When crossing a wilderness, it is customary to sing and brawl, to keep alert, but, I discover, the recruits have spent too much time attending Stephen’s lessons and they don’t know any songs and tend to fall down immediately when hit, which is hardly a useful brawl. Instead of enjoying themselves, for entertainment, they set each other ridiculous and pointless puzzles.
Succa’athites said, “What is the heaviest, a hundred ounces of solid gold or a hundred ounces of feathers?” Pygarg replied, saying that they both weigh the same. Azbuk says Pygarg is right, but I say that that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard, everyone knows feathers are lighter than gold, otherwise ducks would have gold plate instead of feathers. Merom says that I am missing the point and that a hundred ounces of anything weighs the same as a hundred ounces of anything else. I say that if an aeroplane dropped a hundred ounces of gold and a hundred ounces of feathers, the gold would make a significant hole in a goat, whereas the feathers wouldn’t weigh enough to stun a beaver, not only that, I add, but gold falls faster than the feathers, which proves that it’s heaver. Calphi interrupts and tries to explain that factors such as wind resistance and mass make the gold appear heavier, but, he insists, a hundred ounces of gold does weigh exactly the same as a hundred ounces of feathers.
My brain starts to melt with the dullness of this conversation and I have to remind myself that the recruits don’t know that feathers are weighed by avoirdupois weight and gold is weighed by troy weight or that a troy ounce has four hundred and eighty grains but an avoirdupois ounce only has four hundred and thirty seven and a half grains, so the gold, obviously, is a good deal heavier than the feathers. However, as thinking about this sort of thing makes me sick with boredom, I agree with everything the recruits say, and sneak away to Pirathon’s Pillar, where I refresh my spirits with a nip of Glenmorangie, a tot of Macduff, and a dram or two of Craigellachie, which, washed down with a flask of Juan’s Special Phosphorescent Reserve, leaves me feeling much fortified, then, reminding myself that Mahalath needs rescuing; yelling at the recruits to hurry up, as we are bibaciously behind schedule, then, to lead by example, I crawl around in small, bewildered, circles, as fast as I possibly can.
Professor Humperdink’s Diary