But his companion answered him: 'Nay, but it were an evil
thing to leave the child to perish here in the snow, and though I am as poor as thou art
, and have many mouths to feed, and but little in the pot
, yet will I bring it home with me, and my wife shall have care of it.'
So very tenderly he took up the child, and wrapped the cloak around it to shield it from the harsh cold, and made his way down the hill to the village, his comrade marvelling much at his foolishness and softness of heart.
And when they came to the village, his comrade said to him, 'Thou hast the child, therefore give me the cloak, for it is meet that we should share.'
But he answered him: 'Nay, for the cloak is neither mine nor thine, but the child's only,' and he bade him Godspeed, and went to his own house and knocked.
And when his wife opened the door and saw that her husband had returned safe to her, she put her arms round his neck and kissed him, and took front his back the bundle of faggots, and brushed the snow off his boots, and bade him come in.
But he said to her, 'I have found something in the forest, and I have brought it to thee to have care of it,' and he stirred not from the threshold.
'What is it?' she cried. 'Show it to me, for the house is bare, and we have need of many things.' And he drew the cloak back, and showed her the sleeping child.
'Alack, goodman!' she murmured, 'have we not children enough of our own, that thou must needs bring a changeling to sit by the hearth? And who knows if it will not bring us bad fortune? And how shall we tend it?' And she was wroth against him.
'Nay, but it is a Star-Child,' he answered; and he told her the strange manner of the finding of it.
But she would not be appeased, but mocked at him, and spoke angrily, and cried: 'Our children lack bread, and shall we feed the child of another? Who is there who careth for us? And who giveth us food?'
'Nay, but God careth for the sparrows even, and feedeth them,' he answered.
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