608 THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER
under the wings of the swallow who had her nest beneath the huntsman's thatch ; the house burst into flames, the huntsman was burned in the house, and the glare shone over the sea as far as the hanging birch beneath which she sleeps. Never will she return to the land of Egypt.'
And then the two wept. And when Stork-papa heard the story, he clapped with his beak so that it could be heard a long way off.
1 Falsehood and lies ! ' he cried. ' I should like to run my beak deep into their chests.'
' And perhaps break it off,' interposed the Stork-mamma : * and then you would look well. Think first of yourself, and then of your family, and all the rest does not concern you.'
' But to-morrow I shall seat myself at the edge of the open cupola, when the wise and learned men assemble to consult on the sick man's state : perhaps they may come a little nearer the truth.'
And the learned and wise men came together and spoke a great deal, out of which the Stork could make no sense— and it had no result, either for the sick man or for the daughter in the swampy waste. But for all that we may listen to what the people said, for we have to listen to a great deal of talk in the world.
But then it will be an advantage to hear what went before, and in this case we are well informed, for we know just as much about it as Stork-papa.
1 Love gives life ! the highest love gives the highest life ! Only through love can his life be preserved.'
That is what they all said, and the learned men said it was very cleverly and beautifully spoken.
I That is a beautiful thought! ' Stork-papa said immediately.
II don't quite understand it,' Stork-mamma replied ; 1 and that's not my fault, but the fault of the thought. But let it be as it will, I've something else to think of.'
And now the learned men had spoken of the love to this one and that one, and of the difference between the love of one's neighbour and love between parents and children, of the love of plants for the light, when the sunbeam kisses the ground and the germ springs forth from it,—everything