166 The Princess and the Goblin
" And when shall I see her?" asked the princess.
" Not for some time yet," answered the king, and the tears came into his eyes.
Irene did not remember her mother, and did not know why her father looked so, and why the tears came in his eyes; but she put her arms round his neck and kissed him, and asked no more questions.
The king was much disturbed on hearing the report of the gentlemen-at-arms concerning the creatures they had seen; and I presume would have taken Irene with him that very day, but for what the presence of the ring on her finger assured him of. About an hour before he left, Irene saw him go up the old stair; and he did not come down again till they were just ready to start; and she thought with herself that he had been up to see the old lady. When he went away, he left other six gentlemen behind him, that there might be six of them always on guard.
And now, in the lovely spring weather, Irene was out on the mountain the greater part of the day. In the warmer hollows there were lovely