I looked out of my window one morning and saw this:
The ground was covered with tracks from people hauling firewood to the porch and from the cat running back and forth. It reminded me of a story from A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, which I’d just recently read to some of my younger brothers and sisters.
One fine winter’s day when Piglet was brushing away the snow in front of his house, he happened to look up, and there was Winnie-the-Pooh. Pooh was walking round and round in a circle, thinking of something else, and when Piglet called to him, he just went on walking.
“Hallo!” said Piglet, “what are you doing?” …
“Tracking something,” said Winnie-the-Pooh very mysteriously.
“Tracking what?” said Piglet, coming closer.
“That’s just what I ask myself. I ask myself, What? … Now, look there.” He pointed to the ground in front of him. “What do you see there?”
“Tracks,” said Piglet. “Paw-marks.” He gave a little squeak of excitement. “Oh, Pooh! Do you think it’s a—a—a Woozle?”
“I may be,” said Pooh. “Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. You never can tell with paw-marks.”
With these few words he went on tracking and Piglet, after watching him for a minute or two, ran after him. Winnie-the-Pooh had come to a sudden stop, and was bending over the tracks in a puzzled sort of way.
“What’s the matter?” asked Piglet.
“It’s a very funny thing,” said Bear, “but there seem to be two animals now. This—whatever-it-was—has been joined by another—whatever-it-is—and the two of them are now proceeding in company. Would you mind coming with me, Piglet, in case they turn out to be Hostile Animals?” …
There was a small spinney of larch trees just here, and it seemed as if the two Woozles, if that is what they were, had been going round this spinney; so round this spinney went Pooh and Piglet after them …. And still the tracks went on in front of them. . . .
Suddenly Winnie-the-Pooh stopped and pointed excitedly in front of him. “Look! … A third animal has joined the other two!” …
So they went on, feeling just a little anxious now, in case the three animals in front of them were of Hostile Intent. … And then, all of a sudden, Winnie-the-Pooh stopped again, and licked the tip of his nose in a cooling manner, for he was feeling more hot and anxious than ever in his life before. There were four animals in front of them!
“Do you see, Piglet? Look at their tracks! Three, as it were, Woozles, and one, as it was, Wizzle. Another Woozle has joined them!”
And so it seemed to be. There were the tracks; crossing over each other here, getting muddled up with each other there; but, quite plainly every now and then, the tracks of four sets of paws. …
Pooh looked up at the sky, and then, as he heard the whistle again, he looked up into the branches of a big oak-tree, and then he saw a friend of his.
“It’s Christopher Robin,” he said. …
Christopher Robin came slowly down his tree.
“Silly old Bear,” he said, “what were you doing? First you went round the spinney twice by yourself, and then Piglet ran after you and you went round again together, and then you were just going round a fourth time——”
“Wait a moment,” said Winnie-the-Pooh, holding up his paw.
He sat down and thought, in the most thoughtful way he could think. Then he fitted his paw into one of the Tracks . . . and then he scratched his nose twice, and stood up.
“Yes,” said Winnie-the-Pooh.
“I see now,” said Winnie-the-Pooh.
“I have been Foolish and Deluded,” said he, “and I am a Bear of No Brain at All.”
“You’re the Best Bear in All the World,” said Christopher Robin soothingly.
“Am I?” said Pooh hopefully. And then he brightened up suddenly.
“Anyhow,” he said, “it is nearly Luncheon Time.”
So he went home for it.
(Quotation from Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, Chapter III – In Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle. Drawing below by E. H. Shepard.)