The weather was sunny, and Susan walked to school. She said hi to Rose and two other pupils who passed, but she stopped on her way as she saw a beggar. "Hello" she said and started getting into her purse, "could a shilling or two be of assistance?"
"Sure," said the beggar. "Always appreciated."
She gave him three shillings and went on.
At school she was going to spend the next hour in the office or in training or ... without lessons, anyway.
Portman looked in: "The Principal wants to speak to you!"
"Sure," she said, "know about what?"
"Seems there was an incident on the road to school today."
"OK, didn't notice any incident, but ..."
She put on some lip gloss - not too much - and knocked at the principal's door.
She opened the door. "Yes?"
"Have a seat."
"Do you own a fortune?"
"You are not a millionaire?"
"Would I be working here then?"
"Oh, some millionnaires will have their fads. Heard of the one who tamed a crocodile?"
"Well, only tame crocodiles I do are shoes. They do not always cost a fortune."
"You are one hundred percent sure that you have no hidden pirate treasure lying around anywhere?"
"If it does, it is more than I know. Mind getting to the point?"
"Point is, three pupils saw you giving money to a beggar."
"Possibly - why?"
"No sense denying, there were three who saw you. Only one spoke out, so far, but I can hear the other two as well."
"Don't bother. I did. So, what is the problem?"
"Do you feel that everyone and anyone can do everything and anything they like?"
"No, not in particular."
"Should, for instance, every child be able to skip school?"
"If he or she had some other sensible thing to learn, yes. There are people who are bright as the stars in scouting but pretty dense in school, so why should they be in school?"
"Life is not a game. Scouting is for fun, but school is serious. Life is serious."
"Not worse than you make it really. Besides, school is worse than scouting for preparing some lines of business, when it comes to that."
"So why are you teaching in a school then?"
"Because I was good at sports. You know, it's not like I was a math genious or a language genius at school. And it's not like I am teaching history, though archery certainly has something to do with Crécy and Azincourt, if you'll tell me so, no doubt."
"A namesake of yours, in a novel seems to have had similar ideas."
Uh uh ... this could be getting into trouble.
"And they made sure that young dwarfs and satyrs were not forced to go to school ..."
"What novel is that, and who is they?"
"They are: Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy ... Pevensie. And the novel is 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' by one Clive Staples Lewis ..."
"Don't you say so now?"
"Now, would you agree with the sentiment?"
"Let's see ... satyrs are seldom hired as office clerks, and even dwarfs are more usually smiths than businessmen ... I've known about a learned dwarf, but he was only half dwarf ..."
"Enough of this nonsense!"
She fell silent.
"I do not want to hear my teachers give money to good for nothings who beg in the street. I do not want to hear it at all, but especially not that it is done before pupils."
"To hear you talking, one might presume I had been dancing can can on Moulin Rouge or something?"
"Giving an example of false generosity is worse!"
"You felt generous when you gave him the money, right?"
"Not very, it was not much."
"But you felt you were doing him a favour, right?"
"And you are going to tell me I was not?"
"How do you know he won't spend it on beer, for one?"
"How do you know ..." she lifted her hands to enumerate on fingers: "a) that he will, and ... b) that it would be a bad thing?"
"I can't have you setting such an example of been naive! You know how beggars are like!"
Susan recalled an Edmund who one of the moments at his worst had said "you know what fauns are like ..."
"They are all liars. You can never trust what they say. And you can never trust them to remain sober."
"That is more than I knew."
"C'mon! Why not look at them! Red noses, blue and red cheeks. Smelling of alcohol!"
"This one was not." She was crossing her legs and looking pretty sour at her boss. As she was.
"I will not have this repeated, do you hear me?"
"Well, that sounds you want all your pupils so taught as to exclude all beggars from surviving, if all England's pupils were yours."
"Who cares if they do survive? They are beggars!"