"I am," said he, "the eldest of three brothers, the Sighe Draoi, Lassa Buaicht, being the youngest. By birthright I Inherited the great family treasure of the Cloidheamh
Solais, and my youngest brother envied me from the beginning, and made many an attempt to take it from me. But I was a Draoi as well as he, and always was able to disappoint him. At last, wishing to get out of the reach of his villainous tricks, and see the world, I went on a voyage to Greece, and when I returned I was a married man. The King of Greece had grown to like me so much, that he gave me his daughter. The king and his daughter were deep in Draoideachta, and he had in his possession a slat (enchanted rod) which could change any living being into whatever form he wished. I never dreamed, as my wife and I talked so lovingly, and were so happy, sitting on the deck of our vessel as we returned over the calm central sea, that she had stolen that rod from her father's chamber before we set out on our return.
"About a week after I came home, as I was hunting, the hounds gave chase to a wild-looking but very handsome man, all covered with long hair, and when I got up to them they had seized him, and were on the point of tearing him asunder. He stretched out his hands to me, while the tears ran down his cheeks, and I drove off the dogs and brought him home to my castle. I got his hair cut off, and had him clothed, and I amused myself in teaching him to speak. Little did I think he was a disguised follower of my brother, who had sent him into my family by this stratagem, to corrupt my wife, and to get possession of the sword of light for him.
"One day as I was returning from hunting through a grove near this castle, I heard voices in a thicket. They were familiar to me, and when I had arrived at a convenient place, what did I espy but my wife seated under a tree, and the villainous wild man, with not a trace of wildness about him or in his speech, stretched on the grass, his head upon her knees, and he looking up lovingly into her face, and entreating her to secure the Cloidhearnh Solais for him. I had no further patience, but rushed on ready to strike him through with my hunting spear, but the moment my wife caught sight of me, she flung the magic rod at me, and I found myself, in the twinkling of an eye, changed to a horse. I did not lose my memory, but rushed on the villain to trample out his life. However, he had got up into the tree before I could reach him. I had neither the power nor the will to trample or strike my wife. So the guilty pair escaped for the time.
"She managed to have me caught very soon, and hard worked, but that was going too far with the, joke. I kicked and bit every one she sent to yoke or bridle me, and no one would venture to come near me. This did not meet her views. So she came where I was one day, struck me with the slat once more, and I was a wolf on the moment. Great as her power was, she. could not kill me, but she contrived to get her father, who was just then with her on a visit, to hunt me with a great pack of wolf-dogs. I led them a good chase, but was taken at last.
"Just as they were on the point of devouring me, the King of Greece himself came up, and so I howled out dismally to him, imitating, the human voice as well as I could. I held up my fore-paws, and he saw the big tears rolling down from my eyes. He knew there was something mysterious about me, and rescued me from the dogs at once. I walked home by his side, and he kept me about him, and grew quite attached to me. All this terribly annoyed my wife, but she was prevented by a higher power from killing me with her own hands, and I kept too close to her father to be in danger from any one else. All this time she and the false wild man searched for the sword of light, but could not find it. It was kept in a thin recess in a wall, under a spell, and no one but I could discover the method of coming at it. She did all she could to persuade the king to send me away, but he would not gratify her. At last one day she brought a druidic sleep on our child in the cradle, so that he seemed without life, and she sprinkled him with blood, and threw some also on me. For I used to stay in the room with the infant whenever I could. She then began to shriek and cry till her father and the servants ran in to see what the matter was. 'Oh, father, father!' said she, pointing to the cradle, and then to me, 'see what your favourite has done!'
All were rushing to kill me at once, but he ordered them to stop. He took the slat in his hand, and drew it down the child's body from its breast to its toes, and again from its breast to its finger ends, muttering some words, and it sat up, and began to stretch out its arms to him. He examined the places where the blood spots were, and found no wound. Then he called me to him, and said to those around him, 'Here is some treachery and mystery which I must clear up. Mac Tire, he continued, addressing me, and striking me with the rod, 'I command you by my druidic power to take on your natural form, if you be not a true madralamh. In a moment I was restored to my own face and figure before them, and saw my wife and her favourite hastening from the room as fast as their legs could carry them. The king saw this as well as I, and ordered both to remain, and the doors to be closed. I directed one of the servants to fetch cords, and have the two bound hand and foot. 'No need,' said the king, 'as far as my daughter is concerned.' He waved his hand towards her, and muttered a charm, and she sank on a chair without power to move. I then explained all that had happened from the day when I detected them in the wood, and declared my belief that the pretended wild man was not present in his natural appearance. 'We shall soon know the truth,' said the king. He struck the villain across the face, and instead of the handsome gaisceach (brave young fellow) we knew, he stood before all an ugly featured humpback, who was known to every one as the confidential follower of my brother Lassa Buaicht. The wretched woman on the chair, though not able to move, uttered a piercing cry, and her face was covered with a stream of tears. The servants did not wait for further orders. They tied the humpback hand and foot, made a roaring fire in the bawn, and pitched him into the middle of it. The King of Greece asked me what punishment I wished to inflict on my false wife, but I said he might do as he pleased, but that I wished her life to be spared. When he left me to return to his own country, he took her with him, and since I have heard no news of either. And now you know why I have kept myself so well guarded from the designs of my wicked brother, and you have heard the Fios Fath an aon Sceil, and got the chloive solais. In return, tell me why a stout, noble-looking young gaisceach like you should come and throw down my walls and take my bright treasure, and why my good brother should aid you. You could not have done it without his help."
So Sculloge related his history, and assured him that he should not be long deprived of the chloive solais, and would have no occasion for any more walls to fence himself from his evil-minded brother. He was soon back to the king and queen, and scion over the wide ocean on his bay steed, arid on the evening of the same day was sitting in the Glean Raineach (ferny glen) at the table with the Sighe Draoi, Lassa Buaicht, and the sword of light in its dark sheath, and its hilt covered by his sleeve, grasped tightly in his strong right hand. The Druid gave him a hearty welcome, and mentioned how rejoiced he was to see him safe back, never removing his eyes from the weapon.
"My brave gaisceach," said he, "I need not trouble you about the fios fath. I know it already. Hand me the chloive solais, and my hand shall not be slack in showering guineas on you." "Oh, just as you like. You don't care how I give you the sword?" "Ah, what matter how you give it!" "Thus then it shall be, treacherous wretch," said Sculloge. The valley was lighted up in a moment as if in noon-day, and the head of the Druid was in the next moment lying at his feet.
Very soon his beautiful, gentle, and loving wife was laughing and crying in his arms, for she was not far off awaiting the issue, and the sudden blaze brought the happy news to her, and the bright bay steed was soon bearing them over the waves again to her native land. Fiach O'Duda was once more happy in the possession of his chloive solais, and there was no more happy palace than that in which the Sculloge and his princess, and her father and mother, spent their days. The Lords of Muskerry trace their genealogy from the son of the gaisceach of our story.
The following is a fair specimen of the Celtic variety of fiction in which suitors for the hand of some lady of matchless beauty enter on dangerous and generally Unsuccessful quests. The mortal hero in all cases needs the aid of benevolent fairy, elf, or genius, to bring the adventure to a successful issue. Parts of the story will be found rather obscure by those who look for a close connexion of cause and effect in works of imagination. But change, and loss, and corruption may be looked for in compositions more than a thousand years old, left for a large part of that time to the chance guardianship of such of the community as had a taste for legendary traditions.