THE APPEAL, DECEMBER 24 1898 P3
Off the west coast of Ireland is a small Island where rabbits abound and when the tide is out the place may be reached by wading, the water being then only a few inches in depth. Two fishermen one day rowed to the island for bait, it being high tide, and on landing saw a fox lying on the beach. The fur of the animal was all wet and dirty, and he seemed to have been drowned.
One of the men, remarking that the skin was worth something, pitched the fox into the boat, and after they had returned to the mainland, he picked him up by the tail and threw him ashore. As soon as the cunning animal struck the beach, he jumped up and shot off like a flash among the cliffs, while the men stood staring at each other in mute astonishment. The men concluded that the fox had crossed over to the island during the night, while the tide was low, in search of rabbits, and finding in the morning that he was cut off from the mainland, he counterfeited death, with the expectation of getting a passage to the shore in a boat.
It may be that the fox was really stunned and almost drowned when found by the men, and had had time to recover on the way to the mainland; but the manner in which he jumped up and ran away the moment he touched land, indicated a clear case of “playing possum”.