The Listening King
"What have we here?" he asked his wife as together they removed the cover from the basket.
"I guess it is something good to eat," said his wife. "What do you think it is?"
"I guess it is a poor little puppy which some one wanted to drown," replied the miller.
Then they took the cover off the basket. The two babies opened their eyes and smiled just then. The miller and his wife were the most surprised people in the whole country and also the happiest ones.
"What beautiful children!" cried the miller.
"Let's keep them!" cried his wife.
"Of course we'll keep them," replied the miller. "The good God himself must have sent them to us in answer to our prayers."
Just then the miller's wife noticed the golden stars upon their foreheads.
"What does this mean?" she asked.
"I don't know," answered her husband as he examined them carefully. "Perhaps it is just a sign that they are truly the gift of God."
The miller and his wife cared for the two children as if they had been their own. They lived such a long distance from the palace that they never heard the news that the royal babes were missing.
As the two boys grew older they became the handsomest, cleverest lads in the whole kingdom. The gold stars shone and twinkled upon their foreheads. At last the miller's wife made little caps for them to wear to hide the stars. They were altogether too conspicuous.
Then one sad summer a pestilence came upon the land and the good miller and his wife died. The two children were left alone in the world. The listening king had decreed all the orphaned children in the kingdom should be brought to the royal city that they might be fed and cared for. The miller's two orphans went with the others, and the king's wicked sister-in-laws saw them. They recognized them at once because of the golden stars upon their foreheads.
"We must make a new plot to destroy the royal children," said one sister to the other. "And we must be quick about it or the king or queen will see them and recognize them, too, by the golden stars.