THE GOBAN SAOR...concluded

From Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts by Patrick Kennedy

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At last they came to where the King of Munster kep' his coort, either at Cashel or Limerick, or some place in Clare, and the Goban burned very little daylight till he had a palace springing up like a flagger. People came from all parts, and were in admiration of the fine work; but as they were getting near the eaves, one of the carpenters that were engaged at the wooden bridge came late one night into the Goban's room, and told him what himself was suspecting, that just as he would be setting the coping stone, the scaffolding would, somehow or other, get loose, himself fall down a few stories and be kilt, the king wring his hands, and shed a few crocodile tears, and the like palace never be seen within the four seas of Ireland.

"Sha gu dheine" [2] says the Goban to himself; but next day he spoke out plain enough to the king. "Please your Majesty," says he, "I am now pretty near the end of my work, but there is still something to be done before we come to the wall-plate that is to make all sure and strong. There is a bit of a charm about it, but I haven't the tool here--it is at home, and my son got so sick last night, and is lying so bad, he is not able to go for it. If you can't spare the young prince, I must go myself, for my wife wouldn't intrust it to any one but of royal blood." The king, rather than let the Goban out of his sight, sent the young prince for the tool. The Goban told him some outlandish name in Irish, which his wife would find at his bed's head, and bid him make all the haste he could back.

In a week's time, back came two of the poor attendants that were with the prince, and told the king that his son was well off, with the best of eating and drinking, and chess-playing and sword exercise, that any prince could wish for, but that out of her sight the Goban's wife nor her people would let him, till she had her husband safe and sound inside of his own threshold.

Well, to be sure, how the king fumed and raged! but what's the use of striving to tear down a stone wall with your teeth? He could do without his palace being finished, but he couldn't do without his son and heir.

The Goban didn't keep spite; he put the finishing touch to the palace in three days, and, in two days more, himself and his son were sitting at the farmer's fireside where the two purty young girls wor.

"Well, my colleen bawn," says he to the one with the fair hair, "did you mind the advice I gev you when I was here last?" "Indeed I did, and little good it did me. I got an old woman's skull from the churchyard, and fixed it in the wall near the hob, and it so frightened every one, that I was obliged to have it taken back in an hour." "And how did you warm yourself with your work in the cold mornings? " "The first morning's work I had was to card flax, and I thrune some of it on the fire, and my mother gave me such a raking for it, that I didn't offer to warm myself that way again." "Now for the sheep-skin." "That was the worst of all. When I told the buyers in the market that I was to bring back the skin and the price of it, they only jeered at me. One young buckeen said, if I'd go into the tavern and take share of a quart of mulled beer with him, he'd make that bargain with me, and that so vexed me that I turned home at once." "Well, that was the right thing to do, anyhow. Now my little Ceann Dhu (black head), let us see how you fared. The skull? " "Och! " says an old woman, sitting close to the fire in the far corner, "I'm a distant relation that was left desolate, and this," says she tapping the side of her poor head, "is the old woman's skull she provided." "Well, now for the warming of yourself in the cold mornings." "Oh, I kept my hands and feet going so lively at my work that it was warming enough." "Well, and the sheep-skin?" "That was easy enough. When I got to the market, I went to the crane, plucked the wool off, sold it, and brought home the skin."

"Man and woman of the house," says the Goban, "I ask you before this company, to give me this girl for my daughter-in-law; and if ever her husband looks crooked at her, I'll beat him within an inch of his life." There was very few words, and no need of a black man to make up the match; and when the prince was returning home, he stopped a day to be at the wedding. If I hear of any more of the Goban's great doings, I'll tell 'em some other time.

End of this Story

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NOTES

[2] "That's it," or "Is that it?"



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