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Acquisition

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Kieran was fair disgusted. Twas bad enough that he had to touch the slimy thing, but now it was oozing something and becoming truly revolting. Finally, just before he reached the robin's oak, he could take it no longer. He stopped and examined the creature in his hand. White and plump and glistening, it was, in truth, a repellent creature. Yet the poor thing was obviously terrified. It gazed up at him with what he imagined to be minuscule grub eyes, pleading. Kieran thought of the caterpillar and the earthworm, and his heart gave in. Heaving a great resigned sigh, he found a nice clean root and placed the grub upon it.

And thus was Loziard's spell broken.

None could have been more astonished than Einlea when she unexpectedly grew to her former size, except, perhaps for Kieran, who nearly died of fright. He was no more than catching his breath when Einlea regained her wits. Raising her index finger, warning Kieran not to say even ONE word, Einlea snatched Kieran's coat to cover herself. Then, with fire in her eyes, and as much dignity as she could muster, she was off to Trowbridge, leaving Kieran to stare, open-mouthed, at her departing figure.

Einlea knew she could not simply enter the city and confront Loziard. The moment he saw her, he would but cast another enchantment upon her. So, disguising herself as a shepherd, she found an abandoned house on the moors and began to make her plans. What happened next is a tale worth hearing. But it is a tale for another evening. Indeed, it is a tale to be told over many an evening, and many a good pot of ale.

And what of the baby robins? Having no alternative, Kieran climbed the tree and took from his pack his last piece of fatty mutton. Tearing it into small shreds, he gave it to the grateful mother robin, who fed it to her family.

Upon returning to the ground, Kieran looked first toward Fairtree, his former destination, then, grinning, set off after the most surprising young lady, for whom he now had many questions. "Who knows ..." he called back to the robins, "It may be fate. And besides, I need my coat."

He was heard, late that evening, far down the road, singing:

"Oh, the maidens of Trowbridge are passing fair ...

...with breasts like melons, and flaxen hair ..."

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