Greek Myths 4 Kids Presents: CASE FILES
FROM THE HERCULES DETECTIVE AGENCY
CASE FILE: The Terrible Tutor
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
Mikynos was a very wealthy wine merchant. Buying and selling wine was a profitable business. He always gave a lot at the temple of Dionysus, the god of wine.
Mikynos had a son who was reaching the age when he needed a tutor. (This is how most Greek children of the rich went to school. They had a private tutor.) Mikynos went looking for a tutor.
In the local barbershop, Mikynos met a tutor who had just left his last position after his pupil went off to be a member of a merchant ship's company.
"How lucky," exclaimed Mikynos, quite pleased with how little bother he had suffered to solve his problem.
Mikynos invited the tutor to accompany him to his home. After a lengthy discussion over some wine, Mikynos hired the tutor to teach his son. The tutor accepted. The position came with a small salary and a room of his own in the large house owned by the wine merchant.
A few months after this, while Mikynos was out selling his wine, his son decided to take matters into his own hands. He was a very smart boy. He had heard of the Hercules Detective Agency. He was sure that the mighty Hercules would help him.
While his tutor was snoring heavily, as he usually did when Mikynos was not at home, the boy slipped out of the house. He was not quite sure where Hercules lived, but he knew he could ask at the barber shop. Barbers knew a great deal. That's what his father was always saying.
Sure enough, the barber knew exactly what lane to take to reach Hercules' villa. He took the boy outside, and pointed carefully. "Just follow this road. There is a statue of Hercules outside his front door, which makes it very easy to find."
The boy thanked the barber and headed down the lane. He had no trouble finding the right door. He had a great deal of trouble working up enough courage to knock on it. He was still working up his courage when Hercules opened the door. Both of them jumped back a step, quite startled to see the other.
"Hello," said Hercules, looking down at the boy from what the boy considered to be a great height.
The boy took a deep, ragged breath and blurted out his problem. "My father hired a tutor who knows nothing. When my father is gone, he sleeps all day. My father wants me to learn how to be a wine merchant like himself, and learn to steal from people and overcharge them for goods. I told my father I did not want to learn to sell wine. I want to learn about reading and writing and arithmetic and music. I want to prepare for my military service. I want a tutor who can teach me these things. But my father said he had gone to a great deal of trouble to hire an excellent tutor and that I must learn from him. My father has no time to teach me himself, and besides, I don't think he even knows how to read. He only pretends he does, just as he pretends to care about me when all he cares about is selling wine and stealing from people."
Hercules waited for the boy to fall over in a faint. He had barely taken a breath. Instead, the boy stood as tall as he could. "I want to study with you, Hercules. I want you to be my tutor. I can pay you! I can pay you in wine!"
"Which you would steal from your father?"
"I can pay you in work. There must be many things I can do to help you! I am very strong," insisted the young boy, flexing his arm. A very small muscle appeared. "See?"
The trouble was, Hercules did see. This problem was not unusual. Fathers were responsible for their sons' education, but some fathers were cheap and hired anyone, mostly to save face with their friends and neighbors. Others could care less if their sons were ever educated. It was unfortunate, but it was not a problem Hercules could solve.
"I'm not a tutor, child. I have many clients who need my help." Hercules looked down at the earnest face looking up at him. The boy tried very hard not to cry. He was so sure that Hercules would help him. "Perhaps what you need is to hire the Hercules Detective Agency to find you a better tutor." There we go, thought Hercules. Problem solved.
"You don't know my father. He already hired a tutor and that is the end of things as far as he is concerned. He will do nothing to correct my problem. He will never even admit that I have a problem." The boy's shoulders drooped miserably.
"Your tutor sleeps all day you said? And he is not teaching you what you need to learn?"
"My tutor tossed my tablet in the corner when I asked him to correct my work. I don't think he can read. He says he's not going to write, either. That's my job. He just sleeps and steals bottles of wine."
Hercules jerked. "He steals wine? Are you sure of that?" Hercules asked carefully.
"Yes, of course. Bottles and bottles. He keeps them in his room."
Hercules smiled. Actually, it was more like a grin, a very pleased sort of grin. "I think I can help you," smiled Hercules. "Do you have a name?"
"I'm just called boy."
"And your mother?"
"I don't have one."
"I must carry this news to your father," Hercules said slowly. "I am sure he will be delighted that you have been attending to your education."
"Oh," said the boy. There was a wealth of disappointment in that one word.
"Have faith, child. You can count on me."
Together, Hercules and boy walked to the wine merchant's villa. It was a quiet walk. The boy said nothing and Hercules was thinking about how he would handle this.
"There you are!" The wine merchant, Mikynos, scowled angrily at his son when they arrived. Mikynos scrunched up his face. "What were you thinking, going off like that, telling no one where you were?"
"You were worried about me?" His son sounded quite surprised.
"You are supposed to be doing your studies, not gallivanting all over town."
"That's why we're here," Hercules said gently.
The wine merchant looked quickly to the left of the door. There stood Hercules.
"Hercules!" the wine merchant gasped. "Thank you for bringing him home."
"That's not why I'm here," Hercules said softly.
"Oh? Then, how can I help you?"
"You can hire a decent tutor for your son," said Hercules firmly.
"I have hired a tutor!" the wine merchant gasped defensively.
"No, you have hired a thief. It has come to my attention that the tutor you hired has stolen a great many bottles of your wine. He has them stashed in his room right now."
"WHAT!" gasped the merchant. He whirled around and went tearing into the house. "YOU!" the boy and Hercules heard the merchant scream. "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! GET OUT GET OUT!"
Just as Hercules had expected, here came the tutor. He pushed by the boy and went running off down the lane, his face twisted with fear. He knew the wine merchant could have him beaten. He knew the wine merchant would have him beaten. He was soon out of sight.
The merchant returned, slightly out of breath. "Thank you, Hercules. Thank you for letting me know. A thief!"
"Since I am the one who cost you your tutor, perhaps you would allow me to bring you someone I know who would do the job right, a good man, a wise man, a man who will teach your son all the things he needs to learn." Hercules smiled. "Your neighbors will be so jealous at the quality of tutor you will soon have, but then, you are a rich merchant and can well afford the very best for your beloved son."
"I, ah, I ..."
"I will bring him by tomorrow." On that note, Hercules turned, gave the boy a wink, and left.
The next day, Hercules returned to the home of the wine merchant. With him was an older man with wise, kind eyes, and curly golden hair. Hercules knocked on the door and waited. The wine merchant finally opened the door, but only part way.
Hercules shoved it wide open and called, "BOY! I have brought you a tutor."
"I can't afford this, Hercules. I'm a poor merchant. I'm - "
"Going to face all of Athens at your trial," Hercules nodded. "I have checked with several of your customers. I have found how you have cheated them. You, of course, will pay them any money you owe them," Hercules announced in very calm voice. "And you will not cheat your son of a good and kind tutor. You will do these things, or I promise you, I will personally see to it that you will face all of Athens at your trial."
The tutor Hercules had brought ignored the merchant entirely. His eyes were focused on the boy. "Hello, boy," the man said. "I think I shall call you Pollo, after the great god Apollo. And this," he held out the puppy he had tucked under his arm, "is Rascal. He's for you. Part of your education is to learn how to take care of something or someone besides yourself. I thought a puppy might be nice way to start."
The small puppy wiggled excitedly as the boy carefully took him in his arms. He covered the boy's chin with happy little puppy kisses.
"Now, sir," the tutor said, looking at the merchant. "If you would show me to my room, I believe I can begin your son's education."
"I'll show you to your room," Pollo exclaimed.
"That would be lovely," the man smiled. He walked inside the house and followed Pollo down a hall.
"Is he really for me?" Hercules heard the boy squeal. "I can really keep him?"
"It takes a great deal of work to care for a puppy. You will be busy learning how to read and write and do your numbers and play music, and of course, do the strengthening activities to prepare you for your military service. Do you think you can also find time to take care of a puppy?"
"Oh yes," the boy glowed.
"He's not very well behaved yet," the man laughed. "That will be your job. To never beat him or yell at him, but to train him gently. Remember, he's just a puppy."
"Just a puppy," Pollo giggled, a delighted child's giggle. "Excuse me, sir. I'll be right back." With his puppy held securely in his arms, Pollo raced back to the front door. Hercules felt a tug on his leg. He looked down at the glowing boy. "Thank you, Hercules! Thank you!"
"You're welcome, child," said the mighty Hercules.
Hercules looked over the boy's head at the tutor.
"I will take good care of the boy," the tutor promised.
"If you have any trouble, you will let me know."
"Yes, of course. But I expect things will be just fine."
"Yes," Hercules told him. "I expect they will." He turned his back and walked away.
About two weeks later, one tutor, one boy, and one very excited puppy showed up at Hercules' door. "I'm here to pay my debt," the boy said happily. "I can do many things, but my tutor thought you might like me to do some weeding for you."
"Child, there's no need. I was glad to help."
"And I am glad to pay my debt," was his response. "Come on, Rascal. Let's get to work!" The boy and his puppy disappeared around back. "You don't have to hide, Tor," the child shouted. "I know all about you! I know you have a wonderful heart! I know you can teach me many things."
Tor stuck his head out the door of his hut.
"Yes! Like you taught the Olympic team at Oropus! I need to prepare for my military service!"
"Oh!" the Minotaur said happily. "I suppose I could teach you a thing or two."
"You've been telling him stories about me," Hercules realized.
"I've been telling him many stories."
Hercules and his old friend, the tutor, smiled at each other.
"Things are fine then?" Hercules asked. "I had wondered."
"Yes, things are fine, more than fine. The wine merchant is terrified you'll check up on him. He's paying me a ridiculous amount. And he's paid back everyone that he cheated recently. He told them all it was a mathematical error," the tutor grinned.
The sounds of battle cries and puppy shrieks filled the courtyard out back.
"I don't think he's going to get much weeding done," Hercules laughed.
"No. Probably not. It's important that he pay his debt. But perhaps not today."
Later that night, more out of habit than anything else, Hercules pulled out an empty file. He hesitated. Was this a case? After a minute or two, he smiled down at his toes. Had he not been hired to find a tutor for the boy? Had he not then found a tutor? Had he not also have been hired by his father, the mighty Zeus, to find something for the god Helios to do? Helios had once held a very important job - he had pulled up the sun each day. But he had decided to retire, and Zeus had given that job to Apollo. Helios did not want his job back, but he was miserable in retirement. He needed something important to do. And today, Hercules was glad to see, Helios' eyes had sparked. His step was light. He was on a mission. After all, besides pulling up the sun each day, what could possibly be more important than preparing the youth of Greece for whatever might be ahead?
It was not, Hercules supposed, exactly what Zeus had in mind, but it appeared to be the right solution for everyone involved, except possibly the wine merchant. Even he seemed to be turning a new leaf. And Tor! Tor would teach the boy so much. That made him think of Leto, one of Greece's most famous warriors, now happily married, with a baby on the way. Leto had been after him, wanting to know what he could do to pay his debt. He would get Leto involved in the boy's training. It was odd really how one change could make so many differences. Yes, it was most definitely a case. But what to name it? Hercules decided, after a bit of thought, to call it The Case of the Terrible Tutor. With great satisfaction, he tucked the file away with the other case files from the Hercules Detective Agency, and went outside to enjoy the peace that had finally descended upon his courtyard.