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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "The Cripple"

The Cripple

"Rich people don't think very clearly," they said. "Now we have that to look after. Cripple-Hans can't do it. In the end, the cat will get it!"

Eight days went by, and still another eight days. During that time the cat was often in the room without frightening the bird, to say nothing of not harming it.

Then one day a great event occurred. It was in the afternoon, while the parents and the other children were at work, and Hans was quite alone. He had the book of fairy tales in his hand and was reading about the fisherman's wife who got her wishes fulfilled; she wished to be king, and that she became; she wished to be emperor, and that, too, she became; but then she wished to be the good Lord - and thereupon she again sat in the muddy ditch she had come from.

Now that story had nothing whatsoever to do with the bird or the cat, but it happened to be the story he was reading when this occurrence took place; he always remembered that afterward.

The cage stood on the cabinet, and the cat stood on the floor and stared, with its yellow-green eyes, at the bird. There was something in the cat's look that seemed to say, "How beautiful you are! I'd like to eat you!" That Hans understood; he could read it in the cat's face.

"Get away, cat!" he shouted. "You get out of this room!"

It looked as if the cat were getting ready to leap. Hans couldn't reach it and had nothing to throw at it but his greatest treasure, the book of fairy tales. This he threw, but the cover was loose and flew to one side, while the book itself, with all its leaves, flew to the other side. The cat slowly stepped backward in the room and looked at Hans as if to say, "Don't get yourself mixed up in this matter, little Hans! I can walk and I can jump. You can do neither."

Hans was greatly worried and kept his eyes on the cat, while the bird also became uneasy. There wasn't a person he could call; it seemed as if the cat knew that, and it prepared itself to jump again. Hans shook his bedcover at it - he could, remember, use his hands - but the cat paid no attention to the bedcover.

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