A Partridge in a Pear Tree
Standing on the balcony, Daedalus peered down into the garden. A faint, floral scent of the blooming pear trees drifted up to him. His nose wrinkled, and he sneezed. Damn flowers! Through the branches, he spotted his nephew Perdix sitting with his two sons, Icarus and Iapyx. He snatched pieces of their conversation upon the wind.
"What does it do, Perdix?" Icarus reclined against the large, ornamental boulder.
"I call it a compass. When you hold it, it points toward north. With this device, sailors will be able to sail on cloudy days and nights." Perdix displayed his newest invention to his cousins.
"I'm sure father would've thought of something like that," Iapyx said.
But, Daedalus hadn't, and he knew it. Perdix was a shooting star, and he burned brighter with each invention. The pupil had surpassed his master, and the king was beginning to realize his nephew's usefulness. If he wasn't careful, Perdix would steal his position from underneath him, and he couldn't let that happen.
A jealous rage consumed him. It was bad enough that Perdix discovered a way to cut down trees quickly. With this compass, all would be lost.
"Boys!" He called down to them, and all three looked up. "Icarus and Iapyx, you need to work on your studies."
"We already done them," Icarus said, not budging from his position.
"Your geometry work as well?" He knew how much his sons hated mathematics.
"No." Iapyx stood. "Come along, brother, let's finish our work."
Perdix moved to follow them.
"Perdix, I need to speak with you." Daedalus's voice was as sharp as flint.
"Yes, sir." Giving his cousins a wave, he disappeared into the house.
Soon, Daedalus heard his nephew's footsteps upon the wooden stairs. When the bright-eyed young man entered, he embraced him. "My brother would've been proud of you."
Perdix's expression changed from being surprised to pleased. "I miss my father, but you have become my new father, uncle. I gained two brothers, as well, when you brought me here."
Motioning for his nephew to follow him, he walked back out onto the balcony. "Show me your new invention."
"It will change everything, sir." He handed over the small compass. It spun slowly around and pointed north.
He studied Perdix's new device. "It's rather ingenious. I will present it to the king during afternoon court."
The boy glanced away, dragging his foot along the stones. "I was hoping I could go with you to present it. I have so many more ideas and inventions that the king will be interested in."
Envy wrapped around Daedalus's heart. He saw his family losing their home and becoming beggars upon the Athenian streets. Everything he'd worked for would be for naught because this lad was more intelligent. He'd win the king's affections easily. "I don't believe I can allow that, nephew."
"Why not, sir? I've worked hard." Perdix met his gaze.
"But I've worked harder." The fire raged inside Daedalus. From the moment he noticed the boy's talents, he knew he had to keep a close watch on him. Now, he would ruin everything. Once again, he breathed in the scent of pears and sneezed.
"If you are allergic to the trees, uncle, I can fix it. I know of this—"
Daedalus struck out like a viper and shoved against Perdix's chest.
The boy lost his balance. He hit the balcony's railing, and his arms flailed about like a fish on land. "Uncle, help!"
He grabbed his nephew's legs and lifted. The slight movement completely unsettled Perdix, and he tumbled over the edge. Daedalus waited for the thump that never occurred. What happened?
His fingers clasped the railing as he leaned over. There was no sign of his nephew, no broken body. Perdix had disappeared.
Below, a pear tree branch shook without the wind's aid. Seconds later, a partridge plopped out from it and landed upon the ground. Ruffling its feathers, it pecked at the earth.