THE HAPPY FAMILY
The biggest leaf here in the country is certainly the burdock leaf. Put one in front of your waist and it's just like an apron, and if you lay it upon your head it is almost as good as an umbrella, for it is quite remarkably large. A burdock never grows alone ; where there is one there are several more. It 's splendid to behold ! and all this splendour is snails' meat. The great white snails, which the grand people in old times used to have made into fricassees, and when they had eaten them they would say, ' H'm, how good that is !' for they had the idea that it tasted delicious. These snails lived on burdock leaves, and that's why burdocks were sown.
Now there was an old estate, on which people ate snails no longer. The snails had died out, but the burdocks had not. These latter grew and grew in all the walks and on all the beds—there was no stopping them ; the place became a complete forest of burdocks. Here and there stood an apple or plum tree ; but for this, nobody would have thought a garden had been there. Everything was burdock, and among the burdocks lived the two last ancient Snails.
They did not know themselves how old they were, but they could very well remember that there had been a great many more of them, that they had descended from a foreign family, and that the whole forest had been planted for them and theirs. They had never been away from home, but it was known to them that something existed in the world called the manor-house, and that there one was boiled, and one became black, and was laid upon a silver dish ; but what was done afterwards they did not know. Moreover, they could not imagine what that might be, being boiled and laid upon a silver dish ; but it was said to be fine, and particularly grand ! Neither the cockchafer, nor the toad, nor the earthworm, whom they questioned about it, could give them any information, for none of their kind had ever been boiled and laid on silver dishes.
The old white Snails were the grandest in the world ; they