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|The Princess and Curdie||George MacDonald|
|Page 2 of 3||
'Come this way, then, she answered, 'where I can see the face of my king.'
Curdie placed a chair for her in the spot she chose, where she would be near enough to mark any slightest change on her father's countenance, yet where their low-voiced talk would not disturb him. There he sat down beside her and told her all the story - how her grandmother had sent her good pigeon for him, and how she had instructed him, and sent him there without telling him what he had to do. Then he told her what he had discovered of the state of things generally in Gwyntystorm, and especially what he had heard and seen in the palace that night.
'Things are in a bad state enough,' he said in conclusion - 'lying and selfishness and inhospitality and dishonesty everywhere; and to crown all, they speak with disrespect of the good king, and not a man knows he is ill.'
'You frighten me dreadfully,' said Irene, trembling.
'You must be brave for your king's sake,' said Curdie.
'Indeed I will,' she replied, and turned a long loving look upon the beautiful face of her father. 'But what is to be done? And how am I to believe such horrible things of Dr Kelman?'
'My dear Princess,' replied Curdie, 'you know nothing of him but his face and his tongue, and they are both false. Either you must beware of him, or you must doubt your grandmother and me; for I tell you, by the gift she gave me of testing hands, that this man is a snake. That round body he shows is but the case of a serpent. Perhaps the creature lies there, as in its nest, coiled round and round inside.'
'Horrible!' said Irene.
'Horrible indeed; but we must not try to get rid of horrible things by refusing to look at them, and saying they are not there. Is not your beautiful father sleeping better since he had the wine?'
'Does he always sleep better after having it?'
She reflected an instant.
'No; always worse - till tonight,' she answered.
'Then remember that was the wine I got him - not what the butler drew. Nothing that passes through any hand in the house except yours or mine must henceforth, till he is well, reach His Majesty's lips.'
'But how, dear Curdie?' said the princess, almost crying.
'That we must contrive,' answered Curdie. 'I know how to take care of the wine; but for his food - now we must think.' 'He takes hardly any,' said the princess, with a pathetic shake of her little head which Curdie had almost learned to look for.
'The more need,' he replied, 'there should be no poison in it.' Irene shuddered. 'As soon as he has honest food he will begin to grow better. And you must be just as careful with yourself, Princess,' Curdie went on, 'for you don't know when they may begin to poison you, too.'
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