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In which we are faithfully told how King Loc received Honey-Bee of Clarides
They climbed a winding path along the wooded slope of the hill. Here and there granite boulders, bare and blasted, broke through the grey verdure of the dwarf oaks, and the sombre purple mountain with its bluish ravines formed an impassable barrier about the desolate landscape.
The procession, preceded by Bob on his feathered steed, passed through a chasm overgrown with brambles. Honey-Bee, with her golden hair flowing over her shoulders, looked like the dawn breaking on the mountains, supposing, of course, that the dawn was ever frightened and called her mother and tried to escape, for all these things she did as she caught a confused glimpse of dwarfs, armed to the teeth, lying in ambush along the windings of the rocks.
With bows bent or lance at rest they stood immovable. Their tunics of wild beast skins and their long knives that hung from their belts gave them a most terrible appearance. Game, furred and feathered, lay beside them. And yet these huntsmen, to judge only by their faces, did not seem very grim; on the contrary, they appeared gentle and grave like the dwarfs of the forest, whom they greatly resembled.
In their midst stood a dwarf full of majesty. He wore a cock feather over his ear, and on his head a diadem set with enormous gems. His mantle raised at the shoulder disclosed a muscular arm covered with circlets of gold. A horn of ivory and chased silver hung from his belt. His left hand rested on his lance in an attitude of quiet strength, and his right he held over his eyes so as to look towards Honey-Bee and the light.
"King Loc," said the forest dwarfs, "we have brought you the beautiful child we have found; her name is Honey-Bee."
"You have done well," said King Loc. "She shall live amongst us according to the custom of the dwarfs."
"Honey-Bee," he said, approaching her, "you are welcome." He spoke very gently, for he already felt very kindly towards her. He lifted himself on the tips of his toes to kiss her hand that hung at her side, and he assured her not only that he would do her no harm, but that he would try to gratify all her wishes, even should she long for necklaces, mirrors, stuffs from Cashmere and silks from China.
"I wish I had some shoes," replied Honey-Bee. Upon which King Loc struck his lance against a bronze disc that hung on the surface of the rock, and instantly something bounded like a ball out of the depths of the cavern. Increasing in size it disclosed the face of a dwarf with features such as painters give to the illustrious Belisarius, but his leather apron proclaimed that he was a shoemaker. He was indeed the chief of the shoemakers.
"True," said the king, "choose the softest leather out of our store-houses, take cloth-of-gold and silver, ask the guardian of my treasures for a thousand pearls of the finest water, and with this leather, these fabrics, and these pearls create a pair of shoes for the lady Honey-Bee."
At these words True threw himself at the feet of Honey-Bee and measured them with great care.
"Little King Loc," said Honey-Bee, "I want the pretty shoes you promised at once, because as soon as I have them I must return to Clarides to my mother." "You shall have the shoes," King Loc replied; "you shall have them to walk about the mountain, but not to return to Clarides, for never again shall you leave this kingdom, where we will teach you wonderful secrets still unknown on earth. The dwarfs are superior to men, and it is your good fortune that you are made welcome amongst them."
"It is my misfortune," replied Honey-Bee. "Little King Loc, give me a pair of wooden shoes, such as the peasants wear, and let me return to Clarides."
But King Loc made a sign with his head to signify that this was impossible. Then Honey-Bee clasped her hands and said, coaxingly:
"Little King Loc, let me go and I will love you very much."
"You will forget me in your shining world."
"Little King Loc, I will never forget you, and I will love you as much as I love Flying Wind."
"And who is Flying Wind?"
"It is my milk-white steed, and he has rose-coloured reins and he eats out of my hand. When he was very little Francoeur the squire used to bring him to my room every morning and I kissed him. But now Francceur is in Rome, and Flying Wind is too big to mount the stairs."
King Loc smiled.
"Will you love me more than Flying Wind?"
"Indeed I would," said Honey-Bee.
"Well said," cried the King.
"Indeed I would, but I cannot, I hate you, little King Loc, because you will not let me see my mother and George again."
"Who is George?"
"George is George and I love him."
The friendship of King Loc for Honey-Bee had increased prodigiously in a few minutes, and as he had already made up his mind to marry her as soon as she was of age, and hoped through her to reconcile men and dwarfs, he feared that later on George might become his rival and wreck his plans. It was because of this that he turned away frowning, his head bowed as if with care.
Honey-Bee seeing that she had offended him pulled him gently by his mantle.
"Little King Loc," she said, in a voice both tender and sad, "why should we make each other unhappy, you and I?"
"It is in the nature of things," replied King Loc. "I cannot take you back to your mother, but I will send her a dream which will tell her your fate, dear Honey-Bee, and that will comfort her."
"Little King Loc," and Honey-Bee smiled through her tears, "what a good idea, but I will tell you just what you ought to do. You must send my mother a dream every night in which she will see me, and every night you must send me a dream in which I shall see her."
And King Loc promised, and so said, so done. Every night Honey-Bee saw her mother, and every night the Duchess saw her daughter, and that satisfied their love just a little.
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