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THE SNAIL AND

THE ROSE TREE

 

AROUND the garden ran a hedge of hazelsbeyondthis hedge lay fields and meadowswith cows and sheepbut in the midst of the garden stood a blooming Rose

Treeand under it lived a Snailwho had a good deal inhis shell-namelyhimself

"Wait till my time comes"he said" I shall dosomething more that produce roses and bear nutsor givemilklike 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 are al-ways in such a hurryYou don't rouse people's interestby suspense"

Next year the Snail lay almost in the same spot, inthe sunshine under the Rose Treewhich again bore budsthat bloomed into rosesalways freshalways newAndthe Snail crept half-way output out its horns and thendrew them in again

"Everything looks just like last yearThere has beenno progressThe Rose Tree sticks to rosesit gets no far-ther"

The summer passedthe autumn camethe Rose Tree had always flowers and budsuntil the snow fell andthe weather became raw and cold then the Rose Treebowed its head and the Snail crept into the ground

A new year began and the roses came out and theSnail came out also

"You're an old Rose Tree now" said the Snail"You must make haste and come to an end for you havegiven the world all that was in you whether it was of anyuse is a question that I have had no time to considerbutso much is clear and plainthat you have done notinng atall for your own developmentor you would have producedsomething elseHow can you answer for thatIn a littletime you will be nothing at all but a stickDo you under-stand what I say"

"You alarm me"replied the Rose Tree"I neverthought of that at all"

"Noyou have not taken the trouble to consider anythingHave you ever given an account to yourself why you bloomed and how it is that your blooming comesabout-why it is thus and not otherwise"

"No"answered the Rose Tree"I bloomed in glad-nessbecause I could not do anything else The sun was so warmand the air so refreshingI drank the pure dewand the fresh rainand I livedI breathedOut of theearth there arose a power within mefrom above there came down a strengthI perceived a new ever-increasinghappinessand consequently I was obliged to bloom overand over again that was my life I could not do other-wise

"You have led a very pleasant life"observed the Snail

"CertainlyEverything was given to me"said the Rose Tree"But more still was given to youYou are oneof those deep thoughtful charactersone of those highlygifted spiritswhich will cause the world to marvel"

"I've no intention of doing anything of the hind"cried the Snail"The world is nothing to meWhat haveI to do with the worldI have enough of myself and in myself"

"But must we not allhere on earth give to othersthe best that we haveand offer what lies in our powerCertainly I have only given rosesBut youyou who havebeen so richly giftedWhat have you given to the worldwhat do you intend to give

"What have I givenwhat do I intend to giveI spit at itIt's worth nothingIt's no business of mineContinue to give your roses if you likeyou can't doanything betterLet the hazel bush bear nutsand thecows and ewes give milkthey have their publicbut Ihave nine within myselrI retire within myselfand there I remainThe world is nothing to me"

And so ths Snail retired into his houseand closed up the entrance after him

"That is very sad"said the Rose Tree"I cannotcreep into myselfeven if I wish it I must continue to produce rosesThey drop their leavesand are blown away by the wind But I saw how a rose was laid in the matron's hymn-bookand one of roses had a place on the bosom of a fair young girland another was kissed by the lips of a child in the full joy of lifeThat did me goodit was a real blessingThat's my remembrancemy life"

And the Rose Tree went on blooming in innocence while the Snail lay idly in his housethe world did not concern him

And rolled by

The Snail had become dust in the dust and the Rose Tree was earth in the earththe rose of remembrance in the hymn-book was fadedbut in the garden bloomed fresh rose treesin the garden grew new snails and these still crept into their housesand spat at the worldfor it did not con- cern them

Suppose we begin the story againand read it right throughIt will never alter

 


 

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