54 THE STORY OF LITTLE KING LOC
ivory at one end of the hall, and watched her. ' Choose whatever you wish,' he said at last. A necklace of most lovely pearls was hanging from the wall, and after hesitating for a moment between that and a circlet of diamonds and sapphires, Abeille stretched up her hand towards it. But before she touched it her eyes lighted on a tiny piece of sky visible through a crack of the rock, and her hand dropped by her side. ' Little King Loc, let me go up to the earth once again,' she said.
Then King Loc made a sign to the treasurer, who opened a coffer full "of nothing but precious stones, larger and more dazzling than were worn by any earthly monarch. ' Choose what you will, Abeille,' whispered King Loc.
But Abeille only shook her head.
' A drop of dew in the garden at Clarides is brighter to me than the best of those diamonds,' she answered, ' and the bluest of the stones are not as blue as the eyes of Youri.' And as she spoke a sharp pain ran through the heart of King Loc. For an instant he said nothing, then he lifted his head and looked at her. ' Only those who despise riches should possess them. Take this crown, from henceforth you are the Princess of the Gnomes.'
During thirty days no work was done in those underground regions, for a feast was held in honour of the new princess. At the end of that period the king appeared before Abeille, clad in his most splendid garments, and solemnly asked her to be his wife.
' Little King Loc,' answered the girl, ' I love you as you are, for your goodness and kindness to me ; but never, never can I love you as anything else.'
The king sighed. It was only what he had expected ; still, his disappointment was great, though he tried bravely to hide it, and even to smile as he said : ' Then, Abeille, will you promise me one thing ? If there should come a day when you find that there is somebody whom you could love, will you tell me ? '