Stacey, the young English teacher, had a wry sense of humor, liked to shock the boys by taking up unorthodox positions on marriage or economics. Conrad wrote an essay describing an imaginary society completely preoccupied with elaborate rituals revolving around a minute-by-minute observance of the passage of time.
Stacey refused to play, however, and gave him a noncommittal beta plus. After class he quietly asked Conrad what had prompted the fantasy. At first Conrad tried to back away, then finally came out with the question that contained the central riddle.
"Why is it against the law to have a clock?"
Stacey tossed a piece of chalk from one hand to the other.
"Is it against the law?"
Conrad nodded. "There's an old notice in the police station offering a bounty of one hundred pounds for every clock or wristwatch brought in. I saw it yesterday. The sergeant said it was still in force."
Stacey raised his eyebrows mockingly. "You'll make a million. Thinking of going into business?"
Conrad ignored this. "It's against the law to have a gun because you might shoot someone. But how can you hurt anybody with a clock?"
"Isn't it obvious? You can time him, know exactly how long it takes him to do something."
"Then you can make him do it faster."