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CHAPTER XIV

It was a long, uneasy journey, for although mac an Da'v was of stout heart and goodwill, yet no man can carry another on his back from Ulster to Leinster and go quick. Still, if you keep on driving a pig or a story they will get at last to where you wish them to go, and the man who continues putting one foot in front of the other will leave his home behind, and will come at last to the edge of the sea and the end of the world.

When they reached Leinster the feast of Moy Life' was being held, and they pushed on by forced marches and long stages so as to be in time, and thus they came to the Moy of Cell Camain, and they mixed with the crowd that were going to the feast.

A great and joyous concourse of people streamed about them. There were young men and young girls, and when these were not holding each other's hands it was because their arms were round each other's necks. There were old, lusty women going by, and when these were not talking together it was because their mouths were mutually filled with apples and meat-pies. There were young warriors with mantles of green and purple and red flying behind them on the breeze, and when these were not looking disdainfully on older soldiers it was because the older soldiers happened at the moment to be looking at them. There were old warriors with yard-long beards flying behind their shoulders llke wisps of hay, and when these were not nursing a broken arm or a cracked skull, it was because they were nursing wounds in their stomachs or their legs. There were troops of young women who giggled as long as their breaths lasted and beamed when it gave out. Bands of boys who whispered mysteriously together and pointed with their fingers in every direction at once, and would suddenly begin to run like a herd of stampeded horses. There were men with carts full of roasted meats. Women with little vats full of mead, and others carrying milk and beer. Folk of both sorts with towers swaying on their heads, and they dripping with honey. Children having baskets piled with red apples, and old women who peddled shell-fish and boiled lobsters. There were people who sold twenty kinds of bread, with butter thrown in. Sellers of onions and cheese, and others who supplied spare bits of armour, odd scabbards, spear handles, breastplate-laces. People who cut your hair or told your fortune or gave you a hot bath in a pot. Others who put a shoe on your horse or a piece of embroidery on your mantle; and others, again, who took stains off your sword or dyed your finger-nails or sold you a hound.

It was a great and joyous gathering that was going to the feast.

Mongan and his servant sat against a grassy hedge by the roadside and watched the multitude streaming past.

Just then Mongan glanced to the right whence the people were coming. Then he pulled the hood of his cloak over his ears and over his brow.

"Alas!" said he in a deep and anguished voice.

Mac an Da'v turned to him.

"Is it a pain in your stomach, master?"

"It is not," said Mongan. "Well, what made you make that brutal and belching noise?"

"It was a sigh I gave," said Mongan.

"Whatever it was," said mac an Da'v, "what was it?"

"Look down the road on this side and tell me who is coming," said his master.

"It is a lord with his troop."

"It is the King of Leinster," said Mongan. "The man," said mac an Da'v in a tone of great pity, "the man that took away your wife! And," he roared in a voice of extraordinary savagery, "the man that took away my wife into the bargain, and she not in the bargain."

"Hush," said Mongan, for a man who heard his shout stopped to tie a sandie, or to listen.

"Master," said mac an Da'v as the troop drew abreast and moved past.

"What is it, my good friend?"

"Let me throw a little, small piece of a rock at the King of Leinster."

"I will not."

"A little bit only, a small bit about twice the size of my head"

"I will not let you," said Mongan.

When the king had gone by mac an Da'v groaned a deep and dejected groan.

"Oco'n!" said he. "Oco'n-i'o-go-deo'!" said he.

The man who had tied his sandal said then: "Are you in pain, honest man?"

"I am not in pain," said mac an Da'v.

"Well, what was it that knocked a howl out of you like the yelp of a sick dog, honest man?"

"Go away," said mac an Da'v, "go away, you flat-faced, nosey person." "There is no politeness left in this country," said the stranger, and he went away to a certain distance, and from thence he threw a stone at mac an Da'v's nose, and hit it.



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Map of Ireland