Page:More Celtic Fairy Tales.djvu/92

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and wrapped him in the folds of his white cloak. In his right hand he grasped his even-poised knotty staff, and going right-hand-wise round his home, he bade farewell to his tutors and started off.

He journeyed across all Ireland till he came to the house of Pichan. And there he stayed and told tales, and made all merry. But Pichan said:

"Though great thy mirth, son of learning, it does not make me glad."

"And why?" asked MacConglinney.

"Knowest thou not, scholar, that Cathal is coming here to-night with all his host. And if the great host is troublesome, the king's first meal is more troublesome still; and troublesome though the first be, most troublesome of all is the great feast. Three things are wanted for this last: a bushel of oats, and a bushel of wild apples, and a bushel of flour cakes."

"What reward would you give me if I shield you from the king from this hour to the same hour to-morrow?"

"A white sheep from every fold between Carn and Cork."

"I will take that," said MacConglinney.

Cathal, the king, came with the companies, and a host of horse of the Munster men. But Cathal did not let the thong of his shoe be half loosed before he began supplying his mouth with both hands from the apples round about him. Pichan and all the men of Munster looked on sadly and sorrowfully. Then rose MacConglinney, hastily and impatiently, and seized a stone, against which swords were used to be sharpened; this he thrust into his mouth and began grinding his teeth against the stone.