Hermann reached inside his moleskin pants and pulled out a round, brass object on a silver chain. The twelve gems on top glistened in the morning light. He dangled the unique object in the air in front of Albert’s face.
Albert’s eyes grew wide. “What is that, Papa?”
Hermann smiled, happy to see the illness was not severe enough to dampen Albert’s curiosity. “This is a compass, Albert.” A quizzical look came over the young boy’s face. Hermann opened the brass cover to show Albert how the strange device worked.
Hermann’s eyes glowed as he pointed to a thin arrow suspended above the face of the compass. “See this arrow?” Albert nodded, his eyes focused only on the object. “It always points north. This is because the tip is magnetic; it aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field.” Albert nodded, looking even closer. “The compass is for navigation, to help you find your way.”
Mesmerized, Albert reached out and grasped the unique device. It felt heavy in his little hands. He twisted, turned, and gently shook it. No matter how he moved it, the needle mysteriously only pointed north. “Where did you get it, Papa?” Albert asked, still staring at the needle.
Hermann smiled. “A new customer, Count von Baden, gave it to me to pay for installing lighting in his castle. The compass has been in his family for many years.”
“He must have been reluctant to give up such a treasure, Papa,” Albert said, finally tearing his eyes away from the compass.
Hermann shrugged. “It was among a bunch of items he gave us to reduce the price for his job,” Hermann said, his eyes twinkling. “And I thought you’d find it interesting.” As Albert grinned, Hermann pointed to the cover of the object.
"See the twelve gemstones on top? This is a unique compass. Be sure and keep it safe.”
“I will, Papa!” Albert said emphatically, his eyes drawn back to the device as if the magnetic needle pulled them. The excitement of receiving the new gadget gave Albert a spurt of energy, but it soon dissipated. Despite his best effort to continue examining his beautiful compass, Albert fell asleep under his parents’ loving gaze.
Pauline reached out and touched Hermann’s hand. “What a wonderful gift for Albert. He seems even better since you gave it to him.”
Hermann smiled, pleased he was able to lessen his wife’s concern.
In his sleep, Albert, too, smiled as he clutched the compass to his heart.
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