THE AVENGERS. 193
any reason for her fear but that all was so dreadfully still. When it had been dark about an hour, Curdie thought Lina might be returned; and reflected that the sooner he went the less danger was there of any assault while he was away. There was more risk of his own presence being discovered, no doubt, but things were now drawing to a crisis, and it must be run. So, telling the princess to lock all the doors of the bedchamber, and let no one in, he took his mattock, and with here a run, and there a halt under cover, gained the door at the head of the cellar-stair in safety. To his surprise he found it locked, and .the key was gone. There was no time for deliberation. He felt where the lock was, and dealt it a tremendous blow with his mattock. It needed but a second to dash the door open. Some one laid a hand on his arm. . " Who is it ? " said Curdie.
" I told you they wouldn't believe me, sir," said the housemaid. " I have been here all day."
He took her hand, and said, "You are a good, brave girl. Now come with me, lest your enemies imprison you again."
He took her to the cellar, locked the door, lighted a
bit of candle, gave her a little wine, told her to wait there
till he came, and went out the back way.
Swiftly he swung himself up into the dungeon. Lina