Map of Ireland

Prev | Next | Contents | Main Page


CHAPTER XX

The doorkeeper brought word to the King of Leinster that the son of the King of Connaught, Ae the Beautiful, and his wife, Ivell of the Shining Cheeks, were at the door, that they had been banished from Connaught by Ae's father, and they were seeking the protection of the King of Leinster.

Branduv came to the door himself to welcome them, and the minute he looked on Ivell of the Shining Cheeks it was plain that he liked looking at her.

It was now drawing towards evening, and a feast was prepared for the guests with a banquet to follow it. At the feast Duv Laca sat beside the King of Leinster, but Mongan sat opposite him with Ivell, and Mongan put more and more magic into the hag, so that her cheeks shone and her eyes gleamed, and she was utterly bewitching to the eye; and when Branduv looked at her she seemed to grow more and more lovely and more and more desirable, and at last there was not a bone in his body as big as an inch that was not filled with love and longing for the girl.

Every few minutes he gave a great sigh as if he had eaten too much, and when Duv Laca asked him if he had eaten too much he said he had hut that he had not drunk enough, and by that he meant that he had not drunk enough from the eyes of the girl before him.

At the banquet which was then held he looked at her again, and every time he took a drink he toasted Ivell across the brim of his goblet, and in a little while she began to toast him back across the rim of her cup, for he was drinking ale, but she was drinking mead. Then he sent a messenger to her to say that it was a far better thing to be the wife of the King of Leinster than to be the wife of the son of the King of Connaught, for a king is better than a prince, and Ivell thought that this was as wise a thing as anybody had ever said. And then he sent a message to say that he loved her so much that he would certainly burst of love if it did not stop.

Mongan heard the whispering, and he told the hag that if she did what he advised she would certainly get either himself or the King of Leinster for a husband.

"Either of you will be welcome," said the hag.

"When the king says he loves you, ask him to prove it by gifts; ask for his drinking-horn first."

She asked for that, and he sent it to her filled with good liquor; then she asked for his girdle, and he sent her that.

His people argued with him and said it was not right that he should give away the treasures of Leinster to the wife of the King of Connaught's son; but he said that it did not matter, for when he got the girl he would get his treasures with her. But every time he sent anything to the hag, mac an Da'v snatched it out of her lap and put it in his pocket.

"Now," said Mongan to the hag, "tell the servant to say that you would not leave your own husband for all the wealth of the world."

She told the servant that, and the servant told it to the king. When Branduv heard it he nearly went mad with love and longing and jealousy, and with rage also, because of the treasure he had given her and might not get back. He called Mongan over to him, and spoke to him very threateningly and ragingly.

"I am not one who takes a thing without giving a thing," said he.

"Nobody could say you were," agreed Mongan.

"Do you see this woman sitting beside me?" he continued, pointing to Duv Laca.

"I do indeed," said Mongan.

"Well," said Branduv, "this woman is Duv Laca of the White Hand that I took away from Mongan; she is just going to marry me, but if you will make an exchange, you can marry this Duv Laca here, and I will marry that Ivell of the Shining Cheeks yonder."

Mongan pretended to be very angry then.

"If I had come here with horses and treasure you would be in your right to take these from me, but you have no right to ask for what you are now asking."

"I do ask for it," said Branduv menacingly, "and you must not refuse a lord."

"Very well," said Mongan reluctantly, and as if in great fear; "if you will make the exchange I will make it, although it breaks my heart."

He brought Ivell over to the king then and gave her three kisses.

"The king would suspect something if I did not kiss you," said he, and then he gave the hag over to the king. After that they all got drunk and merry, and soon there was a great snoring and snorting, and very soon all the servants fell asleep also, so that Mongan could not get anything to drink. Mac an Da'v said it was a great shame, and he kicked some of the servants, but they did not budge, and then he slipped out to the stables and saddled two mares. He got on one with his wife behind him and Mongan got on the other with Duv Laca behind him, and they rode away towards

Ulster like the wind, singing this song: The King of Leinster
was married to-day, Married to-day, married to-day, The
King of Leinster was married to-day, And every one wishes him

joy.

In the morning the servants came to waken the King of Leinster, and when they saw the face of the hag lying on the pillow beside the king, and her nose all covered with whiskers, and her big foot and little foot sticking away out at the end of the bed, they began to laugh, and poke one another in the stomachs and thump one another on the shoulders, so that the noise awakened the king, and he asked what was the matter with them at all. It was then he saw the hag lying beside him, and he gave a great screech and jumped out of the bed.

"Aren't you the Hag of the Mill?" said he.

"I am indeed," she replied, "and I love you dearly."

"I wish I didn't see you," said Branduv.

That was the end of the story, and when he had told it Mongan began to laugh uproariously and called for more wine. He drank this deeply, as though he was full of thirst and despair and a wild jollity, but when the Flame Lady began to weep he took her in his arms and caressed her, and said that she was the love of his heart and the one treasure of the world.

After that they feasted in great contentment, and at the end of the feasting they went away from Faery and returned to the world of men.

They came to Mongan's palace at Moy Linney, and it was not until they reached the palace that they found they had been away one whole year, for they had thought they were only away one night. They lived then peacefully and lovingly together, and that ends the story, but Bro'tiarna did not know that Mongan was Fionn.


The abbot leaned forward.

"Was Mongan Fionn?" he asked in a whisper.

"He was," replied Cairide'.

"Indeed, indeed!" said the abbot.

After a while he continued: "There is only one part of your story that I do not like."

"What part is that?" asked Cairide'.

"It is the part where the holy man Tibraide' was ill treated by that rap--by that--by Mongan."

Cairide' agreed that it was ill done, but to himself he said gleefully that whenever he was asked to tell the story of how he told the story of Mongan he would remember what the abbot said.



Prev | Next | Contents | Main Page



Map of Ireland