The Parable of the Tail with No Teeth
Page 55
nce upon a time, a castle stood in the midst
of fertile fields in the Land of Red Tape.
The aged castle was nestled on a high promontory
deep within the well-paved bosom of the Land of
Red Tape. Once it had been a fat castle, rich and
powerful, but now it lay in ruined splendor. It had
been stripped of many of its building stones and
noble bearing. Grass grew where grass had not
been allowed to grow during the castle’s heyday.
Vines smothered the work of generations of castle
Three strangers stumbled over the pebbled
remains of once mighty towers as they picked
their way to the castle’s gate. “Look,” cried one, as
he pointed at thin contrails of smoke rising from
the seedy gatehouse, “perhaps someone still lives
As the astonished strangers stumbled up the
remaining path to the castle, an old man wearing
a patchwork quilt for a robe peered from the dark
gap marking the entrance to the rotting gatehouse.
Quickly recovering from his surprise, the elder
stepped forward into the sun. The ancient appari-
tion’s lowly vestments could not mask his noble
bearing. His white hair surrounded his head and
face so lustrously that it must have been clean. The
vermin that were surely the only other inhabitants
of the castle’s crumbling shell did not inhabit him.
“Well, hello to you, my most honored huff-
ing and puffing visitors.” The old man gracefully
opened his arms in welcome. “You must be well
tired and thirsty from climbing the ruined hill to
my likewise ruined abode. Do come in and share
a spot of most assuredly unspoiled mead with me.
The strangers followed the old man into his bare
but immaculate apartment. They looked at each
other, and the same questions appeared in their
eyes. As this evident keeper of the castle turned to
motion his visitors to be seated upon the benches
along the walls, he spoke in a strong, clear voice:
“I will answer the questions in your eyes. Clearly,
I do not see many that understand language, mine
at least, and I look forward to conversation with
you. My name is Thomas, Thomas a Bucket, and
I am the only living bureaucrat remaining on this
hilltop. I do not count the squirrels, although I
must admit that their bureaucracy is much more
effective than ours was.”
Whilst handing cups of sweet mead to each of
his mesmerized guests, he spoke again: “And to
answer your second question: I own this castle. I
once served it and now I command it...what is left
of it anyway. But to answer your third question
would take longer, longer than a cup of mead takes
to drain.” He sat down at the small desk in one cor-
ner of the room, under the light of a large window.
He reached into a large wooden bowl and picked
out a small, oblong object.
Thomas’s guests said almost in unison, “Please
tell us anyway, dear Thomas a Bucket. We have
come a long way from the university to study these
ruins, Mister Bucket, and we have all the time you
need,” said the man who appeared to be the leader
of the strangers.
“Call me Thomas,” smiled Thomas a Bucket,
keeper of the castle. “I believe you must be learned
men and therefore willing to learn the lesson in the
sad story of this castle’s last throes and final death.
I will tell you that story gladly, but first you must
The Parable of the Tail with No Teeth
Part VIII: Final–The End of the Tail Tale

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