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The King of Ireland's Son went into the house before the setting of the sun. The Enchanter of the Black Back-Lands was seated on his chair of gold. "Have you brought me the Ring of Youth?" he asked.

"I have brought it," said the King's Son.

"Give it to me then," said the Enchanter.

"I will not," said the King's Son, "until you give what you promised me at the end of my tasks--one of your three daughters for my wife."

The Enchanter brought him to a closed door. "My three daughters are within that room," said he. "Put your hand through the hole in the door, and the one whose hand you hold when I open it--it is she you will have to marry."

Then wasn't the mind of the King's Son greatly troubled? If he held the hand of Aefa or Gilveen he would lose his love Fedelma. He stood without putting out his hand. "Put your hand through the hole of the door or go away from my house altogether," said the Enchanter of the Black Back-Lands.

The King of Ireland's Son ventured to put his hand through the hole in the door. The hands of the maidens inside were all held in a bunch. But no sooner did he touch them than he found that one had a broken finger. This he knew was Fedelma's hand, and this was the hand he held.

"You may open the door now," said he to the Enchanter. He opened the door and the King of Ireland's Son drew Fedelma to him. "This is the maiden I choose," said he, "and now give her her dowry."

"The dowry that should go with me," said Fedelma, "is the Slight Red Steed."

"What dowry do you want with her, young man?" said the Enchanter.

"No other dowry but the Slight Red Steed."

"Go round to the stable then and get it. And I hope no well-trained wizard like you will come this way again."

"No well-trained wizard am I, but the King of Ire-land's Son. And I have found your dwelling-place within a year and a day. And now I pluck the three hairs out of your heard, Enchanter of the Black Back-Lands."

The beard of the Enchanter bristled like spikes on a hedgehog, and the balls of his eyes stuck out of his head. The King's Son plucked the three hairs of his beard before he could lift a hand or say a word. "Mount the Slight Red Steed and be off, the two of you," said the Enchanter.

The King of Ireland's Son and Fedelma mounted the Slight Red Steed and rode off, and the Enchanter of the Black Back-Lands, and his two daughters, Aefa and Gilveen, in a rage watched them ride away.

Next: Part IX