1094 THE CRIPPLE
The cage stood on the chest, the cat stood on the floor and stared at the bird with his greeny-gold eyes. There was something in the cat's face which seemed to say, ' How lovely you are ! How I should like to eat you !'
Hans could understand that; he read it in the cat's face.
* Be off, cat! ' he shouted,' will you go out of the room? ' It seemed as if it were just about to spring. Hans could not get at him, and he had nothing else to throw at him but his dearest treasure, the story-book. He threw that, but the binding was loose, and it flew to one side, and the book itself with all its leaves flew to the other. The cat went with slow steps a little back into the room, and looked at Hans as much as to say,
' Don't mix yourself up in this affair, little Hans ! I can walk, and I can spring, and you can do neither.'
Hans kept his eye on the cat and was greatly distressed ; the bird was also anxious. There was no one there to call; it seemed as if the cat knew it: it prepared itself again to spring. Hans shook the bed-cover at him ; his hands he could use ; but the cat paid no attention to the bed-cover ; and when it was also thrown at him without avail, he sprang upon the chair and into the window-sill, where he was nearer to the bird. Hans could feel his own warm blood in himself, but he did not think of that, he thought only about the cat and the bird ; the boy could not help himself out of bed, could not stand on his legs, still less walk. It seemed as if his heart turned inside him when he saw the cat spring from the window, right on to the chest and push the cage so that it was upset. The bird fluttered wildly about inside.
Hans gave a scream ; something gave a tug inside him, and without thinking about it, he jumped out of bed, flew across to the chest, tore the cat down, and got hold of the cage, where the bird was in a great fright. He held the cage in his hand and ran with it out of the door and out on to the road.
Then the tears streamed out of his eyes; he shouted with joy, ' I can walk ! I can walk !'
He had recovered his activity again ; such things can happen, and it had happened to him.
The schoolmaster lived close by; Hans ran in to him with