Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 108

The Husbands Intervene

The three fair women, each with her train of fifty maidens, watched one another carefully, and when one turned back towards the house the others accompanied her, step for step; and the noise of their returning footsteps as they raced along alarmed their husbands. Sencha, the king’s wise counsellor, reassured them, saying, “It is only a woman’s quarrel; Bricriu has stirred up enmity among the wives of the heroes”; and as he spoke Emer reached the hall, having suddenly outrun the others; but the doors were shut. Then followed bitter complaints from Fedelm and Lendabair, both united against Emer, as their husbands had been against Cuchulain. Again King Conor was forced to call for silence, since each hero was supporting his own wife’s claims to be queen of the Ulster women. The strife was only calmed by the promise that the claim to the highest place should be settled by Ailill and Meave of Connaught, who would be impartial judges.

The Heroes Journey to Connaught

Bricriu’s feast lasted for three days longer, and then King Conor and the Red Branch heroes returned to Armagh. There the dispute about the Championship began again, and Conor sent the heroes to Cruachan, in Connaught, to obtain a judgment from King Ailill. “If he does not decide, go to Curoi of Munster, who is a just and wise man, and will find out the best hero by wizardry and enchantments.” When Conor had decided thus, Laegaire and Conall, after some disputation

“All three drove furiously towards Cruachan”

Queen Meave Watches the Heroes

The noise of the advancing war-chariots reached Queen Meave at Cruachan, and she wondered greatly to hear thunder from a clear sky; but her fair daughter, looking from her window, said: “Mother, I see chariots coming.”

“Who comes in the first?” asked Queen Meave.