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The Princess and Curdie George MacDonald

The King's Chamber

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'A whole year now,' she replied. 'Did you not know? That's how your mother never got the red petticoat my father promised her. The lord chancellor told me that not only Gwyntystorm but the whole land was mourning over the illness of the good man.'

Now Curdie himself had not heard a word of His Majesty's illness, and had no ground for believing that a single soul in any place he had visited on his journey had heard of it. Moreover, although mention had been made of His Majesty again and again in his hearing since he came to Gwyntystorm, never once had he heard an allusion to the state of his health. And now it dawned upon him also that he had never heard the least expression of love to him. But just for the time he thought it better to say nothing on either point.

'Does the king wander like this every night?' he asked.

'Every night,' answered Irene, shaking her head mournfully. 'That is why I never go to bed at night. He is better during the day - a little, and then I sleep - in the dressing room there, to be with him in a moment if he should call me. It is so sad he should have only me and not my mamma! A princess is nothing to a queen!'

'I wish he would like me,' said Curdie, 'for then I might watch by him at night, and let you go to bed, Princess.'

'Don't you know then?' returned Irene, in wonder. 'How was it you came? Ah! You said my grandmother sent you. But I thought you knew that he wanted you.'

And again she opened wide her blue stars.

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'Not I,' said Curdie, also bewildered, but very glad.

'He used to be constantly saying - he was not so ill then as he is now - that he wished he had you about him.'

'And I never to know it!' said Curdie, with displeasure.

'The master of the horse told papa's own secretary that he had written to the miner-general to find you and send you up; but the miner-general wrote back to the master of the horse, and he told the secretary, and the secretary told my father, that they had searched every mine in the kingdom and could hear nothing of you. My father gave a great sigh, and said he feared the goblins had got you, after all, and your father and mother were dead of grief. And he has never mentioned you since, except when wandering. I cried very much. But one of my grandmother's pigeons with its white wing flashed a message to me through the window one day, and then I knew that my Curdie wasn't eaten by the goblins, for my grandmother wouldn't have taken care of him one time to let him be eaten the next. Where were you, Curdie, that they couldn't find you?'

'We will talk about that another time, when we are not expecting the doctor,' said Curdie.

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The Princess and Curdie
George MacDonald

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