74 THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
ledge of the man you have to do with. Only there is one beautiful and awful thing about it, that if any one gifted with this perception once uses it for his own ends, it is taken from him, and then, not knowing that it is gone, he is in a far worse condition than before, for he trusts to what he has not got."
" How dreadful! " said Curdie. " I must mind what I am about."
" Yes, indeed, Curdie.n
" But may not one sometimes make a mistake without being able to help it ? "
u Yes. But so long as he is not after his own ends, he will never make a serious mistake."
" I suppose you want me, ma'am, to warn every one whose hand tells me that he is growing a beastóbecause, as you say, he does not know it himself."
The princess smiled.
" Much good that would do, Curdie ! I don't say there are no cases in which it would be of use, but they are very rare and peculiar cases, and if such come you will know them. To such a person there is in general no insult like the truth. He cannot endure it, not because he is growing a beast, but because he is ceasing to be a man. It is the dying man in him that it makes uncom≠fortable, and he trots, or creeps, or swims, or flutters out of its wayócalls it a foolish feeling, a whim, an old