76 THE KING OF THE WATERFALLS
' 0 king, what has brought you here to-day ?' asked the Gruagach. ' But right welcome you are, and more welcome will you be still if you will play a game with me.'
' That is just what I want,' said the king, and they played ; and sometimes it seemed as if one would win, and sometimes the other, but in the end it was the king who was the winner.
' And what is the prize that you will choose ? ' inquired the Gruagach.
' The ugly crop-headed girl that stands behind the door,' replied the king.
' Why, there are twenty others in the house, and each fairer than she ! ' exclaimed the Gruagach.
' Fairer they may be, but it is she whom I wish for my wife, and none other,' and the Gruagach saw that the king's mind was set upon her, so he entered his house, and bade all the maidens in it come out one by one, and pass before the king.
One by one they came ; tall and short, dark and fair, plump and thin, and each said ' I am she whom you want. You will be foolish indeed if you do not take me.'
But he took none of them, neither short nor tall, dark nor fair, plump nor thin, till at the last the crop-headed girl came out.
' This is mine,' said the king, though she was so ugly that most men would have turned from her. ' We will be married at once, and I will carry you home.' And married they were, and they set forth across a meadow to the king's house. As they went, the bride stooped and picked a sprig of shamrock, which grew amongst the grass, and when she stood upright again her ugliness had all gone, and the most beautiful woman that ever was seen stood by the king's side.
The next day, before the sun rose, the king sprang from his bed, and told his wife he must have another game with the Gruagach.