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|The Princess and the Goblin||George MacDonald|
Woven and Then Spun
|Page 2 of 6||
'Why, what's the matter?' asked her grandmother. 'You haven't been doing anything wrong - I know that by your face, though it is rather miserable. What's the matter, my dear?'
And she still held out her arms.
'Dear grandmother,' said Irene, 'I'm not so sure that I haven't done something wrong. I ought to have run up to you at once when the long-legged cat came in at the window, instead of running out on the mountain and making myself such a fright.'
'You were taken by surprise, my child, and you are not so likely to do it again. It is when people do wrong things wilfully that they are the more likely to do them again. Come.'
And still she held out her arms.
'But, grandmother, you're so beautiful and grand with your crown on; and I am so dirty with mud and rain! I should quite spoil your beautiful blue dress.'
With a merry little laugh the lady sprung from her chair, more lightly far than Irene herself could, caught the child to her bosom, and, kissing the tear-stained face over and over, sat down with her in her lap.
'Oh, grandmother! You'll make yourself such a mess!' cried Irene, clinging to her.
'You darling! do you think I care more for my dress than for my little girl? Besides - look here.'
As she spoke she set her down, and Irene saw to her dismay that the lovely dress was covered with the mud of her fall on the mountain road. But the lady stooped to the fire, and taking from it, by the stalk in her fingers, one of the burning roses, passed it once and again and a third time over the front of her dress; and when Irene looked, not a single stain was to be discovered.
'There!' said her grandmother, 'you won't mind coming to me now?'
But Irene again hung back, eying the flaming rose which the lady held in her hand.
'You're not afraid of the rose - are you?' she said, about to throw it on the hearth again. 'Oh! don't, please!' cried Irene. 'Won't you hold it to my frock and my hands and my face? And I'm afraid my feet and my knees want it too.' 'No, answered her grandmother, smiling a little sadly, as she threw the rose from her; 'it is too hot for you yet. It would set your frock in a flame. Besides, I don't want to make you clean tonight.
I want your nurse and the rest of the people to see you as you are, for you will have to tell them how you ran away for fear of the long-legged cat. I should like to wash you, but they would not believe you then. Do you see that bath behind you?'
The princess looked, and saw a large oval tub of silver, shining brilliantly in the light of the wonderful lamp.
'Go and look into it,' said the lady.
Irene went, and came back very silent with her eyes shining.
'What did you see?' asked her grandmother.
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