night, he said, and their poor little lamp was not enough for his old eyes. As to the feel of them, each of his own hands, he said, was hard and horny enough for two, and it must be the fault of the dulness of his own thick skin that he felt no change on Curdie's palms.
" Here, Curdie," said his mother, " try my hand, and see what beast's paw lies inside it"
"No, mother," answered Curdie, half-beseeching, half-indignant, "I will not insult my new gift by making pretence to try it That would be mockery. There is no hand within yours but the hand of a true woman, my mother."
" I should like you just to take hold of my hand, though," said his mother. "You are my son, and may know all the bad there is in me."
Then at once Curdie took her hand in his. And when he had it, he kept it, stroking it gently with his other hand.
" Mother," he said at length, "your hand feels just like that of the princess."
"What!. my horny, cracked, rheumatic old hand, with its big joints, and its short nails all worn down to the quick with hard workólike the hand of the beautiful princess ! Why, my child, you will make me fancy your fingers have grown very dull indeed, instead of sharp and delicate, i you talk such nonsense. Mine is such an ugly hand I