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Once upon a time, there was a wise and aged turtle who was renowned throughout the swamp for the brilliant and lively gatherings he regularly held at his house. He attracted only the most erudite of animals--sagacious frogs who were experts in insect biology, beautifully plumed birds who would manipulate song and poetry to the highest degree, blinking fish who were masters of modern languages, and many others. They convened daily, not only among themselves, but also with the younger and lesser-learned animals of the swamp, with whom they shared ideas through lively conversation and written scholarship.
No animal wanted for anything at these gatherings. Tea and crumpets, or whatever comestibles were an animals delectation, were provided; animals stayed the night in the turtle's many warm beds, the better to begin their scholarship early the next morning; and above all, a great means of communication was provided. Every animal, great or small, was provided with a pheromone machine which secreted chemicals of encoded information. An animal need only push a button, and a pheromone was released at lightening speed from one machine to another. In this way, elder animals who traveled the farthest reaches of the swamp could relay their findings instantaneously to colleagues and pupils at the hub of the swamp; they need only use their pheromone machines. Pupils could likewise relay scholarship and last-minute questions to elders; they need only use their pheromone machines. This, and other services, was provided gratis by the turtle.
Soon, the system became indispensible to the workings of the small group. Soon, the system began to break down. The turtle had become lax in maintaining the network that connected the machines, with the result that pupils' papers disappeared in transit; elders researching in obscure parts of the swamp got lost forever because their pheromone cries for help were never received (many elders who had refused to use the system from the start were spared this fate, but they had been, by wide consensus lost already); in short, the hub began to dissolve.
Many conjecture that the turtle's plan had been to let the pheromone network sink into decrepitude in order to improve it. The incongruence of a premier hub with a shoddy means of communication would attract the vultures (the richest members of the swamp, of whom many had once belonged to the hub), who would be appalled into refurbishing the system. It was a plan the turtle had used many times in the past, with success, but this time, the vultures were simply appalled and decided instead to invest in carrion futures. And the group dissolved. Out of ire and frustration, pupils left the turtle's warm beds and hot tea to seek out other hubs of discussion. Somewhere south, a bulldog had founded a new group that was garnering much attention. Elders left, too, to tour and teach at other locals.
All went to other loci of insight and exploration with modern and expedient means of communication, and do not ascribe a moral to this tale. They are too busy studying and teaching. --Dalasini Cummings '99
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