As the day turned to afternoon, Suzette awoke to a strange sensation. She felt as though she was weightless and bobbling up and down. Afraid to come out of her shell, she squirmed in as tightly in as she could and held her breath. Suzette then felt coldness all around her and heard a voice say, “Now, that is a perfect place for you. You can stay right there until you come out of your shell and I will give you some food. You will be my little pet as long as I want.” Suzette was terrified and even more so when she heard loud scraping noises coming from above her! She squirmed as far into her shell as she possibly could: trembling with fright! The same voice continued saying, “These holes will allow air into your jar so that you will not suffocate. I want you to be my pet for a long, long time. You had better hurry up and come out of your shell if you want something to eat!”
Suzette could not think about what these words meant. What is a jar? What did suffocate mean? What is a pet? She must surely be dependent for her sustenance on whoever was speaking. Was she also a prisoner here? There was no doubt about it, she was going to have to come out of her shell and investigate her predicament. Suzette waited. She waited for a long time: until everything was dark and she could hear no noises. Someone had come into the room that had a female voice and read a story to the boy at bedtime. She knew he was a boy now, as the female, probably his mother, called him Perrin. Perrin was asleep. Suzette could hear him breathing softly-puffing in a funny way. Innately she knew it was safe to come out of her shell.
Out came her antenna feelers where her eyes are and she looked around. The only brightness was a tiny light from a glowing thing on a table near the boy’s bed. She could see the in the shadow the boy, covered up with only his hair showing. His hair was light colored. Suzette came full out of her shell now and felt the glassy cold smoothness of the jar. She looked above her and recognized the holes which were allowing air into the jar for her to breathe. Slowly she crawled up to the top of the jar and pushed against the lid to no avail. Yes, she was indeed a prisoner to this boy Perrin. ‘Why?’ she thought. ‘What does he want with me? How can I escape? I want to go home!’ Suzette began to cry for the first time in her life. Here she was a royal princess who had never wanted for anything-always protected and cared for by her father and her waiting maids. She was like the Prodigal Son of The Holy Scriptures who left his father’s home and guidance and found himself a slave in a foreign land! Suzette thought of the gentleman bird. She was sure that he had not waited this long for her. Surely he was gone by now even if she was able to escape this jar. She thought of her father the King. ‘Oh, he must believe me to be dead and will send no one to search for me! I am such a willful and silly snail to think I could leave my Kingdom garden unprotected! I have brought this all upon myself and my father. I must collect my thoughts, make a plan and find my own way out.’ And so Suzette did.
All night Suzette examined her surroundings. She discovered that her jar sat on a table across the room from the boy’s bed. On the table were other toys and gadgets that Suzette did not know about but thought might be useful. There were many tiny little men with guns in their hands, a roll of string, something that looked like a net with a handle, a hat, a few bright flies all jabbed with hooks, another handled object with a round glass on the end and twin open jars turned on their sides, stuffed with grassy moss. On the table were books. On the covers, she could see snails-all sorts and kinds of snails-ones she had only seen in her dreams. Many of them had shells different from her own, and so lovely Suzette was filled with joy and wonder as well as a strange pain almost like an aching in her heart. ‘Perrin is fascinated by snails!’ Suzette thought. ‘That is why he has me in this jar. He wants to look at me and compare me to the snails in his books! Well, maybe at least he will not starve me or feed me to a rat! He spoke to me as though I was a person as he put me into the jar after all!’
She continued to investigate beyond the table, finding two or three long rods standing against the wall near the window box with string attached to them: bottom to top. Suzette strained her eyes as much as she could to see across and around the room, but it was too dim and she was growing tired from need of food and eye strain. She curled back into her shell for warmth and went to sleep.
A tapping sound awoke her. It was the bird! He was precariously perched on the window sill. It was nearly dawn and the room was growing brighter. The bird was moving his head frantically back and forth-darting his eyes around and about. Suzette cried out as loudly as she could, “Here, I am over here, in this jar!” Of course her cries were to no avail. The bird was like a man with a bucket over his head-deaf to her cries. Suzette tried to bounce up and down which of course is an impossibility for a snail, so she crawled into her shell and rolled round and round like a ball-knocking against the sides of the glass of the jar making it clink like a dull gong, but still her only hope hanging suspended on the window box, was oblivious of her efforts. The tired little captive emerged from her shell once again, feeling like one of her father’s defeated and stupefied soldier snails back from battle. All the while, the boy went on sleeping, the bird went on pecking and the sun went on rising.
The room was beginning to glow red and yellow with the dawn and light flooded in onto the wall behind Suzette’s jar. Suzette looked up and through the glass. She could see squares mounted on the posterior containing-what?! ‘Oh, no!’ she thought. ‘This cannot be happening!’
The objects Suzette saw were insects and small animalia fixed in boxes and hinged high above her. With eyes wide open like laser beams, Suzette zoomed in on each encasement: here was a Monarch butterfly all golden, blue and fiery red, pinned into place; there she saw a bright green anguid lizard, a predator to all garden snails and slugs and one charcoal black millipede with his furry/burry coat and hundreds of legs, pinned into his center box at both ends (who knows which is which?). Suzette felt like a tried, convicted prisoner, condemned to a sure death without cause. ‘I can take no more of these horrors!’ she said to herself. And was about to curl back into her shell when she spied one last encasement beyond the millipede.
This box was gilded and much larger than the others. It sparkled in the morning sun and was quite easy for Suzette to see. Her eyes darted out like blades when she saw what this box contained. Inside, exactly centered with a recessed border of even more gold was the most beautiful Royal snail Suzette had ever seen! Her crown was golden and silver, her shell was deepest lapis, teal and sunburst yellow, her slender neck and flowing body a tender mint green. The Queen snail’s eyes were bright teal with lashes long and lush. Suzette inhaled, gasped, cried out and fainted! The snail in the gilded frame was none other than her own mother!