Page:Athletics and Manly Sport (1890).djvu/248

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223
HEROIC COMBAT IN ANCIENT IRELAND.

combat with Cuchulaind, whichever he thought easier.

Fergus, a warrior, proceeded in his chariot to Cuchulaind's residence, to inform him of the agreement. "Thine own friend," he said, "and companion, the fellow-pupil, the co-feat and co-deed and co-valor man, Ferdiad, is coming to fight with thee."

"I am here," answered Cuchulaind; "I do not desire to fight my friend; but, I trust, as I have not yielded before any other man of Eiriu, I shall not yield before him."[1]

"Should we happen to meet at the ford,
I and Ferdiad of never-failing valor,
It shall not be a separation without history;
Fierce will be our conflict.

"I pledge my word and my vow,
Though we may be much alike in combat,
That it is I who shall gain the victory."

Both champions prepared for the conflict, assisted by their friends. In the morning, Ferdiad ordered his horses to be harnessed. Whereupon his charioteer tried to persuade him not to fight Cuchulaind:—

"It were better for thee to stay;
Thy threats are not gentle.
To encounter the chief hero of Ulster,
It is a meeting of which grief will come.


  1. Throughout this poem the name of the country is spelled Eiriu, not Erinn.