Chapter 6: Bucephalus
...... "Veritas!" the headmaster called out at the start of Thursday's assembly.
...... The answering call was muddled--but loud: the Amdexter boys had shouted Veritas at the tops of their lungs while the ESAP kids, with equal vigor, shouted Scientia.
...... "All right. All right," said the headmaster when the reverberations had died down. "Enough!" The auditorium became eerily silent. "School spirit is commendable," he went on. "But Amdexter and ESAP are not rivals. We're brother schools. Henceforth, I'll start our assemblies with both schools' mottos. All of you please respond in kind." He raised a hand. "Veritas! Scientia!"
...... "Veritas. Scientia," came a tentative reply.
...... "No," said the headmaster. "I want both words at the same volume. Every boy is to say both words. Again. Veritas! Scientia!"
...... "Veritas! Scientia!"
...... "Excellent!" said the headmaster.
...... "Alphabetically," Paul whispered, "it should be Scientia, Veritas."
...... "This is good enough," Kip whispered back, impressed at how well the headmaster had handled the problem. Maybe this guy isn't so bad.
...... "As the school-year progresses," the headmaster went on, "I hope you will make friends regardless of school and you'll sit with your friends--and I'll no longer see a single block of grey shorts in a solid mass of brown."
...... Kip nodded. He spotted his new friend Alex sitting among the browns--and he knew Alex hated most of them.
...... "Incidentally," said the headmaster. "A few of the new boys have asked about the foxes."
...... Kip snapped to attention.
...... "We do have a den of foxes on the grounds," the man went on. "Leave them alone. They eat much, much smaller prey than boys."
...... Many of the boys laughed. But not Kip. He was a city kid and he considered wildlife to be just that--wild.
...... "They won't attack you unless they think they're cornered."
...... Kip leaned in to Wolfgang. "I don't know if I like this."
...... "They're just foxes," said Wolfgang, "not werewolves like you are."
...... "Very funny!"
...... "And one more thing. It has been brought to my attention"--Kip returned his gaze to the headmaster--"that the ethics course mandated solely for the ESAP students most likely violates the operating agreement between our two schools."--Kip held his breath, hoping to hear that the course had been cancelled--"So we feel we have no other choice but to make the course a requirement for the third form of both schools."
...... "What!" Kip jumped half out of his seat as he silently mouthed the word. He slumped back, re-reevaluating his opinion of the headmaster. Out of the sides of his eyes, he could see brown-shorts kids glaring at the greys. And murmuring flowed through the auditorium.
...... "Gentlemen," the headmaster called out, "I require your undivided attention." When the boys became silent, the headmaster talked some more and concluded with, "I've been asked when our carousel will be available for rides. After consulting with the ESAP, we've decided that the carousel will run on holidays and during the after-dinner free-time on Sundays. At other times, it will be purely for ESAP--used as a science lab."
...... Kip could hear grumbling from the browns. And he heard a loud whisper from Todd. "Science lab. Yeah, right."
...... When dismissal came, the grey shorts left in a tighter group than usual. Kip felt he was running a gauntlet of resentful stares. He hurried to his first-period class, eager to escape the evil looks. "Escaping to Latin?" he said under his breath. "I must be losing my mind."
...... By second-period, Kip was happy to see
that the hard feelings seemed to have vanished; as he walked to Social Studies,
brown shorts passing in the halls just ignored him--as they'd done since day
...... Kip padded into class, slipped into his seat next to Alex, and turned his attention to his teacher. In the previous session, Mr. Thomas had concluded his exploration of the battles of Philip of Macedon. This day, he started talking about Philip's son, a boy who would become Alexander the Great. Kip listened eagerly; Mr. Thomas made Greek history exciting. He said that Alexander the Great had cried because he was afraid there'd be nothing left to conquer when he grew up. Kip sympathized. He too worried--he was deathly afraid that when he grew up, there'd be no physics left to do.
...... At the next mention of Alexander the Great, Kip glanced sideways at Alex. He expected his friend to be interested in a boy from twenty-five hundred years ago with the same name. But Alex clearly wasn't interested. He had his notebook open and was drawing horses--great, wild, angry steeds: one galloping with mane and tail flying in the wind and another rearing up with slashing hooves, mouth open and fiery eyes.
...... Kip split his attention between Mr. Thomas and the horses--gradually spending ever more time with the horses. The creatures seemed almost alive on the page.
...... Kip snapped his gaze forward as Mr. Thomas, without interrupting his lecturing, meandered toward them. But instead of closing Alex's notebook as he'd done before, he stood gazing down at the horse drawings. He came to the end of the sentence he was speaking and didn't start a new one. For about fifteen seconds, Mr. Thomas looked at the horses while most of the class looked at him. Finally, he gave Alex a pat on the shoulder, walked to the front of the class, and said, "Like young Griffin there, and of course like Philip of Macedon, I too am a lover of horses."
...... Watching obliquely, Kip saw Alex staring at his teacher through narrowed eyes filled with suspicion.
...... "There are a great many notable horses in history and mythology," Mr. Thomas went on in his clipped British voice, "I can think of...let's see..."--he held up a closed hand--"There's Napoleon's horse, Marengo." He extended his forefinger. "And Buddha's horse, Kanthaka." He extended another finger. "And Caligula's horse, Incitatus. The Viking god-horses of day and night, Skinfaxi and Hrimfaxi." Enumerating the horses, he'd run out of fingers. "And the Mares of Diomedes--the four man-eating horses in Greek mythology."
...... Kip felt his eyes widen. Wow! Man eating horses.
...... "And then there's King Arthur's horse, Llamrei. And the Wind Horse of Mongolia or...or the Fire Horse of China. In the Chinese calendar, the year of the Fire Horse comes every sixty years." Mr. Thomas raised his hands as if he were holding a crystal ball. He looked truly spooky. "The Fire Horse," he said in an equally spooky voice, "will consume everything in his path and wreak havoc wherever he goes."
...... "How 'bout the Trojan horse?" one of the boys called out.
...... "Yes." Mr. Thomas stopped looking weird and speaking like a ghost. "Another horse from Greek mythology. We'll be talking about it when we go back and study the Trojan War." He paused and locked his gaze on Alex. "But since we're now studying the conquests of Alexander the Great, perhaps we should start by talking about his horse, Bucephalus." Kip was intrigued. And he saw that Alex had switched his attention from his notebook to his teacher.
...... "Bucephalus," Mr. Thomas went on, "was a huge black horse with a white blaze on his face. It made him look like an ox. Bucephalus means ox head in Greek. Alexander got Bucephalus when he was about ten years old--Alexander was ten, not the horse."
...... Some of the boys laughed.
...... "Alexander's father wanted to buy the horse for himself but couldn't tame him. Alexander insisted he could tame him. His father laughed. He told Alexander that if he could tame the horse, then the horse would be his. The story goes that Alexander had observed that the horse always became frightened when he saw his own shadow. So Alexander pulled the lead so that the sun was in front of the horse. Then he jumped on the horse's back. Within moments, the horse calmed down. So Philip bought the horse for his son. Bucephalus and Alex were together for over twenty years--until Bucephalus died in battle. And then Alexander, who was then known as Alexander the Great, named a city after him."
...... Kip saw Alex close his notebook.
...... "You know," said Mr. Thomas with a chuckle. "One of the horses on our carousel looks just like the Greek descriptions of Bucephalus. Maybe at our next class, one of you boys will tell me which one."
...... The class ended and as the boys walked out, Todd whinnied at Alex. Alex ignored him and hurried away.
Kip's next period, English, was tolerable, even with Todd in the same class. The next class, Computers, was useless. After lunch, there was Art: fun, but useless. And then came the good stuff.
(For Dr. Ralph's description of the 1-slit experiment click here)
...... In his bunk after lights out, Kip imagined Bucephalus galloping away from him on the golf course--becoming ever smaller as he ran out past the ninth hole. Then Kip imagined the horse really becoming smaller. He wondered how small Bucephalus would have to be before he moved less like a horse and more like a weird electron.