So Childe Rowland said the two things over and over again, till he knew them by heart, and he thanked the Warlock Merlin and went on his way. And he went along, and along, and along, and still further along, till he came to the horse-herd of the King of Elfland feeding his horses. These he knew by their fiery eyes, and knew that he was at last in the land of Fairy.
McIntish stood in the middle of the lodge and spoke with great warmth and feeling, telling them that Chis-chis-chash warriors had stolen his horse-herd that he had traced it to their camp and demanded its return.
"Canst thou tell me," said Childe Rowland to the horse-herd, "where the King of Elfland's Dark Tower is?" "I cannot tell thee," said the horse-herd, "but go on a little further and thou wilt come to the cow-herd, and he, maybe, can tell thee."
Beyond the northern sentry-line, and beyond the sod huts of the scouts, they spied the first sign of the horse-herd they sought a herd composed of the sutler's spike-team, a four-in-hand used on the wood-wagon, Lieutenant Fraser's "Buckskin," and a dozen or fifteen second-choice mounts belonging to absent officers. That sign was a spark on the ground a long way ahead.
"The Csikos is a man who from his birth, somehow or other, finds himself seated upon a foal. Instinctively the boy remains fixed upon the animal's back, and grows up in his seat as other children do in the cradle. "The boy grows by degrees to a big horse-herd. To earn his livelihood, he enters the service of some nobleman, or of the Government, who possess in Hungary immense herds of wild horses.
Nor the horse-herd wake in the midnight and hear my fateful cry; Nor yet shall the Wolfing women hear words on the wind go by As they weave and spin the night down when the House is gone to the war, And weep for the swains they wedded and the children that they bore.
Then was Hallblithe glad, and he strode down the bent speedily, his war- gear clashing upon him: and as he came to the foot thereof and on to the grass of the dale, he got amongst the pasturing horses, and passed close by the horse-herd and a woman that was with him. They scowled at him as he went by, but meddled not with him in any way.
That same imagination enabled him to bring up numberless disturbing almost terrible pictures. The astonished helper gazed after him as he went tearing away in the direction of the horse-herd. "By jingo!" he grumbled; "twenty miles and he didn't even say treat!"