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A Natural Philosopher

'I have just been reflecting on our old shipmate, Honey,' said Jack.

'Indeed, brother?' replied Stephen. 'Did I ever tell you that I once knew a distant cousin of his?'

'I don't believe you did. Another Navy man, was he?'

'No, sir; a natural philosopher. Arthur Honey was his name. He perished in darkest Africa.'

This seemed most unfortunate to Jack, but the expression on Stephen's face seemed anything but distressed. 'A great tragedy for his family, I collect?'

'I suppose it must have been; and yet, you know, Jack, the sights that the man saw before he perished! He made a trek across a great portion of central Africa, in particular to study the various plants and animals living in small bodies of water. Before his death he was able to travel to all the sizeable pools in the area, and to send specimens and report his findings back to England and France, where they made quite a stir.'

'A fascinating study, I don't doubt. You sound a trifle envious of the man. I don't doubt you would have liked to make such a trip yourself.' Jack replied with a twinkle in his eye.

'Oh, with all my heart! His discoveries were so highly regarded, in fact, that there was talk of making him a Knight of the Garter.'

'Was this not very unusual for a natural philosopher, brother?' Jack wondered.

'It was; and yet, you know, it was most appropriate. For you must remember, Jack, that unlike any other European of his day, Honey saw key Mali ponds.'

© 2004 Rosemary Davis