356 THE WINNING OF OLWEN
a vast open plain in which was a fair castle. But though it seemed so close it was not until the evening of the third day that they really drew near to it, and in front of it a flock of sheep was spread, so many in number that there seemed no end to them. A shepherd stood on a mound watching over them, and by his side was a dog, as large as a horse nine winters old.
' Whose is this castle, 0 herdsman ? ' asked the knights.
' Stupid are ye truly,' answered the herdsman. ' All the world knows that this is the castle of Yspaddaden Penkawr.'
' And who art thou ? '
' I am called Custennin, brother of Yspaddaden, and ill has he treated me. And who are you, and what do you here ?'
' We come from Arthur the king, to seek Olwen the daughter of Yspaddaden,' but at this news the shepherd gave a cry :
' O men, be warned and turn back while there is yet time. Others have gone on that quest, but none have escaped to tell the tale,' and he rose to his feet as if to leave them. Then Kilwch held out to him a ring of gold, and he tried to put it on his finger, but it was too small, so he placed it in his glove, and went home and gave it to his wife.
' Whence came this ring ? ' asked she, ' for such good luck is not wont to befall thee.'
' The man to whom this ring belonged thou shalt see here in the evening,' answered the shepherd ; ' he is Kilwch, son of Kilydd, cousin to king Arthur, and he has come to seek Olwen.' And when the wrife heard that she knew that Kilwch was her nephew, and her heart yearned after him, half with joy at the thought of seeing him, and half with sorrow for the doom she feared.
Soon they heard steps approaching, and Kai and the