THE SNAIL AND THE ROSE TREE 855
And the Rose Tree went on blooming in innocence, while the Snail lay idly in his house—the world did not concern him.
And years rolled by.
The Snail had become dust in the dust, and the Rose Tree was earth in the earth ; the rose of remembrance in the hymn-book was faded, but in the garden bloomed fresh rose trees, in the garden grew new snails ; and these still crept into their houses, and spat at the world, for it did not concern them.
Suppose we begin the story again, and read it right through. It will never alter.
'THE WILL-O'-THE-WISPS ARE IN THE TOWN/ SAYS THE MOOR-WOMAN
There was a man who once knew many stories, but they had slipped away from him—so he said ; the Story that used to visit him of its own accord no longer came and knocked at his door : and why did it come no longer ? It is true enough that for days and years the man had not thought of it, had not expected it to come and knock ; but it certainly had not been there either, for outside there was war, and within was the care and sorrow that war brings with it.
The stork and the swallows came back from their long journey, for they thought of no danger ; and, behold, when they arrived, the nest was burnt, the habitations of men were burnt, the gates were all in disorder, and even quite gone, and the enemy's horses trampled on the old graves. Those were hard, gloomy times, but they came to an end.
And now they were past and gone, so people said ; and yet no Story came and knocked at the door, or gave any tidings of its presence.
11 suppose it must be dead, or gone away with many other things,' said the man.
But the Story never dies. And more than a whole year went by, and he longed—oh, so very much !—for the Story.