Cabbages and Kings

"Will you look at that!" John gasped, with his eyes rooted to the mantle.

There one full martini glass stood off from the crowd. In the grayish liquid left undrunk, a green olive floated half-way up--there it was, not on the bottom where a rotting olive should have been, but floating an unsuspended half-way up.

This was an unnerving sight in the dim dawn-light which filtered in the window, and we were disturbed; we stared silently and the olive seemed to stare back.

"Ah, of course," John shattered the quiet. "If you look closely, you'll notice the heavier liquid has settled to the bottom since the weekend, and the olive is floating just on top of it."

"Then you think the olive's density is less than the vermouth's and it wouldn't rise before because the mixture hadn't settled. If you are right, and we stir the mixture up, the olive should sink again," I said slyly.

But the olive rose to the top, and bobbed there, mocking him. "Now what would you say?" I said, with just a suspicion of triumph in my voice.

"Elementary," said John dryly, "the density of the olive is greater than the gin's, but less than the vermouth's."

"But then why didn't it rise before?" I snapped, piqued by his stolid prosaism.

"We must suppose," John snapped back, "that the olive has changed in the course of time."

"But if we dilute the mixture with water just enough, the olive should float half-way up again."

"Look at the thing work, will you," John whispered huskily. And time slowed with the little being as it inched its way painfully upwards. "Towards the air," said John, suddenly profoundly moved. "Towards life."


"It's a beautiful thing," I said quietly.