THE ONE-HANDED GIRL 201
walked far. Take your baby and bathe in that cool place where the boughs of the tree stretch far over the water.'
' Yes, I will,' answered she, and they went in. The baby splashed and crowed with delight, and then he gave a spring and fell right in, down, down, down, and his mother could not find him, though she searched all among the reeds.
Full of terror, she made her way back to the bank, and called to the snake, ' My baby is gone !—he is drowned, and never shall I see him again.'
' Go in once more,' said the snake, ' and feel everywhere, even among the trees that have their roots in the water, lest perhaps he may be held fast there.'
Swiftly she went back and felt everywhere with her wrhole hand, even putting her fingers into the tiniest crannies, where a crab could hardly have taken shelter.
' No, he is not here,' she cried. ' How am I to live without him ? ' But the snake took no notice, and only answered, ' Put in your other arm too.'
' What is the use of that ? ' she asked, ' when it has no hand to feel with ? ' but all the same she did as she was bid, and in an instant the wounded arm touched something round and soft, lying between two stones in a clump of reeds.
' My baby, my baby !' she shouted, and lifted him up, merry and laughing, and not a bit hurt or frightened.
' Have you found him this time ? ' asked the snake.
' Yes, oh, yes!' she answered, ' and, why—why— I have got my hand back again !' and from sheer joy she burst into tears.
The snake let her weep for a little while, and then he said—
' Now we will journey on to my family, and we will all repay you for the kindness you showed to me.'
' You have done more than enough in giving me