Gods and Fighting Men
How Diarmuid Got His Love-Spot
Diarmuid and Conan and Goll and Osgar went one day hunting, and they went so
far they could not get home in the evening, and they spent the first part of the
night walking through the woods and pulling berries and eating them. And when it
was about midnight they saw a light, and they went towards i; and they found a
little house before them, and the light shining from it They went in then, and
they saw an old man there, and he bade them welcome, and he called them all by
their names. And they saw no one in the house but the old man and a young girl
and a cat. And the old man bade the girl to make food ready for the Fianna of
Ireland, for there was great hunger on them.
And when the food was ready and put on the table, there came a great wether
that was fastened up in the back of the house, and he rose up on the table where
they were eating, and when they saw that, they looked at one another. "Rise up,
Conan," said Goll, "and fasten that wether in the place it was before." Conan
rose up and took hold of it, but the wether gave itself a shake that threw Conan
under one of its feet. The rest were looking at that, and Goll said: "Let you
rise up, Diarmuid, and fasten up the wether." So Diarmuid rose up and took hold
of it, but it gave itself a shake the same way as before; and when Diarmuid was
down it put one of its feet on him. Goll and Osgar looked at one another then,
and shame came on them, a wether to have done so much as that. And Osgar got up,
but the wether put him down under one of his feet, so that it had now the three
men under him. Then Goll rose up and took hold of it and threw it down; but if
he did, it rose up again in spite of him, and put Goll under his fourth foot.
"It is a great shame," said the old man then, "the like of that to be done to
the Fianna of Ireland. And rise up now, cat," he said, "and tie the wether in
the place where he was." The cat rose up then and took hold of the wether, and
brought it over and tied it in its place at the end of the house.
The men rose up then, but they had no mind to go on eating, for there was
shame on them at what the wether had done to them. "You may go on eating," said
the old man; "and when you are done I will show you that now you are the bravest
men of the world." So they ate their fill then, and the old man spoke to them,
and it is what he said: "Goll," he said, "you are the bravest of all the men of
the world, for you have wrestled with the world and you threw it down. The
strength of the world is in the wether, but death will come to the world itself;
and that is death," he said, showing them the cat.
They were talking together then, and they had their food eaten, and the old
man said their beds were ready for them that they could go to sleep. The four of
them went then into the one room, and when they were in their beds the young
girl came to sleep in the same room with them, and the light of her beauty was
shining on the walls like as if it was the light of a candle.
And when Conan saw her he went over to the side of the bed where she was.
Now, it was Youth the young girl was, and when she saw Conan coming to her:
"Go back to your bed, Conan," she said; "I belonged to you once, and I will
never belong to you again." Conan went back to his bed then, and Osgar had a
mind to go over where she was. Then she said to him: "Where are you going?" "I
am going over to yourself for a while," said he.
"Go back again, Osgar," she said; "I belonged to you once, and I will never
belong to you again."
Then Diarmuid rose up to go to her: "Where are you going, Diarmuid?" she
said. "I am going over to yourself for a while," said he. "O Diarmuid," she
said, "that cannot be; I belonged to you once, and I can never belong to you
again; but come over here to me, Diarmuid," she said, "and I will put a
love-spot on you, that no woman will ever see without giving you her love." So
Diarmuid went over to her, and she put her hand on his forehead, and she left
the love-spot there, and no woman that ever saw him after that was able to
refuse him her love.