|The Princess and Curdie|
|by George MacDonald|
|Sequel to The Princess and the Goblin in which Curdie travels to Gwyntystorm, the capital city, with many adventures along the way. There he finds a group of corrupt courtiers plotting to seize the throne. With the aid of Lina, a curious monster, and forty-nine other strange animals, he clears the palaces of these conspirators, eventually marrying the princess and becoming heir to the kingdom. In the sphere of fantasy, author George MacDonald has few equals, and his rare touch of many aspects of life invariably gives to his stories a deeper meaning of the highest value. Ages 7-10 |
 THE king sent Curdie out into his dominions to search for men and women that had human hands. And many such he
found, honest and true, and brought them to his master. So a new and upright court was formed, and strength
returned to the nation.
But the exchequer was almost empty, for the evil men had squandered everything, and the king hated taxes
unwillingly paid. Then came Curdie and said to the king that the city stood upon gold. And the king sent for
men wise in the ways of the earth, and they built smelting furnaces, and Peter brought miners, and they mined
the gold, and smelted it, and the king coined it into money,
 and therewith established things well in the land.
The same day on which he found his boy, Peter set out to go home. When he told the good news to Joan, his
wife, she rose from her chair and said, "Let us go." And they left the cottage, and repaired to Gwyntystorm.
And on a mountain above the city they built themselves a warm house for their old age, high in the clear air.
As Peter mined one day, at the back of the king's wine Cellar, he broke into a cavern crusted with gems, and
much wealth flowed therefrom, and the king used it wisely.
Queen Irene—that was the right name of the old princess—was thereafter seldom long absent from the
palace. Once or twice when she was missing, Barbara, who seemed to know of her sometimes when nobody else had
a notion whither she had gone, said she was with the dear old Uglies in the wood. Curdie thought that perhaps
her business might be with others there as well. All the uppermost rooms in the palace were left to her use,
and when any one was in need of her help, up thither he must go. But even when she was there, he did not
always succeed in finding her. She, however, always knew that such a one had been looking for her.
 Curdie went to find her one day. As he ascended the last stair, to meet him came the well-known scent of her
roses; and when he opened the door, lo! there was the same gorgeous room in which his touch had been glorified
by her fire! And there burned the fire—a huge heap of red and white roses. Before the hearth stood the
princess, an old grey-haired woman, with Lina a little behind her, slowly wagging her tail, and looking like a
beast of prey that can hardly so long restrain itself from springing as to be sure of its victim. The queen
was casting roses, more and more roses, upon the fire. At last she turned and said, "Now Lina!"—and Lina
dashed burrowing into the fire. There went up a black smoke and a dust, and Lina was never more seen in the
Irene and Curdie were married. The old king died, and they were king and queen. As long as they lived
Gwyntystorm was a better city, and good people grew in it. But they had no children, and when they died the
people chose a king. And the new king went mining and mining in the rock under the city, and grew more and
more eager after the gold, and paid less and less heed
 to his people. Rapidly they sank toward their old wickedness. But still the king went on mining, and coining
gold by the pailful, until the people were worse even than in the old time. And so greedy was the king after
gold, that when at last the ore began to fail, he caused the miners to reduce the pillars which Peter and they
that followed him had left standing to bear the city. And from the girth of an oak of a thousand years, they
chipped them down to that of a fir tree of fifty.
One day at noon, when life was at its highest, the whole city fell with a roaring crash. The cries of men and
the shrieks of women went up with its dust, and then there was a great silence.
Where the mighty rock once towered, crowded with homes and crowned with a palace, now rushes and raves a
stone-obstructed rapid of the river. All around spreads a wilderness of wild deer, and the very name of
Gwyntystorm had ceased from the lips of men.
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