“King Brian, know by this example the difference between a Christian woman and a pagan. Roman Lucretia was the most virtuous of idolatrous princesses, yet she had not the strength to defend herself against the attacks of an effeminate youth, and, ashamed of her weakness, she gave way to despair, whilst Glamorgan has successfully withstood the assaults of a criminal filled with rage, and possessed by the most terrible of demons.” Meanwhile Oddoul, in the prison of the palace, was waiting for the moment when he should be burned alive. But God did not suffer an innocent to perish. He sent to him an angel, who, taking the form of one of the queen’s servants called Gudrune, took him out of his prison and led him into the very room where the woman whose appearance he had taken dwelt.
And the angel said to young Oddoul:
“I love thee because thou art daring.”
And young Oddoul, believing that it was Gudrune herself, answered with downcast looks:
“It is by the grace of the Lord that I have resisted the violence of the queen and braved the anger of that powerful woman.”
And the angel asked:
“What? Hast thou not done what the queen accuses thee of?”
“In truth no, I have not done it,” answered Oddoul, his hand on his heart.
“Thou hast not done it?”
“No, I have not done it. The very thought of such an action fills me with horror.”
“Then,” cried the angel, “what art thou doing here, thou impotent creature?” *
* The Penguin chronicler
who relates the fact employs the
expression, Species inductilis. I have endeavoured to
translate it literally.
And she opened the door to facilitate the young man’s escape. Oddoul felt himself pushed violently out. Scarcely had he gone down into the street than a chamber-pot was poured over his head; and he thought:
“Mysterious are thy designs, O Lord, and thy ways past finding out.”
The direct posterity of Brian the Good was extinguished about the year 900 in the person of Collic of the Short Nose. A cousin of that prince, Bosco the Magnanimous, succeeded him, and took care, in order to assure himself of the throne, to put to death all his relations. There issued from him a long line of powerful kings.
One of them, Draco the Great, attained great renown as a man of war. He was defeated more frequently than the others. It is by this constancy in defeat that great captains are recognized. In twenty years he burned down more than a hundred thousand hamlets, market towns, unwalled towns, villages, walled towns, cities, and universities. He set fire impartially to his enemies’ territory and to his own domains. And he used to explain his conduct by saying:
“War without fire is like tripe without mustard: it is an insipid thing.”