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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

Phædo that souls do not pass into eternal exile but return to animate new bodies."

"Oh, if we could only have proofs of a fact like that!" cried Madame Sampic, the wife of the schoolmaster of Pont-aux-Dames, with enthusiasm.

"If we had, I should n't mind dying one bit," said old Mlle. Taburet, who was in mortal fear of her approaching end.

"There are proofs—irrefutable proofs," said Adolphe solemnly. "There are two: one drawn from the general order of Nature, one from human consciousness. Firstly, Nature is governed by the law of contradictions, says Plato, meaning by that that when we see in her bosom death succeed life we are compelled to believe that life succeeds death. Is that clear to you?"

"Yes, yes," cried several of the guests, without understanding a word he was saying.

"Moreover, Plato continues, since nothing can be born from nothing, if the beings we see die were never to return to life, everything would end by becoming absorbed in death, and Nature would be moving towards an eternal sleep. Have I made this first proof clear?"

"Yes, yes: the second!" cried his fellow guests, quite untruthfully.