The Blue Mountainspage 2 / 9
The poor Irishman was now left all alone. He did not know where the others had gone to, so he just stayed where he was, very sad and miserable. When night came he climbed up into the same tree as the Englishman had done on the night before. As soon as day came he also saw the castle and set out toward it; but when he reached it he could see no signs of fire or living being about it. Before long, however, he heard the window opened above his head, looked up, and beheld the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He asked if she would give him food and drink, and she answered kindly and heartily that she would if he would only come inside. This he did very willingly, and she set before him food and drink that he had never seen the like of before. In the room there was a bed, with diamond rings hanging at every loop of the curtains, and everything else that was in the room was so beautiful that he actually forgot that he was hungry. When she saw that he was not eating at all she asked him what he wanted yet. Said the Irishman, "I will neither eat nor drink until I know who you are, or where you came from, or who has put you here."
"I shall tell you," said she. "I am an enchanted princess, and my father has promised that the man who sets me free from the spell shall have the third of his kingdom while he is alive and the whole of it after he is dead, and marry me as well. If ever I saw a man who looked likely to do this, you are the one. I have been here for sixteen years now, and no one who ever came to the castle has asked me who I was except you. Every other man that has come, so long as I have been here, lies asleep in the big room down there."
"Tell me then," said the Irishman, "what is the spell that has been laid on you and how you can be freed from it." "There is a little room there," said the princess, "and if I could get a man to stay in it from ten o'clock till midnight for three nights I should be freed from the spell."
"I am the man for you, then," said he. "I will do it."