Peter


Strong and slippery, built for the midnight grass-party confronted by four cats,         he sleeps his time away — the detached first claw on his foreleg which corresponds         to the thumb, retracted to its tip; the small tuft of fronds             or katydid legs above each eye, still numbering the units in each group;                 the shadbones regularly set about his mouth, to droop or rise     in unison like the porcupine's quills — motionless.

He lets himself be flat­         tened out by gravity, as it were a piece of seaweed tamed and weakened by         exposure to the sun; compelled when extended, to lie             stationary.

Sleep is the result of his delusion that one must do as               well as one can for oneself; sleep — epitome of what is to   him as to the average person, the end of life.

Demonstrate on him how       the lady caught the dangerous southern snake, placing a forked stick on either       side of its innocuous neck; one need not try to stir           him up; his prune shaped head and alligator eyes are not a party to the               joke.

Lifted and handled, he may be dangled like an eel or set   up on the forearm like a mouse; his eyes bisected by pupils of a pin's       width, are flickeringly exhibited, then covered up.

May be?

I should say,       might have been; when he has been got the better of in a           dream — as in a fight with nature or with cats — we all know it.

Profound sleep is               not with him, a fixed illusion.

Springing about with froglike ac­   curacy, emitting jerky cries when taken in the hand, he is himself       again; to sit caged by the rungs of a domestic chair would be unprofit­       able — human.

What is the good of hypocrisy?

It           is permissible to choose one's employment, to abandon the wire nail, the               roly-poly, when it shows signs of being no longer a pleas­   ure, to score the adjacent magazine with a double line of strokes.

He can       talk, but insolently says nothing.

What of it?

When one is frank, one's very       presence is a compliment.

It is clear that he can see           the virtue of naturalness, that he is one of those who do not regard               the published fact as a surrender.

As for the disposition   invariably to affront, an animal with claws wants to have to use       them; that eel-like extension of trunk into tail is not an accident.

To       leap, to lengthen out, divide the air — to purloin, to pursue.           to tell the hen: fly over the fence, go in the wrong way — in your perturba­               tion — this is life; to do less would be nothing but dishonesty.

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