The Flood Subsides (and our doom is sealed)
with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.
Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.
Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. Then God spoke to Noah, saying, “Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by their families from the ark.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
THERE was once upon a time two farmers, and their names were Hudden and Dudden. They had poultry in their yards, sheep on the uplands, and scores of cattle in the meadow-land alongside the river. But for all that they weren’t happy. For just between their two farms there lived a poor man by the name of Donald O’Neary. He had a hovel over his head and a strip of grass that was barely enough to keep his one cow, Daisy, from starving, and, though she did her best, it was but seldom that Donald got a drink of milk or a roll of butter from Daisy.
You would think there was little here to make Hudden and Dudden jealous, but so it is, the more one has the more one wants, and Donald’s neighbours lay awake of nights scheming how they might get hold of his little strip of grass-land. Daisy, poor thing, they never thought of; she was just a bag of bones.
One day Hudden met Dudden, and they were soon grumbling as usual, and all to the tune of “If only we could get that vagabond Donald O’Neary out of the country.”
“Let’s kill Daisy,” said Hudden at last; “if that doesn’t make him clear out, nothing will.”
No sooner said than agreed, and it wasn’t dark before Hudden and Dudden crept up to the little shed where lay poor Daisy trying her best to chew the cud, though she hadn’t had as much grass in the day as would cover your hand. And when Donald came to see if Daisy was all snug for the night, the poor beast had only time to lick his hand once before she died.
Well, Donald was a shrewd fellow, and downhearted though he was, began to think if he could get any good out of Daisy’s death. He thought and he thought, and the next day you could have seen him trudging off early to the fair, Daisy’s hide over his shoulder, every penny he had jingling in his pockets. Just before he got to the fair, he made several slits in the hide, put a penny in each slit, walked into the best inn of the town as bold as if it belonged to him, and, hanging the hide up to a nail in the wall, sat down.
“Some of your best whisky,” says he to the landlord. But the landlord didn’t like his looks. “Is it fearing I won’t pay you, you are?” says Donald; “why I have a hide here that gives me all the money I want.” And with that he hit it a whack with his stick and out hopped a penny. The landlord opened his eyes, as you may fancy.
“What’ll you take for that hide?”
“It’s not for sale, my good man.”
“Will you take a gold piece?”
“It’s not for sale, I tell you. Hasn’t it kept me and mine for years?” and with that Donald hit the hide another whack and out jumped a second penny.
“Well, the long and the short of it was that Donald let the hide go, and, that very evening, who but he should walk up to Hudden’s door?
“Good-evening, Hudden. Will you lend me your best pair of scales?”
Hudden stared and Hudden scratched his head, but he lent the scales.
When Donald was safe at home, he pulled out his pocketful of bright gold and began to weigh each piece in the scales. But Hudden had put a lump of butter at the bottom, and so the last piece of gold stuck fast to the scales when he took them back to Hudden.
If Hudden had stared before, he stared ten times more now, and no sooner was Donald’s back turned, than he was off as hard as he could pelt to Dudden’s.
“Good-evening, Dudden. That vagabond, bad luck to him ———-“
“You mean Donald O’Neary?”
“And who else should I mean? He’s back here weighing out sackfuls of gold.”
“How do you know that?”
“Here are my scales that he borrowed, and here’s a gold piece still sticking to them.”
Off they went together, and they came to Donald’s door. Donald had finished making the last pile of ten gold pieces. And he couldn’t finish because a piece had stuck to the scales.
In they walked without an ”If you please ” or ” By your leave.”
“Well, I never!” that was all they could say.
“Good-evening, Hudden; good-evening, Dudden. Ah! you thought you had played me a fine trick, but you never did me a better turn in all your lives. When I found poor Daisy dead, I thought to myself, ‘Well, her hide may fetch something;’ and it did. Hides are worth their weight in gold in the market just now.”
Hudden nudged Dudden, and Dudden winked at Hudden.
“Good-evening, Donald O’Neary.”
“Good-evening, kind friends.”
The next day there wasn’t a cow or a calf that belonged to Hudden or Dudden but her hide was going to the fair in Hudden’s biggest cart drawn by Dudden’s strongest pair of horses. When they came to the fair, each one took a hide over his arm, and there they were walking through the fair, bawling out at the top of their voices: ‘ Hides to sell! hides to sell! “
Out came the tanner:
“How much for your hides, my good men?”
“Their weight in gold.”
”It’s early in the day to come out of the tavern.” That was all the tanner said, and back he went to his yard.
“Hides to sell! Fine fresh hides to sell!” Out came the cobbler.
“How much for your hides, my men? “Their weight in gold.”
“Is it making game of me you are! Take that for your pains,” and the cobbler dealt Hudden a blow that made him stagger.
Up the people came running from one end of the fair to the other. “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?” cried they.
“Here are a couple of vagabonds selling hides at their weight in gold,” said the cobbler.
“Hold ’em fast; hold ’em fast!” bawled the innkeeper, who was the last to come up, he was so fat. “I’ll wager it’s one of the rogues who tricked me out of thirty gold pieces yesterday for a wretched hide.”
It was more kicks than halfpence that Hudden and Dudden got before they were well on their way home again, and they didn’t run the slower because all the dogs of the town were at their heels.
Well, as you may fancy, if they loved Donald little before, they loved him less now.
“What’s the matter, friends?” said he, as he saw them tearing along, their hats knocked in, and their coats torn off, and their faces black and blue. “Is it fighting you’ve been? or mayhap you met the police, ill luck to them?”
“We’ll police you, you vagabond. It’s mighty smart you thought yourself, deluding us with your lying tales.”
“Who deluded you? Didn’t you see the gold with your own two eyes?”
But it was no use talking. Pay for it he must, and should. There was a meal-sack handy, and into it Hudden and Dudden popped Donald O’Neary, tied him up tight, ran a pole through the knot, and off they started for the Brown Lake of the Bog, each with a pole-end on his shoulder, and Donald O’Neary between. But the Brown Lake was far, the road was dusty, Hudden and Dudden were sore and weary, and parched with thirst. There was an inn by the roadside.
“Let’s go in,” said Hudden; “I’m dead beat. It’s heavy he is for the little he had to eat.”
If Hudden was willing, so was Dudden. As for Donald, you may be sure his leave wasn’t asked, but he was lumped down at the inn door for all the world as if he had been a sack of potatoes.
“Sit still, you vagabond,” said Dudden; “if we don’t mind waiting, you needn’t.”
Donald held his peace, but after a while he heard the glasses clink, and Hudden singing away at the top of his voice.
“I won’t have her, I tell you; I won’t have her!” said Donald. But nobody heeded what he said. “I won’t have her, I tell you; I won’t have her!” said Donald, and this time he said it louder; but nobody heeded what he said. “I won’t have her, I tell you; I won’t have her!” said Donald; and this time he said it as loud as he could.
“And who won’t you have, may I be so bold as to ask?” said a farmer, who had just come up with a drove of cattle, and was turning in for a glass.
“It’s the king’s daughter. They are bothering the life out of me to marry her.”
“You’re the lucky fellow. I’d give something to be in your shoes.”
“Do you see that now! Wouldn’t it be a fine thing for a farmer to be marrying a princess, all dressed in gold and jewels?” “Jewels, do you say? Ah, now, couldn’t you take me with you?”
“Well, you’re an honest fellow, and as I don’t care for the king’s daughter, though she’s as beautiful as the day, and is covered with jewels from top to toe, you shall have her. Just undo the cord, and let me out; they tied me up tight, as they knew I’d run away from her.”
Out crawled Donald; in crept the farmer.
“Now lie still, and don’t mind the shaking; it’s only rumbling over the palace steps you’ll be. And maybe they’ll abuse you for a vagabond, who won’t have the king’s daughter; but you needn’t mind that. Ah! it’s a deal I’m giving up for you, sure as it is that I don’t care for the princess.”
“Take my cattle in exchange,” said the farmer; and you may guess it wasn’t long before Donald was at their tails driving them homewards.
Out came Hudden and Dudden, and the one took one end of the pole, and the other the other.
“I’m thinking he’s heavier,” said Hudden.
“Ah, never mind,” said Dudden; “it’s only a step now to the Brown Lake.”
“I’ll have her now! I’ll have her now!” bawled the farmer, from inside the sack.
“By my faith, and you shall though,” said Hudden, and he laid his stick across the sack.
“I’ll have her! I’ll have her!” bawled the farmer, louder than ever.
“Well, here you are,” said Dudden, for they were now come to the Brown Lake, and, un-slinging the sack, they pitched it plump into the lake.
“You’ll not be playing your tricks on us any longer,” said Hudden.
“True for you,” said Dudden. “Ah, Donald, my boy, it was an ill day when you borrowed my scales.”
Off they went, with a light step and an easy heart, but when they were near home, who should they see but Donald O’Neary, and all around him the cows were grazing, and the calves were kicking up their heels and butting their heads together.
“Is it you, Donald?” said Dudden. “Faith, you’ve been quicker than we have.”
“True for you, Dudden, and let me thank you kindly the turn was good, if the will was ill. You’ll have heard, like me, that the Brown Lake leads to the Land of Promise. I always put it down as lies, but it is just as true as my word. Look at the cattle.”
Hudden stared, and Dudden gaped; but they couldn’t get over the cattle; fine fat cattle they were too.
“It’s only the worst I could bring up with me,” said Donald O’Neary; “the others were so fat, there was no driving them. Faith, too, it’s little wonder they didn’t care to leave, with grass as far as you could see, and as sweet and juicy as fresh butter.”
“Ah, now, Donald, we haven’t always been friends,” said Dudden, “but, as I was just saying, you were ever a decent lad, and you’ll show us the way, won’t you?”
I don’t see that I’m called upon to do that; there is a power more cattle down there. Why shouldn’t I have them all to myself?”
“Faith, they may well say, the richer you get, the harder the heart. You always were a neighbourly lad, Donald. You wouldn’t wish to keep the luck all to yourself?”
“True for you, Hudden, though ’tis a bad example you set me. But I’ll not be thinking of old times. There is plenty for all there, so come along with me.”
Off they trudged, with a light heart and an eager step. When they came to the Brown Lake, the sky was full of little white clouds, and, if the sky was full, the lake was as full.
“Ah! now, look, there they are,” cried Donald, as he pointed to the clouds in the lake.
“Where? where?” cried Hudden, and “Don’t be greedy!” cried Dudden, as he jumped his hardest to be up first with the fat cattle. But if he jumped first, Hudden wasn’t long behind.
They never came back. Maybe they got too fat, like the cattle. As for Donald O’Neary, he had cattle and sheep all his days to his heart’s content.
CONALL YELLOWCLAW was a sturdy tenant in Erin: he had three sons. There was at that time a king over every fifth of Erin. It fell out for the children of the king that was near Conall, that they themselves and the children of Conall came to blows. The children of Conall got the upper hand, and they killed the king’s big son. The king sent a message for Conall and he said to him—”Oh, Conall! what made your sons go to spring on my sons till my big son was killed by your children? but I see that though I follow you revengefully, I shall not be much better for it, and I will now set a thing before you, and if you will do it, I will not follow you with revenge. If you and your sons will get me the brown horse of the king of Lochlann, you shall get the souls of your sons.”
“Why,” said Conall, “should not I do the pleasure of the king, though there should be no souls of my sons in dread at all. Hard is the matter you require of me, but I will lose my own life, and the life of my sons, or else I will do the pleasure of the king.”
After these words Conall left the king, and he went home: when he got home he was under much trouble and perplexity. When he went to lie down he told his wife the thing the king had set before him. His wife took much sorrow that he was obliged to part from herself, while she knew not if she should see him more. “Oh, Conall,” said she, “why didst not thou let the king do his own pleasure to thy sons, rather than be going now, while I know not if ever I shall see thee more?”
When he rose on the morrow, he set himself and his three sons in order, and they took their journey towards Lochlann, and they made no stop but tore through ocean till they reached it. When they reached Lochlann they did not know what they should do. Said the old man to his sons, “Stop ye, and we will seek out the house of the king’s miller.”
When they went into the house of the king’s miller, the man asked them to stop there for the night. Conall told the miller that his own children and the children of his king had fallen out, and that his children had killed the king’s son, and there was nothing that would please the king but that he should get the brown horse of the king of Lochlann.
“If you will do me a kindness, and will put me in a way to get him, for certain I will pay ye for it.” “The thing is silly that you are come to seek,” said the miller; “for the king has laid his mind on him so greatly that you will not get him in any way unless you steal him; but if you can make out a way, I will keep it secret.”
“This is what I am thinking,” said Conall, “since you are working every day for the king, you and your gillies could put myself and my sons into five sacks of bran.”
“The plan that has come into your head is not bad,” said the miller.
The miller spoke to his gillies, and he said to them to do this, and they put them in five sacks. The king’s gillies came to seek the bran, and they took the five sacks with them, and they emptied them before the horses. The servants locked the door, and they went away.
When they rose to lay hand on the brown horse, said Conall, “You shall not do that. It is hard to get out of this; let us make for ourselves five hiding holes, so that if they hear us we may go and hide.” They made the holes, then they laid hands on the horse. The horse was pretty well unbroken, and he set to making a terrible noise through the stable. The king heard the noise. “It must be my brown horse, said he to his gillies; ” find out what Is wrong with him.”
The servants went out, and when Conall and his sons saw them coming they went into the hiding holes. The servants looked amongst the horses, and they did not find anything wrong; and they returned and they told this to the king, and the king said to them that if nothing was wrong they should go to their places of rest.
When the gillies had time to be gone, Conall and his sons laid their hands again on the horse. If the noise was great that he made before, the noise he made now was seven times greater. The king sent a message for his gillies again, and said for certain there was something troubling the brown horse. “Go and look well about him.” The servants went out, and they went to their hiding holes. The servants rummaged well, and did not find a thing. They returned and they told this. “That is marvellous for me,” said the king: “go you to lie down again, and if I notice it again I will go out my self.”
When Conall and his sons perceived that the gillies were gone, they laid hands again on the horse, and one of them caught him, and if the noise that the horse made on the two former times was great, he made more this time.
“Be this from me,” said the king; “it must be that some one is troubling my brown horse.” He sounded the bell hastily, and when his waiting-man came to him, he said to him to let the stable gillies know that something was wrong with the horse. The gillies came, and the king went with them. When Conall and his sons perceived the company coming they went to the hiding holes.
The king was a wary man, and he saw where the horses were making a noise.
“Be wary,” said the king, ” there are men within the stable, let us get at them somehow.” The king followed the tracks of the men, and he found them. Every one knew Conall, for he was a valued tenant of the king of Erin, and when the king brought them up out of the holes he said, “Oh, Conall, is it you that are here?”
“I am, O king, without question, and necessity made me come. I am under thy pardon, and under thine honour, and under thy grace.” He told how it happened to him, and that he had to get the brown horse for the king of Erin, or that his sons were to be put to death. “I knew that I should not get him by asking, and I was going to steal him.”
“Yes, Conall, it is well enough, but come in,” said the king. He desired his look-out men to set a watch on the sons of Conall, and to give them meat. And a double watch was set that night on the sons of Conall.
“Now, O Conall,” said the king, ” were you ever in a harder place than to be seeing your lot of sons hanged tomorrow? But you set it to my goodness and to my grace, and say that it was necessity brought it on you, so I must not hang you. Tell me any case in which you were as hard as this, and if you tell that, you shall get the soul of your youngest son.”
“I will tell a case as hard in which I was,” said Conall. “I was once a young lad, and my father had much land, and he had parks of year-old cows, and one of them had just calved, and my father told me to bring her home. I found the cow, and took her with us. There fell a shower of snow. We went into the herd’s bothy, and we took the cow and the calf in with us, and we were letting the shower pass from us. Who should come in but one cat and ten, and one great one-eyed fox-coloured cat as head bard over them. When they came in, in very deed I myself had no liking for their company. ‘Strike up with you,’ said the head bard, ‘why should we be still? and sing a cronan to Conall Yellowclaw.’ I was amazed that my name was known to the cats themselves. When they had sung the cronan, said the head bard, ‘Now, O Conall, pay the reward of the cronan that the cats have sung to thee.’ ‘Well then,’ said I myself, ‘I have no reward whatsoever for you, unless you should go down and take that calf.’ No sooner said I the word than the two cats and ten went down to attack the calf, and in very deed, he did not last them long.
‘Play up with you, why should you he silent? Make a cronan to Conall Yellow,’ said the head bard. Certainly I had no liking at all for the cronan, but up came the one cat and ten, and if they did not sing me a cronan then and there!’ Pay them now their reward,’ said the great fox-coloured cat. ‘I am tired myself of yourselves and your rewards,’ said I. ‘I have no reward for you unless you take that cow down there.” They betook themselves to the cow, and indeed she did not last them long.
“‘Why will you be silent? Go up and sing a cronan to Conall Yellowclaw,’ said the head bard. And surely, oh, king, I had no care for them or for their cronan, for I began to see that they were not good comrades.
When they had sung me the cronan they betook themselves down where the head bard was. ‘Pay now their reward, said the head bard; and for sure, oh king, I had no reward for them and I said to them, ‘I have no reward for you.’ And surely, oh king, there was caterwauling between them.
So I leapt out at a turf window that was at the back of the house. I took myself off as hard as I might into the wood. I was swift enough and strong at that time; and when I felt the rustling toirm of the cats after me I climbed into as high a tree as I saw in the place, and one that was close in the top; and I hid myself as well as I might. The cats began to search for me through the wood, and they could not find me; and when they were tired, each one said to the other that they would turn back. ‘But,’ said the one-eyed fox-coloured cat that was commander-in-chief over them, ‘you saw him not with your two eyes, and though I have but one eye, there’s the rascal up in the tree.’ When he had said that, one of them went up in the tree, and as he was coming where I was, I drew a weapon that I had and I killed him.
‘Be this from me!’ said the one-eyed one—’ I must not be losing my company thus gather round the root of the tree and dig about it, and let down that villain to earth.’ On this they gathered about the tree, and they dug about the root, and the first branching root that they cut, she gave a shiver to fall, and I myself gave a shout, and it was not to be wondered at.
There was in the neighbourhood of the wood a priest, and he had ten men with him delving, and he said, ‘There is a shout of a man in extremity and I must not be without replying to it.’ And the wisest of the men said, ‘ Let it alone till we hear it again.’ The cats began again digging wildly, and they broke the next root; and I myself gave the next shout, and in very deed it was not a weak one. ‘ Certainly,’ said the priest, ‘it is a man in extremity—let us move.’ They set themselves in order for moving. And the cats arose on the tree, and they broke the third root, and the tree fell on her elbow. Then I gave the third shout. The stalwart men hastened, and when they saw how the cats served the tree, they began at them with the spades; and they themselves and the cats began at each other, till the cats ran away. And surely, oh king, I did not move till I saw the last one of them off. And then I came home. And there’s the hardest case in which I ever was; and it seems to me that tearing by the cats were harder than hanging to-morrow by the king of Lochlann.”
“Och! Conall,” said the king, “you are full of words. You have freed the soul of your son with your tale; and if you tell me a harder case than that you will get your second youngest son, and then you will have two sons.”
“Well then,” said Conall, “on condition that thou dost that, I will tell thee how I was once in a harder case than to be in thy power in prison to-night.”
“Let’s hear,” said the king.
“I was then,” said Conall, ” quite a young lad, and I went out hunting, and my father’s land was beside the sea, and it was rough with rocks, caves, and rifts. When I was going on the top of the shore, I saw as if there were a smoke coming up between two rocks, and I began to look what might be the meaning of the smoke coming up there. When I was looking, what should I do but fall; and the place was so full of heather, that neither bone nor skin was broken. I knew not how I should get out of this. I was not looking before me, but I kept looking overhead the way I came—and thinking that the day would never come that I could get up there. It was terrible for me to be there till I should die. I heard a great clattering coming, and what was there but a great giant and two dozen of goats with him, and a buck at their head. And when the giant had tied the goats, he came up and he said to me, ‘Hao O! Conall, it’s long since my knife has been rusting in my pouch waiting for thy tender flesh.’
‘Och!’ said I, ‘it’s not much you will be bettered by me, though you should tear me asunder; I will make but one meal for you. But I see that you are one-eyed. I am a good leech, and I will give you the sight of the other eye.’ The giant went and he drew the great caldron on the site of the fire. I myself was telling him how
he should heat the water, so that I should give its sight to the other eye. I got heather and I made a rubber of it, and I set him upright in the cauldron. I began at the eye that was well, pretending to him that I would give its sight to the other one, till I left them as bad as each other; and surely it was easier to spoil the one that was well than to give sight to the other.
“When he saw that he could not see a glimpse, and when I myself said to him that I would get out in spite of him, he gave a spring out of the water, and he stood in the mouth of the cave, and he said that he would have revenge for the sight of his eye. I had but to stay there crouched the length of the night, holding in my breath in such a way that he might not find out where I was.
“When he felt the birds calling in the morning, and knew that the day was, he said—’Art thou sleeping? Awake and let out my lot of goats.’ I killed the buck.
He cried, ‘I do believe that thou art killing my buck.’
“‘I am not,’ said I, ‘ but the ropes are so tight that I take long to loose them.’
I let out one of the goats, and there he was caressing her, and he said to her, ‘There thou art thou shaggy, hairy white goat, and thou seest me, but I see thee not.’ I kept letting them out by the way of one and one, as I flayed the buck, and before the last one was out I had him flayed bag-wise. Then I went and I put my legs in place of his legs, and my hands in place of his forelegs, and my head in place of his head, and the horns on top of my head, so that the brute might think that it was the buck. I went out. When I was going out the giant laid his hand on me, and he said, ‘There thou art, thou pretty buck; thou seest me, but I see thee not.’ When I myself got out,
and I saw the world about me, surely, oh, king! joy was on me. When I was out and had shaken the skin off me, I said to the brute, ‘I am out now in spite of you.’
“‘Aha!’ said he, ‘hast thou done this to me. Since thou wert so stalwart that thou hast got out, I will give thee a ring that I have here; keep the ring, and it will do thee good.’
“‘I will not take the ring from you,’ said I,’ but throw it, and I will take it with me.’
He threw the ring on the flat ground, I went myself and I lifted the ring, and I put it on my finger.
When he said me then, ‘Is the ring fitting thee?’ I said to him, ‘It is.’ Then he said, ‘Where art thou, ring?’ And the ring said, ‘I am here.’ The brute went and went towards where the ring was speaking, and now I saw that I was in a harder case than ever I was. I drew a dirk. I cut the finger from off me, and I threw it from me as far as I could out on the loch, and there was a great depth in the place. He shouted, ‘Where art thou, ring?’ And the ring said, ‘I am here,’ though it was on the bed of ocean. He gave a spring after the ring, and out he went in the sea. And I was as pleased then when I saw him drowning, as though you should grant my own life and the life of my two sons with me, and not lay any more trouble on me.
“When the giant was drowned I went in, and I took with me all he had of gold and silver, and I went home, and surely great joy was on my people when I arrived. And as a sign now look, the finger is off me.”
“Yes, indeed, Conall, you are wordy and wise,” said the king. “I see the finger is off you. You have freed your two sons, but tell me a case in which you ever were that is harder than to be looking on your son being hanged to-morrow, and you shall get the soul of your eldest son.”
“Then went my father,” said Conall “and he got me a wife, and I was married. I went to hunt. I was going beside the sea, and I saw an island over in the midst of the loch, and I came there where a boat was with a rope before her, and a rope behind her, and many precious things within her. I looked myself on the boat to see how I might get part of them. I put in the one foot, and the other foot was on the ground, and when I raised my head what was it but the boat over in the middle of the loch, and she never stopped till she reached the island. When I went out of the boat the boat returned where she was before. I did not know now what I should do. The place was without meat or clothing, without the appearance of a house on it. I came out on the top of a hill. Then I came to a glen; I saw in it, at the bottom of a hollow, a woman with a child, and the child was naked on her knee, and she had a knife in her hand. She tried to put the knife to the throat of the babe, and the babe began to laugh in her face, and she began to cry, and she threw the knife behind her.
I thought to myself that I was near my foe and far from my friends, and I called to the woman, ‘What are you doing here?’ And she said to me, ‘What brought you here?’ I told her myself word upon word how I came. ‘Well then,’ said she, ‘it was so I came also.’ She showed me to the place where I should come in where she was. I went in, and I said to her, ‘What was the matter that you were putting the knife on the neck of the child?’ ‘it is that he must be cooked for the giant who is here, or else no more of my world will be before me.’ Just then we could be hearing the footsteps of the giant, ‘What shall I do? what shall I do?’ cried the woman. I went to the cauldron, and by luck it was not hot, so in it I got just as the brute came in. ‘Hast thou boiled that youngster for me?’ he cried. ‘ He’s not done yet,’ said she, and I cried out from the cauldron, ‘Mammy, mammy, it’s boiling I am.’ Then the giant laughed out HAI, HAW, HOGARAICH, and heaped on wood under the caldron.
“And now I was sure I would scald before I could get out of that. As fortune favoured me, the brute slept beside the cauldron. There I was scalded by the bottom of the cauldron. When she perceived that he was asleep, she set her mouth quietly to the hole that was in the lid, and she said to me ‘was I alive?’ I said I was. I put up my head, and the hole in the lid was so large, that my head went through easily. Everything was coming easily with me till I began to bring up my hips. I left the skin of my hips behind me, but I came out.
When I got out of the caldron I knew not what to do; and she said to me that there was no weapon that would kill him but his own weapon. I began to draw his spear and every breath that he drew I thought I would be down his throat, and when his breath came out I was back again just as far. But with every ill that befell me I got the spear loosed from him. Then I was as one under a bundle of straw in a great wind for I could not manage the spear. And it was fearful to look on the brute, who had but one eye in the midst of his face; and it was not agreeable for the like of me to attack him. I drew the dart as best I could, and I set it in his eye. When he felt this he gave his head a lift, and he struck the other end of the dart on the top of the cave, and it went through to the back of his head.
And he fell cold dead where he was; and you may be sure, oh king, that joy was on me. I myself and the woman went out on clear ground, and we passed the night there. I went and got the boat with which I came, and she was no way lightened, and took the woman and the child over on dry land; and I returned home.”
The king of Lochlann’s mother was putting on a fire at this time, and listening to Conall telling the tale about the child.
“Is it you,” said she, “that were there?”
“Well then,” said he, “’twas I.”
“Och! och!” said she, “’twas I that was there, and the king is the child whose life you saved; and it is to you that life thanks should be given.” Then they took great joy.
The king said, “Oh, Conall, you came through great hardships. And now the brown horse is yours, and his sack full of the most precious things that are in my treasury.”
They lay down that night, and if it was early that Conall rose, it was earlier than that that the queen was on foot making ready. He got the brown horse and his sack full of gold and silver and stones of great price, and then Conall and his three sons went away, and they returned home to the Erin realm of gladness. He left the gold and silver in his house, and he went with the horse to the king. They were good friends evermore. He returned home to his wife, and they set in order a feast; and that was a feast if ever there was one, oh son and brother.
A RICH woman sat up late one night carding and preparing wool, while all the family and servants were
asleep. Suddenly a knock was given at the door, and a voice called, “Open! open!”
“Who is there?” said the woman of the house.
“I am the Witch of one Horn,” was answered.
The mistress, supposing that one of her neighbours had called and required assistance, opened the door, and a woman entered, having in her hand a pair of wool-carders, and bearing a horn on her forehead, as if growing there. She sat down by the fire in silence, and began to card the wool with violent haste. Suddenly she paused, and said aloud: “Where are the women? they delay too long.”
Then a second knock came to the door, and a voice called as before, “Open! open!”
The mistress felt herself obliged to rise and open to the call, and immediately a second witch entered, having two horns on her forehead, and in her hand a wheel for spinning wool.
“Give me place,” she said; “I am the Witch of the two horns,” and she began to spin as quick as lightning. And so the knocks went on, and the call was heard, and the witches entered, until at last twelve women sat round the fire—the first with one horn, the last with twelve horns.
And they carded the thread, and turned their spinning wheels, and wound and wove, all singing together an ancient rhyme, but no word did they speak to the mistress of the house. Strange to hear, and frightful to look upon, were these twelve women, with their horns and their wheels and the mistress felt near to death, and she tried to rise that she might call for help, but she could not move, nor could she utter a word or a cry, for the spell of the witches was upon her.
Then one of them called to her in Irish, and said, “Rise, woman, and make us a cake.”
Then the mistress searched for a vessel to bring water from the well that she might mix the meal and make the cake, but she could find none. And they said to her, “Take a sieve and bring water in it.” And she took the sieve and went to the well; but the water poured from it, and she could fetch none for the cake, and she sat down by the well and wept.
Then a voice came by her and said, “Take yellow clay and moss, and bind them together, and plaster the sieve so that it will hold.” This she did, and the sieve held the water for the cake and the voice said again: “Return, and when thou comest to the north angle of the house, cry aloud three times and say, ‘The mountain of the Fenian women and the sky over it is all on fire.’ “
And she did so.
When the witches inside heard the call, a great and terrible cry broke from their lips, and they rushed forth with wild lamentations and shrieks, and fled away to Slievenamon, where was their chief abode. But the Spirit of the Well bade the mistress of the house to enter and prepare her home against the enchantments of the witches if they returned again.
And first, to break their spells, she sprinkled the water in which she had washed her child’s feet, the feet-water, outside the door on the threshold; secondly, she took the cake which in her absence the witches had made of meal mixed with the blood drawn from the sleeping family, and she broke the cake in bits, and placed a bit in the mouth of each sleeper, and they were restored; and she took the cloth they had woven, and placed it half in and half out of the chest with the padlock; and lastly, she secured the door with a great crossbeam fastened in the jambs, so that the witches could not enter, and having done these things she waited.
Not long were the witches in coming back, and they raged and called for vengeance.
“Open! open!” they screamed; “open, feet-water!”
“I cannot,” said the feet-water; “I am scattered on the ground, and my path is down to the Lough.”
“Open, open, wood and trees and beam!” they cried to the door.
“I cannot,” said the door, “for the beam is fixed in the jambs and I have no power to move.”
“Open, open, cake that we have made and mingled with blood!” they cried again.
“I cannot,” said the cake, “for I am broken and bruised, and my blood is on the lips of the sleeping children.”
Then the witches rushed through the air with great cries, and fled back to Slievenamon, uttering strange curses on the Spirit of the Well, who had wished their ruin; but the woman and the house were left in peace, and a mantle dropped by one of the witches in her flight was kept hung up by the mistress in memory of that night; and this mantle was kept by the same family from generation to generation for five hundred years after.
And lo, a certain lawyer stood up, trying him, and saying, `Teacher, what having done, life age-during shall I inherit?’
And he said unto him, `In the law what hath been written? how dost thou read?’
And he answering said, `Thou shalt love the Lord thy God out of all thy heart, and out of all thy soul, and out of all thy strength, and out of all thy understanding, and thy neighbour as thyself.’ And he said to him, `Rightly thou didst answer; this do, and thou shalt live.’
And he, willing to declare himself righteous, said unto Jesus, `And who is my neighbour?’
And Jesus having taken up [the word], said, `A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and having stripped him and inflicted blows, they went away, leaving [him] half dead. And by a coincidence a certain priest was going down in that way, and having seen him, he passed over on the opposite side; and in like manner also, a Levite, having been about the place, having come and seen, passed over on the opposite side.
`But a certain Samaritan, journeying, came along him, and having seen him, he was moved with compassion, and having come near, he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and having lifted him up on his own beast, he brought him to an inn, and was careful of him; and on the morrow, going forth, taking out two denaries, he gave to the innkeeper, and said to him, Be careful of him, and whatever thou mayest spend more, I, in my coming again, will give back to thee.
`Who, then, of these three, seemeth to thee to have become neighbour of him who fell among the robbers?’
and he said, `He who did the kindness with him,’ then Jesus said to him, `Be going on, and thou be doing in like manner.’
ONE FINE DAY IN HARVEST—it was indeed Lady-day in harvest,
that everybody knows to be one of the greatest holidays
in the year—Tom Fitzpatrick was taking a ramble through
the ground, and went along the sunny side of a hedge; when
all of a sudden he heard a clacking sort of noise a little before
him in the hedge. “Dear me,” said Tom, “but isn’t it surprising
to hear the stonechatters singing so late in the season?”
So Tom stole on, going on the tops of his toes to try if he
could get a sight of what was making the noise, to see if he
was right in his guess. The noise stopped; but as Tom looked
sharply through the bushes, what should he see in a nook of
the hedge but a brown pitcher, that might hold about a gallon
and a half of liquor; and by-and-by a little wee teeny tiny
bit of an old man, with a little motty of a cocked hat stuck
upon the top of his head, a deeshy daushy leather apron
hanging before him, pulled out a little wooden stool, and
stood up upon it, and dipped a little piggin into the pitcher,
and took out the full of it, and put it beside the stool, and
then sat down under the pitcher, and began to work at putting
a heel-piece on a bit of a brogue just fit for himself.
“Well, by the powers,” said Tom to himself, “I often heard
tell of the Lepracauns, and, to tell God’s truth, I never rightly
believed in them—but here’s one of them in real earnest. If
I go knowingly to work, I’m a made man. They say a body
must never take their eyes off them, or they’ll escape.”
Tom now stole on a little further, with his eye fixed on the
little man just as a cat does with a mouse. So when he got up
quite close to him, “God bless your work, neighbour,” said Tom.
The little man raised up his head, and “Thank you kindly,”
“I wonder you’d be working on the holiday!” said Tom.
“That’s my own business, not yours,” was the reply.
“Well, may be you’d be civil enough to tell us what you’ve
got in the pitcher there?” said Tom.
“That I will, with pleasure,” said he; “it’s good beer.”
“Beer!” said Tom. “Thunder and fire! where did you get it?”
“Where did I get it, is it? Why, I made it. And what do
you think I made it of?”
“Devil a one of me knows,” said Tom; “but of malt, I suppose,
“There you’re out. I made it of heath.”
“Of heath!” said Tom, bursting out laughing; “sure you
don’t think me to be such a fool as to believe that?”
“Do as you please,” said he, “but what I tell you is the
truth. Did you never hear tell of the Danes?”
“Well, what about them?” said Tom.
“Why, all the about them there is, is that when they were
here they taught us to make beer out of the heath, and the
secret’s in my family ever since.”
“Will you give a body a taste of your beer?” said Tom.
“I’ll tell you what it is, young man, it would be fitter for
you to be looking after your father’s property than to be
bothering decent quiet people with your foolish questions.
There now, while you’re idling away your time here, there’s
the cows have broke into the oats, and are knocking the
corn all about.”
Tom was taken so by surprise with this that he was just on
the very point of turning round when he recollected himself;
so, afraid that the like might happen again, he made a
grab at the Lepracaun, and caught him up in his hand; but
in his hurry he overset the pitcher, and spilt all the beer, so
that he could not get a taste of it to tell what sort it was. He
then swore that he would kill him if he did not show him
where his money was. Tom looked so wicked and so bloodyminded
that the little man was quite frightened; so says he,
“Come along with me a couple of fields off, and I’ll show
you a crock of gold.”
So they went, and Tom held the Lepracaun fast in his hand,
and never took his eyes from off him, though they had to
cross hedges and ditches, and a crooked bit of bog, till at last
they came to a great field all full of boliauns, and the Lepracaun
pointed to a big boliaun, and says he, “Dig under that boliaun,
and you’ll get the great crock all full of guineas.”
Tom in his hurry had never thought of bringing a spade
with him, so he made up his mind to run home and fetch
one; and that he might know the place again he took off one
of his red garters, and tied it round the boliaun.
Then he said to the Lepracaun, “Swear ye’ll not take that
garter away from that boliaun.” And the Lepracaun swore
right away not to touch it.
“I suppose,” said the Lepracaun, very civilly, “you have no
further occasion for me?”
“No,” says Tom; “you may go away now, if you please, and
God speed you, and may good luck attend you wherever
“Well, good-bye to you, Tom Fitzpatrick,” said the
Lepracaun; “and much good may it do you when you get it.”
So Tom ran for dear life, till he came home and got a spade,
and then away with him, as hard as he could go, back to the
field of boliauns; but when he got there, lo and behold! not
a boliaun in the field but had a red garter, the very model of
his own, tied about it; and as to digging up the whole field,
that was all nonsense, for there were more than forty good
Irish acres in it. So Tom came home again with his spade on
his shoulder, a little cooler than he went, and many’s the
hearty curse he gave the Lepracaun every time he thought of
the neat turn he had served him.