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The Blue Mountains-3

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The Irishman stayed there all night, and as soon as morning came rose to go. The old man said he had not gone to sleep all night for going through the book, but there was not a word about the Blue Mountains in it. 'But I'll tell you what,' he said, 'if there is such a place on earth at all, I have a brother who lives nine hundred miles from here, and he is sure to know where they are, if anyone in this world does.' The Irishman answered that he could never go these nine hundred miles, for his horse was giving in already. 'That doesn't matter,' said the old man; 'I can do better than that. I have only to blow my whistle and you will be at my brother's house before nightfall.'

So he blew the whistle, and the Irishman did not know where on earth he was until he found himself at the other old man's door, who also told him that it was three hundred years since he had seen anyone, and asked him where he was going.

'I am going to see if I can find anyone that can tell me where the Blue Mountains are,' he said.

'If you will stay with me to-night,' said the old man, 'I have a book of the history of the world, and I shall know where they are before daylight, if there is such a place in it at all.'

He stayed there all night, but there was not a word in the book about the Blue Mountains. Seeing that he was rather cast down, the old man told him that he had a brother nine hundred miles away, and that if information could be got about them from anyone it would be from him; 'and I will enable you,' he said, 'to reach the place where he lives before night.' So he blew his whistle, and the Irishman landed at the brother's house before nightfall. When the old man saw him he said he had not seen a single man for three hundred years, and was very much surprised to see anyone come to him now.

'Where are you going to?' he said.

'I am going about asking for the Blue Mountains,' said the Irishman.

'The Blue Mountains?' said the old man.

'Yes,' said the Irishman.

'I never heard the name before; but if they do exist I shall find them out. I am master of all the birds in the world, and have only to blow my whistle and every one will come to me. I shall then ask each of them to tell where it came from, and if there is any way of finding out the Blue Mountains that is it.'

So he blew his whistle, and when he blew it then all the birds of the world began to gather. The old man questioned each of them as to where they had come from, but there was not one of them that had come from the Blue Mountains. After he had run over them all, however, he missed a big Eagle that was wanting, and wondered that it had not come. Soon afterwards he saw something big coming towards him, darkening the sky. It kept coming nearer and growing bigger, and what was this after all but the Eagle? When she arrived the old man scolded her, and asked what had kept her so long behind.

'I couldn't help it,' she said; 'I had more than twenty times further to come than any bird that has come here to-day.'

'Where have you come from, then?' said the old man.

'From the Blue Mountains,' said she.

'Indeed!' said the old man; and what are they doing there?'

'They are making ready this very day,' said the Eagle, 'for the marriage of the daughter of the King of the Blue Mountains. For three years now she has refused to marry anyone whatsoever, until she should give up all hope of the coming of the man who released her from the spell. Now she can wait no longer, for three years is the time that she agreed with her father to remain without marrying.'

The Irishman knew that it was for himself she had been waiting so long, but he was unable to make any better of it, for he had no hope of reaching the Blue Mountains all his life. The old man noticed how sad he grew, and asked the Eagle what she would take for carrying this man on her back to the Blue Mountains.

'I must have threescore cattle killed,' said she, 'and cut up into quarters, and every time I look over my shoulder he must throw one of them into my mouth.'

As soon as the Irishman and the old man heard her demand they went out hunting, and before evening they had killed three-score cattle. They made quarters of them, as the Eagle told them, and then the old man asked her to lie down, till they would get it all heaped up on her back. First of all, though, they had to get a ladder of fourteen steps, to enable them to get on to the Eagle's back, and there they piled up the meat as well as they could. Then the old man told the Irishman to mount, and to remember to throw a quarter of beef to her every time she looked round. He went up, and the old man gave the Eagle the word to be off, which she instantly obeyed; and every time she turned her head the Irishman threw a quarter of beef into her mouth.

As they came near the borders of the kingdom of the Blue Mountains, however, the beef was done, and, when the Eagle looked over her shoulder, what was the Irishman at but throwing the stone between her tail and her neck! At this she turned a complete somersault, and threw the Irishman off into the sea, where he fell into the bay that was right in front of the King's Palace. Fortunately the points of his toes just touched the bottom, and he managed to get ashore.

When he went up into the town all the streets were gleaming with light, and the wedding of the Princess was just about to begin. He went into the first house he came to, and this happened to be the house of the King's hen-wife. He asked the old woman what was causing all the noise and light in the town.

'The Princess,' said she, 'is going to be married to-night against her will, for she has been expecting every day that the man who freed her from the spell would come.'

'There is a guinea for you,' said he; 'go and bring her here.'

The old woman went, and soon returned along with the Princess. She and the Irishman recognised each other, and were married, and had a great wedding that lasted for a year and a day.
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