The Snail and the Rose-Treepage 1 / 3
Round about the garden ran a hedge of hazel-bushes; beyond the hedge were fields and meadows with cows and sheep; but in the middle of the garden stood a Rose-tree in bloom, under which sat a Snail, whose shell contained a great deal—that is, himself.
“Only wait till my time comes,” he said; “I shall do more than grow roses, bear nuts, or give milk, like the hazel-bush, the cows and the sheep.”
“I expect a great deal from you,” said the rose-tree. “May I ask when it will appear?”
“I take my time,” said the snail. “You're always in such a hurry. That does not excite expectation.”
The following year the snail lay in almost the same spot, in the sunshine under the rose-tree, which was again budding and bearing roses as fresh and beautiful as ever. The snail crept half out of his shell, stretched out his horns, and drew them in again.
“Everything is just as it was last year! No progress at all; the rose-tree sticks to its roses and gets no farther.”
The summer and the autumn passed; the rose-tree bore roses and buds till the snow fell and the weather became raw and wet; then it bent down its head, and the snail crept into the ground.
A new year began; the roses made their appearance, and the snail made his too.
“You are an old rose-tree now,” said the snail. “You must make haste and die. You have given the world all that you had in you; whether it was of much importance is a question that I have not had time to think about. But this much is clear and plain, that you have not done the least for your inner development, or you would have produced something else. Have you anything to say in defence? You will now soon be nothing but a stick. Do you understand what I say?”
“You frighten me,” said the rose-tree. “I have never thought of that.”
“No, you have never taken the trouble to think at all. Have you ever given yourself an account why you bloomed, and how your blooming comes about—why just in that way and in no other?”