THE KING'S CHAMBER. 149
the room. Curdie flew towards it in vague terror about Lina.
On the floor lay a little round man, puffing and blowing, and uttering incoherent language, Curdie thought of his mattock, and ran and laid it aside.
* Oh, dear Dr. Kelman! * cried the princess, running up and taking hold of his arm; " I am so sorry !" She pulled and pulled, but might almost as well have tried to sei up a cannon-ball. * I hope you have not hurt yourself?"
" Not at all, not at all," said the doctor, trying to smile and to rise both at once, but finding it impossible to do either.
" If he slept on the floor he would be late for break* fast," said Curdie to himself, and held out his hand to help him.
But when he took hold of it, Curdie very nearly let him fall again, for what he held was not even a foot: it was the belly of a creeping thing. He managed, however, to hold both his peace and his grasp, and pulled the doctor roughly on his legs—such as they were.
" Your royal highness has rather a thick mat at the door," said the doctor, patting his palms together. " I hope my awkwardness may not have startled his majesty."