As his hover car touched down in the parking bay, Kristoph viewed the estate school with satisfaction. Every time he visited it he had the same feeling that it was a job well done. The hexagonal building was only a single storey above ground where winter storms would batter it and summer sun bake it but like an iceberg that was only a small part of the whole. The old mine workings that had caused a near disaster had been fully excavated and the space created had been filled by three whole floors giving the school for the Caretaker children of the Lœngbærrow demesne a sports hall and science rooms and a library that the Prydonian Academy could well envy.

In the middle of the hexagon a dome covered a telescope and planetarium that absolutely WAS the envy of all the great educational institutions of Gallifrey. There had even been questions about it in the Panopticon. But no public money had paid for that particular luxury bestowed on the children of mine workers and domestic servants. It was gifted to the school by the former Lord de Lœngbærrow. The eminent astronomer, Chrístõ de Lún was retired from the duty of patriarch of the demesne, but he still had the needs of the people in his hearts.

As far as he was concerned, what the youngsters needed was science, as much of it as they could get. Even the brightest Caretakers struggled to achieve an Academy education, but with the facilities made available to them they might still learn enough to follow in his illustrious footsteps.

There was the very gentlest of fatherly censure in that. Chrístõ de Lún had always been just a little disappointed that neither of his sons were interested in studying the stars, one preferring to travel among them and the other having more of a head for business. Now he took the wider view that all the children of the estate were his and hoped to nurture a passion for his branch of the sciences.

His son slightly envied him that simple way of ensuring his legacy. His own talents were not ones he could easily pass on to a new generation - his conscience as well as his wife forbad him from training future assassins and he wouldn't wish the corruption of a Gallifreyan political career on any innocent youth.

But that didn't mean there wasn't something he could teach them, and that was why he was there today - as a teacher.

Not that the headmistress seemed to have grasped the idea. She was waiting at the door to formally greet him. He managed to stop her bowing and reminded her that he was there to teach poetry to the senior class.

"Of course, my Lord," she said, still on the cusp of obeisance . "Let me show you the senior room."

In fact she gave him something of a guided tour of the school, proudly extolling the virtues of the new building and the achievements of the students. They passed quietly by the Kindergarten where Marion was teaching the very youngest students. He knew it was her class by the chorus of 'Yellow Submarine' that could be heard down the corridor. Doubtless Marion had explained about submarines and the children would be practising their telepathic abilities by producing images of yellow underwater craft in the air. Some of them would even have picked up her memory of the sculpture in Chavasse Park in Liverpool and replicated that.

Regardless of their abilities, they were five year olds to Marion and she filled their educational experience with colour and fun.

The twenty youngsters in the senior class didn't expect their lessons to be colourful or fun. They were studying hard for examinations that might win one or two of them bursaries to go on to an academy education and a future beyond their current status as sons and daughters of labourers and artisans. Most would lose out. They knew that and so did he.

They were all seated in five sides of a hexagonal arrangement of tables with integrated computer consoles. The teacher's chair was on the sixth side, wider and with two screens, one for the lesson and one for analysing responses. It could turn at the touch of a button so that he was facing any one of the students.

When he entered they all stood, and again he had to forestall the bowing.

"I am no longer Lord High President," he told them as the headmistress departed and he let them sit. "You do not need to bow or call me Excellency. Nor do I think 'My Lord' belongs in the classroom. 'Sir' affords deference enough to age and experience. Do we understand each other?"

"Yes, sir," most of them managed, but there was a shy, hesitant 'lord' and a cut off 'exc…' as well as a 'sire ' from somewhere in the room.

"All right," he said. "Now.... according to your schedule we are debating the relevance in modern Gallifreyan society of the great sagas. Mmmm. Tough sell. For those of you who aren't descended from the subjects of two of the sagas I imagine you think the answer is 'no'."

There was a confused silence and one nervous giggle that he was sure came from a young man with sandy hair who tried to look as if he hadn’t made any sound at all.

“That being the case, my job is to expand ‘no’ into something that will allow you to write a thousand word essay proving your point,” Kristoph continued. “So let’s outline the main points of our argument.”

A holographic equivalent of a blackboard appeared in the air, ready to fill with ideas. For a long moment there were no ideas. Kristoph looked from one student to the next, waiting for one of them to break the ice.

“The Sagas are compulsory for the Prydonian Entrance,” one girl managed to say. “That’s their relevance.”

“Very true, Kala,” Kristoph answered, reading her name in her own nervous and very open mind. “But not, alas, something we can put into said essay.”

“The Academies all expect students to have studied the sagas, even if they want to be temporal mechanics,” a boy called Kall, brother to Kala, added. “And they expect Caretakers to struggle with them because they know that we don’t read such things and we’re at a disadvantage.”

Kristoph nodded. He recalled his first conversations with Marion, when she was a shy, hesitant, and slightly out of her depth first year student. She had struggled with her working class background to fill the cultural gulf. She knew she was expected to read Catherine Cookson and watch Emmerdale Farm not read Joyce’s Ulysses and watch BBC Shakespeare productions. These youngsters of Gallifrey were in the same wilderness.

“You are learning the Sagas now,” Kristoph reminded them. “You HAVE the opportunity to stand equal with the Oldbloods and Newbloods on this subject at least.”

“What IS the point?” A boy whose name stood out in his mind as Timiss sounded as if he had forgotten completely that his teacher was an Oldblood Lord as well as a former Lord High President. There was a touch of rebel in his tone. “At best, I can look forward to a lifetime in the Civil Service. What use are the Sagas to me stuck in a windowless office on the tenth floor of the Citadel Tower?”

“They will give your soul the window the utilitarian designers of the Tower left out,” Kristoph answered. “You may be crunching numbers to determine how much tax to deduct from each Oldblood with a second home in the city or directing traffic through the Transduction Barrier, but your soul can be fighting dragons with the legendary Dracœfire or wooing the lovely Aille De Haolle, Ice Maiden of the southern pole. You will never be merely a civil servant, a pettifogging bureaucrat who even asks the Lord High President what his business outside the Cruciform might be before opening the Barrier. You will be a man with his hearts in all that is good and true about Gallifrey.”

This time there were several giggles engendered by Kristoph’s mocking tone when he spoke of the particular branch of the Civil Service that monitored the Transduction Barrier. Timmis didn’t seem completely convinced. Kristoph smiled and shook his head.

“I’m not so sure you’re going to be a Civil Servant, my boy,” he said. “You’re a bit TOO free-spirited. Or perhaps you will rise through the ranks and turn the organisation on its head. But for all of you… wherever your future takes you… here’s a poem you might reflect on when you look up from your desk. First, let me explain to you what a cat is, and a mouse, and the usual relationship between such animals.”

He did so, before reciting a poem from the rich and varied literature of his wife’s home planet.

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

'Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

There was a silence for a few moments after he finished. In it, he knew, they were all committing the poem to memory. That came naturally to any young Gallifreyan after a while. He hoped they would recall it from time to time, even if it wasn’t going to help them pass exams.

“The Academies have it wrong, you know,” he told them. “They treat the Sagas as elite mysteries to be unpicked by those who have been taught the critical faculty to understand all of the nuances of the allegory and allusion. They think only an educated man or woman can possibly understand. But they weren’t WRITTEN for dissemination by academics. Indeed, they weren’t WRITTEN at all in the first place. The very oldest Sagas came from an oral tradition and were told by people just like yourselves who had no access to books and wanted a little colour and excitement at the end of their working day.”

As he spoke he again recalled the first day he met Marion and how this same topic had come up in their conversation.

“If the heart is open then appreciation is easy enough. They talk about the ‘tools’ of understanding in order to make it seem as if literature is meant only for an educated elite. They want to close the door to the underclasses. Shakespeare didn’t write his plays for the educated upper classes. He wrote for the ordinary people. His actors didn’t speak with Received Pronunciation. They spoke the plain English of their day in the accent of the ordinary man.”

His students understood. The Sagas were something that ought to belong to them, and had been hijacked by academia.

“We can restore the status quo by learning to appreciate and enjoy them here in this classroom,” Kristoph told them. “Not for pulling to pieces like an autopsy, but as one glorious whole that enriches our souls. Let’s begin with the Saga of Dracœfire for several reasons. One, it is an exciting tale of dragon-slaying and love. Two, I AM descended from the hero of that Saga. Three, I learnt it by heart when I was a boy of your age and we can turn off all the machines and enjoy it in the oral tradition it was meant for. Feel free to illustrate with all the telepathic images that come to mind as you listen. Let your imaginations give wings to the dragons.”

Everyone was amenable to that idea, apart from one young woman who said that she was having trouble imagining dragons because she could feel her younger brother’s thoughts and they were filled with something huge and yellow and possibly even more frightening than flying, fire-breathing monsters.

“Perhaps we need to leave ONE electronic device on – the telepathic shield. Submarines, of any colour, have never featured in the Gallifreyan sagas – though perhaps they are the poorer for it. Nevertheless, let us clear our minds of all outside influences, all grievances and prejudices, and begin to love the great literature of our world for its own sake.”

He began to recite the epic poem he had learnt thousands of years and eleven regenerations ago to a now receptive and willing audience. He smiled as he did so, knowing that there had been few days more satisfying than those he spent teaching young people something that would enhance their lives, and this was just the first of many such days he could look forward to.