The Christmas Tree Essay

2151 words - 9 pages

Swain took the railway into London. The hubbub of London was to his disliking. Cars drove too fast, and people walked at high-speed clips. However, someone had slipped a note under his cottage door. The hand scribbled note only had an address, time, and date—tomorrow. At the bottom, a small cross was penned over twice.
The next day, he wandered around London until he found the building. It was the corporate headquarters for the Zeldon Petrol Company. Dressed like a vagrant with a rucksack on his back, he entered the plush building. The guard at the desk was ready to bounce him out on his ear. His bum uniform and three-day stubble turned the guard off. The minute he said, “William Kenneth Swain,” the guard’s face softened.
The guard cleared his throat and smiled. “Oh yes, I will have you accompanied to the conference room by an attendant.” He picked up the telephone and quietly talked for a few seconds. As he hung up the receiver, he said, “Someone will show you to your meeting posthaste.”
A tall woman, wearing a blue suit, nylons and high heels, appeared in the vestibule. The clacking of her heels on the granite floor irritated Swain. He followed her down a labyrinth of hallways. She opened a cherry wood door without a nameplate, mentioned a hand to enter, and abruptly closed the door behind him. A redheaded woman with wire-rimmed glasses sat at the conference table, leisurely drinking a cup of tea. Swain sat down next to her, thinking this was going to be a wild-goose chase. Wordlessly, she poured hot water into a cup of tea leaves and slid the cup in front of him.
“My name is Ruth Cambridge. She adjusted her glasses with a gold librarian chain hanging from the arms and took a sip of her tea. “I’m a Cartographer.”
Swain nodded to her. The maidenly black high-necked wool dress and schoolmarm glasses made her look old-fashioned. A delicate gold cross on a chain hung around her neck.
Ruth flipped open a file. “I see that you have done extensive intelligence and reconnoitering while the Axis occupied Northern Africa.” She looked up from the file. “Major, we have a new method of mapping. The Germans have no idea that the Americans having been working on this since Pearl Harbor.”
She adjusted her glasses again. “Are you familiar that the Roman Claudius Ptolemaeus of the Alexandria Library, known as Ptolemy?” She didn’t wait for him to answer. “During his life, he wrote a booked called Geography. No one is quite sure of the actual date, but it was after 130 B.C. In fact, this work is the most influential scientific manuscript that has survived from that classical period. Ptolemy outlined the topography of Europe and Asia by coordinates. Before the war, the book Geography was translated into English.
“Ptolemy devised positions on the globe in a grid system, which charted the known world at the time. His work employed a system of longitudes and latitudes, influencing mapmaking to the present day. Since then, the science of cartography has evolved.
“Great...

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