He had been arrested almost immediately, and was accused before King Olave Goddardson, who, being a just man, ordered him to be brought face to face with his accusers. Great preparations were made for the trial the king commanded should be held. The jarls took good care that the jury should consist exclusively
of their own order, and though King Olave did all in his power to secure him a fair hearing, Eaoch met with but scant justice. A speedy conviction resulted, and sentence of death was pronounced. The cook heard his sentence with perfect composure, and so soon as it was pronounced he claimed the privilege then allowed by both Norwegian and Manx law to all native born subjects condemned to death, of choosing the place and manner of his own execution.
His application was granted by his royal judge as a matter of course, and on hearing the king's consent to his request the condemned cook exclaimed:
"The death I choose is this. I will place my head on one of your majesty's legs, and it shall there be cut off with your majesty's great sword MACABUIN, which was made by LOAN MACLIBHUIN, the dark smith of Drontheim."
On hearing this every one was horror-struck, for they saw in a moment the cunning of the varlet, who knew full well the magic properties of the great sword, and calculated on the kings refusal to run so great a risk of losing his leg and most likely his life.
Every one, nobles and common people alike, begged and prayed of the king to refuse the prisoner's preposterous request, the compliance with which would be placing himself in such imminent danger, for the powers and properties of the great sword were very terrible.
The great sword, MACABUIN, had been made specially for King Olave by LOAN MACLIBHUIN, the dark smith of Drontheim, assisted by fairies and bugganes, who superintended its forging and tempering. It would sever anything and everything its edge was brought in contact with, even solid iron or granite rock, and when once it began to cut, there was no knowing where it would stop. When he first received this wonderful sword King Olave was bade to try its powers, and being at the time encamped between Douglas and Laxey he struck two huge stones one after the other and cave them in twain. There the stones stand to this day, where they may be seen near the roadside, and are pointed out to the visitors when going from
Douglas to see the great wheel of Laxey Mines. It is said of these stones that whenever they hear the cock crow at sunrise they clap together with a great noise.
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THE WITCHES' CONCLAVE
Knowing the wondrous properties of this sword, no wonder all the people, with whom the king was very popular and much beloved, dreaded the effects of carrying out the cook's request, and fearing for his majesty's safety, begged of him not to submit to it.
There was no compromise possible in the matter. Either the king must run this terrible risk of having his leg cut off, or the condemned man be liberated.
Olave Goddardson was a true knight, and his word once given nothing could induce him to forfeit it. In spite of bishops and priests offering him indulgence and absolution, he insisted on keeping his plighted word to the condemned varlet, Eaoch, and no inducement could prevail upon him to do aught derogatory to his fair fame as a man and a king.
The preparations for Eaoch's execution were therefore proceeded with, the whole island bewailing what was considered must necessarily result in the death of their beloved king.
With a view if possible of overcoming the terrible cutting properties of the great sword all the witches in the island were consulted, and they held a midnight meeting at the full of the moon on the summit of Snaefell, the highest mountain in the island.
Their weird consultations were presided over by Oda, the very crone who had caused all the mischief by making the pot of fat boil over, and so setting fire to Jarl Kitter's castle.
After much discussion among the ancient wise ladies, and consulting of many mystic records, together with the working of several incantations, a charm was at last decided upon and prepared, to be placed on the Royal Leg, prior to the condemned cook laying his head upon this extraordinary block of his own selection.
It was only at the urgent solicitations and prayers of his subjects that the king consented to allow the charm to be used.
TOADSKINS, flayed from the reptiles alive;
Twigs OF THE ROWAN TREE, 1 twisted round and bound together with GREY HAIRS plucked from the CHINS of MAIDEN WOMEN, and
Each to the number of nine times nine were skilfully amalgamated
together, and cunningly formed
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THE WITCHES' CHARM
The day fixed upon for the execution of Eaoch the cook at length arrived, and an immense concourse of people assembled from all parts of the Isle of Man at the TYNWALD MOUNT, the spot where all public ceremonials took place, and where, at the present day, Her Majesty Queen Victoria's representative presides at the proclamation of the Manx laws that have been passed during the past session of the House of Keys--the insular parliament--and on her behalf he gives the royal assent to the same once every year--the first Monday in July, which is kept as a general holiday. 1 All the preparations being completed for the execution, the charm was produced, and with much ceremony and
many mystic rites, carefully bound on the king's leg by the arch-witch Oda herself. The assembled people looked on in eager suspense, and the deepest anxiety was depicted on every face. The culprit having been previously shriven, was led forth to his doom. His appearance was the signal for a perfect storm of yells and execrations from the crowd. He was seized by two stalwart Norsemen, and after being blindfolded, was led up to the royal chair, where he was bid to kneel and lay his head upon what he had himself so cunningly elected as the block--the leg of King Olave. One of the king's body-guard, named Ulrid, a veteran renowned in many a hard-contested fight for his undaunted courage, his great strength, and his peculiar steadiness of hand and nerve, was selected for executioner.
The mighty and terrible sword Macabuin, made by Loan Maclibhuin, the dark smith of Drontheim, was brought forth from the king's armoury by two other guardsmen, and laid with great state and ceremony before the throne. On drawing it forth from its sheath, its bright and polished blade reflected back the brilliant rays of the midday sun, glittering and flashing like a sword of fire, dazzling the eyes of all beholders. Lifting up the sword with the greatest caution, and bracing every nerve of his powerful and brawny arms, in order to keep its destructive powers well in check, he laid its edge gently upon the neck of Enoch.
Not a sound was heard. All the vast multitude looked on in silence and with bated breath, terribly anxious for the result of the magic charm, which alone could counteract the fearful powers of the dreadful sword, and stay its descent before reaching the brave king's leg.
Great was the trepidation of the whole assembled court on beholding that even the strong and steady hand of the king's most trusty guardsman could not stay the onward and downward progress of the wondrous weapon, when once its edge began to cut.
The sword Macabuin made but short work of the neck of Eaoch, severing it clean from his body, without a single hitch or hesitation on passing through the bone. Straight through it went; and, much to the horror of
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THE EXECUTION OF EAOCH THE COOK
those near the king, it continued still to cut, in spite of the efforts of the guardsman to restrain its progress, dividing asunder slowly, but steadily and surely, layer after layer of the preventive charm, till it reached the very last grey maiden's hair, and then it stopped. The spell was broken, and the magic power of the great sword Macabuin was at an end. The executioner once again had a perfect control over the weapon, and lifting it up from the royal leg, which had not received the slightest injury, he waved the blood-stained blade triumphantly around his head.
Great was the joy and loud the shouts (almost as loud as those of the dead cook's) of every one when they saw the success of the potent charm, and that their beloved king remained uninjured. Fires were speedily kindled on the mountain tops, and from hill to hill the joyful news was spread throughout the whole length and breadth of the island, "The king is saved," "Long live the king!"
Olave jumped up directly the executioner had lifted up the sword from his leg, and kicked the ghastly bleeding head on one side. He then proceeded in solemn procession, attended by all his court and thousands of his assembled people, to Peel, and entering the cathedral of St. Germain's, returned thanks, and offered many precious gifts at the shrine of that saint in gratitude for his wonderful preservation.
72:1 The Rowan is the ash tree.
73:1 The Tynwald Hill is a mound of earth composed of ground brought from every parish in the island, and is situated on the roadside at St. John's, as near as possible in the centre of the island. It has been used for these purposes from time immemorial, and gives its name to the highest court of law in the island, the Court of Tynwald, which is presided over by the Lieutenant-Governor in person.