“They seem to be enjoying themselves,” Kristoph noted as he watched Marion’s young pupils running and playing on the grassy bank of the River Knidd.

Most of them, at least, were doing that. Marla, the young artist of the group, was quietly filling her sketch pad with a detailed landscape taking in the river and the picturesque view of Knaresborough beyond it. Lorris, a boy who, at eight, already knew the flora and fauna of Gallifrey intimately, was kneeling by a flower bed looking intently at a ladybird on a rose leaf. Some of the children were still too surprised by a blue sky above their heads to relax completely, but even so they were having fun and only occasionally looking up in wonder and remembered they were on an alien planet.

“I promised them a treat for after the schism,” Marion said. “And what better than a real field trip?”

Kristoph agreed.

“Usually, only graduate Time Lords get to take trips this far out of the Kasterborous system,” he said. “You’re spoiling them.”

“Good. They deserve to be spoiled. I don’t care what you say, Kristoph, Or what anyone else says. The Schism is a dreadful ordeal to put them through. Why do they have to be subjected to it at such a young age? I will never understand that. Why can’t they be allowed to be children for a little longer.”

“I don’t absolutely know why the age of eight was considered right,” Kristoph admitted. “It has been so for countless generations. It is something to do with the way the brain is developed at that age, I believe.”

“Well, I believe it’s quite unnecessary,” Marion insisted. “Besides, so few of them will really get a chance to become Time Lords. It feels like a way of controlling them, of making them see that they are inferior. By promising so much and then not delivering.”

“That’s not so,” Kristoph told her. “Even if they don’t get to be Time Lords, they will share in the best Gallifrey has to offer them. Those with talent will be recognised in other ways. Your little Gen, there.” He smiled as he glanced at the little girl walking slowly along the very edge of the river. “Composing poetry about a blue sky reflected in a meandering river. She really doesn’t need that lovely mind filling full of the things a Time Lord has to know about. All she needs is for one Time Lord to recognise her talents and ensure that she has every chance to hone her skills, to expand her mind in the right directions.”

“And where is she going to find one of those?” Marion asked.

“Right here,” Kristoph answered. “I have recognised her talents. When she is old enough, I will be proud to sponsor her entry into the university of Ligattya to study literary arts, and to travel wherever she wishes to fill her mind with new experiences that she would not get living on Gallifrey.”

“Ligattya?” Marion queried. “That’s…” Her mind turned over the word. “Oh… the planet that orbits Arina, Gallifrey’s pole star.”

“Our academies tend to lean towards the sciences. They aren’t the best places to learn creative arts. But Ligattyans are more eclectic than we are. And she would do well in their institute of learning.”

“And you would…”

“These children were born and raised on the Lœngbærrow estate. Their welfare is important to me. Their future careers interest me as much as they interest you. There is a bursary fund that our family have maintained since my great-great-great-grandfather’s time which will allow your little poet to achieve her ambitions. And the same goes for Marla, there. She will be one of our greatest living artists in her time. And Lorris will write books about the flora and fauna of other worlds to go beside the bestiaries of Gallifrey that he has already committed to memory. These children will be whatever they want to be, Marion. Even the ones who think no further than following their parents into the mining industry or to be domestic servants, will get to go to institutes that teach them to be experts in metallurgy or geology or cooking or whatever they are best suited to.”

Of course, Marion thought. Kristoph had said it many times before. The children of the estate were not related to him by blood, but in a wider sense, they were his children. Their parents all served the Lœngbærrow family in one way or another. Most were miners. Some were gold or silver smiths or cutters and polishers of diamonds. Loriss’s father was a game keeper who saw to it that the more dangerous animals of the plains never came near the settlements or onto the private demesne. But in Kristoph’s mind they were all his children, his responsibility. He knew all their names as well as she did and, quite possibly, understood their needs better than she did. The idea of letting Genessa go to another planet where she could better study the things that she liked best, would never have occurred to her.

Kristoph called them all together now. As Marion attended to their own fosterling, Rodan, who had happily played with the older children, he had counted heads and sorted them into pairs. They walked in a happy crocodile along the riverside path. Kristoph walked beside Lorris and Marla, pointing out to them birds and squirrels that scuttled away from them and plants and trees that were unknown to them and rock formations unique to planet Earth. They drank it all in like water. The other children talked among themselves and pointed to rowing boats on the river and other unusual sights.

Marion smiled as they passed an elderly couple on the path who looked curiously at the children and commented to each other on their ‘foreign’ talk. She had almost forgotten that they were all speaking Gallifreyan. She wondered what it must sound like to Humans who had never been inside a TARDIS and didn’t have the language translated to them. Where did they think her pupils came from?

When they reached the famous Petrifying Pool that was the highlight of the visit, her pupils weren’t the only ones speaking in ‘foreign’ languages. There was a gaggle of Japanese students who were taking photographs and chattering among themselves, and an Indian couple wearing traditional clothes that added an unusual splash of colour to the scene.

The Gallifreyan children looked at the waterfall in amazement. Marion watched their faces. After a little while, she thought most of them had worked out how it happened. But even so, the sight of the toys and pieces of clothing, hats and handbags and other objects hanging in the flowing water, all slowly turning to stone as limestone accreted around them, still seemed like a little bit of magic. They talked and pointed in their ‘foreign’ language excitedly.

“Do you remember the first time we came here?” Kristoph asked his wife, slipping his arm around her shoulder. “We went up those steps to the wishing well.”

“Yes, we did,” Marion remembered. “My wish was such a simple one, really. And it came true before the end of the weekend.”

“You wished I would say ‘I love you’.”

“You knew, of course. I didn’t know what you were, then. But I knew I loved you.”

“I wished you would still love me when you knew I wasn’t from Transylvania but a planet in another solar system.”

Marion laughed softly about ‘Transylvania’. That weekend had changed her life, though. She had discovered that the universe was much bigger than she ever imagined it was. And she had discovered that she had a far more important place in it than she dreamt.

“I didn’t know how happy I was going to be,” she said.

“Nor did I,” Kristoph admitted. “But my hopes were high.”

He kissed her gently and then called to the children in Gallifreyan, surprising a woman standing near them who had heard him speaking English a moment before. Reluctantly the children tore themselves away from the wonder of the petrifying pool and were surprised when Kristoph gave them all an Earth penny to throw into the wishing well at the top of the stone steps by the waterfall. He had to explain to them exactly what a wishing well was and how to make a wish, first. They all looked at him curiously. Kristoph was a Time Lord, a great man, far more important than anyone else they knew. He was the wisest man they knew. And he was telling them that they could throw a small metal disc into a pool of water and think of something they wanted, and if they had made the wish well, it might come true.

“That’s a dangerous promise,” Marion told him as she watched them throw their pennies into the water. “What if their wishes aren’t as easy to come true as ours?”

“I’m making notes,” Kristoph replied as he watched the children with his mind as well as his eyes. “Most of them are simple enough. I think I can manage that.” He laughed softly as one of the boys dropped his penny into the well. “That one will be sorted out very shortly,” he whispered to Marion. “Cloran just wished for ice cream. He saw some people eating it a little while back and wanted to try it.”

“There’s that nice looking pub-restaurant with tables in a garden outside,” Marion suggested. “I expect they serve ice cream desserts.”

“Exactly what I was thinking,” Kristoph replied. “I think we shall introduce our young charges to the exotic delights of fish and chips, first. And then ice cream all round.”