Map of Ireland

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CHAPTER XI

Duv Laca wanted to know where the cows came from, and Mongan told her that the King of Leinster had given them to him. She fell in love with them as Mongan had done, but there was nobody in the world could have avoided loving those cows: such cows they were! such wonders! Mongan and Duv Laca used to play chess together, and then they would go out together to look at the cows, and then they would go in together and would talk to each other about the cows. Everything they did they did together, for they loved to be with each other.

However, a change came.

One morning a great noise of voices and trampling of horses and rattle of armour came about the palace. Mongan looked from the window.

"Who is coming?" asked Duv Laca.

But he did not answer her.

"The noise must announce the visit of a king," Duv Laca continued.

But Mongan did not say a word. Duv Laca then went to the window.

"Who is that king?" she asked.

And her husband replied to her then.

"That is the King of Leinster," said he mournfully.

"Well," said Duv Laca surprised, "is he not welcome?"

"He is welcome indeed," said Mongan lamentably.

"Let us go out and welcome him properly," Duv Laca suggested.

"Let us not go near him at all," said Mongan, "for he is coming to complete his bargain."

"What bargain are you talking about?" Duv Laca asked. But Mongan would not answer that.

"Let us go out," said he, "for we must go out."

Mongan and Duv Laca went out then and welcomed the King of Leinster. They brought him and his chief men into the palace, and water was brought for their baths, and rooms were appointed for them, and everything was done that should be done for guests.

That night there was a feast, and after the feast there was a banquet, and all through the feast and the banquet the King of Leinster stared at Duv Laca with joy, and sometimes his breast was delivered of great sighs, and at times he moved as though in perturbation of spirit and mental agony.

"There is something wrong with the King of Leinster," Duv Laca whispered.

"I don't care if there is," said Mongan.

"You must ask what he wants."

"But I don't want to know it," said Mongan. "Nevertheless, you musk ask him," she insisted.

So Mongan did ask him, and it was in a melancholy voice that he asked it.

"Do you want anything?" said he to the King of Leinster.

"I do indeed," said Branduv.

"If it is in Ulster I will get it for you," said Mongan mournfully.

"It is in Ulster," said Branduv.

Mongan did not want to say anything more then, but the King of Leinster was so intent and everybody else was listening and Duv Laca was nudging his arm, so he said: "What is it that you do want?" "I want Duv Laca."

"I want her too," said Mongan.

"You made your bargain," said the King of Leinster, "my cows and their calves for your Duv Laca, and the man that makes a bargain keeps a bargain."

"I never before heard," said Mongan, "of a man giving away his own wife."

"Even if you never heard of it before, you must do it now," said Duv Laca, "for honour is longer than life."

Mongan became angry when Duv Laca said that. His face went red as a sunset, and the veins swelled in his neck and his forehead.

"Do you say that?" he cried to Duv Laca.

"I do," said Duv Laca.

"Let the King of Leinster take her," said Mongan.



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