HOW BALL-CARRIER FINISHED HIS TASK 67
fainter, till they thought he would die from weakness before their eyes.
' There must be some thing you could take, if you would only say what it is,' implored his wife.
' No, nothing, nothing ; except, perhaps—but of course that is impossible ! '
' Nor I am sure it is not,' replied she ; ' you shall have it, I promise—only tell me what it is.'
' I think—but I could not ask you to do such a thing. Leave me alone, and let me die quietly.'
' You shall not die,' cried the girl, who was very fond of her husband, for he did not beat her as most girls' husbands did. ' Whatever it is, I will manage to get it for you.'
' Well, then, I think, if I had that—redbreast, nicely roasted, I could eat a little bit of his wing! '
The wife started back in horror at such a request; but the man turned his face to the wall, and took no notice, as he thought it was better to leave her to herself for a little.
Weeping and wringing her hands, the girl went down to her mother. The brothers were very angry when they heard the story, and declared that, if any one were to die, it certainly should not he the robin. But all that night the man seemed getting weaker and weaker, and at last, quite early, the wife crept out, and stealing to the hut, killed the bird, and brought him home to her husband.
Just as she was going to cook it her two brothers came in. They cried out in horror at the sight, and, rushing out of the hut, declared they would never see her any more. And the poor girl, with a heavy heart, took the body of the redbreast up to her husband.
But directly she entered the room the man told her that he felt a great deal better, and that he would rather have a piece of bear's flesh, well boiled, than any bird, however tender. His wife felt very miserable to think