854 THE SNAIL AND THE ROSE TREE
Have you ever given an account to yourself, why you bloomed, and how it is that your blooming comes about— why it is thus, and not otherwise ? '
'No,5 answered the Rose Tree. ' I bloomed in gladness, because I could not do anything else. The sun was so warm, and the air so refreshing. I drank the pure dew and the fresh rain, and I lived, I breathed. Out of the earth there arose a power within me, from above there came down a strength : I perceived a new ever-increasing happiness, and consequently I was obliged to bloom over and over again; that was my life ; I could not do otherwise.'
' You have led a very pleasant life,' observed the Snail.
' Certainly. Everything was given to me,' said the Rose Tree. ' But more still was given to you. You are one of those deep thoughtful characters, one of those highly gifted spirits, which will cause the world to marvel.'
' I've no intention of doing anything of the kind,' cried the Snail. ' The world is nothing to me. What have I to do with the world ? I have enough of myself and in myself.'
1 But must we not all, here on earth, give to others the best that we have, and offer what lies in our power ? Certainly I have only given roses. But you—you who have been so richly gifted—what have you given to the world ? what do you intend to give ? '
' What have I given—what do I intend to give ? I spit at it. It's worth nothing. It's no business of mine. Continue to give your roses, if you like : you can't do anything better. Let the hazel bush bear nuts, and the cows and ewes give milk : they have their public ; but I have mine within myself—I retire within myself, and there I remain. The world is nothing to me.'
And so the Snail retired into his house, and closed up the entrance after him.
■ That is very sad ! ' said the Rose Tree. ' I cannot creep into myself, even if I wish it—I must continue to produce roses. They drop their leaves, and are blown away by the wind. But I saw how a rose was laid in the matron's hymn-book, and one of my roses had a place on the bosom of a fair young girl, and another was kissed by the lips of a child in the full joy of life. That did me good ; it was a real blessing. That's my remembrance—my life !'