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THE LAZY SNAIL

  • IN the lower part of the meadow, where the grass grew tall and tender, there
  • lived a fine and sturdy young Snail; that is to say, a fine-looking Snail. His
  • shell was a beautiful soft gray, and its curves were regular and perfect. His
  • body was soft and moist, and just what a Snail's body should be. Of course,
  • when it came to travelling, he could not go fast, for none of his family are
  • rapid travellers, still, if he had been plucky and patient, he might have seen
  • much of the meadow, and perhaps some of the world outside. His friends and
  • neighbors often told him that he ought to start out on a little journey to see
  • the sights, but he would always answer, "Oh, it is too hard work!"
  • There was nobody who liked stories of meadow life better than this same Snail,
  • and he would often stop some friendly Cricket or Snake to ask for the news.
  • After they had told him, they would say, "Why, don't you ever get out to see
  • these things for yourself?" and he would give a little sigh and answer, "It is
  • too far to go."
  • "But you needn't go the whole distance in one day," his visitor would say,
  • "only a little at a time."
  • "Yes, and then I would have to keep starting on again every little while," the
  • Snail would reply.
  • "What of that?" said the visitor; "you would have plenty of resting spells,
  • when you could lie in the shade of a tall weed and enjoy yourself."
  • "Well, what is the use?" the Snail would say. "I can't enjoy resting if I know
  • I've got to go to work again," and he would sigh once more.So there he lived,
  • eating and sleeping, and wishing he could see the world, and meet the people
  • in the upper part of the meadow, but just so lazy that he wouldn't start out
  • to find them.
  • He never thought that the Butterflies and Beetles might not like it to have
  • him keep calling them to him and making them tell him the news. Oh, no indeed!
  • If he wanted them to do anything for him, he asked them quickly enough, and
  • they, being happy, good-natured people, would always do as he asked them to.
  • There came a day, though, when he asked too much. The Grasshoppers had been
  • telling him about some very delicious new plants that grew a little distance
  • away, and the Snail wanted some very badly. "Can't you bring me some?" he
  • said. "There are so many of you, and you have such good, strong legs. I should
  • think you might each bring me a small piece in your mouths, and then I should
  • have a fine dinner of it."
  • The Grasshoppers didn't say anything then, but when they were so far away that
  • he could not hear them, they said to each other, "If the Snail wants the food
  • so much, he might better go for it. We have other things to do," and they
  • hopped off on their own business.
  • The Snail sat there, and wondered and wondered that they did not come. He kept
  • thinking how he would like some of the new food for dinner, but there it
  • ended. He didn't want it enough to get it for himself.
  • The Grasshoppers told all their friends about the Snail's request, and
  • everybody thought, "Such a lazy, good-for-nothing fellow deserves to be left
  • quite alone." So it happened that for a very long time nobody went near the
  • Snail.
  • The weather grew hotter and hotter. The clouds, which blew across the sky,
  • kept their rain until they were well past the meadow, and so it happened that
  • the river grew shallower and shallower, and the sunshine dried the tiny pools
  • and rivulets which kept the lower meadow damp. The grass began to turn brown
  • and dry, and, all in all, it was trying weather for Snails.
  • One day, a Butterfly called some of her friends together, and told them that
  • she had seen the Snail lying in his old place, looking thin and hungry. "The
  • grass is all dried around him," she said; "I believe he is starving, and too
  • lazy to go nearer the river, where there is still good food for him."
  • They all talked it over together, and some of them said it was of no use to
  • help a Snail who was too lazy to do anything for himself. Others said, "Well,
  • he is too weak to help himself now, at all events, and we might help him this
  • once." And that is exactly what they did. The Butterflies and the Mosquitoes
  • flew ahead to find the best place to put the Snail, and all the Grasshoppers,
  • and Beetles, and other strong crawling creatures took turns in rolling the
  • Snail down toward the river.
  • They left him where the green things were fresh and tender, and he grew strong
  • and plump once more. It is even said that he was not so lazy afterward, but
  • one cannot tell whether to believe it or not, for everybody knows that when
  • people let themselves grow up lazy, as he did, it is almost impossible for
  • them to get over it when they want to. One thing is sure: the meadow people
  • who helped him were happier and better for doing a kind thing, no matter what
  • became of the Snail.