THE SACRIFICE. 233
weeping dropped like sunset rain in the light of the roses. At last she lifted a great armful of her hair, and shook it over the fire, and the drops fell from it in showers, and they did not hiss in the flames, but there arose instead as it were the sound of running brooks. And the glow of the red fire died away, and the glow of the white fire grew gray, and the light was gone, and on the table all was black—except the face of the king, which shone from under the burnt roses like a diamond in the ashes of a furnace.
Then Curdie, no longer dazzled, saw and knew the old princess. The room was hghted with the splendour of her face, of her blue eyes, of her sapphire crown. Her golden hair went streaming out from her through the air till it went off in mist and light. She was large and strong as a Titaness. She stooped over the table-altar, put her mighty arms under the living sacrifice, lifted the king, as if he were but a little child, to her bosom, walked with him up the floor, and laid him in his bed. Then darkness fell.
The miner-boy turned silent away, and laid himself down again in the corridor. An absolute joy filled his heart, his bosom, his head, his whole body. All was safe ; all was well. With the helve of his mattock tight in his grasp, he sank into a dreamless sleep.