Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race

Page: 155

He came near to the boat, and laid his hand on the arm of the fugitive, who promised to do his will.

“Fling into the sea,” he said, “all the wealth that is in thy boat.”

[pg 329]

“It is a pity,” said the monk, “that it should go to loss.”

“It shall in nowise go to loss. There will be one man whom thou wilt profit.”

The monk thereupon flung everything into the sea save one little wooden cup, and he cast away oars and rudder. The man gave him a provision of whey and seven cakes, and bade him abide wherever his boat should stop. The wind and waves carried him hither and thither till at last the boat came to rest upon the rock where the wanderers found him. There was nothing there but the bare rock, but remembering what he was bidden he stepped out upon a little ledge over which the waves washed, and the boat immediately left him, and the rock was enlarged for him. There he remained seven years, nourished by otters which brought him salmon out of the sea, and even flaming firewood on which to cook them, and his cup was filled with good liquor every day. “And neither wet nor heat nor cold affects me in this place.”

At the noon hour miraculous nourishment was brought for the whole crew, and thereafter the ancient man said to them:

“Ye will all reach your country, and the man that slew thy father, O Maeldūn, ye will find him in a fortress before you. And slay him not, but forgive him; because God hath saved you from manifold great perils, and ye too are men deserving of death.”

Then they bade him farewell and went on their accustomed way.

The Island of the Falcon

This is uninhabited save for herds of sheep and oxen. They land on it and eat their fill, and one of them sees there a large falcon. “This falcon,” he says, “is [pg 330] like the falcons of Ireland.” “Watch it,” says Maeldūn, “and see how it will go from us.” It flew off to the south-east, and they rowed after it all day till vespers.

The Home-coming

At nightfall they sighted a land like Ireland; and soon came to a small island, where they ran their prow ashore. It was the island where dwelt the man who had slain Ailill.

They went up to the dūn that was on the island, and heard men talking within it as they sat at meat. One man said:

“It would be ill for us if we saw Maeldūn now.”

“That Maeldūn has been drowned,” said another.

“Maybe it is he who shall waken you from sleep to-night,” said a third.

“If he should come now,” said a fourth, “what should we do?”

“Not hard to answer that,” said the chief of them. “Great welcome should he have if he were to come, for he hath been a long space in great tribulation.”