Early Lessons in Moral Reasoning|
“But I found them!” The little girl
clutched her new treasures and gave her brother a defiant stare.
“That doesn’t matter,” declared
the boy with all the authority he commanded by virtue of being two years
older. “You can’t keep them. You heard what the heralds said. People
can’t just keep what they find. It’s not right, the king says. And
the king is always right.”
“Is so. Don’t be silly, Míreth.
The king beat the Dark Lord and defended Gondor. So when he says you
can’t keep what you find, you must obey. Or do you want orcs to come
back and attack us?”
Míreth, not entirely convinced by this
line of reasoning, pulled a face and stomped her foot.
“What would the king want with them
anyway?” she asked.
“Míreth!” The boy’s voice indicated
that he was summoning more patience than his sister deserved. “The
king doesn’t want them. The king says you have to hand them in so
that the rightful owner can come and claim them.”
“And who is the rightful owner?”
“I don’t know. We don’t need to
know. We just go and hand them in and that’s our duty done.”
“I don’t want to,” said Míreth.
“Now, listen, if you’re found out,
you’ll be in trouble.”
This thread failed to make an impression,
so the boy tried a different strategy.
“Imagine you lost your dolly,” he
said. “And some other girl would find her and keep her and you would
never ever get her back. That would make you sad, wouldn’t it?”
“And wouldn’t you be really, really
glad if instead she handed her in and you could get her back?”
“So,” he finished triumphantly, “you
know what Mama says. We must always behave in the same way we want other
people to behave.”
There was a tell-tale shimmer in Míreth’s
eyes, but she knew she was as thoroughly beaten as the Dark Lord had
been beaten by King Elessar and his friends. A little while later, and
to the astonishment of the elderly clerk on duty, she dropped four shiny
conkers on the desk of Minas Tirith’s newly opened Lost Property