190 THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
and their cottage on the mountain, of the inside of the mountain and the work there, about the goblins and his adventures with them. When he came to finding the princess and her nurse overtaken by the twilight on the mountain, Irene took up her share of the tale, and told all about herself to that point, and then Curdie took it up again; and so they went on, each fitting in the part that the other did not know, thus keeping the hoop of the story running straight; and the king listened with wondering and delighted ears, astonished to find what he could so ill comprehend, yet fitting so well together from the lips of two narrators. At last, with the mission given him by the wonderful princess and his consequent adventures, Curdie brought up the whole tale to the present moment Then a silence fell, and Irene and Curdie thought the king was asleep. But he was far from it; he was thinking about many things. After a long pause he said :—
" Now at last, my children, I am compelled to believe many things I could not and do not yet understand— things I used to hear, and sometimes see, as often as I visited my mother's home. Once, for instance, I heard my mother say to her father—speaking of me—* He is a good, honest boy, but he will be an old man before he understands;} and my grandfather answered, ' Keep up your heart, child: my mother will look after him/ I