Well, in the Spae-Woman's house he stayed for three-quarters of a year. He often went in search of the robbers who had taken the Crystal Egg with the Spae-Woman's goose, but no trace of them nor their booty could he ever find. He met birds and beasts who were his friends, but he could not have speech with them without the Egg that let him have anything he wished. He did work for the Spae-Woman--fixed her fences and repaired her barn and brought brosna for her fire every evening from the wood. At night, before he went to sleep, the Spae-Woman used to tell him her dreams of the night before and tell him about the people who had come to her house to have their fortunes told.
One Monday morning she said to him, "I have had an inlook, son of my heart, and I know that my gossip, the Churl of the Townland of Mischance, is going to come and take you into his service."
"And what sort of a man is your gossip, the Churl of the Townland of Mischance?" Gilly asked.
"An unkind man. Two youths who served me he took away, one after the other, and miserable are they made by what he did to them. I'm in dread of your being brought to the Townland of Mischance."
"Why are you in dread of it, Spae-Woman?" said Gilly. "Sure, I'll be glad enough to see the world."
"That's what the other two youths said," said the Spae-Woman. "Now I'll tell you what my gossip the Churl of the Townland of Mischance does: he makes a bargain with the youth that goes into his service, telling him he will give him a guinea, a groat and a tester for his three months' service. And he tells the youth that if he says he is sorry for the bargain he must lose his wages and part with a strip of his skin, an inch wide. He rode on a bob-tailed, big-headed, spavined and spotted horse, from his neck to his heel. Oh, he is an unkind man, my gossip, the Churl of the Townland of Mischance."
"And is there no way to get the better of him?" asked Gilly.
"There is, but it is a hard way," said the Spae-Woman. "If one could make him say that he, the master, is sorry for the bargain, the Churl himself would lose a strip of his skin an inch wide from his neck to his heel, and would have to pay full wages no matter how short a time the youth served him."
"It's a bargain anyway," said Gilly, "and if he comes I'll take service with the Churl of the Townland of Mischance."
The first wet day that came brought the Churl of the Townland of Mischance. He rode on a bob-tailed, big-headed, spavined and spotted horse. He carried an ash-plant in his hand to flog the horse and to strike at the dogs that crossed his way. He had blue lips, eyes looking crossways and eyebrows like a furze bush. He had a bag before him filled with boiled pigs' feet. Now when he rode up to the house, he had a pig's foot to his mouth and was eating. He got down off the bob-tailed, big-headed, spavined and spotted horse, and came in.
"I heard there was a young fellow at your house and I want him to take service with me," said he to the Spae-Woman.
"If the bargain is a good one I'll take service with you," said Gilly.
"All right, my lad," said the Churl. "Here is the bargain, and it's as fair as fair can be. I'll give you a guinea, a groat and a tester for your three months' work with me."
"I believe it's good wages," said Gilly.
"It is. Howsoever, if you ever say you are sorry you made the bargain you will lose your wages, and besides that you will lose a strip of your skin an inch wide from your neck to your heel. I have to put that in or I'd never get work done for me at all. The serving boys are always saying 'I can't do that,' and 'I'm sorry I made the bargain with you.'"
"And if you say you're sorry you made the bargain?"
"Oh, then I'll have to lose a strip of my skin an inch wide from my neck to my heel, and besides that I'll have to give you full wages no matter how short a time you served me."
"Well, if that suits you it will suit me," said Gilly of the Goatskin.
"Then walk beside my horse and we'll get back to the Townland of Mischance to-night," said the Churl. Then he swished his ash-plant towards Gilly and ordered him to get ready. The Spae-Woman wiped the tears from her face with her apron, gave Gilly a cake with her blessing, and he started off with the Churl for the Townland of Mischance.