There once was a snail named Gerald. In the deepest of woods he lived, far from the rest of the world. Gerald wasn't just an ordinary snail, no not Gerald. He had lived for many, many, years and more. He had always lived at his own pace. And he never, never hurried for his own sake. In just a moment's notice, he'd move from place to place. Within his shell, his home and cheerful abode, he loved to snooze and dwell as well. Inside his shell, he kept his very best books, his special clock, his party dishes and his favorite bedroom slippers. Gerald knew the woods where he lived quite well. The ponds, the streams and all the trees, they were all a part of Gerald's home in the woods. And the birds, the snakes, and the smallest of insects, knew Gerald the snail. In fact, he had lots of friends there. There was Helen the butterfly, Mrs. Bee, Millie the toad, Ernest the frog and many, many more, indeed.
One day, Gerald needed to reach the other side of Rivet Pond. He climbed an autumn leaf and set sail for the farthest side. He glided upon the water and far out of sight. He glided 'til a breeze blew well from the east. “Certainly, a pleasant journey it will be,” said Gerald the snail, sailing the tranquil pond. “In no time, I'll get to the other side. I'm sure to arrive.” But before he reached midway, the sky had darkened. Great clouds filled the heavens. Then down poured the rain! Down it came! Swayed and swayed, the autumn leaf. Unsteady it moved, upon growing waves. Gerald quivered and shook as he rode the waves. And he held on tight, with such great fright. “Oh, I must stay afloat,” he cried. “Oh, I must get to the other side!”
The autumn leaf crackled and it broke. The small hull of the leaf filled with rippling water. Great waves began to swallow Gerald's cries, “Help! Help!” He clung tightly to the leaf 's tiny stem. But it went on and on, the windy storm. Gerald could no longer hold on. And by dawn the next day, the storm had gone. Returned the calm of Rivet Pond. But nowhere in sight was Gerald the snail. Mrs. Bee had gathered honey that morn. She had planned to visit Gerald. She was sure to find him home after the storm. She searched and searched in all Gerald's usual hiding places. But Gerald the snail, she could not find. She rushed, with great haste, to Helen the butterfly.
“Oh, Helen my dear,” she calls out in a dither. “I cannot find Gerald our good friend, the snail.”
“Beneath mossy rock, is he? Or hiding beneath the earth or leaf?” replied Helen. “He may in his shell, reading one of his very best books. Or, he's probably forgotten the time. Sometimes, Gerald can be very hard to find. I'm sure that Gerald is just fine.”
But another day passed, then another. Ernest the frog then came to ask, “Have you Helen, seen Gerald? Today, he had promised to help catch flies. Do you know where he has gone? I've searched in all the usual places.”
“Beneath mossy rock is he? Or hiding beneath the earth or leaf?” she replied. He may be in his shell, reading one of his very best books. Or, he's probably forgotten the time. Sometimes, Gerald can be very hard to find,” said Helen. She was sure, that Gerald was just fine. But then another day passed. And became truly worried, all Gerald's friends. They set out on a grand search.
“Gerald must be in trouble, he must!” said Millie the toad, hopping there and about. “He's never gone far for so very long.”
Helen the butterfly flew over hills and bushes. She searched through the trees with Mrs. Bee. They flew and they flew over brooks and ponds. But nowhere was seen Gerald, no not at all. Millie the toad and Ernest the frog, hopped high and far, not stopping even to rest. They searched and they searched. They crocked and they crocked. But poor, poor Gerald was never found, no not at all. The search went on for days and days, 'til they all believed poor Gerald had lost his way. Even Mrs. Bee and Helen agreed, that dear ol' Gerald was lost, indeed. “But we mustn't give up hope, must we?” sighs Helen, as they all gathered by Rivet Pond. “Beneath mossy rock is he? Or hiding beneath the earth or leaf? He may be in his shell, reading one of his very best books. Or, he's probably forgotten the time. Sometimes, Gerald can be very hard to find. I'm sure Gerald is just fine!” At her very last words, there came a sudden cry.
“Will somebody give me a hand?!” It was Gerald. There wedged beneath the edge of a mossy rock, by Rivet pond, was no other than Gerald the snail. He was stuck! His shell had been flooded by the storm. He lost his very best books, his special clock, party dishes and his favorite bedroom slippers. But Gerald...was just fine. At once Mrs. Bee, Helen the butterfly, Millie the toad and Ernest the frog, all ran to help Gerald. They pulled and they pulled to set him free. And after a push or two and a shove, Gerald was as good as new. Helen was so happy to see him. She smiled and she smiled and said once again... “Beneath mossy rock, is he! Or hiding beneath the earth or leaf! He may be in his shell, reading one of his very best books. Or, he's probably forgotten the time. Sometimes, Gerald can be very hard to find. But this time...we're all so very happy, that Gerald is just fine!”
Gerald the Snail © by Barbara Lois Hurt