Sunday, March 05, 2006

Thumbelina: With the Godfather's Aid

Continued from
section n: Vladimir the wanker
section n + 1: The fish and Freyja
section n + 2: Thumbelina's departure

A brief summary of previous sections:
Thumbelina was kidnapped by a toad who thought she would make a suitable bride for her son Vladimir. Vladimir fell in love the moment he saw Thumbelina, and immediately decided to take her as his bride. She refused, resulting in her temporary imprisonment on a floating lily pad while Vladimir made preparations for the wedding.

Desperate to escape from Vladimir, Thumbelina sought the help of some fish. After some delay, they help nibbled through the lily pad’s stem. Freyja the butterfly was sent for, who would tow the lily pad and Thumbelina to safety. Freyja was tethered to the leaf, who then pulled it along the water.

Meanwhile, Vladimir had set up a meeting with his friends to seek help in organising his wedding. When he arrived at the meeting place, he realised that word has spread and there were more acquaintances present than expected.

While Vladimir made merry with his friends, Thumbelina moved further downstream with the help of Freyja.

section n + 3: With The Godfather's Aid

Around the hollow tree, Vladimir’s acquaintances were already starting to disperse. By the time the western sky took on a magnificent glow of orange, the only toads around him were his closest friends. Persuaded by his friends, Vladimir led them to the stream where he had left Thumbelina on a lily pad.

After a brief journey through the forest undergrowth, Vladimir’s entourage stopped at the water’s edge.
“Over there, on a lily pad,” Vladimir pointed to his friends.
“I don’t see her… which leaf is she sitting on?” a puzzled friend asked.
“It should be the one that is away from all other leaves. Strange… where is it?”
Vladimir hopped into the water and swam rapidly to where he thought he left his bride. Surfacing at the location, he looked around him.
“Oh no, she’s gone!” he cried, “The leaf must have collapsed and she must have drowned! Oh what have I done….”
“Now now, lets not jump to conclusions yet. Are you sure you left her here?” Sonia asked.

“Yes, I’m absolutely certain. The leaf was right here. It lies at the intersection of this line defined by the hill top there, and the clock tower over there,” he spoke quickly, a hint of panic in his voice. He pointed out the 2 landmarks on opposing sides of himself, drawing an imaginary line through himself, “and the line defined by the ugly birch tree there and the bee hive on the other bank.” He pointed out another straight line, also through himself.

“Perhaps this is not the only intersection of these lines. There might be other intersection points,” Boris wondered aloud.
“Hey, if you do not know your Euclidean geometry, shut up,” Vladimir snapped at Boris.
“Euclidean? Hah… the earth is not flat my friend. For your information, it’s almost spherical,” Boris retorted.
“Locally, it’s very nearly Euclidean. Yes, there is another intersection, on the other side of the globe. You think I left her on a lily pad in Chile?”

“Okay, okay. Let’s calm down. Let’s see what we can find out about the situation,” Sacha interrupted, “Since there’s not much to see above the surface, lets look around underwater. Quick, before the sun sets completely and we are left without light.”

Below the water surface, there was no capsized lily pad to be seen. However, they did see what remained of a lily’s stem. It was mysteriously truncated in length, and the break was obviously not due to a collapse or a tug.

Someone, or something, had intentionally removed the lily pad from its stem.


“Mr Chebyschev, there’s someone waiting to see you. Vladimir, says he needs your help.”
“Yes, send him in. But tell him he’s only got 15 minutes.”

“Good afternoon, Mr Chebyschev,” Vladimir entered the room as directed towards the room by an assistant.
“Afternoon, Vladimir. Please, call me Pafnuty. How may I help you?”
“It’s my bride, she’s disappeared. I had left her sitting on a lily pad, and when I came back later the lily pad had been cut below the water surface. I fear she has been kidnapped.”
“Do tell me more,” Pafnuty urged.

Vladimir briefly described how his mother found Thumbelina, how he fell in love with the dainty creature, how he left her sitting on a floating lily pad in the stream while he went to meet his friends, and how he discovered her missing.

“But why would anyone want to kidnap your bride? Have you insulted anyone lately?”
“No, I’m a simple character with no enemies. Please, I need your help locating her!”
“That can be arranged. I’ll tell my distribution network to keep a lookout for her. Human, did you say she was?”
“Yes, but remarkably tiny for a human. About the size of you and me.”
“That would be easy to identify. They’ll keep an eye on all major routes leading away from this area.”
“Thank you!”
“One more thing, I might need some small favours from you in the future. Merely involves storage of my trading commodities at you place during ‘difficult times’. You get what I mean?”
“Yes I do, and of course I’ll be happy to oblige.”


End note:

For the curious and interested, Pafnuty Chebyschev (1821 – 1894) was a Russian mathematician who made notable contributions to number theory, probability and statistics. In the book “Prime Obsession”, author John Derbyshire notes the difficulty of collecting information on Chebyschev, solely because of the many ways “Chebyschev” can be translated from Russian to English.

Some spelling variations include:

Chebyschev’s biodata at wikipedia here.