} What, again, young Snipe? This makes, what, the 17th time this
} fortnight? All right, but first I want you to get under the
} covers and put your head on your pillow whilst I extinguish the
} lamp. No, when placing your head on your pillow, you may, in
} fact, keep it attached to your neck.
} Now then... Once upon a--what? Oh very well then, you may run
} and fetch yourself a small drink. I'll wait.
} [time passes]
} Oh, Snipe... I did say "a *small* drink," did I not? Ah, good,
} your thirst is sated. So climb back into bed, put thy head on
} thy pillow, and close thine eyes. Good. Once upon a time, a
} Prime number roosted upon her--what? You didn't? Well I suppose
} you ought to. Run along and brush them, but if thou knowest what
} be good for thee, dawdle not!
} Ah, you have returned. Did you remember to rinse out the
} basin? No? For Zot's sake, do you know how hard it is for Zadoc
} to clean those petrified lumps of dentifrice off the basin if you
} allow them to dry overnight? That's effort he could be spending
} tending to *my* whims, after all! Now scoot! And do a good job
} of it, lest I set my Staff of Zot to heavy stun and blister thy
} backside therewith!
} Finished? Excellent. Climb back into bed now. You know the drill.
} OK. Once upon a time, a Prime number roosted upon her nest.
} Suddenly, she felt a small vibration from beneath her--What? No,
} it wasn't an earthquake...Yes, I am aware that the New Madrid
} faultline passes right through the Principality of Indiana, I
} *am* the Oracle, after all...Yes, I... Uh-huh... But... Not
} qui... No, I am *not* interested in hearing all you know about
} earthquakes! It wasn't an earthquake! It was her little
} Primelings hatching.
} Now you know what a Prime number is: a positive integer which
} has no positive integer divisors other than 1 and itself. Well,
} this Prime number stepped back to watch her little Primelings
} hatch, and as each emerged from its prenatal encasement, she
} assigned them their values. "There's 7. Now 13. And 3. You're
} 11..." and so forth. But the last Primeling to emerge was...
} different, somehow. Not in a way she could put her finger on, if
} indeed she even had a finger, but something was just not quite
} Primelike about him. And in time-honored fashion, she concluded
} that, being different, he was therefore ugly, and not even really
} worthy of being assigned a value. So the Mother Prime, and
} indeed every other inhabitant of the whole Numerical System
} simply referred to him, when they referred to him at all, as the
} Ugly Primeling.
} This was, of course, difficult for the--What? Well, I'm not
} surprised, considering how much you drank earlier. Go ahead,
} I'll wait--but not for long. No, no, go do your business, young
} Snipe; I wouldn't want to be responsible for any more childhood
} trauma than necessary.
} All set now? Good. Where was I? Prime, roosting, hatching,
} evaluating, Ugly... All right then. This was, of course,
} difficult for the Ugly Primeling, and this difficulty was not
} mitigated by the spiteful ways in which he was treated by his
} brethren and sistern. They would push him aside at feeding
} times, leaving him only tiny bits. Which, of course, stunted his
} growth, to the point that even if Mother Prime had wanted to
} assign him a value, it was not at all clear which value would be
} right. He was certainly more than a three, but not nearly as
} much as a five. So she just kept calling him the Ugly Primeling.
} Well, some creatures might bow to such challenging
} circumstances. Some might conform and become submissive,
} slavelike beings. Kind of like Zadoc here. Some observers might
} even consider this the rational thing to do. But the Ugly
} Primeling did something decidedly irrational: He decided to
} transcend the pain and rejection aimed at him by his peers. And
} in so doing, he ceased being the Ugly Primeling, and emerged
} triumphantly as a beautiful Transcendental Number!
} Eh? Asleep are you? And about time, too! Sleep in relative
} peace, young Snipe. When you awake, you will owe the Oracle a
} thick slice of pi.