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CHAPTER XIII

"I think," said the Flame Lady, "that whoever lost that woman had no reason to be sad."

Mongan took her chin in his hand and kissed her lips.

"All that you say is lovely, for you are lovely," said he, "and you are my delight and the joy of the world."

Then the attendants brought him wine, and he drank so joyously of that and so deeply, that those who observed him thought he would surely burst and drown them. But he laughed loudly and with enormous delight, until the vessels of gold and silver and bronze chimed mellowly to his peal and the rafters of the house went creaking.

Said he:

Mongan loved Duv Laca of the White Hand better than he loved his life, better than he loved his honour. The kingdoms of the world did not weigh with him beside the string of her shoe. He would not look at a sunset if he could see her. He would not listen to a harp if he could hear her speak, for she was the delight of ages, the gem of time, and the wonder of the world till Doom.

She went to Leinster with the king of that country, and when she had gone Mongan fell grievously sick, so that it did not seem he could ever recover again; and he began to waste and wither, and he began to look like a skeleton, and a bony structure, and a misery.

Now this also must be known.

Duv Laca had a young attendant, who was her foster-sister as well as her servant, and on the day that she got married to Mongan, her attendant was married to mac an Da'v, who was servant and foster-brother to Mongan. When Duv Laca went away with the King of Leinster, her servant, mac an Da'v's wife, went with her, so there were two wifeless men in Ulster at that time, namely, Mongan the king and mac an Da'v his servant.

One day as Mongan sat in the sun, brooding lamentably on his fate, mac an Da'v came to him.

"How are things with you, master?" asked Mac an Da'v.

"Bad," said Mongan.

"It was a poor day brought you off with Mananna'n to the Land of Promise," said his servant.

"Why should you think that?" inquired Mongan.

"Because," said mac an Da'v, "you learned nothing in the Land of Promise except how to eat a lot of food and how to do nothing in a deal of time."

"What business is it of yours?" said Mongan angrily.

"It is my business surely," said mac an Da'v, "for my wife has gone off to Leinster with your wife, and she wouldn't have gone if you hadn't made a bet and a bargain with that accursed king."

Mac an Da'v began to weep then.

"I didn't make a bargain with any king," said he, "and yet my wife has gone away with one, and it's all because of you."

"There is no one sorrier for you than I am," said Mongan.

"There is indeed," said mac an Da'v, "for I am sorrier myself."

Mongan roused himself then.

"You have a claim on me truly," said he, "and I will not have any one with a claim on me that is not satisfied. Go," he said to mac an Da'v, "to that fairy place we both know of. You remember the baskets I left there with the sod from Ireland in one and the sod from Scotland in the other; bring me the baskets and sods."

"Tell me the why of this?" said his servant.

"The King of Leinster will ask his wizards what I am doing, and this is what I will be doing. I will get on your back with a foot in each of the baskets, and when Branduv asks the wizards where I am they will tell him that I have one leg in Ireland and one leg in Scotland, and as long as they tell him that he will think he need not bother himself about me, and we will go into Leinster that way."

"No bad way either," said mac an Da'v.

They set out then.



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