“Chester wait! Wait my man!” said Francis, panting heavily, almost as if in pain.
Chester’s boots could be heard scraping to a halt in the gravelled road. “Francis, keep up! We haven’t much time before it goes!”
“You’re running faster than I’ve ever seen!” Shouted Francis as he went at a spring toward and past Chester, laughing aloud as the bewildered young man had begun figuring out he’d been had.
“Francis! I’ll have you!” he cried out and began running after his friend. And not soon after, Chester proved his better fitness intact by catching up to and easily running Francis into a stretch. Chester slapped Francis’ shoulders teasingly.
“You cad! you absolute, cad!” said Francis indignantly and they slowed down to allow for a recovery of breath. Francis was clearly put off by the victory and was breathing with great labour.
“Come Frannie, you’ll forgive me when I show you what it is, just come along, not far now.” Francis could never be angry at Chester long.
The boys came out into a clearing and were in the center of a huge commotion set around a strange looking sight!
On the grassy field there were many of the townspeople and they were gathered around a very beautiful thing, “Chester, Chester, it, it’s ah…ha ha – its, my goodness! Its a Hot air Balloon!”
“I know, marvelous isn’t it?” Chester seemed bright with happiness.
They went up to where it was docked and there was a man poised just like a groom waiting for someone to climb into a carriage. Francis wondered who had arrived in it, what person of Royal Lineage was visiting today and how wonderful it would be if somehow he could be allowed to just step inside and imagine that he were soaring through the clouds. He stopped a respectable distance from the balloon and smiled at its driver/groom/attendant. The man simply nodded kindly.
It was exquisite he thought, how gilded the cabin was, and the workmanship on the great balloon itself. How, he thought, could the pilot of such a complicated craft dress so serenely in a servants clothing. One ought to be given a uniform like a soldier, a place of high regard among princes and men.
He had so many questions racing in his mind; how does it all really work? The books were never good at explaining how it felt to manage such a thing. What is it made of? He’d seen only illustrations and now here he was standing beneath the grandiose reality and he had lost all ability to speak.
Suddenly Chester walked past and up to the attendant. Francis was so worried that he rushed up to stop his friend from exerting an unintentional disregard for societies rules upon someone who probably knew more of atmospheric currents than the social graces.
Chester interrupted Francis’ attempts with a stern acknowledgment of what was going on, this always annoyed Francis far more than anything else but Chester knew it and only risked the tactic when he knew he could fulfill the stakes, “Hullo Francis, were you coming to stop me saying something to this fine pilot here?”
“I wouldn’t dream of stopping you Chester if you had full knowledge of the situation.”
Chester turned confidently and gazed into his friends’ bright green eyes, stopping him. “I have full knowledge of the situation, i assure you.” Chester knew that when he gave that look it meant to trust him no matter what. And Francis always did.
Chester smiled and backed up a little, continuing to gaze into Francis’ eyes. He stepped up next to the Pilot and he gestured for Francis to step inside.
Chester’s smile was so immense when he noticed how surprised Francis was (once he’d worked it all out) and Francis, still unable to understand how this wonder came to pass only knew that his friend had and was the only person who could arrange such a thing.
Before stepping inside the balloon, Francis looked at Chester and gave him a tender punch on the breast. He had no other friend in the world, and didn’t care because he had the best friend he’d ever needed right in front of him. “Thank you, Chester. You must know how much this means to me.”
“Then you must know how much it means to me my dear friend.” They stepped inside along with the Groom, who was also the Pilot. And after being fitted with goggles, then given to some minor preparation and participation, the balloon would be in the air and allowing the boys to discover a view of their home they’d only imagined could be seen. They felt like pioneer princes.