“He lied,” she tells Alex bitterly. “He lied most horribly.” She pours the tea, mint and cool, and glares out at the breezy ocean morning. She needs both hands to hold the pot.
“I’m sorry,” says Alex politely.
“And the question I ask — the question we all must ask ourselves — was it ever true? Was it always a lie? Did he know? He must have known. It is some comfort to think him now, still beardless, shaking and weak, young guts roiled with ancient qualms.”
They walk slowly along the beach, bodies straight and slim, tanned from the sun. Their mouths are pursed and sour; every apple is full of worms. She and Alex watch them, Alex curiously, she with a rage less muted than powerless.
“It all seemed to work. Damn him! To see the years falling away! Gray hair gone black again, spines straightened, teeth sprouting like weeds in the salted fields of our gums… it worked! Damn him! Damn him to the blackest pit and the hottest fire…” She trails off sleepily, her anger and her energy spent. Alex watches her sleep, the morning light gentle on her face. He might have guessed her for nineteen, and a very young nineteen, at that.
He has been living here for fifty years, listening to them complain. He is beginning to think their longed-for drug of youth is a trick of mind. They have renounced their bodies but kept their minds; in their rage they cling to a bitter cynicism all out of keeping with their state. “Grow young and foolish,” he whispers to Hester. “The young are bulletproof and have no need of wisdom.”