‘You see I was born on the night of the carnival
between Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.’
‘And this you say gives you your moods?’ ‘Yes,
moods. I soar high like the eagle, then fall back down
like the chicken. My mother said it was the noise
of the revellers that disturbed my babyish dreams.’
‘Too young surely to be so affected?’Mach replies,
eying him. ‘Oh, you see I’m not sure I believe her.
I just like to tell the story by way of explanation.’
Ludwig laughs loudly and peers through his round glasses,
his eyes small and beady behind the strong lenses.
‘Another drink, Ernst, or are you already sated?’
‘I’m fine as I am, but go ahead as you wish.’
‘With your permission then I shall have another cup’.
He turns and calls out to the passing host: ‘Wilhelm,
a ruby red for me and Ernst will be having water.’
‘I see you are in buoyant spirits this evening, Ludwig.’
‘I am, I most certainly am. But we have cause
for celebration, do we not!’ Wilhelm turns to Mach,
‘I hope you will enjoy your tenure here at the Institute,
Ernst.’ Mach smiles dryly, ‘Oh, I already am’.
Wilhelm glances at Ludwig with a worried frown,
‘A ruby red then for you and a water for our new colleague.’
Ludwig faces Mach again and smiles broadly.
‘So what brings you here to Turkenstrasse, Ernst?
I mean, your main area of concern.’ Mach sips
on his glass then puts it down. ‘To prove you wrong.
So, if you’ll forgive me I really must be getting along.
No need for the water then, but thank you, Boltzmann.’
Mach smiles again, turns and is gone. A woman
in an evening gown moves to Ludwig’s side, his eyes
still fixed on Mach as he moves through the crowd.
‘Everything well with you, Darling?’ Ludwig turns,
forces a smile. ‘Of course, my dear. Of course.
It’ll be fine. Quite fine, I’m sure…’

from ‘Games of Chance & Reason’

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