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When Cuchulain lay in his sleep at Dun Imrid, there he heard a cry from
the north; it came straight towards him; the cry was dire, and most
terrifying to him. And he awaked in the midst of his sleep, so that he
fell, with the fall of a heavy load, out of his couch,[FN#116] to the
ground on the eastern side of his house. He went out thereupon without
his weapons, so that he was on the lawns before his house, but his wife
brought out, as she followed behind him, his arms and his clothing.
Then he saw Laeg in his harnessed chariot, coming from Ferta Laig, from
the north; and "What brings thee here?" said Cuchulain. "A cry," said
Laeg, "that I heard sounding over the plains. "On what side was it?"
said Cuchulain. "From the north-west it seemed," said Laeg, "that is,
across the great road of Caill Cuan."[FN#117] "Let us follow after to
know of it (lit. after it, to it for us)," said Cuchulain.
[FN#116] Or "out of his room." The word is imda, sometimes rendered
"bed," as here by Windisch sometimes also "room," as in the Bruidne da
Derga by Whitley Stokes.
[FN#117] Lough Cuan was the old name for Strangford Lough.
They went out thereupon till they came to Ath da Ferta. When they were
there, straightway they heard the rattle of a chariot from the quarter
of the loamy district of Culgaire. Then they saw the chariot come
before them, and one chestnut (lit. red) horse in it. The horse was
one footed, and the pole of the chariot passed through the body of the
horse, till a wedge went through it, to make it fast on its forehead.
A red[FN#118] woman was in the chariot, and a red mantle about her, she
had two red eye-brows, and the mantle fell between the two
ferta[FN#119] of her chariot behind till it struck upon the ground
behind her. A great man was beside her chariot, a red[FN#120] cloak
was upon him, and a forked staff of hazel at his back, he drove a cow
in front of him.
[FN#118] The above is the Egerton text: the text of Y.B.L. gives "A
red woman there, with her two eyebrows red, and her cloak and her
raiment: the cloak fell," &c.
[FN#119] It is not known certainly what the ferta were: Windisch
translates "wheels," but does not give this meaning in his Dictionary:
the ferta were behind the car, and could be removed to sound the depth
of a ford. It is suggested that they were poles, projecting behind to
balance the chariot; and perhaps could be adjusted so as to project
less or farther.
[FN#120] This is the Egerton text; the Y.B.L. text gives "a tunic
forptha on him the meaning of forptha is unknown.
"That cow is not joyful at being driven by you!" said Cuchulain. "The
cow does not belong to you," said the woman, "she is not the cow of any
friend or acquaintance of yours." "The cows of Ulster," said
Cuchulain, "are my proper (care)." "Dost thou give a decision about
the cow?" said the woman; "the task is too great to which thy hand is
set, O Cuchulain." "Why is it the woman who answers me?" said
Cuchulain, "why was it not the man?" "It was not the man whom you
addressed," said the woman. "Ay," said Cuchulain, "(I did address
him), though thyself hath answered for him:"
"h-Uar-gaeth-sceo-luachair-sceo[FN#121] is his name," said she.
"Alas! his name is a wondrous one," said Cuchulain. "Let it be thyself
who answers,[FN#122] since the man answers not. What is thine own
name?" said Cuchulain. "The woman to whom thou speakest," said the
man, "is Faebor-begbeoil-cuimdiuir-folt-scenbgairit-sceo-uath."[FN#123]
"Do ye make a fool of me?" cried Cuchulain, and on that Cuchulain
sprang into her chariot: he set his two feet on her two shoulders
thereupon, and his spear on the top of her head. "Play not sharp
weapons on me!" "Name thyself then by thy true name!" said Cuchulain.
"Depart then from me!" said she: "I am a female satirist in truth," she
said, "and he is Daire mac Fiachna from Cualnge: I have brought the cow
as fee for a master-poem." "Let me hear the poem then," said
Cuchulain. "Only remove thyself from me," said the woman; "it is
none[FN#124] the better for thee that thou shakest it over my head."
Thereon he left her until he was between the two poles (ferta) of her
chariot, and she sang to him[FN#125] . . . . . . Cuchulain threw a
spring at her chariot, and he saw not the horse, nor the woman, nor the
chariot, nor the man, nor the cow.
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