THE KING'S ARMY. 235
As he spoke, he reached out his hand for his sword, which hung in the bed before him, drew it, and examined the blade.
" A little rusty !" he said, " but the edge is there. We shall polish it ourselves to-day—not on the wheel. Curdie, my son, I wake from a troubled dream. A glorious torture has ended it, and I live. I know not well how things are, but thou shalt explain them to me as I get on my armour.—No, I need no bath, I am clean.—Call the colonel of the guard."
In complete steel the old man stepped into the chamber. He knew it not, but the old princess had passed through his room in the night.
" Why, Sir Bronzebeard !" said the king, " you are dressed before me ! Thou needest no valet, old man, when there is battle in the wind !"
" Battle, sire ! " returned the colonel. "—Where then are our soldiers ? "
" Why, there, and here," answered the king, pointing to the colonel first, and then to himself. " Where else, man ?—The enemy will be upon us ere sunset, if we be not upon him ere noon. What other thing was in thy brave brain when thou didst don thine armour, friend ? "
" Your majesty's orders, sire," answered Sir Bronze-beard.
The king smiled and turned to Curdie.