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Andersen's Fairy Tales

with a house 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 manorhouse, be boiled, and laid on a
silver dish; all our forefathers have been treated so; there is something extraordinary in it,
you may be sure!"
"The manor-house has most likely fallen to ruin!" said Father Snail. "Or the burdocks have
grown up over it, so that they cannot come out. There need not, however, be any haste
about that; but you are always in such a tremendous 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 to him!"
"You must not scold him," said Mother Snail. "He creeps so carefully; he will afford us
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 burdock forest?"
"Black snails, I dare say, there are enough of," said the old one. "Black snails without a
house--but they are so common, and so conceited. But we might give the ants a
commission to look out for us; 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 am afraid
we shall hardly succeed, for she is a queen!"
"That is nothing!" said the old folks. "Has she a house?"
"She has a palace!" said the ant. "The finest ant's palace, with seven hundred passages!"
"I thank you!" said Mother Snail. "Our son shall not go into an ant-hill; if you know
nothing better than that, we shall give the commission to the white gnats. 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 house, on a gooseberry bush; she is quite lonely, and old enough to be
married. It is only a hundred human paces!"
"Well, then, let her come to him!" said the old ones. "He has a whole forest of burdocks,
she has only a bush!"
And so they went and fetched little Miss Snail. It was a whole week before she arrived; but
therein was just the very best of it, for one could thus see that she was of the same species.
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