82 THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
should be ashamed to show it to any but one that loved me. But love makes all safe—doesn't it, Curdie?"
"Well, mother, all I can say is that I don't feel a roughness, or a crack, or a big joint, or a short nail. Your hand feels just and exactly, as near as I can recollect, and it's not now more than two hours since I had it in mine,—well, I will say, very like indeed to that of the old princess."
"Go away, you flatterer,"said his mother, with a smile that showed how she prized the love that lay beneath what she took for its hyperbole. The praise even which one cannot accept is sweet from a true mouth. " If that is all your new gift can do, it won't make a warlock of you," she added.
" Mother, it tells me nothing but the truth," insisted Curdie, "however unlike the truth it may seem. It wants no gift to tell what anybody's outside hands are like. But by it I know your inside hands are like the princess's."
"And I am sure the boy speaks true," said Peter. " He only says about your hand what I have known ever so long about yourself, Joan. Curdie, your mother's foot is as pretty a foot as any lady's in the land, and where her hand is not so pretty it comes of killing its beauty for you and me, my boy. And I can tell you more, Curdie.