Page:La Fontaine - The Original Fables Of, 1913.djvu/119

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101
THE MICE AND THE SCREECH-OWL

again from the trunk, and to prevent the recurrence of such a loss the artful rascal had thenceforth nipped off the feet of all he caught, keeping them prisoners and eating them one to-day and one to-morrow. To eat them all at once would have been impossible. He had his health to think of. His forethought, which went quite as far as ours, extended to bringing them grain for their subsistence.

     

If this is not reasoning, then I do not understand what reasoning is. See what arguments he used:—

"When these mice are caught they run away, therefore I must eat them as I catch them. What all?' Impossible! But would it not be well to keep some for a needy future? If so, I must keep them and feed them too, without their escaping. But how's that to be done? Happy thought! Nip off their feet!"

Now find me among human beings anything better carried out. Did Aristotle and his followers do any better thinking, by my faith?


Note.–This is not a fable. The thing actually occurred, although marvellous enough and almost incredible. I have perhaps carried the forethought of this owl too far, for I do not pretend to establish in animals a line of reasoning; but in this style of literature a little exaggeration is pardonable.