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The Cripple

"But then they can afford it, and they get pleasure out of it."

"The four children received some good clothing to wear," said Garden-Ole, "but why is there nothing here for the Cripple? They always used to think of him, too, even if he wasn't at the party."

It was the eldest of the children they called the Cripple, although his name was Hans. When little, he had been the most able and the liveliest child, but all of a sudden he had become "loose in the legs," as they called it. He could neither walk nor stand, and now he had been lying in bed for nearly five years.

"Yes, I got something for him, too," said the mother. "But it's nothing much; it is only a book for him to read!"

"That won't make him fat!" said the father.

But Hans was happy for it. He was a very bright boy who enjoyed reading, but who also used his time for working, doing as much as he, who always had to lie bedridden, could, to be of some benefit. He was useful with his hands, knitted woolen stockings, and, yes, even whole bedcovers. The lady at the manor house had praised him and bought them. It was a book of fairy tales Hans had received; in it there was much to read and much to think about.

"It is of no use here in this house," said the parents, "but let him read, for it passes the time, and he can't always be knitting stockings."

Spring came; green leaves and flowers began to sprout, and the weeds, too, as one may call the nettles, even if the psalm speaks so nicely about them:

If every king, with power and might,

Marched forth in stately row,

They could not make the smallest leaf

Upon a nettle grow.

There was much to do in the manor house garden, not only for the gardener and his apprentices, but also for Garden-Kirsten and Garden-Ole.

"It's a lot of hard work," they said. "No sooner have we raked the walks, and made them look nice, than they are stepped on again. There is such a run of visitors at the manor house. How much it must cost! But the owners are rich people!"

"Things are strangely divided," said Ole.

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