Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  Celtic  Index  Previous  Next 


When Caintigern had come, when she knew her son Flann, and when it was known to her and to the Spae-Woman that the token Morag had given him held the seven drops of heart's blood that would bring back to their own forms the seven wild geese that were Caintigern's brothers--when all this was known the Spae-Woman sent her most secret messenger to the marshes to give word to the seven wild geese that they were to fly to her house on the night when the moon was full. Her messenger was the corncrake. She traveled night and day, running swiftly through the meadows. She hid on the edge of the marshes and craked out her message to the seven wild geese. At last they heard what she said. On the day before the night of the full moon they flew, the seven together, towards the Spae-Woman's house.

No one was in the house but Caintigern the Queen. The door was left open to the light of the moon. The seven wild geese flew down and stayed outside the door, moving their heads and wings in the full moonlight.

Then Caintigern arose and took bread that the Spae-Woman had made. She moistened it in her mouth, and into each bit of moistened bread she put a piece of the handkerchief that had a drop of blood. She held out her hand, giving each the moistened bread. The first that ate it fell forward on the floor of the Spae-Woman's house, his head down on the ground. His sister saw him then as a kneeling man with this arms held behind him as if they were bound. And when she looked outside she saw the others like kneeling men with their heads bent and their arms held behind them. Then Caintigern said, giving the Spae-Woman her secret name, "O Grania Oi, let it be that my brothers be changed back to men!" When she said this she saw the Spae-Woman coming across the court-yard. The Spae-Woman waved her hands over the bent figures. They lifted themselves up as men--as naked, gray men.

The Spae-Woman gave each a garment and the seven men came into the house. They would stand and not sit, and for long they had no speech. Their sister knelt before each and wet his hand with her tears. She thought she should see them as youths or as young men, and they were gray now and past the prime of their lives.

They stayed at the house and speech came back to them. Then they longed to go back to their father's, but Caintigern could not bear that they should go from her sight. At last four of her brothers went and three stayed with her. They would go to her husband's Castle and the others would go too after they had been at their father's. Then one day Caintigern said farewell. The thanks that was due to the Spae-Woman, she said she would give by her treatment of the maid who had given the token to her son Flann. And she prayed that Morag would soon come to the King's Castle.


She went with her three brothers to the place where Flann and the King of Ireland's Son, Fedelma and Gilveen waited for them. A smith groomed and decked horses for all of them and they rode towards the King of Ireland's Castle, MacStairn, the Woodman, going before to announce their coming.

The King of Ireland waited at the stone where the riders to his Castle dismount, and his steward, his Councillor and his Druid were beside him. He lifted his wife off her horse and she brought him to Flann. And when the King looked into Flann's eyes he knew he was his son and the son of Sheen, now known as Caintigern. He gave Flann a father's clasp of welcome. And the queen brought him to her own three brothers who had been estranged from human companionship from before he knew her. And she brought him to the youth who was always known as the King of Ireland's Son, and him his father welcomed from the path of danger.

And then the King's Son took Fedelma to his father and told him she was his love and his wife to be. And the King welcomed Fedelma to the Castle. Then said Gilveen, "There is a secret between this young man, Flann, and myself."

"What is the secret?" said the Queen, laying her hands suddenly upon Gilveen's shoulders.

"That I am his wife to be," said Gilveen.

The Queen went to her son and said, "Dost thou not remember Morag, Flann, who gave the token that thou gavest me?"

And Flann said, "Morag! I think the Spae-Woman spoke of her name in a story."

"I am Flann's wife to be," said Gilveen, smiling in his face.

"Yes, my wife to be," said Flann. Then the King welcomed Gilveen too, and they all went into the Castle. He told his wife he had messages from the King of Senlabor about his other sons Dermott and Downal, saying that they were making good names for themselves, and that everything they did was becoming to sons of Kings. In the hall Fedelma saw Aefa her other sister. Aefa was so proud of herself since she married Maravaun the King's Councillor that she would hardly speak to anyone. She gave her sisters the tips of her fingers and she bowed very slightingly to the two youths. The King questioned his druid as to when it would be well to have marriages made in his Castle and the druid said it would be well not to make them until the next appearance of the full moon.

Next: Part IV