The Newton Enigma. A novel by
Chapter 10 b
Things were different on the
Northern side. They did not know for
sure that the fuse had been lit until the men who had lit it had run the whole
breadth of the field and reported. Plus
there was no arrangement for damping the blast.
So while Southern dirt was starting toward the sky, the shockwave was
traveling along the tunnel like the charge of a
cannon. Lee’s men withdrew, waited out the explosion and then returned to their
positions. But the blast coming out the
Union side produced massive confusion. The
battle commenced anyway, with a Union attack executed at terrible cost and with
“Well that’s one way to win,”
said James with relish, ignoring as any young man might the
horror of the total event.
“Whose side are you on?”
side, of course. I’m from Georgia.”
“Your ancestors fought here?”
“Maybe not here, but there
were plenty of Black men fought in the Confederate army.”
“But not here.”
“Sure, here. Who do you think dug those listening chambers
anyway? And who dug the Confederate
trenches? Black men, I tell you. We dug well.
“And suppose two cannon are
stuck in the mud, Union and Southern.
On one side they stand around and decide whose fault it is. On the other side there are twenty men
running up to help pull her out.
“Suppose two messages are sent. Each one says, ‘Expect an explosion under the
Southern line.’ On one side the
messenger says, ‘Sir, yes Sir!’ On the
other side he says, ‘Move ‘em out! She’s gonna blow!’”
James paused to let it sink in. “It was always like that. We took good care of them. Only one place we couldn’t help them. We couldn’t go north. It was that slavery thing. They were on their own. Even notice how bad things went for the South
when they went north? They left behind
their ears and their eyes and their hands.
“It wasn’t just the white men
and the Indians that fought that war.
The whole country did.”
By the time they got back to
the car Jon had finished his work. The initial “I” had been obvious. But it was not until he tried the third “v”
that he found the repeating pattern. The
message read out by taking each letter eighty seven after the last. He held up two pieces of paper. On each he had printed out:
Ivan, the bottom line has to be that anything that you
need will kill you if you get too much.
You need a minimum mating pool size or you get inbreeding. There must be a maximum mating pool size that
civilizations always exceed. Evidence should
be everywhere. Why do social insects and
herding animals confine reproduction to select members? Do reef animals fertilize the whole sea or
just locally? Do wild populations get
too big and collapse like civilizations?
Why do tropical trees have so many species; to control reproductive pool
size? When ethnic groups combine, does
fertility drop? What is the cause of
hybrid sterility? Are great height and
weight caused by the same thing? Why is
the sperm count thought to be falling?
What is the greatest known effective population size? Do the genealogies of Iceland or the British aristocracy show families becoming
infertile after much outbreeding? What about the signers of the Magna
Charta? How long do villages survive? – check
the Doomsday Book. In Philadelphia, go to the church the hardware company built. Ask who the master mason was who put up the
“I think we need to split the
party,” said Jon. “This car is
conspicuous enough already. With four
men and a woman, we are just about a giveaway.
Hapgood and I can take the Amtrak north from Richmond. You others
“What about all these
questions?” Tracy asked.
“I made two copies. I’ve underlined some of the questions for
you. Hap and I will go to Washington. I’ll call
some old friends in government service and see if they can pull some strings to
make it easier to find people. You go on
to Baltimore and see if you can find anything out at Johns
Hopkins. We can meet at ten in the
morning day after tomorrow in front of that church in Philadelphia the message mentions.”
They drove on to Richmond,
where Hapgood and Jon got out at the Amtrak
station. The others bought some supplies
before starting for Baltimore.
There have been 2,068
visitors so far.