Albert loved to walk. It made his mind fresher, and he would snap his fingers with the fast rhythm of each step. Humming a tune to keep pace with, he breathed in the crisp, fall air. The concern he felt from the letter he had received from Herr von Achen had withdrawn into the recesses of his mind. Before long, Albert found himself in Marienplatz, the heart of Munich.
Young couples and families milled through the streets of the city’s downtown. The crowds gathered to watch the glockenspiel show. Albert gazed up at the towering Gothic clock, with its thirty-two carved figurines. They seemed to touch the sky. Every day at 11:00 a.m., the Glockenspiel chimed. It reenacted the sixteenth-century marriage and celebration of the local duke, Wilhelm V, to Renata of Lorraine. The clock displayed a joust with life-sized knights on horseback, resplendent in their local colors: white and blue for the Bavarians, and red and white for the Lothringian champions. The Bavarian knight won every time. The clock’s dance lasted around 12 minutes, and at the end of the show, a tiny golden bird at the top of the glockenspiel chirped three times.
As the marvelous spectacle came to an end and the people began to walk away, a small, almost hidden door at the clock tower’s base opened soundlessly. The movement caught Albert’s eye, and he frowned. For all the times he’d walked past the clock tower, he’d never noticed a door. Noting that no one else seemed to be paying attention to it, he turned and walked toward the opening.
Gazing into the dark entryway, Albert saw an engraved metal sign: “No Entrance.” But the open door beckoned, and he stepped over the threshold. Once he was inside, the door slowly swung shut. Albert reached out and pulled the gargoyle-shaped wrought iron handle, but the door seemed firmly closed.
He began to struggle with the door, but the tick... tock... tick... tock of the clock’s inner workings caught his attention, and he stopped tugging. What could be inside this magnificent timepiece? He wondered as the possibilities began running around in his mind.
Following the internal beating of the clock tower’s heart, Albert moved toward a spiral staircase. The only light in the hallway came from high above him. Tick... tock... tick... tock.
Albert stepped to the beat of the clock and round and round he rose. Time seemed to stand still as he climbed. He stopped at the top of the steps, then the shining light drew him to a massive, carved wooden door and Albert approached it.
The door was partially open and, peering into the room, Albert’s gaze landed on a large mahogany desk. Then Albert noticed the man seated at the desk. He looked to be around 50 years of age and had soft-looking, silver, shoulder-length hair. He was dressed in a white, long-sleeved peasant shirt and dark-brown leather breeches. Arrayed on the desk in front of him were quill pens with pots of ink, stacks of paper, and on the right corner of the writing table, an apple. The entire back wall of the room was lined with shelves stocked with ancient-looking volumes and several brass candlesticks holding candles that cast a soft glow about the place. In the ceiling of the room was some sort of skylight through which a beam of sunlight streamed.
The man at the desk held a triangular-shaped crystal up to the beam of light, and the refracted light of the polished glass threw a rainbow of colors onto the wall. The man smiled with satisfaction.
Albert saw the rainbow and murmured to himself, “Newton’s theory is that white light is a composite of all the colors of the spectrum.”
The man looked up from the rainbows and smiled at Albert. “Well said, Albert. So glad you made your way in here to visit.”
Albert’s jaw dropped. “How did you...?”
The man held up his hand and smiled. “All in good time, my boy.” He rose from his chair and walked to Albert, holding out his hand. “My name is Isaac. Please, sit down.” Speechless, Albert, managed to make his way to a chair in front of the desk as Isaac returned to his seat.
“I know who you are, Albert,” Isaac said with a kind smile. “You must not concern yourself too deeply with what you are learning now. You have grasped the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Let that be the foundation of your work that is to come.” Isaac picked up the apple on his desk and gently tossed it to Albert. “Gravity, the universe, space, distance, and motion are your future.” Catching the apple, Albert nodded as the ticking of the massive clock pulled at his awareness. Tick... tock... tick... tock...
Tick... tock... Ringgggggggg. The alarm clock next to Albert’s bed screamed at him. Albert sat bolt upright and struggled to reorient himself. Vacillating between the dream and waking reality, Albert let himself fall back onto his pillow. He turned his head to see what time it was. There, on the table next to the alarm clock, sat an apple. “What the...?” Albert groaned.
Albert pulled himself from his bed and began dressing as he considered the implications of what he had dreamed. The more he thought about it, the more excited he became. Buttoning the last button of his shirt and throwing on his jacket, Albert dashed out of the house. He had to investigate the glockenspiel.
He jumped on his bike and pedaled as fast as he could to the clock tower. The sun met him as it rose in the early morning over the city. He raced to the scene of his dream, thinking, I must be going crazy! He found the center of Munich still asleep. He dismounted and walked to where he’d entered the tower in his dream. There was no door. Albert felt the cold stone with his hands, seeking a crack or a hinge; anything that would reveal the presence of an entryway. He encountered nothing but the rough stone surface. He looked up and found no windows or radiating light other than the sunlight that glistened in the early dawn.
Disappointed, he turned away from the tower, went back to his bicycle, and slowly headed back to his home. As he rode away, the tiny golden bird at the top of the glockenspiel chirped three times.
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