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An Excerpt From the Psi Corps Student Handbook (2)

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A long time ago, and in what is today the Central African Bloc, lived a Hornbill.

[Illustration of a Hornbill.]

In those days, the Hornbill had a small beak. This is how the Hornbill's beak got the shape it has today, large and heavy.

The Hornbill was a very lazy creature. While all the other animals and villagers got up early in the morning and worked hard all day, the Hornbill slept all day, played when he should have been working, and always tried to get out of doing his fair share.

One day, Lion's son got caught in a hunter's trap, and died. All of the animals in the village cried. They decided to make a huge funeral for the young lion, with a big feast. They worked for days to gather and cook the food - all of them except Hornbill, who stayed home and slept.

"I don't want to help cook a feast. It's so much work, with all the different ingredients to mix, and the labor over a hot stove! I'd rather take a nap in my hammock," he told them. "You can cook the food without me."

When the feast was ready, all the animals of the village gathered together to bury the young lion.

"Hornbill," they said, "with your beak, you dig very well. Will you help us?"

The Hornbill yawned. "Digging is so much work! I might get my feathers dirty in that hole. I'd rather take a nap in my hammock," he told them. "You can dig without me."

When the hole was finished, all the animals prepared to carry the young lion to the grave. "Please Hornbill," asked the village Elder, "help us carry the body."

The Hornbill shook his head. "I don't feel like going to a funeral today. It's such a long business, with the procession and all. I'd rather take a nap in my hammock. You can carry the body without me."

By this point, the other animals in the village were all very angry.

"You lazy Hornbill!" they cried up at him, in his tree. "You don't care about the village! You only care about yourself! You are selfish!"

High up in his tree, the Hornbill pretended he was sleeping, and that he couldn't hear them.

"Shame on you, Hornbill!" shouted the village Elder. "You disgrace kin and kith!"

But still the Hornbill didn't move a feather. I don't need them, he told himself.

A year passed. Hornbill's own son got caught in a hunter's trap, and died like Lion's son had.

"Ah, no!" the Hornbill exclaimed in his grief, standing over the body of his dead son. "Now my own son is dead! Surely the village will help me prepare a funeral for him? Surely they will help me bury him?"

But no one would. All of the other animals were hard at work - plowing the fields, gathering food from the forest, carrying water, or fixing the thatching on their roofs. No one had time to help Hornbill.

"But what am I to do now?" Hornbill asked the village Elder.

"You have never helped in a funeral before," the Elder replied. "You slept while we all worked to help Lion. So now, no one will help you."

"But I don't even know where the graveyard is!"

"Find it yourself!" the other animals scolded.

The Hornbill had to carry his son's coffin himself, under the hot African sun. With no one to help him, he got lost. Around and around he wandered, for days, weeks, years. Eventually, under the burden of carrying his son's body, and his sins of laziness and selfishness, his once-small beak was transformed into a large, heavy beak.

"Where is the graveyard?" he cried, day and night. "Where is the graveyard?"

But no one would ever help him. Thus he paid for his sins of standing apart from the village.

In the Corps, we are all brothers and sisters, kin and kith. The Corps is our Mother and Father, and we respect our elders. We always work hard, do our fair share, and help each other in times of need. We make sacrifices for each other, and others make sacrifices for us.