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- Heroic Romances of Ireland Volume 2 - 6/27 -


Bring it hither to show to the chiefs, and anon in thy hand shall the gem be set." "That jewel is lost," said the maid, "nor aught of the fate of the ring I know!" Then find it," said Ailill, "the ring must be brought, or thy soul from thy limbs must go!"

"Now, nay!" said they all, "it were cruel That such fate for such fault should be found: Thou hast many a fair-flashing jewel In these heaps that lie scattered around!" And said Fraech: "Of my jewels here glowing Take thy fill, if the maid be but freed; 'Tis to her that my life I am owing, For she brought me the sword in my need."

"There is none of thy gems that can aid her," Said Ailill, "nor aught thou canst give; There is one thing alone that shall save her; If the ring be restored, she shall live!

Said Finnabar; "Thy treasure To yield no power is mine: Do thou thy cruel pleasure, For strength, I know, is thine."

"By the god whom our Connaught land haileth, I swear," answered Ailill the king, "That the life on thy lips glowing faileth, If thou place in my hand not the ring!" And that hard," he laughed softly, "the winning Of that jewel shall be, know I well; They who died since the world had beginning Shall come back to the spot where they fell Ere that ring she can find, and can bear it To my hand from the spot where 'twas tossed, And as knowing this well, have I dared her To restore what for aye hath been lost!"

"No ring for treasure thus despised," She said, "exchanged should be; Yet since the king its worth hath prized, I'll find the gem for thee!"

Not thus shalt thou fly," said the king, "to thy maid let the quest of the ring be bid!" And his daughter obeyed, and to one whom she sent she told where the ring was hid:

"But," Finnabar cried, "by my country's god I swear that from out this hour, Will I leave this land, and my father's hand shall no more on my life have power, And no feasting shall tempt me to stay, no draughts of wine my resolve shall shake!" "No reproach would I bring, if as spouse," said the king, "thou a groom from my stalls would'st take! But that ring must be found ere thou goest! "Then back came her maid, and a dish she bore: And there lay a salmon well broiled, as sauce with honey 'twas garnished o'er: By the daughter of Ailill herself with skill had the honey-sweet sauce been made. And high on the breast of the fish, the ring of gold that they sought was laid. King Ailill and Maev at the ring gazed hard; Fraech looked, in his purse he felt: Now it seemeth," he said, "'twas to prove my host that I left on the bank my belt,

And Ailill now I challenge All truth, as king to tell; What deed his cunning fashioned, And what that ring befell."

"There is naught to be hidden," said Ailill; "It was mine, in thy purse though it lay And my daughter I knew as its giver: So to river I hurled it away.

Now Fraech in turn I challenge By life and honour's claim: Say how from yon dark water That ring to draw ye came."

"There is naught to be hidden," he answered, "The first day that I came, on the earth, Near the court round thy house, was that jewel; And I saw all its beauty and worth:

In my purse then I hid it; thy daughter, Who had lost it, with care for it sought; And the day that I went to that water Was the news of her search to me brought:

And I asked what reward she would give me, If the gem in her hand should be placed; And she answered that I, if I found it, For a year by her love should be graced.

But not then could the ring be delivered: For afar in my chamber it lay: Till she gave me the sword in the river, We met not again on that day.

'Twas then I saw thee open My purse, and take the ring: I watched, and towards the water That gem I saw thee fling:

I saw the salmon leaping, The ring it caught, and sank: I came behind, and seized it; And brought the fish to bank.

Then I wrapped it up close in my mantle; And 'twas hid from inquisitive eyes; And in Finnabar's hand have I placed it: And now there on the platter it lies!"

Now all who this or that would know To ask, and praise began: Said Finnabar, "I'll never throw My thoughts on other man!"

Now hear her word," her parents cried, "And plight to her thy troth, And when for Cualgne's[FN#13] kine we ride Do thou redeem thine oath.

[FN#13] Pronounced Kell-ny.

And when with kine from out the east Ye reach our western land; That night shall be thy marriage feast; And thine our daughter's hand."

"Now that oath will I take," answered back to them Fraech, "and the task ye have asked will do!" So he tarried that night till the morning's light; and they feasted the whole night through; And then homewards bound, with his comrades round, rode Fraech when the night was spent, And to Ailill and Maev an adieu he gave, and away to their land they went.

TAIN BO FRAICH

Part I

LITERAL TRANSLATION

FRAECH, son of Idath of the men of Connaught, a son he to Befind from the Side: a sister she to Boand. He is the hero who is the most beautiful that was of the men of Eriu and of Alba, but he was not long-lived. His mother gave him twelve cows out of the Sid (the fairy mound), they are white-eared. He had a good housekeeping till the end of eight years without the taking of a wife. Fifty sons of kings, this was the number of his household, co-aged, co-similar to him all between form and instruction. Findabair, daughter of Ailill and Medb, loves him for the great stories about him. It is declared to him at his house. Eriu and Alba were full of his renown and the stories about him.

To Fraech[FN#14] was Idath[FN#15] father, A Connaught man was he: And well we know his mother Who dwells among the Shee;[FN#16] Befind they call her, sister To Boand,[FN#17] the Fairy Queen; And Alba ne'er, nor Erin, Such grace as Fraech's hath seen. Yet wondrous though that hero's grace, His fairy lineage high, For years but few his lovely face Was seen by human eye.

[FN#14] Pronounced Fraych.

[FN#15] Pronounced Eeda.

[FN#16] The Fairies.

[FN#17] Pronounced with the sound of "owned."

Fraech had twelve of white-eared fairy-cattle, 'Twas his mother those cattle who gave: For eight years in his home he dwelt wifeless,


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