62 THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
" Ah, Curdie ! there you are !" he said, seeing his son come bounding along as if it were morning with him and not evening.
"You look tired, father," said Curdie.
"Yes, my boy. I'm not so young as you.*
"Nor so old as the princess," said Curdie.
"Tell me this," said Peter: "why do people talk about going down hill when they begin to get old? It seems to me that then first they begin to go up hill."
"You looked to me, father, when I caught sight of you, as if you had been climbing the hill all your life, and were soon to get to the top."
"Nobody can tell when that will be," returned Peter. "We're so ready to think we're just at the top when it lies miles away. But I must not keep you, my boy, for you are wanted; and we shall be anxious to know what the princess says to you—that is, if she will allow you to tell us."
" I think she will, for she knows there is nobody more to be trusted than my father and mother," said Curdie, with pride.
And away he shot, and ran, and jumped, and seemed almost to fly down the long, winding, steep path, until he came to the gate of the king's house.
There he met an unexpected obstruction: in the open