O 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.
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.
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.
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."