THE VENGEANCE. 201
Two or three of the footmen got up and ranged themselves behind the butler.
" Don't say / threaten you, Mr. Butler," expostulated the girl from behind the page. " The messenger said I was to tell you again, and give you one chance more."
" Did the messenger mention me in particular ? " asked the butler, looking the page unsteadily in the face.
" No, sir," answered the girL
" I thought not! I should like to hear him !"
" Then hear him now," said Curdie, who that moment entered at the opposite corner of the hall. " I speak of the butler in particular when I say that I know more evil of him than of any of the rest. He will not let either his own conscience or my messenger speak to him : I therefore now speak myself. I proclaim him a villain, and a traitor to his majesty the king.—But what better is any one of you who cares only for himself, eats, drinks, takes good money, and gives vile service in return, stealing and wasting the king's property, and making of the palace, which ought to be an example of order and sobriety, a disgrace to the country ? "
For a moment all stood astonished into silence by this bold speech from a stranger. True, they saw by his mattock over his shoulder that he was nothing but a miner boy, yet for a moment the truth told notwithstanding. Then a great roaring laugh burst from the biggest of the