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To The House Of Bitterness
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"She hides her face from dull, discontented people!--Who taught you to call her the cat-woman?"
"I heard the bad giants call her so."
"What did they say about her?"
"That she had claws to her toes."
"It is not true. I know the lady. I spent a night at her house."
"But she MAY have claws to her toes! You might see her feet, and her claws be folded up inside their cushions!"
"Then perhaps you think that I have claws to my toes?"
"Oh, no; that can't be! you are good!"
"The giants might have told you so!" I pursued.
"We shouldn't believe them about you!"
"Are the giants good?"
"No; they love lying."
"Then why do you believe them about her? I know the lady is good; she cannot have claws."
"Please how do you know she is good?"
"How do you know I am good?"
I rode on, while he waited for his companions, and told them what I had said.
They hastened after me, and when they came up,--
"I would not take you to her house if I did not believe her good," I said.
"We know you would not," they answered.
"If I were to do something that frightened you--what would you say?"
"The beasts frightened us sometimes at first, but they never hurt us!" answered one.
"That was before we knew them!" added another.
"Just so!" I answered. "When you see the woman in that cottage, you will know that she is good. You may wonder at what she does, but she will always be good. I know her better than you know me. She will not hurt you,--or if she does,----"
"Ah, you are not sure about it, king dear! You think she MAY hurt us!"
"I am sure she will never be unkind to you, even if she do hurt you!"
They were silent for a while.
"I'm not afraid of being hurt--a little!--a good deal!" cried Odu. "But I should not like scratches in the dark! The giants say the cat-woman has claw-feet all over her house!"
"I am taking the princess to her," I said.
"Because she is her friend."
"How can she be good then?"
"Little Tumbledown is a friend of the princess," I answered; "so is Luva: I saw them both, more than once, trying to feed her with grapes!"
"Little Tumbledown is good! Luva is very good!"
"That is why they are her friends."
"Will the cat-woman--I mean the woman that isn't the cat-woman, and has no claws to her toes--give her grapes?"
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