Miss Givvins said flatly: “It won’t work.”
It was a simple question but inside Miss Givvins’s mind little wheels turned inside big ones, things whirred and clicked.
Why not? She thought. Because thingie and other thingie and all those – oh dear, I haven’t ever found time to think of a simple explanation for all that, have I? Well I certainly won’t manage one right this minute.
The phrase “Because I said so” rose in Miss Givvins’s mind unbidden, and she dismissed it out of hand.
I should simply be honest, she mused, and tell this rather impertinent young whippersnapper that I know I’m right, but I can’t easily explain why just now. Or even better: I know I’m right, but I don’t wish to explain why just now.
But really, she mused further, the most honest way to say “I don’t wish to explain” is simply to say nothing at all. That’s honest. Honesty needs to be solid; you give an honest answer and that’s that. It doesn’t need to be a complete answer. How could it be, when a really complete answer to any question would be longer than the age of the universe? If you fall into a habit of explaining, not only do you find yourself giving tedious and time-wasting explanations for all sorts of things, but you soon find yourself giving explanations for the explanations. Your personality projects itself outwards like a series of Russian dolls, each one smaller and simpler and meaner than the last. And easier to crush.
And so it was that, after all that long train of thought, Miss Givvins made no reply at all. She simply stood, blinking occasionally, smiling a little private smile. She let her gaze drift around the the room, as though the conversation was already over and she was wondering, in an unhurried way, what to do next.
After a few moments of this the other one said, in tones of exasperation: “Just you saying that doesn’t make it true!”
“No,” Miss Givvins agreed mildly.
The other one stamped her foot. “How do you expect anyone to believe what you say if you won’t explain?”
“I don’t expect anyone to do much of anything,” Miss Givvins said, “but all the same.”
“All the same, what?”
“All the same, your plan won’t work.”
The other one glared at her. Miss Givvins, judging the conversation at this point to be entirely pointless, walked out of the room rather than continue it.
She was thinking: Oh, I’ll get you your answer, you impertinent and frankly annoying young whippersnapper, but I’ll do it my way, not your way. Your way is right away, rough and ready, no time to think things through. As if the way to find the truth was to hold a sort of verbal shoving match. Hah! That only tells you who’s best at shoving. I’ll do it my way, I’ll take my time and get it right, and I won’t explain the answer to anyone. I’ll just make it extremely useful and put it in a place where it’s easy to find. That’ll work. It’ll work.