628 THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER
They give themselves great airs, especially the ibis. He has been quite spoiled by the Egyptians, for they make a mummy of him and stuff him with spices. I would rather be stuffed with live frogs, and so would you, and so you shall. Better have something in one's inside while one is alive than to be made a fuss of after one is dead. That's my opinion, and I am always right.'
' Now the storks are come,' said the people in the rich house on the banks of the Nile, where the royal lord lay in the open hall on the downy cushions, covered with a leopard-skin, not alive and yet not dead, but waiting and hoping for the lotos flower from the deep moss in the far North. Friends and servants stood around his couch.
And into the hall flew two beauteous swans. They had come with the storks. They threw off their dazzling white plumage, and two lovely female forms were revealed, as like each other as two dew-drops. They bent over the old, pale, sick man, they put back their long hair, and while Helga bent over her grandfather, his white cheeks reddened, his eyes brightened, and life came back to his wasted limbs. The old man rose up cheerful and well, and daughter and granddaughter embraced him joyfully, as if they were giving him a morning greeting after a long heavy dream.
And joy reigned through the whole house, and likewise in the Stork's nest, though there the chief cause was certainly the good food, especially the numberless frogs ; and while the learned men wrote down hastily, in flying characters, a sketch of the history of the two Princesses, and of the flower of health that had been a source of joy for the home and the land, the Stork-pair told the story to their family in their own fashion, but not till all had eaten their fill, otherwise they would have found something more interesting to do than to listen to stories.
1 Now, at last, you will become something,' whispered Stork-mamma, c there 's no doubt about that.'
1 What should I become ? ' asked Stork-papa. " What have I done ? Nothing at all!'
: You have done more than the rest ! But for you and the youngsters the two Princesses would never have seen Egypt again, or have effected the old man's cure. You will turn out something ! They must certainly give you