30 THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
" Indeed I will, ma'am," said Curdie.
" That is for me to find out," she rejoined, with yet another strange smile. " In the meantime all I can say is, come to me again when you find yourself in any trouble, and I will see what I can do for you—only the canning depends on yourself. I am greatly pleased with you for bringing me my pigeon, doing your best to set right what you had set wrong."
As she spoke she held out her hand to him, and when he took it she made use of his to help herself up from her stool, and—when or how it came about, Curdie could not tell—the same instant she stood before him a tall, strong woman—plainly very old, but as grand as she was old, and only rather severe-looking. Every trace of the decrepitude and witheredness she showed as she hovered like a film about her wheel, had vanished. Her hair was very white, but it hung about her head in great plenty, and shone like silver in the moonlight. Straight as a pillar she stood before the astonished boy, and the wounded bird had now spread out both its wings across her bosom, like some great mystical ornament .of frosted silver.
" Oh, now I can never forget you ! " cried Curdie. M I see now what you really are !"
"Did I not tell you the truth when I sat at my wheel ? " said the old lady.