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The Cripple

" Just then the woman awoke and told her husband about her dream. "You think too much about that thing," he said. "We could lift it gently," said the woman. "Gently," said the man. And the woman lifted the lid very, very gently. Then two small, sprightly mice sprang out and disappeared into a mousehole. "Good night," said the king. "Now you can go home and lie in your own bed. Don't blame Adam and Eve any more; you two have been just as inquisitive and ungrateful!"

"Where has that story in the book come from?" said Garden-Ole. "It sounds as if it were meant for us. It is something to think about."

The next day they went to work again, and they were roasted by the sun and soaked to the skin by the rain. Within them were grumbling thoughts as they pondered over the story.

The evening was still light at home after they had eaten their milk porridge.

"Read the story about the woodcutter to us again," said Garden-Ole.

"But there are so many other beautiful stories in this book," said Hans, "so many you don't know."

"Yes, but those I don't care about!" said Garden-Ole. "I want to hear the one I know!"

And he and his wife heard it again.

More than one evening they returned to that story.

"It doesn't quite make everything clear to me," said Garden-Ole. "It's the same with people as it is with sweet milk when it sours; some becomes fine cheese, and the other, only the thin, watery whey; so it is with people; some are lucky in everything they do, live high all their lives, and know no sorrow or want."

This Cripple-Hans heard. His legs were weak, but his mind was bright. He read for them from his book of fairy tales, read about " The Man Without Sorrow and Want." Yes, where could he be found, for found he must be! The king lay on his sickbed and could not be cured unless he wore the shirt that had belonged to, and been worn on the body of, a man who could truthfully say that he had never known sorrow or want. A command was sent to every country in the world, to all castles and manors, to all prosperous and happy people.

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