LILITH A Fantasy Novel By George MacDonald - online book

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MOTHER AND DAUGHTER                   257
his mistress, and trembling all over. The boys flung themselves from their horses' backs, and they, not seeing the black wall before them, dashed themselves, with mine, to pieces against it. The elephants came on to the foot of the dais, and stopped, wildly trumpeting; the Little Ones sprang upon it, and stood horrified ; the princess lay back in her seat, her face that of a corpse, her eyes alone alive, wickedly flaming. She was again withered and wasted to what I found in the wood, and her side was as if a great branding hand had been laid upon it. But Lona saw nothing, and I saw but Lona.
' Mother ! mother!' she sighed, and her breathing ceased.
I carried her into the court: the sun shone upon a white face, and the pitiful shadow of a ghostly smile. Her head hung back. She was ' dead as earth.'
I forgot the Little Ones, forgot the murdering princess, forgot the body in my arms, and wandered away, looking for my Lona. The doors and windows were crowded with brute-faces jeering at me, but not daring to speak, for they saw the white leopardess behind me, hanging her head close at my heel. I spurned her with my foot. She held back a moment, and followed me again.
I reached the square: the little army was gone! Its emptiness roused me. Where were the Little Ones, her Little Ones ? I had lost her children! I stared helpless about me, staggered to the pillar, and sank upon its base.
But as I sat gazing on the still countenance, it seemed to smile a live momentary smile. I never doubted it an illusion, yet believed what it said: I
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