Springfield, MA – 1854

An inventor, Finneus Figgly, has just created his greatest invention yet. Even though it is 2 AM, he sends a messenger to fetch his friend, Cornelius Butress from a neighboring house. He can barely contain his excitement. The two meet in Finneus' study.


Cornelius: What's all this, my dear Finneus? You call at such strange hours, one might think you ill! I rejoice to see that you are well, but I must ask, why do you rustle me from bed at such an hour?

Finneus: My dear friend, I have just conceived of an invention which will give the utmost delight and merriment to our countrymen.

Cornelius: Alas, for my own sake I hope this is more monumental an invention than your turnip shredder which, I will kindly remind you, you forced me to look at while on my honeymoon.

Finneus: HA! Such a memory you have! I assure you, this is much more significant than the turnip shredder. Perhaps even more monumental than the boot umbrella as well! But let us talk no more of the past, allow me to present THE FUTURE!

Finneus unveils a model of a bicycle with the front wheel vastly bigger than the back wheel.

Finneus:
Behold! I shall call it a Penny Farthing for the disparity in wheel size which roughly correlates to the relative sizes of two popular British coins! It shall usher in a new era of personal transport!

Cornelius: Uh huh…

Finneus: What? What is it, my dearest friend, which vexes you about my creation?

Cornelius: It seems that the front wheel’s too big.

Finneus: But that is the whole point! Think of the views when perched atop the seat!

Cornelius: No, I understand, it just seems that things would be a little easier if the wheels where the same size and you had some sort of chain mechanism to drive the wheels. Perhaps I am wrong, but it would seem that way…

Finneus: Wheels of the same size?! Foolishness. I might as well have fashioned a horse cart if one wants wheels of the same size! No, my oldest and closest friend, this Penny Farthing is much superior.

Cornelius:
Yes, of course, but let us say that I were to obtain a model of your contraption, how would I boost myself into the seat?

Finneus: Why, with it’s Farthing Ladder of course. I shall manufacture those as well and double my profits!

Cornelius: Right, right. I just, I don't know, I'm just concerned that people will eventually think to themselves, "Why should I climb aloft this gigantic wheel when there are other two wheeled cycling contraptions which don't require a ladder to mount." I still think it's a splendid idea, mind you, but I caution you as a friend.

Finneus: Oh Cornelius, your jealousy will turn you inside out if you are not careful! It is plain to me that you are doubting my genius simply because you yourself wish to have thought of it.

Cornelius:
No, I…

Finneus: One hundred years hence children will sing the name Finneus Figgly as they gaily ride about! And you, you will be but dust and ashes!

Cornelius: I think you're getting a little too upset by…

Finneus: OUT! Leave my study! You have no vision! You have no eye towards progress! If you cannot see that future generations will want – Ney, DEMAND – wheels of inordinate sizes than you are a blind old fool!

Finneus carefully climbs atop his contraption, loses his balance, and falls, crushing his eye socket and jaw on the corner of his desk.

Cornelius:
My GOD! Dearest friend, are you hurt? Shall I send for a physician?

Finneus points to the door with one hand while clutching his bleeding face with the other.

Finneus (spitting out blood and teeth):
OUT!

Cornelius leaves.

Finneus (to self): A minor setback…minor, indeed.