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Lilith George MacDonald

The Fugitive Mother

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"Where are you taking her?"

"Where no one ever tells!"

"Why is the princess so cruel?"

"There is an old prophecy that a child will be the death of her. That is why she will listen to no offer of marriage, they say."

"But what will become of her country if she kill all the babies?"

"She does not care about her country. She sends witches around to teach the women spells that keep babies away, and give them horrible things to eat. Some say she is in league with the Shadows to put an end to the race. At night we hear the questing beast, and lie awake and shiver. She can tell at once the house where a baby is coming, and lies down at the door, watching to get in. There are words that have power to shoo her away, only they do not always work--But here I sit talking, and the beast may by this time have got home, and her mistress be sending the other after us!"

As thus she ended, she rose in haste.

"I do not think she will ever get home.--Let me carry the baby for you!" I said, as I rose also.

She returned me no answer, and when I would have taken it, only clasped it the closer.

"I cannot think," I said, walking by her side, "how the brute could be bleeding so much!"

"Take my advice, and don't go near the palace," she answered. "There are sounds in it at night as if the dead were trying to shriek, but could not open their mouths!"

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She bade me an abrupt farewell. Plainly she did not want more of my company; so I stood still, and heard her footsteps die away on the grass.

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