There once was a small kingdom where a good sort of folk dwelled. They believed in honest work, loving-kindness, and mutual sharing, and tried to get along peaceably with each other—though sometimes that was hard.

The center of the kingdom was encircled by a mighty wall. Behind the wall lived the king and his attendants. The kingdom dwellers had never passed through the wall; they could only imagine what lay beyond it. Many tales were told about what happened there, but no one knew which tales might be true. Even so, the kingdom dwellers could admire the beauty and glory of the wall, its long history and its rich tradition. And so they did.

The kingdom dwellers were busy building the kingdom. They did so by working hard, loving one another, and peacefully resolving their occasional quarrels. When old homes needed repair, they repaired them. When wells needed digging, they dug them. When clothes needed mending, they mended them. When the sick needed visiting, they visited them. They grew sweet fruits in abundance and fat vegetables from rich soil. From time to time, they paused from their kingdom-building to repair the wall by refreshing its paint, repairing its cracks, and cultivating the lovely foliage that grew against it.

But over the years, other work left the once-splendid wall neglected, and the wall began to age. The wooden planks that had once hugged each other tightly shrank and splintered. Some of the boards broke, and gaps in the wall appeared here and there. Some people began to grow even more curious about what lay behind the wall. They pressed their faces against the wall to peer through to the other side. But all they could get were glimpses. Some thought from time to time that they might have spied the ...

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