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The Cripple

How attentively he listened to what the old man told him - about the size of the world and about its many countries, and that the sun was nearly half a million times larger than the earth and so far away that a cannon ball in its course would take twenty-five years to travel from the sun to the earth, while the light beams could reach the earth in eight minutes. Of course, every studious schoolboy knew all that, but to Hans this was all new, and even more wonderful than what he had read in the book of fairy tales.

Two or three times a year the schoolmaster dined with the manor house family, and on one of these occasions he told of how important the book of fairy tales was in the poor house, how alone two stories in it had been the means of spiritual awakening and blessing, that the sickly, clever little boy had, through his reading, brought meditation and joy into the house. When the schoolmaster departed from the manor house, the lady pressed two shiny silver dollars in his hand for little Hans.

"Father and Mother must have them," said the boy, when the schoolmaster brought him the money.

And Garden-Ole and Garden-Kirsten both said, "Cripple-Hans, after all, is also a profit and a blessing to us!"

A couple of days later, when the parents were away at work at the manor house, the owners' carriage stopped outside; it was the kindhearted lady who came, happy that her Christmas gift had afforded so much comfort and pleasure to the boy and his parents. She brought fine bread, fruit, and a bottle of sweet sirup, but what was still more wonderful, she brought him, in a gilded cage, a little blackbird which whistled quite charmingly. The bird cage was placed on the old cabinet close by the boy's bed; there he could see and hear the bird; yes, and people way out on the highway could hear it sing.

Garden-Ole and Garden-Kirsten didn't return home until after the lady had driven away. Even though they saw how happy Hans was, they thought there would only be trouble with the present he had received.

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