612 THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER
in her, she would sit quiet and mournful, shrunk to the shape of the frog, her body indeed much larger than that of the animal, and for that reason much more hideous to behold, for she looked like a wretched dwarf with a frog's head and webbed fingers. Her eyes then had a very melancholy expression. She had no voice, and could only utter a hollow croaking that sounded like the stifled sob of a dreaming child. Then the Viking's wife took her on her lap, and forgot the ugly form as she looked into the mournful eyes, and said,
' I could almost wish that thou wert always my poor dumb frog-child ; for thou art only the more terrible to look at when thy beauty is on the outside.'
And she wrote Runes against sorcery and sickness, and threw them over the wretched child ; but she could not see that they worked any good.
' One can scarcely believe that she was ever so small that she could lie in the cup of a water-lily,' said Stork-papa, ' now she 's grown up the image of her Egyptian mother. Her we shall never see again ! She did not know how to help herself, as you and the learned physicians said. Year after year I have flown to and fro, across and across the great moss, and she has never once given a sign that she was still alive. Yes, I may as well tell you, that every year, when I came here a few days before you, to repair the nest and attend to various matters, I spent a whole night in flying to and fro over the lake, as if I had been an owl or a bat, but every time in vain. The two suits of swan feathers which I and the young ones dragged up here out of the land of the Nile have consequently not been used : we had trouble enough with them to bring them hither in three journeys ; and now they have lain for many years at the bottom of the nest, and if it should happen that a fire broke out, and the wooden house were burned, they would be destroyed.'
• And our good nest would be destroyed too,' said Stork-mamma ; ' but you think less of that than of your plumage stuff and of your Moor Princess. You'd best go down into the mud and stay there with her. You're a bad father to your own children, as I told you when I hatched our first brood. I only hope neither we nor our children will