200 The Princess and the Goblin
more and more sure that the thread could not have gone there of itself, and that her grand≠mother must have sent it. But it tried her dreadfully when the path went down very steep, and especially when she came to places where she had to go down rough stairs, and even sometimes a ladder. Through one narrow pas≠sage after another, over lumps of rock and sand and clay, the thread guided her, until she came to a small hole through which she had to creep. Finding no change on the other sideó" Shall I ever get back?" she thought, over and over again, wondering at herself that she was not ten times more frightened, and often feeling as if she were only walking in the story of a dream. Sometimes she heard the noise of water, a dull gurgling inside the rock. By and by she heard the sounds of blows, which came nearer and nearer; but again they grew duller, and almost died away. In a hundred directions she turned, obedient to the guiding thread.
At last she spied a dull red shine, and came up to the mica-window, and thence away and round about, and right into a cavern, where glowed the red embers of a fire. Here the