”The Star-Child” is the story of an infant boy found abandoned in the woods by a poor woodcutter, who pities him and takes him in. He grows up to be exceedingly beautiful, but vain, cruel, and arrogant, believing himself to be the divine child of the stars. He lords over the other children, who follow him devotedly, and takes pleasure in torturing the forest animals and village beggars alike.
One day, a beggar woman, emaciated, haggard and with bleeding feet, arrives in the village in search of her lost son, who the Star-Child is revealed to be. However, he scorns her and sends her away, and in doing so, is transformed into a loathsome cross between a toad and a snake as a punishment. His followers abandon him, and he sets off to seek forgiveness from his mother. He also repents his cruelty and asks forgiveness from the animals he had tortured.
At length, he comes to a city, where he is captured and sold into slavery. His master, a malevolent sorcerer, treats him cruelly and gives him three tasks which he must complete. First, he sends him to find a piece of white gold hidden in the forest. The Star-Child searches all day, but cannot find it. Upon returning to the city, he sees a rabbit caught in a trap and stops to free him. In gratitude, the rabbit shows him where the gold is and the Star-Child happily takes it. However, returning with the gold, an ailing beggar calls to him that he will surely starve unless he can give him money for food. The Star-Child gives him the piece of gold, and his master beats him and gives him neither food nor water that night.