202 THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
footmen as he came shouldering his way through the crowd towards Curdie.
" Yes, I'm right," he cried; " I thought as much ! This messenger) forsooth, is nothing but a gallows-bird—a fellow the city marshal was going to hang, but unfortunately put it off till he should be starved enough to save rope and be throttled with a pack-thread. He broke prison, and here he is preaching !"
As he spoke, he stretched out his great hand to lay hold of him. Curdie caught it in his left hand, and heaved his mattock with the oLher. Finding, however, nothing worse than an ox-hoof,' he restrained himself, stepped back a pace or two, shifted his mattock to his left hand, and struck him a little smart blow on the shoulder. His arm dropped by his side, he gave a roar, and drew back.
His fellows came crowding upon Curdie. Some called to the dogs ; others swore ; the women screamed ; the footmen und pages got round him in a half-circle, which he kept from closing by swinging his mattock, and here and there threatening a blow.
" Whoever confesses to having done anything wrong in this house, however small, however great, and means to do better, let him come to this corner of the room," he cried.
None moved but the page, who went towards him