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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.