professor parkerson sighed. he put down the pen he had been tapping absently on the blank page of his notebook.
after all, priscilla was his favorite grandchild, even though. she, like her mother, had disappointed him in so many ways.
“i suppose, my child, it has something to do with world peace?”
“indeed it does, grandfather. have you not read the newspapers?”
the professor smiled. “of course i read them.” what he did not add was that he only read them to be amused by their ignorant reporting on scientific and other matters of which they were blissfully uninformed.
“they say that the world is headed to war - yet again! and that this time it will be worse than ever!”
“yes, i believe i read something to that effect,” the professor replied.
“then can you not do something? after all, you are the most famous scientist and the most respected person on the planet - if you can not do something, who can? can you not call another peace conference?”
“well, my dear, you see what happened the last time i attempted such a venture. the world has scarcely recovered from the aftermath.”
“but what else can be done? please, grandfather, can you not try one more time?” priscilla pleaded.
the professor sighed again. “very well, my dear. i will see what i can do.”
and so it came about that yet another peace conference was called, in a peaceful village in the alps whose exact location was not disclosed in the press.
the press, indeed, made only the most token appearance in the village, as public interest in such proceedings had dissipated with their novelty. none of the great newspapers sent their “crack” reporters, and the neophytes who attended found little to fill their reports from interviewing the local citizenry.
most of the powers that be , out of respect for professor parkerson, sent distinguished representatives to the gathering.
kaiser frederick iv and czar nicholas iii came in person.
mrs roosevelt and miss amelia earhart represented the united states. mr noel coward appeared on behalf of brittania, and m malraux on behalf of the remnants of the french empire.
lady zhen, fresh from the triumphant publication of her sensational memoirs, did the honors for the son of heaven.
a mr suzuki, a complete unknown, arrived as the representative of the emperor of japan. he spoke perfect french and displayed the manners of a polished gentleman.
the weather cooperated, and the conference was held outdoors, on a broad patio with a splendid view of the mountains.
tea and coffee were served, with some truly excellent swiss pastries.
professor parkerson made a brief speech on the benefits of continued peace, followed by a more passionate one from his granddaughter.
both speeches were acknowledged with the courtesy due them.
a representative from each of the attending empires then made a brief statement, acknowledging the desirability of peace, but restating their own claims in polite but firm terms.
it was left to the kaiser, in his bluff way, to state what they all thought.
“after all, professor, it was the rending of the fabric of reality, brought about by your own discoveries, which has brought us to this unhappy pass.”
professor parkerson could only bow his head, in acknowledgement of the truth of this statement.
priscilla made a last passionate appeal to the assembled worthies, summoning up images of bodies blown apart by bombs, villages being incinerated, mothers and babes being bayoneted, and rivers of refugees clogging the roads of the world.
suddenly a strange orange light appeared in the afternoon sky.
“look ye!” cried priscilla. “there is truly the rending of the fabric of reality! a sign from heaven itself!”
“i am afraid,my dear,” the professor murmured, “that such phenomena are often seen in the skies in these mountain areas, at this time of year.”
on that note, the representatives rose from their chairs and after exchanging formalities, repaired to their rooms.