i6o THE SHADOWS
long to the fire brigade ; at least, you keep putting its light out"
"Don't jest, please your majesty." And as they said the words—for they both spoke at once throughout the interview—they performed a grave somerset towards the king.
"Not jest!" retorted he; "and with you? Why, you do nothing but jest. What are you ? "
"The Shadows, sire. And when we do jest, sire, we always jest in earnest. But perhaps your majesty does not see us distinctly."
"I see you perfectly well," returned the king.
"Permit me, however," rejoined one of the Shadows; and as he spoke he approached the king ; and lifting a dark forefinger, he drew it lightly but carefully across the ridge of his forehead, from temple to temple. The king felt the soft gliding touch go, like water, into every hollow, and over the top of every height of that mountain-