THE MINERS. 43
" How do you know I'm thinking of anything ? " asked Curdie.
" Because you're not saying anything."
" Does it follow then that, as you are saying so much, you're not thinking at all ? " said Curdie.
" I know what he's thinking," said one who had not yet spoken; "—he's thinking what a set of fools you are to talk such rubbish; as if ever there was or could be such an old woman as you say! I'm sure Curdie knows better than all that comes to."
" I think," said Curdie, " it would be better that he who says anything about her should be quite sure it is true, lest she should hear him, and not like to be slandered."
" Eut would she like it any better if it were true ? " said the same man. " If she is what they say—I don't know—but I never knew a man that wouldn't go in a rage to be called the very thing he was."
" If bad things were true of her, and I knew it," said Curdie, " I would not hesitate to say them, for I will never give in to being afraid of anything that's bad. I suspect that the things they tell, however, if we knew all about them, would turn out to have nothing but good in them ; and I won't say a word more for fear I should say something that mightn't be to her mind,"
They all burst into a loud laugh,