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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 112

Cuchulain’s claim, but Laegaire vowed that his rival had bribed Ailill and Meave with great treasures to give him the golden cup, and neither Laegaire nor Conall would yield him the victory or accept the judgment as final. “Then you must go to Curoi,” said the king, and to that they all agreed.

The Champions Visit Curoi

The next day the three champions drove to Kerry where Curoi dwelt in a magic dun. He was away from home planning enchantments to test them, for he knew they were coming, but his wife welcomed them, and bade them watch the dun for one night each, beginning with Laegaire, as the eldest. Laegaire took up his sentinel’s post outside the dun, and Curoi’s wife worked the charm which prevented entrance after nightfall. The night was long and silent, and Laegaire thought he would have a quiet watch, when he saw a great shadow arise from the sea.

The Giant Fights Laegaire and Conall

This shadow took the shape of a huge giant, whose spears were mighty branch-stripped oaks, which he hurled at Laegaire. They did not touch him, however, and Laegaire made some show of fight; but the giant took him up, squeezed him so tightly as nearly to slay him, and then threw him over the magic wall of the dun, where the others found him lying half dead. All men thought that he had sprung with a mighty leap over the wall, since no other entrance was to be found, and Laegaire kept silence and did not explain to them.

Conall, who took the watch the second night, fared exactly as Laegaire had done, and likewise did not

“The dragon sank towards him, opening its terrible jaws”

The Giant Worsted by Cuchulain

Towards daybreak, when feeling quite worn out and very sleepy, he became slowly aware of a great [Pg 198] shadow coming to him westward from the sea. The shadow, as before, became a giant, who greeted him in a surly tone with, “This is a bad night.” “It will be worse yet for you,” said Cuchulain. The giant, as he had done with the other heroes, threw oaks, but just missed him; and when he tried to grapple with him the hero leaped up with drawn sword. In his anger the hero-light shone round him, and he sprang as high as the giant’s head, and gave him a stroke that brought him to his knees. “Life for life, Cuchulain,” said the giant, and vanished at once, leaving no trace.

Cuchulain Re-enters the Dun

Now Cuchulain would gladly have returned to the fort to rest, but there seemed no way of entrance, and the hero was vexed at his own helplessness, for he thought his comrades had jumped over the magic walls. Twice he boldly essayed to leap the lofty wall, and twice he failed; then in his wrath his great strength came upon him, the hero-light shone round him, and he took a little run and, leaning on his spear, leaped so high and so far that he alighted in the middle of the court, just before the door of the hall.


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