I$6 THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
thought Curdie to himself; "but what is to be done with the rest ? "
He had hardly time to think it however, before the creature's head appeared again through the floor. He caught hold of the bar of iron to which Curdie's rope was tied, and settling it securely across the narrowest part of the irregular opening, held fast to it with his teeth. It was plain to Curdie, from the universal hardness amongst them, that they must all, at one time or another, have been creatures of the mines.
He saw at once what this one was after. He had planted his feet firmly upon the floor of the passage, and stretched his long body up and across the chasm to serve as a bridge for the rest. He mounted instantly upon his neck, threw his arms round him as far as they would go, and slid down in ease and safety, the bridge just bending a little as his weight glided over it. But he thought some of the creatures would try his teeth.
One by one the oddities followed, and slid down in safety. When they seemed to be all landed, he counted them : there were but forty-eight. Up the rope again he went, and found one which had been afraid to trust himself to the bridge, and no wonder ! for he had neither legs nor head nor arms nor tail: he was just a round thing, about a foot in diameter, with a nose and mouth and eyes on one side of the balL He had made his journey by