The tail of the snail
Princess Aspersa lives in the garden at the home for waifs and strays. Helix aspersa is her scientific name but she much prefers to be called Princess. She parades about in her yellow shell with a spiral of ribbony brown. Like all snails, Princess Aspersa longed to find her prince.
Down in the pond, beneath a lily pad, lives General Stagnalis. Now General Stagnalis (his scientific name of course) is a handsome pond snail but a bit of a lad and always on the lookout for a beautiful maiden.
One day, last summer to be exact, the princess was resting in the shade at the edge of the pond. General Stagnalis had a sharp eye and spotted her, the minute he came up for air. She was different, he thought, like nothing he had ever seen before.
Princess Aspersa was quick to spot the general too, but she turned her head as soon as he looked her way. Her heart beat faster than a downpour of rain and she tapped her foot nervously.
‘Hello,’ said a strange voice that did not come from the handsome snail in the pond. ‘I’m Prince Helix, at your service!’
Princess Aspersa turned her head and gasped. There in front of her was the prince of her dreams. She blushed and fluttered her long eye lashes. But remembering the handsome snail in the pond, she turned back to see him still watching her. It was typical, she thought, not just one suitable partner but two had to turn up at the same time.
The general saw what was happening and panicked. He wanted the princess more than he wanted anything else before. He swam to the edge of the pond and began to crawl towards the princess.
‘Come with me,’ said the general to the princess. ‘I have a beautiful home beneath the lily pad.’
The poor princess did not know what to do.
‘Ah, I see you have your sights on the general,’ said the prince. ‘It’s a pity we cannot live beneath the water, just as he cannot live above it. His loss is my gain!’
Princess Aspersa, kissed General Stagnalis on his head and told him to go back into the water where he was safe.
‘I would rather die than live without you,’ said the general.
‘Don’t be ridicules,’ said the prince, ‘why would you want to die when you have many princesses in your own pond?’
The general thought about this and turned around to where a group of beautiful pond snails called to him. He stuck his chest out proudly and bid the princess farewell.
The princess sighed. It was easy, she thought, as she did not have to choose between the general and the prince.
Prince Helix and Princess Aspersa, left the pond for the castle under the shed. And they lived happily ever after.