THE MAN WITHOUT A HEART 203
' Now where is it, dear husband ? '
' It is in the doorway,' he replied.
Next day, while he was out, the girl decorated the door with gay feathers and fresh flowers, and hung garlands upon it. And on his return the old fellow asked what it all meant.
' I did it to show my love for your heart,' said the girl.
And again the old man smiled, saying, ' You are a dear child, but my heart is not in the doorway.'
Then the poor young bride was very vexed, and said, 'Ah, my dear! you really have a heart somewhere, so you may die and leave me all alone.'
The old man did his best to comfort her by repeating all he had said before, but she begged him afresh to tell her truly where his heart was, and at last he told her.
' Far, far from here,' said he, ' in a lonely spot, stands a great church, as old as old can be. Its doors are of iron, and round it runs a deep moat, spanned by no bridge. Within that church is a bird which flies up and down ; it never eats, and never drinks, and never dies. No one can catch it, and while that bird lives so shall I, for in it is my heart.'
It made the little bride quite sad to think she could do nothing: to show her love for the old man's heart. She used to think about it as she sat all alone during the long days, for her husband was almost always out.
One day a young traveller came past the house, and seeing such a pretty girl he wished her ' Good day.'
She returned his greeting, and as he drew near she asked him whence he came and where he was going.
' Alas! ' sighed the youth, ' I am very sorrowful. I had six brothers, who went away to find brides for themselves and one for me; but they have never come home, so now I am going to look for them.'
'Oh, good friend,' said the girl, 'you need go no farther. Come, sit down, eat and drink, and afterwards I '11 tell you all about it.'