Read Books Online, for Free
The House Of Death
|Page 2 of 9||
I had fallen asleep by the fire, but for some time had been awake and listening, and now rose.
"It is time to mount, Mr. Vane," said our hostess.
"Tell me, please," I said, "is there not a way by which to avoid the channels and the den of monsters?"
"There is an easy way across the river-bed, which I will show you," she answered; "but you must pass once more through the monsters."
"I fear for the children," I said.
"Fear will not once come nigh them," she rejoined.
We left the cottage. The beasts stood waiting about the door. Odu was already on the neck of one of the two that were to carry the princess. I mounted Lona's horse; Mara brought her body, and gave it me in my arms. When she came out again with the princess, a cry of delight arose from the children: she was no longer muffled! Gazing at her, and entranced with her loveliness, the boys forgot to receive the princess from her; but the elephants took Lilith tenderly with their trunks, one round her body and one round her knees, and, Mara helping, laid her along between them.
"Why does the princess want to go?" asked a small boy. "She would keep good if she staid here!"
"She wants to go, and she does not want to go: we are helping her," answered Mara. "She will not keep good here."
"What are you helping her to do?" he went on.
"To go where she will get more help--help to open her hand, which has been closed for a thousand years."
"So long? Then she has learned to do without it: why should she open it now?"
"Because it is shut upon something that is not hers."
"Please, lady Mara, may we have some of your very dry bread before we go?" said Luva.
Mara smiled, and brought them four loaves and a great jug of water.
"We will eat as we go," they said. But they drank the water with delight.
"I think," remarked one of them, "it must be elephant-juice! It makes me so strong!"
We set out, the Lady of Sorrow walking with us, more beautiful than the sun, and the white leopardess following her. I thought she meant but to put us in the path across the channels, but I soon found she was going with us all the way. Then I would have dismounted that she might ride, but she would not let me.
"I have no burden to carry," she said. "The children and I will walk together."
It was the loveliest of mornings; the sun shone his brightest, and the wind blew his sweetest, but they did not comfort the desert, for it had no water.
We crossed the channels without difficulty, the children gamboling about Mara all the way, but did not reach the top of the ridge over the bad burrow until the sun was already in the act of disappearing. Then I made the Little Ones mount their elephants, for the moon might be late, and I could not help some anxiety about them.
|Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004