20+ THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
" Put your foot on his mouth, Lina," said Curdie. " The truth Fear tells is not much better than her lies."
The rest of the creatures now came stalking, rolling, leaping, gliding, hobbling into the room, and each as he came took the next place along the wall, until, solemn and grotesque, all stood ranged, awaiting orders.
And now some of the culprits were stealing to the doors nearest them. Curdie whispered the two creatures next him. Off went Ballbody, rolling and bounding through the* crowd like a spent cannon shot, and when the foremost reached the door to the corridor, there he lay at the foot of it grinning; to the other door scuttled a scorpion, as big as a huge crab. The rest stood so still that some began to think they were only boys dressed up to look awful; they persuaded themselves they were only another part of the housemaid and page's vengeful contrivance, and their evil spirits began to rise again. Meantime Curdie had, with a second sharp blow from the hammer of his mattock, disabled the cook, so that he yielded the spit with a groan. He now turned to the avengers.
" Go at them," he said.
The whole nine-and-forty obeyed at once, each for himself, and after his own fashion. A scene of confusion and terror followed The crowd scattered like a dance of flies. The creatures had been instructed not to hurt