Ben and Louis made their way to the garden off the back of the house. They settled at a table surrounded by several chairs. An arbor sheltered them from the sun, now approaching high noon. Thankfully, a light breeze provided welcome relief from the midday heat. It also brought in fresh country air fragrant with summer flowers. In the flowerbeds nearby, bees attended to their work, pollinating and carrying their rewards back to the hive. One of the Leray family dogs came over, wagging his tail, seeking attention . . . or more likely food. Ben gave him a pet on his head, now happily resting on Ben’s leg. The dog looked up plaintively.
“I want to live like that dog,” Le Veillard said.
“What do you mean?”
“To be happy just to receive a little attention; a pet on the head; a morsel of food.”
“Hmm, I believe that I see what you are saying. But a dog’s life is not always as easy as this one, my friend.”
“Oh, I know, Ben. But think about it. Even if this dog is inadvertently left out in the cold rain, once he is back in front of the fireplace, he is content. He doesn’t let the pain of past events interfere with his enjoyment of the present. He lives his life from moment to moment.”
“How do you know that?”
“Oh, of course, you want proof,” Le Veillard said.
“Yes,” Ben replied smugly.
“Well, I can’t truly know his thoughts, but look at those eyes.”
Ben looked down at the dog. His large brown eyes flicked back and forth between the two gentlemen . . . as if trying to understand what they were saying. Ben chuckled.
“I have to admit—he seems to be intelligent. But how do you know that he does not let past events interfere with the present?”
“Ben, think of it this way: Suppose that neither of us feeds him a morsel of food here. Do you believe that he will mope around all the rest of the day, in a foul mood because of the slight? No, he will go off in search of a different morsel of food, chase a squirrel, or court a bitch. He will not take his misfortune as anything other than what it is . . . a temporary setback, to be easily overcome by the pleasure of his next adventure.”
“Granted that what you say is true about his behavior, but how do you know what he feels?”
“All right, Ben. Let me clarify my earlier statement. I admire the dog, for he doesn’t give the outward appearance of any concern over past events.” Le Veillard gave Ben an exasperated look. “How is that? Does that satisfy you?”
“That would be more scientifically correct, my friend.”
Le Veillard laughed. “Yes, but also so much more boring,” he said.
A WORLD OF ENLIGHTENMENT, REVOLUTION, AND INTRIGUE
1776: Benjamin Franklin sails to Paris, carrying a copy of the Declaration of Independence, freshly signed. His charge: gain the support of France for the unfolding American Revolution. Yet Paris is a city of distractions. Ben’s lover, Marianne Davies, will soon arrive, and he yearns to rekindle his affair with the beautiful musician.
Dr. Franz Mesmer has plans for Marianne too. He has taken Parisian nobility by storm with his discovery of magnétisme animale, a mysterious force claimed to heal the sick. Marianne’s ability to channel Mesmer’s phenomena is key to his success.
A skeptical King Louis XVI appoints Ben to head a commission investigating the astonishing magnétisme animale. By nature, Ben requires proof. Can he scientifically prove that it does not exist? Mesmer will stop at nothing to protect his profitable claim.
The Wisdom of The Flock explores the conflict between science and mysticism in a time rife with revolution, love, spies, and passion.
Steve M Gnatz
Steve Gnatz is a writer, physician, bicyclist, photographer, traveler, and aspiring ukulele player. The son of a history professor and a nurse, it seems that both medicine and history are in his blood. Writing historical fiction came naturally. An undergraduate degree in biology was complemented by a minor in classics. After completing medical school, he embarked on an academic medical career specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. There was little time for writing during those years, other than research papers and a technical primer on electromyography. Now retired from the practice of medicine, he devotes himself to the craft of fiction. The history of science is of particular interest, but also the dynamics of human relationships. People want to be good scientists, but sometimes human nature gets in the way. That makes for interesting stories. When not writing or traveling, he enjoys restoring Italian racing bicycles at home in Chicago with his wife and daughters.
Author: Steve M. Gnatz
Publication Date: November 2020
Publisher: Leather Apron Press
Page Length: 541 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction