NCE upon a time a boy played about the house, running by his mother's side; and as he was very little, his mother tied him to the string of her apron.
"Now," she said, "when you stumble, you can pull
yourself up by the
The boy did that, and all went well, and the mother sang at her work.
By and by the boy grew so tall that his head came above the
"Oh, mother," he said; "untie the apron-string and let me go!"
But the mother said, "Not yet, my child! only yesterday
you stumbled, and
would have fallen but for the
So the boy waited, and all went as before; and the mother sang at her work.
But one day the boy found the door of the
house standing open, for it was spring weather; and he
stood on the threshold and looked across the valley, and saw
the green trees waving, and the
Then the boy started forward, and as he started, the string of the apron broke.
"Oh! how weak my mother's apron-string is!" cried the boy; and he ran out into the world, with the broken string hanging beside him.
The mother gathered up the other end of the string and put it in her bosom, and went about her work again; but she sang no more.
The boy ran on and on, rejoicing in his freedom, and in the fresh air and the morning sun. He crossed the valley, and began to climb the foothills among which the river flowed swiftly, among rocks and cliffs. Now it was easy climbing, and again it was steep and craggy, but always he looked upward at the blue peaks beyond, and always the voice of the river was in his ear, saying "Come!"
By and by he came to the brink of a precipice, over which
the river dashed in a cataract, foaming and flashing, and
sending up clouds of silver spray. The spray filled his
eyes, so that he did not see his footing clearly; he grew
dizzy, stumbled, and fell. But as he fell, something
about him caught on a point of rock at the
"Oh! how strong my mother's apron-string is!" said the boy: and he drew himself up by it, and stood firm on his feet, and went on climbing toward the blue peaks of the mountains.