1090 THE CRIPPLE
Straitened circumstances, work, and drudgery, had made the parents not only hard in the hands, but also in their opinions and judgements ; they could not grasp it, could not explain it, and made themselves more peevish and angry as they talked.
1 Some people get prosperity and happiness, others only poverty ! Why should our first parents' disobedience and curiosity be visited upon us ? We would not have behaved ourselves as they did ! '
* Yes, we would ! ' said cripple Hans, all at once. ' It is all here in the book.'
' What is in the book ?' asked the parents.
And Hans read for them the old story of the wood-cutter and his wife. They also scolded about Adam's and Eve's curiosity, which was the cause of their misfortune. The king of the country came past just then. ' Come home with me,' said he, ' then you shall have it as good as I; seven courses for dinner and a course for show. That is in a closed tureen, and you must not touch it; for if you do, it is all over with your grandeur.' ' What can there be in the tureen ? ' said the wife. * That does not concern us,' said the man. ' Yes, I am not inquisitive,' said the wife, 1 but I would only like to know why we dare not lift the lid ; it is certainly something delicate !' 'If only it is not something mechanical,' said the man, 'such as a pistol, which goes off and wakens the whole house.' ' O my !' said the wife, and did not touch the tureen. But during the night she dreamt that the lid lifted itself, and from the tureen came a smell of the loveliest punch, such as one gets at weddings and funerals. There lay a big silver shilling with the inscription, ' Drink of this punch, and you will become the two richest people in the world, and everybody else will become beggars ! '—and the wife wakened at once and told her husband her dream. ' You think too much about the thing !' said he. ' We could lift it gently,' said the wife. ' Gently,' said the man, and the wife then lifted the lid very gently. Then two little active mice sprang out, and ran at once into a mouse-hole. * Good night,' said the king. Now you can go home and lie in your own bed. Don't scold Adam and Eve any more, you yourselves have been as inquisitive and ungrateful! '