Why are there Flowers on the Seat? I ask.
It is an Anniversary, says the Owner.
I did not know that Seats had Anniversaries, I say.
This One Does, says the Owner. It is a Moral Seat.
I did not think Seats were Moral, I say.
The Seat is not just a Seat, says the Owner. Look, it has a plaque. It says that Annie loved to sit in this Spot.
Then why is she not Sitting Here now? I ask.
Annie died some time ago, says the Owner. The Seat invites us to Remember Her, since we appreciate the View as She Did.
That is Terrible, I say. Annie has died, I say. I feel a Howl coming on, I say.
Do not Howl for Annie, says the Owner. Everyone has to Die, says the Owner. It is one of the Basic Conditions of Being Born, says the Owner.
You mean that being Born has Dying Built In? I say.
Exactly, says the Owner.
Will you die? I ask the Owner.
Of Course, says the Owner.
When? I ask.
I do not know, says the Owner. I hope I will Last the Day but One Never Knows. One can always be Run Over by a Bus.
That is Terrible, I say. I feel another Howl coming on, I say.
Do not Howl, says the Owner. I am not likely to be Run over by a Bus Today, since the Busses in Highgate are mostly Parked at the Bus Stop in the Square where They Linger For Hours in Inexplicable Threes.
I suppose that is Something, I say. Although I agree that the Threes are Inexplicable, I say. Who would look after me if you Died? I ask.
The Man would look after you, says the Owner.
And what if the Man died? I ask.
The Children and the Friends of the Owner and the Man would look after you, says the Owner.
Do they have Cheese? I ask.
Of course, says the Owner. Some things in Life are Certain, says the Owner. One can always rely on Cheese, says the Owner.
Will I die? I ask the Owner.
You Too, says the Owner.
I do not want to Die, I say. Something must be done, I say. You are a Doctor, I say. How can you Take This Lying Down? I say. Sort it out, I say.
I cannot sort it out, says the Owner, but even if I could I would not want to. If we did not Die where would the space for New Persons and Moral Dogs be Found? If we did not know Life to be Transient would we Truly make the Most of it? If Life went on for ever why would we Rush around trying to Get Things Done before it is Too Late?
What kind of Things need to be done before it is Too Late? I ask.
Things like Composing the Music of the Rough Island Band, performing Heroic and Superheroic Acts, and Making Cheese, says the Owner. And then, of course, there is Love, says the Owner.
You are Right, I say. If we are to have a turn at being Born and there is to be Cheese then we obviously must Die. And Superheroes take Death-Defying risks that would have little meaning if there were no Death to Defy, I say. And if we are to Truly Make the Most of Life then we must know that is it Transient, I say. But I do not want to say Goodbye to those I Love, I say. Surely for the Sake of Love it is better to Live Forever, even without Cheese? I say. Even without the Rough Island Band, I say, although I agree it would be particularly Tough to forego their song about the Island of Gugh, I say. Yet what is the point of even making all this Love if we are ultimately to Die? I say. It just makes it Worse, I say. All of this Effort, I say. And then it is gone, I say.
The Owner looks at the Flowers on Annie’s Seat. I look at the Flowers on Annie’s Seat. What do you think? Says the Owner.
I think, I say, that the Love does not die.
That is the Point, says the Owner. The Moral Dog is Wise Indeed.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.