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    Chapter 12

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    Chapter 13
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    In which the treasures of King Loc are described as well as the writer is able

    Six years to a day had passed since Honey-Bee had come to live with the dwarfs. King Loc called her into his palace and commanded his treasurer to displace a huge stone which seemed cemented into the wall, but which in reality was only lightly placed there. All three passed through the opening left by the great stone and found themselves in a fissure of rock too narrow for two persons to stand abreast. King Loc preceded the others along the dim path and Honey-Bee followed him holding to a tip of the royal mantle. They walked on for a long time, and at intervals the sides of the rocks came so close together that the young girl was seized with terror lest she should be unable to advance or recede, and so would die there. Before her, along the dark and narrow road floated the mantle of King Loc. At last King Loc came to a bronze door which he opened and out of which poured a blaze of light.

    "Little King Loc," said Honey-Bee, "I had no idea that light could be so beautiful!"

    And King Loc taking her by the hand led her into the hall out of which the light shone.

    "See!" he cried.

    Honey-Bee, dazzled, could sec nothing, for this immense hall, supported by high marble columns, was a glitter of gold from floor to roof.

    At the end on a dais made of glittering gems set in gold and silver, the steps of which were covered by a carpet of marvellous embroidery, stood a throne of ivory and gold under a canopy of translucent enamel, and on each side two palm-trees three thousand years old, in gigantic vases carved in some bygone time by the greatest artists among the dwarfs. King Loc mounted his throne and commanded the young girl to stand at his right hand.

    "Honey-Bee," said King Loc, "these are my treasures. Choose all that will give you pleasure."

    Immense gold shields hung from the columns and reflected the sunlight, and sent it back in glittering rays; swords and lances crossed had each a flame at their point.

    Tables along the walls were laden with tankards, flagons, ewers, chalices, pyxes, patens, goblets, gold cups, drinking horns of ivory with silver rings, enormous bottles of rock crystal, chased gold and silver dishes, coffers, reliquaries in the form of churches, scent-boxes, mirrors, candelabra and torch-holders equally beautiful in material and workmanship, and incense-burners in the shape of monsters. And on one table stood a chessboard with chessmen carved out of moonstones.

    "Choose," King Loc repeated.

    But lifting her eyes above these treasures, Honey-Bee saw the blue sky through an opening in the roof, and as if she had comprehended that the light of day could alone give all these things their splendour, she said simply:

    "Little King Loc, I want to return to earth."

    Whereupon King Loc made a sign to his treasurer who, raising heavy tapestries, disclosed an enormous iron-bound coffer covered with plates of open ironwork. This coffer being opened out poured thousands of rays of different and lovely tints, and each ray seemed to leap out of a precious stone most artistically cut. King Loc dipped in his hands and there flowed in glittering confusion violet amethysts and virgins' stones, emeralds of three kinds, one dark green, another called the honey emerald because of its colour, and the third a bluish green, also called beryl, which gives happy dreams; oriental topazes, rubies beautiful as the blood of heroes, dark blue sapphires, called the male sapphire, and the pale blue ones, called the female sapphire, the cymophanes, hyacinths, euclases, turquoises, opals whose light is softer than the dawn, the aquamarine and the Syrian garnet. All these gems were of the purest and most luminous water. And in the midst of these coloured fires great diamonds flashed their rays of dazzling white.

    "Choose, Honey-Bee," said King Loc. But Honey-Bee shook her head.

    "Little King Loc," she said, "I would rather have a single beam of sunlight that falls on the roof of Clarides than all these gems."

    Then King Loc ordered another coffer to be opened, in which were only pearls. But these pearls were round and pure; their changing light reflected all the colours of sea and sky, and their radiance was so tender that they seemed to express a thought of love.

    "Accept these," said King Loc

    "Little King Loc," Honey-Bee replied, "these pearls are like the glance of George of Blanchelande; I love these pearls, but I love his eyes even more."

    Hearing these words King Loc turned his head away. However he opened a third coffer and showed the young girl a crystal in which a drop of water had been imprisoned since the beginning of time; and when the crystal was moved the drop of water could be seen to stir. He also showed her pieces of yellow amber in which insects more brilliant than jewels had been imprisoned for thousands of years. One could distinguish their delicate feet and their fine antennae, and they would have resumed their flight had some power but shattered like glass their perfumed prison.

    "These are the great marvels of nature; I give them to you, Honey-Bee."

    "Little King Loc," Honey-Bee replied, "keep your amber and your crystal, for I should not know how to give their freedom either to the fly or the drop of water."

    King Loc watched her in silence for some time. Then he said, "Honey-Bee, the most beautiful treasures will be safe in your keeping. You will possess them and they will not possess you. The miser is the prey of his gold, only those who despise wealth can be rich without danger; their souls will always be greater than their riches."

    Having uttered these words he made a sign to his treasurer who presented on a cushion a crown of gold to the young girl.

    "Accept this jewel as a sign of our regard for you," said King Loc. "Henceforth you shall be called the Princess of the Dwarfs."

    And he himself placed the crown on the head of Honcy-Bee.
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