The Master Woodsman suddenly rose, with knitted brows. "There is a strang_resence in the Forest," he declared. Then the Queen and her nymphs turned an_aw standing before them Necile, with the sleeping infant clasped tightly i_er arms and a defiant look in her deep blue eyes.
And thus for a moment they remained, the nymphs filled with surprise an_onsternation, but the brow of the Master Woodsman gradually clearing as h_azed intently upon the beautiful immortal who had wilfully broken the Law.
Then the great Ak, to the wonder of all, laid his hand softly on Necile'_lowing locks and kissed her on her fair forehead.
"For the first time within my knowledge," said he, gently, "a nymph has defie_e and my laws; yet in my heart can I find no word of chiding. What is you_esire, Necile?"
"Let me keep the child!" she answered, beginning to tremble and falling on he_nees in supplication.
"Here, in the Forest of Burzee, where the human race has never ye_enetrated?" questioned Ak.
"Here, in the Forest of Burzee," replied the nymph, boldly. "It is my home,
and I am weary for lack of occupation. Let me care for the babe! See how wea_nd helpless it is. Surely it can not harm Burzee nor the Master Woodsman o_he World!"
"But the Law, child, the Law!" cried Ak, sternly.
"The Law is made by the Master Woodsman," returned Necile; "if he bids me car_or the babe he himself has saved from death, who in all the world dare oppos_e?" Queen Zurline, who had listened intently to this conversation, clappe_er pretty hands gleefully at the nymph's answer.
"You are fairly trapped, O Ak!" she exclaimed, laughing. "Now, I pray you,
give heed to Necile's petition."
The Woodsman, as was his habit when in thought, stroked his grizzled bear_lowly. Then he said:
"She shall keep the babe, and I will give it my protection. But I warn you al_hat as this is the first time I have relaxed the Law, so shall it be the las_ime. Never more, to the end of the World, shall a mortal be adopted by a_mmortal. Otherwise would we abandon our happy existence for one of troubl_nd anxiety. Good night, my nymphs!"
Then Ak was gone from their midst, and Necile hurried away to her bower t_ejoice over her new-found treasure.