…There once was a king who lived in a castle on a hill.
He was lord and master of all he surveyed.
One daughter he had sired but his wife had died in giving the child life.
His daughter was a great beauty and the king looked forward to the day when she would come into her own.
By a cunning device of his mother the King of Castle-Hill had been made invulnerable and was possessed of a baleful eye which was capable of blighting all that it gazed upon.
The eye was normally kept covered by five leather patches.
The King of Castle-Hill was also a great wizard in his own right, well versed in the magical arts, and nothing happened in his kingdom without his knowledge of it.
There was little that the King of Castle-Hill wanted save for a wondrous cow which was looked after by three brothers who lived by the sea.
One of the brothers was a blacksmith, clever and skillful.
One of the brothers was a wizard, cunning and resourceful.
One of the brothers was a warrior, strong and fair.
The wondrous cow was possessed of an inexhaustible supply of milk and it daily traversed the kingdom supplying the people with nourishment.
The wondrous cow was governed by a magic halter.
Wherever the halter went, there too went the wondrous cow.
The King of Castle-Hill determined to acquire the wondrous cow and realised that if he could somehow get the magic halter then the object of his desire would follow.
About the same time as the king determined upon a plan to acquire the wondrous cow it came to his attention that certain prophesies were doing the rounds of his kingdom.
The prophecies spoke of the king’s demise.
The king summoned his soothsayer.
“It is true, my lord, words have been uttered describing your death,” said the king’s soothsayer.
“But I am invulnerable,” said the King of Castle-Hill, “I will live forever.”
“Not so,” said the soothsayer, “your grandson shall slay you by casting a spear through your baleful eye and on out the back of your skull.”
The king fell silent in thought.
It might possibly be true, the king’s baleful eye, though a potent weapon and an effective deterrent against those who might oppose him, was also his only vulnerable spot.
“Will he indeed!” seethed the King of Castle-Hill fingering the first of the leather pouches that covered his baleful eye, “we will see about that.”…