Many thanks to Hanzík for the Czech translations!

tcc-case-title
slightly geeky  slightly geeky

Case 48

Silence

The Temple of the Morning Brass Gong lay nestled in the folds of a high mountain forest, shadowy and lush. Hidden among its thick well-tended groves were four shrines, dedicated to four different gods of silence.

The monk Huisheng was paying his respects to the least of these when a sandal fell from the sky onto the ground before it. The monk looked up and discovered a learnèd brother—bound, gagged, and hoisted by ropes to dangle from the upper limbs of a cypress tree. The prisoner was frantically struggling against his bonds to attract Huisheng’s attention.

It was the habit of Huisheng not to speak unless spoken to; and since the prisoner was indisposed to speak at all, Huisheng merely turned away again and knelt at the shrine, the better to contemplate the scene.

—I have heard much today, thought Huisheng, concerning the state of a critical nightly batch job.

—Many praised the design of the job; for it was said that if any record could not be processed, a suitable email was sent automatically to the Administrator and to all Parties Concerned.

—Many admired the reliability of the job, and how it was common for days to pass with no such message being sent.

—Many remarked upon the reticence of the job, and how it sent messages only when it deemed there was some error in need of correction. This trait I find particularly virtuous, yet the abbot taking tea beside me spoke of it in tones of lament...

Huisheng’s thoughts were broken by the sound of muffled cries from above. Irritated, he cupped his hands over his ears.

—The Protocols tell us of no fewer than Four Silences: the Silence Before Words, the Silence Between Words, the Silence of the Broken Pipe, and the Silence of Fallen Parcels. To the initiate they are as different as the characters for “end” and “not yet,” although the outsider cannot tell one from the other.*

The unintelligible cries grew louder. Huisheng looked up to see a snake slithering along the ropes toward the terrified prisoner.

—It is curious, reflected Huisheng. The brother above has not begged to be set free; nor has he entreated me to pitch stones at the snake. Soon he will be dead. Then he will continue to not-ask me these things, albeit in a different way. If I leave this place, he will not-ask me in a different way altogether.

—There is a lesson here in this monk’s correction, though I have not yet divined what it is.

Thus, whistling a tune, did Huisheng depart the shrine.

* 末 and 未.