A Page from the Middle

When the gibbons had stopped chasing them, Milo and Milton collapsed by the side of the road, their breasts heaving, spots dancing in front of their eyes. The road took a sharp turn here, and the ground fell away into a little valley. In the valley were two ancient Frenchmen, arguing with each other. It was some time before Milo could heard anything over the sound of his own breathing.

“Love!” cried the one, perched on a crumbling glacial rock. A sign hanging from the guardrail gave the period of the rock’s dissolution as fifteen thousand years. “Love, true love, free love, love free from fear and danger and repression, ah, love will change the world!”

The other sneered. He was monstrously fat, but his eyes, where they peeped through the bars of his cell, were lively. He had a beautiful forehead. “Man never changes. Your love thrives under the whips and chains that ring it around — remove those chains and what do you have left?”

“The birds lifting from the rock…”


“What do they hope to gain from it?” asked Milo. “They never convince each other.”

“Of course not,” replied Milton, “but it has to be said.”