said Ole; * but why is there nothing for the "cripple " ? They used to think about him too, although he was not at the festival.'
It was the eldest of the children they called ' The Cripple', he was called Hans otherwise.
As a little boy, he was the smartest and liveliest child, but he became all at once ' loose in the le'gs ', as they call it, he could neither walk nor stand, and now he had been lying in bed for five years.
' Yes, I got something for him too,' said the mother, 1 but it is nothing much, it is only a book to read.'
1 He won't get fat on that,' said the father.
But Hans was glad of it. He was a very clever boy who liked to read, but used his time also for working, so far as one who must always lie in bed could be useful. He was very handy, and knitted woollen stockings, and even bedcovers. The lady at the big house had praised and bought them. It was a story-book Hans had got; in it there was much to read and much to think about.
'.It is not of any kind of use here in the house,' said his parents, ' but let him read, it passes the time, he cannot always be knitting stockings ! '
The spring came ; flowers and green leaves began to sprout—the weeds also, as one may call the nettles, although the psalm speaks so nicely of them:
Though kings in all their power and might
Came forth in splendid row, They could not make the smallest leaf
Upon a nettle grow.
There was much to do in the garden, not only for the gardener and his apprentice, but also for Kirsten and Ole.
' It is perfect drudgery,' said they. ' We have no sooner raked the paths and made them nice, than they are just trodden down again. There is such a run of visitors up at the house. How much it must cost! But the family are rich people !'
' Things are badly divided,' said Ole ; ' the priest says we are all our Father's children, why the difference then ?
1 It comes from the Fall!' said Kirsten.
They talked about it again in the evening, where cripple Hans lay with his story-book.
ANDERSEN y n