92 THE PRINCESS AND CURD1E.
set the air had been warm and pleasant. He lay down under the tree, closed his eyes, and thought to sleep. He found himself mistaken however. But although he could not sleep, he was yet aware of resting delightfully. Presently he heard a sweet sound of singing somewhere, such as he had never heard before—a singing as of curious birds far off, which drew nearer and nearer. At length he heard their wings, and, opening his eyes, saw a number of very large birds, as it seemed, alighting around him, still singing. It was strange to hear song from the throats of such big birds. And still singing, with large and round but not the less bird-like voices, they began to weave a strange dance about him, moving their wings in time with their legs. But the dance seemed somehow to be troubled and broken, and to return upon itself in an eddy, in place of sweeping smoothly on. And he soon learned, in the low short growls behind him, the cause of the imperfection : they wanted to dance all round the tree, but Lina would not permit them to come on her side.
Now Curdie liked the birds, and did not altogether like Lina. But neither, nor both together, made a reason for driving away the princess's creature. Doubtless she had been a goblins' creature, but the last time he saw her was in the king's house and the dove-tower, and at the old princess's feet So he left her to do as she would,