The Senior Administrator looked up from his task of rearranging his desk furniture according to the number of syllables in each item’s name and noted the date on the calendar. Next to the large ‘we-rule-it’ map of the world, drawn on the skin of an elephant, the vast, featureless, grey area punctuated only by a colourful region no bigger than a miller’s thumbprint, consisting of intricately painted tiny trees, a miniature ridge of high mountains and a short river leading to an assumed boundless ocean, hung the tribe’s lunar calendar.

Noting it was the penultimate day of the third week of Harvestend The Senior Administrator smiled to himself, it would soon time for the audit of the tribe’s monthly activities to be carried out. Calling his Temporary Administrators The Senior Administrator ensured that all the necessary preparations were in order ready for the audit to begin in five day’s time.

The task of auditing the returns from the Hunters and their collection of dismembered local fauna large and small, fell to the Temporary Administrators, as did visiting the foul smelling tannery and to the leather curers and their homes filled with acrid smell of stale urine. Similarly the Temporary Administrators would be required to leave the settlement and speak with the Herders in the open fields to pick their way through the endless mounds of dung to discover the number of kids, calves, foals and baby elephants that had been born since the last audit month. The Senior Administrator meanwhile had the people he was responsible for to visit him in the comfort of the Meeting House.

“Next!” The Senior Administrator called, dismissing the bee-keeper while putting aside the small jar of golden honey he had requested for the purposes of performing a ‘quality check’.

“And you are?” The Senior Administrator asked the ragged looking person that stepped into the room.

“Rondellerie, the woodcutter, Sir.”

“And what do you report as your activity this month?”

“I was set the task of going into the Grand Forest…”

“Verdant Wood,” The Senior Administrator interrupted, “Her Imperial Majesty the Holy Virgin Queen has renamed the Grand Forest the Verdant Wood, did you not get the memo?”

“No, Sir, I did not, I was out the village the whole of the month.”

“Well, see that you take note. Now continue.”

“I was set the task this month of going into the Verdant Wood to seek out straight and true trees, and fell such specimens that were at least ten inches in diameter and over sixteen feet long.”

“And you have done this?”

“Yes, my Lord, with my bare hands I felled four of them, each weighing a hundred pounds I dragged them back to village to the woodcutter to make Rakes.”

“Very good,” The Senior Administrator noted this in the appropriate column of his ledge book, then dismissed the woodcutter with a wave of his hand, “Next!”

The woodcutter left to be replaced by a less-ragged person, though someone who was still in need of a hair cut.

“And you are?”

“Vermandaye, the weapon maker, Sir.”

“And what do you report as your activity this month?”

“I was set the task of going into the Verdant Wood, to seek out a stand of stout hazel poles and from such cut a Shaft for the Spear maker.”

“A shaft?

“Yes, Sire.”

“Just the one?”

“Yes. Sire.”

“So you spent the whole month in the woods and came back with one stick…”