THE HAPPY FAMILY
Really， the largest green leaf in this country is a dock-leaf; if one holds it
before one， it is like a whole apron1， and if one holds it over one's head in
rainy weather， it is almost as good as an umbrella， for it is so immensely
large. The burdock never grows alone， but where there grows one there always
grow several: it is a great delight， and all this delightfulness2 is snails4'
food. The great white snails which persons of quality in former times made
fricassees of， ate， and said， "Hem5， hem!!" for they thought it
tasted so delicate--lived on dock-leaves， and therefore burdock seeds were
Now， there was an old manor-， where they no longer ate snails， they were
quite extinct; but the burdocks were not extinct， they grew and grew all over
the walks and all the beds; they could not get the mastery over them--it was a
whole forest of burdocks. Here and there stood an apple and a plum-tree， or
else one never would have thought that it was a garden; all was burdocks， and
there lived the two last venerable old snails.
They themselves knew not how old they were， but they could remember very well
that there had been many more; that they were of a family from foreign lands，
and that for them and theirs the whole forest was planted. They had never been
outside it， but they knew that there was still something more in the world，
which was called the manor-， and that there they were boiled， and then
they became black， and were then placed on a silver dish; but what happened
further they knew not; or， in fact， what it was to be boiled， and to lie on a
silver dish， they could not possibly imagine; but it was said to be
delightful， and particularly genteel. Neither the chafers， the toads6， nor the
them had been boiled or laid on a silver dish.
The old white snails were the first persons of distinction in the world， that
they knew; the forest was planted for their sake， and the manor- was
there that they might be boiled and laid on a silver dish.
Now they lived a very lonely and happy life; and as they had no children
themselves， snail3， which they brought up as
their own; but the little one would not grow， family;
but the old ones， especially Dame7 Mother Snail， thought they could observe how
he increased in size， and she begged father， if he could not see it， that he
would at least feel the little snail's shell; and then he felt it， and found
the good dame was right.
One day there was a heavy storm of rain.
"Hear how it beats like a drum on the dock-leaves!" said Father Snail.
"There are also rain-drops!" said Mother Snail. "And now the rain pours right
down the stalk! You will see that it will be wet here! I am very happy to
think that we have our good ， and the little one has his also! There is
than for all other creatures， sure enough; but can you not
see that we are folks of quality in the world? We are provided with a
from our birth， and the burdock forest is planted for our sakes! I should like
to know how far it extends， and what there is outside!"
"There is nothing at all，" said Father Snail. "No place can be better than
ours， and I have nothing to wish for!"
"Yes，" said the dame. "I would willingly go to the manor， be boiled， and
laid on a silver dish; all our forefathers8 have been treated so; there is
something extraordinary in it， you may be sure!"
"The manor- has most likely fallen to ruin!" said Father Snail. "Or the
burdocks have grown up over it， out. There need not，
however， be any haste about that;
hurry， and the little one is beginning to be the same. Has he not been
creeping up that stalk these three days? It gives me a headache when I look up
" not scold him，" said Mother Snail. "He creeps so carefully; he will
much pleasure--and we have nothing but him to live for! But have
you not thought of it? Where shall we get a wife for him? Do you not think
that there are some of our species at a great distance in the interior of the
"Black snails， I dare say， there are enough of，" said the old one. "Black
snails without a --， and so conceited9. But we might
; they run to and fro as if they
had something to do， and they certainly know of a wife for our little snail!"
"I know one， sure enough--the most charming one!" said one of the ants. "But I
， for she is a queen!"
"That is nothing!" said the old folks. "Has she a ?"
"She has a palace!" said the ant. "The finest ant's palace， with seven hundred
"I thank you!" said Mother Snail. "Our son shall not go into an ant-hill; if
you know nothing better than that， to the white
gnats10. They fly far and wide， in rain and sunshine; they know the whole forest
here， both within and without."
"We have a wife for him，" said the gnats. "At a hundred human paces from here
there sits a little snail in her ，; she is quite
lonely， and old enough to be married. It is only a hundred human paces!"
"Well， then， to him!" said the old ones. "He has a whole forest
And so they went and fetched little Miss Snail. It was a whole week before she
arrived; the very best of it， see that
she was of the same species.
And then the marriage was celebrated11. Six earth-worms shone as well as they
could. In other respects the whole went off very quietly， for the old folks
could not bear noise and merriment; but old Dame Snail made a brilliant
speech. Father Snail could not speak， he was too much affected