THE MINERS. 41
whether she might not as likely be an angel that took the form of an old woman, as an old woman that took the form of an angel But nobody except Curdie, who was holding his peace with all his might, saw any sense in the question. They said an old woman might be very glad to make herself look like a young one, but who ever heard of a young and beautiful one making herself look old and ugly ? Peter asked why they were so much more ready to believe the bad that was said of her than the good. They answered because she was bad. He asked why they believed her to be bad, and they answered, because she did bad things. When he asked how they knew that, they said, because she was a bad creature. Even if they didn't know it, they said, a woman like that was so much more likely to be bad than good. Why did she go about at night ? Why did she appear only now and then, and on such occasions ? One went on to tell how one night when his grandfather had been having a jolly time of it with his friends in the market town, she had served him so upon his way home that the poor man never drank a drop of anything stronger than water after it to the day of his death. She dragged him into a bog, and tumbled him up and down in it till he was nearly dead.
" I suppose that was her way of teaching him what a good thing water was," said Peter; but the man, who liked strong drink, did not see the joke.