156 . THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
"Things are in a bad state enough," he said in conclusion; —"lying and selfishness and inhospitality and dishonesty everywhere; and to crown all, they speak with disrespect of the good king, and not a man of them knows he is ill."
" You frighten me dreadfully," said Irene, trembling.
"You must be brave for your king's sake," said Curdie.
" Indeed I will," she replied, and turned a long loving look upon the beautiful face of her father. " But what is to be done ? And how am I to believe such horrible things of Dr. Kelman ? "
" My dear princess," replied Curdie, " you know nothing of him but his face and his tongue, and they are both false. Either you must beware of him, or you must doubt your grandmother and me ; for I tell you, by the gift she gave me of testing hands, that this man is a snake. That round body he shows is but the case of a serpent Perhaps the creature lies there, as in its nest, coiled round and round inside."
" Horrible ! " said Irene.
" Horrible indeed ; but we must not try to get rid of horrible things by refusing to look at them, and saying they are not there. Is not your beautiful father sleeping better since he had the wine ? "