| Contents | Main Page
THE RAID FOR THE CATTLE OF FRAECH
Now the news of the love of that maid to Fraech, at his home where he
dwelt, was brought,
And he called his folk, and with all he spoke, and for speech with the
maid he sought:
And they counselled him thus: "Let a message from thee be sent to thy
To entreat their aid when we seek that maid; a boon we may chance to
For the wondrous robes of the fairy land, and for gifts from the
And sure thy mother's sister's hand will give to thee all thy need."
To Mag Breg,[FN#1] where his mother's sister dwelt, to Boand he away
And she gave to him mantles of dark black-blue, like a beetle's back
Four dark-grey rings in each cloak she gave were sewn, and a brooch
With the good red gold in each mantle's fold; she gave tunics pale and
And the tunics were bordered with golden loops, that forms as of beasts
And a fifty she added of well-rimmed shields, that of silver white were
[FN#1] Pronounced Maw Brayg.
Then away they rode, in each hero's hand was a torch for a kingly hall,
For studs of bronze, and of well-burned gold, shone bright on the
spears of all;
On carbuncle sockets the spears were set, their points with jewels
And they lit the night, as with fair sunlight, as men on their glory
By each of the fifty heroes' side was a sword with a hilt of gold;
And a soft-grey mare was for each to ride, with a golden curb
At each horse's throat was a silver plate, and in front of that plate
With a tinkling sound to the horse's tread, a bell with a golden tongue.
on each steed was a housing of purple hide, with threads of silver
And with spiral stitch of the silver threads the heads of beasts were
And each housing was buckled with silver and gold: of findruine[FN#2]
was made the whip
For each rider to hold, with a crook of gold where it came to the horse
[FN#2] Pronounced "find-roony," the unknown "white-bronze" metal.
By their sides, seven chase-hounds were springing
At leashes of silver they strained,
And each couple a gold apple, swinging
On the fetter that linked them, sustained:
And their feet with bronze sheaths had been guarded,
As if greaves for defence they had worn,
Every hue man hath seen, or hath fancied,
By those chase-hounds in brilliance was borne.
Seven trumpeters strode on the road before, with colour their cloaks
And their coats, that shone with the gauds they wore, flashed back as
they met the light;
On trumpets of silver and gold they blew, and sweet was the trumpets'
And their hair, soft and yellow, like fairy threads, shone golden their
Three jesters marched in the van, their-crowns were of silver, by gilt
And emblems they. carried of quaint device, engraved on each jester's
They had staves which with crests were adorned, and ribs down their
edges in red bronze ran;
Three harp-players moved by the jesters' sides, and each was a kingly
All these were the gifts that the fairy gave, and gaily they made their
And to Croghan's[FN#3] hold, in that guise so brave, away did the host
[FN#3] Pronounced Crow-han.
On the fort stands a watchman to view them,
And thus news down to Croghan he calls:
"From yon plain comes, in fulness of numbers,
A great army to Croghan's high walls;
And, since Ailill the throne first ascended,
Since the day we hailed Maev as our Queen,
Never army so fair nor so splendid
Yet hath come, nor its like shall be seen."
"'Tis strange," said he," as dipped in wine,
So swims, so reels my head,
As o'er me steals the breath divine
Of perfume from them shed."
"A fair youth," said he, "forth with them goeth,
And the grace of such frolicsome play,
And such lightness in leap as he showeth
Have I seen not on earth till to-day:
For his spear a full shot's length he flingeth,
Yet the spear never reacheth to ground,
For his silver-chained hounds follow after,
In their jaws is the spear ever found!"
The Connaught hosts without the fort
To see that glory rushed:
Sixteen within, of baser sort,
Who gazed, to death were crushed.
To the fort came the youths, from their steeds they leapt, for the
steeds and the stabling cared,
And they loosed the hounds that in leash they kept, for the hunt were
the hounds prepared;
Seven deer, seven foxes and hares, they chased to the dun on Croghan's
Seven boars they drave, on the lawn in haste the game by the youths was
With a bound they dashed into Bree, whose flood by the lawns of Croghan
Seven otters they caught in its stream, and brought to a hill where the
'Twas there that Fraech and the princes sat at the castle-gate to rest,
And the steward of Croghan with Fraech would speak, for such was the
Of his birth it was asked, and the men he led all truth to the herald
"It is Idath's son who is here," they said, and they gave him the name
To Ailill and Maev went the steward back of the stranger's name to tell;
"Give him welcome," said they: "Of a noble race is that youth, and I
know it well;
Let him enter the court of our house," said the king, the gateway they
And the fourth of the palace they gave to Fraech, that there might his
Fair was the palace that there they found,
Seven great chambers were ranged it round;
Right to the walls of the house they spread,
Facing the hall, where the fire glowed red:
Red yew planks, that had felt the plane,
Dappled the walls with their tangled grain:
Rails of bronze at the side-walls stood,
Plates of bronze had made firm the wood,
Seven brass bolts to the roof-tree good
Firmly the vaulting tied.
All that house had of pine been made,
Planks, as shingles, above were laid;
Sixteen windows the light let pass,
Each in a frame of the shining brass:
High through the roof was the sky seen bright;
Girder of brass made that opening tight,
Under the gap it was stretched, and light
Fell on its gleaming side.
All those chambers in splendour excelling,
The midmost of all in the ring,
Rose a room, set apart as the dwelling
Of Queen Maev, and of Ailill the king.
Four brass columns the awning supported
For their couch, there was bronze on the wall;
And two rails, formed of silver, and gilded,
In that chamber encircled it all:
In the front, to mid-rafters attaining,
Rose in silver a wand from the floor;
And with rooms was that palace engirdled,
For they stretched from the door to the door.
'Twas there they went to take repose,
On high their arms were hung;
And down they sank, and welcome rose,
Acclaimed by every tongue.
By the queen and the king they were welcome made, the strangers they
turned to greet;
And their courtesy graciously Fraech repaid: "'Twas thus we had hoped
"Not for boasting to-day are ye come!" said Maev; the men for the chess
And a lord of the court in the chess-man sport by Fraech in a match was
'Twas a marvellous board of findruine fair was prepared, when they
played that game,
Four handles, and edges of gold it had, nor needed they candles' flame;
For the jewels that blazed at the chess-board's side, a light, as from
lamps, would yield;
And of silver and gold were the soldiers made, who engaged on that
"Get ye food for the chiefs!" said the king; said Maev, "Not yet, 'tis
my will to stay,
To sit with the strangers, and here with Fraech in a match at the chess
"Let thy game be played!" said Ailill then, "for it pleaseth me none
And Queen Maev and Fraech at the chess-board sate, and they played at
the game of chess.
Now his men, as they played, the wild beasts late caught were cooking,
they thought to feed;
And said Ailill to Fraech, "Shall thy harpmen play?" "Let them play,"
said Fraech, "indeed:"
Now those harpers were wondrous men, by their sides they had sacks of
the otter's skin,
And about their bodies the sacks were tied, and they carried their
With stitches of silver and golden thread each case for a harp was
And, beneath the embroidery gleaming red, the shimmer of rubies showed!
The skin of a roe about them in the middle, it was as white as snow;
black-grey eyes in their centre. Cloaks of linen as white as the tunic
of a swan around these ties.[FN#4] Harps of gold and silver and
bronze, with figures of serpents and birds, and hounds of gold and
silver: as they moved those strings those figures used to run about the
men all round.
[FN#4] This is the Egerton version, which is clearly right here. The
Book of Leinster gives: "These figures accordingly used to run," &c.,
leaving out all the first part of the sentence, which is required to
make the meaning plain.
They play for them then so that twelve of the people[FN#5] of Ailill
and Medb die with weeping and sadness.
[FN#5] The Book of Leinster omits "of Ailill and Medb."
Gentle and melodious were the triad, and they were the Chants of
Uaithne[FN#6] (Child-birth). The illustrious triad are three brothers,
namely Gol-traiges (Sorrow-strain), and Gen-traiges (Joy-strain), and
Suan-traiges (Sleep-strain). Boand from the fairies is the mother of
[FN#6] Pronounced something like Yew-ny.
At every one of the harpers' waists was girded the hide of a roe,
And black-grey spots in its midst were placed, but the hide was as
white as snow;
And round each of the three of them waved a cloak, as white as the wild
Gold, silver, and bronze were the harps they woke; and still, as they
touched the strings,
The serpents, the birds, and the hounds on the harps took life at the
harps' sweet sound,
And those figures of gold round the harpmen rose, and floated in music
Then they played, sweet and sad was the playing,
Twelve of Ailill's men died, as they heard;
It was Boand[FN#7] who foretold them that slaying,
And right well was accomplished her word.
[FN#7] Pronounced with sound of "owned."
'Tis the three Chants of Child-Birth
Give names to those Three;
Of the Harp of the Dagda[FN#8]
The children they be.
[FN#8] The Dagda seems to have been the chief god of the old Celtic
To those harpers a fairy
Is mother, of yore
To that Harp, men call Child-Birth,
Queen Boand the three bore.
They are three noble brothers,
And well are they known;
They are kindly and gentle,
And tuneful of tone.
One is Joy-Song, one Sorrow's,
One, "Song that gives Sleep,"
And the Harp's strains, their father's,
Remembered they keep.
For when Boand was at bearing,
Came Sorrow the first,
From the Harp, its strings tearing
With cry, Sorrow burst.
Then there came to her pleasure
For birth of a boy;
And a sweet smiling measure
The Harp played, 'twas Joy.
And she swooned in her anguish,
For hard the third birth:
From the Harp, her pains soothing,
Sleep's strain came on earth.
Then from Boand passed her slumber,
And, "Uaithne,"[FN#9] she cried,
Thy three sons, thou sharp Child-Birth,
I take to my side.
[FN#9] Pronounced something like Yew-ny.
Cows and women by Ailill
And Maev shall be slain;
For on these cometh Sorrow,
And Joy, and Sleep's strain:
Yea, and men, who these harpers,
Thy children, shall hear,
By their art to death stricken,
Shall perish in fear."
Then the strains died away in the palace,
The last notes seemed to sink, and to cease:
"It was stately," said Fergus, "that music."
And on all came a silence, and peace.
Said Fraech, "The food divide ye!
Come, bring ye here the meat!"
And down to earth sank Lothar,
On floor he set his feet;
He crouched, on haunches sitting,
The joints with sword he split;
On bones it fell unerring,
No dainty part he hit!
Though long with sword he hewed, and long
Was meat by men supplied,
His hand struck true; for never wrong
Would Lothar meat divide.
Three days at the chess had they played; three nights, as they sat at
the game, had gone:
And they knew not the night for the sparkling light from the jewels of
Fraech that shone;
But to Maev turned Fraech, and he joyously cried, "I have conquered
thee well at the chess!
Yet I claim not the stake at the chess-board's side, lest thy palace's
wealth be less."
"For no lengthier day have I sat in such play," said Maev, "since I
here first came."
"And well may the day have seemed long," said Fraech, "for three days
and three nights was the game!"
Then up started Maev, and in shame she blushed that the chiefs she had
failed to feed;
To her husband, King Ailill, in wrath she rushed: "We have both done a
For none from our stores hath a banquet brought for the youths who are
And said Ailill, "In truth for the play was thy thought, and to thee
was the chess more dear."
"We knew not that darkness had come," said Maev, "'tis not chess thou
should'st thus condemn;
Though the day had gone, yet the daylight shone from the heart of each
Though the game we played, all could meal have made, had men brought of
the night advice,
But the hours sped away, and the night and the day have approached and
have fled from us thrice!"
"Give command," said the king, "that those wailing chants, till we give
them their food, be stilled."
And food to the hands of each they gave, and all with the meat were
And all things merrily went, for long the men with a feast were fed,
For, as feasting they sat, thrice rose the day, thrice night above
earth was spread.
They brought Fraech, when that banquet was ended,
To the House of Debate, which was near,
And they asked of his errand: "In friendship,
For a visit," said Fraech, "am I here!"
"And 'twas joy that we felt, when receiving
This your host," said the king, "ye have brought
Much of pleasure to all, and with grieving,
When ye go, shall your presence be sought!"
"Then," said Fraech, "for a week we abide here."
For two weeks in that dun they abode:
And the Connaught men pressed round to view them,
As each eve home from hunting they rode.
Yet Fraech was sad, with Findabar
A word he sought in vain;
Though he in truth from home so far
Had come that word to gain.
Fraech, as night was ending,
Sprang from out his bed;
Sought the brook, intending
There to lave his head.
There King Ailill's daughter
Stood, and there her maid:
They that hour from water
Sought the cleansing aid.
"Stay," he cried, and speaking
Caught the maiden's hand;
"Thee alone as seeking,
I have reached this land:
Here am I who sought thee,
Stay, and hear me woo!"
"Ah! thy speech hath brought me
Joy," she said, "most true;
Yet, thy side if nearing,
What for thee can I?"
"Maid!" he cried, "art fearing
Hence with me to fly?"
"Flight I hold disloyal,"
Answered she in scorn;
"I from mother royal,
I to king was born;
What should stay our wedding?
None so mean or poor
Thou hast seemed, nor dreading
Kin of mine; be sure:
I will go! 'tis spoken,
Thou beloved shalt be!
Take this ring as token,
Lent by Maev to me!
'Twas my mother who bid me to save it,
For the ring she in secret would hide;
'Tis as pledge of our love that I gave it,
As its pledge it with thee should abide.
Till that ring we can freely be showing
I will tell them I put it astray!"
And, the love of each other thus knowing,
Fraech and Finnabar went on their way.
"I have fear," said the king, "that with Fraech yon maid to his home as
his wife would fly;
Yet her hand he may win, if he rides on the Raid with his kine when the
time draws nigh."
Then Fraech to the Hall of Debate returned, and he cried: "Through Some
Hath a whisper passed?" and the king replied, "Thou would'st fit in
that space, I think!"
"Will ye give me your daughter?" said Fraech: said the king, "In sight
of our hosts she goes;
If, as gift to suffice for her marriage price, thy hand what I ask
"I will give thee what price thou dost name," said Fraech, "and now let
its sum be told!"'
"Then a sixty steeds do I claim," said the king, "dark-grey, and with
bits of gold;
And twelve milch-cows, from their udders shall come the milk in a
And by each of the cows a white calf shall run; bright red on its ears
And thou, with thy harpers and men, shalt ride by my side on the
And when all thy kine driven here shall stand, shall the price of her
hand be paid!"
[FN#10] Pronounced Kell-ny.
Now I swear by the edge of my sword," said Fraech, "I swear by my arms
I would give no such pledge, even Maev to take, were it her thou wert
fain to yield!"
And he went from the House of Debate, but Maev with Ailill bent low in
All around us our foes," said the king, "shall close, if Finnabar stays
Many kings of Erin, who seek that maid, shall hear of her borne away,
And in wrath they will rush on our land; 'twere best that Fraech we
devise to slay;
Ere that ruin he bring, let us make our spring, and the ill yet
"It were pity such deed should be done," said Maev, "and to slay in our
house our guest!
'Twill bring shame on us ever." "No shame to our house," said King
Ailill, "that death shall breed!"
(And he spake the words twice)--"but now hear my advice, how I plan we
should do this deed."
All the plot had been planned; to their house at last
King Ailill and Maev through the doorway passed;
And the voice of the king uprose:
"'Tis now that the hounds should their prey pursue,
Come away to the hunt who the hounds would view;
For noon shall that hunting close."
So forth went they all, on the chase intent,
And they followed till strength of the hounds was spent,
And the hunters were warm; and to bathe they went
Where the river of Croghan flows.
And, "'Tis told me," said Ailill, "that Fraech hath won
A great fame for the feats he in floods hath done:
Wilt thou enter these streams by our side that run?
We are longing to see thee swim!"
And said Fraech: "Is it good then indeed thy stream?
And said Ailill: "Of danger no need to dream,
For many a youth from the Connaught Court
In its current hath bathed, and hath swum it in sport,
Nor of any who tried have we heard report
That ill hath been found by him!"
Then Fraech from his body his garments stripped,
And he sprang down the bank, and he swiftly slipped
In the stream: and the king's glance fell
On a belt, left by Fraech on the bank; the king
Bent low; in the purse saw his daughter's ring,
And the shape of the ring could tell.
"Come hither, O Maev," Ailill softly cried;
And Queen Maev came up close to her husband's side
"Dost thou know of that ring?" in the purse she spied
The ring, and she knew it well.
Then Ailill the ring from the purse withdrew,
And away from the bank the fair gem he threw;
And the ring, flashing bright, through the air far flew,
To be lost in the flood's swift swell.
And Fraech saw the gem as it brightly flashed,
And a salmon rose high, at the light it dashed,
And, as back in the stream with the ring he splashed,
At the fish went Fraech with a spring:
By its jole was the salmon secured, and thrown
To a nook in the bank, that by few was known;
And unnoticed he threw it, to none was it shown
As it fell to the earth, with the ring.
And now Fraech from the stream would be going:
But, "Come not," said the king, "to us yet:
Bring a branch from yon rowan-tree, showing
Its fair berries, with water-drops wet."
Then Fraech, swimming away through the water,
Brake a branch from the dread rowan-tree,
And a sigh came from Ailill's fair daughter;
"Ah! how lovely he seemeth," said she.
Fair she found him, swimming
Through that pool so black
Brightly gleamed the berries,
Bound athwart his back.
White and smooth his body,
Bright his glorious hair;
Eyes of perfect greyness,
Face of men most fair:
Soft his skin, no blemish,
Fault, nor spot it flawed;
Small his chin, and steady,
Brave his brow, and broad.
Straight he seemed, and stainless;
Twixt his throat and chin
Straying scarlet berries
Touched with red his skin.
Oft, that sight recalling,
Findabar would cry:
"Ne'er was half such beauty,
Naught its third came nigh!"
To the bank he swam, and to Ailill was thrown, with its berries, the
tree's torn limb:
"Ah! how heavy and fair have those clusters grown; bring us more," and
he turned to swim;
The mid-current was reached, but the dragon was roused that was guard
to that rowan-tree;
And it rose from the river, on Fraech it rushed: "Throw a sword from
the bank!" cried he.
And no man on the bank gave the sword: they were kept by their fear of
the queen and the king;
But her clothes from her Finnabar stripped, and she leapt in the river
his sword to bring.
And the king from above hurled his five-barbed spear; the full length
of a shot it sped:
At his daughter it flew, and its edge shore through two tresses that
crowned her head:
And Fraech in his hand caught the spear as it fell, and backward its
point he turned.
And again to the land was the spear launched well: 'twas a feat from
the champions learned.
Though the beast bit his side as that spear was cast, yet fiercely the
dart was flung,
Through the purple robe of the king it passed, through the tunic that
next him clung!
Then up sprang the youths of the court, their lord in danger they well
But the strong hand of Fraech had closed firm on the sword, and
Finnabar rose from the stream.
Now with sword in his hand, at the monster's head hewed Fraech, on its
side it sank,
And he came from the river with blade stained red, and the monster he
dragged to the bank.
Twas then Bree's Dub-lind in the Connaught land the Dark Water of
Fraech was named,
From that fight was it called, but the queen and the king went back to
their dun, ashamed!
"It is noble, this deed we have done!" said Maev: "'Tis pitiful,"
"For the hurt of the man I repent, but to her, our daughter, shall woe
On the morrow her lips shall be pale, and none shall be found to aver
that her guilt,
When the sword for his succour to Fraech she gave, was the cause why
her life was spilt!
Now see that a bath of fresh bacon broth be prepared that shall heal
And bid them with adze and with axe the flesh of a heifer full small to
Let the meat be all thrown in the bath, and there for healing let
Fraech be laid!"
And all that he ordered was done with care; the queen his command
Then arose from Fraech's trumpets complaining,
As his men travelled back to the dun;
Their soft notes lamentation sustaining,
And a many their deaths from them won;
And he well knew its meaning;
And, "Lift me, my folk,"
He cried, "surely that keening
From Boand's women broke:
My mother, the Fairy, is nigh."
Then they raised him, and bore him
Where wild rose the sound;
To his kin they restored him;
His women pressed round:
And he passed from their sight out of Croghan;
For that night from earth was he freed,
And he dwelt with his kin, the Sid-Dwellers
In the caverns of Croghan's deep Sid.[FN#11]
[FN#11] Pronounced Sheed; Sid is the fairy mound.
All at nine, next morrow,
Gazed, for back he came,
Round their darling pressing
Many a fairy dame:
Brave he seemed, for healing
All his wounds had got;
None could find a blemish,
None a sear or spot.
Fifty fairies round him,
Like in age and grace;
Like each form and bearing;
Like each lovely face.
All in fairy garments,
All alike were dressed;
None was found unequal;
None surpassed the rest.
And the men who stood round, as they neared them,
Were struck with a marvellous awe;
They were moved at the sight, and they feared them,
And hardly their breath they could draw.
At the Liss all the fairies departed,
But on Fraech, as they vanished, they cried:
And the sound floated in of their wailing,
And it thrilled through the men, and they sighed.
Then first that mournful measure,
"The Ban-Shee[FN#12] Wail," was heard;
All hearts with grief and pleasure
That air, when harped, hath stirred.
[FN#12] Spelt "Ban Side," the fairy women.
To the dun came Fraech, and the hosts arose, and welcome by all was
For it seemed as if then was his birth among men, from a world to the
Up rose for him Maev and King Ailill, their fault they confessed, and
for grace they prayed,
And a penance they did, and for all that assault they were pardoned,
and peace was made.
And now free from all dread, they the banquet spread, the banqueting
But a thought came to Fraech, and from out of his folk he called to his
side a man.
"Now hie thee," he said, "to the river bank, a salmon thou there shalt
For nigh to the spot where in stream I sank, it was hurled, and 'twas
To Finnabar take it, and bid her from me that the salmon with skill she
In the midst of the fish is the ring: and none but herself at the task
And to-night, as I think, for her ring they call ": then he turned to
the feast again,
And the wine was drunk, and the revellers sunk, for the fumes of it
seized their brain,
And music and much of delights they had; but the king had his plans
"Bring ye all of my jewels," he cried-on the board they were poured in
a dazzling heap.
"They are wonderful, wonderful!" cried they all: "Call Finnabar!" said
And his daughter obeyed, and her fifty maids stood round in a lovely
My daughter," said Ailill, "a ring last year I gave thee, is't here
with thee yet?
Bring it hither to show to the chiefs, and anon in thy hand shall the
gem be set."
"That jewel is lost," said the maid, "nor aught of the fate of the ring
Then find it," said Ailill, "the ring must be brought, or thy soul from
thy limbs must go!"
"Now, nay!" said they all, "it were cruel
That such fate for such fault should be found:
Thou hast many a fair-flashing jewel
In these heaps that lie scattered around!"
And said Fraech: "Of my jewels here glowing
Take thy fill, if the maid be but freed;
'Tis to her that my life I am owing,
For she brought me the sword in my need."
"There is none of thy gems that can aid her,"
Said Ailill, "nor aught thou canst give;
There is one thing alone that shall save her;
If the ring be restored, she shall live!
Said Finnabar; "Thy treasure
To yield no power is mine:
Do thou thy cruel pleasure,
For strength, I know, is thine."
"By the god whom our Connaught land haileth,
I swear," answered Ailill the king,
"That the life on thy lips glowing faileth,
If thou place in my hand not the ring!"
And that hard," he laughed softly, "the winning
Of that jewel shall be, know I well;
They who died since the world had beginning
Shall come back to the spot where they fell
Ere that ring she can find, and can bear it
To my hand from the spot where 'twas tossed,
And as knowing this well, have I dared her
To restore what for aye hath been lost!"
"No ring for treasure thus despised,"
She said, "exchanged should be;
Yet since the king its worth hath prized,
I'll find the gem for thee!"
Not thus shalt thou fly," said the king, "to thy maid let the quest of
the ring be bid!"
And his daughter obeyed, and to one whom she sent she told where the
ring was hid:
"But," Finnabar cried, "by my country's god I swear that from out this
Will I leave this land, and my father's hand shall no more on my life
And no feasting shall tempt me to stay, no draughts of wine my resolve
"No reproach would I bring, if as spouse," said the king, "thou a groom
from my stalls would'st take!
But that ring must be found ere thou goest! "Then back came her maid,
and a dish she bore:
And there lay a salmon well broiled, as sauce with honey 'twas
By the daughter of Ailill herself with skill had the honey-sweet sauce
And high on the breast of the fish, the ring of gold that they sought
King Ailill and Maev at the ring gazed hard; Fraech looked, in his
purse he felt:
Now it seemeth," he said, "'twas to prove my host that I left on the
bank my belt,
And Ailill now I challenge
All truth, as king to tell;
What deed his cunning fashioned,
And what that ring befell."
"There is naught to be hidden," said Ailill;
"It was mine, in thy purse though it lay
And my daughter I knew as its giver:
So to river I hurled it away.
Now Fraech in turn I challenge
By life and honour's claim:
Say how from yon dark water
That ring to draw ye came."
"There is naught to be hidden," he answered,
"The first day that I came, on the earth,
Near the court round thy house, was that jewel;
And I saw all its beauty and worth:
In my purse then I hid it; thy daughter,
Who had lost it, with care for it sought;
And the day that I went to that water
Was the news of her search to me brought:
And I asked what reward she would give me,
If the gem in her hand should be placed;
And she answered that I, if I found it,
For a year by her love should be graced.
But not then could the ring be delivered:
For afar in my chamber it lay:
Till she gave me the sword in the river,
We met not again on that day.
'Twas then I saw thee open
My purse, and take the ring:
I watched, and towards the water
That gem I saw thee fling:
I saw the salmon leaping,
The ring it caught, and sank:
I came behind, and seized it;
And brought the fish to bank.
Then I wrapped it up close in my mantle;
And 'twas hid from inquisitive eyes;
And in Finnabar's hand have I placed it:
And now there on the platter it lies!"
Now all who this or that would know
To ask, and praise began:
Said Finnabar, "I'll never throw
My thoughts on other man!"
Now hear her word," her parents cried,
"And plight to her thy troth,
And when for Cualgne's[FN#13] kine we ride
Do thou redeem thine oath.
[FN#13] Pronounced Kell-ny.
And when with kine from out the east
Ye reach our western land;
That night shall be thy marriage feast;
And thine our daughter's hand."
"Now that oath will I take," answered back to them Fraech, "and the
task ye have asked will do!"
So he tarried that night till the morning's light; and they feasted the
whole night through;
And then homewards bound, with his comrades round, rode Fraech when the
night was spent,
And to Ailill and Maev an adieu he gave, and away to their land they
| Contents | Main Page