258 The Princess and the Goblin
streaming from it. He was instantly laid hold of by two or three of the men-at-arms. It was useless to struggle, and he submitted in silence.
" It's a boy!" cried several of them together, in a tone of amazement. " I thought it was one of those demons."
" What are you about here?"
" Going to have a little rough usage, apparently," said Curdie laughing, as the men shook him.
" Impertinence will do you no good. You have no business here in the king's grounds, and if you don't give a true account of yourself, you shall fare as a thief."
" Why, what else could he be?" said one.
" He might have been after a lost kid, you know," suggested another.
" I see no good in trying to excuse him. He has no business here, anyhow."
" Let me go away then, if you please," said Curdie.
"But we don't please—not except you give a good account of yourself."
"I don't feel quite sure whether I can trust you," said Curdie.