Sleepless in the cold grey dawn, awakened with a dream (entering the Roman arena to deliver a package, "for the good of the order," as we say in business, then slain), Tutor stands at the casement window in the Priest's nook behind the altar in the chapel. Below he can see the ancient, now overgrown garden, once a "hortus inclusus" with roses; now, untended, full of weeds. Built long ago, under another dispensation, the garden had a fountain (now dilapidated) for birds, and a statue, pocked by erosion and pollution, of the blessed virgin, on a pillar of stone. The mossy fountain is filing with rain. The Virgin cemented to her pillar cants ten degrees off center, where the earth shifted under the pediment. "Blessed Mary, Mother of God," prays Tutor, "You who are entirely without sin, who intercedes for us all; you, Blessed Mother, as you stand forgotten in this cold rain, who prays for you? Whatever you wish for us all, I pray for that. Through your being, grace, and patience please guide me with Audrey that she may own, rule, and save all creation, if only between two beats of her heart, as she lies sleeping this moment in hope. Raise what is low in me; humble what is proud. Make me your stepping stone, and hers. The first shall be last; the last shall be first. I pray this in your name for what streams through you, even now as at the hour of our death and at world's end.
Tutor is on the iPad, longs legs extended, sitting on Audrey's bed, his back propped up with pillows against the wall. She is on the floor playing with her Thelma and Louise dolls. Tutor says, "I know something you don't know." "Tell me half of it," says Audrey, since this is a game they often play. "Has to do with red hair," says Tutor. "I have red hair," says Audrey, "what about it?" Tutor points at the iPad. "Says here that red hair comes from Neanderthals." Audrey, with the choleric temper for which Neanderthals are also known, shouts, "I am not a Neanderthal! You are the Neanderthal!" When Momma looms in the door, Tutor and Audrey are chasing each other other around the room, shouting. "No, you are the Neanderthal!" Momma, says sternly, "I cannot concentrate with you two shouting like this. I can hear you all over the Castle. Knock if off; I am trying to take delivery of Brazil."
Momma is out of town, negotiating to buy Brazil.
Master Jack has accused Tutor of just loving Audrey for money, since Tutor gets, as Moral Tutor to the World's Wealthiest heir, $25 a week plus room and board. Tutor is in the dock; the jury of his peers (servants of wealth from upstairs and down, some with Doctorates, others largely illiterate, some both) have been impaneled to adjudicate this serious accusation. Master Jack, himself a JD, as befits a most Trusted Advisor, glowers at Tutor, pointing with his finger. "Do you, Sir, or do you not love that child?" Tutor acknowledges he most certainly does. "And do you, Sir, or do you not, get paid to love her?" Tutor acknowledges that he most certainly does, an "honorarium" as he calls it, of $25 a week, to serve as her surrogate Dad, and Morals Tutor, and to prepare the child to inherit the earth and all things in it, so that, in accordance with God's Plan, as expressed through the Free Market, she can own, rule and save it, in due course. "And so, would it be fair to say, Sir, that you are a kind of prostitute in secular priest's clothing, consorting with children in Wealth Bondage for hire?" The jury of Tutor's peers, and for that matter, Master Jack's peers, gasps at such a bold statement of a truth that applies to all. "No, Sir," says Tutor, "I am an ordained monk, and like Hillary Clinton, I serve the Best Interests of the Castle, and merely have accepted by a way of emolument what I was offered, $25 a week, before tax, plus room and board. But, yes, I do love that child," Tutor continues, "pointing his finger at Audrey, whose head is slightly higher than the Plaintiff's Table at which she sits, as the Innocent Victim and Chief Witness. "I most certainly do love Audrey because she is very lovable." At which point Audrey leaps upon the table, her feet apart, and her little fists dancing above her head, her face as red as her hair, "I am very lovable." The jury members look at each other and murmur, "She is very lovable, of course." The judge calls for order in the court, but Tutor rises to his feet in the witness box, and shakes his own accusatory finger, moving it like a rifle barrel this way and that around the room. "But," he intones, "There is one of among us, a hypocrite, who does not love Audrey, our once and future Queen." A gasp goes through the packed court room. "One among us does not love our once and future queen, she who will one day own, rule, and save us all?" Audrey, having resumed her seat, once again leaps upon the table, shouting gleefully, and pointing, "Master Jack!" All order is breaking down. The Just Society over which The Castle presides, is now in Momma's absence, as the world's wealthiest, reverting to a State of Nature, under Mob Rule. Master Jack, on the verge of being lynched or at least tarred and feathered by the irate mob, exclaims, "I love her as much as anyone!" "Me, too!," the Judge shouts. Then down comes the gavel: "Case dismissed." Order restored. All is well with the world.
Meanwhile, Momma bought Brazil and is headed home.
I respect that you as a reader of Gifthub are very busy, so let me fast forward to Audrey's audition for a minimum wage job in the kitchen.
Below stairs is the kitchen and adjacent are long wooden tables, and benches, where the staff eat, and also at times the retinue of visiting notables. The kitchen is maybe 20 yards from the tables. The task at hand is to take a fully loaded silver try from the folding tray stand by the kitchen, out to the tables, then deposit the tray on another folding serving stand, then serve the plates to the tables. An adult waiter will lift the tray with both hands, then shift a palm beneath it, and carry it, shoulder high to the folding serving table, then, back to two hands, and lower it down. Then serve one or two plates at time from serving stand to table.
Tutor has told Cook that Tess wants Audrey to earn her way, but that it must be "a true market transaction." At the word "market" all faces become solemn. (Tutor recalls when, in the middle ages, he could say, "God the Holy Father" from the rostrum in church and get the same look of stupefied submission to a higher power.)
Now, presenting herself for market based test, is Audrey, whose head comes no higher than Cook's waist, unless you count the 18 inches of red hair standing straight up and out. Cook loads the silver tray, as he would for any other server, with 12 plated salads. The servants are waiting, impersonating the retinue of noble guests, at the trestle table, uneasy. How can this end well? The kid will fail, and she is the boss's daughter, and their future queen. If the tray were stood on its side, it would come to Audrey's nose. She would look like a Spartan Warrior, ready for battle. As it is, on the folding serving table the tray is far too wide for her to get her hands on either edge, much less to hoist it shoulder high. Hopeless!, the servants are silently thinking. Unfair! Maybe there is some other job the kid could find.
But Audrey gets that crazy look she gets, when tested. Eyes slitted, tongue tip protruding. Face reddening. The room is quiet, except for the ticking of the old grandfather clock at the far end of the hall. Scary to see it, but Audrey suddenly drops as if falling backward on the stone floor. She catches herself with backward flung arms, shouts, "Save Dogs!," she exclaims, and simultaneously her pink-sneakered feet in a blur kick the stand out from under the tray, which hangs, stunned, in the air for one instant. Audrey bounds off the floor, assuming the pose of Atlas, on one knee, only an Atlas who will not shrug off the weight of the world, let alone a mere serving tray. The kid rises, wavering and trembling, like a weight lifter, until the tray is pressed straight up from her shoulders. She then humps the tray to the second serving table. But now a second challenge. How can she lower it to the rickety folding table? She tries kneeling down and letting one edge go over the edge of the serving table, but when she tries sliding the tray, the table collapses, and her tray quivers, the plates beginning to slide, the tray on the verge of tipping over. Up, up again, until balanced over Audrey's head.
Now, Audrey is a walking around the table, spinning her tray like Lazy Susan, or Carousel. The tray seems to float in air, as if held up by a shock of red hair, as she walks around the servants' trestle table. Each servant gets his or her salad served, as the tray deftly turns. Perfect service! 100% better than the traditional way. The hall fills with cheers and laughter. So, Audrey serves and clears the entire three course meal. At the end, she not only gets the job at the full $9.50 an hour true market rate, but she also gets carried around the kitchen on Cook's shoulder, as the servants cheer. "May God save our future Queen!" If The Castle were a union shop, Audrey could have gotten elected steward.
Back in her room, Tutor finds Audrey on the floor, feet apart, her T-Shirt laid out flat as she paints a slanting line through "Own" in her motto, "Own Rule Save." Above "Own" she is painting "Earn." Tutor thinks to himself, "Momma is smart. If Audrey ever gets deported back to the working class, even at 9.5 years old she could support a family of three at minimum wage if she works three shifts."
When consulting on serious matters, Tutor and Audrey believe in bringing all of themselves to the conversation. If you stood in the doorway to Audrey's room, you would see them side by side, sitting on the floor, facing in opposite directions, shoulders touching. On "Go!" he will turn slow majestic somersaults to the right, hitting the wall and returning. She will turn fast somersaults to the left, hitting the wall and meeting precisely in the middle of the room, at precisely the same moment. Her RPMs are three times his, because her circumference is a third of his majestic girth. Upon meeting, each must shout out the one word or phrase that has come to mind. Then another run of the room, then, the next word or phrase, taking into account what the other has said. You will admit, if you are candid, that few Grownup to Grownup Consultations show such seriousness of purpose, and depth of shared understanding.
Round one: Tutor shouts, "Earn!" And Audrey shouts, "Money!"
Round two: Tutor shouts, "Earn money!" Audrey shouts, "To save dogs!"
Round three (by now Rex is running up and down excitedly barking): Tutor shouts, "How?" Audrey shouts, "How?"
Round four: Tutor shouts, "Find the need!" Audrey shouts, "Ask people!"
Now, Tutor and Audrey go face to face, cross-legged, knees touching. Tutor explains that we can "sell to needs or sell to wants." First we must discover who in the Castle needs help, and has the capacity to pay for it. And also, who in the Castle knows and is willing to say they want help. Only after we convert needs to wants in our prospects should we make the ask, or conduct the close. Do not close when you know what the prospect needs. For example, she might need a retirement plan. Close for what the client wants. For example, she might say, "I know I need to save, but God! What I really want is straw hat." What are you going to sell her? Straw hat! Unless you can get her to say, "I want help with my retirement," or "I want more security in retirement." Then once she says that, you can close for your next step in the sales process. Audrey bobs her head. Got it! Needs to be confirmed as wants. But how find unmet needs, let alone unmet wants? Who might have a need? Wouldn't Momma just hire someone to meet that need? What could Audrey do that is not already done? Tutor and Audrey both sense they are making progress on this knotty problem. Both tap the side of their heads with a finger, making "thinking hard" faces, all scrunched up, like you do when you think hard. Now, they must go another round or two to elicit specific ideas. Ready? They are ready. "Go!," shouts Tutor.
Round five: Audrey shouts, "I know!" Tutor shouts, "Who?"
Round six: Tutor shouts, "Really?" Audrey shouts, "Listen!"
What Audrey has noticed is that when Momma has big parties of dignitaries, like to discuss Global Warming, or China Trade Policy, the wait staff and kitchen staff are pressed beyond measure. Every available body is pressed into service cooking, or serving, or cleaning up. The matters are made more difficult by the entourages. For every dignitary there may be three or more Trusted Advisors, Clerks, baggage handlers, body servants, mistresses, traveling companions, chauffeurs, helicopter pilots, or bodyguards. So, upstairs Cook must serve, say, 75 guests, but downstairs he must serve, say, 300 of the entourage. Momma could bring in contingent help, but Legal Counsel and Master Jack recommend against it. Vetting servants at the Castle takes month, like getting into the CIA or the NSA. You can't just have anyone waiting on the world's most important people, at $15 an hour, no benefits, hired off the back of a truck, like migrant workers. So Cook has a need, but does Cook have a want? Can Audrey get Cook to say the words, "I want help with this so so bad!" Or words to that effect? Then she is to say, "Would it help if....." Like this, "Would it help if you had totally reliable help that you could call on at a moment's notice, right here in the Castle....?" But to get that far we have to begin we must first probe for the needs.
Are you surprised Tutor knows consultative selling big time? Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how many Top Producers he has trained for Wealth Bondage? You don't get to be a Senior Dungeon Master to the Stars without knowing a little about Eliciting Human Desire and Converting to Cash. But sales requires commitment, alignment, authenticity, and enthusiasm. Never has Tutor had a salesperson so at one with her product, and so on fire for her cause (saving dogs). She is a fast learner, as they role play probing for needs. "Can you tell me a time, Cook, when you were felt overwhelmed?" Or, Cook, "Thinking back over the last month, do you recall a time when you felt you could not keep up with the work, and even feared for your job?" "Tell me more....!" "So you are saying, Cook, that sometimes it gets so busy you could scream because you have too few reliable staff? Do I have that right?" "Would it help, Cook, if.....?" Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Objections arise as to the size and scope of the proposed solution. Objections are answered: the solution is small, yes, but very strong and speedy. Then, after answering the objection, reiterate the needs, confirm the solution, and close again, again, again. The biggest sales are made after how many objections? Twelve! You got to close until they drop to their knees and beg for mercy. Stick in, twist, and break it off. In every interview a sale is made. Either you sell them or they sell you. Audrey strides about waving her plastic sword. Objections will be slain. No mercy! Because? Because no dog should go hungry.
Is Audrey ready? Very ready! Tutor and Audrey do a fist bump and race each other down below stairs to the big fragrant kitchen. Let's see how our once and future Queen does under actual Field Conditions.
Returning to Audrey's room, Tutor finds her in Joan of Arc mode, helmet on, sword drawn. "Noble Tutor," she says, regally, pointing with the tip of her plastic broadsword to the forlorn dog in the photo. "This dog needs food! She has been neglected. No dog should suffer! Right, Rex?" Rex is whining and cowering, picking up on his owner's dire mood. "We must save these dogs!" Fortunately, having thought ahead for once, and not used his own fallible judgement, having gone direct to Momma, Tutor is prepared. "Yes, the dogs of New Delhi will be saved. But first, we must formulate a plan. I have taken the liberty of approaching Momma on this matter directly...."
"You talked to Momma, about the dogs? Directly?," asks Audrey. "I did, yes," says Tutor puffed up with the reflected majesty of a trusted advisor who has access to the powers that be, directly. "What did Momma say?," asks Audrey. Tutor hems and clears his throat, enjoying his positional power as one who has direct access. A Wise Counselor, in possession of the Answers to Life's Riddles!, which it is now his privilege to impart to the young. All Audrey need do is listen and be schooled.
Whack, goes Audrey's sword on Tutor's shin. "Ouch," goes pompous, Tutor, "That really hurt." "Speak up, yon Varlet, when I speak to you, as your future Queen." "Yes, Princess." Whack, whack, whack, goes Audrey's plastic sword. "Thou shalt never ever refer to me as Princess, that is demeaning, I am Audrey!" "Yes, Pumpkin." "What did Momma say about saving dogs?" "She said you may, but....." "But what?," asks Audrey. "Momma gave me three words. And she said we have to figure it out ourselves, ok?" "Three words, like 'Abracadabra please and thank you?" "No, besides that's five words." "Tell me what my Momma said, Tutor!"
Tutor loves being a Tutor. He loves dispensing knowledge, wisdom and virtue to young minds in formation. He feels the dignity of his high calling, as a pedagogue and moralist. He draws himself up to his full height. His right arm goes out straight. His index finger, for pointing things out, goes up straight at a right angle to his extended arm. Now, holding his portentous silence, his face as impassive as a Butler's, as Audrey fidgets impatiently, he pumps his arm like a piston, on a mechanical man, forward and back. His upright index finger moves so close to Audrey's nose it makes her eyes cross, then back out, then in. Then, in his most pompous, teacherly voice, like a panelist at a World Synod of Wise Counselors, he intones: "Earn, Rule, Save." "Wait, Audrey says, "What are you saying? It is supposed to be Own, Rule, Save. Look! It is on my t-shirt, see? And it is on my flag." She points to her toybox over which the Audrey flag is, indeed, flying.
Now Tutor and Audrey must puzzle it out, as heroes might who have consulted the Oracle at Delphi, prior to waging war, only to find the cryptic utterance baffling. "She obviously knows the real motto," says Audrey. "It is on the shield in the great hall, behind her throne. It is on the Castle's stationary, business cards, and Annual Report. It is in our Constitution that Master Jack wrote up, and we all signed with the great seal, in red wax. In fact, it is on the great seal, too. 'Own Rule Save.' Now, Momma is just going and changing it? You can't change the Constitution just like that. We would need to talk to Mildred in PR. We would have to get more parchment. We would have to get buy-in from all our stakeholders, including me, Tutor. Momma can't just go changing things. Our Values, once we sort the Values Cards, and get it down to three, and write them down, are fundamental to all we do. You said that when we made our Mission Statement. We judge all our stuff by it. We hold ourselves accountable to it. You said it was our 'lodestar,' and you showed me our moral compass, made of brass, and how it always pointed to the lodestar, remember? And you moved the lodestar around and the compass spun and spun. Now you just go changing it? That is not fair. And it is making me very confused. This is the doing of Grownups! They always wreck everything. And how does this save any dogs?" Audrey sits down, upset, her sword cast aside, her helmet askew.
"Well, the official motto is one thing, of course, and that is our moral compass long term, as you point out. One day you shall inherit, own, rule, and save the earth and all things in it, thank God! But for now you own nothing...."
"I do so; I own Rex. And my toybox and everything in it."
"Momma changed only one word. Which?"
"She changed Own to Earn."
"To make fun of me! Because I don't earn anything. I am just a kid. She is saying I can't rule anything or save anything until I grow up, and Momma dies. And I don't want Momma to ever die! I love Momma." Audrey goes to her dark place, the night terrors. And Tutor knows he must bring her back to the daylight.
"Momma loves you, too, kid, and she knows what is best. If she said Earn, she means you can earn. She told me more, too."
"What?," asks Audrey through tears that come and go in childhood, like showers on a sunny day.
"Momma said she would 'consider any reasonable plan.'"
"For saving dogs?"
"Maybe she meant a plan for earning the money yourself, I think, to save dogs. The more you earn the more you save! Cinchy! Earn a lot. Save a lot of dogs! The more you earn, the more you save."
Audrey is a lucky kid; she knows Momma loves her, even as busy as Momma is. Earn Rule Save. A new secret motto, just for now. Own Rule and Save for the long term. Earn Rule Save for now. But how? It is time to get magic markers, the drawing pad, to work on the plan. But, of course, no plan is valid without empirical research first.
You, presumably, are not very literate, at least I hope not, since you would then be able to detect the hidden meanings in Gifthub and I would then probably be fired for breach of confidentiality among the declasse billionaires, I serve as Consigliere, at least in my impoverished dreams, but I assume you see movies and know the moment in Top Gun, when Maverick, played by Tom Cruise, sweating in his flight helmet, yells, "I've got tone! I've got tone," meaning missile-lock, and soon his rocket will blaze up the bogy's tailpipe. Well, Tutor is watching over Audrey's shoulder as she sits on her floor, with a new National Geographic in her lap. Momma has subscribed to it for her, as part of making sure she does not grow up in a bubble. This first issue is about New Delhi, and has a spread of seven pages, "The Dogs of New Delhi." Audrey's got tone! She flips pages forward, she flips them backward. She flip them forward. She studies each page. Then back. Tutor can see where this is going, and it could cause all kinds of trouble. Yet, it is a teachable moment.
Is now the time of teach Audrey about Effective Altruism? I mean, Audrey has saved one dog, Rex, from the shelter. She has found that even one dog, in a Castle in the Sea, is very expensive. Even the direct costs run well over one thousand dollars a year, and Tutor has never even taught her about indirect costs, like the body guards who accompany her and Rex on the helicopter, or in the motor launch, when Rex needs grooming, his shots, or to have his teeth cleaned. The true cost of this mutt (not that Tutor would ever call him that to his face) may be $20,000 a year. Audrey's allowance, grossed up for the direct costs only, is totally gone for small presents for Momma on her birthday and at holidays, and for Rex. So, what if.....? I mean really. What if we were to return Rex to the shelter? He was slated for death several months ago, and has had some good times. What if we were to take that allowance, or the fully loaded indirect and direct costs, and use them to save The Dogs of New Delhi? Do the math, as my boss Candidia Cruikshanks, CEO of Wealth Bondage, with a Harvard MBA, likes to say. The numbers would tell a clear moral story. For the sacrifice of one mangy dog, Rex, we could save as many as 1,000 equally worthy dogs in New Delhi. How can we possibly not do it? "All dog's lives are equal," as Gates Foundation says of human lives. We can't be biased in saving dogs! Or do it at random. Rex, meanwhile, has his snout on Audrey's leg, looking up at her with sad soulful eyes. She is his savior. A girl and her dog is a special bond, but should the world's richest girl live in a Castle surrounded by a raging sea, and oblivious to the suffering around the globe?
No, says, Tutor, love is not a zero sum game, and wealth may not be either. Every dog is special, and no dog should be treated like an integer, or bead on an abacus. What we must do is to appeal directly to Momma. Tutor has, as you can see, learned from his recent beatings. Rather than letting things take their course, and Audrey getting in trouble, and then he as Whipping Boy, getting his back flayed bloody, he will go, as His Employer told him he must, to ask permission rather than forgiveness. He will treat Tess as a Momma-in-Charge, because she is.
Tutor now stands upright like a Butler in attendance, ten feet from Momma as she works her iPad, in the drawing room. Sitting on the couch, wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, hair as wild as Audrey's but tawny brown, no lipstick or make up, long nervous fingers, going at the iPad's keys as if she were Lizt, with hair flying and eyes flashing, playing a mad cadenza. Is the beautiful?, you might ask. Were you to line up ten men by brainpower, ask each starting with the dimmest, you would find the first indifferent, and that by the time you reached the last, he would be simply smitten, overwhelmed. She is so alive with a lambent force, electric. Say money is the operative life-force, God in Action, naturalized, how much money is she making make per second, per keystroke, or stanza? Inconceivable. More than you or I in a lifetime. Can she spare a glance, even one brain cycle? After his recent fiascos will she even deign to acknowledge Tutor's subaltern presence?
Dear daft Tess is in a flow state, her long nervous fingers making trades and trills, breaking "counter-parties" across the globe. Then, at the climatic moment, where, if she were Lizt, she would fall silent with a crashing flourish, and rise from the piano bench, to a standing ovation, she says, "Yes?," looking up and through Tutor as if at a crowded hall, her global market. "It's Audrey-related, Milady." Tess's eyes come around, focused and intent. "All is well, Miladay, she is safe in her room, but I believe she has acquired a new target." Small smile from Momma. "Flying?," Momma asks. "No, Milady, dog-related." "That National Geographic?" "Yes, Milady." "And?" asks Momma, holding up her hand like a police woman making a stop sign: "Keep it brief, Tutor. Time is money. Restrain yourself!" "Yes, Milady. I am afraid she may stow away on a package boat to India, or try to fly there." "And you are thinking I might fund the saving of hungry dogs in New Delhi?" "Not my call, Milady." Momma devotes one full brain cycle (perhaps worth $10 mm to what are called Family Dynamics, in the professional literature, in a field in which she is a talented amateur). "Three words, Tutor." "Yes, Milady?" "Earn, Rule, Save." Tutor now understands why Momma is in charge. Earn, Rule, Save. "I will consider a reasonable plan," Momma adds, "at market rates. Dismissed." Yes, Milady." "O, and Tutor, you did right to ask." "Yes, Madam." "For a change," she adds back on the iPad." "Yes, Madam."
I know that many of you reading this, are actually quite literate. You would have to be cultured to serve as the Trusted Advisors to the World's Wealthiest Families, just as, if a cook, you would have to be a Four Staff Chef, at least. These wealthy kids are headed to Harvard. What if you, supposedly their mentor, only got into Colby? And some of you are among the creme de la creme, The Most Trusted Advisors. You have multi-disciplinary fluency. You create cross-disciplinary syntheses of a very high order. You are always looking for the best practices of Successful or Happy or Flourishing or Resourceful Dynastic Families, so that those you serve do not, as you say, "get deported back to the Middle Class," and you with them, carrying their luggage to the docks, sweating like a Coolie, glancing around the docks to see if you can pick up a new arrival, some parvenu to The Paradise of Wealth, immigrating from the Old Country of Broken Dreams. As a literate person you are familiar, I am sure, with the conventions of Omniscient Narration. So, for your benefit, please, let me, as The All-Knowing Author, point the moral, the Best Practice that Tutor has had to learn the hard way, his back crisscrossed with scars that may never heal. No matter how wise and virtuous we are, no matter how in touch we may be with Wealth and Will of God: "Ask Momma first." Always ask Momma first when it comes to Wealth in Families, The Compact Across Generations, Wisdom and Wealth, Entrusted Wealth, Lives in Trust, Resourceful Families, or anything of that nature. Seems obvious. But who does? Even if you have no clients for wealth and wisdom, even if you are just an ordinary Middle Class person, and just getting by, you also can learn. Same rule applies in all happy families: Ask Momma first.
Scourging for Tutor, given or gotten, is literally another day at the office. What came after is what hurt, a closed door session with Tess. As a mother, and force of nature in her own right, she anatomized Tutor's failings as teacher, man, and servant. As she spoke, Tutor visualized a tree, boughs, branches, twigs, with leaves. Each leaf was a lacerating point. As if on recto and verso of a sheet of Audrey's poster paper, on verso he saw a Roman scourge, with handle for the trunk, and leather thongs for the boughs. The leaves were brass stars, pointed. Where the handle goes, or the trunk of the tree, Tess made the main point: He put Audrey at risk. Had she fallen, as she might well have, with her would have gone the last, best hope for life on earth. Who will own, rule, and save if she were gone? Had he asked first about the trampoline, permission might or might not have been granted, but as sure as can be, it would never have been a cheap one, or positioned on the top turret. "Why do you think we have a gym, Tutor, with proper pads under the horse, or parallel bars? Why does the Castle employ spotters?" Tess, of course, was right, each brass star penetrating to bone.
Tutor as a professional in the art of inculcating morals knows that the lash can be the instrument of correction, torture, or execution, when wielded with intent. So, he listens for the verdict. Will it be, "Don't let this ever happen again?" Will it be a spell in solitary? Breaking stone, deep under the Castle, inside the walls, in darkness, in the dreaded Quarry, from which the Castle has risen for centuries, built by the condemned? Exile with hope of reprieve? Or, worse?
As you reflect on what you would do, as a mother, if you were a mother, and Audrey were your own child, perhaps it is important to ask where Audreys go, when they grow up. At 9.5 years old an Audrey can build a tree house with saw, nails, hammer. She can run faster than most boys. She is taller than most boys. In Audrey's own case, she can fly - with help, though not for long. At 10? 11? 12? By 13 she will not touch a hammer. By 14 she will be competing in math, science, English, languages, for the grades and scores. By 21 she will be graduating. By 25 she will be an attorney, executive, a hedge fund manager, an aid to a Senator. She will wear, most likely, a business suit to work. Whatever men can do she will do it as well or better. To repeat: What men can do. What men can do. What men can do.
Back in the late 1700's, exiled from some delicate situation in France or England, as Tutor is ever exiled from this or that dynastic family, for insubordination, he found himself on the Plantation, with Tom and Mammy, competing with Tom for the position of the Most Trusted Advisor, but Mammy was right up there, too. On certain days, she was more Trusted than Tom. But Tom and Mammy both spoke better British English than Master, who cursed, spat tobacco, and swaggered in word and deed. Every inch the Dynast in silk britches and waistcoat. Yet, Tutor, listening as he would, at the hedge around the Hush Arbor, would hear voices, including Mammy's and Tom's in a wholly different idiom. Overheard, not heard. Not British English. Not the idiom of Master. And songs too, Gospel hymns. Those could cross over into Church.
Where do the Audreys go at 11? And up.
Tutor has forbidden knowledge, maybe it comes with age. But he has stood outside so many doors, listening to womens' secret voices. The Judges, the CEOs, the Hedge Fund Managers, the women who beat the boys at whose game. No other way to rise. And the boy's game is, in a Free Country, in a Free Market, what? Wealth Bondage Rebooted to do the Most Good, as you should know from reading this blog. And, so Tutor has been told and as he teaches: "There is no 'outside' of Wealth Bondage." Around the growing boy close shades of the charnel house, wrote Wordsworth, or words to that effect, and that was around a boy. Around the Audreys close the sound of male voices, male tests, male patterns, male ladders of success, metrics, until they are as good as the boys or better at the boys' own game, insuring that the game that oppresses and empowers us all will never change.
The time will come, when Audreys will not learn to sound like a man. When she will not write about "mansplaining" in the NYT in idioms drawn from Horace, through Dryden, to Ben Johnson, to EB White, to her teachers in prep school, to her editor. Women can, in a public forum, condemn how men sound if but only if they sound like well bred men doing it. That is a truth that Tutor knows from standing outside the room where women speak as women, in their own polyphonous voices about family, love, wealth, a dog, a garden, about living things. The Audreys do not dissapear. They learn to pass among men, as did Tom or Mammy among Master and his peers. That is the price, and that is how injustice is confirmed, in black robes, blind, male or female. In passing into men's world, in lending themselves to the construction and preservation of that edifice of stone on stone, plumb, level and true, an invincible fortress, what remains of who they once were, or could have become? A child inside the Judge, perhaps, as in a Dungeon, waiting.
Not that Tutor is any better as insider/outsider. As Tess notes, he has the mind of a nine year old. His is the line of the Fool, bringing into the Dynast's world the voice of the subordinated, to inoculate the powers that be against what would subvert them. To put them in touch with who they are, and in ostracizing, beating, scorning, imprisoning, exiling him, as the Lord of Misrule, to find themselves, as in a distorting mirror, only made more perfect.
The Fool may speak for the Rabble, but in the King's ear. He is loyal to the King. What the Fool knows is that the King is the head of the Body Politic, and that no part can gangrene without the King suffering ultimately unto death. For women, for Mammy, for Tom, for the Fool, for the Most Trusted, for the Consigliere, for the Secular Priest, for all these roles there is a price and a benefit, a debt of loyalty, a code of conduct, limits to what can be said, confidentiality, silence, or tact, or parabolic deflection. The art of writing well inside a structure like the Castle, or corporation, under surveillance, within a hierarchy of roles, duties and privileges, always at risk of being deported back to the fields or to the middle class, or to the status of a woman in a kitchen, who can only nurture the living things within hands reach.
Those who betray their country, in positions of power, try the whistle blower for treason. Which way is up is apparent to all, as the miscreant confesses at trial with the media in attendance. Bearing witness against himself. Everyone sees truth broken to lie like the judge and jury. The moral understood by all is the lie-in-power does not exist, and the truth should never have said it did.
So, there is Tess and there is Tutor. Outside the closed door, trying to hear, is Audrey, too. How do you think it will go? How do you think it should go? Momma wants to keep Audrey safe. She is a menace, Audrey is, to herself and others. Even in Mary Janes and a party dress, she is no Belle-In-Training. Tutor can easily be replaced, by Master Jack, or another. With enough effort A Qualified Wisdom Professional could teach her to pass among the powers that be as one of them. To be a Good Trust Beneficiary, making no trouble for The Bank of Wealth Bondage, and not driving up the Cost of Doing Business, so the assets in the Trust she will inherit will continue to grow and grow for the benefit of Future Beneficiaries, and for the Bank as their Faithful Steward. Audrey could yet become normal. Once Tutor is gone, come the prescriptions, the therapists, the Secular Priests, comes depression, again; comes the bed she will not leave; comes clenched jaws, again; comes hunger strike; comes the doctor, comes the iv, and drip drip drip of happiness, in Bondage to Wealth, through the vein tapped.
So as you are wondering about Tess and her verdict, maybe you should recall a bit about her love life. It is really none of your business, and it is sickening, but it is important to our story. She has been with 50 men in total. One in college, her senior year, a nerdy guy she fumbled about with, and dated for a time, and almost married, until she decided to see a bit of the world first. And 49 in one night, her night of triumph, when she had broken the glass ceiling among the traders, as the only woman on the floor of Wealth Bondage, taking down the French Bourse with one intuitive trade, as easy for her as playing the flute. 49 men in an hour or two, as she lay, having been feted with campaign toasts, unconscious. One of the 49, we will never know which, is Audrey's father. Can you see why Tess is so good with a scourge? Can you imagine how she thirsts for revenge? PTSD. Her hand with the scourge, as the eyes blur with tears of pent up rage, what she might know is only that this is a man's back, a man who himself works for Wealth Bondage, as once for the Empires of Rome, England, or the old South. All he himself knows is that his role as Fool, as insider/outsider, is in the King or Queen's inner sanctum, where love is, and vulnerability, and hope, and laughter, and fun, if hope and love, fun and laughter are even possible there. It is a dangerous game, and always was, like being Alexander The Great's surgeon, in an age before anesthetic. You don't get to leave too many of the Royal Family dead on the table, without it being a career limiting move. Not all jokes, no matter how healing they are meant to be, are welcome; not all are funny. "Truth," as a wise fool once said, "is a bitch that must to kennel." The awkward silence, in Tutor's trade generally ends badly. And, after being scourged so expertly, and thoroughly, after he has said, contritely, "Yes, M'am, I understand M'am," Tutor feels the long pause lengthen.
And here is how it ends: "Next time, ask."
Outside the door, Tutor meets Audrey, looking up. "I got you in trouble?" "I got myself in trouble, kid," Tutor says. "Momma loves you and she wants to keep you safe. If we don't cause any more trouble for awhile, I think maybe we can get another trampoline, too, a good big one this time." Audrey claps. "But," Tutor continues, "Momma says we have to set it up in the gym. Momma knows you will learn how to fly one way or the other. She just wants to make sure you don't kill yourself in the process. OK?"
Diogenes, who taught Rabelais, who taught Erasmus, whose Praise of Folly has the illustrations of The Happy Tutor, that led Tess to Tutor, when she found the manuscript in the Castle's library, asked to be buried face side down, so when the world turned turned upside down, he would be facing right side up. When Trusted Advisors are under Audrey's heel, the world will be saved, as Mother Mary is envisioned crushing the head of the Serpent. Momma is on board with the plan. At least I hope she is. Audrey won't be able to save the world, unless she inherits it, and she can't inherit it unless Tess owns it, and she can't own it until she beats the boys in Wealth Bondage at their own game. And becomes one of them in the process? I think not.
As Tutor takes Audrey's hand outside Tess's closed door, they can hear the sound of Tess's miraculous flute. Audrey in her faded pink, grubby Keds, does a skipping little dance, not a minuet, not a waltz, not any dance you could learn from a dancing master. A dance like that of the whales and the goats, and the seagulls, and all the living unthinking things that dance to Tess's flute, as long ago to Pan's before Reason ruled the earth, and the species winked out one by one, in the Anthropocene Era, where everything is always under control, and getting better, on time and on budget, as per the annual plan, in line with forecasts, and analysts' expectations.
"Thank you God for women," says Tutor to himself, full of yearning for what he cannot have. He has no chance with Tess, but who can blame him for swaying to her music?
Having put Audrey in jeopardy, you will agree that Tutor deserves a degree of punishment he will not soon forget. Insubordination, use of unapproved athletic equipment, potential injury to the only hope the world has at this point, and other failings as well. So, there Tutor is, hands manacled above his head, on the whipping post in his own Dungeon, rope around his waist, feet shackled, white shirt split open. Doing the honors, with the scourge, his rival, Master Jack, a Dungeon Master to the Stars in his own right, but commanding higher rates, as a Yale Grad and Corporate Fiduciary. You might feel some compassion for Tutor, but don't. Endorphin high, he gets in the zone. "Jack is a big pussy; I scourge myself harder for my own sins." And in truth, Jack is making a big show of it. Tutor's back is all bloody, the skin in strips, but this is not Jack's best effort. He is holding back as a Professional Courtesy, and because he knows that turnabout is fair play, and when the turns change, it will be Jack on the whipping post, and Tutor wielding the bloody scourge.
Later, to help her process the moral - unapproved activity only ends badly - Audrey is allowed to visit Tutor in his cell, where he lies on his stomach, on the pallet of his cot, his back red like raw hamburger. "Are you ok?, Tutor?, she asks. I am so sorry. It was my fault." "Not your fault, kid, I knew it would come to this. I am the Grownup, right?" "A Silly Grownup!" "Thank you, Audrey, I am a very Silly Grownup and always will be, as long as I get to teach kid like you. My back doesn't hurt so much. My head does, though." Audrey can see a big goose egg on the back of his skull where he slammed into the wall. It is too late for ice, and he didn't have any anyway, so it swelled up, and looks even worse than it hurts. Audrey reaches out with a finger tip, but does not touch it, because it looks so sore. "It is ok, kid. I will heal. It is not like when your rip your shirt, or something. My head heals itself. Sometimes I bang it on stone walls just for practice. In case I ever have to in real life." Audrey laughs.
"That was the funnest fun I ever had! I really did fly, Tutor, I could see my flag on the pole, so close I could touch it!" "You will always remember." "Always! I will."
Audrey bends to kiss Tutor, a big smack, on the center of his forehead. She rises to do her prima ballerina pose (Momma took her to the ballet in Paris), hands with fingertips touching above head making a graceful arc, twirl on point, in faded pink Keds, with the white rubber tips. Then the red haired ballerina in blue jeans exits in long leaps, as if she could fly. And now she knows she truly can.
While Audrey is away on her grand tour of Europe, Tutor saves his meager pay, and empties his savings, to buy her a welcome home present. She who cannot manage to fly with feathered wings, or like a flying squirrel, shall have a trampoline! For what he can afford, it will not be much, only about 5 feet in diameter, with a tiny patch a kid can jump on in the middle, and fragile fold down aluminum legs, but it is rated for a child up to 85 pounds and Audrey is only 62 pounds. Besides beggars can't be choosers, and at $110, plus shipping, it represents 3 months pay, net of the charges he pays for room and board, and the interest at 24% APR on the courtesy employee credit card at the Castle's company store, for sundries. Tutor knows full well that a trampoline is dangerous. A child could jump and fall on the floor, or hit her head on the ceiling and knock herself out, or worse, she might catch a foot in the springs, and break a leg, which might never heal, and she might limp the rest of her life. So, this is a sin committed in cold blood. The trampoline is ordered, arrives, and is secreted in the Dungeon, behind the panel where over the centuries the Dungeon Masters have scribbled their names, or left their bloody mark, as hand prints, in defense of freedom or whatever ideal it might have been at the time, like fealty, fiduciary duty, or the great chain of being, to preserve whatever dynasty is hegemonic, and whatever patron pays the bills.
When Audrey returns, pent up, and excited to see Rex, and even happy to see Tutor, he whispers to her that he has a present for her, but it has to be their secret. It is way up in the Castle, on the highest battlement, on the very tip of the highest turret. When they climb to the top of the winding, cobwebbed stair, there it is: the trampoline glinting silver in the sun. "You get to fly, after all, kid!" Yet, honestly, it is a disappointment at first. Audrey can bounce and jounce, but her highest elevation is only about three feet. "This is not flying! I am going to really fly!" And she scuttles up the battlement wall, until she balances on the wall, about 20 feet above the terrace. "O, No!," says Tutor, "This is getting out of hand." Audrey is on the edge of the parapet, with a straight drop below to the rocks, 15 stories down. The white capped waves crash and break on jagged stone. The Audrey flag, "Own Rule Save" is flying straight out, in a high wind from the turret's flagpole. And there is Audrey windmilling her arms, as she teeters on the wall. "I'm gonna fall! I'm gonna fall! Help! Save me!"
Tutor races across the stone terrace. Will he get there in time? Audrey leaps over his head and lands at maybe 100 miles an hour on the tiny canvas patch at the center of the trampoline at a 45 degree angle. Knowing the laws of physics, you know what happens next. Her trajectory makes a right angle, 45 degree slant coming in at 100 miles an hour, from a height of 20 feet, energy absorbed by the springs, with some slight loss to friction, and her 65 pound body, a missile, shooting up at a 45 degree angle at 93 miles an hour, headed directly for the facing stone wall of the Castle. "I am flying!" The trampoline is destroyed, bent to the floor; Audrey is at her apex. Tutor is like the center fielder in the final game of the World's Series, with the Series on the line, final pitch, hit to center field, over the wall? Not quite, Tutor manages to hit the wall, leaping, with both hands extended to snatch his charge from the air, the back of his head clobbering the stone. Together, they drop to the deck. Soft landing. Audrey is squirming. "I did it, Tutor, I flew!" Mission accomplished; everyone safe!
Unfortunately, though, the Trampoline Incident is caught on the Castle's surveillance system, and there will soon be hell to pay.