"But see! there are two hills ahead of us, and two paths lead from the houses over the hills! How strange it all is!"
Just then two birds flew by, close together and perfect mates; and the cows raised their heads and "mooed" at the same time; and two men--also twins--came over the two hills along the two paths with two dinner-pails in their hands and entered the two houses. They were met at the doors by the two women, who kissed them exactly at the same time and helped them off with their coats with the same motions, and closed the two doors with two slams at the same instant.
Nerle laughed. "What sort of country have we got into?" he asked.
"Let us find out," replied the prince, and riding up to one of the houses he knocked on the door with the hilt of his sword.
Instantly the doors of both houses flew open, and both men appeared in the doorways. Both started back in amazement at sight of the strangers, and both women shrieked and both little boys began to cry. Both mothers boxed the children's ears, and both men gasped out:
"Who--who are you?"
Their voices were exactly alike, and their words were spoken in unison. Prince Marvel replied, courteously:
"We are two strangers who have strayed into your country. But I do not understand why our appearance should so terrify you."
"Why--you are singular! There is only half of each of you!" exclaimed the two men, together.
"Not so," said the prince, trying hard not to laugh in their faces. "We may be single, while you appear to be double; but each of us is perfect, nevertheless."
"Perfect! And only half of you!" cried the men. And again the two women, who were looking over their husbands' shoulders, screamed at sight of the strangers; and again the two boys, who were clinging to their mothers' dresses in the same positions, began to cry.
"We did not know such strange people existed!" said the two men, both staring at the strangers and then wiping the beads of perspiration from their two brows with two faded yellow handkerchiefs.
"Nor did we!" retorted the prince. "I assure you we are as much surprised as you are."
Nerle laughed again at this, and to hear only one of the strangers speak and the other only laugh seemed to terrify the double people anew. So Prince Marvel quickly asked:
"Please tell us what country this is?"
"The Land of Twi," answered both men, together.
"Oh! the Land of Twi. And why is the light here so dim?" continued the prince.
"Dim?" repeated the men, as if surprised; "why, this is twilight, of course."
"Of course," said Nerle. "I hadn't thought of that. We are in the long hidden Land of Twi, which all men have heard of, but no man has found before."
"And who may you be?" questioned the prince, looking from one man to the other, curiously.
"We are Twis," they answered.
"Twis--inhabitants of Twi."
"It's the same thing," laughed Nerle. "You see everything twice in this land."
"Are none of your people single?" asked Prince Marvel.
"Single," returned the men, as if perplexed. "We don't understand."
"Are you all double?--or are some of you just one?" said the prince, who found it difficult to put his question plainly.
"What does 'one' mean?" asked the men. "There is no such word as 'one' in our language."
"They have no need of such a word," declared Nerle.
"We are only poor laborers," explained the men. "But over the hills lie the cities of Twi, where the Ki and the Ki-Ki dwell, and also the High Ki."
"Ah!" said Marvel, "I've heard of your High Ki. Who is he?"
The men shook their heads, together and with the same motion.
"We have never seen the glorious High Ki," they answered. "The sight of their faces is forbidden. None but the Ki and the Ki-Ki has seen the Supreme Rulers and High Ki."
"I'm getting mixed," said Nerle. "All this about the Ki and the Ki-Ki and the High Ki makes me dizzy. Let's go on to the city and explore it."
"That is a good suggestion," replied the prince. "Good by, my friends," he added, addressing the men.