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in search of suggestions

The Select-T Program lets me dial up a remote host, log in, type
commands, look at the output, etc.  I want to figure out what it would
take to have a program do the same thing.  The fantasy runs something
like this; suppose (for some bizarre reason) you want to do "ls" on a
unix host and return the resulting file names as a list of symbols.  So
you'd write something like this:

  (LET ((STREAM <<<make a stream that connects me to a
		shell running on HOST>>>))
	      UNTIL <<you see a prompt>>
      (FORMAT STREAM "logout~%")
      (CLOSE STREAM))))

The question is, how do I create a stream with that functionality?  I
know that somewhere deep in the code for telnet:nvt-window there has to
be SOMETHING that creates a full duplex character stream, and does :tyi
and :tyo operations on it, but how do I create this beast outside of
Select-T ?

I would rather not have the program stuff strings at the Terminal
Process and read from wallpaper files.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or clarifications. -w