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At the rising of the sun the Enchanter of the Black Back-Lands came to where the King of Ireland's Son was huddled and said, "I am now going to set you the third and last task. Rise up now and come with me."

The King's Son came out of the water-tank and followed the Enchanter. They went to where there was a well. The King's Son looked down and he could not see the bottom, so deep the well was. "At the bottom," said the Enchanter "is the Ring of Youth. You must get it and bring it to me, or else you must lose your head at the setting of that sun." That was all he said. He turned then and went away.

The King's Son looked into the well and he saw no way of getting down its deep smooth sides. He walked back towards the Castle. On his way he met Fedelma, and she looked at him with deep dread in her eyes. "What task did my father set you to-day?" said she. "He bids me go down into a well," said the King's Son. "A well!" said Fedelma, and she became all dread. "I have to take the Ring of Youth from the bottom and bring it to him," said the King's Son. "Oh," said Fedelma,'"he has set you the task I dreaded."

Then she said, "You will lose your life if the Ring of Youth is not taken out of the well. And if you lose yours I shall lose my life too. There is one way to get down the sides of the well. You must kill me. Take my bones and make them as steps while you go down the sides. Then, when you have taken the Ring of Youth out of the water, put my bones as they were before, and put the Ring above my heart. I shall be alive again. But you must be careful that you leave every bone as it was."

The King's Son fell into a deeper dread than Fedelma when he heard what she said. "This can never be," he cried. "It must be," said she, "and by all your vows and promises I command that you do it. Kill me now and do as I have bidden you. If it be done I shall live. If it be not done you will lose your life and I will never regain mine."

He killed her. He took the bones as she had bidden him, and he made steps down the sides of the well. He searched at the bottom, and he found the Ring of Youth. He brought the bones together again. Down on his knees he went, and his heart did not beat nor did his breath come or go until he had fixed them in their places. Over the heart he placed the Ring. Life came back to Fedelma.

"You have done well," she said. "One thing only is not in its place--the joint of my little finger." She held up her hand and he saw that her little finger was bent.

"I have helped you in everything," said Fedelma, "and in the last task I could not have helped you if you had not been true to me when Aefa and Gilveen brought you to them. Now the three tasks are done, and you can ask my father for one of his daughters in marriage. When you bring him the Ring of Youth he will ask you to make a choice. I pray that the one chosen will be myself."

"None other will I have but you, Fedelma, love of my heart," said the King of Ireland's Son.

Next: Part VIII