1 Pronounced Chloive ; Fath nearly as faw. Claymore is made up of Cloidheamh and mhor, large. Glaive is evidently a cognate word.
He returned home more dead than alive, and Saav, the moment she caught sight of him, knew what had happened. So without speaking a word she ran and threw her arms round his neck, and comforted him. " Have courage, dear husband ! Lassa Buaicht is strong and crafty, but we will match him." So she explained what he was to do, made him lie down, sung him asleep with a druidic charm, and at dawn she had him ready for his journey.
The first happy morning of her arrival, the Sculloge had found a bright bay horse in "his stable, and whenever his wife went abroad, she rode on this steed. Indeed, he would let no one else get on his back. Now he stood quiet enough while husband and wife were enfolded in each other's arms and weeping. She was the first to take courage. She made him put foot in stirrup, smiled, cheered him, and promised him success, so that he remembered her charges, and carefully followed them.
At last he started, and away at a gentle pace went the noble steed. Looking back after three or four seconds he saw his house a full mile away, and though he scarcely felt the motion, he knew they were going like the wind by the flight of hedges and trees behind them.
And so they came to the strand, and still there wras no stoppage. The horse took the waves as he would the undulations of a meadow. The waters went backwards in their course like arrows shot from strong bows. In shorter time than you could count ten, the land behind was below the waters, and the waves farthest seen in front came to them, and swept behind them like thought or a shooting star.
At last when the sun was low, land rose up under the strong blaze, and was soon under the feet of the steed, and in a few seconds more they were before the drawbridge of a strong stone fort. Loud neighed the horse, and swift the drawbridge was let down upon the moat, and they were within the great fortress.
There the Sculloge alighted, and the horse was patted and caressed by attendants, who seemed to know him right well, and he repaid their welcome by gentle whinnyings. Other attendants surrounded the Sculloge, and brought him into the hall. The noble-looking man and woman that sat at the upper end, he knew to be the father and mother of his Saav. They bade him welcome, and ordered a goblet of sweet mead to be handed to him. He drank, and then dropped into the empty vessel a ring which his wife had put on his finger before he left home. The attendant carried the goblet to the king and queen, and as soon as their eyes fell on the ring they came down from their high seats, and welcomed and embraced the visitor. They eagerly inquired about the health of their child, and when they were satisfied on that point, the queen said, " We need not ask if she lived happily with you. If she had any reason to complain, you would not have got the ring to show us. Now, after you have taken rest and refreshment, we will tell you how to obtain the Fios Fath an aon Sceil and the Cloidheamh Solais."
The poor Sculloge did not feel what it was to pass over some thousand miles of water while he was on the steed's back, but now he felt as tired as if he had travelled twenty days without stop or stay. But a sleeping posset and a long night's rest made him a new man ; and next morning after a good lunch1 on venison steaks, a hearthcake, and a goblet of choice mead, he was ready to listen to his father-in-law's directions.
" My dear son," said the king, " the Fiach O'Duda, Lassa Buaicht, and I are brothers. Lassa, though the youngest, and very powerful in many ways, has always envied his eldest brother Fiach the Sword of Light. I only have the means of coming at it, but he knew I would not willingly interfere to annoy the poor man, who, after all, is my eldest brother, and has been sadly tormented during his past life, and has never done me the slightest harm. So he laid out this plan of stealing my daughter from me. I can't explain to you who know nothing of Droideachta, how he enjoys this and other powers. He got you into his meshes, blessed you with Saav's society, and then put this geasa on you, judging that I would help him to do this injury to my brother, rather than make my daughter's life miserable. Fiach lives in a castle surrounded by three high walls. It is on a wide heath to the south. Everything inside and outside is as brown as a berry. The black steed which I am going to lend you will easily clear the gate of the outer wall, and then you make your demand. As soon as the Fiach comes into this outer inclosure you have no time to lose ; and if you get outside again without leaving a part of yourself or of your horse behind, you may consider yourself fortunate."
1 It is maintained that the ancient Celts, as well as the Romans and other peoples of old times, ate only once a day, viz. after sunset. That was undoubtedly the principal meal, but the most determined Dryasdust in Irelahd, or Scotland, or Wales, shall not persuade us that they did not partake of lunch or collation, say from 8 to ii a.m. to enable them to endure life till Beal chose to sink into his western bed.
He mounted his black steed, rode southwards, came in sight of the Brown Castle, cleared the gate of the outer wall, and shouted, " I summon you, great Fiach O'Duda, on the part of your brother, the Sighe Draoi, Lassa Buaicht, to reveal to me the Fios Fath an aon Sceil, and also surrender into my keeping the matchless Cloidheamh Solais." He had hardly done speaking when the two inner gates flew open, and out stalked a tall man with a dark skin, and beard, hair, birredh, mantle, and hose as black as the blackest raven's wing. When he got inside the inclosure he shouted, " Here is my answer," at the same time making a sweep of his long sword at the Sculloge. But he had given the spur to his steed at the earliest moment, and now safely cleared the wall, leaving the rear half of the noble beast behind.
He returned to the castle dismally enough, but the king and queen gave him praise for his activity and presence of mind. " That, my dear son," said the king, " is all we can do to-day : to-morrow will bring its own labours." So the sun went to rest, and the Sculloge and his relations made three parts of the night. In the first they ate and drank. Their food was the cooked flesh of the deer and the wild boar, and hearthcakes, and water-cress ; and their drink-Spanish wine, Greek honey, and Danish beer. The second part of the dark time was given to conversation, and the bard, and the story-teller. The third part was spent in sleep.
Next day Sculloge rode forth on a white steed, and when he approached the fort, he saw the outer wall lying in rubbish. He cleared the second gate, summoned the Fiach, saw him enter the inclosure, and if his face was terrible yesterday it was five times more terrible to-day. This time he escaped with the loss of the hind legs of his steed only, and he was joyfully welcomed back by the king and the queen. They divided the night into three parts 1 as they did the last, and the next day he approached the Donn Tcagh on the Eich Doun, the brown horse that brought him over the sea.
The second wall was now in brishe as well as the first, and at one bound of the brown steed he was within the courtyard. He had no need to call on Fiach, for he was standing before his door, sword in hand, and the moment the horse's hoofs touched the ground he sprang forward to destroy steed and rider. But the druidic beast was in the twinkling of an eye again on the other side, and a roar escaped the throat of Fiach that made the very marrow in Sculloge's bones shiver. However, the horse paced on at his ease without a hair on his body being turned, and Sculloge recovered his natural courage before you could count three.
Great joy again at the castle, and the day was spent, and the night divided into three parts as the day before, and the day before that again. Next morning the king sent out no horse, but put a Clarsech (small harp) into his son-in-law's hand, and a satchel by his side filled with withered leaves and heath-flowers, tufts of hair, pebbles, and thin slates, passed his hands down Sculloge's arms from shoulder to wrist, and gave him directions what to do.
When he came within sight of the castle, he began to touch the harp-strings, and such sounds came from them that he thought he was walking on a cloud, and enjoying the delights of Tir na-n-Oge. The trees waved their branches, the grass bent to him, and the wild game followed him with heads raised and feet scarce touching the ground. All the walls wrere in confused heaps, and as he approached them, servants and followers were collected from wherever they were employed, and standing in a circular sweep facing him. No noise arose from the crowd ; their delight was too great. As he came close he ceased for a moment, and flung the contents of his satchel among them. All eagerly seized on scraps of leaves, or hair, or heath-flowers, or slates, or pebbles, for in their eyes they were gold, and diamond ornaments, and pearls, and rich silks. He struck the strings again, and entered the castle, accompanied by the enchanted sounds from the harp-strings. He passed from the hall through a passage, then up some steps, and he was in the small bedchamber of Fiach O'Duda. He had heard the sounds, but the effect they had was to throw him into a deep sleep, in which the music was still present to his brain, and kept him in a sleepy rapture.
1 A circumstance frequently repeated in Celtic tales. Such repetitions were never omitted by the story-tellers. They were used as resting-places, and aids to arrangement or recollection of what was to follow.
This room was as light as the day, though window it had none. By the wTall hung a sword in a dark sheath. Bright light flashed round the room from the diamond-crested hilt and about three inches of the blade not let down into the scabbard. Taking it.down, he approached the sleeping Druid chief and struck him on the side with the flat of the blade. " Arise," said he, " great Fiach O'Duda ! reveal to the Sighe Draoi, Lassa Buaicht, through me, the Faos Fath an aon Sceil. I will not ask for the Cloidheamh Solais ; I have it in my keeping." The Druid's looks were full of surprise at first, and then of fright, but in a short time he became calm, and proceeded to relate the Fios Fath An Aon Sceil.