine information, and most of all work together to create magnificent things. Without, we hope, the negativity of the old guard at university. Why, imagine what we can do with adequate funds and resources! We can create wonders.

“I’m eager, really, to give it a go. The Prince assures me ... Well, if I have to be watched, I might as well enjoy some benefits at the same time,” Richard finished.

“Yes, watched. Exactly,” Ned hissed.

“What’s your alternative, Ned?” Septimus asked. He too had been listening to the proposal. And had shown every sign that he’d known it was coming. “Even at university there is oversight and board members who are set in their ways. As you sadly know, any sort of innovative thinking is discouraged.

“And, you’ve been stymied by the costs of building your Assembler since you struck out on your own. It could be far more powerful if you had resources and the freedom to just let your imagination run free. And the other ideas you’ve had? You’d have time and space to create them.”

Ned frowned.

“You won't have to run. We can settle down, you can work, and I can work. At least let’s go see the place,” Emmie suggested. She’d entered the room at some point. Her eyes were shining with hope.

Ned wasn’t happy, but then he really didn't have much of an alternative to offer her. What else could he suggest? Only misery. “All right. We’ll consider it,” he promised her.

 

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“So, you’ll marry me?” Cyril asked, from his kneeling position, looking up at Margot as if she were a will-othe-wisp that might disappear at any moment. He held her hand tightly, afraid to let it go. He did his best to hold her eyes too.

Margot, tears rather ruining her view of Cyril below her, was only able to nod. She had a lump in her throat that seemed to prevent any speech getting past it.

“You won't be too miserable living with the pater? He’s not a bad fellow, but he can be stubborn. But he’ll dote over you, I promise.”

She managed a weak smile. “I’ll love him, even if what Emmie has said is only partially true.”

“And we can visit Bletchley Park as often as we like. And travel. I want to travel. I’d like to see the world with you, Margot. I’d like to give it to you, all of it. To see your eyes shining as we discover it together.”

Margot’s tears escaped her then. “It sounds wonderful, Cyril. But are you certain you don't want a woman who’ll wear silk and satin and grace your table and entertain the gentry? I’m not very good at that sort of thing.”

“I personally hate fancy dinner parties. Instead we’ll have supper on the lawn and play badmitton and tennis. Our children can sit at table with us and we’ll all have skint knees together. You don't mind children, do you?” Cyril asked, suddenly fearful he’d said too much.

Margot shook her head. “No, I hope to have a son who looks just like you.”

“Ned will be my best man. Who do you want as maid of honor?” Cyril asked.

Margot frowned. “I never had very many women friends. Do you suppose Emmie would agree to be my maid of honor?”

Cyril smiled widely. “Oh, yes. And if she refuses to wear a dress we’ll let her wear her digging outfit. Anything to make her agree.”

They laughed and kissed and then walked out into a pleasant evening, the sunset glorious before them, completely oblivious to the beauty spread out before them.

 

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