" If I knew your name," said Sculloge, " I would wish you the compliments of the evening, for I think it is lucky to meet you." " I don't care for your compliments," said the other, "but I am not ashamed of my name. I am the Sighe-Draoi (Fairy Druid), Lassa Buaicht, and my s'.ars decreed at my birth that I should be cursed from my boyhood with a rage for gambling, though I should never win a single game. I am killed all out, betting on my poor left hand all day, and losing. So if you wish to show your gratitude get down and join me. If / win, which I won't, you are to do whatever I tell you. You may say now what is to be yours if you win, and that you are sure to do."
So Sculloge said that all he required was to have his old mill restored, and they began the game. The Sheoge Druid lost as usual, and after rapping out some outlandish oaths, he bade the other take a look at his mill at an early hour next morning.
It was the first thing that Sculloge did when he went out at an early hour, and surprised and delighted he was to find as complete a meal and flour mill in ready order for work as could be found in all Muskerry. It was not long till the wheel was turning, and the stones grinding, and Sculloge was as happy as the day was long, attending to his mill and his farm, only he felt lonely in the long evenings. The cards and the dice, and the whiskey-bottle were gone, and their place was not yet filled up by the comely face and the loving heart of the Bhan a teagh.
So one evening about sunset he strolled up into the lonely valley, and wras not disappointed in meeting the Sheoge Druid. They did not lose much time till they were hard and fast at the dice, the Druid to supply a beautiful and good wife if he lost the game ; if not, Sculloge to obey whatever command he gave him. As it happened the other evenings it happened now. Sculloge won, and went to bed,~wishing for the morning.
He slept little till near break of day, and then he dozed. He was awaked by his old housekeeper, who came running into the room in a fright, crying, " Master, master, get up ! There's a stranger in the parlour, and the peer of her I never saw. She is dressed like a king's daughter, and as beautiful as-as I don't know what, and no one saw her coming in." Sculloge was not long dressing himself, and it wasn't his work-day clothes he put on.
He almost went on his knees to the lovely lady, whom he found in the parlour. Well, he was not a bad-looking young fellow; and since he was cured of gambling and drinking his appearance was improved, as well as his character. He was a gentleman in feeling, and he only wanted gentle society to be a gentleman in manner. The lady was a little frightened at first, but when she saw how much in awe he was of her she took courage. "I was obliged to come here," said she, "whether I would or no ; but i would die rather than marry a man of bad character. You will not, i am sure, force me to anything against my will." " Dear lady," said he, " i would cut off my right hand sooner than affront you in any way."
So they spent the day together, liking one another better every moment; and to make a long story short, the priest soon made them man and wife. Poor Sculloge thought the hours he spent at his farm and his mill uncommonly long, and in the evenings he would watch the sun, fearing it would never think of setting. She learned how to be a farmer's wife just as if she had forgot she was a king's daughter; but her husband did not forget. He could not bear to see her wet the tip of her fingers ; and the only disputes they had arose from his wishing to keep her in state doing nothing, and from her wishing to be useful.
He soon began to fret for fear that he could not buy fine clothes for her, when those she brought on her were worn. She told him over and over, she preferred plain ones ; but that did not satisfy him. " Pll tell you what, my darling Saav," 1 said he one evening. " i will go to the lonely glen, and have another game of backgammon with the Si she Draoi, Lassa Buaicht. I can mention a thousand guineas if I like, and I am sure to win them. Won't I build a nice house for you then, and have you dressed like a kings daughter, as you are ! " " Xo, dear husband," said she ; " if you do not wish to lose me or perhaps your own life, never play a game with that treacherous, evil old man. I am under 1 geasa' to reveal nothing of his former doings, but trust in me, and follow my advice."
1 Sabh or Sadbh is one of the many Irish words perplexing for the variety of their significations. Some only of the meanings of this name follow. An airy shape, a fantasy, a salve, the sun, a good habitation. It is Englished by Sabia or Sabina.
Of course he could only yield, but still the plan did not quit his mind. Every day he felt more and more the change in his wife's mode of living, and at last he stole off one evening to the lonely glen.
There, as sure as the sun, was the foolish-looking old Druid, sitting silent and grim with his hands on the table. He looked pleased when he saw his visitor draw near, and cried out, " How much shall it be ? What is it for this evening?-two more mills on your river, a thousand guineas, or another wife ? It's all the same, I'm sure to lose. You may make it ten thousand if you like. I don't value a thousand, more or less, the worth of a thraneen. Sit down and name the stake. If I win, which confound the Sighe Aithne (knowledge) I won't, you will have to execute any order I give you."
Down they set to the strife. Sculloge named ten thousand guineas to have done with gambling, and went on rather careless about his throwing. Ah ! didn't his heart beat, and blood rush to his face, and a flash dart across his eyes when he found himself defeated ! He nearly fell from his seat, but made a strong effort to keep his courage together, and looked up in the old man's face to see what he might expect. Instead of the puzzled, foolish features, a dark threatening face frowned on him, and these words came from the thin harsh lips :-" I lay geasa on you, Ï Sculloge of folly, never to eat two meals off one table, and never to sleep two nights in one rath, or bruigheen, or caisiol, or shealing, and never to lie in the same bed with your wife till you bring me the Fios Fath an aon Sceil (perfect narrative of the unique story) and the Cloidheamh1 Solais (Sword of Light) kept by the Fiach O'Duda (Raven, grandson of Soot) in the Donn Teagh (Brown House)."