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Some years ago, a sensitive and somewhat ineffectual member of the teaching profession called Miss Frout realised that the formal method of teaching - sit down, shut up, listen, learn, and speak only when you are told to - created (in Miss Frout's opinion) nothing more than over-regimented and un-natural Torture Chambers for Developing Minds.

She went away, had a think, and devised the Frout Method of Learning through Fun!, using analogy such as that of puppies and kittens, who do not learn to be adult dogs and cats through sitting un-naturally still in classrooms, but by what looks, to the untutored outside eye, like chaotic play. Being better at marketing her ideas than implementing them, she has since succeeded in getting enough parents to pay three hundred dollars a term to fund The Frout Academy For Inquiring Minds. As things have not developed quite according to the grand plan, all those $AM300 school fees also fund a growing gin habit which she keeps in the locked drawer of her desk.

For it takes a clear thinker like Susan Sto Helit to come along and see the logical flaw in the Frout Method. If you take an assortment of puppies and kittens and allow them to develop naturally without the occasional restrictive hand from an adult, or the word "No!" loudly and clearly enunciated when needed, or the timely equivalent of a smack on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, then what you get are feral animals. Like Jason.

Susan is the equivalent of the submarine lurking at periscope depth in the educational boating lake of Miss Frout. But Madame Frout cannot afford to get rid of her, as she realises, with horror, that Miss Susan is now the draw, pulling in all those $300 fees AND creating a waiting list for admission. Sack somebody who is so at odds with the Frout Method, and she's going to set up her own school and take the money with her...

At the time of Thief of Time, an uneasy peace reigned, but if she is REALLY honest with herself, Madame Frout can just hear, in the distance, the whooping cheers of a young Miss Frout, urging Susan on...

The Frout Academy is located on Esoteric Street.