Monday, June 12, 2017
Once upon a time in a far off island Kingdom of PING, the King of PING heard the sound of children crying: “No child should cry in PING, whoever heard of such a thing!” he said to his courtiers. “Go down to the villages and see what the heart of this matter may be!” Before long, messengers returned to the King and reported, “The children cry, they cry “boo hoo!” because they want to go to school houses like children in other kingdoms do, but their parents are poor and it’s plain to see, they simply are unable to pay the school fee!” The King was outraged, and immediately issued a royal decree: “Hear ye! Hear ye! From this day forward, all children of the Kingdom of PING may get an education! The royal treasury will pay the fees to every school in the nation!” There was much rejoicing in the villages of PING and the sound of children crying was turned to laugher and singing.
Before long, some royal ministers of the King for reasons unknown (or better left unsaid) decided that they were wiser than the school masters and so they divided the treasury payment in three: One part to run the school; One part to provide quills and parchments and ink and such things; and one part to build school houses and maintain those in disrepair (and there were many of those there!)
Now the King had a pet dragon who often sat near the throne. The dragon was ancient, slovenly, fat and green (and had a voracious appetite!) When it heard the plans the ministers were making, it belched and grinned a greenish kind of grin.
Something was amiss! The first part of the King’s payment began diminish so that only a fraction of what was needed actually reached the school masters – (and the dragon grew even fatter!) When the school masters requested funds to build a new school room, (because many students were now coming to school), they were told that there were no such funds to be had and were sent away with their hat in their hand! (The dragon belched and smiled a slimey kind a smile.) And the children had no quills, or parchments or ink bottles – “Some issue with the supply chain, you see” (though children know very little of supply chains if honest we must be!) More belches and grins from the fat green dragon’s corner!
The school masters were forlorn. “Our days of running schools are done! We are rich in students but poor in funds! We must ask the parents to assist with what they can to help the young ones.” The King’s Jester heard these plans and came bounding on the scene – as Jesters do – and the bells on his pointy shoes and pointy cap tinkled and the rattle in his hand rattled, and he shrieked, “The King’s decree! The King’s decree! School is free! There can be no fee! There can be no fee!” And he had the poor school masters thrown in stocks. But the parents said, “Our schools cannot look after our children with what is coming from the Treasury, we are ready, willing and able to pay a common fee!” With the practiced idiocy of his profession, the jumping Jester came rattling and tinkling and screamed all the louder: “The King’s decree! The King’s decree! There is no fee! School is free! School is free!”
The village elders convened their Council to see if a remedy could be found before their schools were closed… All of a sudden, in the midst of the Council, the tiny voice of the tiniest girl in the village piped, “We must write to the King, he will surely fix this terrible thing!” But no one could be found who could read or write, so they decided to climb the steep mountain to the cave of a wise wizard, “Surely he might, surely the wise wizard can read and write,” they thought. And so he could. And so it came to pass that the wizard wrote the whole story. (He even used fat letters when writing about the dragon and tinkling ones when writing about the Jester!) He rolled the parchment, sealed it with wax, and placed it in the talons of a magical bird, known only in PING. The majestic creature took flight towards the King’s castle and as it disappeared where the sky meets the ground it seemed that a glimmer of hope shone again in the tear-filled eyes of the children of PING....or was it just the sun?