VERBA AND BARBARA* 121
rose towering above them; but they stopped before they reached it, at a low-browed door in a great, dull, heavy-looking building.
The city marshal opened it with a key which hung at his girdle, and ordered Curdie to enter. The place within was dark as night, and while he was feeling his way with his feet, the marshal gave him a rough push. He fell, and rolled once or twice over, unable to help himself because his hands were tied behind him.
It was the hour of the magistrate's second and more important breakfast, and until that was over he never found himself capable of attending to a case with concentration sufficient to the distinguishing of the side upon which his own advantage lay; and hence was this respite for Curdie, with time to collect his thoughts. But indeed he had very few to collect, for all he had to do, so far as he could see, was to wait for what would come next Neither had he much power to collect them, for he was a good deal shaken.
In a few minutes he discovered, to his great relief,
that, from the projection of the pick-end of his mattock
beyond his body, the fall had loosened the ropes tied round
it. He got one hand disengaged, and then the other;
and presently stood free, with his good mattock once
more in right serviceable relation to his arms and legs,