They crossed the River of the Ox, and went over the Mountain of the Fox and were in the Glen of the Badger before the sun rose. And there, at the foot of the Hill of Horns, they found an old man gathering dew from the grass.
"Could you tell us where we might find the Little Sage of the Mountain?" Fedelma asked the old man.
"I am the Little Sage of the Mountain," said he, "and what is it you want of me?"
"To betroth us for marriage," said Fedelma.
"I will do that. Come to my house, the pair of you. And as you are both young and better able to walk than I am it would be fitting to let me ride on your horse."
The King's Son and Fedelma got off and the Little Sage of the Mountain got on the Slight Red Steed. They took the path that went round the Hill of Horns. And at the other side of the hill they found a hut thatched with one great wing of a bird. The Little Sage got off the Slight Red Steed. "Now," said he, "you're both young, and I'm an old man and it would be fitting for you to do my day's work before you call upon me to do anything for you. Now would you," said he to the King of Ireland's Son, "take this spade in your hand and go into the garden and dig my potatoes for me? And would you," said he to Fedelma, "sit down at the quern-stone and grind the wheat for me?"
The King of Ireland's Son went into the garden and Fedelma sat at the quernstone that was just outside the door; he dug and she ground while the Little Sage sat at the fire looking into a big book. And when Fedelma and the King's Son were tired with their labor he gave them a drink of buttermilk.
She made cakes out of the wheat she had ground and the King's Son washed the potatoes and the Little Sage boiled them and so they made their supper. Then the Little Sage of the Mountain melted lead and made two rings; and one ring he gave to Fedelma to give to the King's Son and one he gave to the King's Son to give to Fedelma. And when the rings were given he said, "You are betrothed for your marriage now."
They stayed with the Little Sage of the Mountain that night, and when the sun rose they left the house that was thatched with the great wing of a bird and they turned towards the Meadow of Brightness and the Wood of Shadows that were between them and the King of Ireland's domain. They rode on the Slight Red Steed, and the Little Sage of the Mountain went with them a part of the way. He seemed downcast and when they asked him the reason he said, "I see dividing ways and far journeys for you both." "But how can that be," said the King's Son, "when, in a little while we will win to my father's domain?" "It may be I am wrong," said the Little Sage, "and if I am not, remember that devotion brings together dividing ways and that high hearts win to the end of every journey." He bade them good-by then, and turned back to his hut that was thatched with the great wing of a bird.
They rode across the Meadow of Brightness and Fedelma's blue falcon sailed above them. "Yonder is a field of white flowers," said she, "and while we are crossing it you must tell me a story."
"I know by heart," said the King's Son, "only the stories that Maravaun, my father's Councillor, has put into the book he is composing--the book that is called 'The Breastplate of Instruction.'"
"Then," said Fedelma, "tell me a story from 'The Breastplate of Instruction,' while we are crossing this field of white flowers."
"I will tell you the first story that is in it," said the King's Son. Then while they were crossing the field of white flowers the King's Son told Fedelma the story of ...