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The Listening King

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"Are you quite sure these are the two royal babes we threw into the river?" asked the other sister doubtfully. "It is a bit difficult for me to believe that our sister's children can be so handsome."

"I'm entirely certain of it," assured her sister. "There is no one except the royal babes who could have those golden stars."

While the wicked sisters plotted, the two children had approached the royal gardens. Inside the garden there was a beautiful parrot with feathers of green and gold.

"I'm going to catch that bird," said one of the brothers. "Wait here while I go inside the gates."

He could not catch the parrot and he called his brother to come and help him. Together they succeeded; and, with the beautiful green-and-gold parrot tightly clutched, they tried to slip outside the gate of the royal gardens.

Just as they were almost out, the great gates swiftly closed and caught their garments.

"We're caught! We're caught!" cried the two children. "How can we ever get the gates unfastened!"

At the sound of their cries, the royal gardeners, the courtiers and the listening king himself came to the rescue.

When the king saw the golden stars upon their foreheads he leaned against the nearest tree for support.

"What children are these?" he asked in a voice which shook.

"I never saw them before," replied the head gardener. "I think they are some of the orphan children which the great mercy and clemency of your royal majesty have caused to be rescued from the plague."

"Who are your parents, my children?" asked one of the courtiers.

"We are the children of the good miller and his wife," they replied. "Our kind foster parents are now dead with the plague."

"Where did this miller and his wife find you?" asked the king eagerly.

Then the two children told the story of how the miller had found them in a basket in the river. They knew it well, for it was their favorite story of all the ones which the miller's wife had told them.

The courtiers looked at each other in amazement.

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