Eb looked at her, intrigued. He thought he was going to enjoy getting to know this troll.
“We learn to read and write,” he said. “You’ve seen in the one-room schoolhouse when you take Matthias Lightfoot there of a morning. That’s where I went to school, until I turned fourteen. I learned enough to keep accounts, to measure and calculate for building and milk yields. Learned to fill out a tax return. I learned a little of geography and history, and something of spelling and grammar. We had stories read to us – Grimms fairy tales, The Water Babies and moral tales from the Little Ones Own. I don’t think I’ve had occasion to read a book since. Mooma gave me our Bible – the great big one that came from my father’s family. Instruction on the holy Word and the Faith, we have on the Lord’s Day when we gather. That’s it.”
He paused, and looked at her. She saw something change, something awkward steal in, that needed courage.
“I’m not an educated troll, Flo.” The admission was not easy. “Is this going to matter?”
“Educated.” Flo looked at him, her eyes very bright. “I can’t fill in a tax return. I can cook you a Sunday roast, and I know how to care for a baby, but I’d be lost if you ask me to build an extension to our cottage when that child is on the way. I couldn’t make us a bed or mend a wheel on a wagon. Education is many different things. So is intelligence. There’s Seeing, and there’s the wit to work with what you See. There’s wisdom to know how to fill what you learn with the Light. There’s the perception to notice how others feel and the sensitivity to understand how to respond. There’s the know-how to make the money go round, and the foresight to stock the pantry against the winter. There’s imagination, which transforms every situation into an adventure and holds the key to enter the Moments when they come. Intelligence, education, are a thousand and one things. Everyone is intelligent. Everyone is educated. The question is always, which kind of intelligence do you have? How does it best fit in to edify the Mind of the Kindred? And what have you been educated to do? What will you choose to learn next? Everyone is educated. How, is all. You can choose, if you like, to make travelling along with me a course in thinking you are rubbish; or you can choose to notice that the learning so far, and the gaps, dovetail together very sweetly in you and me.”
“Jah! Bravo!” Hannah nodded. “’Tis so, my Eb.”
“Believe me,” added Flo, “I’ve sat at the feet of preachers and teachers who were most colossally stupid. There is nothing in the world harder to reach, harder to change, than a prize idiot fortified and armed to the teeth with text books that agree with him. Eb: as you said to me when we stepped onto the porch of this house – it will be all right. I wasn’t quite sure; but I trusted you. Will you trust me about this? If you say I am educated, will you credit me with the intelligence to see that you are too?”
“Yes.” The word held decision if not conviction. He smiled at her. “I like the sound of the Sunday roast; and the baby,” he added.