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FIVE OUT OF ONE SHELL
HERE were five peas in one shell; they were green, and the
pod was green, and so they thought all the world was
green; and that was just as it should be! The shell
grew, and the peas grew; they accommodated themselves
to circumstances, sitting all in a row. The sun shone
without and warmed the husk, and the rain made it clear
and transparent; it was mild and agreeable in the
bright day and in the dark night, just as it should be,
and the peas as they sat there became bigger and
bigger, and more and more thoughtful, for something
they must do.
"Are we to sit here everlastingly?" asked one. "I'm
afraid we shall become hard by long sitting. It seems
to me there must be something outside; I have a kind of
inkling of it."
And weeks went by. The peas became yellow, and the pod
"All the world's turning yellow," said they; and they
had a right to say it.
Suddenly they felt a tug at the shell. The shell was
torn off, passed through human hands, and glided down
into the pocket of a jacket in company with other full
"Now we shall soon be opened!" they said; and that is
just what they were waiting for.
 "I should like to know who of us will get farthest!"
said the smallest of the five. "Yes, now it will soon
"What is to be will be," said the biggest.
"Crack!" the pod burst, and all the five peas rolled
out into the bright sunshine. There they lay in a
child's hand. A little boy was clutching them, and said
they were fine peas for his pea-shooter; and he put one
in directly and shot it out.
"Now I'm flying out into the wide world. Catch me if
you can!" And he was gone.
"I," said the second, "I shall fly straight into the
sun. That's a shell worth looking at, and one that
exactly suits me." And away he went.
"We'll go to sleep wherever we arrive," said the next
two; "but we shall roll on all the same." And they
certainly rolled and tumbled down on the ground before
they got into the pea-shooter; but they were put in,
for all that. "We shall go farthest," said they.
"What is to happen will happen," said the last as he
was shot forth out of the pea-shooter; and he flew up
against the old board under the garret window just into
a crack which was filled up with moss and soft mold;
and the moss closed round him; there he lay a prisoner
indeed, but not forgotten by provident Nature.
"What is to happen will happen," said he.
Within, in the little garret, lived a poor woman who
went out in the day to clean stoves, chop wood small,
and to do other hard work of the same kind, for she was
strong, and industrious, too. But she always remained
poor; and at home in the garret lay her half-grown only
daughter, who was very delicate and weak; for a whole
year she had kept her bed, and it seemed as if she
could neither live nor die.
"She is going to her little sister," the woman said. "I
had only the two children, and it was not an easy thing
to provide for both, but the good God provided for one
of them by taking her home to Himself; now I should be
glad to keep the other that was left me; but I suppose
they are not to remain separated, and my sick girl will
go to her sister in heaven."
But the sick girl remained where she was. She lay quiet
 and patient all day long while her mother went to earn
money out of doors. It was spring; and early in the
morning, just as the mother was about to go out to
work, the sun shone mildly and pleasantly through the
little window and threw its rays across the floor, and
the sick girl fixed her eyes on the lowest pane in the
"What may that green thing be that looks in at the
window? It is moving in the wind."
And the mother stepped to the window and half opened
it. "Oh!" said she, "on my word, that is a little pea
which has taken root here and is putting out its little
leaves. How can it have got here into the crack? That
is a little garden with which you can amuse yourself."
And the sick girl's bed was moved nearer to the window
so that she could always see the growing pea; and the
mother went forth to her work.
"Mother, I think I shall get well," said the sick
child, in the evening. "The sun shone in upon me to-day
delightfully warm. The little pea is prospering
famously, and I shall prosper, too, and get up and go
out into the warm sunshine."
"God grant it!" said the mother, but she did not
believe it would be; but she took care to prop with a
little stick the green plant which had given her
daughter the pleasant thoughts of life, so that it
might not be broken by the wind; she tied a piece of
string to the window-sill and to the upper part of the
frame, so that the pea might have something round which
it could twine when it shot up; and it did shoot up
indeed—one could see how it grew every day.
"Really, here is a flower coming!" said the woman one
day; and now she began to cherish hope that her sick
daughter would recover. She remembered that lately the
child had spoken much more cheerfully than before, that
in the last few days she had risen up in bed of her own
accord, and had sat upright, looking with delighted
eyes at the little garden in which only one plant grew.
A week afterward the invalid for the first time sat up
for a whole hour. Quite happy, she sat there in the
 sunshine; the window was opened, and outside before it
stood a pink pea-blossom fully blown. The sick girl
bent down and gently kissed the delicate leaves. This
day was like a festival.
"The Heavenly Father Himself has planted that pea and
caused it to prosper, to be a joy to you and to me
also, my blessed child!" said the glad mother; and she
smiled at the flower as if it had been a good angel.
But about the other peas? Why, the one who flew out
into the wide world and said, "Catch me if you can,"
fell into the gutter on the roof and found a home in a
pigeon's crop; the two lazy ones got just as far, for
they, too, were eaten up by pigeons, and thus, at any
rate, they were of some real use; but the fourth, who
wanted to go into the sun, fell into the sink and lay
there in the dirty water for weeks and weeks and
"How beautifully fat I'm growing!" said the Pea. "I
shall burst at last; and I don't think any pea can do
more that that. I'm the most remarkable of all the five
that were in the shell."
And the Sink said he was right.
But the young girl at the garret window stood there
with gleaming eyes, with the roseate hue of health on
her cheeks, and folded her thin hands over the
pea-blossom, and thanked Heaven for it.
"I," said the Sink, "stand up for my own pea."