In the shady northeast corner of the park, where vines have overcome the water fountains, and evergreens grow, rangy and unkempt as in the depths of Vronsky Forest, I came upon two children doing something very naughty. I had wandered to this most rustic corner of the Common seeking quietude and relief from the dogs recently permitted by a foolish ordinance to run free without leashes in the park. Their barking had annoyed me, a man of modest but fixed habits, and I strolled in this new direction.

I turned onto a footpath between fir trees. A terra-cotta sculpture stood there, its color, soapy and golden: Cupid, mounted on a marble block little taller than I. The children had just scrambled up onto the pedestal. One broken branch of the spruce beside it still swung back and forth. I stopped, appalled at what these urchins were already doing. Cupid’s weight rested poised upon one tiptoe. The other chubby leg swung behind him in the illusion of flight and forward motion. The girl squatted underneath the sculpture, hooking her thin arm over its uplifted leg. She laughed, calling for the boy to watch, then pulled matted hair back from her forehead, craned her neck, and began licking at the statue’s bulbous little underparts. I stood there, astonished.