THE ROOM OF THE REARGUARDS
“There I saw twelve men on silvery hurdles all around that room of the king. Light yellow hair was on them. Blue kilts they wore. Equally beautiful were they, equally hardy, equally shapely. An ivory-hilted sword in each man’s hand, and they cast them not down; but it is the horse-rods in their hands that are all round the room. Liken thou that, O Fer rogain.”
“Easy for me to say. The king of Tara’s guardsmen are there. These are their names: three Londs of Liffey-plain: three Arts of Ath cliath (Dublin): three Buders of Buagnech: and three Trenfers of Cuilne. I swear what my tribe swears, that many will be the dead by them around the Hostel.
And they will escape from it although they are wounded. Woe to him who shall wreak the Destruction were it only because of that band! And afterwards whom sawest thou there?”
LE FRI FLAITH SON OF CONAIRE, WHOSE LIKENESS THIS IS
“There I beheld a red-freckled boy in a purple cloak. He is always a-wailing in the house. A stead wherein is the king of a cantred, whom each man takes from bosom to bosom.
“So he is with a blue silvery chair under his seat in the midst of the house, and he always a-wailing. Truly then, sad are his household listening to him! Three heads of hair on that boy, and these are the three: green hair and purple hair and all-golden hair. I know not whether they are many appearances which the hair receives, or whether they are three kinds of hair which are naturally upon him. But I know that evil is the thing he dreads to-night. I beheld thrice fifty boys on silvern chairs around him, and there were fifteen bulrushes in the hand of that red-freckled boy, with a thorn at the end of each of the rushes. And we were fifteen men, and our fifteen right eyes were blinded by him, and he blinded one of the seven pupils which was in my head” saith Ingcel. “Hast thou his like, O Fer rogain?”
“Easy for me to liken him!” Fer rogain wept till he shed his tears of blood over his cheeks. “Alas for him!” quoth he. This child is a ’scion of contention’ for the men of Erin with the men of Alba for hospitality, and shape, and form and horsemanship. Sad is his slaughter! ’Tis a ‘swine that goes before mast,’ ’tis a babe in age! the best crown-prince that has ever come into Erin! The child of Conaire son of Eterscel, Le fri flaith is his name. Seven years there are in his age. It seems to me very likely that he is miserable because of the many appearances on his hair and the various hues that the hair assumes upon him. This is his special household, the thrice fifty lads that are around him.”
“Woe,” says Lomna, “to him that shall wreak the Destruction, were it only because of that boy!”
“Ye cannot,” says Ingcel. “Clouds of weakness are coming on you, etc.” “And after that whom sawest thou there?”