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- Heroic Romances of Ireland Volume 1 - 6/44 -
Mac O'c had been fostered by Mider, but he was at enmity with his foster-father, and he recognised Etain, although in her transformed shape, as she was borne towards him by the force] of the wind. And he made a bower for Etain with clear windows for it through which she might pass, and a veil of purple was laid upon her; and that bower was carried about by Mac O'c wherever he went. And there each night she slept beside him by a means that he devised, so that she became well-nourished and fair of form; for that bower was filled with marvellously sweet-scented shrubs, and it was upon these that she thrived, upon the odour and blossom of the best of precious herbs.
[FN#6] Pronounced Bree Lay.
[FN#7] Pronounced Foom-na.
Now to Fuamnach came tidings of the love and the worship that Etain had from Mac O'c, and she came to Mider, and "Let thy foster-son," said she, "be summoned to visit thee, that I may make peace between you two, and may then go to seek for news of Etain." And the messenger from Mider went to Mac O'c, and Mac O'c went to Mider to greet him; but Fuamnach for a long time wandered from land to land till she was in that very mansion where Etain was; and then she blew beneath her with the same blast as aforetime, so that the blast carried her out of her bower, and she was blown before it, as she had been before for seven years through all the land of Erin, and she was driven by the wind of that blast to weakness and woe. And the wind carried her over the roof of a house where the men of Ulster sat at their ale, so that she fell through the roof into a cup of gold that stood near the wife of Etar the Warrior, whose dwelling-place was near to the Bay of Cichmany in the province that was ruled over by Conor. And the woman swallowed Etain together with the milk that was in the cup, and she bare her in her womb, till the time came that she was born thereafter as in earthly maid, and the name of Etain, the daughter of Etar, was given to her. And it was one thousand and twelve years since the time of the first begetting of Etain by Ailill to the time when she was born the second time as the daughter of Etar.
Now Etain was nurtured at Inver Cichmany in the house of Etar, with fifty maidens about her of the daughters of the chiefs of the land; and it was Etar himself who still nurtured and clothed them, that they might be companions to his daughter Etain. And upon a certain day, when those maidens were all at the river-mouth to bathe there, they saw a horseman on the plain who came to the water towards them. A horse he rode that was brown, curvetting, and prancing, with a broad forehead and a curly mane and tail. Green, long, and flowing was the cloak that was about him, his shirt was embroidered with embroidery of red gold, and a great brooch of gold in his cloak reached to his shoulder on either side. Upon the back of that man was a silver shield with a golden rim; the handle for the shield was silver, and a golden boss was in the midst of the shield: he held in his hand a five-pointed spear with rings of gold about it from the haft to the head. The hair that was above his forehead was yellow and fair; and upon his brow was a circlet of gold, which confined the hair so that it fell not about his face. He stood for a while upon the shore of the bay; and he gazed upon the maidens, who were all filled with love for him, and then he sang this song:
West of Alba, near the Mound[FN#8] Where the Fair-Haired Women play, There, 'mid little children found, Etain dwells, by Cichmain's Bay.
She hath healed a monarch's eye By the well of Loch-da-lee; Yea, and Etar's wife, when dry, Drank her: heavy draught was she!
Chased by king for Etain's sake, Birds their flight from Teffa wing: 'Tis for her Da-Arbre's lake Drowns the coursers of the king.
Echaid, who in Meath shall reign, Many a war for thee shall wage; He shall bring on fairies bane, Thousands rouse to battle's rage.
Etain here to harm was brought, Etain's form is Beauty's test; Etain's king in love she sought: Etain with our folk shall rest!
[FN#8] The metre of these verses is that of the Irish.
And after that he had spoken thus, the young warrior went away from the place where the maidens were; and they knew not whence it was that he had come, nor whither he departed afterwards. Moreover it is told of Mac O'c, that after the disappearance of Etain he came to the meeting appointed between him and Mider; and when he found that Fuamnach was away: "'Tis deceit," said Mider, "that this woman hath practised upon us; and if Etain shall be seen by her to be in Ireland, she will work evil upon Etain." "And indeed," said Mac O'c, "it seemeth to me that thy guess may be true. For Etain hath long since been in my own house, even in the palace where I dwell; moreover she is now in that shape into which that woman transformed her; and 'tis most likely that it is upon her that Fuamnach hath rushed." Then Mac O'c went back to his palace, and he found his bower of glass empty, for Etain was not there. And Mac O'c turned him, and he went upon the track of Fuamnach, and he overtook her at Oenach Bodbgnai, in the house of Bressal Etarlam the Druid. And Mac O'c attacked her, and he struck off her head, and he carried the head with him till he came to within his own borders.
Yet a different tale hath been told of the end of Fuamnach, for it hath been said that by the aid of Manannan both Fuamnach and Mider were slain in Bri Leith, and it is of that slaying that men have told when they said:
Think on Sigmall, and Bri with its forest: Little wit silly Fuamnach had learned; Mider's wife found her need was the sorest, When Bri Leith by Manannan was burned.
THE COURTSHIP OF ETAIN
Once there was a glorious and stately king who held the supreme lordship over all the land of Ireland. The name of the king was Eochaid Airemm, and he was the son of Finn, who was the son of Finntan; who was the son of Rogan the Red; who was the son of Essamain; who was the son of Blathecht; who was the son of Beothecht; who was the son of Labraid the Tracker; who was the son of Enna the Swift; who was the son of Angus of Tara, called the Shamefaced; who was the son of Eochaid the Broad-jointed; who was the son of Ailill of the Twisted Teeth; who was the son of Connla the Fair; who was the son of Irer; who was the son of Melghe the Praiseworthy; who was the son of Cobhtach the Slender from the plain of Breg; who was the son of Ugaine the Great; who was the son of Eochaid the Victorious.
Now all the five provinces of Ireland were obedient to the rule of Eochaid Airemm: for Conor the son of Ness, the king of Ulster, was vassal to Eochaid; and Messgegra the king of Leinster was his vassal; and so was Curoi, the son of Dare, king of the land of Munster; and so were Ailill and Maev, who ruled over the land of Connaught. Two great strongholds were in the hands of Eochaid: they were the strongholds of Fremain in Meath, and of Fremain in Tethba; and the stronghold that he had in Tethba was more pleasing to him than any of those that he possessed. Less than a year had passed since Eochaid first assumed the sovereignty over Erin, when the news was proclaimed at once throughout all the land that the Festival of Tara should be held, that all the men of Ireland should come into the presence of their king, and that he desired full knowledge of the tributes due from, and the customs proper to each. And the one answer that all of the men of Ireland made to his call was: "That they would not attend the Festival of Tara during such time, whether it be long or short, that the king of Ireland remained without a wife that was worthy of him;" for there is no noble who is a wifeless man among the men of Ireland; nor can there be any king without a queen; nor does any man go to the Festival of Tara without his wife; nor does any wife go thither without her husband.
Thereupon Eochaid sent out from him his horsemen, and his wizards, and his officers who had the care of the roads, and his couriers of the boundaries throughout all Ireland; and they searched all Ireland as they sought for a wife that should be worthy of the king, in her form, and her grace, and her countenance, and her birth. And in addition to all this there yet remained one condition: that the king would take as his wife none who had been before as a wife to any other man before him.
And after that they had received these commands, his horsemen, and his wizards, and his officers who had the care of the roads, and the couriers of the boundaries went out; and they searched all Ireland south and north; and near to the Bay of Cichmany they found a wife worthy of the king; and her name was Etain the daughter of Etar, who was the king of Echrad. And his messengers returned to Eochaid, and they told him of the maiden, of her form, and her grace, and her countenance. And Eochaid came to that place to take the maiden thence, and this was the way that he took; for as he crossed over the ground where men hold the assembly of Bri Leith, he saw the maiden at the brink of the spring. A clear comb of silver was held in her hand, the comb was adorned with gold; and near her, as for washing, was a bason of silver whereon four birds had been chased, and there were little bright gems of carbuncle on the rims of the bason. A bright purple mantle waved round her; and beneath it was another mantle, ornamented with silver fringes: the outer mantle was clasped over her bosom with a golden brooch. A tunic she wore, with a long hood that might cover her head attached to it; it was stiff and glossy with green silk beneath red embroidery of gold, and was clasped over her breasts with marvellously wrought clasps of silver and gold; so that men saw the bright gold and the green silk flashing against the sun. On her head were two tresses of golden hair, and each tress had been plaited into four strands; at the end of each strand was a little ball of gold. And there was that maiden, undoing her hair that she might wash it, her two arms out through the armholes of her smock. Each of her two arms was as white as the snow of a single night, and each of her cheeks was as rosy as the foxglove. Even and small were the teeth in her head, and they shone like pearls. Her eyes were as blue as a hyacinth, her lips delicate and crimson; very high, soft, and white were her shoulders. Tender, polished, and white were her wrists; her fingers long, and of
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