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Lilith George MacDonald

A Crisis

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"No, no! she will kill you, good giant; she will kill you! She is an awful bad-giant witch!"

I asked them where I was to go then. They told me that, beyond the baby-forest, away where the moon came from, lay a smooth green country, pleasant to the feet, without rocks or trees. But when I asked how I was to set out for it,

"The moon will tell you, we think," they said.

They were taking me up the second branch of the river bed: when they saw that the moon had reached her height, they stopped to return.

"We have never gone so far from our trees before," they said. "Now mind you watch how you go, that you may see inside your eyes how to come back to us."

"And beware of the giant-woman that lives in the desert," said one of the bigger girls as they were turning, "I suppose you have heard of her!"

"No," I answered.

"Then take care not to go near her. She is called the Cat-woman. She is awfully ugly--AND SCRATCHES."

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As soon as the bigger ones stopped, the smaller had begun to run back. The others now looked at me gravely for a moment, and then walked slowly away. Last to leave me, Lona held up the baby to be kissed, gazed in my eyes, whispered, "The Cat-woman will not hurt YOU," and went without another word. I stood a while, gazing after them through the moonlight, then turned and, with a heavy heart, began my solitary journey. Soon the laughter of the Little Ones overtook me, like sheep-bells innumerable, rippling the air, and echoing in the rocks about me. I turned again, and again gazed after them: they went gamboling along, with never a care in their sweet souls. But Lona walked apart with her baby.

Pondering as I went, I recalled many traits of my little friends.

Once when I suggested that they should leave the country of the bad giants, and go with me to find another, they answered, "But that would be to NOT ourselves!"--so strong in them was the love of place that their country seemed essential to their very being! Without ambition or fear, discomfort or greed, they had no motive to desire any change; they knew of nothing amiss; and, except their babies, they had never had a chance of helping any one but myself:--How were they to grow? But again, Why should they grow? In seeking to improve their conditions, might I not do them harm, and only harm? To enlarge their minds after the notions of my world--might it not be to distort and weaken them? Their fear of growth as a possible start for gianthood might be instinctive!

The part of philanthropist is indeed a dangerous one; and the man who would do his neighbour good must first study how not to do him evil, and must begin by pulling the beam out of his own eye.

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