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The Giant Hands or, the Reward of Industry   By: (1804-1872)

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[Illustration: THE POOR HOME.]

Alfred Crowquill's Fairy Tales.








Poor lit tle Wil lie re turn ed from the for est la den with as much wood as his fee ble strength could bear. He was hun gry and wea ry, and had a great sor row at his heart, for he had lost his fa ther in the ear ly spring, leav ing his mo ther to toil for a scant live li hood to sup port her self and him.

He threw the wood up on the cin ders on the hearth, and quick ly rais ed a cheer ful blaze, at which he warm ed his na ked, swol len feet, as he watch ed the smoke ma king its fan tas tic ed dies up the wide chim ney, and a midst the raf ters of the low roof. He heav ed a deep sigh; for he saw no pot up on the fire, which ought to have been bub bling up with their fru gal din ner: but, a las! they had none.

"This must not be any long er," thought he, "for I am get ting ve ry big and strong, and have a pair of hands that ought not to be i dle. As my poor mo ther gets weak er, I should work for her; and as I grow in to a man, she should not work any more, but sit by the fire and get the din ner rea dy, which I shall then be a ble to la bour for."

[Illustration: MEETING THE HANDS.]

Wil lie was of an in dus tri ous mind, and did not love to sit i dle when e ven his ti ny strength might be used to some end.

So he sat and lis ten ed for the foot step of his poor mo ther, who, he knew, would come home, wea ri ed with la bour, to share her scan ty crust with her boy.

He had not to wait long be fore the latch lift ed, and his mo ther en ter ed. She kiss ed him, and threw her self in to a chair, with the tears of fa tigue and ex haus tion in her eyes.

He em bra ced her, and whis per ed in to her ear his firm resolve to start out in to the world, and seek for la bour, that he might no long er be a bur then to her. Her heart sank at the i dea; but she saw no o ther means to save them from star va tion, as her fail ing strength gave warn ing of the in e vi ta ble e vil.

The morn ing a rose bright and cheer ful. The old lock er was o pen ed, and his on ly shoes, trea sur ed for high days and ho li days, were ta ken out and brush ed up, as was al so his best suit, which was in deed ve ry lit tle bet ter than the care ful ly mend ed suit of his e ve ry day wear. He, how e ver, thought him self ve ry fine, and felt that his ap pear ance would act as a re com men da tion in his fa vour.

They sat down to break fast: it was a ve ry tear ful one, and, with a strange feel ing, they a void ed each o ther's looks, hop ing to hide their tears one from the o ther.

Oh! it want ed a great re so lu tion for poor Wil lie to say, "Well! dear mo ther, I must be start ing;" but he did do it at last, al though it was af ter ma ny strug gles to keep down the beat ings of his heart.


His mo ther heard him with a be wil der ed look, as if she heard the pro po sal for the first time; and her grief burst forth with un con trol la ble vi o lence as she threw her arms round his neck with an a go ny on ly known to a fond mo ther.

He tried to com fort her, and to smile through his tears, as he put on his hat with a re so lute thump, seiz ed up on his stick and wal let, and lift ed the latch of the door that was to o pen for his bold en trance in to the world, so full of pro mise to him.

Again they lin ger ed in their lit tle gar den, where e ve ry flow er seem ed an old friend to be part ed with: a gain the tears and the em bra ces. At last the lit tle gate was swung wide o pen, and Wil lie step ped bold ly forth. His mo ther co ver ed her face and wept. He turn ed to wards her with ir re so lu tion: he felt how dif fi cult it was to leave one so dear and af fec tion ate; but his du ty was sim ple, and he would do it: with one more "good bye," he was gone on his way weep ing... Continue reading book >>

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