The flight attendants handed out french fries, quinine, and gin. The stately eels below each wing began to writhe, and the sign in the cabin lit up: Please Fasten Seatbelts. We began to move, and after a long time taxiing we lurched off the ground. My seat was the one nearest the aisle in a row of three.

The sign lit up again: Release Restraints. Please Discuss. The couple behind me discussed their marriage. A beefy man across the aisle held forth about marginal utility and the Just Price theory, which he attributed to St Thomas Aquinas. The man next to me said that he had big plans and that he valued my opinion, but when he saw that I was mute he turned around to advise the married couple. The window seat was empty. Across the cabin somebody yelled "Greenwich Mean Time! To hell with France!", and everyone laughed. I tried to laugh but I couldn't make any sound.

The flight attendants all smiled secret smiles.

When we reached cruising altitude, the sign changed again: Please Make Noises Which Do Not Signify. By that time the passengers were liquored up, and they set to it with a will. They grunted, howled, gibbered, and squeaked. The beefy economist roared like a lion. His eyes were rolled back in his head, I could see. I tried to yell, but I remained mute.

Pandemonium reigned for an hour, until the sign flashed brightly and came to rest: Silence Is Golden.

The attendants came and pulled me from my seat. I went quietly. They took me to the rear of the cabin, opened the door, and pushed me out.

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