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The Little Ones
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"What makes it frightful?"
She was silent for a moment, then answered,
"We fear they may be beginning to grow giants."
"Why should you fear that?"
"Because it is so terrible.--I don't want to talk about it!"
She pressed the baby to her bosom with such an anxious look that I dared not further question her.
Before long I began to perceive in two or three of the smaller children some traces of greed and selfishness, and noted that the bigger girls cast on these a not infrequent glance of anxiety.
None of them put a hand to my work: they would do nothing for the giants! But they never relaxed their loving ministrations to me. They would sing to me, one after another, for hours; climb the tree to reach my mouth and pop fruit into it with their dainty little fingers; and they kept constant watch against the approach of a giant.
Sometimes they would sit and tell me stories--mostly very childish, and often seeming to mean hardly anything. Now and then they would call a general assembly to amuse me. On one such occasion a moody little fellow sang me a strange crooning song, with a refrain so pathetic that, although unintelligible to me, it caused the tears to run down my face. This phenomenon made those who saw it regard me with much perplexity. Then first I bethought myself that I had not once, in that world, looked on water, falling or lying or running. Plenty there had been in some long vanished age--that was plain enough--but the Little Ones had never seen any before they saw my tears! They had, nevertheless, it seemed, some dim, instinctive perception of their origin; for a very small child went up to the singer, shook his clenched pud in his face, and said something like this: "'Ou skeeze ze juice out of ze good giant's seeberries! Bad giant!"
"How is it," I said one day to Lona, as she sat with the baby in her arms at the foot of my tree, "that I never see any children among the giants?"
She stared a little, as if looking in vain for some sense in the question, then replied,
"They are giants; there are no little ones."
"Have they never any children?" I asked.
"No; there are never any in the wood for them. They do not love them. If they saw ours, they would stamp them."
"Is there always the same number of the giants then? I thought, before I had time to know better, that they were your fathers and mothers."
She burst into the merriest laughter, and said,
"No, good giant; WE are THEIR firsters."
But as she said it, the merriment died out of her, and she looked scared.
I stopped working, and gazed at her, bewildered.
"How CAN that be?" I exclaimed.
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