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CHAPTER XII

Duv Laca and the King of Leinster went apart then to speak together, and the eye of the king seemed to be as big as a plate, so fevered was it and so enlarged and inflamed by the look of Duv Laca. He was so confounded with joy also that his words got mixed up with his teeth, and Duv Laca did not know exactly what it was he was trying to say, and he did not seem to know himself. But at last he did say something intelligible, and this is what he said.

"I am a very happy man," said he.

"And I," said Duv Laca, "am the happiest woman in the world."

"Why should you be happy?" the astonished king demanded.

"Listen to me," she said. "If you tried to take me away from this place against my own wish, one half of the men of Ulster would be dead before you got me and the other half would be badly wounded in my defence."

"A bargain is a bargain," the King of Leinster began.

"But," she continued, "they will not prevent my going away, for they all know that I have been in love with you for ages."

"What have you been in with me for ages?" said the amazed king.

"In love with you," replied Duv Laca.

"This is news," said the king, "and it is good news."

"But, by my word," said Duv Laca, "I will not go with you unless you grant me a boon."

"All that I have," cried Branduv, "and all that every-body has."

"And you must pass your word and pledge your word that you will do what I ask."

"I pass it and pledge it," cried the joyful king.

"Then," said Duv Laca, "this is what I bind on you."

"Light the yolk!" he cried.

"Until one year is up and out you are not to pass the night in any house that I am in."

"By my head and hand!" Branduv stammered.

"And if you come into a house where I am during the time and term of that year, you are not to sit down in the chair that I am sitting in."

"Heavy is my doom!" he groaned.

"But," said Duv Laca, "if I am sitting in a chair or a seat you are to sit in a chair that is over against me and opposite to me and at a distance from me."

"Alas!" said the king, and he smote his hands together, and then he beat them on his head, and then he looked at them and at everything about, and he could not tell what anything was or where anything was, for his mind was clouded and his wits had gone astray.

"Why do you bind these woes on me?" he pleaded.


"I wish to find out if you truly love me."

"But I do," said the king. "I love you madly and dearly, and with all my faculties and members."

"That is the way ! love you," said Duv Laca. "We shall have a notable year of courtship and joy. And let us go now," she continued, "for I am impatient to be with you."

"Alas!" said Branduv, as he followed her. "Alas, alas!" said the King of Leinster.



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