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Authors: Joseph Jacobs

Celtic Fairy Tales (2 page)

BOOK: Celtic Fairy Tales
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For a whole month from that day Connla would take nothing, either to
eat or to drink, save only from that apple. But as he ate it grew
again and always kept whole. And all the while there grew within him
a mighty yearning and longing after the maiden he had seen.

But when the last day of the month of waiting came, Connla stood by
the side of the king his father on the Plain of Arcomin, and again
he saw the maiden come towards him, and again she spoke to him.

"'Tis a glorious place, forsooth, that Connla holds among short-
lived mortals awaiting the day of death. But now the folk of life,
the ever-living ones, beg and bid thee come to Moy Mell, the Plain
of Pleasure, for they have learnt to know thee, seeing thee in thy
home among thy dear ones."

When Conn the king heard the maiden's voice he called to his men
aloud and said:

"Summon swift my Druid Coran, for I see she has again this day the
power of speech."

Then the maiden said: "Oh, mighty Conn, fighter of a hundred fights,
the Druid's power is little loved; it has little honour in the
mighty land, peopled with so many of the upright. When the Law will
come, it will do away with the Druid's magic spells that come from
the lips of the false black demon."

Then Conn the king observed that since the maiden came, Connla his
son spoke to none that spake to him. So Conn of the hundred fights
said to him, "Is it to thy mind what the woman says, my son?"

"'Tis hard upon me," then said Connla; "I love my own folk above all
things; but yet, but yet a longing seizes me for the maiden."

When the maiden heard this, she answered and said "The ocean is not
so strong as the waves of thy longing. Come with me in my curragh,
the gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe. Soon we can reach
Boadag's realm. I see the bright sun sink, yet far as it is, we can
reach it before dark. There is, too, another land worthy of thy
journey, a land joyous to all that seek it. Only wives and maidens
dwell there. If thou wilt, we can seek it and live there alone
together in joy."

When the maiden ceased to speak, Connla of the Fiery Hair rushed
away from them and sprang into the curragh, the gleaming, straight-
gliding crystal canoe. And then they all, king and court, saw it
glide away over the bright sea towards the setting sun. Away and
away, till eye could see it no longer, and Connla and the Fairy
Maiden went their way on the sea, and were no more seen, nor did any
know where they came.


There was once a boy in the County Mayo; Guleesh was his name. There
was the finest rath a little way off from the gable of the house,
and he was often in the habit of seating himself on the fine grass
bank that was running round it. One night he stood, half leaning
against the gable of the house, and looking up into the sky, and
watching the beautiful white moon over his head. After he had been
standing that way for a couple of hours, he said to himself: "My
bitter grief that I am not gone away out of this place altogether.
I'd sooner be any place in the world than here. Och, it's well for
you, white moon," says he, "that's turning round, turning round, as
you please yourself, and no man can put you back. I wish I was the
same as you."

Hardly was the word out of his mouth when he heard a great noise
coming like the sound of many people running together, and talking,
and laughing, and making sport, and the sound went by him like a
whirl of wind, and he was listening to it going into the rath.
"Musha, by my soul," says he, "but ye're merry enough, and I'll
follow ye."

What was in it but the fairy host, though he did not know at first
that it was they who were in it, but he followed them into the rath.
It's there he heard the
, and the
, the
, and the
, that they had there,
and every man of them crying out as loud as he could: "My horse,
and bridle, and saddle! My horse, and bridle, and saddle!"

"By my hand," said Guleesh, "my boy, that's not bad. I'll imitate
ye," and he cried out as well as they: "My horse, and bridle, and
saddle! My horse, and bridle, and saddle!" And on the moment there
was a fine horse with a bridle of gold, and a saddle of silver,
standing before him. He leaped up on it, and the moment he was on
its back he saw clearly that the rath was full of horses, and of
little people going riding on them.

Said a man of them to him: "Are you coming with us to-night,

"I am surely," said Guleesh.

"If you are, come along," said the little man, and out they went all
together, riding like the wind, faster than the fastest horse ever
you saw a-hunting, and faster than the fox and the hounds at his

The cold winter's wind that was before them, they overtook her, and
the cold winter's wind that was behind them, she did not overtake
them. And stop nor stay of that full race, did they make none, until
they came to the brink of the sea.

Then every one of them said: "Hie over cap! Hie over cap!" and that
moment they were up in the air, and before Guleesh had time to
remember where he was, they were down on dry land again, and were
going like the wind.

At last they stood still, and a man of them said to Guleesh:
"Guleesh, do you know where you are now?"

"Not a know," says Guleesh.

"You're in France, Guleesh," said he. "The daughter of the king of
France is to be married to-night, the handsomest woman that the sun
ever saw, and we must do our best to bring her with us; if we're
only able to carry her off; and you must come with us that we may be
able to put the young girl up behind you on the horse, when we'll be
bringing her away, for it's not lawful for us to put her sitting
behind ourselves. But you're flesh and blood, and she can take a
good grip of you, so that she won't fall off the horse. Are you
satisfied, Guleesh, and will you do what we're telling you?"

"Why shouldn't I be satisfied?" said Guleesh. "I'm satisfied,
surely, and anything that ye will tell me to do I'll do it without

They got off their horses there, and a man of them said a word that
Guleesh did not understand, and on the moment they were lifted up,
and Guleesh found himself and his companions in the palace. There
was a great feast going on there, and there was not a nobleman or a
gentleman in the kingdom but was gathered there, dressed in silk and
satin, and gold and silver, and the night was as bright as the day
with all the lamps and candles that were lit, and Guleesh had to
shut his two eyes at the brightness. When he opened them again and
looked from him, he thought he never saw anything as fine as all he
saw there. There were a hundred tables spread out, and their full of
meat and drink on each table of them, flesh-meat, and cakes and
sweetmeats, and wine and ale, and every drink that ever a man saw.
The musicians were at the two ends of the hall, and they were
playing the sweetest music that ever a man's ear heard, and there
were young women and fine youths in the middle of the hall, dancing
and turning, and going round so quickly and so lightly, that it put
in Guleesh's head to be looking at them. There were
more there playing tricks, and more making fun and laughing, for
such a feast as there was that day had not been in France for twenty
years, because the old king had no children alive but only the one
daughter, and she was to be married to the son of another king that
night. Three days the feast was going on, and the third night she
was to be married, and that was the night that Guleesh and the
sheehogues came, hoping, if they could, to carry off with them the
king's young daughter.

Guleesh and his companions were standing together at the head of the
hall, where there was a fine altar dressed up, and two bishops
behind it waiting to marry the girl, as soon as the right time
should come. Now nobody could see the sheehogues, for they said a
word as they came in, that made them all invisible, as if they had
not been in it at all.

"Tell me which of them is the king's daughter," said Guleesh, when
he was becoming a little used to the noise and the light.

"Don't you see her there away from you?" said the little man that he
was talking to.

Guleesh looked where the little man was pointing with his finger,
and there he saw the loveliest woman that was, he thought, upon the
ridge of the world. The rose and the lily were fighting together in
her face, and one could not tell which of them got the victory. Her
arms and hands were like the lime, her mouth as red as a strawberry
when it is ripe, her foot was as small and as light as another one's
hand, her form was smooth and slender, and her hair was falling down
from her head in buckles of gold. Her garments and dress were woven
with gold and silver, and the bright stone that was in the ring on
her hand was as shining as the sun.

Guleesh was nearly blinded with all the loveliness and beauty that
was in her; but when he looked again, he saw that she was crying,
and that there was the trace of tears in her eyes. "It can't be,"
said Guleesh, "that there's grief on her, when everybody round her
is so full of sport and merriment."

"Musha, then, she is grieved," said the little man; "for it's
against her own will she's marrying, and she has no love for the
husband she is to marry. The king was going to give her to him three
years ago, when she was only fifteen, but she said she was too
young, and requested him to leave her as she was yet. The king gave
her a year's grace, and when that year was up he gave her another
year's grace, and then another; but a week or a day he would not
give her longer, and she is eighteen years old to-night, and it's
time for her to marry; but, indeed," says he, and he crooked his
mouth in an ugly way—"indeed, it's no king's son she'll marry, if I
can help it."

Guleesh pitied the handsome young lady greatly when he heard that,
and he was heart-broken to think that it would be necessary for her
to marry a man she did not like, or, what was worse, to take a nasty
sheehogue for a husband. However, he did not say a word, though he
could not help giving many a curse to the ill-luck that was laid out
for himself, to be helping the people that were to snatch her away
from her home and from her father.

He began thinking, then, what it was he ought to do to save her, but
he could think of nothing. "Oh! if I could only give her some help
and relief," said he, "I wouldn't care whether I were alive or dead;
but I see nothing that I can do for her."

He was looking on when the king's son came up to her and asked her
for a kiss, but she turned her head away from him. Guleesh had
double pity for her then, when he saw the lad taking her by the soft
white hand, and drawing her out to dance. They went round in the
dance near where Guleesh was, and he could plainly see that there
were tears in her eyes.

When the dancing was over, the old king, her father, and her mother
the queen, came up and said that this was the right time to marry
her, that the bishop was ready, and it was time to put the wedding-
ring on her and give her to her husband.

The king took the youth by the hand, and the queen took her
daughter, and they went up together to the altar, with the lords and
great people following them.

When they came near the altar, and were no more than about four
yards from it, the little sheehogue stretched out his foot before
the girl, and she fell. Before she was able to rise again he threw
something that was in his hand upon her, said a couple of words, and
upon the moment the maiden was gone from amongst them. Nobody could
see her, for that word made her invisible. The little man
seized her and raised her up behind Guleesh, and the king nor no one
else saw them, but out with them through the hall till they came to
the door.

Oro! dear Mary! it's there the pity was, and the trouble, and the
crying, and the wonder, and the searching, and the
when that lady disappeared from their eyes, and without their seeing
what did it. Out of the door of the palace they went, without being
stopped or hindered, for nobody saw them, and, "My horse, my bridle,
and saddle!" says every man of them. "My horse, my bridle, and
saddle!" says Guleesh; and on the moment the horse was standing
ready caparisoned before him. "Now, jump up, Guleesh," said the
little man, "and put the lady behind you, and we will be going; the
morning is not far off from us now."

Guleesh raised her up on the horse's back, and leaped up himself
before her, and, "Rise, horse," said he; and his horse, and the
other horses with him, went in a full race until they came to the

"Hie over cap!" said every man of them.

"Hie over cap!" said Guleesh; and on the moment the horse rose under
him, and cut a leap in the clouds, and came down in Erin.

They did not stop there, but went of a race to the place where was
Guleesh's house and the rath. And when they came as far as that,
Guleesh turned and caught the young girl in his two arms, and leaped
off the horse.

"I call and cross you to myself, in the name of God!" said he; and
on the spot, before the word was out of his mouth, the horse fell
down, and what was in it but the beam of a plough, of which they had
made a horse; and every other horse they had, it was that way they
made it. Some of them were riding on an old besom, and some on a
broken stick, and more on a bohalawn or a hemlock-stalk.

The good people called out together when they heard what Guleesh

"Oh! Guleesh, you clown, you thief, that no good may happen you, why
did you play that trick on us?"

But they had no power at all to carry off the girl, after Guleesh
had consecrated her to himself.

BOOK: Celtic Fairy Tales
3.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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