4.04 Lower Learning

Varden knocks on the door to the town hall and asks to meet with the mayor "Blundoon"
The butler wrinkled his nose at the apparent jab at his illustrious employer, "And who shall I say is seeking him?" he sneered. Varden flares his wings conspicuously. "The friend that helped him the night he was attacked by the bear." The butler had a mild start at the sudden motion but quickly recovered his composure. "Very well, wait here, I'll see if he is available." After a nearly impolite period of waiting, the master of the house arrived in silk evening attire. "Varden, what a pleasure to see you" said the mayor his voice warm but his eyes cold, "come in won't you?"
“I apologize for having interrupted your relaxing evening, but I have a humble proposition that may make this intrusion worth your very valuable time.” Varden speaks as slickly as possible.
"Continue" replied the mayor, lighting his pipe.
Varden makes a production of removing his sandals before entering and sitting across from the mayor. "I wish to talk to you about a very valuable resource that you seem not to be developing in your honourable town"
At the mention of value the mayor’s eyes came alive,
"How much tax do you collect from a farmer; how much from a scribe?"
"Coppers, silvers" replied the mayor, vaguely, still focused on Varden for the moment.
“How much tax do you collect from a merchant or businessman or tradesperson?”
"Silver, gold for the better ones."
“So, having more businessmen in this town is better, um, for the town, no?”
"Growth of commerce is always to be encouraged." the mayor conceded, wondering if Varden had a point to make.
“Well, there are two ways to get more businessmen, tradesmen and professionals into your honourable village. One is to attract them; the other is to produce them. There is one simple solution that will do both at the same time, with no effort or capital costs to you, or your honourable coffers.
Lundune raised a bushy eyebrow, "You want to train the peasants to be farmers?" he inferred.
“A very wise and intelligent deduction, honourable mayor, but no, not exactly” said Varden. “You need your peasants and farmers to remain peasants and farmers so there is a market for all these businesses. What you have neglected to notice is the value of the children; or their potential value as scribes, apprentices, couriers, and assistants - but only, of course, once properly educated.
"Now you're splitting hairs, good sir," Lundune replied, "Peasant children are still peasants, and who will work my fields a few years hence if the next generation is busy tanning, scribing, and assisting? We could starve."
“You're assuming, honourable mayor, that all the children will be professionals - this is not the case. Many will not have the mental aptitude to do anything but farm, and they will be happier to farm knowing that it is what they chose, and if anything, an educated farmer becomes a more able negotiator, able to get more value from his fields. It then conscripted to defend your town against an aggressor, you have a soldier more able to understand and follow instructions
Lundune's eyes narrowed, "And better able to outwit the taxman"
“ … and better able to understand the value of taxes and the necessity of the rule of law.”
The mayor scoffed, "Every man knows that the most valuable taxes are the ones that your neighbor pays."
“An educated taxman is a good thing.
"On that count I am far ahead of you" he replied smugly.
“I had no doubt, honourable mayor. I would beg to draw your attention to the prestige of having a well educated pool of assistants and scribes to draw business in? I'm sure I don't have to tell you that business breeds more business, and that having people who come into your town to do business means that you can tax them as they leave.”
Lundune nodded slowly, seeming unconvinced.
“May I humbly ask, honourable mayor, what the town stands to lose by having educated children?” queries Varden. “If you fear tax cheats, I point out the increased tax base; if it's a lack of farmers, I point out that you can always order people into the fields, and that educated peasants can make their land more productive, and that a more prosperous town can buy its own food; if it's the work of educating the children, I have a solution for that, too honourable mayor.”
"Which is… ?" muttered the Mayor grumpily
“While their children are together, being educated, the Mothers have time to be more productive, too - either in the fields, or in the home, or crafting things like baskets for sale or whatever. The Mothers of the town will (under your honourable direction) take turns education the children from day to day. Excepting of course holidays and the harvest. We take one of the buildings lying vacant and put in benches (made by the older children) and have the children sit and learn by repetition.
"You've clearly put a great deal of thought into this little fantasy of yours." Lundune replied caustically, "But I doubt there is much use for that sort of nonsense here"
“No use for increased tax base?”
"Contingent on farm yields magically increasing despite distracted peasant children, I say the whelps stay in the field and learn to do well what they aught to do and not fill their head with such nonsense." Lundune stood to signal the conclusion of the meeting. "You might get the idea to proceed with this foolery without my support, trust me hatchling, I've been a businessman for more time that you've been alive and this plan will not go well for you." The tone of the mayor's voice seemed almost threatening.
"I thank you, honourable mayor, for your time. I'm sorry we could not see eye to eye in this matter." Varden gets up to leave. "I hope we do not disagree like this again, next time you need assistance."
The mayor mumbled in exasperation something that may have been "Your assistance was appreciated" under his breath before slamming the door in Varden's face. Varden smoothes his feathers, collects his sandals, hops onto the roof, and glides away. That went about as well as can be expected. While he was supposedly taking off his sandals, Varden was casting Detect Magic. He had been fussing with his sandals for 30 seconds, seemingly staring at nothing, but really concentrating around the room, memorizing it, just in case.

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