THE ADVENTURES OF THE "SON OF BAD COUNSEL."...concluded

From Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts by Patrick Kennedy

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The Gruagach and his daughter, seeing the youth crouched in the cullender over the great beer vat, burst out a laughing, and, said the master of the house, "Very fond of sailoring you must be to get into so small a vessel; and if it was in search of my daughter you were, better it would be to seek her on dry land." The misguided boy, descending from his damaged boat, hastened to his state bed to hide his confusion and great shame. Lying on his back, he composed a strain of lamentation over his hard fate; and when he fell asleep, all the ugly dreams that float between the moon and the earth passed through his mind. At last he awoke, and the fear of death came upon him when he remembered the gathering of Din Aoilig next day.

He arose, and opened the door of the maiden's chamber, intending to persuade her to fly with him; and great was his terror when he found himself in a wide field without track of man or beast. He recollected the roaring of the wild devils, and his heart turned into water when he saw a beast, black, devilish, hideous-coloured, heavy-headed, dull-buzzing, approaching him. A great plum or a small apple would fit on every one of his coarse hairs. Two dead eyes were locked in his head, an empty long-falling snout he had, and rough white teeth.

When the doomed boy saw this hellish beast rushing right on him to devour him, he felt it full time to seek an escape. So with swift, mighty springs he made to the edge of that large field, and at its bounds he found himself stopped by a stormy, dangerous, coarse-waved, light-leaping, strongly-diffused, streamy, troublesome river; and thought within himself whether it would be better to try to swim across it, not knowing anything of the art, or face the cursed-of-form, diabolical, odious-coloured, hideous-countenanced, amazingly-hateful, and malicious beast. He had heard of persons ignorant of swimming, who crossed wide streams under terror, and was sure that he would do the deed if ever fear, surprise, terror, timidity, fright, or loss of reason helped any one.

But, while he was considering what he should do, he looked back, and the big animal, with his gluttonous mouth open, was just behind. It was not a courageous look of defiance he gave him, but he took a high, powerful, very light spring into the slowly-flowing river, and struck out vigorously with his arms for life. But deep and thick with mud was that pool, and choked with reeds, and no boat with sail or oar could work its way out. It was then he considered indeed that it was to the suffocating sea he had come, and that he should not leave it till he had been permanently drowned, and unworlded, and till the ravenous birds, open-beaked, should have taken away his skin, his flesh, and his blood. In that state he gave out a wondrous, hard, slender, complaining, frightened cry. The waters were oozing into his open mouth, and cold death was creeping up his limbs, when he heard the voices of the Gruagach and his daughter over him. He was lying in a large trough filled with water and grains, his face downwards, his mouth full of the contents of the trough, and his arms striking out. "If you wished for a bath," said the master, "better would a vessel of clean water be than where the pigs take their food."

He cleared his mouth and his eyes, and sorrow was upon him to be seen by the maiden; and, when he turned away his eyes in shame, he discovered the fierce, ravenous, life-seeking wild beast of the big, lonesome field, grunting and rummaging in the litter, and it was as small and as tame as the rest of the enchanter's pigs.

With bitter grief he again betook himself to his rest, his soul divided between love for the maid of the sweet eyes and lips, and dread of the battle.[7] The Gruagach told him to sleep soundly till he should be called, as he himself was then going to gird the horses in their battle harness for the morrow. The blood rushed again to his head, while a shivering fit seized on his limbs. In the middle of his despair a raw gray light fell on his eyes; and his bed was the dry grass of a moat; and little wonder it was that he should be shivering, for his clothes were the pillow that supported his head.

But the love of the sighe-maid was still strong in his soul, and he vowed he would never lie two nights in the same bed till he had discovered her. For a year and a day he searched through the length and breadth of Erinn, and his resting-place at night was a sheltered grassy nook near a Sighe-Brugheen or a Danish fort. At the end of a year and a day, he was again at the spot where he had discovered the Castle of Uncertainty; and in his sleep that night he had a vision of his fairy love, who told him to give over his pursuit of her, as she had been obliged by her father to take a husband. Next morning he found the charm gone, and his soul freed from the sighe-spell. He reformed his ways, and became the "Son of Good Counsel," and these are the verses he made about it:--

"Farewell, sweet and false dreams of my fancy!
The happiness you give is like the gold of the Clurichaun.
By the light of the moon the weight and the colour are there;
Withered leaves only remain in our hands at the dawn.
My course I'll change as the feathers fall from the birds;
I'll keep my hands busy, and take the sogarth's [8] advice;
And surely in Erinn of chaste and beautiful women,
I'll find some fair angel to come and sit on my hearth,
With smiles on her face when wearied I come from the fields;
She'll make evening happy, and lie all night at my side."

End of this Story

Among the old fireside romances were more than one or two of this deceptional character. Thor's visit to Jotunheim was the reverse in the order of things. What to him and his companions seemed of a mean and trifling character, were in reality of awful dimensions. The vessel from which he drank, but could scarcely see any way diminished of its contents, was the bed of ocean. The cat which he found it impossible to raise from the ground, was in reality the wolf Fenris, and so on.

The knights in quest of the San Graal also suffered in body and mind from being led aside by one of the three chief enemies of the human soul.

The general belief of the peasantry is that the existing fairies are those angels who, without openly joining Satan in his rebellion, gave it no opposition. Their future destiny will be determined at the Day of Judgment.

Some archaeologists fancy that the tales of mortals abiding with the fays in their Sighe palaces are founded on the tender preferences shown by the Druidic priestesses of old to favourite worshippers of the Celtic Divinities.

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NOTES

[7] There is a third adventure, of course, but it does not possess much novelty or interest.

[8] The Irish construction of sacerdos, one of the many words introduced with Christianity.



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