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Selections from the Writings of Lord Dunsany, by Lord Dunsany, [1912], at


There is a road in Rome that runs through an ancient temple that once the gods had loved; it runs along the top of a great wall, and the floor of the temple lies far down beneath it, of marble, pink and white.

Upon the temple floor I counted to the number of thirteen hungry cats.

'Sometimes,' they said among themselves, 'it was the gods that lived here, sometimes it was men, and now it's cats. So let us enjoy the sun on the hot marble before another people comes.'

For it was at that hour of a warm afternoon when my fancy is able to hear the silent voices.

And the fearful leanness of all those thirteen cats moved me to go into a neighbouring fish shop, and there to buy a quantity of fishes. Then I returned and threw them all over the railing at the top of the great wall, and they fell for thirty feet, and hit the sacred marble with a smack.

Now, in any other town but Rome, or in the minds of any other cats, the sight of fishes falling out of heaven had surely excited wonder. They rose slowly, and all stretched themselves; then they came leisurely towards the fishes. 'It is only a miracle,' they said in their hearts.

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