Tale from Morals Class
by Peter Sterling
"And what do you think our ancestors
were trying to tell us with this story we're reading?", yelled
He was a military man, and a very
good one, but was employed by the Consul as a professor of
morals. Giving orders to grown men had become a habit for the
Marshal, and had made him a great commander on the battlefield.
Seeing that he had a way with fighting men, the Consul decided
that he should fare just as well with the children in moral
class. The Marshal would get to try his hand at teaching and
learn the children of the community. Besides it was only
temporary, something to help bolster the Marshals standing within
the community. His uniform was always stiff and neat, with his
metals always even and shining on his chest. He smiled often, but
it was never the sort of smile that warmed a body or comforted
any ideas one might have. It was a smile that seemed to hide
something a little deeper, and darker. He spoke quickly and
through the motions of his hands; always commanding, always
"I think that they were
trying to tell us that our society is damaged, and that we have
to fix it through the standards they've given to us", piped Laura
Summer, who was always very enthusiastic during discussion. "They
obviously knew that we would be able to fix ourselves now, seeing
as how we're much smarter than the people in their time", she
said, "we can understand what their trying to say."
"Yes, I think everyone
in this room is smart enough to realize how intelligent they are,
but how intelligent is the story they told?", said the Marshal,
replying with as much enthusiasm. Most of the students looked
confused after this last statement, but not Laura. She was
confident in her knowledge of the work and her ability to teach
it to others. She lowered her brow as if she were scolding some
small child for having too much fun and then said, "I think they
had to have been pretty smart, but the people they were trying to
get through to weren't."
The Marshal turned away
from her and started looking over the rest of the class. "Good
Laura", he said, "does anyone else have anything to add?" He
pointed to some half-asleep boy and said, "You, what do you
The boy looked as if
someone told him he had something ridiculous on his face and
said, "I dunno."
As Marshal Cocker
interrogated the young and helpless boy, a small group of
children on the other side of the class were busy with a
discussion of their own. They had read the story the ancients had
written and had decided on what it was all about. They only had
one question to ask the Marshal but he was carrying on with his
ridiculing of the sleepy young man. When he was finished beating
him with his brow he turned his attention to the other side of
"Peter! Morgan!", he
yelled, "Pay attention. We have work to do and it doesn't have
anything to do with what your talking about. Now why don't you
two just listen quietly?"
"Well", said Peter, "We
were actually just talking about the story and what it meant… to
us, I mean." Morgan wanted to ask the Marshal his question, but
didn't think he would get the answer he wanted.
"And what does the story
mean to you, Peter?", asked Marshal Cocker, who now bored holes
into Peter with his beady eyes.
"Morgan and I were just
talking about how the story was probably meant to provide
justification for the government we have now, instead of a way to
fix societies problems. I mean, it really doesn't say anything in
the work about how society should be fixed, only that it should
be changed." With this the Marshal looked at him and said,
"Very interesting Peter.
Laura What do you think?" Then Morgan threw in, "Marshal Cocker,
I have a question."
The Marshal replied,
"But I need to ask you
something, it's important." Morgan really did need to ask the
Marshall something, and it was causing him great grief. Marshal
Cocker ignored Morgan's last plea and continued to listen to
Laura's thoughts on Peter's ideas.
"I really think it comes
down to how stupid the people were back then", Laura said, "how
could they understand the genius of the ancestors."
"Well they obviously
understood it enough to organize and allow the government to
change", challenged Peter.
Morgan was still busy
trying to get an answer from the Marshal. "Please, Marshal
Cocker, there is something that I need to ask you."
Laura was trying to
think of something to say and came up with, "But what if they
just didn't understand and were taken advantage of by the
Peter tried again. "Yes,
possibly, but the point is that they allowed them to change
because they understood what was being told to them. Even if they
were mislead they must have believed what they were told. I think
the ancients point is that a lie is the truth if it is told
enough times to the right people."
"Marshal, it's really
important that you here this. I really have to ask you something,
and I don't think it can wait", pleaded Morgan.
"The people were still
stupid enough to get tricked by the government anyway", said
"Don't you see", said
Peter, "their point is that the people weren't stupid enough to
be tricked into change, so the authority had to provide them with
reasons they liked. It's all about societies inability to control
itself when it wants something." Peter was beginning to feel as
though his argument could not be properly presented to Laura, and
she was beginning to think that Peter was stupid.
please!", yelled Morgan.
Most of the class was asleep by this
time, but were stirring at the sound of Morgan's need for an
answer. He needed to know, and he had just one question to ask.
It was so important to him that he couldn't even contain himself
during class. He had to know right then and there. He needed and
"What, you ridiculous boy, what do
you have to ask me!", yelled the Marshal, "I will tell you all
you need to know about the story, just stop bothering me you
looked up at the Marshal, finally able to ask his question of
great importance and said, "Can I go to the