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Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)

Part 2 out of 5

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stitched hard at his trews, for he knew that he had no time to lose.

The sprightly tailor was taking the long stitches, when he saw it
gradually rising and rising through the floor, until it lifted out a
great leg, and stamping with it upon the pavement, said in a roaring
voice: "Do you see this great leg of mine?"

"Aye, aye: I see that, but I'll sew this!" cried the tailor; and his
fingers flew with the needle, and he took such long stitches, that
he was just come to the end of the trews, when it was taking up its
other leg. But before it could pull it out of the pavement, the
sprightly tailor had finished his task; and, blowing out his candle,
and springing from off his gravestone, he buckled up, and ran out of
the church with the trews under his arm. Then the fearsome thing
gave a loud roar, and stamped with both his feet upon the pavement,
and out of the church he went after the sprightly tailor.

Down the glen they ran, faster than the stream when the flood rides
it; but the tailor had got the start and a nimble pair of legs, and
he did not choose to lose the laird's reward. And though the thing
roared to him to stop, yet the sprightly tailor was not the man to
be beholden to a monster. So he held his trews tight, and let no
darkness grow under his feet, until he had reached Saddell Castle.
He had no sooner got inside the gate, and shut it, than the
apparition came up to it; and, enraged at losing his prize, struck
the wall above the gate, and left there the mark of his five great
fingers. Ye may see them plainly to this day, if ye'll only peer
close enough.

But the sprightly tailor gained his reward: for Macdonald paid him
handsomely for the trews, and never discovered that a few of the
stitches were somewhat long.

THE STORY OF DEIRDRE

There was a man in Ireland once who was called Malcolm Harper. The
man was a right good man, and he had a goodly share of this world's
goods. He had a wife, but no family. What did Malcolm hear but that
a soothsayer had come home to the place, and as the man was a right
good man, he wished that the soothsayer might come near them.
Whether it was that he was invited or that he came of himself, the
soothsayer came to the house of Malcolm.

"Are you doing any soothsaying?" says Malcolm.

"Yes, I am doing a little. Are you in need of soothsaying?"

"Well, I do not mind taking soothsaying from you, if you had
soothsaying for me, and you would be willing to do it."

"Well, I will do soothsaying for you. What kind of soothsaying do
you want?"

"Well, the soothsaying I wanted was that you would tell me my lot or
what will happen to me, if you can give me knowledge of it."

"Well, I am going out, and when I return, I will tell you."

And the soothsayer went forth out of the house and he was not long
outside when he returned.

"Well," said the soothsayer, "I saw in my second sight that it is on
account of a daughter of yours that the greatest amount of blood
shall be shed that has ever been shed in Erin since time and race
began. And the three most famous heroes that ever were found will
lose their heads on her account."

After a time a daughter was born to Malcolm, he did not allow a
living being to come to his house, only himself and the nurse. He
asked this woman, "Will you yourself bring up the child to keep her
in hiding far away where eye will not see a sight of her nor ear
hear a word about her?"

The woman said she would, so Malcolm got three men, and he took them
away to a large mountain, distant and far from reach, without the
knowledge or notice of any one. He caused there a hillock, round and
green, to be dug out of the middle, and the hole thus made to be
covered carefully over so that a little company could dwell there
together. This was done.

Deirdre and her foster-mother dwelt in the bothy mid the hills
without the knowledge or the suspicion of any living person about
them and without anything occurring, until Deirdre was sixteen years
of age. Deirdre grew like the white sapling, straight and trim as
the rash on the moss. She was the creature of fairest form, of
loveliest aspect, and of gentlest nature that existed between earth
and heaven in all Ireland--whatever colour of hue she had before,
there was nobody that looked into her face but she would blush fiery
red over it.

The woman that had charge of her, gave Deirdre every information and
skill of which she herself had knowledge and skill. There was not a
blade of grass growing from root, nor a bird singing in the wood,
nor a star shining from heaven but Deirdre had a name for it. But
one thing, she did not wish her to have either part or parley with
any single living man of the rest of the world. But on a gloomy
winter night, with black, scowling clouds, a hunter of game was
wearily travelling the hills, and what happened but that he missed
the trail of the hunt, and lost his course and companions. A
drowsiness came upon the man as he wearily wandered over the hills,
and he lay down by the side of the beautiful green knoll in which
Deirdre lived, and he slept. The man was faint from hunger and
wandering, and benumbed with cold, and a deep sleep fell upon him.
When he lay down beside the green hill where Deirdre was, a troubled
dream came to the man, and he thought that he enjoyed the warmth of
a fairy broch, the fairies being inside playing music. The hunter
shouted out in his dream, if there was any one in the broch, to let
him in for the Holy One's sake. Deirdre heard the voice and said to
her foster-mother: "O foster-mother, what cry is that?" "It is
nothing at all, Deirdre--merely the birds of the air astray and
seeking each other. But let them go past to the bosky glade. There
is no shelter or house for them here." "Oh, foster-mother, the bird
asked to get inside for the sake of the God of the Elements, and you
yourself tell me that anything that is asked in His name we ought to
do. If you will not allow the bird that is being benumbed with cold,
and done to death with hunger, to be let in, I do not think much of
your language or your faith. But since I give credence to your
language and to your faith, which you taught me, I will myself let
in the bird." And Deirdre arose and drew the bolt from the leaf of
the door, and she let in the hunter. She placed a seat in the place
for sitting, food in the place for eating, and drink in the place
for drinking for the man who came to the house. "Oh, for this life
and raiment, you man that came in, keep restraint on your tongue!"
said the old woman. "It is not a great thing for you to keep your
mouth shut and your tongue quiet when you get a home and shelter of
a hearth on a gloomy winter's night."

"Well," said the hunter, "I may do that--keep my mouth shut and my
tongue quiet, since I came to the house and received hospitality
from you; but by the hand of thy father and grandfather, and by your
own two hands, if some other of the people of the world saw this
beauteous creature you have here hid away, they would not long leave
her with you, I swear."

"What men are these you refer to?" said Deirdre.

"Well, I will tell you, young woman," said the hunter.

"They are Naois, son of Uisnech, and Allen and Arden his two
brothers."

"What like are these men when seen, if we were to see them?" said
Deirdre.

"Why, the aspect and form of the men when seen are these," said the
hunter: "they have the colour of the raven on their hair, their skin
like swan on the wave in whiteness, and their cheeks as the blood of
the brindled red calf, and their speed and their leap are those of
the salmon of the torrent and the deer of the grey mountain side.
And Naois is head and shoulders over the rest of the people of
Erin."

"However they are," said the nurse, "be you off from here and take
another road. And, King of Light and Sun! in good sooth and
certainty, little are my thanks for yourself or for her that let you
in!"

The hunter went away, and went straight to the palace of King
Connachar. He sent word in to the king that he wished to speak to
him if he pleased. The king answered the message and came out to
speak to the man. "What is the reason of your journey?" said the
king to the hunter.

"I have only to tell you, O king," said the hunter, "that I saw the
fairest creature that ever was born in Erin, and I came to tell you
of it."

"Who is this beauty and where is she to be seen, when she was not
seen before till you saw her, if you did see her?"

"Well, I did see her," said the hunter. "But, if I did, no man else
can see her unless he get directions from me as to where she is
dwelling."

"And will you direct me to where she dwells? and the reward of your
directing me will be as good as the reward of your message," said
the king.

"Well, I will direct you, O king, although it is likely that this
will not be what they want," said the hunter.

Connachar, King of Ulster, sent for his nearest kinsmen, and he told
them of his intent. Though early rose the song of the birds mid the
rocky caves and the music of the birds in the grove, earlier than
that did Connachar, King of Ulster, arise, with his little troop of
dear friends, in the delightful twilight of the fresh and gentle
May; the dew was heavy on each bush and flower and stem, as they
went to bring Deirdre forth from the green knoll where she stayed.
Many a youth was there who had a lithe leaping and lissom step when
they started whose step was faint, failing, and faltering when they
reached the bothy on account of the length of the way and roughness
of the road.

"Yonder, now, down in the bottom of the glen is the bothy where the
woman dwells, but I will not go nearer than this to the old woman,"
said the hunter.

Connachar with his band of kinsfolk went down to the green knoll
where Deirdre dwelt and he knocked at the door of the bothy. The
nurse replied, "No less than a king's command and a king's army
could put me out of my bothy to-night. And I should be obliged to
you, were you to tell who it is that wants me to open my bothy
door."

"It is I, Connachar, King of Ulster." When the poor woman heard who
was at the door, she rose with haste and let in the king and all
that could get in of his retinue.

When the king saw the woman that was before him that he had been in
quest of, he thought he never saw in the course of the day nor in
the dream of night a creature so fair as Deirdre and he gave his
full heart's weight of love to her. Deirdre was raised on the
topmost of the heroes' shoulders and she and her foster-mother were
brought to the Court of King Connachar of Ulster.

With the love that Connachar had for her, he wanted to marry Deirdre
right off there and then, will she nill she marry him. But she said
to him, "I would be obliged to you if you will give me the respite
of a year and a day." He said "I will grant you that, hard though it
is, if you will give me your unfailing promise that you will marry
me at the year's end." And she gave the promise. Connachar got for
her a woman-teacher and merry modest maidens fair that would lie
down and rise with her, that would play and speak with her. Deirdre
was clever in maidenly duties and wifely understanding, and
Connachar thought he never saw with bodily eye a creature that
pleased him more.

Deirdre and her women companions were one day out on the hillock
behind the house enjoying the scene, and drinking in the sun's heat.
What did they see coming but three men a-journeying. Deirdre was
looking at the men that were coming, and wondering at them. When the
men neared them, Deirdre remembered the language of the huntsman,
and she said to herself that these were the three sons of Uisnech,
and that this was Naois, he having what was above the bend of the
two shoulders above the men of Erin all. The three brothers went
past without taking any notice of them, without even glancing at the
young girls on the hillock. What happened but that love for Naois
struck the heart of Deirdre, so that she could not but follow after
him. She girded up her raiment and went after the men that went past
the base of the knoll, leaving her women attendants there. Allen and
Arden had heard of the woman that Connachar, King of Ulster, had
with him, and they thought that, if Naois, their brother, saw her,
he would have her himself, more especially as she was not married to
the King. They perceived the woman coming, and called on one another
to hasten their step as they had a long distance to travel, and the
dusk of night was coming on. They did so. She cried: "Naois, son of
Uisnech, will you leave me?" "What piercing, shrill cry is that--the
most melodious my ear ever heard, and the shrillest that ever struck
my heart of all the cries I ever heard?" "It is anything else but
the wail of the wave-swans of Connachar," said his brothers. "No!
yonder is a woman's cry of distress," said Naois, and he swore he
would not go further until he saw from whom the cry came, and Naois
turned back. Naois and Deirdre met, and Deirdre kissed Naois three
times, and a kiss each to his brothers. With the confusion that she
was in, Deirdre went into a crimson blaze of fire, and her colour
came and went as rapidly as the movement of the aspen by the stream
side. Naois thought he never saw a fairer creature, and Naois gave
Deirdre the love that he never gave to thing, to vision, or to
creature but to herself.

Then Naois placed Deirdre on the topmost height of his shoulder, and
told his brothers to keep up their pace, and they kept up their
pace. Naois thought that it would not be well for him to remain in
Erin on account of the way in which Connachar, King of Ulster, his
uncle's son, had gone against him because of the woman, though he
had not married her; and he turned back to Alba, that is, Scotland.
He reached the side of Loch-Ness and made his habitation there. He
could kill the salmon of the torrent from out his own door, and the
deer of the grey gorge from out his window. Naois and Deirdre and
Allen and Arden dwelt in a tower, and they were happy so long a time
as they were there.

By this time the end of the period came at which Deirdre had to
marry Connachar, King of Ulster. Connachar made up his mind to take
Deirdre away by the sword whether she was married to Naois or not.
So he prepared a great and gleeful feast. He sent word far and wide
through Erin all to his kinspeople to come to the feast. Connachar
thought to himself that Naois would not come though he should bid
him; and the scheme that arose in his mind was to send for his
father's brother, Ferchar Mac Ro, and to send him on an embassy to
Naois. He did so; and Connachar said to Ferchar, "Tell Naois, son of
Uisnech, that I am setting forth a great and gleeful feast to my
friends and kinspeople throughout the wide extent of Erin all, and
that I shall not have rest by day nor sleep by night if he and Allen
and Arden be not partakers of the feast."

Ferchar Mac Ro and his three sons went on their journey, and reached
the tower where Naois was dwelling by the side of Loch Etive. The
sons of Uisnech gave a cordial kindly welcome to Ferchar Mac Ro and
his three sons, and asked of him the news of Erin. "The best news
that I have for you," said the hardy hero, "is that Connachar, King
of Ulster, is setting forth a great sumptuous feast to his friends
and kinspeople throughout the wide extent of Erin all, and he has
vowed by the earth beneath him, by the high heaven above him, and by
the sun that wends to the west, that he will have no rest by day nor
sleep by night if the sons of Uisnech, the sons of his own father's
brother, will not come back to the land of their home and the soil
of their nativity, and to the feast likewise, and he has sent us on
embassy to invite you."

"We will go with you," said Naois.

"We will," said his brothers.

But Deirdre did not wish to go with Ferchar Mac Ro, and she tried
every prayer to turn Naois from going with him--she said:

"I saw a vision, Naois, and do you interpret it to me," said
Deirdre--then she sang:

O Naois, son of Uisnech, hear
What was shown in a dream to me.

There came three white doves out of the South
Flying over the sea,
And drops of honey were in their mouth
From the hive of the honey-bee.

O Naois, son of Uisnech, hear,
What was shown in a dream to me.

I saw three grey hawks out of the south
Come flying over the sea,
And the red red drops they bare in their mouth
They were dearer than life to me.

Said Naois:--

It is nought but the fear of woman's heart,
And a dream of the night, Deirdre.

"The day that Connachar sent the invitation to his feast will be
unlucky for us if we don't go, O Deirdre."

"You will go there," said Ferchar Mac Ro; "and if Connachar show
kindness to you, show ye kindness to him; and if he will display
wrath towards you display ye wrath towards him, and I and my three
sons will be with you."

"We will," said Daring Drop. "We will," said Hardy Holly. "We will,"
said Fiallan the Fair.

"I have three sons, and they are three heroes, and in any harm or
danger that may befall you, they will be with you, and I myself will
be along with them." And Ferchar Mac Ro gave his vow and his word in
presence of his arms that, in any harm or danger that came in the
way of the sons of Uisnech, he and his three sons would not leave
head on live body in Erin, despite sword or helmet, spear or shield,
blade or mail, be they ever so good.

Deirdre was unwilling to leave Alba, but she went with Naois.
Deirdre wept tears in showers and she sang:

Dear is the land, the land over there,
Alba full of woods and lakes;
Bitter to my heart is leaving thee,
But I go away with Naois.

Ferchar Mac Ro did not stop till he got the sons of Uisnech away
with him, despite the suspicion of Deirdre.

The coracle was put to sea,
The sail was hoisted to it;
And the second morrow they arrived
On the white shores of Erin.

As soon as the sons of Uisnech landed in Erin, Ferchar Mac Ro sent
word to Connachar, king of Ulster, that the men whom he wanted were
come, and let him now show kindness to them. "Well," said Connachar,
"I did not expect that the sons of Uisnech would come, though I sent
for them, and I am not quite ready to receive them. But there is a
house down yonder where I keep strangers, and let them go down to it
today, and my house will be ready before them tomorrow."

But he that was up in the palace felt it long that he was not
getting word as to how matters were going on for those down in the
house of the strangers. "Go you, Gelban Grednach, son of Lochlin's
King, go you down and bring me information as to whether her former
hue and complexion are on Deirdre. If they be, I will take her out
with edge of blade and point of sword, and if not, let Naois, son of
Uisnech, have her for himself," said Connachar.

Gelban, the cheering and charming son of Lochlin's King, went down
to the place of the strangers, where the sons of Uisnech and Deirdre
were staying. He looked in through the bicker-hole on the door-leaf.
Now she that he gazed upon used to go into a crimson blaze of
blushes when any one looked at her. Naois looked at Deirdre and knew
that some one was looking at her from the back of the door-leaf. He
seized one of the dice on the table before him and fired it through
the bicker-hole, and knocked the eye out of Gelban Grednach the
Cheerful and Charming, right through the back of his head. Gelban
returned back to the palace of King Connachar.

"You were cheerful, charming, going away, but you are cheerless,
charmless, returning. What has happened to you, Gelban? But have you
seen her, and are Deirdre's hue and complexion as before?" said
Connachar.

"Well, I have seen Deirdre, and I saw her also truly, and while I
was looking at her through the bicker-hole on the door, Naois, son
of Uisnech, knocked out my eye with one of the dice in his hand. But
of a truth and verity, although he put out even my eye, it were my
desire still to remain looking at her with the other eye, were it
not for the hurry you told me to be in," said Gelban.

"That is true," said Connachar; "let three hundred bravo heroes go
down to the abode of the strangers, and let them bring hither to me
Deirdre, and kill the rest."

Connachar ordered three hundred active heroes to go down to the
abode of the strangers and to take Deirdre up with them and kill the
rest. "The pursuit is coming," said Deirdre.

"Yes, but I will myself go out and stop the pursuit," said Naois.

"It is not you, but we that will go," said Daring Drop, and Hardy
Holly, and Fiallan the Fair; "it is to us that our father entrusted
your defence from harm and danger when he himself left for home."
And the gallant youths, full noble, full manly, full handsome, with
beauteous brown locks, went forth girt with battle arms fit for
fierce fight and clothed with combat dress for fierce contest fit,
which was burnished, bright, brilliant, bladed, blazing, on which
were many pictures of beasts and birds and creeping things, lions
and lithe-limbed tigers, brown eagle and harrying hawk and adder
fierce; and the young heroes laid low three-thirds of the company.

Connachar came out in haste and cried with wrath: "Who is there on
the floor of fight, slaughtering my men?"

"We, the three sons of Ferchar Mac Ro."

"Well," said the king, "I will give a free bridge to your
grandfather, a free bridge to your father, and a free bridge each to
you three brothers, if you come over to my side tonight."

"Well, Connachar, we will not accept that offer from you nor thank
you for it. Greater by far do we prefer to go home to our father and
tell the deeds of heroism we have done, than accept anything on
these terms from you. Naois, son of Uisnech, and Allen and Arden are
as nearly related to yourself as they are to us, though you are so
keen to shed their blood, and you would shed our blood also,
Connachar." And the noble, manly, handsome youths with beauteous,
brown locks returned inside. "We are now," said they, "going home to
tell our father that you are now safe from the hands of the king."
And the youths all fresh and tall and lithe and beautiful, went home
to their father to tell that the sons of Uisnech were safe. This
happened at the parting of the day and night in the morning twilight
time, and Naois said they must go away, leave that house, and return
to Alba.

Naois and Deirdre, Allan and Arden started to return to Alba. Word
came to the king that the company he was in pursuit of were gone.
The king then sent for Duanan Gacha Druid, the best magician he had,
and he spoke to him as follows:--"Much wealth have I expended on
you, Duanan Gacha Druid, to give schooling and learning and magic
mystery to you, if these people get away from me today without care,
without consideration or regard for me, without chance of overtaking
them, and without power to stop them."

"Well, I will stop them," said the magician, "until the company you
send in pursuit return." And the magician placed a wood before them
through which no man could go, but the sons of Uisnech marched
through the wood without halt or hesitation, and Deirdre held on to
Naois's hand.

"What is the good of that? that will not do yet," said Connachar.
"They are off without bending of their feet or stopping of their
step, without heed or respect to me, and I am without power to keep
up to them or opportunity to turn them back this night."

"I will try another plan on them," said the druid; and he placed
before them a grey sea instead of a green plain. The three heroes
stripped and tied their clothes behind their heads, and Naois placed
Deirdre on the top of his shoulder.

They stretched their sides to the stream,
And sea and land were to them the same,
The rough grey ocean was the same
As meadow-land green and plain.

"Though that be good, O Duanan, it will not make the heroes return,"
said Connachar; "they are gone without regard for me, and without
honour to me, and without power on my part to pursue them or to
force them to return this night."

"We shall try another method on them, since yon one did not stop
them," said the druid. And the druid froze the grey ridged sea into
hard rocky knobs, the sharpness of sword being on the one edge and
the poison power of adders on the other. Then Arden cried that he
was getting tired, and nearly giving over. "Come you, Arden, and sit
on my right shoulder," said Naois. Arden came and sat, on Naois's
shoulder. Arden was long in this posture when he died; but though he
was dead Naois would not let him go. Allen then cried out that he
was getting faint and nigh-well giving up. When Naois heard his
prayer, he gave forth the piercing sigh of death, and asked Allen to
lay hold of him and he would bring him to land.

Allen was not long when the weakness of death came on him and his
hold failed. Naois looked around, and when he saw his two well-
beloved brothers dead, he cared not whether he lived or died, and he
gave forth the bitter sigh of death, and his heart burst.

"They are gone," said Duanan Gacha Druid to the king, "and I have
done what you desired me. The sons of Uisnech are dead and they will
trouble you no more; and you have your wife hale and whole to
yourself."

"Blessings for that upon you and may the good results accrue to me,
Duanan. I count it no loss what I spent in the schooling and
teaching of you. Now dry up the flood, and let me see if I can
behold Deirdre," said Connachar. And Duanan Gacha Druid dried up the
flood from the plain and the three sons of Uisnech were lying
together dead, without breath of life, side by side on the green
meadow plain and Deirdre bending above showering down her tears.

Then Deirdre said this lament: "Fair one, loved one, flower of
beauty; beloved upright and strong; beloved noble and modest
warrior. Fair one, blue-eyed, beloved of thy wife; lovely to me at
the trysting-place came thy clear voice through the woods of
Ireland. I cannot eat or smile henceforth. Break not to-day, my
heart: soon enough shall I lie within my grave. Strong are the waves
of sorrow, but stronger is sorrow's self, Connachar."

The people then gathered round the heroes' bodies and asked
Connachar what was to be done with the bodies. The order that he
gave was that they should dig a pit and put the three brothers in it
side by side.

Deirdre kept sitting on the brink of the grave, constantly asking
the gravediggers to dig the pit wide and free. When the bodies of
the brothers were put in the grave, Deirdre said:--

Come over hither, Naois, my love,
Let Arden close to Allen lie;
If the dead had any sense to feel,
Ye would have made a place for Deirdre.

The men did as she told them. She jumped into the grave and lay down
by Naois, and she was dead by his side.

The king ordered the body to be raised from out the grave and to be
buried on the other side of the loch. It was done as the king bade,
and the pit closed. Thereupon a fir shoot grew out of the grave of
Deirdre and a fir shoot from the grave of Naois, and the two shoots
united in a knot above the loch. The king ordered the shoots to be
cut down, and this was done twice, until, at the third time, the
wife whom the king had married caused him to stop this work of evil
and his vengeance on the remains of the dead.

MUNACHAR AND MANACHAR

There once lived a Munachar and a Manachar, a long time ago, and it
is a long time since it was, and if they were alive now they would
not be alive then. They went out together to pick raspberries, and
as many as Munachar used to pick Manachar used to eat. Munachar said
he must go look for a rod to make a gad to hang Manachar, who ate
his raspberries every one; and he came to the rod. "What news the
day?" said the rod. "It is my own news that I'm seeking. Going
looking for a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Manachar, who
ate my raspberries every one."

"You will not get me," said the rod, "until you get an axe to cut
me." He came to the axe. "What news to-day?" said the axe. "It's my
own news I'm seeking. Going looking for an axe, an axe to cut a rod,
a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Manachar, who ate my raspberries
every one."

"You will not get me," said the axe, "until you get a flag to edge
me." He came to the flag. "What news today?" says the flag. "It's my
own news I'm seeking. Going looking for a flag, flag to edge axe,
axe to cut a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Manachar, who
ate my raspberries every one."

"You will not get me," says the flag, "till you get water to wet
me." He came to the water. "What news to-day?" says the water. "It's
my own news that I'm seeking. Going looking for water, water to wet
flag, flag to edge axe, axe to cut a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad
to hang Manachar, who ate my raspberries every one."

"You will not get me," said the water, "until you get a deer who
will swim me." He came to the deer. "What news to-day?" says the
deer. "It's my own news I'm seeking. Going looking for a deer, deer
to swim water, water to wet flag, flag to edge axe, axe to cut a
rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Manachar, who ate my
raspberries every one."

"You will not get me," said the deer, "until you get a hound who
will hunt me." He came to the hound. "What news to-day?" says the
hound. "It's my own news I'm seeking. Going looking for a hound,
hound to hunt deer, deer to swim water, water to wet flag, flag to
edge axe, axe to cut a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang
Manachar, who ate my raspberries every one."

"You will not get me," said the hound, "until you get a bit of
butter to put in my claw." He came to the butter. "What news to-
day?" says the butter. "It's my own news I'm seeking. Going looking
for butter, butter to go in claw of hound, hound to hunt deer, deer
to swim water, water to wet flag, flag to edge axe, axe to cut a
rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Manachar, who ate my
raspberries every one."

"You will not get me," said the butter, "until you get a cat who
shall scrape me." He came to the cat. "What news to-day?" said the
cat. "It's my own news I'm seeking. Going looking for a cat, cat to
scrape butter, butter to go in claw of hound, hound to hunt deer,
deer to swim water, water to wet flag, flag to edge axe, axe to cut
a rod, a rod to make a gad, gad to hang Manachar, who ate my
raspberries every one."

"You will not get me," said the cat, "until you will get milk which
you will give me." He came to the cow. "What news to-day?" said the
cow. "It's my own news I'm seeking. Going looking for a cow, cow to
give me milk, milk I will give to the cat, cat to scrape butter,
butter to go in claw of hound, hound to hunt deer, deer to swim
water, water to wet flag, flag to edge axe, axe to cut a rod, a rod
to make a gad, a gad to hang Manachar, who ate my raspberries every
one."

"You will not get any milk from me," said the cow, "until you bring
me a whisp of straw from those threshers yonder." He came to the
threshers. "What news to-day?" said the threshers. "It's my own news
I'm seeking. Going looking for a whisp of straw from ye to give to
the cow, the cow to give me milk, milk I will give to the cat, cat
to scrape butter, butter to go in claw of hound, hound to hunt deer,
deer to swim water, water to wet flag, flag to edge axe, axe to cut
a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Manachar, who ate my
raspberries every one."

"You will not get any whisp of straw from us," said the threshers,
"until you bring us the makings of a cake from the miller over
yonder." He came to the miller. "What news to-day?" said the miller.
"It's my own news I'm seeking. Going looking for the makings of a
cake which I will give to the threshers, the threshers to give me a
whisp of straw, the whisp of straw I will give to the cow, the cow
to give me milk, milk I will give to the cat, cat to scrape butter,
butter to go in claw of hound, hound to hunt deer, deer to swim
water, water to wet flag, flag to edge axe, axe to cut a rod, a rod
to make a gad, a gad to hang Manachar, who ate my raspberries every
one."

"You will not get any makings of a cake from me," said the miller,
"till you bring me the full of that sieve of water from the river
over there."

He took the sieve in his hand and went over to the river, but as
often as ever he would stoop and fill it with water, the moment he
raised it the water would run out of it again, and sure, if he had
been there from that day till this, he never could have filled it. A
crow went flying by him, over his head. "Daub! daub!" said the crow.

"My blessings on ye, then," said Munachar, "but it's the good advice
you have," and he took the red clay and the daub that was by the
brink, and he rubbed it to the bottom of the sieve, until all the
holes were filled, and then the sieve held the water, and he brought
the water to the miller, and the miller gave him the makings of a
cake, and he gave the makings of the cake to the threshers, and the
threshers gave him a whisp of straw, and he gave the whisp of straw
to the cow, and the cow gave him milk, the milk he gave to the cat,
the cat scraped the butter, the butter went into the claw of the
hound, the hound hunted the deer, the deer swam the water, the water
wet the flag, the flag sharpened the axe, the axe cut the rod, and
the rod made a gad, and when he had it ready to hang Manachar he
found that Manachar had BURST.

GOLD-TREE AND SILVER-TREE

Once upon a time there was a king who had a wife, whose name was
Silver-tree, and a daughter, whose name was Gold-tree. On a certain
day of the days, Gold-tree and Silver-tree went to a glen, where
there was a well, and in it there was a trout.

Said Silver-tree, "Troutie, bonny little fellow, am not I the most
beautiful queen in the world?"

"Oh! indeed you are not."

"Who then?"

"Why, Gold-tree, your daughter."

Silver-tree went home, blind with rage. She lay down on the bed, and
vowed she would never be well until she could get the heart and the
liver of Gold-tree, her daughter, to eat.

At nightfall the king came home, and it was told him that Silver-
tree, his wife, was very ill. He went where she was, and asked her
what was wrong with her.

"Oh! only a thing--which you may heal if you like."

"Oh! indeed there is nothing at all which I could do for you that I
would not do."

"If I get the heart and the liver of Gold-tree, my daughter, to eat,
I shall be well."

Now it happened about this time that the son of a great king had
come from abroad to ask Gold-tree for marrying. The king now agreed
to this, and they went abroad.

The king then went and sent his lads to the hunting-hill for a he-
goat, and he gave its heart and its liver to his wife to eat; and
she rose well and healthy.

A year after this Silver-tree went to the glen, where there was the
well in which there was the trout.

"Troutie, bonny little fellow," said she, "am not I the most
beautiful queen in the world?"

"Oh! indeed you are not."

"Who then?"

"Why, Gold-tree, your daughter."

"Oh! well, it is long since she was living. It is a year since I ate
her heart and liver."

"Oh! indeed she is not dead. She is married to a great prince
abroad."

Silver-tree went home, and begged the king to put the long-ship in
order, and said, "I am going to see my dear Gold-tree, for it is so
long since I saw her." The long-ship was put in order, and they went
away.

It was Silver-tree herself that was at the helm, and she steered the
ship so well that they were not long at all before they arrived.

The prince was out hunting on the hills. Gold-tree knew the long-
ship of her father coming.

"Oh!" said she to the servants, "my mother is coming, and she will
kill me."

"She shall not kill you at all; we will lock you in a room where she
cannot get near you."

This is how it was done; and when Silver-tree came ashore, she began
to cry out:

"Come to meet your own mother, when she comes to see you," Gold-tree
said that she could not, that she was locked in the room, and that
she could not get out of it.

"Will you not put out," said Silver-tree, "your little finger
through the key-hole, so that your own mother may give a kiss to
it?"

She put out her little finger, and Silver-tree went and put a
poisoned stab in it, and Gold-tree fell dead.

When the prince came home, and found Gold-tree dead, he was in great
sorrow, and when he saw how beautiful she was, he did not bury her
at all, but he locked her in a room where nobody would get near her.

In the course of time he married again, and the whole house was
under the hand of this wife but one room, and he himself always kept
the key of that room. On a certain day of the days he forgot to take
the key with him, and the second wife got into the room. What did
she see there but the most beautiful woman that she ever saw.

She began to turn and try to wake her, and she noticed the poisoned
stab in her finger. She took the stab out, and Gold-tree rose alive,
as beautiful as she was ever.

At the fall of night the prince came home from the hunting-hill,
looking very downcast.

"What gift," said his wife, "would you give me that I could make you
laugh?"

"Oh! indeed, nothing could make me laugh, except Gold-tree were to
come alive again."

"Well, you'll find her alive down there in the room."

When the prince saw Gold-tree alive he made great rejoicings, and he
began to kiss her, and kiss her, and kiss her. Said the second wife,
"Since she is the first one you had it is better for you to stick to
her, and I will go away."

"Oh! indeed you shall not go away, but I shall have both of you."

At the end of the year, Silver-tree went to the glen, where there
was the well, in which there was the trout.

"Troutie, bonny little fellow," said she, "am not I the most
beautiful queen in the world?"

"Oh! indeed you are not."

"Who then?"

"Why, Gold-tree, your daughter."

"Oh! well, she is not alive. It is a year since I put the poisoned
stab into her finger."

"Oh! indeed she is not dead at all, at all."

Silver-tree, went home, and begged the king to put the long-ship in
order, for that she was going to see her dear Gold-tree, as it was
so long since she saw her. The long-ship was put in order, and they
went away. It was Silver-tree herself that was at the helm, and she
steered the ship so well that they were not long at all before they
arrived.

The prince was out hunting on the hills. Gold-tree knew her father's
ship coming.

"Oh!" said she, "my mother is coming, and she will kill me."

"Not at all," said the second wife; "we will go down to meet her."

Silver-tree came ashore. "Come down, Gold-tree, love," said she,
"for your own mother has come to you with a precious drink."

"It is a custom in this country," said the second wife, "that the
person who offers a drink takes a draught out of it first."

Silver-tree put her mouth to it, and the second wife went and struck
it so that some of it went down her throat, and she fell dead. They
had only to carry her home a dead corpse and bury her.

The prince and his two wives were long alive after this, pleased and
peaceful.

I left them there.

KING O'TOOLE AND HIS GOOSE

Och, I thought all the world, far and near, had heerd o' King
O'Toole--well, well, but the darkness of mankind is untellible!
Well, sir, you must know, as you didn't hear it afore, that there
was a king, called King O'Toole, who was a fine old king in the old
ancient times, long ago; and it was he that owned the churches in
the early days. The king, you see, was the right sort; he was the
real boy, and loved sport as he loved his life, and hunting in
particular; and from the rising o' the sun, up he got, and away he
went over the mountains after the deer; and fine times they were.

Well, it was all mighty good, as long as the king had his health;
but, you see, in course of time the king grew old, by raison he was
stiff in his limbs, and when he got stricken in years, his heart
failed him, and he was lost entirely for want o' diversion, because
he couldn't go a-hunting no longer; and, by dad, the poor king was
obliged at last to get a goose to divert him. Oh, you may laugh, if
you like, but it's truth I'm telling you; and the way the goose
diverted him was this-a-way: You see, the goose used to swim across
the lake, and go diving for trout, and catch fish on a Friday for
the king, and flew every other day round about the lake, diverting
the poor king. All went on mighty well until, by dad, the goose got
stricken in years like her master, and couldn't divert him no
longer, and then it was that the poor king was lost entirely. The
king was walkin' one mornin' by the edge of the lake, lamentin' his
cruel fate, and thinking of drowning himself, that could get no
diversion in life, when all of a sudden, turning round the corner,
who should he meet but a mighty decent young man coming up to him.

"God save you," says the king to the young man.

"God save you kindly, King O'Toole," says the young man.

"True for you," says the king. "I am King O'Toole," says he, "prince
and plennypennytinchery of these parts," says he; "but how came ye
to know that?" says he.

"Oh, never mind," says St. Kavin.

You see it was Saint Kavin, sure enough--the saint himself in
disguise, and nobody else. "Oh, never mind," says he, "I know more
than that. May I make bold to ask how is your goose, King O'Toole?"
says he.

"Blur-an-agers, how came ye to know about my goose?" says the king.

"Oh, no matter; I was given to understand it," says Saint Kavin.

After some more talk the king says, "What are you?"

"I'm an honest man," says Saint Kavin.

"Well, honest man," says the king, "and how is it you make your
money so aisy?"

"By makin' old things as good as new," says Saint Kavin.

"Is it a tinker you are?" says the king.

"No," says the saint; "I'm no tinker by trade, King O'Toole; I've a
better trade than a tinker," says he--"what would you say," says he,
"if I made your old goose as good as new?"

My dear, at the word of making his goose as good as new, you'd think
the poor old king's eyes were ready to jump out of his head. With
that the king whistled, and down came the poor goose, just like a
hound, waddling up to the poor cripple, her master, and as like him
as two peas. The minute the saint clapt his eyes on the goose, "I'll
do the job for you," says he, "King O'Toole."

"By _Jaminee_!" says King O'Toole, "if you do, I'll say you're
the cleverest fellow in the seven parishes."

"Oh, by dad," says St. Kavin, "you must say more nor that--my horn's
not so soft all out," says he, "as to repair your old goose for
nothing; what'll you gi' me if I do the job for you?--that's the
chat," says St. Kavin.

"I'll give you whatever you ask," says the king; "isn't that fair?"

"Divil a fairer," says the saint; "that's the way to do business.
Now," says he, "this is the bargain I'll make with you, King
O'Toole: will you gi' me all the ground the goose flies over, the
first offer, after I make her as good as new?"

"I will," says the king.

"You won't go back o' your word?" says St. Kavin.

"Honour bright!" says King O'Toole, holding out his fist.

"Honour bright!" says St. Kavin, back agin, "it's a bargain. Come
here!" says he to the poor old goose--"come here, you unfortunate
ould cripple, and it's I that'll make you the sporting bird." With
that, my dear, he took up the goose by the two wings--"Criss o' my
cross an you," says he, markin' her to grace with the blessed sign
at the same minute--and throwing her up in the air, "whew," says he,
jist givin' her a blast to help her; and with that, my jewel, she
took to her heels, flyin' like one o' the eagles themselves, and
cutting as many capers as a swallow before a shower of rain.

Well, my dear, it was a beautiful sight to see the king standing
with his mouth open, looking at his poor old goose flying as light
as a lark, and better than ever she was: and when she lit at his
feet, patted her on the head, and "_Ma vourneen_," says he,
"but you are the _darlint_ o' the world."

"And what do you say to me," says 'Saint Kavin, "for making her the
like?"

"By Jabers," says the king, "I say nothing beats the art o' man,
barring the bees."

"And do you say no more nor that?" says Saint Kavin.

"And that I'm beholden to you," says the king.

"But will you gi'e me all the ground the goose flew over?" says
Saint Kavin.

"I will," says King O'Toole, "and you're welcome to it," says he,
"though it's the last acre I have to give."

"But you'll keep your word true?" says the saint.

"As true as the sun," says the king.

"It's well for you, King O'Toole, that you said that word," says he;
"for if you didn't say that word, the devil the bit o' your goose
would ever fly agin."

When the king was as good as his word, Saint Kavin was pleased with
him, and then it was that he made himself known to the king. "And,"
says he, "King O'Toole, you're a decent man, for I only came here to
try you. You don't know me," says he, "because I'm disguised."

"Musha! then," says the king, "who are you?"

"I'm Saint Kavin," said the saint, blessing himself.

"Oh, queen of heaven!" says the king, making the sign of the cross
between his eyes, and falling down on his knees before the saint;
"is it the great Saint Kavin," says he, "that I've been discoursing
all this time without knowing it," says he, "all as one as if he was
a lump of a _gossoon_?--and so you're a saint?" says the king.

"I am," says Saint Kavin.

"By Jabers, I thought I was only talking to a dacent boy," says the
king.

"Well, you know the difference now," says the saint. "I'm Saint
Kavin," says he, "the greatest of all the saints.".

And so the king had his goose as good as new, to divert him as long
as he lived: and the saint supported him after he came into his
property, as I told you, until the day of his death--and that was
soon after; for the poor goose thought he was catching a trout one
Friday; but, my jewel, it was a mistake he made--and instead of a
trout, it was a thieving horse-eel; and instead of the goose killing
a trout for the king's supper--by dad, the eel killed the king's
goose--and small blame to him; but he didn't ate her, because he
darn't ate what Saint Kavin had laid his blessed hands on.

THE WOOING OF OLWEN

Shortly after the birth of Kilhuch, the son of King Kilyth, his
mother died. Before her death she charged the king that he should
not take a wife again until he saw a briar with two blossoms upon
her grave, and the king sent every morning to see if anything were
growing thereon. After many years the briar appeared, and he took to
wife the widow of King Doged. She foretold to her stepson, Kilhuch,
that it was his destiny to marry a maiden named Olwen, or none
other, and he, at his father's bidding, went to the court of his
cousin, King Arthur, to ask as a boon the hand of the maiden. He
rode upon a grey steed with shell-formed hoofs, having a bridle of
linked gold, and a saddle also of gold. In his hand were two spears
of silver, well-tempered, headed with steel, of an edge to wound the
wind and cause blood to flow, and swifter than the fall of the dew-
drop from the blade of reed grass upon the earth when the dew of
June is at its heaviest. A gold-hilted sword was on his thigh, and
the blade was of gold, having inlaid upon it a cross of the hue of
the lightning of heaven. Two brindled, white-breasted greyhounds,
with strong collars of rubies, sported round him, and his courser
cast up four sods with its four hoofs like four swallows about his
head. Upon the steed was a four-cornered cloth of purple, and an
apple of gold was at each corner. Precious gold was upon the
stirrups and shoes, and the blade of grass bent not beneath them, so
light was the courser's tread as he went towards the gate of King
Arthur's palace.

Arthur received him with great ceremony, and asked him to remain at
the palace; but the youth replied that he came not to consume meat
and drink, but to ask a boon of the king.

Then said Arthur, "Since thou wilt not remain here, chieftain, thou
shalt receive the boon, whatsoever thy tongue may name, as far as
the wind dries and the rain moistens, and the sun revolves, and the
sea encircles, and the earth extends, save only my ships and my
mantle, my sword, my lance, my shield, my dagger, and Guinevere my
wife."

So Kilhuch craved of him the hand of Olwen, the daughter of
Yspathaden Penkawr, and also asked the favour and aid of all
Arthur's court.

Then said Arthur, "O chieftain, I have never heard of the maiden of
whom thou speakest, nor of her kindred, but I will gladly send
messengers in search of her."

And the youth said, "I will willingly grant from this night to that
at the end of the year to do so."

Then Arthur sent messengers to every land within his dominions to
seek for the maiden; and at the end of the year Arthur's messengers
returned without having gained any knowledge or information
concerning Olwen more than on the first day.

Then said Kilhuch, "Every one has received his boon, and I yet lack
mine. I will depart and bear away thy honour with me."

Then said Kay, "Rash chieftain! dost thou reproach Arthur? Go with
us, and we will not part until thou dost either confess that the
maiden exists not in the world, or until we obtain her."

Thereupon Kay rose up.

Kay had this peculiarity, that his breath lasted nine nights and
nine days under water, and he could exist nine nights and nine days
without sleep. A wound from Kay's sword no physician could heal.
Very subtle was Kay. When it pleased him he could render himself as
tall as the highest tree in the forest. And he had another
peculiarity--so great was the heat of his nature, that, when it
rained hardest, whatever he carried remained dry for a handbreadth
above and a handbreadth below his hand; and when his companions were
coldest, it was to them as fuel with which to light their fire.

And Arthur called Bedwyr, who never shrank from any enterprise upon
which Kay was bound. None was equal to him in swiftness throughout
this island except Arthur and Drych Ail Kibthar. And although he was
one-handed, three warriors could not shed blood faster than he on
the field of battle. Another property he had; his lance would
produce a wound equal to those of nine opposing lances.

And Arthur called to Kynthelig the guide. "Go thou upon this
expedition with the Chieftain." For as good a guide was he in a land
which he had never seen as he was in his own.

He called Gwrhyr Gwalstawt Ieithoedd, because he knew all tongues.

He called Gwalchmai, the son of Gwyar, because he never returned
home without achieving the adventure of which he went in quest. He
was the best of footmen and the best of knights. He was nephew to
Arthur, the son of his sister, and his cousin.

And Arthur called Menw, the son of Teirgwaeth, in order that if they
went into a savage country, he might cast a charm and an illusion
over them, so that none might see them whilst they could see every
one.

They journeyed on till they came to a vast open plain, wherein they
saw a great castle, which was the fairest in the world. But so far
away was it that at night it seemed no nearer, and they scarcely
reached it on the third day. When they came before the castle they
beheld a vast flock of sheep, boundless and without end. They told
their errand to the herdsman, who endeavoured to dissuade them,
since none who had come thither on that quest had returned alive.
They gave to him a gold ring, which he conveyed to his wife, telling
her who the visitors were.

On the approach of the latter, she ran out with joy to greet them,
and sought to throw her arms about their necks. But Kay, snatching a
billet out of the pile, placed the log between her two hands, and
she squeezed it so that it became a twisted coil.

"O woman," said Kay, "if thou hadst squeezed me thus, none could
ever again have set their affections on me. Evil love were this."

They entered the house, and after meat she told them that the maiden
Olwen came there every Saturday to wash. They pledged their faith
that they would not harm her, and a message was sent to her. So
Olwen came, clothed in a robe of flame-coloured silk, and with a
collar of ruddy gold, in which were emeralds and rubies, about her
neck. More golden was her hair than the flower of the broom, and her
skin was whiter than the foam of the wave, and fairer were her hands
and her fingers than the blossoms of the wood anemone amidst the
spray of the meadow fountain. Brighter were her glances than those
of a falcon; her bosom was more snowy than the breast of the white
swan, her cheek redder than the reddest roses. Whoso beheld was
filled with her love. Four white trefoils sprang up wherever she
trod, and therefore was she called Olwen.

Then Kilhuch, sitting beside her on a bench, told her his love, and
she said that he would win her as his bride if he granted whatever
her father asked.

Accordingly they went up to the castle and laid their request before
him.

"Raise up the forks beneath my two eyebrows which have fallen over
my eyes," said Yspathaden Penkawr, "that I may see the fashion of my
son-in-law."

They did so, and he promised, them an answer on the morrow. But as
they were going forth, Yspathaden seized one of the three poisoned
darts that lay beside him and threw it back after them.

And Bedwyr caught it and flung it back, wounding Yspathaden in the
knee.

Then said he, "A cursed ungentle son-in-law, truly. I shall ever
walk the worse for his rudeness. This poisoned iron pains me like
the bite of a gad-fly. Cursed be the smith who forged it, and the
anvil whereon it was wrought."

The knights rested in the house of Custennin the herdsman, but the
next day at dawn they returned to the castle and renewed their
request.

Yspathaden said it was necessary that he should consult Olwen's four
great-grandmothers and her four great-grand-sires.

The knights again withdrew, and as they were going he took the
second dart and cast it after them.

But Menw caught it and flung it back, piercing Yspathaden's breast
with it, so that it came out at the small of his back.

"A cursed ungentle son-in-law, truly," says he, "the hard iron pains
me like the bite of a horse-leech. Cursed be the hearth whereon it
was heated! Henceforth whenever I go up a hill, I shall have a scant
in my breath and a pain in my chest."

On the third day the knights returned once more to the palace, and
Yspathaden took the third dart and cast it at them.

But Kilhuch caught it and threw it vigorously, and wounded him
through the eyeball, so that the dart came out at the back of his
head.

"A cursed ungentle son-in-law, truly. As long as I remain alive my
eyesight will be the worse. Whenever I go against the wind my eyes
will water, and peradventure my head will burn, and I shall have a
giddiness every new moon. Cursed be the fire in which it was forged.
Like the bite of a mad dog is the stroke of this poisoned iron."

And they went to meat.

Said Yspathaden Penkawr, "Is it thou that seekest my daughter?"

"It is I," answered Kilhuch.

"I must have thy pledge that thou wilt not do towards me otherwise
than is just, and when I have gotten that which I shall name, my
daughter thou shalt have."

"I promise thee that willingly," said Kilhuch, "name what thou
wilt."

"I will do so," said he.

"Throughout the world there is not a comb or scissors with which I
can arrange my hair, on, account of its rankness, except the comb
and scissors that are between the two ears of Turch Truith, the son
of Prince Tared. He will not give them of his own free will, and
thou wilt not be able to compel him."

"It will be easy for me to compass this, although thou mayest think
that it will not be easy."

"Though thou get this, there is yet that which thou wilt not get. It
will not be possible to hunt Turch Truith without Drudwyn the whelp
of Greid, the son of Eri, and know that throughout the world there
is not a huntsman who can hunt with this dog, except Mabon the son
of Modron. He was taken from his mother when three nights old, and
it is not known where he now is, nor whether he is living or dead."

"It will be easy for me to compass this, although thou mayest think
that it will not be easy."

"Though thou get this, there is yet that which thou wilt not get.
Thou wilt not get Mabon, for it is not known where he is, unless
thou find Eidoel, his kinsman in blood, the son of Aer. For it would
be useless to seek for him. He is his cousin."

"It will be easy for me to compass this, although thou mayest think
that it will not be easy. Horses shall I have, and chivalry; and my
lord and kinsman Arthur will obtain for me all these things. And I
shall gain thy daughter, and thou shalt lose thy life."

"Go forward. And thou shalt not be chargeable for food or raiment
for my daughter while thou art seeking these things; and when thou
hast compassed all these marvels, thou shalt have my daughter for
wife."

Now, when they told Arthur how they had sped, Arthur said, "Which of
these marvels will it be best for us to seek first?"

"It will be best," said they, "to seek Mabon the son of Modron; and
he will not be found unless we first find Eidoel, the son of Aer,
his kinsman."

Then Arthur rose up, and the warriors of the Islands of Britain with
him, to seek for Eidoel; and they proceeded until they came before
the castle of Glivi, where Eidoel was imprisoned.

Glivi stood on the summit of his castle, and said, "Arthur, what
requirest thou of me, since nothing remains to me in this fortress,
and I have neither joy nor pleasure in it; neither wheat nor oats?"

Said Arthur, "Not to injure thee came I hither, but to seek for the
prisoner that is with thee."

"I will give thee my prisoner, though I had not thought to give him
up to any one; and therewith shalt thou have my support and my aid."

His followers then said unto Arthur, "Lord, go thou home, thou canst
not proceed with thy host in quest of such small adventures as
these."

Then said Arthur, "It were well for thee, Gwrhyr Gwalstawt
Ieithoedd, to go upon this quest, for thou knowest all languages,
and art familiar with those of the birds and the beasts. Go, Eidoel,
likewise with my men in search of thy cousin. And as for you, Kay
and Bedwyr, I have hope of whatever adventure ye are in quest of,
that ye will achieve it. Achieve ye this adventure for me."

These went forward until they came to the Ousel of Cilgwri, and
Gwrhyr adjured her for the sake of Heaven, saying, "Tell me if thou
knowest aught of Mabon, the son of Modron, who was taken when three
nights old from between his mother and the wall."

And the Ousel answered, "When I first came here there was a smith's
anvil in this place, and I was then a young bird, and from that time
no work has been done upon it, save the pecking of my beak every
evening, and now there is not so much as the size of a nut remaining
thereof; yet the vengeance of Heaven be upon me if during all that
time I have ever heard of the man for whom you inquire.
Nevertheless, there is a race of animals who were formed before me,
and I will be your guide to them."

So they proceeded to the place where was the Stag of Redynvre.

"Stag of Redynvre, behold we are come to thee, an embassy from
Arthur, for we have not heard of any animal older than thou. Say,
knowest thou aught of Mabon?"

The stag said, "When first I came hither there was a plain all
around me, without any trees save one oak sapling, which grew up to
be an oak with an hundred branches. And that oak has since perished,
so that now nothing remains of it but the withered stump; and from
that day to this I have been here, yet have I never heard of the man
for whom you inquire. Nevertheless, I will be your guide to the
place where there is an animal which was formed before I was."

So they proceeded to the place where was the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd, to
inquire of him concerning Mabon.

And the owl said, "If I knew I would tell you. When first I came
hither, the wide valley you see was a wooded glen. And a race of men
came and rooted it up. And there grew there a second wood, and this
wood is the third. My wings, are they not withered stumps? Yet all
this time, even until to-day, I have never heard of the man for whom
you inquire. Nevertheless, I will be the guide of Arthur's embassy
until you come to the place where is the oldest animal in this
world, and the one who has travelled most, the eagle of Gwern Abwy."

When they came to the eagle, Gwrhyr asked it the same question; but
it replied, "I have been here for a great space of time, and when I
first came hither there was a rock here, from the top of which I
pecked at the stars every evening, and now it is not so much as a
span high. From that day to this I have been here, and I have never
heard of the man for whom you inquire, except once when I went in
search of food as far as Llyn Llyw. And when I came there, I struck
my talons into a salmon, thinking he would serve me as food for a
long time. But he drew me into the deep, and I was scarcely able to
escape from him. After that I went with my whole kindred to attack
him and to try to destroy him, but he sent messengers and made peace
with me, and came and besought me to take fifty fish-spears out of
his back. Unless he know something of him whom you seek, I cannot
tell you who may. However, I will guide you to the place where he
is."

So they went thither, and the eagle said, "Salmon of Llyn Llyw, I
have come to thee with an embassy from Arthur to ask thee if thou
knowest aught concerning Mabon, the son of Modron, who was taken
away at three nights old from between his mother and the wall."

And the salmon answered, "As much as I know I will tell thee. With
every tide I go along the river upwards, until I come near to the
walls of Gloucester, and there have I found such wrong as I never
found elsewhere; and to the end that ye may give credence thereto,
let one of you go thither upon each of my two shoulders."

So Kay and Gwrhyr went upon his shoulders, and they proceeded till
they came to the wall of the prison, and they heard a great wailing
and lamenting from the dungeon. Said Gwrhyr, "Who is it that laments
in this house of stone?"

And the voice replied, "Alas, it is Mabon, the son of Modron, who is
here imprisoned!"

Then they returned and told Arthur, who, summoning his warriors,
attacked the castle.

And whilst the fight was going on, Kay and Bedwyr, mounting on the
shoulders of the fish, broke into the dungeon, and brought away with
them Mabon, the son of Modron.

Then Arthur summoned unto him all the warriors that were in the
three islands of Britain and in the three islands adjacent; and he
went as far as Esgeir Ocrvel in Ireland where the Boar Truith was
with his seven young pigs. And the dogs were let loose upon him from
all sides. But he wasted the fifth part of Ireland, and then set
forth through the sea to Wales. Arthur and his hosts, and his
horses, and his dogs followed hard after him. But ever and awhile
the boar made a stand, and many a champion of Arthur's did he slay.
Throughout all Wales did Arthur follow him, and one by one the
young pigs were killed. At length, when he would fain have crossed
the Severn and escaped into Cornwall, Mabon the son of Modron came
up with him, and Arthur fell upon him together with the champions of
Britain. On the one side Mabon the son of Modron spurred his steed
and snatched his razor from him, whilst Kay came up with him on the
other side and took from him the scissors. But before they could
obtain the comb he had regained the ground with his feet, and from
the moment that he reached the shore, neither dog nor man nor horse
could overtake him until he came to Cornwall. There Arthur and his
hosts followed in his track until they overtook him in Cornwall.
Hard had been their trouble before, but it was child's play to what
they met in seeking the comb. Win it they did, and the Boar Truith
they hunted into the deep sea, and it was never known whither he
went.

Then Kilhuch set forward, and as many as wished ill to Yspathaden
Penkawr. And they took the marvels with them to his court. And Kaw
of North Britain came and shaved his beard, skin and flesh clean off
to the very bone from ear to ear.

"Art thou shaved, man?" said Kilhuch.

"I am shaved," answered he.

"Is thy daughter mine now?"

"She is thine, but therefore needst thou not thank me, but Arthur
who hath accomplished this for thee. By my free will thou shouldst
never have had her, for with her I lose my life."

Then Goreu the son of Custennin seized him by the hair of his head
and dragged him after him to the keep, and cut off his head and
placed it on a stake on the citadel.

Thereafter the hosts of Arthur dispersed themselves each man to his
own country.

Thus did Kilhuch son of Kelython win to wife Olwen, the daughter of
Yspathaden Penkawr.

JACK AND HIS COMRADES

Once there was a poor widow, as often there has been, and she had
one son. A very scarce summer came, and they didn't know how they'd
live till the new potatoes would be fit for eating. So Jack said to
his mother one evening, "Mother, bake my cake, and kill my hen, till
I go seek my fortune; and if I meet it, never fear but I'll soon be
back to share it with you."

So she did as he asked her, and he set out at break of day on his
journey. His mother came along with him to the yard gate, and says
she, "Jack, which would you rather have, half the cake and half the
hen with my blessing, or the whole of 'em with my curse?"

"O musha, mother," says Jack, "why do you ax me that question? sure
you know I wouldn't have your curse and Damer's estate along with
it."

"Well, then, Jack," says she, "here's the whole lot of 'em with my
thousand blessings along with them." So she stood on the yard fence
and blessed him as far as her eyes could see him.

Well, he went along and along till he was tired, and ne'er a
farmer's house he went into wanted a boy. At last his road led by
the side of a bog, and there was a poor ass up to his shoulders near
a big bunch of grass he was striving to come at.

"Ah, then, Jack asthore," says he, "help me out or I'll be drowned."

"Never say't twice," says Jack, and be pitched in big stones and
sods into the slob, till the ass got good ground under him.

"Thank you, Jack," says he, when he was out on the hard road; "I'll
do as much for you another time. Where are you going?"

"Faith, I'm going to seek my fortune till harvest comes in, God
bless it!"

"And if you like," says the ass, "I'll go along with you; who knows
what luck we may have!"

"With all my heart, it's getting late, let us be jogging."

Well, they were going through a village, and a whole army of
gossoons were hunting a poor dog with a kettle tied to his tail. He
ran up to Jack for protection, and the ass let such a roar out of
him, that the little thieves took to their heels as if the ould boy
was after them.

"More power to you, Jack," says the dog.

"I'm much obleeged to you: where is the baste and yourself going?"

"We're going to seek our fortune till harvest comes in."

"And wouldn't I be proud to go with you!" says the dog, "and get rid
of them ill conducted boys; purshuin' to 'em."

"Well, well, throw your tail over your arm, and come along."

They got outside the town, and sat down under an old wall, and Jack
pulled out his bread and meat, and shared with the dog; and the ass
made his dinner on a bunch of thistles. While they were eating and
chatting, what should come by but a poor half-starved cat, and the
moll-row he gave out of him would make your heart ache.

"You look as if you saw the tops of nine houses since breakfast,"
says Jack; "here's a bone and something on it."

"May your child never know a hungry belly!" says Tom; "it's myself
that's in need of your kindness. May I be so bold as to ask where
yez are all going?"

"We're going to seek our fortune till the harvest comes in, and you
may join us if you like."

"And that I'll do with a heart and a half," says the cat, "and
thank'ee for asking me."'

Off they set again, and just as the shadows of the trees were three
times as long as themselves, they heard a great cackling in a field
inside the road, and out over the ditch jumped a fox with a fine
black cock in his mouth.

"Oh, you anointed villain!" says the ass, roaring like thunder.

"At him, good dog!" says Jack, and the word wasn't out of his mouth
when Coley was in full sweep after the Red Dog. Reynard dropped his
prize like a hot potato, and was off like shot, and the poor cock
came back fluttering and trembling to Jack and his comrades.

"O musha, naybours!" says he, "wasn't it the height o' luck that
threw you in my way! Maybe I won't remember your kindness if ever I
find you in hardship; and where in the world are you all going?"

"We're going to seek our fortune till the harvest comes in; you may
join our party if you like, and sit on Neddy's crupper when your
legs and wings are tired."

Well, the march began again, and just as the sun was gone down they
looked around, and there was neither cabin nor farm house in sight.

"Well, well," says Jack, "the worse luck now the better another
time, and it's only a summer night after all. We'll go into the
wood, and make our bed on the long grass."

No sooner said than done. Jack stretched himself on a bunch of dry
grass, the ass lay near him, the dog and cat lay in the ass's warm
lap, and the cock went to roost in the next tree.

Well, the soundness of deep sleep was over them all, when the cock
took a notion of crowing.

"Bother you, Black Cock!" says the ass: "you disturbed me from as
nice a wisp of hay as ever I tasted. What's the matter?"

"It's daybreak that's the matter: don't you see light yonder?"

"I see a light indeed," says Jack, "but it's from a candle it's
coming, and not from the sun. As you've roused us we may as well go
over, and ask for lodging."

So they all shook themselves, and went on through grass, and rocks,
and briars, till they got down into a hollow, and there was the
light coming through the shadow, and along with it came singing, and
laughing, and cursing.

"Easy, boys!" says Jack: "walk on your tippy toes till we see what
sort of people we have to deal with."

So they crept near the window, and there they saw six robbers
inside, with pistols, and blunderbushes, and cutlashes, sitting at a
table, eating roast beef and pork, and drinking mulled beer, and
wine, and whisky punch.

"Wasn't that a fine haul we made at the Lord of Dunlavin's!" says
one ugly-looking thief with his mouth full, "and it's little we'd
get only for the honest porter! here's his purty health!"

"The porter's purty health!" cried out every one of them, and Jack
bent his finger at his comrades.

"Close your ranks, my men," says he in a whisper, "and let every one
mind the word of command."

So the ass put his fore-hoofs on the sill of the window, the dog got
on the ass's head, the cat on the dog's head, and the cock on the
cat's head. Then Jack made a sign, and they all sung out like mad.

"Hee-haw, hee-haw!" roared the ass; "bow-wow!" barked the dog;
"meaw-meaw!" cried the cat; "cock-a-doodle-doo!" crowed the cock.

"Level your pistols!" cried Jack, "and make smithereens of 'em.
Don't leave a mother's son of 'em alive; present, fire!" With that
they gave another halloo, and smashed every pane in the window. The
robbers were frightened out of their lives. They blew out the
candles, threw down the table, and skelped out at the back door as
if they were in earnest, and never drew rein till they were in the
very heart of the wood.

Jack and his party got into the room, closed the shutters, lighted
the candles, and ate and drank till hunger and thirst were gone.
Then they lay down to rest;--Jack in the bed, the ass in the stable,
the dog on the door-mat, the cat by the fire, and the cock on the
perch.

At first the robbers were very glad to find themselves safe in the
thick wood, but they soon began to get vexed.

"This damp grass is very different from our warm room," says one.

"I was obliged to drop a fine pig's foot," says another.

"I didn't get a tayspoonful of my last tumbler," says another.

"And all the Lord of Dunlavin's gold and silver that we left
behind!" says the last.

"I think I'll venture back," says the captain, "and see if we can
recover anything."

"That's a good boy!" said they all, and away he went.

The lights were all out, and so he groped his way to the fire, and
there the cat flew in his face, and tore him with teeth and claws.
He let a roar out of him, and made for the room door, to look for a
candle inside. He trod on the dog's tail, and if he did, he got the
marks of his teeth in his arms, and legs, and thighs.

"Thousand murders!" cried he; "I wish I was out of this unlucky
house."

When he got to the street door, the cock dropped down upon him with
his claws and bill, and what the cat and dog done to him was only a
flay-bite to what he got from the cock.

"Oh, tattheration to you all, you unfeeling vagabones!" says he,
when he recovered his breath; and he staggered and spun round and
round till he reeled into the stable, back foremost, but the ass
received him with a kick on the broadest part of his small clothes,
and laid him comfortably on the dunghill.

When he came to himself, he scratched his head, and began to think
what happened him; and as soon as he found that his legs were able
to carry him, he crawled away, dragging one foot after another, till
he reached the wood.

"Well, well," cried them all, when he came within hearing, "any
chance of our property?"

"You may say chance," says he, "and it's itself is the poor chance
all out. Ah, will any of you pull a bed of dry grass for me? All the
sticking-plaster in Enniscorthy will be too little for the cuts and
bruises I have on me. Ah, if you only knew what I have gone through
for you! When I got to the kitchen fire, looking for a sod of
lighted turf, what should be there but an old woman carding flax,
and you may see the marks she left on my face with the cards. I made
to the room door as fast as I could, and who should I stumble over
but a cobbler and his seat, and if he did not work at me with his
awls and his pinchers you may call me a rogue. Well, I got away from
him somehow, but when I was passing through the door, it must be the
divel himself that pounced down on me with his claws, and his teeth,
that were equal to sixpenny nails, and his wings--ill luck be in his
road! Well, at last I reached the stable, and there, by way of
salute, I got a pelt from a sledge-hammer that sent me half a mile
off. If you don't believe me, I'll give you leave to go and judge
for yourselves."

"Oh, my poor captain," says they, "we believe you to the nines.
Catch us, indeed, going within a hen's race of that unlucky cabin!"

Well, before the sun shook his doublet next morning, Jack and his
comrades were up and about. They made a hearty breakfast on what was
left the night before, and then they all agreed to set off to the
castle of the Lord of Dunlavin, and give him back all his gold and
silver. Jack put it all in the two ends of a sack and laid it across
Neddy's back, and all took the road in their hands. Away they went,
through bogs, up hills, down dales, and sometimes along the yellow
high road, till they came to the hall-door of the Lord of Dunlavin,
and who should be there, airing his powdered head, his white
stockings, and his red breeches, but the thief of a porter.

He gave a cross look to the visitors, and says he to Jack, "What do
you want here, my fine fellow? there isn't room for you all."

"We want," says Jack, "what I'm sure you haven't to give us--and
that is, common civility."

"Come, be off, you lazy strollers!" says he, "while a cat 'ud be
licking her ear, or I'll let the dogs at you."

"Would you tell a body," says the cock that was perched on the ass's
head, "who was it that opened the door for the robbers the other
night?"

Ah! maybe the porter's red face didn't turn the colour of his frill,
and the Lord of Dunlavin and his pretty daughter, that were standing
at the parlour window unknownst to the porter, put out their heads.

"I'd be glad, Barney," says the master, "to hear your answer to the
gentleman with the red comb on him."

"Ah, my lord, don't believe the rascal; sure I didn't open the door
to the six robbers."

"And how did you know there were six, you poor innocent?" said the
lord.

"Never mind, sir," says Jack, "all your gold and silver is there in
that sack, and I don't think you will begrudge us our supper and bed
after our long march from the wood of Athsalach."

"Begrudge, indeed! Not one of you will ever see a poor day if I can
help it."

So all were welcomed to their heart's content, and the ass and the
dog and the cock got the best posts in the farmyard, and the cat
took possession of the kitchen. The lord took Jack in hands, dressed
him from top to toe in broadcloth, and frills as white as snow, and
turnpumps, and put a watch in his fob. When they sat down to dinner,
the lady of the house said Jack had the air of a born gentleman
about him, and the lord said he'd make him his steward. Jack brought
his mother, and settled her comfortably near the castle, and all
were as happy as you please.

THE SHEE AN GANNON AND THE GRUAGACH GAIRE

The Shee an Gannon was born in the morning, named at noon, and went
in the evening to ask his daughter of the king of Erin.

"I will give you my daughter in marriage," said the king of Erin;
"you won't get her, though, unless you go and bring me back the
tidings that I want, and tell me what it is that put a stop to the
laughing of the Gruagach Gaire, who before this laughed always, and
laughed so loud that the whole world heard him. There are twelve
iron spikes out here in the garden behind my castle. On eleven of
the spikes are the heads of kings' sons who came seeking my
daughter in marriage, and all of them went away to get the knowledge
I wanted. Not one was able to get it and tell me what stopped the
Gruagach Gaire from laughing. I took the heads off them all when
they came back without the tidings for which they went, and I'm
greatly in dread that your head'll be on the twelfth spike, for I'll
do the same to you that I did to the eleven kings' sons unless you
tell what put a stop to the laughing of the Gruagach."

The Shee an Gannon made no answer, but left the king and pushed away
to know could he find why the Gruagach was silent.

He took a glen at a step, a hill at a leap, and travelled all day
till evening. Then he came to a house. The master of the house asked
him what sort was he, and he said: "A young man looking for hire."

"Well," said the master of the house, "I was going tomorrow to look
for a man to mind my cows. If you'll work for me, you'll have a good
place, the best food a man could have to eat in this world, and a
soft bed to lie on."

The Shee an Gannon took service, and ate his supper. Then the master
of the house said: "I am the Gruagach Gaire; now that you are my man
and have eaten your supper, you'll have a bed of silk to sleep on."

Next morning after breakfast the Gruagach said to the Shee an
Gannon: "Go out now and loosen my five golden cows and my bull
without horns, and drive them to pasture; but when you have them out
on the grass, be careful you don't let them go near the land of the
giant."

The new cowboy drove the cattle to pasture, and when near the land
of the giant, he saw it was covered with woods and surrounded by a
high wall. He went up, put his back against the wall, and threw in a
great stretch of it; then he went inside and threw out another great
stretch of the wall, and put the five golden cows and the bull
without horns on the land of the giant.

Then he climbed a tree, ate the sweet apples himself, and threw the
sour ones down to the cattle of the Gruagach Gaire.

Soon a great crashing was heard in the woods,--the noise of young
trees bending, and old trees breaking. The cowboy looked around and
saw a five-headed giant pushing through the trees; and soon he was
before him.

"Poor miserable creature!" said the giant; "but weren't you impudent
to come to my land and trouble me in this way? You're too big for
one bite, and too small for two. I don't know what to do but tear
you to pieces."

"You nasty brute," said the cowboy, coming down to him from the
tree, "'tis little I care for you;" and then they went at each
other. So great was the noise between them that there was nothing in
the world but what was looking on and listening to the combat.

They fought till late in the afternoon, when the giant was getting
the upper hand; and then the cowboy thought that if the giant should
kill him, his father and mother would never find him or set eyes on
him again, and he would never get the daughter of the king of Erin.
The heart in his body grew strong at this thought. He sprang on the
giant, and with the first squeeze and thrust he put him to his knees
in the hard ground, with the second thrust to his waist, and with
the third to his shoulders.

"I have you at last; you're done for now!", said the cowboy. Then he
took out his knife, cut the five heads off the giant, and when he
had them off he cut out the tongues and threw the heads over the
wall.

Then he put the tongues in his pocket and drove home the cattle.
That evening the Gruagach couldn't find vessels enough in all his
place to hold the milk of the five golden cows.

But when the cowboy was on the way home with the cattle, the son of
the king of Tisean came and took the giant's heads and claimed the
princess in marriage when the Gruagach Gaire should laugh.

After supper the cowboy would give no talk to his master, but kept
his mind to himself, and went to the bed of silk to sleep.

On the morning the cowboy rose before his master, and the first
words he said to the Gruagach were:

"What keeps you from laughing, you who used to laugh so loud that
the whole world heard you?"

"I'm sorry," said the Gruagach, "that the daughter of the king of
Erin sent you here."

"If you don't tell me of your own will, I'll make you tell me," said
the cowboy; and he put a face on himself that was terrible to look
at, and running through the house like a madman, could find nothing
that would give pain enough to the Gruagach but some ropes made of
untanned sheepskin hanging on the wall.

He took these down, caught the Gruagach, fastened him by the three
smalls, and tied him so that his little toes were whispering to his
ears. When he was in this state the Gruagach said: "I'll tell you
what stopped my laughing if you set me free."

So the cowboy unbound him, the two sat down together, and the
Gruagach said:--

"I lived in this castle here with my twelve sons. We ate, drank,
played cards, and enjoyed ourselves, till one day when my sons and I
were playing, a slender brown hare came rushing in, jumped on to the
hearth, tossed up the ashes to the rafters and ran away.

"On another day he came again; but if he did, we were ready for him,
my twelve sons and myself. As soon as he tossed up the ashes and ran
off, we made after him, and followed him till nightfall, when he
went into a glen. We saw a light before us. I ran on, and came to a
house with a great apartment, where there was a man named Yellow
Face with twelve daughters, and the hare was tied to the side of the
room near the women.

"There was a large pot over the fire in the room, and a great stork
boiling in the pot. The man of the house said to me: 'There are
bundles of rushes at the end of the room, go there and sit down with
your men!'

"He went into the next room and brought out two pikes, one of wood,
the other of iron, and asked me which of the pikes would I take. I
said, 'I'll take the iron one;' for I thought in my heart that if an
attack should come on me, I could defend myself better with the iron
than the wooden pike.

"Yellow Face gave me the iron pike, and the first chance of taking
what I could out of the pot on the point of the pike. I got but a
small piece of the stork, and the man of the house took all the rest
on his wooden pike. We had to fast that night; and when the man and
his twelve daughters ate the flesh of the stork, they hurled the
bare bones in the faces of my sons and myself. We had to stop all
night that way, beaten on the faces by the bones of the stork.

"Next morning, when we were going away, the man of the house asked
me to stay a while; and going into the next room, he brought out
twelve loops of iron and one of wood, and said to me: 'Put the heads
of your twelve sons into the iron loops, or your own head into the
wooden one;' and I said: 'I'll put the twelve heads of my sons in
the iron loops, and keep my own out of the wooden one.'

"He put the iron loops on the necks of my twelve sons, and put the
wooden one on his own neck. Then he snapped the loops one after
another, till he took the heads off my twelve sons and threw the
heads and bodies out of the house; but he did nothing to hurt his
own neck.

"When he had killed my sons he took hold of me and stripped the skin
and flesh from the small of my back down, and when he had done that
he took the skin of a black sheep that had been hanging on the wall
for seven years and clapped it on my body in place of my own flesh
and skin; and the sheepskin grew on me, and every year since then I
shear myself, and every bit of wool I use for the stockings that I
wear I clip off my own back."

When he had said this, the Gruagach showed the cowboy his back
covered with thick black wool.

After what he had seen and heard, the cowboy said: "I know now why
you don't laugh, and small blame to you. But does that hare come
here still?"

"He does indeed," said the Gruagach.

Both went to the table to play, and they were not long playing cards
when the hare ran in; and before they could stop him he was out
again.

But the cowboy made after the hare, and the Gruagach after the
cowboy, and they ran as fast as ever their legs could carry them
till nightfall; and when the hare was entering the castle where the
twelve sons of the Gruagach were killed, the cowboy caught him by
the two hind legs and dashed out his brains against the wall; and
the skull of the hare was knocked into the chief room of the castle,
and fell at the feet of the master of the place.

"Who has dared to interfere with my fighting pet?" screamed Yellow
Face.

"I," said the cowboy; "and if your pet had had manners, he might be
alive now."

The cowboy and the Gruagach stood by the fire. A stork was boiling
in the pot, as when the Gruagach came the first time. The master of
the house went into the next room and brought out an iron and a
wooden pike, and asked the cowboy which would he choose.

"I'll take the wooden one," said the cowboy; "and you may keep the
iron one for yourself."

So he took the wooden one; and going to the pot, brought out on the
pike all the stork except a small bite, and he and the Gruagach fell
to eating, and they were eating the flesh of the stork all night.
The cowboy and the Gruagach were at home in the place that time.

In the morning the master of the house went into the next room, took
down the twelve iron loops with a wooden one, brought them out, and
asked the cowboy which would he take, the twelve iron or the one
wooden loop.

"What could I do with the twelve iron ones for myself or my master?
I'll take the wooden one."

He put it on, and taking the twelve iron loops, put them on the
necks of the twelve daughters of the house, then snapped the twelve
heads off them, and turning to their father, said: "I'll do the same
thing to you unless you bring the twelve sons of my master to life,
and make them as well and strong as when you took their heads."

The master of the house went out and brought the twelve to life
again; and when the Gruagach saw all his sons alive and as well as
ever, he let a laugh out of himself, and all the Eastern world heard
the laugh.

Then the cowboy said to the Gruagach: "It's a bad thing you have
done to me, for the daughter of the king of Erin will be married the
day after your laugh is heard."

"Oh! then we must be there in time," said the Gruagach; and they all
made away from the place as fast as ever they could, the cowboy, the
Gruagach, and his twelve sons.

They hurried on; and when within three miles of the king's castle
there was such a throng of people that no one could go a step ahead.
"We must clear a road through this," said the cowboy.

"We must indeed," said the Gruagach; and at it they went, threw the
people some on one side and some on the other, and soon they had an
opening for themselves to the king's castle.

As they went in, the daughter of the king of Erin and the son of the
king of Tisean were on their knees just going to be married. The
cowboy drew his hand on the bride-groom, and gave a blow that sent
him spinning till he stopped under a table at the other side of the
room.

"What scoundrel struck that blow?" asked the king of Erin.

"It was I," said the cowboy.

"What reason had you to strike the man who won my daughter?"

"It was I who won your daughter, not he; and if you don't believe
me, the Gruagach Gaire is here himself. He'll tell you the whole
story from beginning to end, and show you the tongues of the giant."

So the Gruagach came up and told the king the whole story, how the
Shee an Gannon had become his cowboy, had guarded the five golden
cows and the bull without horns, cut off the heads of the five-
headed giant, killed the wizard hare, and brought his own twelve
sons to life. "And then," said the Gruagach, "he is the only man in
the whole world I have ever told why I stopped laughing, and the
only one who has ever seen my fleece of wool."

When the king of Erin heard what the Gruagach said, and saw the
tongues of the giant fitted in the head, he made the Shee an Gannon
kneel down by his daughter, and they were married on the spot.

Then the son of the king of Tisean was thrown into prison, and the
next day they put down a great fire, and the deceiver was burned to
ashes.

The wedding lasted nine days, and the last day was better than the
first.

THE STORY-TELLER AT FAULT

At the time when the Tuatha De Dannan held the sovereignty of
Ireland, there reigned in Leinster a king, who was remarkably fond
of hearing stories. Like the other princes and chieftains of the
island, he had a favourite story-teller, who held a large estate
from his Majesty, on condition of telling him a new story every
night of his life, before he went to sleep. Many indeed were the
stories he knew, so that he had already reached a good old age
without failing even for a single night in his task; and such was
the skill he displayed that whatever cares of state or other
annoyances might prey upon the monarch's mind, his story-teller was
sure to send him to sleep.

One morning the story-teller arose early, and as his custom was,
strolled out into his garden turning over in his mind incidents
which he might weave into a story for the king at night. But this
morning he found himself quite at fault; after pacing his whole
demesne, he returned to his house without being able to think of
anything new or strange. He found no difficulty in "there was once a
king who had three sons" or "one day the king of all Ireland," but
further than that he could not get. At length he went in to
breakfast, and found his wife much perplexed at his delay.

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