TO THE HOUSE OF BITTERNESS 269
' 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