THE LESSONBy AstrogatorMilo was sitting in his enclosure staring at the curve of the wall. In themiddle of the circle was a dish as wide as he was tall, and in the middle ofthat dish lay the remains of his breakfast. Milo sighed and looked at the driedfragments of egg and bacon, then went back to staring at the wall.

"Damn!" Milo said. "I am in hell!" He stood up and started pacing thecircumference of his enclosure. He made three circuits, then stopped and lookedup at the wall. The wall appeared to be perfectly smooth and it was about thirtyfeet to the top. Milo looked around and his eyes fell on the dish.

Milo ran to the dish and put his hands under one edge. He grunted and strainedas he managed to tilt the dish a couple of feet. Slowly, with several maximalefforts, he managed to work the dish to the wall, then he stopped to rest. For afew minutes he studied the dish and measured it with his eye. If he could tiltthe dish up on its edge, stand it against the wall, then it would put him sixfeet closer to the top. He could reach up about two feet higher than his head...

Milo backed away from the dish and gauged the distance one more time, then hisheart sank. He would still be fifteen or sixteen feet from the top. It wasuseless.

"Cindy!" he yelled. "Cinnnnnnndyyyyyyyyy!" He listened for awhile, hoping forthe sound of a giantess's tread, but he heard nothing.

He shouted again. "Cinnnnnnnnnnnndyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Cinnnnnnn- dyyyyyyyyyyyy!"From the next room, a hundred yards away, Cindy's voice boomed loudly. "MILO! ISTHAT YOU?"Relieved to hear her voice, Milo shouted again, "Cinnnnndyyyyyy! Cinnnnnnndyyyyy!Come heeeeeeeeeeeeeere!"At last he heard the rumble of her huge feet approaching. The floorboardsvibrated and groaned beneath her tremendous weight as Cindy came closer. Milomoved to the opposite wall and watched for her head to appear above the rim ofhis prison. Cindy halted next to the enclosure with a great booming of hugefeet, then looked down at him from her full fifty-five foot height. "Is anythingwrong, Milo?" she said.

"I want out of here!" Milo shouted. "I am going crazy sitting in this pen allday!"Cindy smiled. "In a little while, I am going to take you out to the pool. Youlike to swim, don't you Milo?""Yes, Cindy, I do," Milo said. "But that's not enough.""After we swim, we are going to have a very nice dinner and listen to music,"she continued. "If you behave yourself, I have a wonderful treat for you.""What's that?" Milo said.

Cindy winked. "You know. It's your favorite thing." Her smile was big andmischievous.

Milo could not help but shudder. He wagged his head from side to side. "I am notin the mood for that, Cindy," he said. "Not tonight."Still smiling, Cindy put her hands on her hips. "Well, you had better get in themood, little man, because Cindy is in the mood. You want Cindy to be happy,don't you?"She waited for him to answer, so he said loudly, "Yes, Cindy, of course.""And I want you to be happy too, you know that, don't you Milo?""Yes, Cindy, I know that," he said.

"Once we get started, I am sure you will enjoy it just as much as always," Cindysaid. She bent down slowly and snagged the dish in her huge hand.

Milo cursed inwardly. Why had he started lying to Cindy? Why had he pretended toenjoy crawling between her legs and....? Milo shuddered again and silentlyanswered his own question. She was a giantess, she was ten times his size, andshe had him at her mercy. It was simple as that. When you are weak, you lie andlie and lie. The lie is the only weapon the weak possess. When you are weak, theonly chance you have to survive is to please someone who is strong.

Once, Milo had considered himself a man of honor and pride. Even after theshrinking, he had tried to hold onto his dignity as a human being, even thoughhe had been driven to live like a mouse, always hungry, always terrified. He hadlived by stealing the crumbs that fell from the hands and mouths of thegiantesses, until he was caught.

When Cindy had adopted him, he could not believe his good fortune. He was warm,he was well fed, and he was safe. At first, it had not seemed so bad to lose hisfreedom on those terms, but as the days passed, he had discovered the truemeaning of submission, total and absolute.

Worst of all, was the boredom. "Cindy!" he cried, as she straightened up withthe dish in her hand. "I am not happy!"Cindy froze, half bent, and stared at him with those big blue eyes that gleamed,cool and deep as an Alaskan lake. "Why is that, Milo?" she said. There was thebarest hint of irritation in her voice that set Milo's alarm bells ringing.

Milo's heart was pounding. He had seen this giantess amuse herself by torturingmen who happened to find themselves in her power. She had been known to mockthem, tease them, then kill them slowly and painfully in an unbelievably cruelmanner. "I love you, Cindy," he said; it was almost true. She was his dread godand he had no choice.

"I love you too, Milo," she said and he felt weak with relief. As long as shestill loved him, he was safe.

"I am a very lucky man," said Milo.

Cindy reached down into the enclosure with her left hand and picked him up. Shetilted her hand flat and opened it so that he lay on her palm. Milo liftedhimself up to a sitting position. "I want to know why you are unhappy, Milo,"she said.

"I... it's nothing," he said. "I don't want to bother you. Please, forget I saidanything. I was just bored."Cindy nodded her big head slowly. "I see. You are unhappy because you are bored.

Please tell me the truth, Milo. You don't have to be afraid to tell me thetruth. If there is anything you need, tell me and I will get it for you."Encouraged, Milo said, "Cindy, I spend a lot of my time sitting in that littleenclosure. There is nothing to do. I just wish I had some way to pass the timewhile I am waiting for you."Cindy looked thoughtful. "Yes, I see what you mean. I have been neglecting you,haven't I?""No no, Cindy," he said. "I know you have other things to do besides keep mecompany. I understand that. I just wish that I didn't have to stay in that penall the time. Why can't you let me out while you are gone?"Cindy frowned. "I can't let you go roaming around the house," she said. "Youmight try to run away.""No, Cindy!" he said. "I would never do that. I have no desire to go back to theway it was before I met you. I want to stay here, with you." I am disgusting, hesaid to himself. She would have to be an idiot to believe me.

"Yes, you would," she said. "You men are all alike. You always run away. I can'ttake a chance, Milo. You are so little and the world is so big. Something reallyhorrible would happen to you out there." She bent and placed him back on thefloor of his enclosure. "But you are right, you do need some way to pass thetime when you are by yourself. We shall have to think of something." Sheremained bent over him as she talked, her elbow resting on her bended knee.

"What did you like to do for fun, Milo, when you were a lawyer? What did you doon weekends?"Milo thought a minute. He had had a girl friend. She would be a giantess now,and the last thing he wanted in all the world was to see her or have her see himin his diminished state. "I had a sailboat," he said. "I built it with my ownhands. I loved to go sailing.""That sounds like fun," she said. "If you had a little sailboat now, you couldsail it in the swimming pool. Would you like that?"Milo thought about it. It did sound like fun. "Yes," he said. "Yes, Cindy, Iwould like that. I would really like that.""Where did you keep your boat, Milo?"Milo swallowed. His heart was hammering. "Marina Del Mar," he said. "Slip 85,pier 3. Her name is Sophie L."Cindy smiled. "What does the L stand for, Milo?""Love, Cindy," Milo said. "It stands for love."***The next day dragged on like all the others. Cindy left the house early with oneof her friends, Veronica. She was gone all day and once again he found himselfsitting in a bare enclosure without even the remains of his breakfast forcompany. This time, Cindy had taken his plate away almost as soon as he hadfinished eating. Had she noticed that he had moved the plate yesterday in afutile effor to escape from the enclosure she kept him in? Did she suspectsomething? Cindy was dark and deep, he knew and more intelligent than shepretended to be.

While he sat, Milo cast about for something to occupy his mind, and he beganrecall the cases he had argued in his all too brief career as a lawyer. He hadbeen a man on his way up; a man with a brilliant future before him in the law.

And suddenly it had all been torn away when the women with the shrinking rayssuddenly appeared everywhere.

He remembered the face of the woman who had shrunk him. It was someone he knew,a woman who worked in the same law firm. He had liked her and he thought sheliked him. They had had dinner a couple of times, but it didn't go anywhere.

Still he had thought of her as a friend. He shivered when he recalled thehideous look of satisfaction on her face as she pointed the shrink ray at himand pulled the trigger.

It was a painful memory, and Milo shook his head to dispel the unpleasantfeelings that came rushing back to him. He heard the crash of the front door andthe boom, boom, boom, of Cindy's foot- steps coming through the front of thehouse.

Her smiling face appeared overhead. "How are you, Milo," she said. "Did you havea nice day?""It was a long day," he said. "But now that you are back, it will be okay." Itwas not a lie. He was actually glad to see her.

"Are you hungry?" said Cindy. She had her hands behind her back.

"Yes, I am," he admitted. "It has been a long time since breakfast.""I'll fix some dinner," Cindy said. She started to leave, then turned backtoward him. "Oh, by the way, I have something for you." She took her hand frombehind her back and held it toward him. In her hand was a sailboat. It was theSophie L.

"You found it!" Milo said, as he gaped upward at the boat. "I can't believe it.""I am afraid there was some damage," she said. "It was still afloat, but I amafraid it had been banging against the dock for weeks. Anyway, I shrank it,reeled it in, and brought it back for you, Milo." From her left hand, sheproduced a shrunken boat cradle and set it inside the enclosure. She then gentlylowered the Sophie L onto the cradle and straightened up.

Milo took a walk around the sailboat, surveying the damage. When he hadcompleted his walk, he looked up at Cindy. "It's not too bad," he said. "I couldfix it, if I had some tools."Cindy laughed, bent over and picked him up by the waist. Caught by surprise,Milo yelled a protest, but fell silent as she dropped him onto the deck of theSophie L. "I believe there just happened to be a tool box inside the boat when Ishrunk it," she said. "If you need anything else, just let me know."Milo was grinning from ear to ear. It was his boat, the one he had built. It wasshrunk, just like him, but it was still his boat and it felt just as good tostand on her deck as it ever had. "Thank you, Cindy," he said, grinning up ather. "Thank you so much.""Now you have something to do during the day," she said. "You can work on yourboat. And when it is fixed, you can sail it in the swimming pool.""Yes, yes," Milo agreed. "This is going to be just fine. This is going to be sofine."Cindy went to fix dinner and later she came and asked him if he wanted to go tothe pool with her and swim. "No, not tonight," Milo said. "I am too busy." Hewas already hard at work, cutting away the shattered planks in the hull of theSophie L. Cindy just smiled, and let him get on with his all absorbing activity.

***Milo sat behind the wheel of the Sophie L while Cindy went to change. He washappy now, truly happy. The past week and been the happiest time since theshrinking and while he had labored inside and outside the Sophie L, he hadactually enjoyed each breath he took. Those minutes that he waited for Cindy tocome back were sweet and he savored them.

"Are we ready to go?" said Cindy, from high above.

Milo looked up and waved. "Take her away, yardmaster," he said, grinning.

Cindy was wearing a bathing suit and she looked good. She was quite a beautifulwoman, and being a giantess in Milo's eyes made her even more stunning.

Tenderly, she leaned down and lifted the Sophie L out of it's cradle with bothhands. She held the twenty-eight foot boat out in front of her and slowlycarried it thorugh the house and out to the swimming pool. Milo found the rideto be exhilarating. It was like riding in a flying boat and made him think ofthe flying ships of Barsoom.

Milo felt a bit of alarm as Cindy approached the pool. "Don't drop me," he said.

"You have to put me in slowly. I don't want to spring any more planks.""Don't worry," Cindy assured him. "I know how to do it." She walked to theshallow end of the pool and carefully stepped down into the water. She thenstarted wading slowly into the deep water. When she was about waist deep in thewater, she gently lowered the boat into the water and withdrew her hands.

"Anchors aweigh, skipper," she said, smiling.

Milo checked the wind, leaned forward and sheeted home the jib, and then themainsail. The gentle airs that rippled the surface of Cindy's pool seemed like afresh ocean breeze to Milo, and the tiny ripples made the Sophie L. dip and riselike a mighty ocean swell. The little sail boat began to gather way and Milofelt the kick of the rudder on his hands and it was all so sweet as his worthycraft slid magically across the waves with only the silent swooshing of thewater against the hull.

For a moment, Milo glanced over his shoulder at the mighty figure of Cindy,standing waist deep in his ocean like Neptune's daughter, steadily receding.

Milo looked ahead at the high cliffs that bounded the pool and realized he wouldhave to tack soon. The pool was only about half a mile in length, so he wouldhave to tack frequently as he sailed.

It was tricky handling the boat by himself, but he was used to it. He had sailedthe Sophie L alone many times. He was pretty busy for a moment while comingabout, but when he had the boat laid over on the oppsite tack, he returned tohis seat behind the wheel and looked for Cindy. He saw that she was moving backtoward the shallow end of the pool. "Hey, Cindy!" he cried. "Look at me! I amsailing!"Cindy turned and waved, then climbed out of the pool.

The little boat handled well, the wind and waves were just perfect. Milo soondiscovered that handling the boat in the narrow waters contained in thegiantess's swimming pool never got boring. He had only a minute to relax on onetack, before he had to turn the vessel and bear away from the cliff's once more.

Several times he looked up, way up, and saw Cindy watching him from pool side.

She was standing with arms akimbo and smiling down at him like a goddess. Milomade several crossings of the pool, then heaved to and went below cabin to checkfor leaks. He was pleased to discover the bilges were barely damp. The boat hadbeen out of the water for some time while he was working on it, so it wasnatural that it should leak a bit when first wetted again. He checked hisrepairs and they all seemed to be holding well.

Milo headed started to climb out of the bilges when he heard a loud groaning,metallic sound. He recognized it immediately, for it was the sound of Cindywalking out on the diving board. He had heard it many times, for Cindy neverwent to the pool with out at least one dive.

"No!" he cried. Milo clambered out onto the deck and stared in horror at theterrible sight of the giantess on the diving board. Her knees were bent and shewas surging upward. She seemed to be moving in slow motion as her mighty feetpushed the diving board down and then her tremendous body sprang into the air.

Milo shook his head in dismay as she arched up, up into the air, then came downlike a mountain of woman. It happened so slowly that he had plenty of time toask himself, "Why?"Cindy smashed into the water and a colossal geyser shot up into the sky. Therewasn't much time, but he did what he could. Milo sheeted the sails and pushedthe rudder over. The boat began to move slowly and he started to swing the bowtoward the huge wave that was rushing toward him. There was a chance, just achance, that if he could take the wave right on the bow....

He didn't make it. The wave reared high above the mast and then rose on thestarboard quarter of the boat. As the wave loomed over him, it shielded the windfrom his sail, and the boat began to lose way. "Move!" Milo screamed. "Move!" Hespun the wheel and tugged on the sheets, desperately trying to swing the bowjust a few more degrees.

The wave lifted the bow and despite all he could do, the Sophie began to twistto the left as the bow tried to slide off the wave. "No!" Milo cried. "No!" TheSophie L was twisted broadside to the wave which began to break over the craftand then it collapsed on top of him and rolled the sailboat over on her back.

Milo was under water and he tried to pull himself out from under the boat, butsomething was coiling around him like the tentacles of an octopus. It was thesheets, a moment ago coiled neatly in the floor of the cockpit, now dumped ontop of him. Milo fought panic as he struggled with the entangling lines andpulled himself free of the boat. He looked up and realized with horror that itwas a long way to the surface and he was already desperate for air.

He struck out for the surface, thrusting with arms and legs and saw the sky grownearer. He could vaguely make out the face and shoulders of a giantess peeringdown into the water. "I am going to make it!" his mind screamed silently, evenas his lungs cried out in protest. Then he felt something tug at his leg and helooked down. The rope was still wrapped around his leg and it trailed behindhim, down toward the Sophie L which was sinking toward the bottom of the 144foot deep pool and dragging him steadily deeper and deeper.

Milo reached down and tried to release the rope. He wanted to breathe so bad! Hehad to breathe, he....he was going to die, he thought bleakly. He was going todie, now......

***When Milo regained consciousness, he was lying on a huge towel and Cindy waslying beside him. Her head was resting on her elbow and she was regarding himwith a satisfied gaze. Milo blinked and choked and then he found himselfbreathing cool sweet air. His chest hurt and his head ached, but otherwise heseemed uninjured.

"How do you feel, Milo?" said Cindy.

"I am allright," Milo said. "Where's my boat?"Cindy pointed toward the pool. "At the bottom," she said. "And as far as I amconcerned, it is going to stay there."Milo sat up and placed his hands on his throbbing temples. There was a length ofrope still wrapped tightly around his ankle. He pulled the end toward him andsaw that the line had been snapped like a piece of string. Of course, it wasjust a piece of string. It just looked like a rope, to him. "You saved my life,didn't you?" he said, lifting his eyes upward toward Cindy.

Cindy nodded. "You were unconscious when I pulled you out. I think you got somewater in your lungs."Milo looked into her eyes and wanted to know why she had chosen that moment todive into the pool. She must have known it would be disastrous for him. Anaccusation trembled on the tip of his tongue and died there, unspoken.

"I hope you have learned a lesson from this, Milo," said Cindy.

Milo swallowed and nodded. "Yes, I think I have," he said.