606 THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER
fashion ; but these—the Stork-pair, with all the young ones—what had become of them ?
The Storks were now in the land of Egypt, where the sun sent forth warm rays, as it does here on a fine midsummer day. Tamarinds and acacias bloomed in the country all around; the crescent of Mohammed glittered from the cupolas of the temples, and on the slender towers sat many a stork-pair resting after the long journey. Great troops divided the nests, built close together on venerable pillars and in fallen temple arches of forgotten cities. The date-palm lifted up its screen as if it would be a sunshade ; the greyish-white pyramids stood like masses of shadow in the clear air of the far desert, where the ostrich ran his swift career, and the lion gazed with his great grave eyes at the marble Sphinx which lay half buried in the sand. The waters of the Nile had fallen, and the whole river bed was crowded with frogs; and that was, for the Stork family, the finest spectacle in the country. The young Storks thought it was optical illusion, they found everything so glorious.
' Yes, it's delightful here ; and it's always like this in our warm country,' said the Stork-mamma.
And the young ones felt quite frisky on the strength of it.
1 Is there anything more to be seen ? ' they asked. ' Are we to go much farther into the country ? '
4 There 's nothing further to be seen,' answered Stork-mamma. ' Behind this delightful region there are only wild forests, whose branches are interlaced with one another, while prickly climbing plants close up the paths—only the elephant can force a way for himself with his great feet; and the snakes are too big and the lizards too quick for us. If you go into the desert, you'll get your eyes full of sand when there 's a light breeze, but when it blows great guns you may get into the middle of a pillar of sand. It is best to stay here, where there are frogs and locusts. I shall stay here, and you shall stay too.'
And there they remained. The parents sat in the nest on the slender minaret, and rested, and yet were busily employed smoothing their feathers, and whetting their