THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER 627
wife spread out her arms towards them, as if she understood it, and smiled through her tears, and then stood sunk in deep thought.
Then all the storks arose, flapping their wings and clapping with their beaks, to start on their voyage towards the South.
' We will not wait for the swans,' said Stork-mamma : ' if they want to go with us they had better come. We can't sit here till the plovers start. It is a fine thing, after all, to travel in this way, in families, not like the finches and partridges, where the male and female birds fly in separate bodies, which appears to me a very unbecoming thing. What are yonder swans flapping their wings for ? '
' Every one flies in his own fashion,' said Stork-papa : ' the swans in an oblique line, the cranes in a triangle, and the plovers in a snake's line.'
' Don't talk about snakes while we are flying up here/ said Stork-mamma. ' It only puts ideas into the children's heads which can't be gratified.'
* Are those the high mountains of which I have heard tell ? ' asked Helga, in the swan's plumage.
' They are storm clouds driving on beneath us,' replied her mother.
' What are yonder white clouds that rise so high ? ' asked Helga again.
' Those are the mountains covered with perpetual snow which you see yonder,' replied her mother.
And they flew across the lofty Alps towards the blue Mediterranean.
' Africa's land ! Egypt's strand ! ' sang, rejoicingly, in her swan's plumage, the daughter of the Nile, as from the lofty air she saw her native land in the form of a yellowish wavy stripe of shore.
And all the birds caught sight of it, and hastened their flight.
' I can scent the Nile mud and wet frogs,' said Stork -mamma ; ' I begin to feel quite hungry. Yes ; now you shall taste something nice ; and you will see the marabou bird, the crane, and the ibis. They all belong to our family, though they are not nearly so beautiful as we.