Page:A book of the west; being an introduction to Devon and Cornwall.djvu/30

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8
THE WESTERN FOLK

rubbed the haft over with bacon fat, and placed it before the kennel of the lap-dog belonging to a friend. The dog gnawed at the handle and sadly disfigured it.

Next morning Cairbre made a great outcry over his precious knife, and showed his British host how that the dog had disfigured it. The Briton apologised, but Cairbre promptly replied, "My good friend, are you aware of the law that 'the transgressor is forfeit for his transgression?' Accordingly I put in a legal claim to the dog." Thus he became its owner, and gave it the name of Mogh-Eimh, or the Slave of the Haft.

The dog was a bitch, and was with young when Cairbre carried her over to Ireland. The news that the wonderful little beast had arrived spread far and wide, and the king of Munster and the chief king, Cormac Mac Airt (227-266) both laid claim to it; the only way in which Cairbre could satisfy them was to give each a pup when his lap-dog had littered. So general was the amazement over the smallness and the beauty of the original dog, that some verses were made on it, which have been preserved to this day.

"Sweet was your drink in the house of Ailil (King of Munster)!
 Sweet was your meat in the house of Cormac!
 Fair was your bread in the house of Cairbre!
 O doggie, Slave of the Hilt!"

It was probably during the Irish domination that a large portion of North Devon and East Cornwall was colonised from the Emerald Isle.

But to return to the Saxon conquest. When