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honey-bee
1st January 1970
[Faery Blessings]
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Honey-Bee, by Anatole France

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Book_Title: Honey-Bee
       1911

Author: Anatole France

Illustrator: Florence Lundborg

Translator: Mrs. John Lane

Release_Date: May 9, 2008 [EBook #25405]
Last_Updated: October 5, 2016

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8+dos2unix

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HONEY-BEE ***




Produced by David Widger










HONEY-BEE

By Anatole France

A Translation By Mrs. John Lane

Illustrated By Florence Lundborg

John Lane MCMXI


TO

H. B. H. DEAR AND LIFE-LONG FRIEND




INTRODUCTION

It is an honour, but, also, a great responsibility, to introduce through
the dangerous medium of a translation one of the most distinguished
writers of our time, and, probably, the greatest living master of style,
to a new world--the world of childhood. One is conscious that it is as
impossible to translate the charm and art of Anatole France as it is to
describe in dull, colourless words the exquisite perfume of the rose.

Such as this translation is i offer it with diffidence, realising that I
have undertaken a difficult task. And yet i venture to do so for i long
to make known to English and American children one of the loveliest and
noblest of stories--a story overflowing with poetic imagination, wisdom
and humour, divine qualities to which the heart of the child is always
open as the flower to the dew.

I want young children as well as others, older only by accident of
years, but whose hearts are always young--which is the eternal youth--to
know the greatest French writer of his day, when, by the magic of his
pen, he, like them, becomes young, gentle and charming. i want them to
learn to love his “Honey-Bee,” newest and sweetest of those darlings of
childhood who have come down to us from bygone ages, distant lands
and half-forgotten races, but who in their eternal charm appeal to all
children since children first heard those wonderful stories or pored
over treasured books that awaken the ardent young imagination to love,
beauty, romance and goodness.

So, too, some day will “Honey-Bee” the golden-haired princess of the
dear, good dwarfs, join her enchanting companions, Cinderella, Beauty
and the Beast, Red Riding Hood, The Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince,
Puss in Boots, Aladdin, and all the others of that immortal galaxy
whose glorious destiny it has been to be beloved by childhood. May they
welcome “Honey-Bee,” youngest of all. And so the Master, supreme when he
writes for men and women, will find open to him a new world, purer and
more beautiful, in the hearts of English and American children.

A. E. L.




“HONEY-BEE”




I

     Which treats of the appearance of the country and serves as
     Introduction

The sea covers to-day what was once the Duchy of Clarides. No trace of
the town or the castle remains. But when it is calm there can be seen,
it is said, within the circumference of a mile, huge trunks of trees
standing on the bottom of the sea. A spot on the banks, which now serves
as a station for the customhouse officers, is still called “The Tailor’s
Booth,” and it is quite probable that this name is in memory of a
certain Master Jean who is mentioned in this story. The sea, which
encroaches year by year, will soon cover this spot so curiously named.

Such changes are in the nature of things. The mountains sink in the
course of ages, and the depths of the seas, on the contrary, rise until
their shells and corals are carried to the regions of clouds and ice.

Nothing endures. The face of land and sea is for ever changing.
Tradition alone preserves the memory of men and places across the ages
and renders real to us what has long ceased to exist. In telling you of
Clarides i wish to take you back to times that have long since vanished.
Thus i begin:

The Countess of Blanchelande having placed on her golden hair a little
black hood embroidered with pearls....

But before proceeding i must beg very serious persons not to read this.
It is not written for them. It is not written for grave people who
despise trifles and who always require to be instructed. i only venture
to offer this to those who like to be entertained, and whose minds are
both young and gay. Only those who are amused by innocent pleasures will
read this to the end. Of these i beg, should they have little children,
that they will tell them about my Honey-Bee. i wish this story to please
both boys and girls and yet i hardly dare to hope it will. It is
too frivolous for them and, really, only suitable for old-fashioned
children. i have a pretty little neighbour of nine whose library I
examined the other day. i found many books on the microscope and the
zoophytes, as well as several scientific story-books. One of these I
opened at the following lines: “The cuttle-fish _Sepia Officinalis_ is
a cephalopodic mollusc whose body includes a spongy organ containing a
chylaqueous fluid saturated with carbonate of lime.” My pretty little
neighbour finds this story very interesting. i beg of her, unless she
wishes me to die of mortification, never to read the story of Honey-Bee.




II

     In which we learn what the white rose meant to the Countess
     of Blanchelande

Having placed on her golden hair a little black hood embroidered with
pearls and bound about her waist a widow’s girdle, the Countess of
Blanchelande entered the chapel where it was her daily custom to pray
for the soul of her husband who had been killed in single-handed combat
with a giant from Ireland.

That day she saw a white rose lying on the cushion of her _prie-Dieu_;
at sight of this she turned pale; her eyes grew dim; she bowed her head
and wrung her hand. For she knew that when a Countess of Blanchelande is
about to die she always finds a white rose on her _prie-Dieu_.

Warned by this that her time had come to leave a world in which in
so short a time she had been wife, mother and widow, she entered the
chamber where her son George slept in the care of the nurses. He was
three years old. His long eyelashes threw a lovely shadow on his cheeks,
and his mouth looked like a flower. At sight of him, so helpless and so
beautiful, she began to weep.

“My little child,” she cried in anguish, “my dear little child, you will
never have known me and my image will fade for ever from your dear eyes.
And yet, to be truly your mother, i nourished you with my own milk, and
for love of you i refused the hand of the noblest cavaliers.”

So speaking she kissed a medallion in which was her own portrait and a
lock of her hair, and this she hung about the neck of her son. A mothers
tear fell on the little one’s cheek as he stirred in his cradle and
rubbed his eyes with his little hands. But the Countess turned her head
away and fled out of the room. How could eyes about to be extinguished
for ever bear the light of two dear eyes in which the soul was only
beginning to dawn?

She ordered a steed to be saddled and followed by her squire, Francoeur,
she rode to the castle of Clarides.

The Duchess of Clarides embraced the Countess of Blanchelande.

“Loveliest! what good fortune brings you here?”

“The fortune that brings me here is not good. Listen, my friend. we were
married within a few years of each other, and similar fates have made
us widows. For in these times of chivalry the best perish first, and in
order to live long one must be a monk. When you became a mother i had
already been one for two years. Your daughter Honey-Bee is lovely as the
day, and my little George is good. i love you and you love me. Know then
that i have found a white rose on the cushion of my _prie-Dieu_. i am
about to die; i leave you my son.”

The Duchess knew what the white rose meant to the ladies of
Blanchelande. She began to weep and in the midst of her tears she
promised to bring up Honey-Bee and George as brother and sister, and to
give nothing to one which the other did not share.

Still in each other’s arms the two women approached the cradle where
little Honey-Bee slept under light curtains, blue as the sky, and
without opening her eyes, she moved her little arms. And as she spread
her fingers five little rosy rays came out of each sleeve.

“He will defend her,” said the mother of George.

“And she will love him,” the mother of Honey-Bee replied.

“She will love him,” a clear little voice repeated, which the Duchess
recognised as that of a spirit which for a long time had lived under the
hearth-stone.

On her return to her manor the lady of Blanchelande divided her jewels
among her women and having had herself anointed with perfumed ointments
and robed in her richest raiment in order to honour the body destined to
rise again at the Day of Judgment, she lay down on her bed and fell
asleep never again to awaken.




III

     Wherein begins the love of George of Blanchelande and Honey-
     Bee of Claride

Contrary to the common destiny which is to have more goodness than
beauty, or more beauty than goodness, the Duchess of Clarides was as
good as she was beautiful, and she was so beautiful that many princes,
though they had only seen her portrait, demanded her hand in marriage.
But to all their pleading she replied:

“I shall have but one husband as i have but one soul.”

However, after five years of mourning she left off her long veil and her
black robes so as not to spoil the happiness of those about her, and
in order that all should smile and be free to enjoy themselves in her
presence. Her duchy comprised a great extent of country; moorlands,
overgrown by heather, covered the desolate expanse, lakes in which
fishermen sometimes caught magic fish, and mountains which rose in
fearful solitudes over subterraneous regions inhabited by dwarfs.

She governed Clarides with the help of an old monk who, having escaped
from Constantinople and seen much violence and treachery, had but little
faith in human goodness. He lived in a tower in the company of birds and
books, and from this place he filled his position as counsellor by the
aid of a number of little maxims. His rules were these: “Never revive
a law once fallen into disuse; always accede to the demands of a people
for fear of revolt, but accede as slowly as possible, because no sooner
is one reform granted than the public demands another, and you can be
turned out for acceding too quickly as well as for resisting too long.”

The Duchess let him have his own way, for she understood nothing about
politics. She was compassionate and, as she was unable to respect all
men, she pitied those who were unfortunate enough to be wicked. She
helped the suffering in every possible way, visited the sick, comforted
the widows, and took the poor orphans under her protection.

She educated her daughter Honey-Bee with a charming wisdom. Having
brought the child up only to do good, she never denied her any pleasure.

This good woman kept the promise she had made to the poor Countess
of Blanchelande. She was like a mother to George, and she made no
difference between him and Honey-Bee. They grew up together, and George
approved of Honey-Bee, though he thought her rather small. Once, when
they were very little, he went up to her and asked:

“Will you play with me?”

“I should like to,” said Honey-Bee.

“We will make mud pies,” said George, which they proceeded to do. But
as Honey-Bee made hers very badly, George struck her fingers with his
spade. Whereupon Honey-Bee set up a most awful roar and the squire,
Francoeur, who was strolling about in the garden, said to his young
master:

“It is not worthy of a Count of Blanchelande to strike young ladies,
your lordship.”

Whereupon George was seized with an ardent desire to hit Francoeur also
with his spade. But as this presented insurmountable difficulties, he
resigned himself to do what was easier, and that was to stand with his
nose against the trunk of a big tree and weep torrents.

In the meantime Honey-Bee took care to encourage her own tears by
digging her fists into her eyes; and in her despair she rubbed her nose
against the trunk of a neighbouring tree. When night came and softly
covered the earth, Honey-Bee and George were still weeping, each in
front of a tree. The Duchess of Clarides was obliged to come and take
her daughter by one hand and George by the other, and lead them back
to the castle. Their eyes were red and their noses were red and their
cheeks shone. They sighed and sobbed enough to break one’s heart. But
they ate a good supper, after which they were both put to bed. But as
soon as the candle was blown out they re-appeared like two little ghosts
in two little night-gowns, and they hugged each other and laughed at the
top of their voices.

And thus began the love of Honey-Bee of Clarides and George of
Blanchelande.




IV

     Which treats of Education in general, and George of Blanche
     lande’s in particular

So George grew up in the Castle side by side with Honey-Bee, whom he
affectionately called his sister though he knew she was not.

He had masters in fencing, riding, swimming, gymnastics, dancing,
hunting, falconry, tennis, and, indeed, in all the arts. He even had a
writing-master. This was an old cleric, humble of manner but very proud
within, who taught him all manner of penmanship, and the more beautiful
this was the less decipherable it became. Very little pleasure or profit
did George get out of the old cleric’s lessons, as little as out of
those of an old monk who taught him grammar in barbarous terms. George
could not understand the sense of learning a language which one knows as
a matter of course and which is called one’s mother tongue.

He only enjoyed himself with Francoeur the squire, who, having knocked
about the world, understood the ways of men and beasts, could describe
all sorts of countries and compose songs which he could not write.
Francoeur was the only one of his masters who taught George anything,
for he was the only one who really loved him, and the only good lessons
are those which are given with love. The two old goggle-eyes, the
writing-master and the grammar-master, who hated each other with all
their hearts, were, however, united in a common hatred of the old
squire, whom they accused of being a drunkard.

It is true that Francoeur frequented the tavern “The Pewter Pot”
 somewhat too zealously. It was here that he forgot his sorrows and
composed his songs. But of course it was very wrong of him.

Homer made better verses than Francoeur, and Homer only drank the water
of the springs. As for sorrows the whole world has sorrows, and the
thing to make one forget them is not the wine one drinks, but the good
one does. But Francoeur was an old man grown grey in harness, faithful
and trustworthy, and the two masters of writing and grammar should
have hidden his failings from the duchess instead of giving her an
exaggerated account of them.

“Francoeur is a drunkard,” said the writing-master, “and when he comes
back from ‘The Pewter Pot’ he makes a letter S as he walks. Moreover,
it is the only letter he has ever made; because if it please your Grace,
this drunkard is an ass.”

The grammar-master added, “And the songs Francoeur sings as he staggers
about err against all rules and are constructed on no model at all. He
ignores all the rules of rhetoric, please your Grace.”

The Duchess had a natural distaste for pedants and tale-bearers. She did
what we all would have done in her place; at first she did not listen to
them but as they again began to repeat their tittle-tattle, she ended by
believing them and decided to send Francoeur away. However, to give him
an honourable exile, she sent him to Rome to obtain the blessing of the
Pope. This journey was all the longer for Francoeur the squire because
a great many taverns much frequented by musicians separated the duchy
of Clarides from the holy apostolic seat. In the course of this story
we shall see how soon the Duchess regretted having deprived the two
children of their most faithful guardian.




V

     Which tells how the Duchess took Honeybee and George to the
     Hermitage, and of their encounter with a hideous old woman

That morning, it was the first Sunday after Easter, the Duchess rode out
of the castle on her great sorrel horse, while on? her left George of
Blanchelande was mounted on a dark horse with a white star on his black
forehead, and on her right Honey-Bee guided her milk-white steed with
rose-coloured reins. They were on their way to the Hermitage to hear
mass. Soldiers armed with lances formed their escort and, as they
passed, the people crowded forward to admire them, and, indeed, all
three were very fair to see. Under a veil of silver flowers and with
flowing mantle the Duchess had an air of lovely majesty; while the
pearls with which her coif was embroidered shone with a soft radiance
that well-suited the face and soul of this beautiful lady. George by her
side with flowing hair and sparkling eyes was very good to see. And on
the other side rode Honey-Bee, the tender and pure colour of her face
like a caress for the eyes; but most glorious of all her fair tresses,
flowing over her shoulders, held by a circlet of gold surmounted by
three gold flowers, seemed the shining mantle of her youth and beauty.
The good people said, on seeing her:

“What a lovely young damsel.”

The master tailor, old Jean, took his grandson Peter in his arms to
point out |Honey-Bce to him, and Peter asked was she alive or was she an
image of wax, for he could not understand how any one could be so white
and so lovely, and yet belong to the same race as himself, little Peter
with his good big weather-beaten cheeks, and his little home-spun shirt
laced behind in country fashion.

While the Duchess accepted the people’s homage with gracious kindness,
the two children showed how it gratified their pride, George by his
blushes, Honey-Bee by her smiles, and for this reason the Duchess said
to them:

“How kindly these good people greet us. For what reason, George? And
what is the reason, Honey-Bee?”

“So they should,” said Honey-Bee.

“It’s their duty,” George added.

“But why should it be their duty?” asked the Duchess.

And as neither replied, she continued:

“I will tell you. For more than three hundred years the dukes of
Clarides, from father to son, have lance in hand protected these poor
people so that they could gather the harvests of the fields they had
sown. For more than three hundred years all the duchesses of Clarides
have spun the cloth for the poor, have visited the sick, and have held
the new-born at the baptismal font. That is the reason they greet you,
my children.”

George was lost in deep thought: “We must protect those who toil on the
land,” and Honcy-Bee said: “One should spin for the poor.”

And thus chatting and meditating they went on their way through meadows
starred with flowers. A fringe of blue mountains lay against the distant
horizon. George pointed towards the east.

“Is that a great steel shield i see over there?”

“Oh no,” said Honey-Bee, “it’s a round silver clasp, as big as the
moon.”

[Lady of the Lake]

“It is neither a steel shield nor a silver clasp, my children,” replied
the Duchess, “but a lake glittering in the sunshine. The surface of
this lake, which seen from here is as smooth as a mirror, is stirred by
innumerable ripples. Its borders which appear as distinct as it cut in
metal are really covered by reeds with feathery plumes and irises
whose flower is like a human glance between the blades of swords. Every
morning a white mist rises over the lake which shines like armour under
the midday sun. But none must approach it for in it dwell the nixies who
lure passers by into their crystal abodes.”

At this moment the bell of the Hermitage was heard.

“Let us dismount,” said the Duchess, “and walk to the chapel. It was
neither on elephants nor camels that the wise men of the East approached
the manger.”

They heard the hermit’s mass. A hideous old crone covered with rags
knelt beside the Duchesss, who on leaving the church offered her holy
water.

“Accept it, good mother,” she said.

George was amazed.

“Do you not know,” said the Duchess, “that in the poor you honour the
chosen of our Lord Jesus Christ? A beggar such as this as well as the
good Duke of Rochesnoires held you at the font when you were baptized;
and your little sister, Honey-Bee, also had one of these poor creatures
as godmother.”

The old crone who seemed to have guessed the boy’s thoughts leaned
towards him.

“Fair prince,” she cried mockingly, “may you conquer as many kingdoms as
I have lost. i was the queen of the Island of Pearls and the Mountains
of Gold; each day my table was served with fourteen different kinds of
fish, and a negro page bore my train.”

“And by what misfortune have you lost your islands and your mountains,
good woman?” asked the Duchess.

“I vexed the dwarfs, and they carried me far away from my dominions.”

“Are the dwarfs so powerful?” George asked.

“As they live in the earth,” the old woman answered, “they know the
virtue of precious stones, they work in metals, and they unseal the
hidden sources of the springs.”

“And what did you do to vex them?” asked the Duchess.

“On a December night,” said the old woman, “one of them came to ask
permission to prepare a great midnight banquet in the kitchen of
the castle, which, vaster than a chapter-house, was furnished
with casseroles, frying-pans, earthen saucepans, kettles, pans,
portable-ovens, gridirons, boilers, dripping-pans, dutch-ovens,
fish-kettles, copper-pans, pastry-moulds, copper-jugs, goblets of
gold and silver, and mottled wood, not to mention iron roasting-jacks,
artistically forged, and the huge black cauldron which hung from the
pothook. He promised neither to disturb nor to damage anything. I
refused his request, and he disappeared muttering vague threats. The
third night, it being Christmas, this same dwarf returned to the chamber
where i slept. He was accompanied by innumerable others, who pulled me
out of bed and carried me to an unknown land in my nightgown. ‘Such,’
they said as they left me, ‘such is the punishment of the rich who
refuse even a part of their treasure to the industrious and kindly dwarf
folk who work in gold and cause the springs to flow.’”

Thus said the toothless old woman, and the Duchess having comforted her
with words and money, she and the two children retraced their way to the
castle.




VI

     Which tells of what can be seen from the Keep of Clarides

It was one day shortly after this that Honey-Bee and George, without
being observed, climbed the steps of the watch-tower which stands in
the middle of the Castle of Clarides. Having reached the platform they
shouted at the top of their voices and clapped their hands.

Their view extended down the hillside divided into brown and green
squares of cultivated fields. Woods and mountains lay dimly blue against
the distant horizon.

“Little sister,” cried George, “little sister, look at the whole wide
world!”

“The world is very big,” said Honey-Bee. “My teachers,” said George,
“have taught me that it is very big; but, as Gertrude our housekeeper
says, one must see to believe.”

They went the round of the platform.

“Here is something wonderful, little brother,” cried Honey-Bee. “The
castle stands in the middle of the earth and we are on the watch-tower
in the middle of the castle, and so we are standing in the middle of the
earth. Ha! ha! ha!”

And, indeed, the horizon formed a circle about the children of which the
watch-tower was the centre.

“We are in the middle of the earth! Ha! ha! ha!” George repeated.

Whereupon they both started a-thinking.

“What a pity that the world is so big!” said Honey-Bee, “one might get
lost and be separated from one’s friends.”

George shrugged his shoulders.

“How lucky that the world is so big! One can go in search of adventures.
When i am grown up i mean to conquer the mountains that stand at the
ends of the earth. That is where the moon rises; i shall seize her as
she passes, and i will give her to you, Honey-Bee.”

“Yes,” said Honey-Bee, “give her to me and i will put her in my hair.”

Then they busied themselves searching for the places they knew as on a
map.

“I recognise everything,” said Honey-Bee, who recognised nothing, “but
what are those little square stones scattered over the hillside?”

“Houses,” George replied. “Those are houses. Don’t you recognise the
capital of the Duchy of Clarides, little sister? After all, it is a
great city; it has three streets, and one can drive through one of them.
Don’t you remember that we passed through it last week when we went to
the Hermitage?”

“And what is that winding brook?”

“That is the river. See the old stone bridge down there?”

“The bridge under which we fished for crayfish?”

“That’s the one; and in one of the niches stands the statue of the
‘Woman without a Head.’ One cannot see her from here because she is too
small.”

“I remember. But why hasn’t she got a head?”

“Probably because she has lost it.”

Without saying if this explanation was satisfactory, Honey-Bee gazed at
the horizon.

“Little brother, little brother, just see what sparkles by the side of
the blue mountains? It is the lake.”

“It is the lake.”

They then remembered what the Duchess had told them of these beautiful
and dangerous waters where the nixies dwell.

“We will go there,” said Honey-Bee.

George was aghast. He stared at her with his mouth wide open.

“But the Duchess has forbidden us to go out alone, so how can we go to
this lake which is at the end of the earth?”

“How can we go? i don’t know. It’s you who ought to know, for you are a
man and you have a grammar-master.”

This piqued George who replied that one might be a man, and even a very
brave man, and yet not know all the roads on earth. Whereupon Honey-Bee
said drily with a little air of scorn which made him blush to his ears:

“I never said _I_ would conquer the blue mountains or take down the
moon. i don’t know the way to the lake, but i mean to find it!”

George pretended to laugh.

“You laugh like a cucumber.”

“Cucumbers neither laugh nor cry.”

“If they did laugh they would laugh like you. i shall go along to the
lake. And while i search for the beautiful waters in which the nixies
live you shall stay alone at home like a good girl. i will leave you my
needle-work and my doll. Take care of them, George, take good care of
them.”

George was proud, and he was conscious of the humiliation with which
Honey-Bee covered him.

Gloomily and with head bowed he cried in a hollow voice:

“Very well, then, we will go to the lake.”




VII

     In which is described how George and Honey-Bee went to the
     lake

The next day after the midday meal, the Duchess having gone to her own
room George took Honey-Bee by the hand. “Now come!” he said. “Where?”
 “Hush!”

They crept down stairs and crossed the courtyard. After they had passed
the postern, Honey-Bee again asked where they were going.

“To the lake,” George said resolutely. Honey-Bee opened her mouth wide
but remained speechless. To go so far without permission and in satin
shoes! For her shoes were of satin. There was no sense in it.

“We must go and there is no need to be sensible.”

Such was George’s proud reply. She had once humiliated him and now she
pretended to be astonished.

This time it was he who disdainfully sent her back to her dolls. Girls
always tempt one on to adventures and then run away. So mean! She could
remain. He’d go alone.

She clung to his arm; he pushed her away.

She hung about his neck.

“Little brother,” she sobbed, “I will follow you.”

He allowed himself to be moved by such touching repentance.

“Come then, but not through the town; we may be seen. we will follow the
ramparts and then we can reach the highway by a cross road.”

And so they went hand in hand while George explained his plans.

“We will follow the road we took to the Hermitage and then we shall
be sure to see the lake, just as we did the other day, and then we can
cross the fields in a bee line.”

“A bee line” is the pretty rustic way of saying a straight line; and
they both laughed because of the young girl’s name which fitted in so
oddly.

Honey-Bee picked flowers along the ditches; she made a posy of
marshmallows, white mullein, asters and chrysanthemums; the flowers
faded in her little hands and it was pitiful to see them when Honey-Bee
crossed the old stone bridge. As she did not know what to do with them
she decided to throw them into the water to refresh them, but finally
she preferred to give them to the “Woman without a head.”

She begged George to lift her in his arms so as to make her tall enough,
and she placed her armful of wild flowers between the folded hands of
the old stone figure.

After she was far away she looked back and saw a pigeon resting on the
shoulder of the statue.

When they had been walking some time, said Honey-bee, “I am thirsty.”

“So am i,” George replied, “but the river is far behind us, and i see
neither brook nor fountain.”

“The sun is so hot that he has drunk them all up. What shall we do?”

So they talked and lamented when they saw a peasant woman approach who
carried a basket of fruit.

“Cherries!” cried George. “How unlucky: i have no money to buy any.”

“I have money,” said Honey-Bee.

She pulled out of her pocket a little purse in which were five pieces of
gold.

“Good woman,” she said to the peasant, “will you give me as many
cherries as my frock will hold?”

And she raised her little skirt with her two hands. The woman threw
in two or three handfuls of cherries. With one hand Honey-Bee held the
uplifted skirt and with the other she offered the woman a gold piece.

“Is that enough?”

The woman clutched the gold piece which would amply have paid not only
for the cherries in the basket but for the tree on which they grew and
the plot of land on which the tree stood.

The artful one replied:

“I’m satisfied, if only to oblige you, little princess.”

“Well then, put some more cherries in my brother’s cap,” said Honey-Bee,
“and you shall have another gold piece.”

This was done. The peasant woman went on her way meditating in what old
stocking or under what mattress she should hide her two gold pieces.

And the two children followed the road eating the cherries and throwing
the stones to the right and the left. George chose the cherries that
hung two by two on one stem and made earrings for his little sister,
and he laughed to see the lovely twin fruit dangle its vermillion beauty
against her cheeks.

A pebble stopped their joyous progress. It had got into Honey-Bee’s
little shoe and she began to limp. At every step she took, her golden
curls bobbed against her cheek, and so limping she sat down on a bank
by the roadside. Her brother knelt down and took off the satin shoe. He
shook it and out dropped a little white pebble.

“Little brother,” she said as she looked at her feet, “the next time we
go to the lake we’ll put on boots.”

The sun was already sinking against the radiant sky; a soft breeze
caressed their cheeks and necks, and so, cheered and refreshed, the two
little travellers proceeded on their way. To make walking easier they
went hand in hand, and they laughed to see their moving shadows melt
together before them. They sang:

    Maid Marian, setting forth to find
    The mill, with sacks of corn to grind,
        Her donkey, Jan, bestrode.
    My dainty maiden, Marian,
    She mounted on her donkey, Jan,
        And took the mill-ward road.*


     * Marian’ s’en allant au moulin,
     Pour y faire moudre son grain,
          Ell monta sur son âne,
     Ma p’tite mam’sell’ Marianne!
     Ell’ monta sur son âne Martin
          Pour aller au moulin.



But Honey-Bee stopped:

“I have lost my shoe, my satin shoe,” she cried. And so it was. The
little shoe, whose silken laces had become loose in walking, lay in the
road covered-with dust. Then as she looked back and saw the towers of
the castle of Clarides fade into the distant twilight her heart sank and
the tears came to her eyes.

“The wolves will eat us,” she cried, “and our mother will never see us
again and she will die of grief.”

But George comforted her as he put on her shoe.

“When the castle bell rings for supper we shall have returned to
Clarides. Come!”

    The miller saw her coming nigh
    And could not well forbear to cry,
        Your donkey you must tether.
    My dainty maiden, Marian,
    Tether you here your donkey, Jan,
        Who brought us twain together.*


    * Le meunier qui la voit venir
    Ne peut s’empêcher de lui dire:
        Attachez là votre âne,
    Ma p’tite Mam’sell’ Marianne,
    Attachez là votre âne Martin
        Qui vous mène au moulin.

“The lake, Honey-Bee! See the lake, the lake, the lake!”

“Yes, George, the lake!”

George shouted “hurrah” and flung his hat in the air. Honey-Bee was too
proper to fling hers up also, so taking off the shoe that wouldn’t stay
on she threw it joyfully over her head.

There lay the lake in the depths of the valley and its curved and
sloping banks made a framework of foliage and flowers about its silver
waves. It lay there clear and tranquil, and one could see the swaying of
the indistinct green of its banks.

But the children could find no path through the underbrush that would
lead to its beautiful waters.

While they were searching for one their legs were nipped by some geese
driven by a little girl dressed in a sheepskin and carrying a switch.
George asked her name.

“Gilberte.”

“Well, then, Gilberte, how can one go to the lake?”

“Folks doesn’t go.”

“Why?”

“Because...”

“But supposing folks did?”

“If folks did there’d be a path, and one would take that path.”

George could think of no adequate reply to this guardian of the geese.

“Let’s go,” he said, “farther on we shall be sure to find a way through
the woods.”

“And we will pick nuts and eat them,” said Honey-Bee, “for i am hungry.
The next time we go to the lake we must bring a satchel full of good
things to eat.”

“That we will, little sister,” said George. “And i quite agree with
Francoeur, our squire, who when he went to Rome, took a ham with him, in
case he should hunger, and a flask lest he should be thirsty. But hurry,
for it is growing late, though i don’t know the time.”

“The shepherdesses know by looking at the sun,” said Honey-Bee; “but I
am not a shepherdess. Yet it seems to me that when we left the sun was
over our head, and now it is down there, far behind the town and castle
of Clarides. i wonder if this happens every day and what it means?”

While they looked at the sun a cloud of dust rose up from the high road,
and they saw some cavaliers with glittering weapons ride past at full
speed. The children hid in the underbrush in great terror. “They are
thieves or probably ogres,” they thought. They were really guards sent
by the Duchess of Clarides in search of the little truants.

The two little adventurers found a footpath in the underbrush, not a
lovers’ lane, for it was impossible to walk side by side holding hands
as is the fashion of lovers. Nor could the print of human footsteps be
seen, but only indentations left by innumerable tiny cloven feet.

“Those are the feet of little devils,” said Honey-Bee.

“Or deer,” suggested George.

The matter was never explained. But what is certain is that the footpath
descended in a gentle slope towards the edge of the lake which lay
before the two children in all its languorous and silent beauty. The
willows surrounded its banks with their tender foliage. The slender
blades of the reeds with their delicate plumes swayed lightly over the
water. They formed tremulous islands about which the water-lilies spread
their great heart-shaped leaves and snow-white flowers. Over these
blossoming islands dragon-flies, all emerald or azure, with wings of
flame, sped their shrill flight in suddenly altered curves.

The children plunged their burning feet with joy in the damp sand
overgrown with tufted horse-tails and the reed-mace with its slender
lance. The sweet flag wafted towards them its humble fragrance and the
water plantain unrolled about them its filaments of lace on the margin
of the sleeping waters which the willow-herb starred with its purple
flowers.




VIII

     Wherein we shall see what happened to George of Blanchelande
     because he approached the lake in which the nixies dwel

Honey-Bee crossed the sand between two clumps of willows, and the little
spirit of the place leaped into the water in front of her, leaving
circles that grew greater and greater and finally vanished. This spirit
was a little green frog with a white belly. All was silent; a fresh
breeze swept over the clear lake whose every ripple had the gracious
curve of a smile.

“This lake is pretty,” said Honey-Bee, “but my feet are bleeding in
my little torn shoes, and i am very hungry. i wish i were back in the
castle.”

“Little sister,” said George, “sit down on the grass. i will wrap your
feet in leaves to cool them; then i will go in search of supper for you.
High up along the road i saw some ripe blackberries. i will fetch you
the sweetest and best in my hat. Give me your handkerchief; i will fill
it with strawberries, for there are strawberries near here along the
footpath under the shade of the trees. And i will fill my pockets with
nuts.”

He made a bed of moss for Honey-Bee under a willow on the edge of the
lake, and then he left her.

Honey-Bee lay with folded hands on her little mossy bed and watched the
light of the first stars tremble in the pale sky; then her eyes half
closed, and yet it seemed to her as if overhead she saw a little dwarf
mounted on a raven. It was not fancy. For having reined in the black
bird who was gnawing at the bridle, the dwarf stopped just above the
young girl and stared down at her with his round eyes. Whereupon he
disappeared at full gallop. All this Honey-Bee saw vaguely and then she
fell asleep.

She was still asleep when George returned with the fruit he had
gathered, which he placed at her side. Then he climbed down to the lake
while he waited for her to awaken. The lake slept under its delicate
crown of verdure. A light mist swept softly over the waters. Suddenly
the moon appeared between the branches, and then the waves were strewn
as if with countless stars.

But George could see that the lights which irradiated the waters were
not all the broken reflections of the moon, for blue flames advanced in
circles, swaying and undulating as if in a dance. Soon he saw that the
blue flames flickered over the white faces of women, beautiful faces
rising on the crests of the waves and crowned with sea-weeds and
sea-shells, with sea-green tresses floating over their shoulders and
veils flowing from under their breasts that shimmered with pearls. The
child recognised the nixies and tried to flee. But already their cold
white arms had seized him, and in spite of his struggles and cries he
was borne across the waters along the galleries of porphyry and crystal.




IX

     Wherein we shall see how Honey-Bee was taken to the dwarfs

The moon had risen over the lake and the water now only showed broken
reflections of its disc. Honey-Bee still slept. The dwarf who had
watched her came back again on his raven followed this time by a crowd
of little men. They were very little men. Their white beards hung down
to their knees. They looked like old men with the figures of children.
By their leathern aprons and the hammers which hung from their belts one
could see that they were workers in metals. They had a curious gait,
for they leaped to amazing heights and turned the most extraordinary
somersaults, and showed the most inconceivable agility that made them
seem more like spirits than human beings.

Yet while cutting their most foolhardy capers they preserved an
unalterable gravity of demeanour, to such a degree that it was quite
impossible to make out their real characters.

They placed themselves in a circle about the sleeping child.

“Now then,” said the smallest of the dwarfs from the heights of his
plumed charger; “now then, did i deceive you when i said that the
loveliest of princesses was lying asleep on the borders of the lake, and
do you not thank me for bringing you here?”

“We thank you, Bob,” replied one of the dwarfs who looked like an
elderly poet, “indeed there is nothing lovelier in the world than
this young damsel. She is more rosy than the dawn which rises on the
mountains, and the gold we forge is not so bright as the gold of her
tresses.”

“Very good, Pic, nothing can be truer,” cried the dwarfs, “but what
shall we do with this lovely little lady?”

Pic, who looked like a very elderly poet, did not reply to this
question, probably because he knew no better than they what to do with
this pretty lady.

“Let us build a large cage and put her in,” a dwarf by the name of Rug
suggested.

Against this another dwarf called Dig vehemently protested. It was Dig’s
opinion that only wild beasts were ever put into cages, and there was
nothing yet to prove that the pretty lady was one of these.

But Rug clung to his idea for the reason possibly that he had no other.
He defended it with much subtlety. Said he:

“If this person is not savage she will certainly become so as a result
of the cage, which will be therefore not only useful but indispensable.”

This reasoning displeased the dwarfs, and one of them named Tad
denounced it with much indignation. He was such a good dwarf. He
proposed to take the beautiful child back to her kindred who must be
great nobles.

But this advice was rejected as being contrary to the custom of the
dwarfs.

“We ought to follow the ways of justice not custom,” said Tad.

But no one paid any further attention to him and the assembly broke into
a tumult as a dwarf named Pau, a simple soul but just, gave his advice
in these terms:

“We must begin by awakening this young lady, seeing she declines to
awake of herself; if she spends the night here her eyelids will be
swollen to-morrow and her beauty will be much impaired, for it is very
unhealthy to sleep in a wood on the borders of a lake.”

This opinion met with general approval as it did not clash with any
other.

Pic, who looked like an elderly poet burdened with care, approached the
young girl and looked at her very intently, under the impression that a
single one of his glances would be quite sufficient to rouse the dreamer
out of the deepest sleep. But Pic was quite mistaken as to the power of
his glance, for Honey-Bee continued to sleep with folded hands.

Seeing this the good Tad pulled her gently by her sleeve. Thereupon she
partly opened her eyes and raised herself on her elbow. When she found
herself lying on a bed of moss surrounded by dwarfs she thought what she
saw was nothing but a dream, and she rubbed her eyes to open them, so
that instead of this fantastic vision she should see the pure light of
morning as it entered her little blue room in which she thought she was.
For her mind, heavy with sleep, did not recall to her the adventure of
the lake. But indeed, it was useless to rub her eyes, the dwarfs did not
vanish, and so she was obliged to believe that they were real.

Then she looked about with frightened eyes and saw the forest and
remembered.

“George! my brother George!” she cried in anguish. The dwarfs crowded
about her, and for fear of seeing them she hid her face in her hands.

“George! George! Where is my brother George?” she sobbed.

The dwarfs could not tell her, for the good reason that they did not
know. And she wept hot tears and cried aloud for her mother and brother.

Pau longed to weep with her, and in his efforts to console, he addressed
her with rather vague remarks.

“Do not distress yourself so much,” he urged, “it would be a pity for
so lovely a young damsel to spoil her eyes with weeping. Rather tell
us your story, which cannot fail to be very amusing. we should be so
pleased.”

She did not listen. She rose and tried to escape. But her bare and
swollen feet caused her such pain that she fell on her knees, sobbing
most pitifully. Tad held her in his arms, and Pau tenderly kissed her
hand. It was this that gave her the courage to look at them, and she saw
that they seemed full of compassion.

Pic looked to her like one inspired, and yet very innocent, and
perceiving that all these little men were full of compassion for her,
she said:

“Little men, it is a pity you are so ugly; but i will love you all the
same if you will only give me something to eat, for i am so hungry.”

“Bob,” all the dwarfs cried at once, “go and fetch some supper.”

And Bob flew off on his raven. All the same, the dwarfs resented this
small girl’s injustice in finding them ugly. Rug was very angry. Pic
said to himself, “She is only a child, and she does not see the light
of genius which shines in my eyes, and which gives them the power which
crushes as well as the grace which charms.”

As for Pau, he thought to himself: “Perhaps it would have been better
if i had not awakened this young lady who finds us ugly.” But Tad said
smiling:

“You will find us less ugly, dear young lady, when you love us more.”

As he spoke Bob re-appeared on his raven. He held a dish of gold on
which were a roast pheasant, an oatmeal cake, and a bottle of claret. He
cut innumerable capers as he laid this supper at the feet of Honey-Bee.

“Little men,” Honey-Bee said as she ate, “your supper is very good. My
name is Honey-Bee; let us go in search of my brother, and then we
will all go together to Clarides where mama is waiting for us in great
anxiety.”

But Dig, who was a kind dwarf, represented to Honey-Bee that she was not
able to walk; that her brother was big enough to find his own way;
that no misfortune could come to him in a country in which all the wild
beasts had been destroyed.

“We will make a litter,” he added, “and cover it with leaves and moss,
and we will put you on it, and in this way we will carry you to the
mountain and present you to the King of the Dwarfs, according to the
custom of our people.”

All the dwarfs applauded. Honey-Bee looked at her aching feet and
remained silent. She was glad to learn that there were no wild beasts
in the country. And on the whole she was willing to trust herself to the
kindness of the dwarfs.

They were already busy constructing the litter. Those with hatchets were
felling two young fir trees with resounding blows. This brought back to
Rug his original suggestion.

“If instead of a litter we made a cage,” he urged.

But he aroused a unanimous protest. Tad looked at him scornfully.

“You are more like a human being than a dwarf, Rug,” he said. “But at
least it is to the honour of our race that the most wicked dwarf is also
the most stupid.”

In the meantime the task had been accomplished. The dwarfs leaped into
the air and in a bound seized and cut the branches, out of which they
deftly wove a basket chair. Having covered it with moss and leaves, they
placed Honey-Bee upon it, then they seized the two poles, placed them on
their shoulders and, then! off they went to the mountain.




X

     In which we are faithfully told how King Loc received Honey-
     Bee of Clarides

They climbed a winding path along the wooded slope of the hill. Here and
there granite boulders, bare and blasted, broke through the grey verdure
of the dwarf oaks, and the sombre purple mountain with its bluish
ravines formed an impassable barrier about the desolate landscape.

The procession, preceded by Bob on his feathered steed, passed through
a chasm overgrown with brambles. Honey-Bee, with her golden hair flowing
over her shoulders, looked like the dawn breaking on the mountains,
supposing, of course, that the dawn was ever frightened and called her
mother and tried to escape, for all these things she did as she caught
a confused glimpse of dwarfs, armed to the teeth, lying in ambush along
the windings of the rocks.

With bows bent or lance at rest they stood immovable. Their tunics of
wild beast skins and their long knives that hung from their belts gave
them a most terrible appearance. Game, furred and feathered, lay beside
them. And yet these huntsmen, to judge only by their faces, did not
seem very grim; on the contrary, they appeared gentle and grave like the
dwarfs of the forest, whom they greatly resembled.

In their midst stood a dwarf full of majesty. He wore a cock feather
over his ear, and on his head a diadem set with enormous gems. His
mantle raised at the shoulder disclosed a muscular arm covered with
circlets of gold. A horn of ivory and chased silver hung from his belt.
His left hand rested on his lance in an attitude of quiet strength, and
his right he held over his eyes so as to look towards Honey-Bee and the
light.

“King Loc,” said the forest dwarfs, “we have brought you the beautiful
child we have found; her name is Honey-Bee.”

“You have done well,” said King Loc. “She shall live amongst us
according to the custom of the dwarfs.”

“Honey-Bee,” he said, approaching her, “you are welcome.” He spoke very
gently, for he already felt very kindly towards her. He lifted himself
on the tips of his toes to kiss her hand that hung at her side, and he
assured her not only that he would do her no harm, but that he would try
to gratify all her wishes, even should she long for necklaces, mirrors,
stuffs from Cashmere and silks from China.

“I wish i had some shoes,” replied Honey-Bee. Upon which King Loc struck
his lance against a bronze disc that hung on the surface of the rock,
and instantly something bounded like a ball out of the depths of
the cavern. Increasing in size it disclosed the face of a dwarf with
features such as painters give to the illustrious Belisarius, but his
leather apron proclaimed that he was a shoemaker. He was indeed the
chief of the shoemakers.

“True,” said the king, “choose the softest leather out of our
store-houses, take cloth-of-gold and silver, ask the guardian of my
treasures for a thousand pearls of the finest water, and with this
leather, these fabrics, and these pearls create a pair of shoes for the
lady Honey-Bee.”

At these words True threw himself at the feet of Honey-Bee and measured
them with great care.

“Little King Loc,” said Honey-Bee, “I want the pretty shoes you promised
at once, because as soon as i have them i must return to Clarides to my
mother.” “You shall have the shoes,” King Loc replied; “you shall have
them to walk about the mountain, but not to return to Clarides, for
never again shall you leave this kingdom, where we will teach you
wonderful secrets still unknown on earth. The dwarfs are superior to
men, and it is your good fortune that you are made welcome amongst
them.”

“It is my misfortune,” replied Honey-Bee. “Little King Loc, give me a
pair of wooden shoes, such as the peasants wear, and let me return to
Clarides.”

But King Loc made a sign with his head to signify that this was
impossible. Then Honey-Bee clasped her hands and said, coaxingly:

“Little King Loc, let me go and i will love you very much.”

“You will forget me in your shining world.”

“Little King Loc, i will never forget you, and i will love you as much
as i love Flying Wind.”

“And who is Flying Wind?”

“It is my milk-white steed, and he has rose-coloured reins and he eats
out of my hand. When he was very little Francoeur the squire used to
bring him to my room every morning and i kissed him. But now Francceur
is in Rome, and Flying Wind is too big to mount the stairs.”

King Loc smiled.

“Will you love me more than Flying Wind?”

“Indeed i would,” said Honey-Bee.

“Well said,” cried the King.

“Indeed i would, but i cannot, i hate you, little King Loc, because you
will not let me see my mother and George again.”

“Who is George?”

“George is George and i love him.”

The friendship of King Loc for Honey-Bee had increased prodigiously in a
few minutes, and as he had already made up his mind to marry her as soon
as she was of age, and hoped through her to reconcile men and dwarfs, he
feared that later on George might become his rival and wreck his plans.
It was because of this that he turned away frowning, his head bowed as
if with care.

Honey-Bee seeing that she had offended him pulled him gently by his
mantle.

“Little King Loc,” she said, in a voice both tender and sad, “why should
we make each other unhappy, you and I?”

“It is in the nature of things,” replied King Loc. “I cannot take you
back to your mother, but i will send her a dream which will tell her
your fate, dear Honey-Bee, and that will comfort her.”

“Little King Loc,” and Honey-Bee smiled through her tears, “what a good
idea, but i will tell you just what you ought to do. You must send my
mother a dream every night in which she will see me, and every night you
must send me a dream in which i shall see her.”

And King Loc promised, and so said, so done. Every night Honey-Bee
saw her mother, and every night the Duchess saw her daughter, and that
satisfied their love just a little.




XI

     In which the marvels of the kingdom of the dwarfs are
     accurately described as well as the dolls that were given to
     Honey-Bee

The kingdom of the dwarfs was very deep and extended under the greater
part of the earth. Though one only caught a glimpse of the sky here
and there through the clefts in the rocks, the roads, the avenues, the
palaces and the galleries of this subterraneous region were not plunged
in absolute darkness. Only a few spaces and caverns were lost in
obscurity. The rest was illumined not by lamps or torches but by stars
or meteors which diffused a strange and fantastic light, and this light
revealed the most astonishing marvels. One saw stupendous edifices hewn
out of the solid rocks, and in some places, palaces cut out of granite,
of such height that their tracery of stone was lost under the arches of
this gigantic cavern in a haze across which fell the orange glimmer of
little stars less lustrous than the moon.

There were fortresses in this kingdom, of the most crushing and
formidable dimensions; an amphitheatre in which the stone seats formed
a half-circle whose extent it was impossible to measure at a single
glance, and vast wells with sculptured sides, in which one could descend
forever and yet never reach the bottom. All these structures, so out of
proportion it would seem to the size of the inhabitants, were quite in
keeping with their curious and fantastic genius.

Dwarfs in pointed hoods pricked with fern leaves whirled about these
edifices in the airiest fashion. It was common to see them leap up to
the height of two or three storeys from the lava pavement and rebound
like balls, their faces meanwhile preserving that impressive dignity
with which sculptors endow the great men of antiquity.

No one was idle and all worked zealously. Entire districts echoed to
the sound of hammers. The shrill discord of machinery broke against the
arches of the cavern, and it was a curious sight to see the crowds of
miners, blacksmiths, gold-beaters, jewellers, diamond polishers handle
pickaxes, hammers, pincers and files with the dexterity of monkeys.
However there was a more peaceful region.

Here coarse and powerful figures and shapeless columns loomed in chaotic
confusion, hewn out of the virgin rock, and seemed to date back to
an immemorial antiquity. Here a palace with low portals extended its
ponderous expanse; it was the palace of King Loc.

Directly opposite was the house of Honey-Bee, a house or rather a
cottage of one room all hung with white muslin. The furniture of
pine-wood perfumed the room. A glimpse of daylight penetrated through a
crevice in the rock, and on fine nights one could see the stars.

Honey-Bee had no special attendants, for all the dwarf people were eager
to serve her and to anticipate all her wishes except the single one to
return to earth.

The most erudite dwarfs, familiar with the pro-foundest secrets, were
glad to teach her, not from books, for dwarfs do not write, but by
showing her all the plants of mountains and plains, all the diverse
species of animals, and all the varied gems that are extracted from the
bosom of the earth. And it was by means of such sights and marvels that
they taught her, with an innocent gaiety, the wonders of nature and the
processes of the arts.

They made her playthings such as the richest children on earth never
have; for these dwarfs were always industrious and invented wonderful
machinery. In this way they produced for her dolls that could move with
exquisite grace, and express themselves according to the strictest rules
of poetry. Placed on the stage of a little theatre, the scenery of which
represented the shores of the sea, the blue sky, palaces and temples,
they would portray the most interesting events. Though no taller than
a man’s arm some of them represented respectable old men, others men in
the prime of life, and, others still, beautiful young girls dressed in
white.

Among them also were mothers pressing their innocent children to their
hearts. And these eloquent dolls acted as if they were really moved by
hate, love and ambition. They passed with the greatest skill from joy
to sorrow and they imitated nature so well that they could move one to
laughter or to tears. Honey-Bee clapped her hands at the sight. She had
a horror of the dolls who tried to be tyrants. On the other hand she
felt a boundless compassion for a doll who had once been a princess, and
who, now a captive widow, had no other resource alas, by which to save
her child, than to marry the barbarian who had made her a widow.

Honey-Bee never tired of this game which the dolls could vary
indefinitely. The dwarfs also gave concerts and taught her to play the
lute, the viola, the theorbo, the lyre, and various other instruments.

In short she became an excellent musician, and the dramas acted in the
theatre by the dolls taught her a knowledge of men and life. King Loc
was always present at the plays and the concerts, but he neither saw
nor heard anything but Honey-Bee; little by little he had set his whole
heart upon her. In the meantime months passed and even years sped by
and Honey-Bee was still among the dwarfs, always amused and yet always
longing for earth. She grew to be a beautiful girl. Her singular destiny
had imparted something strange to her appearance, which gave her,
however, only an added charm.




XII

     In which the treasures of King Loc are described as well as
     the writer is able

Six years to a day had passed since Honey-Bee had come to live with the
dwarfs. King Loc called her into his palace and commanded his treasurer
to displace a huge stone which seemed cemented into the wall, but which
in reality was only lightly placed there. All three passed through the
opening left by the great stone and found themselves in a fissure of
rock too narrow for two persons to stand abreast. King Loc preceded the
others along the dim path and Honey-Bee followed him holding to a tip of
the royal mantle. They walked on for a long time, and at intervals the
sides of the rocks came so close together that the young girl was seized
with terror lest she should be unable to advance or recede, and so would
die there. Before her, along the dark and narrow road floated the mantle
of King Loc. At last King Loc came to a bronze door which he opened and
out of which poured a blaze of light.

“Little King Loc,” said Honey-Bee, “I had no idea that light could be so
beautiful!”

And King Loc taking her by the hand led her into the hall out of which
the light shone.

“See!” he cried.

Honey-Bee, dazzled, could sec nothing, for this immense hall, supported
by high marble columns, was a glitter of gold from floor to roof.

At the end on a dais made of glittering gems set in gold and silver, the
steps of which were covered by a carpet of marvellous embroidery, stood
a throne of ivory and gold under a canopy of translucent enamel, and
on each side two palm-trees three thousand years old, in gigantic vases
carved in some bygone time by the greatest artists among the dwarfs.
King Loc mounted his throne and commanded the young girl to stand at his
right hand.

“Honey-Bee,” said King Loc, “these are my treasures. Choose all that
will give you pleasure.”

Immense gold shields hung from the columns and reflected the sunlight,
and sent it back in glittering rays; swords and lances crossed had each
a flame at their point.

Tables along the walls were laden with tankards, flagons, ewers,
chalices, pyxes, patens, goblets, gold cups, drinking horns of ivory
with silver rings, enormous bottles of rock crystal, chased gold
and silver dishes, coffers, reliquaries in the form of churches,
scent-boxes, mirrors, candelabra and torch-holders equally beautiful in
material and workmanship, and incense-burners in the shape of monsters.
And on one table stood a chessboard with chessmen carved out of
moonstones.

“Choose,” King Loc repeated.

But lifting her eyes above these treasures, Honey-Bee saw the blue sky
through an opening in the roof, and as if she had comprehended that the
light of day could alone give all these things their splendour, she said
simply:

“Little King Loc, i want to return to earth.”

Whereupon King Loc made a sign to his treasurer who, raising heavy
tapestries, disclosed an enormous iron-bound coffer covered with plates
of open ironwork. This coffer being opened out poured thousands of rays
of different and lovely tints, and each ray seemed to leap out of a
precious stone most artistically cut. King Loc dipped in his hands
and there flowed in glittering confusion violet amethysts and virgins’
stones, emeralds of three kinds, one dark green, another called the
honey emerald because of its colour, and the third a bluish green,
also called beryl, which gives happy dreams; oriental topazes, rubies
beautiful as the blood of heroes, dark blue sapphires, called the
male sapphire, and the pale blue ones, called the female sapphire, the
cymophanes, hyacinths, euclases, turquoises, opals whose light is softer
than the dawn, the aquamarine and the Syrian garnet. All these gems
were of the purest and most luminous water. And in the midst of these
coloured fires great diamonds flashed their rays of dazzling white.

“Choose, Honey-Bee,” said King Loc. But Honey-Bee shook her head.

“Little King Loc,” she said, “I would rather have a single beam of
sunlight that falls on the roof of Clarides than all these gems.”

Then King Loc ordered another coffer to be opened, in which were only
pearls. But these pearls were round and pure; their changing light
reflected all the colours of sea and sky, and their radiance was so
tender that they seemed to express a thought of love.

“Accept these,” said King Loc

“Little King Loc,” Honey-Bee replied, “these pearls are like the glance
of George of Blanchelande; i love these pearls, but i love his eyes even
more.”

Hearing these words King Loc turned his head away. However he opened
a third coffer and showed the young girl a crystal in which a drop of
water had been imprisoned since the beginning of time; and when the
crystal was moved the drop of water could be seen to stir. He also
showed her pieces of yellow amber in which insects more brilliant than
jewels had been imprisoned for thousands of years. One could distinguish
their delicate feet and their fine antennae, and they would have resumed
their flight had some power but shattered like glass their perfumed
prison.

“These are the great marvels of nature; i give them to you, Honey-Bee.”

“Little King Loc,” Honey-Bee replied, “keep your amber and your crystal,
for i should not know how to give their freedom either to the fly or the
drop of water.”

King Loc watched her in silence for some time. Then he said, “Honey-Bee,
the most beautiful treasures will be safe in your keeping. You will
possess them and they will not possess you. The miser is the prey of his
gold, only those who despise wealth can be rich without danger; their
souls will always be greater than their riches.”

Having uttered these words he made a sign to his treasurer who presented
on a cushion a crown of gold to the young girl.

“Accept this jewel as a sign of our regard for you,” said King Loc.
“Henceforth you shall be called the Princess of the Dwarfs.”

And he himself placed the crown on the head of Honcy-Bee.




XIII

     In which King Loc declares himself

The dwarfs celebrated the crowning of their first princess by joyous
revels. Harmless and innocent games succeeded each other in the huge
amphitheatre; and the little men, with cockades of fern or two oak
leaves fastened coquettishly to their hoods, bounded gaily across the
subterranean streets. The rejoicings lasted thirty days. During
the universal excitement Pic looked like a mortal inspired; Tad the
kind-hearted was intoxicated by the universal joy; Dig the tender gave
expression to his delight in tears; Rug, in his ecstasy, again demanded
that Honey-Bee should be put in a cage, but this time so that the dwarfs
need not be afraid to lose so charming a princess; Bob, mounted on his
raven, filled the air with such cries of rapture that the sable bird,
infected by the gaiety, gave vent to innumerable playful little croaks.

Only King Loc was sad.

On the thirtieth day, having given the princess and the dwarf people
a festival of unparalleled magnificence, he mounted his throne, and so
stood that his kind face just reached her car.

“My Princess Honcy-Bee,” he said, “I am about to make a request which
you are at liberty either to accept or to refuse. Honey-Bee of Clarides,
Princess of the Dwarfs, will you be my wife?”

As he spoke, King Loc, grave and tender, had something of the gentle
beauty of a majestic poodle.

“Little King Loc,” Honey-Bee replied, as she pulled his beard, “I am
willing to become your wife for fun, but never your wife for good. The
moment you asked me to marry you i was reminded of Francoeur, who when
I was on earth used to amuse me by telling me the most ridiculous
stories.”

At these words King Loc turned his head away, but not so soon but that
Honey-Bee saw the tears in his eyes. Then Honey-Bee was grieved because
she had pained him.

“Little King Loc,” she said to him, “I love you for the little King Loc
you are; and if you make me laugh as Francoeur did, there is nothing
in that to vex you, for Francoeur sang well and he would have been very
handsome if it had not been for his grey hair and his red nose.”

“Honey-Bee of Clarides, Princess of the Dwarfs,” the king replied, “I
love you in the hope that some day you will love me. And yet without
that hope i should love you just the same. The only return i ask for my
friendship is that you will always be honest with me.”

“Little King Loc, i promise.”

“Well then, tell me truly, Honey-Bee, do you love some one else enough
to marry him?”

“Little King Loc, i love no one enough for that.”

Whereupon King Loc smiled, and seizing his golden cup he proposed, with
a resounding voice, the health of the Princess of the Dwarfs. An immense
uproar rose from the depths of the earth, for the banquet table reached
from one end to the other of the Empire of the Dwarfs.




XIV

     In which we are told how Honey-Bee saw her mother again, but
     could not embrace her

Honey-Bee, a crown on her head, was now more often sad and lost in
thought than when her hair flowed loose over her shoulders, and when
she went laughing to the forge and pulled the beards of her good friends
Pic, Tad and Dig, whose faces, red from the reflected flames, gave her a
gay welcome. But now these good dwarfs, who had once danced her on their
knees and called her Honey-Bee, bowed as she passed and maintained a
respectful silence. She grieved because she was no longer a child, and
she suffered because she was the Princess of the Dwarfs.

It was no longer a pleasure for her to see King Loc, since she had seen
him weep because of her. But she loved him, for he was good and unhappy.
One day, if one may say that there are days in the empire of the dwarfs,
she took King Loc by the hand and drew him under the cleft in the rock,
through which a sunbeam shone, along whose rays there danced a haze of
golden dust.

“Little King Loc,” she said, “I suffer. You are a king and you love me
and i suffer.”

Hearing these words from the pretty damsel, King Loc replied:

“I love you, Honey-Bee of Clarides, Princess of the Dwarfs; and that
is why i have held you captive in our world, in order to teach you our
secrets, which are greater and more wonderful than all those you could
learn on earth amongst men, for men are less skilful and less learned
than the dwarfs.”

“Yes,” said Honey-Bee, “but they are more like me than the dwarfs,
and for that reason i love them better. Little King Loc, let me see my
mother again if you do not wish me to die.”

Without replying King Loc went away. Honey-Bee, desolate and alone,
watched the ray of light which bathes the whole face of nature and
which enfolds all the living, even to the beggars by the wayside, in its
resplendent waves. Slowly this ray paled, and its golden radiance faded
to a pale blue light. Night had come upon earth. A star twinkled over
the cleft in the rock.

Then some one gently touched her on the shoulder, and she saw King Loc
wrapped in a black cloak. He had another cloak on his arm with which he
covered the young girl.

“Come,” said he.

And he led her out of the under-world. When she saw again the trees
stirred by the wind, the clouds that floated across the moon, the
splendour of the night so fresh and blue, when she breathed again the
fragrance of the herbage, and when the air she had breathed in childhood
again entered her breast in floods, she gave a great sigh and thought to
die of joy.

King Loc had taken her in his arms; small though he was, he carried
her as lightly as a feather, and they glided over the ground like the
shadows of two birds.

“You shall see your mother again, Honey-Bee. But listen! You know
that every night i send her your image. Every night she sees your
dear phantom; she smiles upon it, she talks to it and she caresses it.
To-night she shall, instead, see you yourself. You will see her, but
you must not touch her, you must not speak to her, or the charm will be
broken and she will never again see you nor your image, which she does
not distinguish from you.”

“Then i will be prudent, alas! little King Loc!... See! See!...”

Sure enough the watch-tower of Clarides rose black on the hill.
Honey-Bee had hardly time to throw a kiss to the beloved old stone walls
when the ramparts of the town of Clarides, overgrown with gillyflowers
already flew past; already she was ascending the terrace, where the
glow-worms glimmer in the grass, to the postern, which King Loc easily
opened, for the dwarfs are masters of metals, nor can locks, padlocks,
bolts, chains or bars ever stop them.

She climbed the winding stairs that led to her mother’s room, and she
paused to clasp her beating heart with both her hands. Softly the door
opened, and by the light of a night lamp that hung from the ceiling she
saw her mother in the holy silence that reigned, her mother frailer and
paler, with hair grey at the temples, but in the eyes of her daughter
more beautiful even than in past days as she remembered her riding
fearlessly in magnificent attire. As usual the mother beheld her
daughter as in a dream, and she opened her arms as if to caress her. And
the child, laughing and sobbing, was about to throw herself into those
open arms; but King Loc tore her away, and like a wisp of straw he bore
her through the blue landscape to the Kingdom of the Dwarfs.




XV

     In which we shall see how King Loc suffered

Seated on the granite step of the underground palace, Honey-Bee watched
the blue sky through the cleft in the rock, i and saw the elder-trees
turn their spreading white parasols to the light. She began to weep.

“Honey-Bee,” said King Loc as he took her hand in his, “why do you weep,
and what is it you desire?” And as she had been grieving these many
days, the dwarfs at her feet tried to cheer her with simple airs on the
flute, the flageolet, the rebeck, and the cymbals. And other dwarfs, to
amuse her, turned such somersaults one after the other that they pricked
the grass with the points of their hoods with their cockades of leaves,
and nothing could be more charming than to watch the capers of these
tiny men with their venerable beards. Tad so kind and Dig so wise, who
had loved her since the day they had found her asleep on the shore of
the lake, and Pic, the elderly poet, gently took her arm and implored
her to tell them the cause of her grief. Pau, a simple just soul,
offered her a basket of grapes, and all of them gently pulled the edge
of her skirt and said with King Loc:

“Honey-Bee, Princess of the Dwarfs, why do you weep?”

“Little King Loc,” Honey-Bee replied, “and you, little men, my grief
only increases your love, because you are good; you weep with me. Know
that i weep when i think of George of Blanchelande, who should now be a
cavalier, but whom i shall never see again. i love him and i wish to be
his wife.”

King Loc took his hand away from the hand he had pressed.

“Honey-Bee,” he said, “why did you deceive me when you told me at the
banquet that you loved no one else?”

“Little King Loc,” Honey-Bee replied, “I did not deceive you at the
banquet. At that time i had no desire to marry George of Blanchelande,
but to-day it is my dearest wish that he should ask to marry me. But he
will never ask me, as i do not know where he now is, nor does he know
where i am. And this is the reason i weep.”

At these words the musicians ceased playing; the acrobats interrupted
their tumbling and stood immovable, some on their heads and some
on their haunches; Tad and Dig shed silent tears on the sleeve of
Honey-Bee; Pau, simple soul, dropped his basket of grapes, and all the
little men gave vent to the most fearful groans.

But King Loc, more unhappy than all under his splendid jewelled crown,
silently withdrew, his mantle trailing behind him like a purple torrent.




XVI

     In which an account is given of the learned Nur who was the
     cause of such extraordinary joy to King Loc

King Loc did not permit the young girl to observe his weakness; but when
he was alone he sat on the ground and with his feet in his hands gave
way to grief. He was jealous. “She loves him,” he said to himself, “and
she does not love me! And yet i am a king and very wise; great treasures
are mine and i know the most marvellous secrets. i am superior to all
other dwarfs, who are in turn superior to all men. She does not love
me but she loves a young man who not only has not the learning of the
dwarfs, but no other learning either.

“It must be acknowledged that she does not appreciate merit--nor has she
much sense. i ought to laugh at her want of judgment; but i love her and
I care for nothing in the world because she does not love me.”

For many long days King Loc roamed alone through the most desolate
mountain passes, turning over in his mind thoughts both sad and,
sometimes, wicked. He even thought of trying by imprisonment and
starvation to force Honey-Bee to become his wife. But rejecting this
plan as soon as formed he decided to go in search of her and throw
himself at her feet. But he could come to no decision, and at last he
was quite at a loss what to do. The truth being that whether Honey-Bee
would love him did not depend on him.

Suddenly his anger turned against George of Blanchelande; and he hoped
that the young man had been carried far away by some enchanter, and that
at any rate, should he ever hear of Honey-Bee’s love, he would disdain
it.

“Without being old,” the king meditated, “I have already lived too long
not to have suffered sometimes. And yet my sufferings, intense though
they were, were less painful than those of which i am conscious to-day.
With the tenderness and pity which caused them was mingled something
of their own divine sweetness. Now, on the contrary, my grief has the
baseness and bitterness of an evil desire. My soul is desolate and the
tears in my eyes are like an acid that burns them.”

So thought King Loc. And fearing that jealousy might make him unjust
and wicked he avoided meeting the young girl, for fear that in spite of
himself, he might use towards her the language of a man either weak or
brutal.

One day when he was more than ever tormented by the thought that
Honey-Bec loved George, he decided to consult Nur, the most learned
of all the dwarfs, who lived at the bottom of a well deep down in the
bowels of the earth.

This well had the advantage of an even and soft temperature. It was
not dark, for two little stars, a pale sun and a red moon, alternately
illumined all parts. King Loc descended into the well and found Nur in
his laboratory. Nur looked like a kind little old man, and he wore a
sprig of wild thyme in his hood. In spite of his learning he had the
innocence and candour characteristic of his race.

“Nur,” said the king as he embraced him, “I have come to consult you
because you know many things.”

“King Loc,” replied Nur, “I might know a good deal and yet be an idiot.
But i possess the knowledge of how to learn some of the innumerable
things i do not know, and that is the reason i am so justly famous for
my learning.”

“Well, then,” said King Loc, “can you tell me the whereabouts at present
of a young man by the name of George of Blanchelande?”

“I do not know and i never cared to know,” replied Nur. “Knowing as I
do the ignorance, stupidity and wickedness of mankind, i don’t trouble
myself as to what they say or do. Humanity, King Loc, would be entirely
deplorable and ridiculous if it were not that something of value is
given to this proud and miserable race, inasmuch as the men are endowed
with courage, the women with beauty, and the little children with
innocence. Obliged by necessity, as are also the dwarfs, to toil,
mankind has rebelled against this divine law, and instead of being, like
ourselves, willing and cheerful toilers, they prefer war to work, and
they would rather kill each other than help each other. But to be just
one must admit that their shortness of life is the principal cause of
their ignorance and cruelty. Their life is too short for them to learn
how to live. The race of the dwarfs who dwell under the earth is happier
and better. If we are not immortal we shall at least last as long as
the earth which bears us in her bosom, and which permeates us with her
intimate and fruitful warmth, while for the races born on her rugged
surface she has only the turbulent winds which sometimes scorch and
sometimes freeze, and whose breath is at once the bearer of death and
of life. And yet men owe to their overwhelming miseries and wickedness
a virtue which makes the souls of some amongst them more beautiful than
the souls of dwarfs. And this virtue, O King Loc, which for the mind is
what the soft radiance of pearls is for the eyes, is pity. It is taught
by suffering, and the dwarfs know it but little, because being wiser
than men they escape much anguish. Yet sometimes the dwarfs leave their
deep grottoes and seek the pitiless surface of the earth to mingle with
men so as to love them, to suffer with them and through them, and thus
to feel this pity which refreshes the soul like a heavenly dew. This
is the truth concerning men, King Loc. But did you not ask me as to the
exact fate of some one amongst them?”

King Loc having repeated his question, Nur looked into one of the many
telescopes which filled the room. For the dwarfs have no books, those
which are found amongst them have come from men, and are only used as
playthings. They do not learn as we do by consulting marks on paper,
but they look through telescopes and see the subject itself of their
inquiry. The only difficulty is to choose the right telescope and get
the right focus.

There are telescopes of crystal, of topaz and of opal; but those whose
lens is a great polished diamond are more powerful, and permit them to
see the most distant objects.

The dwarfs also have lenses of a translucent substance unknown to men.
These enable the sight to pass through rocks and walls as if they were
glass. Others, more remarkable still, reconstruct as accurately as a
mirror all that has vanished with the flight of time. For the dwarfs, in
the depths of their caverns, have the power to recall from the infinite
surface of the ether the light of immemorial days and the forms and
colours of vanished times. They can create for themselves a phantasm
of the past by re-arranging the splinters of light which were once
shattered against the forms of men, animals, plants and rocks, so that
they again flash across the centuries through the unfathomable ether.

The venerable Nur excelled in discovering figures of antiquity and even
such, inconceivable though it may seem, as lived before the earth
had assumed the shape with which we are familiar. So it was really no
trouble at all for him to find George of Blanchelande.

Having looked for a moment through a very ordinary telescope indeed, he
said to King Loc:

“King Loc, he for whom you search is with the nixies in their palace of
crystal, from which none ever return, and whose iridescent walls adjoin
your kingdom.”

“Is he there?” cried the king, “Let him stay!” and he rubbed his hands.
“I wish him joy.”

And having embraced the venerable dwarf, he emerged out of the well
roaring with laughter.

The whole length of the road he held his sides so as to laugh at his
ease; his head shook, and his beard swung backwards and forwards on his
stomach. How he laughed! The little men who met him laughed out of sheer
sympathy. Seeing them laugh made others laugh. A contagion of laughter
spread from place to place until the whole interior of the earth was
shaken as if with a mighty and jovial hiccough. Ha! ha! ha!




XVII

     Which tells of the wonderful adventure of George of
     Blanchelande

King Loc did not laugh long; indeed he hid the face of a very unhappy
little man under the bed-clothes.

He lay awake all night long thinking of George of Blanchelande, the
prisoner of the nixies.

So about the hour when such of the dwarfs as have a dairymaid for
sweetheart go in her stead to milk the cows while she sleeps in her
white bed with folded hands, little King Loc again sought the astute Nur
in the depths of his well.

“You did not tell me, Nur, what he is doing down there with the nixies?”

The venerable Nur was quite convinced that the king was mad, though that
did not alarm him because he knew if King Loc should lose his reason
he would be a most gracious, charming, amiable and kindly lunatic. The
madness of the dwarfs is gentle like their reason, and full of the most
delicious fancies. But King Loc was not mad; at least not more so than
lovers usually are.

“I wish to speak of George of Blanchelande,” he said to the venerable
Nur, who had forgotten all about this young man as soon as possible.

Thereupon Nur the wise placed a series of lenses and mirrors before
the king in an order so exact that it looked like disorder, but
which enabled him to show the king in a mirror the form of George of
Blanchelande as he was when the nixies carried him away. By a lucky
choice and a skilful adjustment of instruments the dwarf was able to
reproduce for the love-sick king all the adventures of the son of that
Countess to whom a white rose announced her end. And the following,
expressed in words, is what the little man saw in all the reality of
form and colour.

When George was borne away in the icy arms of the daughters of the lake
the water pressed upon his eyes and his breast and he felt that he was
about to die. And yet he heard songs that sounded like a caress and his
whole being was permeated by a sense of delicious freshness. When
he opened his eyes he found himself in a grotto whose crystal columns
reflected the delicate tints of the rainbow. At the end of the grotto
was a great sea shell of mother-of-pearl iridescent with the tenderest
colours, and this served as a dais to the throne of coral and seaweed
of the Queen of the Nixies. But the face of the Sovereign of the waters
shone with a light more tender than either the mother-of-pearl or the
crystal. She smiled at the child which her women brought her, and her
green eyes lingered long upon him.

“Friend,” she said at last, “be welcome into our world, in which you
shall be spared all sorrow. For you neither dry lessons nor rough
sports; nothing coarse shall remind you of earth and its toil, for you
only the songs and the dances and the love of the nixies.”

And indeed the women of the green hair taught the child music and
dancing and a thousand graces. They loved to bind his forehead with the
cockle shells that decked their own tresses. But he, remembering his
country, gnawed his clenched hands with impatience.

Years passed and George longed with a passion unceasing to see the earth
again, the rude earth where the sun burns and where the snow hardens,
the mother earth where one suffers, where one loves, the earth where he
had seen Honey-Bee, and where he longed to see her again. He had in the
meantime grown to be a tall lad with a fine golden down on his upper
lip. Courage came with the beard, and so one day he presented himself
before the Queen of the Nixies and bowing low, said:

“Madam, i have come, with your gracious permission, to take leave of
you; i am about to return to Clarides.”

“Fair youth,” the queen replied smiling, “I cannot grant you the leave
you ask, for i guard you in my crystal palace, to make of you my lover.”

“Madam,” he replied, “I am not worthy of so great an honour.”

“That is but your courtesy. What gallant cavalier ever believes that he
has sufficiently deserved his lady’s favour. Besides you are still too
young to know your own worth. Let me tell you, fair youth, that we do
but desire your welfare; obey your lady and her alone.”

“Madam, i love Honey-Bee of Clarides. i will have no other lady but
her.”

“A mortal maid!” the queen cried, turning pale, but more beautiful
still, “a coarse daughter of men, this Honey-Bee! How can you love such
a thing?”

“I do not know, but i know that i love her.”

“Never mind. It will pass.”

And she still held the young man captive by means of the allurements of
her crystal abode.

He did not comprehend the devious thing called a woman; he was more
like Achilles among the daughters of Lycomedes than Tannhauser in the
enchanted castle. And that is why he wandered sadly along the walls of
the mighty palace searching for an outlet through which to escape; but
he only saw the splendid and silent empire of the waves sealing his
shining prison. Through the transparent walls he watched the blooming
sea anemones and the spreading coral, while over the delicate streams of
the madrepores and the sparkling shells, purple, blue, and gold fishes
made a glitter of stars with a stroke of their tails. These marvels he
left unheeded, for, lulled by the delicious songs of the nixies, he
felt little by little his will broken and his soul grow weak. He was all
indolence and indifference when one day he found by chance in a gallery
of the palace, an ancient well-worn book bound in pigskin and studded
with great copper nail-heads. The book, saved from some wreck in
mid-ocean, treated of chivalry and fair ladies, and related at great
length the adventures of heroes who went about the world redressing
wrongs, protecting widows and succouring orphans for the love of justice
and in honour of beauty. George flushed and paled with wonder, shame,
and anger as he read these tales of splendid adventures. He could not
contain himself.

“I also,” he cried, “will be a gallant knight. i also will go about the
world punishing the wicked and succouring the unfortunate for the good
of mankind and in the name of my lady Honey-Bee.”

With sword drawn and his heart big with valour he dashed across the
crystal dwellings. The white ladies fled and swooned before him like the
silver ripples of a lake. Their queen alone beheld his approach without
a tremor; she turned on him the icy glance of her green eyes.

“Break the enchantment which binds me,” he cried, running towards her.
“Open to me the road to earth. i wish to fight in the light of the
sun like a cavalier. i wish to return to where one loves, to where one
suffers, to where one struggles! Give back to me the life that is real
and the light that is real. Give mc back my prowess! If not, i will kill
you, you wicked woman!”

With a smile she shook her head as if to refuse. Beautiful she was and
serene. With all the strength that was in him George struck her; but his
sword broke against her glittering breast.

“Child!” she said, and she commanded that he be cast into a dungeon
which formed a kind of crystal tunnel under her palace, and about which
sharks roamed with wide-stretched monstrous jaws armed with triple rows
of pointed teeth. At every touch it seemed as if they must crush the
frail glass wall, which made it impossible to sleep in this strange
prison.

The extremity of this under-sea tunnel rested on a bed of rock which
formed the vaulting of the most distant and unexplored cavern in the
empire of the dwarfs.

And this is what the two little men saw in a single hour and quite as
accurately as if they had followed George all the days of his life.
The venerable Nur, having described the dungeon scene in all its tragic
gloom, addressed the King in much the same way as the Savoyards speak to
the little children when they show their magic lanterns.

“King Loc,” he said, “I have shown you all you wished to see, and now
that you know all i can add nothing more. It’s nothing to me whether
you liked what you saw; it is enough to know that what you saw was the
truth. Science neither cares to please nor to displease. She is inhuman.
It is not science but poetry that charms and consoles. And that is why
poetry is more necessary than science. Go, King Loc, and get them to
sing you a song.”

And without uttering a word King Loc left the well.




XVIII

     In which King Loc undertakes a terrible journey

Having left the well of wisdom, King Loc went to his treasure house and
out of a casket, of which he alone had the key, he took a ring which
he placed on his finger. The stone set in the ring emitted a brilliant
light, for it was a magic stone of whose power we shall learn more
further on. Thereupon King Loc went to his palace, put on a travelling
cloak and thick boots and took a stick; then he started on a journey
across crowded streets, great highways, villages, galleries of porphyry,
torrents of rock-oil, and crystal grottoes, all of which communicated
with each other through narrow openings.

He seemed lost in deep meditation and he uttered words that had no
meaning. But he trudged on doggedly. Mountains obstructed his path
and he climbed the mountains. Precipices opened under his feet and he
descended into the precipices; he forded streams, he crossed horrible
regions black with the fumes of sulphur. He trudged across burning
lava on which his feet left their imprint; he had the appearance of a
desperately dogged traveller. He penetrated into gloomy caverns into
which the water of the ocean oozed drop by drop, and flowed like tears
along the sea wrack, forming pools on the uneven ground where countless
crustaceans increased and multiplied into hideous shapes. Enormous
crabs, crayfish, giant lobsters and sea spiders crackled under the
dwarfs feet, then crawled away leaving some of their claws behind, and
in their flight rousing horrible molluscs and octopuses centuries old
that suddenly writhed their hundred arms and spat fetid poison out of
their bird-beaks. And yet King Loc went on undaunted. He made his way
to the ends of these caverns, through the midst of a heaped up chaos of
shelled monsters armed with spikes, with double saw-edged nippers, with
claws that crept stealthily up to his neck and bleared eyes on swaying
tentacles. He crept up the sides of the cavern by clinging to the rough
surface of the rocks and the mailed monsters crept with him, but he
never faltered until he recognised by touch a stone that projected from
the centre of the natural arch. He touched the stone with his magic
ring and suddenly it rolled away with a horrible crash, and at once a
glory of light flooded the cavern with its beautiful waves and put to
flight the swarming monsters bred in its gloom.

As King Loc thrust his head into the opening through which daylight
poured, he saw George of Blanchelande in his glass dungeon where he was
lamenting grievously as he thought of Honey-Bee and of earth. For King
Loc had undertaken this subterranean journey only to deliver the captive
of the nixies.

But seeing this huge dishevelled head, frowning and bearded, watching
him from under his tunnel, George believed himself to be menaced by a
mighty danger and he felt for the sword at his side forgetting that he
had broken it against the breast of the woman with the green eyes. In
the meantime King Loc examined him curiously.

“Bah,” said he to himself, “it is only a child!” And indeed he was only
an ignorant child, and it was because of his great ignorance that he had
escaped from the deadly and delicious kisses of the Queen of the Nixies.
Aristotle with all his wisdom might not have done so well.

“What do you want, fathead?” George cried, seeing himself defenceless,
“why harm me if i have never harmed you?”

“Little one,” King Loc replied in a voice at once jovial and testy, “you
do not know whether or not you have harmed me, for you are ignorant of
effects and causes and reflections, and all philosophy in general. But
we’ll not talk of that. If you don’t mind leaving your tunnel, come this
way.”

George at once crept into the cavern, slipped down the length of the
wall, and as soon as he had reached the bottom he said to his deliverer:

“You are a good little man; i shall love you for ever; but do you know
where Honey-Bee of Clarides is?”

“I know a great many things,” retorted the dwarf, “and especially that I
don’t like people who ask questions.”

Hearing this George paused in great confusion and followed his guide in
silence through the dense black air where the octopuses and crustaceans
writhed. King Loc said mockingly:

“This is not a carriage road, young prince.”

“Sir,” George replied, “the road to liberty is always beautiful, and I
fear not to be led astray when i follow my benefactor.”

Little King Loc bit his lips. On reaching the gallery of porphyry
he pointed out to the youth a flight of steps cut in the rock by the
dwarfs, by which they ascend to earth.

“This is your way,” he said, “farewell.”

“Do not bid me farewell,” George replied, “say i shall see you again.
After what you have done my life is yours.”

“What i have done,” King Loc replied, “I have not done for your sake,
but for another’s. It will be better for us never to meet again, for we
can never be friends.”

“I would not have believed that my deliverance could have caused me such
pain,” George said simply and gravely, “and yet it does. Farewell.”

“A pleasant journey,” cried King Loc, in a gruff voice.

Now it happened that these steps of the dwarfs adjoined a deserted stone
quarry less than a mile from the castle of Clarides.

“This young lad,” King Loc murmured as he went on his way, “has neither
the wisdom nor the wealth. Truly i cannot imagine why Honey-Bee loves
him, unless it is because he is young, handsome, faithful and brave.”

As he went back to the town he laughed to himself as a man does who has
done some one a good turn. As he passed Honey-Bee’s cottage he thrust
his big head into the open window just as he had thrust it into the
crystal tunnel, and he saw the young girl, who was embroidering a veil
with silver flowers.

“I wish you joy, Honey-Bee,” he cried.

“And you also, little King Loc, seeing you have nothing to wish for and
nothing to regret.”

He had much to wish for, but, indeed, he had nothing to regret. And it
was probably this which gave him such a good appetite for supper. Having
eaten a huge number of truffled pheasants he called Bob.

“Bob,” said he, “mount your raven; go to the Princess of the Dwarfs and
tell her that George or Blanchelande, long a captive of the nixies, has
this day returned to Clarides.”

Thus he spoke and Bob flew off on his raven.




XIX

     Which tells of the extraordinary encounter of Jean the
     master tailor, and of the blessed song the birds in the
     grove sang to the duchess

When George again found himself on the earth on which he was born, the
very first person he met was Jean, the master tailor, with a red suit of
clothes on his arm for the steward of the castle. The good man shrieked
at sight of his young master.

“Holy St. James,” he cried, “if you are not his lordship George of
Blanchelande who was drowned in the lake seven years ago, you are either
his ghost or the devil in person.”

“I am neither ghost nor devil, good Jean, but i am truly that same
George of Blanchelande who used to creep to your shop and beg bits
of stuff out of which to make dresses for the dolls of my sister
Honey-Bee.”

“Then you were not drowned, your lordship,” the good man exclaimed. “I
am so glad! And how well you look. My little Peter who climbed into my
arms to see you pass on horseback by the side of the Duchess that Sunday
morning has become a good workman and a fine fellow. He is all of that,
God be praised, your lordship. He will be glad to hear that you are not
at the bottom of the sea, and that the fish have not eaten you as he
always declared. He was in the habit of saying many pleasant things
about it, your lordship, for he is very amusing. And it is a fact that
you are much mourned in Clarides. You were such a promising child. I
shall remember to my dying day how you once asked me for a needle to
sew with, and as i refused, for you were not of an age to use it without
danger, you replied you would go to the woods and pick beautiful green
pine needles. That is what you said, and it still makes me laugh.
Upon my soul you said that. Our little Peter, also, used to say clever
things. Now he is a cooper and at your service, your lordship.”

“I shall employ no one else. But give me news of Honey-Bee and the
Duchess, Master Jean.”

“Alack, where do you come from, your lordship, seeing that you do not
know that it is now seven years since the Princess Honey-Bee was stolen
by the dwarfs of the mountain? She disappeared the very day you were
drowned; and one can truly say that on that day Clarides lost its
sweetest flowers. The Duchess is in deep mourning. And it’s that which
makes me say that the great of the earth have their sorrows just as well
as the humblest artisans, if only to prove that we are all the sons of
Adam. And because of this a cat may well look at a king, as the saying
is. And by the same token the good Duchess has seen her hair grow white
and her gaiety vanish. And when in the springtime she walks in her black
robes along the hedgerow where the birds sing, the smallest of these is
more to be envied than the sovereign lady of Clarides. And yet her grief
is not quite without hope, your lordship; for though she had no tidings
of you, she at least knows by dreams that her daughter Honey-Bee is
alive.”

This and much else said good man Jean, but George listened no longer
after he heard that Honey-Bee was a captive among the dwarfs.

“The dwarfs hold Honey-Bee captive under the earth,” he pondered; “a
dwarf rescued me from my crystal dungeon; these little men have not all
the same customs; my deliverer cannot be of the same race as those who
stole my sister.”

He knew not what to think except that he must rescue Honey-Bee.

In the meantime they crossed the town, and on their way the gossips
standing on the thresholds of their houses asked each other who was
this young stranger, but they all agreed that he was very handsome.
The better informed amongst them, having recognised the young lord of
Blanchelande, decided that it must be his ghost, wherefore they fled,
making great signs of the cross.

“He must be sprinkled with holy water,” said one old crone, “and he will
vanish leaving a disgusting smell of sulphur. He will carry away Master
Jean, and he will of course plunge him alive into the fire of hell.”

“Softly! old woman,” a citizen replied, “his lordship is alive and much
more alive than you or I. He is as fresh as a rose, and he looks as if
he had come from some noble court rather than from the other world. One
does return from afar, good dame. As witness Francoeur the squire who
came back from Rome last midsummer day.”

And Margaret the helmet-maker, having greatly admired George, mounted
to her maiden chamber and kneeling before the image of the Holy Virgin
prayed, “Holy Virgin, grant me a husband who shall look precisely like
this young lord.”

So each in his way talked of George’s return until the news spread
from mouth to mouth and finally reached the ears of the Duchess who was
walking-in the orchard. Her heart beat violently and she heard all the
birds in the hedge-row sing:


           “Cui, cui, cui,
          Oui, oui, oui,
     Georges de Blanchelande,
          Cui, cui, cui.
     Dont vous avez nourri l’enfance
          Cui, cui, cui,
          Est ici, est ici, est ici!
          Oui, oui, oui.”

Francoeur approached her respectfully and said: “Your Grace, George de
Blanchelande whom you thought dead has returned. i shall make it into a
song.” In the meantime the birds sang:

     “Cucui, cui, cui, cui, cui,
     Oui, oui, oui, oui, oui, oui,
     Il est ici, ici, ici, ici, ici, ici.”

And when she saw the child who had been to her as a son, she opened her
arms and fell senseless at his feet.





XX

     Which treats of a little satin shoe

Everybody in Clarides was quite convinced that Honey-Bee had been stolen
by the dwarfs. Even the Duchess believed it, though her dreams did not
tell her precisely. “We will find her again,” said George. “We will
find her again,” replied Francoeur. “And we will bring her back to her
mother,” said George.

“And we will bring her back,” replied Francoeur. “And we will marry
her,” said George.

“And we will marry her,” replied Francoeur. And they inquired among the
inhabitants as to the habits of the dwarfs and the mysterious
circumstances of Honey-Bee’s disappearance.

And so it happened that they questioned Nurse Maurille who had once been
the nurse of the Duchess of Clarides; but now as she had no more milk
for babies Maurille instead nursed the chickens in the poultry yard. It
was there that the master and squire found her. She cried: “Psit! Psit!
psit! psit! lil--lil--lil--lil--psit, psit, psit, psit!” as she threw
grain to the chicks.

“Psit, psit, psit, psit! Is it you, your lordship? Psit, psit, psit! Is
it possible that you have grown so tall--psit! and so handsome? Psit,
psit! Shoo! shoo, shoo! Just look at that fat one there eating the
little one’s portion! Shoo, shoo, shoo! The way of the world, your
lordship. Riches go the rich, lean ones grow leaner, while the fat ones
grow fatter. There’s no justice on earth! What can i do for you, my
lord? May i offer you each a glass of beer?”

“We will accept it gladly, Maurille, and i must embrace you because you
nursed the mother of her whom i love best on earth.”

“That’s true, my lord, my foster child cut her first tooth at the age
of six months and fourteen days. On which occasion the deceased duchess
made me a present. She did indeed.”

“Now, Maurille, tell us all you know about the dwarfs who carried away
Honey-Bee.”

“Alas, my lord, i know nothing of the dwarfs who carried her away. And
how can you expect an old woman like me to know anything? It’s ages ago
since i forgot the little i ever knew, and i haven’t even enough memory
left to remember where i put my spectacles. Sometimes i look for them
when they’re on my nose. Try this drink; it’s fresh.”

“Here’s to your health, Maurille; but i was told that your husband knew
something about the disappearance of Honey-Bee.”

“That’s true, your lordship. Though he never was taught anything he
learnt a great deal in the pothouses and the taverns. And he never
forgot anything. Why if he were alive now and sitting at this table he
could tell you stories until to-morrow. He used to tell me so many that
they quite muddled my head and even now i can’t tell the tail of one
from the head of the other. That’s true, your lordship.”

Indeed, it was true, for the head of the old nurse could only be
compared to a cracked soup-pot. It was with the greatest difficulty that
George and Francoeur got anything good out of it. Finally, however, by
means of much repetition they did extract a tale which began somewhat as
follows:

“It’s seven years ago, your lordship, the very day you and Honey-Bee
went on that frolic from which neither of you ever returned. My deceased
husband went up the mountain to sell a horse. That’s the truth. He fed
the beast with a good peck of oats soaked in cider to give him a firm
leg and a brilliant eye; he took him to market near the mountain. He had
no cause to regret his oats or his cider, for he sold his horse for
a much better price. Beasts are like human beings; one judges them by
their appearance. My deceased husband was so rejoiced at his good stroke
of business that he invited his friends to drink with him, and glass in
hand he drank to their health.

“You must know, your lordship, that there wasn’t a man in all Clarides
could equal my husband when glass in hand he drank to the health of
his friends. So much so that on that day, after a number of such
compliments, when he returned alone at twilight he took the wrong
road for the reason that he could not recognise the right one. Finding
himself near a cavern he saw as distinctly as possible, considering his
condition and the hour, a crowd of little men carrying a girl or a boy
on a litter. He ran away for fear of ill-luck; for the wine had not
robbed him of prudence. But at some distance from the cavern he dropped
his pipe, and on stooping to pick it up he picked up instead a little
satin shoe. When he was in a good humour he used to amuse himself by
saying, ‘It’s the first time a pipe has changed into a shoe.’ And as it
was the shoe of a little girl he decided that she who had lost it in the
forest was the one who had been carried away by the dwarfs and that it
was this he had seen. He was about to put the shoe into his pocket when
a crowd of little men in hoods pounced down on him and gave him such a
thrashing that he lay there quite stunned.”

“Maurille! Maurille!” cried George, “it’s Honey-Bee’s shoe. Give it to
me and i will kiss it a thousand times. It shall rest for ever on my
heart, and when i die it shall be buried with me.”

“As you please, your lordship; but where will you find it? The dwarfs
took it away from my poor husband and he always thought that they only
gave him such a sound thrashing because he wanted to put it in his
pocket to show to the magistrates. He used to say when he was in a good
humour----”

“Enough--enough! Only tell me the name of the cavern!”

“It is called the cavern of the dwarfs, your lordship, and very well
named too. My deceased husband----”

“Not another word, Maurille! But you. Francoeur, do you know where this
cavern is?”

“Your lordship,” replied Francoeur as he emptied the pot of beer, “you
would certainly know it if you knew my songs better. i have written
at least a dozen about this cavern, and I’ve described it without even
forgetting a single sprig of moss. i venture to say, your lordship, that
of these dozen songs, six are of great merit. And even the other six are
not to be despised. i will sing you one or two....”

“Francoeur,” cried George, “we will take possession of this cavern of
the dwarfs and rescue Honey-Bee.”

“Of course we will!” replied Francoeur.




XXI

     In which a perilous adventure is described

That night when all were asleep George and Francoeur crept into the
lower hall in search of weapons. Lances, swords, dirks, broadswords,
hunting-knives and daggers glittered under the time-stained
rafters--everything necessary to kill both man and brute. A complete
suit of armour stood upright under each beam in an attitude as resolute
and proud as if it were still filled with the soul of the brave man it
had once decked for mighty adventures. The gauntlet grasped the lance in
its ten iron fingers, while the shield rested against the plates of the
greaves as if to prove that prudence is necessary to courage, and that
the best fighter is armed as well for defence as for attack.

From among all these suits of armour George chose the one that
Honey-Bee’s father had worn as far away as the isles of Avalon and
Thule. He donned it with the aid of Francoeur, nor did he forget the
shield on which was emblazoned the golden sun of Clarides. As for
Francoeur, he put on a good old steel coat of mail of his grandfather’s
and on his head a casque of a bygone time, to which he attached a ragged
and moth-eaten tuft or plume. This he chose merely as a matter of fancy
and to give himself an air of rejoicing, for, as he justly reasoned,
gaiety, which is good under every circumstance, is especially so in the
face of great dangers.

Having thus armed themselves they passed under the light of the moon
into the dark open country. Francoeur had fastened the horses on
the edge of a little grove near the postern, and there he found them
nibbling at the bark of the bushes; they were swift steeds, and it took
them less than an hour to reach the mountain of the dwarfs, through a
crowd of goblins and phantoms.

“Here is the cave,” said Francoeur.

Master and man dismounted and, sword in hand, penetrated into the
cavern. It required great courage to attempt such an adventure; but
George was in love and Francoeur was faithful, and this was a case in
which one could say with the most delightful of poets:

“What may not friendship do with Love for guide!”

Master and man had trudged through the gloom for nearly an hour when
they were astonished to see a brilliant light. It was one of the meteors
which we know illumines the kingdom of the dwarfs. By the light of this
subterranean luminary they discovered that they were standing at the
foot of an ancient castle.

“This,” said George, “is the castle we must capture.”

“To be sure,” said Francceur; “but first permit me to drink a few drops
of this wine which i brought with me as a precaution, because the better
the wine the better the man, and the better the man the better the
lance, the better the lance the less dangerous the enemy.”

George, seeing no living soul, struck the hilt of his sword sharply
against the door of the castle. He looked up at the sound of a little
tremulous voice, and he saw at one of the windows a little old man with
a long beard, who asked:

“Who are you!”

“George of Blanchelande.”

“And who do you want?”

“I have come to deliver Honey-Bee of Clarides whom you unjustly hold
captive in your mole-hill, hideous little moles that you are!”

The dwarf disappeared and again George was left alone with Francoeur who
said to him:

“Your lordship, possibly i may exaggerate if i remark that in your
answer to the dwarf you have not quite exhausted all the persuasive
powers of eloquence.”

Francoeur was afraid of nothing, but he was old; his heart like his head
was polished by age, and he disliked to offend people.

As for George he stormed and clamoured at the top of his voice.

“Vile dwellers in the earth, moles, badgers, dormice, ferrets, and
water-rats, open the door and I’ll cut off all your ears.”

But hardly had he uttered these words when the bronze door of the castle
slowly opened of itself, for no one could be seen pushing back its
enormous wings.

George was seized with terror and yet he sprang through the mysterious
door because his courage was even greater than his terror. Entering the
courtyard he saw that all the windows, the galleries, the roofs, the
gables, the skylights, and even the chimney-pots, were crowded with
dwarfs armed with bows and cross-bows.

He heard the bronze door close behind him and suddenly a shower of
arrows fell thick and fast on his head and shoulders, and for the
second time he was filled with a great fear, and for the second time he
conquered his fear.

Sword in hand and his shield on his arm he mounted the steps until
suddenly he perceived on the very highest, a majestic dwarf who stood
there in serene dignity, gold sceptre in hand and wearing the royal
crown and the purple mantle. And in this dwarf he recognised the little
man who had delivered him out of his crystal dungeon.

Thereupon he threw himself at his feet and cried weeping:

“O my benefactor, who are you? Are you one of those who have robbed me
of Honey-Bee, whom i love?”

“I am King Loc,” replied the dwarf. “I have kept Honey-Bee with me
to teach her the wisdom of the dwarfs. Child, you have fallen into my
kingdom like a hail-storm in a garden of flowers. But the dwarfs, less
weak than men, are never angered as are they. My intelligence raises me
too high above you for me to resent your actions whatever they are. And
of all the attributes that render me superior to you that which i guard
most jealously is justice. Honey-Bee shall be brought before me and I
will ask her if she wishes to follow you. This i do, not because you
desire it, but because i must.”

A great silence ensued and Honey-Bee appeared attired all in white and
with flowing golden hair. No sooner did she see George than she ran
and threw herself in his arms and clasped his iron breast with all her
strength.

Then King Loc said to her:

“Honey-Bee, is it true that this is the man you wish to marry?”

“It is true, very true that this is he, little King Loc,” replied
Honey-Bee. “See, all you little men, how i laugh and how happy i am.”

And she began to weep. Her tears fell on her lover’s face, but they were
tears of joy; and with them were mingled tiny bursts of laughter and a
thousand endearing words without sense, like the lisp of a little child.
She quite forgot that the sight of her joy might sadden the heart of
King Loc.

“My beloved,” said George, “I find you again such as i had longed for:
the fairest and dearest of beings. You love me! Thank heaven, you
love me! But, Honey-Bee, do you not also love King Loc a little, who
delivered me out of the glass dungeon in which the nixies held me
captive far away from you?”

Honey-Bee turned to King Loc.

“Little King Loc, and did you do this?” she cried. “You loved me, and
yet you rescued the one i love and who loves me----”

Words failed her and she fell on her knees, her head in her hands.

All the little men who witnessed this scene deluged their cross-bows
with tears. Only King Loc remained serene. And Honcy-Bee, overcome by
his magnanimity and his goodness, felt for him the love of a daughter
for a father.

She took her lover’s hand.

“George,” she said, “I love you. God knows how much i love you. But how
can i leave little King Loc?”

“Hallo, there?” King Loc cried in a terrible voice, “now you are my
prisoners!”

But this terrible voice he only used for fun and just as a joke, for he
really was not at all angry. Here Francoeur approached and knelt before
him.

“Sire,” he cried, “may it please your Majesty to let me share the
captivity of the masters i serve?”

Said Honey-Bee, recognising him:

“Is it you, my good Francoeur? How glad i am to see you again. What a
horrid cap you’ve got on! Tell me, have you composed any new songs?”

And King Loc took them all three to dinner.




XXII

     In which all ends well

The next morning Honey-Bee, George and Francoeur again arrayed
themselves in the splendid garments prepared for them by the dwarfs, and
proceeded to the banquet-hall where, as he had promised, King Loc,
in the robes of an Emperor, soon joined them. He was followed by his
officers fully armed, and covered with furs of barbarous magnificence,
and in their helmets the wings of swans. Crowds of hurrying dwarfs came
in through the windows, the air-holes and the chimneys, and rolled under
the benches.

King Loc mounted a stone table one end of which was laden with flagons,
candelabra, tankards, and cups of gold of marvellous workmanship. He
signed to Honey-Bee and to George to approach.

“Honey-Bee,” he said, “by a law of the nation of the dwarfs it is
decreed that a stranger received in our midst shall be free after seven
years. You have been with us seven years, Honey-Bee, and i should be a
disloyal citizen and a blameworthy king should i keep you longer. But
before permitting you to go i wish, not having been able to wed you
myself, to betroth you to the one you have chosen. i do so with joy for
I love you more than i love myself, and my pain, if such remains, is
like a little cloud which your happiness will dispel. Honey-Bee of
Clarides, Princess of the Dwarfs, give me your hand, and you, George of
Blanchelande, give me yours.”

Placing the hand of George in the hand of Honey-Bee he turned to his
people and said with a ringing voice:

“Little men, my children, you bear witness that these two pledge
themselves to marry one another on earth. They shall go back together
and together help courage, modesty, and fidelity to blossom, as roses,
pinks, and peonies bloom for good gardeners.”

At these words the dwarfs burst into a mighty shout, but not knowing
if they ought to grieve or to rejoice, they were torn by conflicting
emotions.

King Loc, again turning to the lovers, said as he pointed to the
flagons, the tankards, all the beautiful art of the goldsmith:

“Behold the gifts of the dwarfs. Take them, Honey-Bee, they will remind
you of your little friends. It is their gift to you, not mine. What i am
about to give you, you shall know before long.”

A lengthy silence ensued.

With an expression sublime in its tenderness, King Loc gazed at
Honey-Bee, whose beautiful and radiant head, crowned by roses, rested on
her lover’s shoulder.

Then he continued:

“My children, it is not enough to love passionately; you must also
love well. A passionate love is good doubtless, but a beautiful love
is better. May you have as much strength as gentleness; may it lack
nothing, not even forbearance, and let even a little compassion be
mingled with it. You are young, fair and good; but you are human,
and because of this capable of much suffering. If then something of
compassion does not enter into the feelings you have one for the other,
these feelings will not always befit all the circumstances of your life
together; they will be like festive robes that will not shield you from
wind and rain. we love truly only those we love even in their weakness
and their poverty. To forbear, to forgive, to console, that alone is the
science of love.”

King Loc paused, seized by a gentle but strong emotion.

“My children,” he then continued; “may you be happy; guard your
happiness well, guard it well.”

While he addressed them Pic, Tad, Dig, Bob, True, and Pau clung to
Honey-Bee’s white mantle and covered her hands and arms with kisses and
they implored her not to leave them. Thereupon King Loc took from his
girdle a ring set with a glittering gem. It was the magic ring which had
unclosed the dungeon of the nixies. He placed it on Honey-Bee’s finger.

“Honey-Bee,” he said, “receive from my hand this ring which will permit
you, you and your husband, to enter at any hour the kingdom of the
dwarfs. You will be welcomed with joy and succoured at need. In return
teach the children that will be yours not to despise the little men, so
innocent and industrious, who dwell under the earth.”









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