Ch. 15.5 —
A noisy crowd of people stood outside the throne room waiting for their audience with the king, but when they saw the queen and the prince come in, they quieted. They moved aside and bowed as Ezra and his party made their way toward the large double doors. Ezra felt very nervous. “Thank you,” he told them.
The guards opened the door, and Ezra and his mother walked across the huge room to the foot of the throne. Two guards stood at attention on either side of the throne, and a round, short man wearing a fur coat stood a little to the side, his head bowed. He did not look happy.
The king frowned at Ezra. “What are you doing in here?”
“I have invented something, Father.”
King Frances peered down at the intricate machine in Ezra’s hands. “What is it?”
“It’s a machine that tells time. See, the pendulum swings back and forth, and at the hour, the little rooster comes out of the door and crows. I’m calling it a clock. Because of the sound it makes when the gears inside move. You know, like, click, clock.”
The king wasn’t smiling. Ezra stopped talking.
The king rubbed his forehead. “Who would want to be reminded of the passing of time every hour? Especially at night. We have sundials. That’s good enough. Now Ezra, I know you’re trying to help, but I’m really busy. Go away and… and read something. Natalie, get him out of here. Next!”
Ezra turned around and walked across the enormous room, and then through the crowd of people outside. He kept his eyes down until he’d made it back into the hallway.
Ezra sank down against the wall, tired and discouraged. His guards took up positions around him.
He knew his father was busy with running the kingdom, keeping the fey, werewolves, and giants happy with the treaties, and preparing for Esther’s upcoming wedding, but the king hadn’t even given him a chance.
“I’m sorry, Ezra,” the queen said. Then in a frostier voice she said, “Franklin, please make sure he gets back to his room. There is something I must take care of right now.”
After a moment, someone cleared his throat. Ezra looked up to see the short, round man who had been in the throne room. “Your Highness, if you don’t mind, I’d like to buy that contraption. Did you say it was called a clock? I can see a great need for something like this.”
“Who are you?” Franklin growled.
Ezra sat up and waved his bodyguard away. “Oh, Franklin, let him speak. He’s obviously harmless.”
The man bowed. “Squire Duncan, at your service. I run an inn at the edge of the city, on High Street. My workers are always late for their shifts, especially on cloudy days. This invention could really help.”
Ezra smiled up at the man, and soon the two were bent over the clock as Ezra explained how it worked, how to wind it up every day, and who to contact among the gnomes to teach him how to make more clocks. They worked out a deal where the gnomes would get twenty-five percent of the profits and Ezra ten percent, leaving Squire Duncan with the rest. They shook hands and departed as good friends.
Ch. 15.5 —