[1-1] Add. and H. 1. 13.
* * * * *
THE OCCASION OF THE TAIN
[W.62.] Then were brought to them the least precious of their possessions, that they might know which of them had the more treasures, riches and wealth. Their pails and their cauldrons and their iron-wrought vessels, their jugs and their keeves and their eared pitchers were fetched to them.
[1-1] Add. and Stowe.
Likewise, their rings and their bracelets and their thumb-rings and their golden treasures were fetched to them, and their apparel, both purple and blue and black and green, yellow, vari-coloured and gray, dun, mottled and brindled.
Their numerous flocks of sheep were led in from fields and meeds and plains. These were counted and compared, and found to be equal, of like size, of like number; however, there was an uncommonly fine ram over Medb’s sheep, and he was equal in worth to a bondmaid, but a corresponding ram was over the ewes of Ailill.
Their horses and steeds and studs were brought from pastures and paddocks. There was a noteworthy horse in Medb’s herd and he was of the value of a bondmaid; a horse to match was found among Ailill’s.
Then were their numerous droves of swine driven from woods and shelving glens and wolds. These were numbered and counted and claimed. There was a noteworthy boar With Medb, and yet another with Ailill.
Next they brought before them their droves of cattle [W.77.] and their herds and their roaming flocks from the brakes and wastes of the province.
These were counted and numbered and claimed, and were the same for both, equal in size, equal in number, except only there was an especial bull of the bawn of Ailill, and he was a calf of one of Medb’s cows, and Finnbennach (’the Whitehorned’) was his name. But he, deeming it no honour to be in a woman’s possession, [LL.fo.54b.] had left and gone over to the kine of the king. And it was the same to Medb as if she owned not a pennyworth, forasmuch as she had not a bull of his size amongst her cattle.
Then it was that macRoth the messenger was summoned to Medb, and Medb strictly bade macRoth to learn where there might be found a bull of that likeness in any of the provinces of Erin. “Verily,” said macRoth, “I know where the bull is that is best and better again, in the province of Ulster, in the hundred of Cualnge, in the house of Dare son of Fiachna; even Donn Cualnge (’the Brown Bull of Cualnge’) he is called.”
“Go thou to him, macRoth, and ask for me of Dare the loan for a year of the Brown Bull of Cualnge, and at the year’s end he shall have the meed of the loan, to wit, fifty heifers and the Donn Cualnge himself. And bear thou a further boon with thee, macRoth. Should the border-folk and those of the country grudge the loan of that rare jewel that is the Brown Bull of Cualnge, let Dare himself come with his bull, and he shall get a measure equalling his own land of the smooth Plain of Ai and a chariot of the worth of thrice seven bondmaids and he shall enjoy my own close friendship."[a]