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The Cripple

And after Hans had thrown it without avail, the cat leaped up onto the chair and onto the sill; there it was closer to the bird.

Hans could feel his own warm blood rushing through his body, but that he didn't think of; he thought only about the cat and the bird. The boy could not get out of bed without help; nor, of course, could he stand on his legs, much less walk. It was as if his heart turned inside him when he saw the cat leap straight from the window onto the cabinet and push the cage so that it overturned. The bird fluttered about bewilderedly in the cage.

Hans screamed; a great shock went through him. And without thinking about it, he sprang out of bed, moved toward the cabinet, chased the cat down, and got hold of the cage, where the bird was flying about in great fear. Holding the cage in his hand, he ran out of the door, onto the road. Then tears streamed from his eyes, and joyously he shouted, "I can walk! I can walk!" He had recovered the use of his limbs. Such a thing can happen, and it had indeed happened to Hans.

The schoolmaster lived near by, and to him he ran on his bare feet, clad only in his shirt and jacket, and with the bird in the cage.

"I can walk!" he shouted. "Oh, Lord, my God!" And he cried out of sheer joy.

And there was joy in the house of Garden-Ole and Garden-Kirsten, "We shall never live to see a happier day," said both of them.

Hans was called to the manor house. He had not walked that road for many years. The trees and the nut bushes, which he knew so well, seemed to nod to him and say, "Good day, Hans! Welcome back out here!" The sun shone on his face and right into his heart.

The owners of the manor house, that young, blessed couple, let him sit with them, and looked as happy as if he were one of their own family. But the happiest of the two was the lady, for she had given him the book of fairy tales and the little songbird. The bird was now dead, having died of fright, but it had been the means of getting his health back. And the book had brought the awakening to him and his parents; he still had it, and he wanted to keep it and read it, no matter how old he became. Now he also could be of help to his family. He wanted to learn a trade; most of all he wanted to be a bookbinder, "because," he said, "then I can get all the new books to read!

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Children's Prattle
Category: Andersen Hans Christian
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