1. Bats are very strange little animals, having hair like mice, and wings like birds. During the day, they live in crevices of rocks, in caves, and in other dark places.

2. At night, they go forth in search of food; and, no doubt, you have seen them flying about, catching such insects as happen to be out rather late at night.

3. The wings of a bat have no quills. They are only thin pieces of skin stretched upon a framework of bones. Besides this, it may be said that while he is a quadruped, he can rise into the air and fly from place to place like a bird.

4. There is a funny fable about the bat, founded upon this double character of beast and bird, which I will tell you.

5. An owl was once prowling about, when he came across a bat. So he caught him in his claws, and was about to devour him. Upon this, the bat began to squeal terribly; and he said to the owl, 'Pray, what do you take me for, that you use me thus?'

6. 'Why, you are a bird, to be sure,' said the owl, 'and I am fond of birds. I love dearly to break their little bones.'

7. 'Well,' said the bat, 'I thought there was some mistake. I am no bird. Don't you see, Mr. Owl, that I have no feathers, and that I am covered with hair like a mouse?'

8. 'Sure enough,' said the owl, in great surprise; 'I see it now. Really, I took you for a bird, but it appears you are only a kind of mouse. I ate a mouse last night, and it gave me the nightmare. I can't bear mice! Bah! it makes me sick to think of it.' So the owl let the bat go.

9. The very next night, the bat encountered another danger. He was snapped up by puss, who took him for a mouse, and immediately prepared to eat him.

10. 'I beg you to stop one moment,' said the bat. 'Pray, Miss Puss, what do you suppose I am?' 'A mouse, to be sure!' said the cat. 'Not at all,' said the bat, spreading his long wings.

11. 'Sure enough,' said the cat: 'you seem to be a bird, though your feathers are not very fine. I eat birds sometimes, but I am tired of them just now, having lately devoured four young robins; so you may go. But, bird or mouse, it will be your best policy to keep out of my way hereafter.'

12. The meaning of this fable is, that a person playing a double part may sometimes escape danger; but he is always, like the bat, a creature that is disgusting to everybody, and shunned by all.

S. G. Goodrich—Adapted.

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