THE STORY OF LITTLE KING LOC 63
with the long beard bent his eyes kindly on the eager youth. ' If Abeille has lived with us all these years, for many of them she was quite happy. But the gnomes, of whom you think so little, are a just people, and they will not keep her against her will. Beg the princess to be good enough to come hither,' he added, turning to Rug.
Amidst a dead silence Abeille entered the vast space and looked around her. At first she saw nothing but a vast host of gnomes perched on the walls and crowding on the floor of the big hall. Then her eyes met those of Youri, and with a cry that came from her heart she darted towards him, and threw herself on his breast.
' Abeille,' said the king, when he had watched her for a moment, with a look of pain on his face, ' is this the man that you wish to marry ? '
' Yes, Little King Loc, this is he and nobody else! And see how I can laugh now, and how happy I am !' And with that she began to cry.
' Hush, Abeille ! there must be no tears to-day,' said Youri, gently stroking her hair. ' Come, dry your eyes, and thank King Loc, who rescued me from the cage in the realm of the Undines.'
As Youri spoke Abeille lifted her head, and a great light came into her face. At last she understood.
' You did that for me ? ' she whispered. ' Ah, Little King Loc-----!'
So, loaded with presents, and followed by regrets, Abeille went home. In a few days the marriage took place; but however happy she was, and however busy she might be, never a month passed by without a visit from Abeille to her friends in the kingdom of the gnomes.
[Adapted and shortened from the story of Abeille, by M. Anatole France.]