A Japanese folktale about a rice farmer and his wife who pray to the Water God for a child, any child. He sends them a snail, which they raise as their son. After 20 years, the snail speaks, asking the now-elderly farmer to allow him to take the horses with the rice tax to the choja who owns their fields. The choja is so impressed with the snail that he offers him one of his daughters as a wife. After she proves her unconditional love for him, he turns into a man. Williams debuts with unhurried prose and polished, slightly elevated language that is perfect for this Shintoist story, giving it depth. This is fully preserved in Kiuchi's atmospheric illustrations -- full-fledged oil paintings. Almost without bright colors or smile (until the end), they have a powerful haunting effect, evoking Japanese vistas and moods without resorting to stylization. Sources are fully cited in an author's note.