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|The Princess and the Goblin||George MacDonald|
The Little Miner
|Page 5 of 8||
'Impertinence!' murmured the nurse, but she did not say it aloud, for she thought if she made him angry he might take his revenge by telling someone belonging to the house, and then it would be sure to come to the king's ears. 'No, thank you,' said Irene. 'I can walk very well, though I can't run so fast as nursie. If you will give me one hand, Lootie will give me another, and then I shall get on famously.'
They soon had her between them, holding a hand of each.
'Now let's run,' said the nurse.
'No, no!' said the little miner. 'That's the worst thing you can do. If you hadn't run before, you would not have lost your way. And if you run now, they will be after you in a moment.'
'I don't want to run,' said Irene.
'You don't think of me,' said the nurse.
'Yes, I do, Lootie. The boy says they won't touch us if we don't run.'
'Yes, but if they know at the house that I've kept you out so late I shall be turned away, and that would break my heart.'
'Turned away, Lootie! Who would turn you away?'
'Your papa, child.'
'But I'll tell him it was all my fault. And you know it was, Lootie.'
'He won't mind that. I'm sure he won't.'
'Then I'll cry, and go down on my knees to him, and beg him not to take away my own dear Lootie.'
The nurse was comforted at hearing this, and said no more. They went on, walking pretty fast, but taking care not to run a step.
'I want to talk to you,' said Irene to the little miner; 'but it's so awkward! I don't know your name.'
'My name's Curdie, little princess.'
'What a funny name! Curdie! What more?'
'Curdie Peterson. What's your name, please?'
'I don't know what more. What more is my name, Lootie?'
'Princesses haven't got more than one name. They don't want it.'
'Oh, then, Curdie, you must call me just Irene and no more.'
'No, indeed,' said the nurse indignantly. 'He shall do no such thing.'
'What shall he call me, then, Lootie?'
'Your Royal Highness.' 'My Royal Highness! What's that? No, no, Lootie. I won't be called names. I don't like them. You told me once yourself it's only rude children that call names; and I'm sure Curdie wouldn't be rude. Curdie, my name's Irene.'
'Well, Irene,' said Curdie, with a glance at the nurse which showed he enjoyed teasing her; 'it is very kind of you to let me call you anything. I like your name very much.'
He expected the nurse to interfere again; but he soon saw that she was too frightened to speak. She was staring at something a few yards before them in the middle of the path, where it narrowed between rocks so that only one could pass at a time.
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