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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."



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Map of Ireland