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Text Illustrations
The Ermine

In the forests of northern Europe and Asia lives a little animal called the ermine, known for his snow-white fur. He instinctively protects his white coat against anything that would soil it. His fur is so fine; nothing is more beautiful on the fur markets of the world. In some countries the state robes of judges are lined with it, the white being emblematic of purity and honor.

Fur hunters take advantage of this unusual trait of the ermine. They don’t set a snare to catch him, but instead they find his home, which is usually a cleft in a rock or a hollow in an old tree. They smear the entrance and interior with grime and filth. Then the hunters set their dogs loose to find and chase the ermine. The frightened animal flees toward home, his only place of refuge, but doesn’t enter because of the filth. Rather than soil his white coat, he is trapped by the dogs and captured while preserving his purity. It is better that he be stained by blood than spoiled by uncleanness. For the ermine, purity is more precious than life. (Our Daily Bread, April 21, 1997.)