THE SNAIL AND THE ROSE TREE
Around the garden ran a hedge of hazels ; beyond this hedge lay fields and meadows, with cows and sheep ; but in the midst of the garden stood a blooming Rose Tree ; and under it lived a Snail, who had a good deal in his shell— namely, himself.
' Wait till my time comes ! ' he said : " I shall do something more than produce roses and bear nuts ; or give milk, like the cows and the sheep ! '
' I expect a great deal of you,' said the Rose Tree. ; But may I ask when it will appear ? '
' I take my time,' replied the Snail. ; You've always in such a hurry. You don't rouse people's interest by suspense.'
Next year the Snail lay almost in the same spot, in the sunshine under the Rose Tree, which again bore buds that bloomed into roses, always fresh, always new. And the Snail crept half-way out, put out its horns and then drew them in again.
' Everything looks just like last year. There has been no progress. The Rose Tree sticks to roses ; it gets no farther.'
The summer passed, the autumn came ; the Rose Tree had always flowers and buds, until the snow fell and the weather became raw and cold ; then the Rose Tree bowed its head and the Snail crept into the ground.
A new year began ; and the roses came out, and the Snail came out also.
' You're an old Rose Tree now ! ' said the Snail. ' You must make haste and come to an end, for you have given the world all that was in you : whether it was of any use is a question that I have had no time to consider ; but so much is clear and plain, that you have done nothing at all for your own development, or you would have produced something else. How can you answer for that ? In a little time you will be nothing at all but a stick. Do you understand what I say ? '
' You alarm me ! ' replied the Rose Tree. ' I never thought of that at all.*
' No, you have not taken the trouble to consider anything.