ONGAN THEN CALLED some of his own people, and before any more words could be said and before any alteration could be made, he set his men behind the cows and marched home with them to Ulster.
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.
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.
"I think," said the Flame Lady, "that whoever lost that woman had no reason to be sad."
Mongan took her chin in his hand and kissed her lips.
"All that you say is lovely, for you are lovely," said he, "and you are my delight and the joy of the world."