Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens

Part 5 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Mongan loved Duv Laca of the White Hand better than he loved his
life, better than he loved his honour. The kingdoms of the world
did not weigh with him beside the string of her shoe. He would
not look at a sunset if he could see her. He would not listen to
a harp if he could hear her speak, for she was the delight of
ages, the gem of time, and the wonder of the world till Doom.

She went to Leinster with the king of that country, and when she
had gone Mongan fell grievously sick, so that it did not seem he
could ever recover again; and he began to waste and wither, and
he began to look like a skeleton, and a bony structure, and a
misery.

Now this also must be known.

Duv Laca had a young attendant, who was her foster-sister as well
as her servant, and on the day that she got married to Mongan,
her attendant was married to mac an Da'v, who was servant and
foster-brother to Mongan. When Duv Laca went away with the King
of Leinster, her servant, mac an Da'v's wife, went with her, so
there were two wifeless men in Ulster at that time, namely,
Mongan the king and mac an Da'v his servant.

One day as Mongan sat in the sun, brooding lamentably on his
fate, mac an Da'v came to him.

"How are things with you, master?" asked Mac an Da'v.

"Bad," said Mongan.

"It was a poor day brought you off with Mananna'n to the Land of
Promise," said his servant.

"Why should you think that?" inquired Mongan.

"Because," said mac an Da'v, "you learned nothing in the Land of
Promise except how to eat a lot of food and how to do nothing in
a deal of time."

"What business is it of yours?" said Mongan angrily.

"It is my business surely," said mac an Da'v, "for my wife has
gone off to Leinster with your wife, and she wouldn't have gone
if you hadn't made a bet and a bargain with that accursed king."

Mac an Da'v began to weep then.

"I didn't make a bargain with any king," said he, "and yet my
wife has gone away with one, and it's all because of you."

"There is no one sorrier for you than I am," said Mongan.

"There is indeed," said mac an Da'v, "for I am sorrier myself."

Mongan roused himself then.

"You have a claim on me truly," said he, "and I will not have any
one with a claim on me that is not satisfied. Go," he said to mac
an Da'v, "to that fairy place we both know of. You remember the
baskets I left there with the sod from Ireland in one and the sod
from Scotland in the other; bring me the baskets and sods."

"Tell me the why of this?" said his servant.

"The King of Leinster will ask his wizards what I am doing, and
this is what I will be doing. I will get on your back with a foot
in each of the baskets, and when Branduv asks the wizards where I
am they will tell him that I have one leg in Ireland and one leg
in Scotland, and as long as they tell him that he will think he
need not bother himself about me, and we will go into Leinster
that way."

"No bad way either," said mac an Da'v.

They set out then.

CHAPTER XIV

It was a long, uneasy journey, for although mac an Da'v was of
stout heart and goodwill, yet no man can carry another on his
back from Ulster to Leinster and go quick. Still, if you keep on
driving a pig or a story they will get at last to where you wish
them to go, and the man who continues putting one foot in front
of the other will leave his home behind, and will come at last to
the edge of the sea and the end of the world.

When they reached Leinster the feast of Moy Life' was being held,
and they pushed on by forced marches and long stages so as to be
in time, and thus they came to the Moy of Cell Camain, and they
mixed with the crowd that were going to the feast.

A great and joyous concourse of people streamed about them. There
were young men and young girls, and when these were not holding
each other's hands it was because their arms were round each
other's necks. There were old, lusty women going by, and when
these were not talking together it was because their mouths were
mutually filled with apples and meat-pies. There were young
warriors with mantles of green and purple and red flying behind
them on the breeze, and when these were not looking disdainfully
on older soldiers it was because the older soldiers happened at
the moment to be looking at them. There were old warriors with
yard-long beards flying behind their shoulders llke wisps of hay,
and when these were not nursing a broken arm or a cracked skull,
it was because they were nursing wounds in their stomachs or
their legs. There were troops of young women who giggled as long
as their breaths lasted and beamed when it gave out. Bands of
boys who whispered mysteriously together and pointed with their
fingers in every direction at once, and would suddenly begin to
run like a herd of stampeded horses. There were men with carts
full of roasted meats. Women with little vats full of mead, and
others carrying milk and beer. Folk of both sorts with towers
swaying on their heads, and they dripping with honey. Children
having baskets piled with red apples, and old women who peddled
shell-fish and boiled lobsters. There were people who sold twenty
kinds of bread, with butter thrown in. Sellers of onions and
cheese, and others who supplied spare bits of armour, odd
scabbards, spear handles, breastplate-laces. People who cut your
hair or told your fortune or gave you a hot bath in a pot. Others
who put a shoe on your horse or a piece of embroidery on your
mantle; and others, again, who took stains off your sword or dyed
your finger-nails or sold you a hound.

It was a great and joyous gathering that was going to the feast.

Mongan and his servant sat against a grassy hedge by the roadside
and watched the multitude streaming past.

Just then Mongan glanced to the right whence the people were
coming. Then he pulled the hood of his cloak over his ears and
over his brow.

"Alas!" said he in a deep and anguished voice.

Mac an Da'v turned to him.

"Is it a pain in your stomach, master?"

"It is not," said Mongan. "Well, what made you make that brutal
and belching noise?"

"It was a sigh I gave," said Mongan.

"Whatever it was," said mac an Da'v, "what was it?"

"Look down the road on this side and tell me who is coming," said
his master.

"It is a lord with his troop."

"It is the King of Leinster," said Mongan. "The man," said mac an
Da'v in a tone of great pity, "the man that took away your wife!
And," he roared in a voice of extraordinary savagery, "the man
that took away my wife into the bargain, and she not in the
bargain."

"Hush," said Mongan, for a man who heard his shout stopped to tie
a sandie, or to listen.

"Master," said mac an Da'v as the troop drew abreast and moved
past.

"What is it, my good friend?"

"Let me throw a little, small piece of a rock at the King of
Leinster."

"I will not."

"A little bit only, a small bit about twice the size of my head"

"I will not let you," said Mongan.

When the king had gone by mac an Da'v groaned a deep and dejected
groan.

"Oco'n!" said he. "Oco'n-i'o-go-deo'!" said he.

The man who had tied his sandal said then: "Are you in pain,
honest man?"

"I am not in pain," said mac an Da'v.

"Well, what was it that knocked a howl out of you like the yelp
of a sick dog, honest man?"

"Go away," said mac an Da'v, "go away, you flat-faced, nosey
person." "There is no politeness left in this country," said the
stranger, and he went away to a certain distance, and from thence
he threw a stone at mac an Da'v's nose, and hit it.

CHAPTER XV

The road was now not so crowded as it had been. Minutes would
pass and only a few travellers would come, and minutes more would
go when nobody was in sight at all.

Then two men came down the road: they were clerics.

"I never saw that kind of uniform before," said mac an Da'v.

"Even if you didn't," said Mongan, "there are plenty of them
about. They are men that don't believe in our gods," said he.

"Do they not, indeed?" said mac an Da'v. "The rascals!" said he.
"What, what would Mananna'n say to that?"

"The one in front carrying the big book is Tibraide'. He is the
priest of Cell Camain, and he is the chief of those two."

"Indeed, and indeed!" said mac an Da'v. "The one behind must be
his servant, for he has a load on his back."

The priests were reading their offices, and mac an Da'v marvelled
at that.

"What is it they are doing?" said he.

"They are reading."

"Indeed, and indeed they are," said mac an Da'v. "I can't make
out a word of the language except that the man behind says amen,
amen, every time the man in front puts a grunt out of him. And
they don't like our gods at all!" said mac an Da'v.

"They do not," said Mongan.

"Play a trick on them, master," said mac an Da'v. Mongan agreed
to play a trick on the priests.

He looked at them hard for a minute, and then he waved his hand
at them.

The two priests stopped, and they stared straight in front of
them, and then they looked at each other, and then they looked at
the sky. The clerk began to bless himself, and then Tibraide'
began to bless himself, and after that they didn't know what to
do. For where there had been a road with hedges on each side and
fields stretching beyond them, there was now no road, no hedge,
no field; but there was a great broad river sweeping across their
path; a mighty tumble of yellowy-brown waters, very swift, very
savage; churning and billowing and jockeying among rough boulders
and islands of stone. It was a water of villainous depth and of
detestable wetness; of ugly hurrying and of desolate cavernous
sound. At a little to their right there was a thin uncomely
bridge that waggled across the torrent.

Tibraide' rubbed his eyes, and then he looked again. "Do you see
what I see?" said he to the clerk.

"I don't know what you see," said the clerk, "but what I see I
never did see before, and I wish I did not see it now."

"I was born in this place," said Tibraide', "my father was born
here before me, and my grandfather was born here before him, but
until this day and this minute I never saw a river here before,
and I never heard of one."

"What will we do at all?" said the clerk. "What will we do at
all?"

"We will be sensible," said Tibraide' sternly, "and we will go
about our business," said he. "If rivers fall out of the sky what
has that to do with you, and if there is a river here, which
there is, why, thank God, there is a bridge over it too."

"Would you put a toe on that bridge?" said the clerk. "What is
the bridge for?" said Tibraide' Mongan and mac an Da'v followed
them.

When they got to the middle of the bridge it broke under them,
and they were precipitated into that boiling yellow flood.

Mongan snatched at the book as it fell from Tibraide''s hand.

"Won't you let them drown, master?" asked mac an Da'v.

"No," said Mongan, "I'll send them a mile down the stream, and
then they can come to land."

Mongan then took on himself the form of Tibraide' and he turned
mac an Da'v into the shape of the clerk.

"My head has gone bald," said the servant in a whisper.

"That is part of it," replied Mongan. "So long as we know?' said
mac an Da'v.

They went on then to meet the King of Leinster.

CHAPTER XVI

They met him near the place where the games were played.

"Good my soul, Tibraide'!" cried the King of Leinster, and he
gave Mongan a kiss. Mongan kissed him back again.

"Amen, amen," said mac an Da'v.

"What for?" said the King of Leinster.

And then mac an Da'v began to sneeze, for he didn't know what
for.

"It is a long time since I saw you, Tibraide'," said the king,
"but at this minute I am in great haste and hurry. Go you on
before me to the fortress, and you can talk to the queen that
you'll find there, she that used to be the King of Ulster's wife.
Kevin Cochlach, my charioteer, will go with you, and I will
follow you myself in a while."

The King of Leinster went off then, and Mongan and his servant
went with the charioteer and the people.

Mongan read away out of the book, for he found it interesting,
and he did not want to talk to the charioteer, and mac an Da'v
cried amen, amen, every time that Mongan took his breath. The
people who were going with them said to one another that mac an
Da'v was a queer kind of clerk, and that they had never seen any
one who had such a mouthful of amens.

But in a while they came to the fortress, and they got into it
without any trouble, for Kevin Cochlach, the king's charioteer,
brought them in. Then they were led to the room where Duv Laca
was, and as he went into that room Mongan shut his eyes, for he
did not want to look at Duv Laca while other people might be
looking at him.

"Let everybody leave this room, while I am talking to the queen,"
said he; and all the attendants left the room, except one, and
she wouldn't go, for she wouldn't leave her mistress.

Then Mongan opened his eyes and he saw Duv Laca, and he made a
great bound to her and took her in his arms, and mac an Da'v made
a savage and vicious and terrible jump at the attendant, and took
her in his arms, and bit her ear and kissed her neck and wept
down into her back.

"Go away," said the girl, "unhand me, villain," said she.

"I will not," said mac an Da'v, "for I'm your own husband, I'm
your own mac, your little mac, your macky-wac-wac." Then the
attendant gave a little squeal, and she bit him on each ear and
kissed his neck and wept down into his back, and said that it
wasn't true and that it was.

CHAPTER XVII

But they were not alone, although they thought they were. The hag
that guarded the jewels was in the room. She sat hunched up
against the wail, and as she looked like a bundle of rags they
did not notice her. She began to speak then.

"Terrible are the things I see," said she. "Terrible are the
things I see."

Mongan and his servant gave a jump of surprise, and their two
wives jumped and squealed. Then Mongan puffed out his cheeks till
his face looked like a bladder, and he blew a magic breath at the
hag, so that she seemed to be surrounded by a fog, and when she
looked through that breath everything seemed to be different to
what she had thought. Then she began to beg everybody's pardon.

"I had an evil vision," said she, "I saw crossways. How sad it is
that I should begin to see the sort of things I thought I saw."

"Sit in this chair, mother," said Mongan, "and tell me what you
thought you saw," and he slipped a spike under her, and mac an
Da'v pushed her into the seat, and she died on the spike.

Just then there came a knocking at the door. Mac an Da'v opened
it, and there was Tibraid~ standing outside, and twenty-nine of
his men were with him, and they were all laughing.

"A mile was not half enough," said mac an Da'v reproachfully.

The Chamberlain of the fortress pushed into the room and he
stared from one Tibraide' to the other.

"This is a fine growing year," said he. "There never was a year
when Tibraide''s were as plentiful as they are this year. There
is a Tibraide' outside and a Tibraide' inside, and who knows but
there are some more of them under the bed. The place is crawling
with them," said he.

Mongan pointed at Tibraide'.

"Don't you know who that is?" he cried.

"I know who he says he is," said the Chamberlain.

"Well, he is Mongan," said Mongan, "and these twenty-nine men are
twenty-nine of his nobles from Ulster."

At that news the men of the household picked up clubs and cudgels
and every kind of thing that was near, and made a violent and
woeful attack on Tibraide''s men The King of Leinster came in
then, and when he was told Tibraide' was Mongan he attacked them
as well, and it was with difficulty that Tibraide' got away to
Cell Camain with nine of his men and they all wounded.

The King of Leinster came back then. He went to Duv Laca's room.

"Where is Tibraide'?" said he.

"It wasn't Tibraide' was here," said the hag who was still
sitting on the spike, and was not half dead, "it was Mongan."

"Why did you let him near you?" said the king to Duv Laca.

"There is no one has a better right to be near me than Mongan
has," said Duv Laca, "he is my own husband," said she.

And then the king cried out in dismay: "I have beaten Tibraide''s
people." He rushed from the room.

"Send for Tibraide' till I apologise," he cried. "Tell him it was
all a mistake. Tell him it was Mongan."

CHAPTER XVIII

Mongan and his servant went home, and (for what pleasure is
greater than that of memory exercised in conversation?) for a
time the feeling of an adventure well accomplished kept him in
some contentment. But at the end of a time that pleasure was worn
out, and Mongan grew at first dispirited and then sullen, and
after that as ill as he had been on the previous occasion. For he
could not forget Duv Laca of the White Hand, and he could not
remember her without longing and despair.

It was in the illness which comes from longing and despair that
he sat one day looking on a world that was black although the sun
shone, and that was lean and unwholesome although autumn fruits
were heavy on the earth and the joys of harvest were about him.

"Winter is in my heart," quoth he, "and I am cold already."

He thought too that some day he would die, and the thought was
not unpleasant, for one half of his life was away in the
territories of the King of Leinster, and the half that he kept in
himself had no spice in it.

He was thinking in this way when mac an Da'v came towards him
over the lawn, and he noticed that mac an Da'v was walking like
an old man.

He took little slow steps, and he did not loosen his knees when
he walked, so he went stiffly. One of his feet turned pitifully
outwards, and the other turned lamentably in. His chest was
pulled inwards, and his head was stuck outwards and hung down in
the place where his chest should have been, and his arms were
crooked in front of him with the hands turned wrongly, so that
one palm was shown to the east of the world and the other one was
turned to the west.

"How goes it, mac an Da'v?" said the king.

"Bad," said mac an Da'v.

"Is that the sun I see shining, my friend?" the king asked.

"It may be the sun," replied mac an Da'v, peering curiously at
the golden radiance that dozed about them, "but maybe it's a
yellow fog."

"What is life at all?" said the king.

"It is a weariness and a tiredness," said mac an Da'v. "It is a
long yawn without sleepiness. It is a bee, lost at midnight and
buzzing on a pane. It is the noise made by a tied-up dog. It is
nothing worth dreaming about. It is nothing at all."

"How well you explain my feelings about Duv Laca," said the king.

"I was thinking about my own lamb," said mac an Da'v. "I was
thinking about my own treasure, my cup of cheeriness, and the
pulse of my heart." And with that he burst into tears.

"Alas!" said the king.

"But," sobbed mac an Da'v, "what right have I to complain? I am
only the servant, and although I didn't make any bargain with the
King of Leinster or with any king of them all, yet my wife is
gone away as if she was the consort of a potentate the same as
Duv Laca is."

Mongan was sorry then for his servant, and he roused himself.

"I am going to send you to Duv Laca."

"Where the one is the other will be," cried mac an Da'v joyously.

"Go," said Mongan, "to Rath Descirt of Bregia; you know that
place?"

"As well as my tongue knows my teeth."

"Duv Laca is there; see her, and ask her what she wants me to
do."

Mac an Da'v went there and returned.

"Duv Laca says that you are to come at once, for the King of
Leinster is journeying around his territory, and Kevin Cochlach,
the charioteer, is making bitter love to her and wants her to run
away with him."

Mongan set out, and in no great time, for they travelled day and
night, they came to Bregla, and gained admittance to the
fortress, but just as he got in he had to go out again, for the
King of Leinster had been warned of Mongan's journey, and came
back to his fortress in the nick of time.

When the men of Ulster saw the condition into which Mongan fell
they were in great distress, and they all got sick through
compassion for their king. The nobles suggested to him that they
should march against Leinster and kill that king and bring back
Duv Laca, but Mongan would not consent to this plan.

"For," said he, "the thing I lost through my own folly I shall
get back through my own craft."

And when he said that his spirits revived, and he called for mac
an Da'v.

"You know, my friend," said Mongan, "that I can't get Duv Laca
back unless the King of Leinster asks me to take her back, for a
bargain is a bargain."

"That will happen when pigs fly," said mac an Da'v, "and," said
he, "I did not make any bargain with any king that is in the
world."

"I heard you say that before," said Mongan.

"I will say it till Doom," cried his servant, "for my wife has
gone away with that pestilent king, and he has got the double of
your bad bargain."

Mongan and his servant then set out for Leinster.

When they neared that country they found a great crowd going on
the road with them, and they learned that the king was giving a
feast in honour of his marriage to Duv Laca, for the year of
waiting was nearly out, and the king had sworn he would delay no
longer.

They went on, therefore, but in low spirits, and at last they saw
the walls of the king's castle towering before them. and a noble
company going to and fro on the lawn.

CHAPTER XIX

THEY sat in a place where they could watch the castle and compose
themselves after their journey.

"How are we going to get into the castle?" asked mac an Da'v.

For there were hatchetmen on guard in the big gateway, and there
were spearmen at short intervals around the walls, and men to
throw hot porridge off the roof were standing in the right
places.

"If we cannot get in by hook, we will get in by crook," said
Mongan.

"They are both good ways," said Mac an Da'v, "and whichever of
them you decide on I'll stick by."

Just then they saw the Hag of the Mill coming out of the mill
which was down the road a little.

Now the Hag of the Mill was a bony, thin pole of a hag with odd
feet. That is, she had one foot that was too big for her, so that
when she lifted it up it pulled her over; and she had one foot
that was too small for her, so that when she lifted it up she
didn't know what to do with it. She was so long that you thought
you would never see the end of her, and she was so thin that you
thought you didn't see her at all. One of her eyes was set where
her nose should be and there was an ear in its place, and her
nose itself was hanging out of her chin, and she had whiskers
round it. She was dressed in a red rag that was really a hole
with a fringe on it, and she was singing "Oh, hush thee, my one
love" to a cat that was yelping on her shoulder.

She had a tall skinny dog behind her called Brotar. It hadn't a
tooth in its head except one, and it had the toothache in that
tooth. Every few steps it used to sit down on its hunkers and
point its nose straight upwards, and make a long, sad complaint
about its tooth; and after that it used to reach its hind leg
round and try to scratch out its tooth; and then it used to be
pulled on again by the straw rope that was round its neck, and
which was tied at the other end to the hag's heaviest foot.

There was an old, knock-kneed, raw-boned, one-eyed,
little-winded, heavy-headed mare with her also. Every time it put
a front leg forward it shivered all over the rest of its legs
backwards, and when it put a hind leg forward it shivered all
over the rest of its legs frontwards, and it used to give a great
whistle through its nose when it was out of breath, and a big,
thin hen was sitting on its croup. Mongan looked on the Hag of
the Mill with delight and affection.

"This time," said he to mac an Da'v, "I'll get back my wife."

"You will indeed," said mac an Da'v heartily, "and you'll get
mine back too."

"Go over yonder," said Mongan, "and tell the Hag of the Mill that
I want to talk to her."

Mac an Da'v brought her over to him.

"Is it true what the servant man said?" she asked.

"What did he say?" said Mongan.

"He said you wanted to talk to me."

"It is true," said Mongan.

"This is a wonderful hour and a glorious minute," said the hag,
"for this is the first time in sixty years that any one wanted to
talk to me. Talk on now," said she, "and I'll listen to you if I
can remember how to do it. Talk gently," said she, "the way you
won't disturb the animals, for they are all sick."

"They are sick indeed," said mac an Da'v pityingly.

"The cat has a sore tail," said she, "by reason of sitting too
close to a part of the hob that was hot. The dog has a toothache,
the horse has a pain in her stomach, and the hen has the pip."

"Ah, it's a sad world," said mac an Da'v.

"There you are!" said the hag.

"Tell me," Mongan commenced, "if you got a wish, what it is you
would wish for?"

The hag took the cat off her shoulder and gave it to mac an Da'v.

"Hold that for me while I think," said she.

"Would you like to be a lovely young girl?" asked Mongan.

"I'd sooner be that than a skinned eel," said she.

"And would you like to marry me or the King of Leinster?" "I'd
like to marry either of you, or both of you, or whichever of you
came first."

"Very well," said Mongan, "you shall have your wish."

He touched her with his finger, and the instant he touched her
all dilapidation and wryness and age went from her, and she
became so beautiful that one dared scarcely look on her, and so
young that she seemed but sixteen years of age.

"You are not the Hag of the Mill any longer," said Mongan, "you
are Ivell of the Shining Cheeks, daughter of the King of
Munster."

He touched the dog too, and it became a little silky lapdog that
could nestle in your palm. Then he changed the old mare into a
brisk, piebald palfrey. Then he changed himself so that he became
the living image of Ae, the son of the King of Connaught, who had
just been married to Ivell of the Shining Cheeks, and then he
changed mac an Da'v into the likeness of Ae's attendant, and then
they all set off towards the fortress, singing the song that
begins: My wife is nicer than any one's wife, Any one's
wife, any one's wife, My wife is nicer than any one's wife,
Which nobody can deny.

CHAPTER XX

The doorkeeper brought word to the King of Leinster that the son
of the King of Connaught, Ae the Beautiful, and his wife, Ivell
of the Shining Cheeks, were at the door, that they had been
banished from Connaught by Ae's father, and they were seeking the
protection of the King of Leinster.

Branduv came to the door himself to welcome them, and the minute
he looked on Ivell of the Shining Cheeks it was plain that he
liked looking at her.

It was now drawing towards evening, and a feast was prepared for
the guests with a banquet to follow it. At the feast Duv Laca sat
beside the King of Leinster, but Mongan sat opposite him with
Ivell, and Mongan put more and more magic into the hag, so that
her cheeks shone and her eyes gleamed, and she was utterly
bewitching to the eye; and when Branduv looked at her she seemed
to grow more and more lovely and more and more desirable, and at
last there was not a bone in his body as big as an inch that was
not filled with love and longing for the girl.

Every few minutes he gave a great sigh as if he had eaten too
much, and when Duv Laca asked him if he had eaten too much he
said he had hut that he had not drunk enough, and by that he
meant that he had not drunk enough from the eyes of the girl
before him.

At the banquet which was then held he looked at her again, and
every time he took a drink he toasted Ivell across the brim of
his goblet, and in a little while she began to toast him back
across the rim of her cup, for he was drinking ale, but she was
drinking mead. Then he sent a messenger to her to say that it was
a far better thing to be the wife of the King of Leinster than to
be the wife of the son of the King of Connaught, for a king is
better than a prince, and Ivell thought that this was as wise a
thing as anybody had ever said. And then he sent a message to say
that he loved her so much that he would certainly burst of love
if it did not stop.

Mongan heard the whispering, and he told the hag that if she did
what he advised she would certainly get either himself or the
King of Leinster for a husband.

"Either of you will be welcome," said the hag.

"When the king says he loves you, ask him to prove it by gifts;
ask for his drinking-horn first."

She asked for that, and he sent it to her filled with good
liquor; then she asked for his girdle, and he sent her that.

His people argued with him and said it was not right that he
should give away the treasures of Leinster to the wife of the
King of Connaught's son; but he said that it did not matter, for
when he got the girl he would get his treasures with her. But
every time he sent anything to the hag, mac an Da'v snatched it
out of her lap and put it in his pocket.

"Now," said Mongan to the hag, "tell the servant to say that you
would not leave your own husband for all the wealth of the
world."

She told the servant that, and the servant told it to the king.
When Branduv heard it he nearly went mad with love and longing
and jealousy, and with rage also, because of the treasure he had
given her and might not get back. He called Mongan over to him,
and spoke to him very threateningly and ragingly.

"I am not one who takes a thing without giving a thing," said he.

"Nobody could say you were," agreed Mongan.

"Do you see this woman sitting beside me?" he continued, pointing
to Duv Laca.

"I do indeed," said Mongan.

"Well," said Branduv, "this woman is Duv Laca of the White Hand
that I took away from Mongan; she is just going to marry me, but
if you will make an exchange, you can marry this Duv Laca here,
and I will marry that Ivell of the Shining Cheeks yonder."

Mongan pretended to be very angry then.

"If I had come here with horses and treasure you would be in your
right to take these from me, but you have no right to ask for
what you are now asking."

"I do ask for it," said Branduv menacingly, "and you must not
refuse a lord."

"Very well," said Mongan reluctantly, and as if in great fear;
"if you will make the exchange I will make it, although it breaks
my heart."

He brought Ivell over to the king then and gave her three kisses.

"The king would suspect something if I did not kiss you," said
he, and then he gave the hag over to the king. After that they
all got drunk and merry, and soon there was a great snoring and
snorting, and very soon all the servants fell asleep also, so
that Mongan could not get anything to drink. Mac an Da'v said it
was a great shame, and he kicked some of the servants, but they
did not budge, and then he slipped out to the stables and saddled
two mares. He got on one with his wife behind him and Mongan got
on the other with Duv Laca behind him, and they rode away towards
Ulster like the wind, singing this song: The King of Leinster
was married to-day, Married to-day, married to-day, The
King of Leinster was married to-day, And every one wishes him
joy.

In the morning the servants came to waken the King of Leinster,
and when they saw the face of the hag lying on the pillow beside
the king, and her nose all covered with whiskers, and her big
foot and little foot sticking away out at the end of the bed,
they began to laugh, and poke one another in the stomachs and
thump one another on the shoulders, so that the noise awakened
the king, and he asked what was the matter with them at all. It
was then he saw the hag lying beside him, and he gave a great
screech and jumped out of the bed.

"Aren't you the Hag of the Mill?" said he.

"I am indeed," she replied, "and I love you dearly."

"I wish I didn't see you," said Branduv.

That was the end of the story, and when he had told it Mongan
began to laugh uproariously and called for more wine. He drank
this deeply, as though he was full of thirst and despair and a
wild jollity, but when the Flame Lady began to weep he took her
in his arms and caressed her, and said that she was the love of
his heart and the one treasure of the world.

After that they feasted in great contentment, and at the end of
the feasting they went away from Faery and returned to the world
of men.

They came to Mongan's palace at Moy Linney, and it was not until
they reached the palace that they found they had been away one
whole year, for they had thought they were only away one night.
They lived then peacefully and lovingly together, and that ends
the story, but Bro'tiarna did not know that Mongan was Fionn.

The abbot leaned forward.

"Was Mongan Fionn?" he asked in a whisper.

"He was," replied Cairide'.

"Indeed, indeed!" said the abbot.

After a while he continued: "There is only one part of your story
that I do not like."

"What part is that?" asked Cairide'.

"It is the part where the holy man Tibraide' was ill treated by
that rap--by that--by Mongan."

Cairide' agreed that it was ill done, but to himself he said
gleefully that whenever he was asked to tell the story of how he
told the story of Mongan he would remember what the abbot said.

Book of the day: