The Parable of the Tail with No Teeth
Page 60
“Well,” Thomas said after a long silence the
strangers were careful not to disturb, “the ‘do-it-
yourself-if-you-want-it-done’ policy meant that the
Tower of Feculence, under which the stables now
labored, lost all support from the castle. What little
support remained was needed to take care of the
Tower of Power, of course. ‘TOP would stay there
until the end’, Sir Lancelot said more than once.
Meanwhile, everyone in the Tower of Feculence
lost subsistence in direct relation to his perceived
castle importance.
“Emergency support went first. Whenever
agreed, that a solution to the problem could be
something broke that affected production, the vas-
sals sent a runner to the Tower of the R&D–Rework
and Diddle–to request help. The Lord of the R&D
Tower, Lord Fiddle, had won the power struggle
over who would get to wield what little remained of
support in the castle. All too often, scribes of Lord
Fiddle would tell the runner, ‘Sorry, We are too
busy to get to it now. We will call you when we are
ready’. So, it came to pass that production statistics
in the stables came to be driven by the Tower of
R&D, not the Prince of the Piles and his stables.
The priorities of the castle came to be driven by its
Tail, not its Teeth.
“On the other hand, the Tower of R&D loved
to find modish ‘things’ to build for the rest of the
castle. Often before anyone in the stables knew they
needed anything new or different, peasants from
the Tower of R&D would appear with equipment in
hand. They would demand to be allowed to replace
older tools with the unaccustomed invention of
some parchment-pusher in the Tower of R&D. Just
as often, the new apparatus did not work as well as
the old without the loss of much blood and sweat...
and time. Thus, production in the stable suffered
more during the interminable ‘break-in periods’
thrust upon it by Lord Fiddle and his minions from
“Then Lord Fiddle, suddenly aware of self-
help’s threat to his newly acquired importance,
issued a Princely Ban on all self-help within the
castle. This effectively brought to a halt any work in
the castle that he had not authorized. The Tail was
very important indeed. In such ways each tower
created its own agenda, and these programs of the
Tail competed all too successfully with those of the
Teeth of the castle.”
Thomas a Bucket rose and shuffled to the wash
table. He splashed a ladle of water into his face and
returned to his chair. He sat again, water droplets
slowly escaping his beard.
“I reasoned,” he continued, “and Sir Lancelot
agreed, that a solution to the problem could be
found in creating a King’s Edict forbidding Lord
Fiddle and all the other Tails from possessing
any gold of their own. If they had no gold of their
own to spend, they would have to satisfy their
human tendency to spend with the gold of others.
Presumably then, the owners of the gold, the teeth
of the castle in this case, would dictate what Lord
Fiddles could spend it on.”
Thomas shrugged again. “But, as we should
have known, the Tails controlled the King by now,
and the idea never had a chance. Thus, the topsy-
turvy world of the castle continued its downward
“Then,” Thomas straightened in his chair and
looked directly at the strangers, “in an effort to
the Knights-Lanced–the King’s own soldiers–
from leaving the castle for good, many perquisites
were given them by virtue of their ‘unique’ train-
ing Paladins were given more power than were
ordinary vassals of the same rank. Paladins could
command vassals but not vice versa. Unfortunately,
Paladins came and went very fast. Their train-
ing was in demand, and they sold themselves to
the highest bidder...over and over again. They did
not stay at the castle long enough to get to know
their way around well. Their fealty was directed
only to their own kind, and so they never became
a part of the castle culture. That is, until they took

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