THE SNAKE PRINCE
so loudly that she came running, thinking that the necklace must at least have been stolen.
' Look here ! look !' cried the king, ' haven't we always longed for a son ? And now heaven has sent us one !'
' What do you mean ?' cried the queen. ' Are you mad?'
' Mad? no, I hope not,' shouted the king, dancing in excitement round the open chest. ' Come here, and look ! Look what we've got instead of that necklace ! '
Just then the baby let out a great crow of joy, as though he would like to jump up and dance with the king; and the queen gave a cry of surprise, and ran up and looked into the chest.
' Oh !' she gasped, as she looked at the baby,' what a darling ! Where could he have come from ? '
' I'm sure I can't say,' said the king ; ' all I know is that we locked up a necklace in the chest, and when I unlocked it just now there was no necklace, but a baby, and as fine a baby as ever was seen.'
By this time the queen had the baby in her arms. ' Oh, the blessed one ! ' she cried, ' fairer ornament for the bosom of a queen than any necklace that ever was wrought. Write,' she continued,' write to our neighbour and say that we cannot come to his feast, for we have a feast of our own, and a baby of our own ! Oh, happy day!'
So the visit was given up; and, in honour of the new baby, the bells of the city, and its guns, and its trumpets, and its people, small and great, had hardly any rest for a week; there was such a ringing, and banging, and blaring, and such fireworks, and feasting, and rejoicing, and merry-making, as had never been seen before.
A few years went by; and, as the king's boy baby and his neighbour's girl baby grew and throve, the two kings arranged that as soon as they were old enough they should marry ; and so, with much signing of papers