The Snail and the Witch

 Once upon a time there was a snail who sludged up the path of an enchanted forest. It was on a mission to see a witch. And what it wanted from the witch—what it wanted more than anything—was to be able to fly.

    But when it got to the witch's cottage, the place looked abandoned. The garden was all tangled with weeds, the front door was barred, and when the snail slid up the wall to have a look in through the window, all it could see was dust.

    The snail drooped down the wall, very disappointed. It had hoped that by now it would have at least experienced some sort of vertical levitation. The snail had come from rather far away, making it quite a long journey to the witch, and now it had all been for nothing.

    But then the snail heard a snort. Then a squeak. And then a raucous.

    The sound seemed to be coming from a metal pail that sat alongside the front door.

    The snail slid up the pail, and what do you think it saw?

    Down at the bottom of the pail was the witch! Only, the witch was very tiny, to be at the bottom of the pail.

    'Hello,' said the snail. 'Is this your usual size?'

    'No, it blasted well isn't,' said the witch. 'And this isn't my usual home, either. So do us a favor and let me ride on your back up the pail, will you?'

    The snail did as the witch asked, and once the it had the witch out the pail, the witch suddenly turned into her right size.

    'Ah, that's better. You see, I was wondering what it was like to be very small, and so I became tiny. But I accidentally fell into the pail on the way down to a small size, and everyone knows you can't cast a spell from the bottom of a pail, so I have been in the bottom of it for a very long time. Serves me right for wanting to be something I'm not.' She dusted herself off. 'And what can I do for you, snail? It's free of payment, as you have done me a great favor.'

    The snail looked at the witch, and thought about flying. Then it thought about what it was. And about sludging about on the ground. And suddenly, sludging seemed a very fine thing.

    'No, thank you, Ms. Witch. I'm happy as I am.'

    And as the snail sludged away along the enchanted forest path, it realized that it was very happy as it was indeed.

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