When I woke up this morning the Sea has sneaked back up the beach in the night. I bark at it from the bedroom window. Not another step, I say.
What are you doing, asks the Owner, it is 6am. I wish to sleep on.
I am maintaining Constant Vigilance, I say.
The Owner moans and puts her head in the pillow. Could you please Maintain it Quietly? She asks.
There are, it seems, no limits to the handicaps with which the Moral Dog must battle on. I eye the Sea with my Warning Look, and it waves back Insolently. It is definitely Creeping up the beach. I need to warn the Owner that we may Imminently be Washed Away.
Get off me, says the Owner, I am Asleep. Completely Asleep.
The Moral Dog is Not So Easily Deceived. She is plainly not even Partly Asleep. The Sea is coming, I say. You must get up or you may be Eaten by Amoral Fish.
The Owner sighs. The Sea only comes So Far up the beach, she says, then it retreats. It is Playing. Please Play Quietly in Return.
That is what it wants you to think, I say, occupying a Vacant Spot between the Owner and the Man. It is well-known that in times of War the Enemy makes many False Threats before launching the True Attack.
I do not think the Sea is Making Threats, says the Owner. Please get off my head.
I enlarge my Vacant spot a little in order to Expound my Argument More Forcefully. That’s easy for you to say, I observe. As the Economist Thomas Schelling said in his famous treatise ‘An Essay on Bargaining’, bargaining includes both explicit bargaining and tacit bargaining in which adversaries watch and interpret each other’s behaviour, each aware that his own actions are being interpreted and anticipated, each acting with a view to the expectations that he creates. This can be applied to everything from price negotiations to the threat of retaliation for annexing Crimea and coming up and down the beach in a Taunting Fashion. What about the Maldives?
The Owner sighs. Thomas Scheller is presupposing that the two parties he refers to are negotiating with Each Other regarding mutually-affecting ambitions, she says. The Sea, however, is not negotiating, because it does not want to cover the Maldives. The Sea is merely attempting to Reach the Moon. It has been trying for Millions of years. When the Moon is close it tries particularly hard and so comes a long way up the Beach.
But, I say, this is Ridiculous. Even I know that the Moon is a very long way away. If it were not we might have gone there on one of our Walks. I have heard there is cheese.
Trying to achieve what appears impossible is not always Ridiculous, says the Owner. If it were I would not be hoping to be allowed to sleep. Sometimes being Stubborn is an Estimable Quality.
As when it is displayed by the Moral Dog, I say. I feel my view on the Sea is Much Changed.
She wriggles down under the Duvet. I can’t hear you, she says.
The Moral Dog is not easily deceived by a Duvet, since there is a way in at the bottom through Subversive Means.
I know you can hear me, I say when I reach the Owner under the duvet. T S Eliot said we fight for Lost Causes because we fight to keep something alive, rather than in the expectation that anything will triumph.
Indeed, says the Owner, T S Eliot was very wise. I expect he had plenty of Sleep.
Has anyone ever told the Sea that this is a Lost Cause? I ask.
I am on the Floor, says the Man from somewhere in the distance. The Moral Dog has pushed me out of bed.
He is worried about the Sea, says the Owner.
It is terrible for the Sea to be blamed for its Stubbornness and Perseverance when it has only Good and Moral Aims, I say.
That Dog is being tricky again, says the Man from on the Floor. Don’t listen to him.
Look, says the Owner from under the duvet. Nobody Blames the Sea. They know the Sea is simply Persevering in the Face of All Evidence that it Cannot Succeed.
Again, rather like the Moral Dog, I observe. I know she can hear me because I have licked her ear to make sure it is Still There.
I am hearing but I am not listening, says the Owner
I slide off the Bed and gaze out of the Window at the Sea. It sits on the Beach waving back at me, not Insolently but Mournfully. The Moral Dog, I think, as Stubborn and Misunderstood as the Sea. No-one is listening to either of us. I feel we have a New Understanding.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.