The Escape 205
must remove the whole huge gathering. She was dismayed at the very idea, but, losing no time, set to work with a will; and with aching back, and bleeding fingers and hands, she worked on, sustained by the pleasure of seeing the heap slowly diminish, and begin to show itself on the opposite side of the fire. Another thing which helped to keep up her courage was, that as often as she uncovered a turn of the thread, instead of lying loose upon the stones, it tightened up: this made her sure that her grandmother was at the end of it somewhere.
She had got about halfway down when she started, and nearly fell with fright. Close to her ear as it seemed, a voice broke out singing—
"Jabber, bother, smash! You'll have it all in a crash. Jabber, smash, bother! You '11 have the worst of the pother. Smash, bother, jabber !—"
Here Curdie stopped, either because he could not find a rhyme to jabber, or because he remembered what he had forgotten when he woke up at the sound of Irene's labours, that his plan was to make the goblins think he was getting