202 THE ONE-HANDED GIRL
back my hand,' replied the girl; but the snake only smiled.
' Be quick, lest the sun should set,' he answered, and began to wriggle along so fast that the girl could hardly follow him.
By and bye they arrived at the house in a tree where the snake lived, when he was not travelling with his father and mother. And he told them all his adventures, and how he had escaped from his enemy. The father and mother snake could not do enough to show their gratitude. They made their guest he down on a hammock woven of the strong creepers which hung from bough to bough, till she was quite rested after her wanderings, while they watched the baby and gave him milk to drink from the cocoa-nuts which they persuaded their friends the monkeys to crack for them. They even managed to carry small fruit tied up in their tails for the baby's mother, who felt at last that she was safe and at peace. Not that she forgot her husband, for she often thought of him and longed to show him her son, and in the night she would sometimes lie awake and wonder where he was.
In this manner many weeks passed by.
And what was the prince doing ?
Well, he had fallen very ill when he was on the furthest border of the kingdom, and he was nursed by some kind people who did not know who he was, so that the king and queen heard nothing about him. When he was better he made his way slowly home again, and into his father's palace, where he found a strange man standing behind the throne with the peacock's feathers. Tins was his wife's brother, whom the king had taken into high favour, though, of course, the prince was quite ignorant of what had happened.
For a moment the king and queen stared at their son, as if he had been unknown to them; he had grown so thin