Two shillings


Every now and then someone would hand in a silver coin found in the school playground. This was a rare occurrence, as most of the kids believed in the long standing motto, "finders keepers, losers weepers". The headmaster at school assembly, having first moved down the line caning a few boys for talking, then announced the wondrous find.

"A two shilling piece has been handed in. Any boys who have lost money may come and see me after assembly." The announcement was made with such gravity that even if you had lost the money you would be too scared to front up and claim it. The amazing thing was that every time this announcement was made, there would always be a line of up to a dozen boys outside the headmaster's office ready to claim the treasure.

The headmaster was no fool. I am sure he looked at the line and mused over the future of these bright and shiny examples of higher education. Among them there may be the young man who had lost his coin. Here was a boy brave enough to font the headmaster and stand for his rights against interminable odds. He would go far in life. As for the rest, well what shall we say? They will most likely do better. In fact, they will probably end up in prestigious positions of great power and advantage. Here was a group of boys who were willing to stick their neck out and turn an opportunity into an advantage. "Opportunity only knocks once", and when it does, you must take it with both hands. Without a doubt, there was little integrity behind the smiling faces of those opportunity seekers, but then commerce is not built on integrity, and this was a private school training the leaders of tomorrow.

The selection of the most worthy boy was based on a predictable quality, namely, wisdom, or if you like, cunning. Let me say, the value of this prize was not to be sneezed at. With two shillings a boy could buy two comics, or twenty-four cobbers, or even four packets of Life Savers.

"Now boy, what was the date of your coin?" The unprepared were dumbstruck. The actual owner of the coin, speechless. The more lowly smarty-pants would take a guess, and were usually always wrong. The pure cunning had already done their research. Most two shilling pieces in Australia in the 1950's were either dated 1946 or 1947, for that was when pure silver coinage was replaced with a silver alloy mix. "Sir, I'm not sure, but I think it was either 1946 or 1947".

"Well done lad, and here's your coin."

And as if in contrast:

    Jesus in beauty

    Accepted their duty!


[Pumpkin Cottage]