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The Little Ones
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"I do not know," she answered.
"You can count them, surely!"
"We never do that. We shouldn't like to be counted."
"It wouldn't be smooth. We would rather not know."
"Where do the babies come from first?"
"From the wood--always. There is no other place they can come from."
She knew where they came from last, and thought nothing else was to be known about their advent.
"How often do you find one?"
"Such a happy thing takes all the glad we've got, and we forget the last time. You too are glad to have him--are you not, good giant?"
"Yes, indeed, I am!" I answered. "But how do you feed him?"
"I will show you," she rejoined, and went away--to return directly with two or three ripe little plums. She put one to the baby's lips.
"He would open his mouth if he were awake," she said, and took him in her arms.
She squeezed a drop to the surface, and again held the fruit to the baby's lips. Without waking he began at once to suck it, and she went on slowly squeezing until nothing but skin and stone were left.
"There!" she cried, in a tone of gentle triumph. "A big-apple world it would be with nothing for the babies! We wouldn't stop in it-- would we, darling? We would leave it to the bad giants!"
"But what if you let the stone into the baby's mouth when you were feeding him?" I said.
"No mother would do that," she replied. "I shouldn't be fit to have a baby!"
I thought what a lovely woman she would grow. But what became of them when they grew up? Where did they go? That brought me again to the question--where did they come from first?
"Will you tell me where you lived before?" I said.
"Here," she replied.
"Have you NEVER lived anywhere else?" I ventured.
"Never. We all came from the wood. Some think we dropped out of the trees."
"How is it there are so many of you quite little?"
"I don't understand. Some are less and some are bigger. I am very big."
"Baby will grow bigger, won't he?"
"Of course he will!"
"And will you grow bigger?"
"I don't think so. I hope not. I am the biggest. It frightens me sometimes."
"Why should it frighten you?"
She gave me no answer.
"How old are you?" I resumed.
"I do not know what you mean. We are all just that."
"How big will the baby grow?"
"I cannot tell.--Some," she added, with a trouble in her voice, "begin to grow after we think they have stopped.--That is a frightful thing. We don't talk about it!"
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