Mysteries of Life
About once a year the human soul gets into the papers, when the British scientists convene. Once a year the mystery of life, the riddle of death, are either cleared up or left hanging. The reports of the learned men enthrall us, and there have been moments when we’ve felt that we were really approaching an understanding of life’s secret. We experienced one of those moments the other morning, reading a long article on the chemistry of the cell. Unfortunately, when we finished we happened to glance into our goldfish tank and saw there was a new inhabitant. Frisky, our pet snail, had given birth to a tiny son while our back was turned. The baby mollusk was even then hunching along the glassy depths, wiggling his feelers, shaking his whelky head. Nothing about Frisky’s appearance or conduct had given us the slightest intimation of the blessed event; and gazing at the little newcomer, we grew very humble, and threw the morning paper away. Life was as mysterious as ever.
-E. B. White, 9/22/28