THE STORY OF LITTLE KING LOC 45
' It is neither a silver plate nor a giant's shield,' replied the duchess; ' but a beautiful lake. Still, in spite of its beauty, it is dangerous to go near it, for in its depths dwell some Undines, or water spirits, who lure all passers-by to their deaths.'
Nothing more was said about the lake, but the children did not forget it, and one morning, after they had returned to the castle, Abeille came up to Youri.
' The tower door is open,' whispered she ; ' let us go up. Perhaps we shall find some fairies.'
But they did not find any fairies; only, when they reached the roof, the lake looked bluer and more enchanting than ever. Abeille gazed at it for a moment, and then she said :
' Do you see ? I mean to go there !'
' But you mustn't,' cried Youri. ' You heard what your mother said. And, besides, it is so far; how could we get there?'
' You ought to know that,' answered Abeille scornfully. ' What is the good of being a man, and learning all sorts of things, if you have to ask me. However, there are plenty of other men in the world, and I shall get one of them to tell me.'
Youri coloured; Abeille had never spoken like this before, and, instead of being two years younger than himself, she suddenly seemed many years older. She stood with her mocking eyes fixed on him, till he grew angry at being outdone by a girl, and taking her hand he said boldly:
' Very well, we will both go to the lake.'
The next afternoon, when the duchess was working at her tapestry surrounded by her maidens, the children went out, as usual, to play in the garden. The moment they found themselves alone, Youri turned to Abeille, and holding out his hand, said :