IT happened one day Finn
Son went up on the top of Cairn Feargall, and their five hounds with them,
Bran and Sceolan, Sear Dugh, Luath Luachar and Adhnuall. And they were not
long there till they saw a giant
coming towards them, very tall and rough and having an iron fork on his back
and a squealing pig between the prongs of the fork. And there was a beautiful
eager young girl behind the giant, shoving him on before her.
"Let some one go speak with those
people," said Finn. So Diarmuid went towards them, but they turned away
before he came to them. Then Finn and the rest rose up and went after them,
but before they came to the giant and the girl, a dark Druid mist rose up that
hid the road. And when the mist cleared away, Finn and the rest looked about
them, and they saw a good light-roofed house at the edge of a ford near at
hand. They went on to the house, and there was a green lawn before it, and in
the lawn two wells, and on the edge of one well there was a rough iron vessel,
and on the edge of the other a copper vessel. They went into the house then,
and they found there a very old white-haired man, standing to the right hand
of the door, and the beautiful young girl they saw before, sitting near him,
and the great rough giant beside the fire, and he boiling a pig. And on the
other side of the fire there was an old countryman, having dark-grey hair and
twelve eyes in his head, and his twelve eyes were twelve sons of battle. And
there was a ram in the house having a white belly and a very black head, and
dark-blue horns and green feet. And there was a hag in the end of the house
and a worn grey gown on her, and there was no one in the house but those.
And the man at the door gave them a
welcome, and then the five of them sat down on the floor of the house, and
their hounds along with them.
"Let great respect be shown to Finn,
son of Cumhal,
and to his people," said the man at the door. "It is the way I
am," said the giant, "to be asking always and getting nothing."
But for all that he rose up and showed respect to Finn.
Presently there came a great thirst on
Finn, and no one took notice of it but Caoilte, and he began complaining
greatly. "Why are you complaining, Caoilte?" said the man at the
door; "you have but to go out and get a drink for Finn at whichever of
the wells you will choose." Caoilte went out then, and he brought the
full of the copper vessel to Finn, and Finn took a drink from it, and there
was the taste of honey on it while he was drinking, and the taste of gall on
it after, so that fierce windy pains and signs of death came on him, and his
appearance changed, that he would hardly be known. And Caoilte made greater
complaints than he did before on account of the way he was, till the man at
the door bade him to go out and to bring him a drink from the other well. So
Caoilte did that, and brought in the full of the iron vessel. And Finn never
went through such great hardship in any battle as he did drinking that
draught, from the bitterness of it; but no sooner did he drink it than his own
colour and appearance came back to him and he was as well as before, and his
people were very glad when they saw that.
Then the man of the house asked was the
pig ready that was in the cauldron. "It is ready," said the giant;
"and leave the dividing of it to me," he said. "What way will
you divide it?" said the man of the house. "I will give one hind
quarter to Finn and his dogs," said the giant, "and the other hind
quarter to Finn’s four comrades; and the fore quarter to myself, and the
chine and the rump to the old man there by the fire and the hag in the corner;
and the entrails to yourself and to the young girl that is beside you."
"I give my word," said the
man of the house, "you have shared it well." "I give my
word," said the ram, "it is a bad division to me, for you have
forgotten my share in it." With that he took hold of the quarter that was
before the Fianna, and brought in into a corner and began to eat it. On that
the four of them attacked him with their swords, but with all the hard strokes
they gave they could not harm him at all, for the swords slipped from his back
the same as they would from a rock. "On my word it is a pity for any one
that has the like of you for comrades," said the man with the twelve
eyes, "and you letting a sheep bring away your food from you."
With that he went up to the ram and took
him by the feet and threw him out of the door that he fell on his back, and
they saw him no more. It was not long after that, the hag
rose up and threw her pale grey gown over Finn’s four comrades, and they
turned to four old men, weak and withered, their heads hanging. When Finn saw
that there came great dread on him, and the man at the door saw it, and he
bade him to come over to him, and to put his head in his breast and to sleep.
Finn did that, and the hag took her covering off the four men, the way that
when Finn awoke they were in their shape again, and it is well pleased he was
to see that.
"Is there wonder on you, Finn?"
said the man at the door, "at the ways of this house?" "I never
wondered more at anything I ever saw," said Finn. "I will tell you
the meaning of them, so," said the man. "As to the giant you saw
first," he said, "having the squealing pig in the prongs of his
fork, Sluggishness is his name; and the girl here beside me that was shoving
him along is Liveliness, for liveliness pushes on sluggishness, and liveliness
goes farther in the winking of an eye than the foot can travel in a
The old man there beyond with the twelve
bright eyes, betokens the World, and he is stronger than any other, and he
showed that when he made nothing of the ram. The ram you saw betokens the
Desires of Men. The hag is Old Age, and her gown withered up your four
comrades. And the two wells you drank the two draughts out of," he said,
"betoken Lying and Truth; for it is sweet to people to be telling a lie,
but it is bitter in the end. And as to myself," he said, "Cuanna
from Innistuil is my name, and it is not here I am used to be, but I took a
very great love for you, Finn, because of your wisdom and your great name, and
so I put these things in your way that I might see you. And the hospitality of
Cuanna’s house to Finn will be the name of this story to the end of the
world. And let you and your men come together now," he said, "and
sleep till morning."
So they did that, and when they awoke in
the morning, it is where they were, on top of the Cairn
Feargall, and their dogs and their arms beside them.