Sofia lit the last three candles. It was still raining, and water ran down the wall under the shutterless cellar window. She joined Roland, who knelt before the Alchemist Cabinet looking at one of Rene’s open workbooks. The symbols on the page corresponded to the symbols on the bronze scales. “What do you think Pater meant by ‘look to the cabinet’ for the answers?”
“It is hard to say. The book tells us all of which we need, but it does not tell us the amount or order that we should mix them. I want to try something. Find bismuth on the scales.”
Roland searched until he saw the figure eight with the small break in the arc at the top of he upper loop. “Ah, there it is, right there.”
“I think I may know what Pater meant. How many scales away is the bismuth from the codpiece?”
At the center of the cabinet, just below the drawer, was a larger scale that stood out. It had the Tree of Life embossed on it. Sofia pointed at it. Roland counted the scales that were between the bismuth scale and the codpiece. “Seven.”
“What else is on the scale?”
“It looks like a tree with six little bells, or maybe flowers or blossoms.”
“It may be six parts bismuth added in the seventh, or seven parts bismuth added in sixth. I have watched and helped Pater in the past. I saw him count the scales, but I did not know why. Now I think I do.”
When Roland found the symbol on a bronze scale, Sofia would write it down according to its position to the codpiece. The work was tedious because some of the symbols were repeated.
The rain stopped. The sun broke through the clouds and streamed through the window and onto Roland and Sofia. The warmth felt good. They both looked up when they heard chickadees chirping. Without a word they stood, stretched, and climbed the staircase. Roland sat on a step level with the broken out window. Sofia sat on his lap. They watched the two birds sing and bathe in a glassy puddle.
“They have a pretty song together, do they not?” The sun illuminated Sofia’s face. “So simple and innocent, as if their hearts are singing.” She looked at Roland. “Do you think it is a love song?”
“Yes. Today the whole world is a love song.” Roland put his arm around Sofia’s shoulder. They sat there until a bank of dark clouds drifted in. The birds flew away, and the rain started to fall again.
“We must return to our work.”
“In a few more minutes,” he said.