Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Castle

There were some travelers from a far-off village, who in an uninhabited land came across a beautiful castle on a hill. It was a magnificent building, full of beautiful tapestries and impressive ornaments. Also, as they entered the banquet hall they found food laid out for a feast. There were also many empty bedrooms with large four-poster beds. But the really mysterious thing was that every day the table was stocked with food at morning, noon, and evening, and every night they found the beds made with new linen. But they never saw the owner or any servants who did these things. And though they hid and watched for them and set traps for them, they could not catch them.

They went out to all the surrounding towns and told them about the wonder they had found. Many came and were inspired by the place to tell stories about it, often trying to explain its origin. There was many a ballad sung, many a play written, and many a portrait painted, based on these stories. Then came the more serious people, who tried to examine the castle to discover its secrets. They studied the murals, examined the food, and searched the whole house for unknown rooms or secret passageways. They came back with many plausible-sounding and contradictory theories about the castle and its owner. But as the owner remained elusive, there were those who claimed he had long ago departed and there were hidden machines that renewed the food and changed the linen. Others claimed there were physical laws that had produced the castle the way it was and that the owner, if he existed, was at most an observer. Others claimed the castle had been produced by chance, through the workings of the laws of probability, and there was no owner, or at least serious doubt he existed. And the various factions continued to argue with each other, each being convinced that it was right.

But there was a time, while the many were busy telling stories or concocting theories, that a mysterious man appeared among them. And this man claimed to be the owner of the castle and that any who followed him would learn the true story behind it. It was at least claimed that this man could do miraculous things and make the castle act according to his will. And there were those who were his pupils and taught others the truths they got from him. But the others rejected such things, considering the man a fraud or a madman or, long afterward, a tale created by his followers. But those who believed in the man claimed theirs was the only real answer. And their tribe persists to this day.

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