632 THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER
to beg all other little birds to build their nests around the grave, and sing their song there again and again. And the nightingale flew away—and time flew away.
In autumn the eagle stood upon the pyramid, and saw a stately train of richly laden camels approaching, and richly attired armed men on snorting Arab steeds, shining white as silver, with pink trembling nostrils, and great thick manes hanging down almost over their slender legs. Wealthy guests, a royal Prince of Arabia, handsome as a Prince should be, came into the proud mansion on whose roof the storks' nests now stood empty ; those who had inhabited the nest were away in the far North, but they would soon return. And, indeed, they returned on that very day that was so rich in joy and gladness. Here a marriage was celebrated, and fair Helga was the bride, shining in jewels and silk. The bridegroom was the young Arab Prince, and bride and bridegroom sat together at the upper end of the table, between mother and grandfather.
But her gaze was not fixed upon the bridegroom, with his manly sun-browned cheeks, round which a black beard curled ; she gazed not at his dark fiery eyes that were fixed upon her—but far away at a gleaming star that shone down from the sky.
Then strong wings were heard beating the air. The storks were coming home, and however tired the old Stork-pair might be from the journey, and however much they needed repose, they did not fail to come down at once to the balustrades of the verandah, for they knew what feast was being celebrated. Already on the frontier of the land they had heard that Helga had caused their figures to be painted on the wall—for did they not belong to her history ?
' That's very pretty and suggestive,' said Stork-papa.
1 But it's very little,' observed Stork-mamma. ' They could not possibly have done less.'
And when Helga saw them, she rose and came on to the verandah, to stroke the backs of the Storks. The old pair bowed their necks, and even the youngest among the young ones felt highly honoured by the reception.
And Helga looked up to the gleaming star, which seemed to glow purer and purer ; and between the star and herself there floated a form, purer than the air, and visible through