juli 31, 2003

The worst is worse than that

One afternoon a few years later, the wife sat alone in the farmhouse, sewing endless patches on a child's smock. "Indeed", she thought, as she sewed, "no days are good ones when you spend your life caring for a stranger's child."

She darned and darned, but the holes in the smock were so large and so many that tears came to her eyes when she saw them. "And I know one thing", she thought: "If I were mending the clothes of my own son, I wouldn't care how many holes I had to patch.

"It really is hard with the changeling", she thought, as she caught sight of yet another rip in the smock. "The best thing would be if I could just take him so far into the forest that he could never find his way home, and then just leave him there.

"But I don't really have to put myself to so much trouble to be rid of him", she thought on: "If I just let him out of my sight for a moment, he would drown himself in the well, or burn up on the fire, or be bitten by a dog, or kicked by the horses. Yes, it would be so easy to get rid of him, nasty and disobedient thing that he is, There's no one on the farm who doesn't hate him, and if I didn't keep him with me all the time, someone would be sure to take the opportunity to get rid of him."

She walked over and looked at the child sleeping in a corner of the room. It had grown even uglier than when she had first seen it. The mouth now protruded like a funnel; the eyebrows were like two shoe brushes, and its skin was completely brown.

"Just mending your clothes and watching over you would be tolerable", she thought, "But that is the least I must suffer for your sake. My husband is angry with my, the farmhands despise me and the maids laugh at me; the cat spits when he sees me; the dog growls and shows his teeth, and it's all because of you.

"But to be hated by men and animals ? that I could bear", she cried. "The worst is worse than that. It is that every time I see you, I long more than ever for my own son. Oh, my own sweet child, where are you? Are you sleeping on moss and bracken in the troll woman's house?"

The door opened, and she hurried back to her mending. It was her husband, and he seemed happy for once. He said to her ? more kindly that he had done for ages. -- "There's a fair in the village today. What do you think? Shall we walk over there?"
Posted by andrewb at juli 31, 2003 05:03 EM