And there came to him the little daughter of the Woodcutter
, and she put her hand upon his shoulder and said, 'What doth it matter if thou hast lost thy comeliness
? Stay with us, and I will not mock at thee.'
And he said to her, 'Nay, but I have been cruel to my mother, and as a punishment has this evil been sent to me. Wherefore I must go hence, and wander through the world till I find her, and she give me her forgiveness.'
So he ran away into the forest and called out to his mother to come to him, but there was no answer. All day long he called to her, and when the sun set he lay down to sleep on a bed of leaves, and the birds and the animals fled from him, as they remembered his cruelty, and he was alone save for the toad that watched him, and the slow adder that crawled past.
And in the morning he rose up, and plucked some bitter berries from the trees and ate them, and took his way through the great wood, weeping sorely. And of everything that he met he made enquiry if perchance they had seen his mother.
He said to the Mole, 'Thou canst go beneath the earth. Tell me, is my mother there?'
And the Mole answered, 'Thou hast blinded mine eyes. How should I know?'
He said to the Linnet, 'Thou canst fly over the tops of the tall trees, and canst see the
whole world. Tell me, canst thou see my mother?'
And the Linnet answered, 'Thou hast clipt my wings for thy pleasure. How should I fly?'
And to the little Squirrel who lived in the fir-tree, and was lonely, he said, 'Where is my mother?'
And the Squirrel answered, 'Thou hast slain mine. Dost thou seek to slay thine also?'
And the Star-Child wept and bowed his head, and prayed forgiveness of God's things, and went on through the forest, seeking for the beggar-woman. And on the third day he came to the other side of the forest and went down into the plain.
And when he passed through the villages the children mocked him, and threw stones at him, and the carlots would not suffer him even to sleep in the byres lest he might bring mildew on the stored corn, so foul was he to look at, and their hired men drave him away, and there was none who had pity on him. Nor could he hear anywhere of the beggar-woman who was his mother, though for the space of three years he wandered over the world, and often seemed to see her on the road in front of him, and would call to her, and run after her till the sharp flints made his feet to bleed. But overtake her he could not, and those who dwelt by the way did ever deny that they had seen her, or any like to her, and they made sport of his sorrow.
Back Index Forward