394 THE HAPPY FAMILY
knew that! The forest was there for their sake, and the manor-house too, so that they might be boiled and laid on silver dishes.
They led a very retired and happy life, and as they themselves were childless, they had adopted a little common snail, which they brought up as their own child. But the little thing would not grow, for it was only a common snail, though the old people, and particularly the mother, declared one could easily see how he grew. And when the father could not see it, she requested him to feel the little snail's shell, and he felt it, and acknowledged that she was right.
One day it rained very hard.
' Listen, how it's drumming on the burdock leaves, rum-dum-dum ! rum-dum-dum !' said the Father-Snail.
1 That's what I call drops,' said the mother. ' It's coming straight down the stalks. You'll see it will be wet here directly. I'm only glad that we have our good houses, and that the little one has his own. There has been more done for us than for any other creature ; one can see very plainly that we are the grand folks of the world ! We have houses from our birth, and the burdock forest has been planted for us : I should like to know how far it extends, and what lies beyond it.'
' There 's nothing outside of it,' said the Father-Snail, ' no place can be better than here at home ; I have nothing at all to wish for.'
' Yes,' said the mother, ' I should like to be taken to the manor-house and boiled, and laid upon a silver dish ; that has been done to all our ancestors, and you may be sure it's quite a distinguished honour.'
* The manor-house has perhaps fallen in,' said the Father-Snail, ' or the forest of burdocks may have grown over it, so that the people can't get out at all. You need not be in a hurry—but you always hurry so, and the little one is beginning just the same way. Has he not been creeping up that stalk these three days ? My head quite aches when I look up at him.'
1 You must not scold him,' said the Mother-Snail. ' He crawls very deliberately. We shall have much joy in him ; and we old people have nothing else to live for. But have you ever thought where we shall get a wife for him ?