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|The Princess and Curdie||George MacDonald|
The Dogs of Gwyntystorm
|Page 1 of 4||
The steep street led them straight up to a large market place with butchers' shops, about which were many dogs. The moment they caught sight of Lina, one and all they came rushing down upon her, giving her no chance of explaining herself. When Curdie saw the dogs coming he heaved up his mattock over his shoulder, and was ready, if they would have it so. Seeing him thus prepared to defend his follower, a great ugly bulldog flew at him. With the first blow Curdie struck him through the brain and the brute fell dead at his feet. But he could not at once recover his weapon, which stuck in the skull of his foe, and a huge mastiff, seeing him thus hampered, flew at him next.
Now Lina, who had shown herself so brave upon the road thither, had grown shy upon entering the city, and kept always at Curdie's heel. But it was her turn now. The moment she saw her master in danger she seemed to go mad with rage. As the mastiff jumped at Curdie's throat, Lina flew at him, seized him with her tremendous jaws, gave one roaring grind, and he lay beside the bulldog with his neck broken. They were the best dogs in the market, after the judgement of the butchers of Gwyntystorm. Down came their masters, knives in hand.
Curdie drew himself up fearlessly, mattock on shoulder, and awaited their coming, while at his heel his awful attendant showed not only her outside fringe of icicle teeth, but a double row of right serviceable fangs she wore inside her mouth, and her green eyes flashed yellow as gold. The butchers, not liking the look of either of them or of the dogs at their feet, drew back, and began to remonstrate in the manner of outraged men.
'Stranger,' said the first, 'that bulldog is mine.'
'Take him, then,' said Curdie, indignant.
'You've killed him!'
'Yes - else he would have killed me.'
'That's no business of mine.'
'That makes it the more mine, then.'
'This sort of thing won't do, you know,' said the other butcher.
'That's true,' said Curdie.
'And as he ought to be,' said Curdie.
'Your brute shall be burned alive for it,' said the butcher.
'Not yet,' answered Curdie. 'We have done no wrong. We were walking quietly up your street when your dogs flew at us. If you don't teach your dogs how to treat strangers, you must take the consequences.'
'They treat them quite properly,' said the butcher. 'What right has any one to bring an abomination like that into our city? The horror is enough to make an idiot of every child in the place.'
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