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   Chapter 26 No.26

A Girl Named Sandy By Paul Kater Characters: 13715

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:04


The coalition of offworlders

"Doctor Carmichael, a word please if you can spare the time?" Professor Sams stood waiting by the door he still held open. Paul and Don were comparing results from complex calculations and didn't hear him. Patiently he waited. Professor Sams understood the work they were doing, and he had come in without an announcement.

"Don, this is good work. If we can do this, we can demonstrate how the solar plasma velocity gradients may have a significant effect on the linear polarisation produced by scattering in chromospheric spectral lines. We may even be able to show the impact of velocity gradients on the anisotropy of the radiation field and on the ensuing fractional alignment of the Ca II levels, and how they can lead to an enhancement of the zero-field linear polarisation signals." Paul tapped on the pile of paper on Don's desk. Every sheet had graphs and drawings on it, next to many hand-written additions and corrections.

Professor Sams approached the desk and looked at the charts. "You are undoubtedly aware of the importance of knowing the dynamical state of the solar atmosphere in order to correctly interpret spectropolarimetric measurements, which is needed for establishing a suitable zero-field reference case to infer magnetic fields via the Hanle effect."

"Yes, of course, " said Don, quickly rummaging through the jumble on his desk. "We made a note of that here. Oh, no. Wait. Here, yes, there it is. And hello professor."

It was with difficulty that Professor Sams tore his eyes from the sheets on the desk. Paul and Don knew that the man missed all the actual hands-on work in this field, and at times he came down to their lab to join the two in their activities. "You are doing good work here, gentlemen. Carry on, by all means, do not let me hold you back. But Doctor Carmichael, I hope you can spare me a moment for a word or two."

A word or two. Paul knew that this would not be a quick talk in the hall. "Of course, professor."

They walked to Professor Sams' office. It was dominated by dark wood, books and charts, three computers with large monitors, and a desk so antique that museums had asked for it in vain. Paul was offered a seat in one of the large Chesterfield chairs that were near one of the high windows. Sunlight streamed into the office from three of those. The professor sat down in an opposite chair of similar proportions and took a moment to regard Paul. The professor lightly tapped the fingertips of both hands together. Paul was aware that the man wanted to talk about something sensitive; such talks always started with this little ritual from the professor's side.

"Yes, " the professor said, as he had decided on how to open the conversation. Another part of the ritual. "As you are undoubtedly aware, Doctor Carmichael, there are people who raise a question here and there about your appearance. I do not refer to your manner of clothing yourself, but there is a distinct change in your countenance. The kind one might perhaps expect after a face lift." He made it sound as if it was something that left a bad taste in the professor's mouth.

The pause that fell was Paul's cue. "Doctor Sams, I can assure you that the way I look has nothing to do with surgical intervention."

"Naturally. Such a procedure would require your absence, and..." The professor did not elaborate further on his thoughts about that. "There is however a small thing I do need to ask you. You are aware of the work of young Doctor Harper, aren't you? The fellow in the Bio-Chemistry department?" Paul nodded. "It has come to my attention that he might be researching... how should I put this... specific particles that could have a certain altering effect on a person. Are you aware of such a thing? Or perhaps more closely engaged in his research than just knowing about it?"

Paul raised an eyebrow for a moment. "No, sir. Not at all. I know Sherdan as a good colleague and a fine researcher, and that is where my knowledge ends. He and John Hitchin are a good team. The fact that I appear younger has to do with my wi

any people there, and Paul was relieved that Lester took care of them, introducing them to the people who might be most helpful to them in answering questions the two might have.

The evening had progressed quite far already when Lester reminded Paul about the question he wanted to ask about Sandy's 'magic'. When he heard about Paul's experience at the university the other day, he nodded. "I can't say that we encounter this problem a lot. There are not many rejuvenators, and Sandy clearly is a very strong one. Perhaps we should see Miss Benson."

Miss Benson worked in a beauty parlour, and she looked like she did. Dressed immaculately, her black hair and make-up equally perfect, she listened to Paul and Sandy without asking any questions until they had finished. Then she asked if they had a photograph of Paul before he had started changing. Sandy took out her phone and showed the many pictures she had collected of her husband. Miss Benson commented that Sandy apparently appreciated Paul very much, and then she took out a small notepad and a nice fountain pen. Slowly she wrote down a list of things. "If you can get these, I can show you how to apply them to make Mister Carmichael look older. We sell them at our parlour of course, but it is a bit awkward for me to make someone look older there. I'd rather show you here, without strange looks. I can be here again next Wednesday if that suits you."

Paul and Sandy appreciated her offer. "We'll come by your beauty parlour though, and purchase what we need from you. That way we are certain we have the proper materials." He looked at the sheet that Miss Benson had given him, to make sure the address of the place where she worked was on it.

"That is very kind of you. I am not here every Wednesday - some are - but for you I'll gladly come back." Miss Benson then looked at Sandy. "I have never met a person who can rejuvenate, so my apology if I stare."

"That's okay, although I don't consider myself that special. It's something I was born with. Rather that than horns or whiskers, " Sandy grinned.

Miss Benson allowed a careful smile. She wasn't the kind to be familiar with people very quickly and preferred to keep her distance. "It was very nice to meet you. I shall see you here next week." They shook hands, and then Miss Benson left, almost as quiet and unnoticed as a shadow.

"Nice person, but very on her own, " Sandy remarked as they saw Miss Benson go.

"Very British upbringing probably, " Paul said, putting an arm around his wife. At that moment his telephone rang. He took it and saw Don's telephone number. He answered the call. "Don? What's the matter?"

"Paul, you're not going to believe this. The wobble disappeared."

***

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