Flemish Legend Sir Halewyn by Charles de Coster Chapter 8

What Halewyn did to the little girl cutting faggots

The Miserable was overjoyed at what had come about, and inquired within himself whether it would be in the heart of a virgin child or of a marriageable virgin that he would find what was promised him, and so satisfy his great desire for worship and power.

Pondering this he went a little way through the wood and stationed himself near to some cottages where he knew there were maids of divers ages, and there waited until morning.

Soon after the sun was up, a little girl came out, nine years old, or rather less, and began collecting and cutting up faggots.

Going up to her, he sang the song and showed her the sickle.

Whereupon she cried out in fear, and ran away as fast as she could.

But Halewyn, having quickly overtaken her, dragged her off by force to his castle.

Going in, he met on the bridge his lady mother, who said to him: “Where goest thou, Miserable, with this child?”

He answered:

“To bring honour to our house.”

And his lady mother let him pass, thinking him mad.

He went into his room, opened the side of the girl beneath a breast just budding, cut out the heart with the sickle, and drank the blood.

But he got no more strength from it than he had before.

And weeping bitter tears, he cried: “The sickle has played me false.” And he threw down into the moat both the heart and the body.

And the lady Halewyn seeing this poor heart and body dropping into the water, ordered that they should be taken out and brought to her.

Seeing the body rent open under the breast, and the heart taken out, she became afraid lest Siewert her first-born was following dark practices.

And she put the girl’s heart back in her breast, and gave her a very fine and Christian burial, and had a fair great cross made on her winding-sheet, and afterwards she was put in the ground and a fair mass said for the quiet of her soul.