Einstein and Besso sit in a small fishing boat at anchor in the river. Besso is eating a cheese sandwich while Einstein puffs on his pipe and slowly reels in a lure.
“Do you usually catch anything here, smack in the middle of the Aare?” asks Besso, who has never been fishing with Einstein before.
“Never,” Einstein answers, who continues to cast.
“Maybe we should move closer to the shore, by those reeds.”
“We could,” says Einstein. “Never caught anything there, either. You got another sandwich in that bag?”
Besso hands Einstein a sandwich and a beer. He feels slightly guilty for asking his friend to take him along on this Sunday afternoon. Einstein was planning to go fishing alone, in order to think.
“Eat,” says Besso. “You need a break from pulling in all those fish.”
Einstein lowers his lure into Besso’s lap and starts eating. For a while, the two friends are silent. A small red skiff passes by, making waves, and the fishing boat bobs up and down.
After lunch, Einstein and Besso remove the seats in the boat and lie on their backs, looking up at the sky. For today, Einstein has given up fishing.
“What shapes do you see in the clouds, Michele?” asks Einstein.
“I see a goat chasing a man who is frowning.”
“You are a practical man, Michele.” Einstein gazes at the clouds but is thinking of his project. He wants to tell Besso about his dreams, but he cannot bring himself to do it.
“I think you will succeed with your theory of time,” says Besso. “And when you do, we will go fishing and you will explain it to me. When you become famous, you’ll remember that you told me first, here in this boat.”
Einstein laughs, and the clouds rock back and forth with his laughter.
— Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams
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