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|The Princess and the Goblin||George MacDonald|
The Old Lady and Curdie
|Page 2 of 4||
'I see a big, bare, garret-room - like the one in mother's cottage, only big enough to take the cottage itself in, and leave a good margin all round,' answered Curdie.
'And what more do you see?'
'I see a tub, and a heap of musty straw, and a withered apple, and a ray of sunlight coming through a hole in the middle of the roof and shining on your head, and making all the place look a curious dusky brown. I think you had better drop it, princess, and go down to the nursery, like a good girl.'
'But don't you hear my grandmother talking to me?' asked Irene, almost crying.
'No. I hear the cooing of a lot of pigeons. If you won't come down, I will go without you. I think that will be better anyhow, for I'm sure nobody who met us would believe a word we said to them. They would think we made it all up. I don't expect anybody but my own father and mother to believe me. They know I wouldn't tell a story.'
'And yet you won't believe me, Curdie?' expostulated the princess, now fairly crying with vexation and sorrow at the gulf between her and Curdie.
'No. I can't, and I can't help it,' said Curdie, turning to leave the room.
'What SHALL I do, grandmother?' sobbed the princess, turning her face round upon the lady's bosom, and shaking with suppressed sobs.
'You must give him time,' said her grandmother; 'and you must be content not to be believed for a while. It is very hard to bear; but I have had to bear it, and shall have to bear it many a time yet. I will take care of what Curdie thinks of you in the end. You must let him go now.'
'You're not coming, are you?' asked Curdie.
'No, Curdie; my grandmother says I must let you go. Turn to the right when you get to the bottom of all the stairs, and that will take you to the hall where the great door is.'
'Oh! I don't doubt I can find my way - without you, princess, or your old grannie's thread either,' said Curdie quite rudely.
'Oh, Curdie! Curdie!'
'I wish I had gone home at once. I'm very much obliged to you, Irene, for getting me out of that hole, but I wish you hadn't made a fool of me afterwards.'
He said this as he opened the door, which he left open, and, without another word, went down the stair. Irene listened with dismay to his departing footsteps. Then turning again to the lady:
'What does it all mean, grandmother?' she sobbed, and burst into fresh tears.
'It means, my love, that I did not mean to show myself. Curdie is not yet able to believe some things. Seeing is not believing - it is only seeing. You remember I told you that if Lootie were to see me, she would rub her eyes, forget the half she saw, and call the other half nonsense.'
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