THE HOUSE OF DEATH 291
I had fallen asleep by the fire, but for some time had been awake and listening, and now rose.
' It is time to mount, Mr. Vane,' said our hostess.
' Tell me, please,' I said, ' is there not a way by which to avoid the channels and the den of monsters ?'
' There is an easy way across the river-bed, which I will show you,' she answered; but you must pass once more through the monsters.'
'I fear for the children,' I said.
' Fear will not once come nigh them,' she rejoined.
We left the cottage. The beasts stood waiting about the door. Odu was already on the neck of one of the two that were to carry the princess. I mounted Lona's horse; Mara brought her body, and gave it me in my arms. When she came out again with the princess, a cry of delight arose from the children : she was no longer muffled ! Gazing at her, and entranced with her loveliness, the boys forgot to receive the princess from her ; but the elephants took Lilith tenderly with their trunks, one round her body and one round her knees, and, Mara helping, laid her along between them.
' Why does the princess want to go ? ' asked a small boy. ' She would keep good if she staid here ! '
' She wants to go, and she does not want to go : we are helping her,' answered Mara. She will not keep good here.'
' What are you helping her to do ?' he went on.
' To go where she will get more help—help to open her hand, which has been closed for a thousand years.'
' So long ? Then she has learned to do without it: why should she open it now ? '
' Because it is shut upon something that is not hers.'