The Tain Bo Culaigne

The Combat Of Larinè MacNois

   "Good, my master Laeg," said Cuchulain, "go for me to the camp of the men of Erin to hold converse with Lugaid and inquire for me if the cast I made a while ago reached Ferbaeth or did not reach, and if it did reach him, ask who comes to meet me to fight and do battle with me on the morrow."
   Laeg proceeds to Lugaid's tent. Lugaid bids him welcome. "I take that welcome as truly meant," Laeg replied. "It is truly meant for thee," quoth Lugaid, "to hold converse with thee am I come from thine own foster-brother, that thou mayest tell me whether Ferbaeth was smitten." "He was," answered Lugaid, "and a blessing on the hand that smote him, for he fell dead in the glen a while ago."
   "Tell me who comes to-morrow to combat Cuchulain?" "They are persuading a brother of mine own to go meet him, a foolish, haughty arrogant youth, yet dealing stout blows and stubborn. And it is to this end that he may fall at his hands, so that I myself must then go to avenge him. But I will not go there till the very day of doom. Larinè great-grandson of Blathmac is that brother. And I will go thither to speak with Cuchulain about him," said Lugaid.
   Lugaid's two horses were taken and his chariot was yoked to them and he came to his tryst with Cuchulain, so that a parley was had between them. Then it was that Lugaid spake. "They are persuading a brother of mine to come fight thee on the morrow, to-wit, a foolish, dull, uncouth youth, dealing stout blows. And it is for this reason they are to send him to fight thee, that he may fall at thy hands, and to see if I myself will come to avenge him upon thee. But I will not, till the very day of doom. And by the fellowship that is between us. Slay not my brother."
   "By my conscience, truly," cried Cuchulain, "the next thing to death will I inflict on him. "I give thee leave," said Lugaid; "it would please me well shouldst thou beat him sorely, for to my dishonour he comes to attack thee." Thereupon Cuchulain went back and Lugaid returned to the camp.
   Then on the next day it was that Larinè son of Nos was summoned to the tent of Ailill and Medb, and Finnabair was placed by his side. It was she that filled up the drinking horns for him and gave him a kiss with each draught that he took and served him his food. "Not to every one with Medb is given the drink that is poured out for Ferbaeth or for Larinè," quoth Finnabair; "only the load of fifty wagons of it was brought to the camp."
   ["Yonder pair rejoiceth my heart," said Medb.] "Whom wouldst thou say?" [asked Ailill.] "The man yonder, in truth," said she. "What of him?" asked Ailill. "It is thy wont to set the mind on that which is far from the purpose (Medb answered). It were more becoming for thee to bestow thy thought on the couple in whom are united the greatest distinction and beauty to be found on any road in Erin, namely Finnabair and Larinè macNois." "I regard them as thou dost," answered Ailill. It was then that Larinè shook and tossed himself with joy, so that the sewings of the flock bed burst under him and the mead of the camp was speckled with its feathers.
   Larinè longed for day with its full light to go to attack Cuchulain. At the early day-dawn on the morrow he came, and he brought a wagon-load of arms with him, and he came on to the ford to encounter Cuchulain. The mighty warriors of the camp and station considered it not a goodly enough sight to view the combat of Larinè; only the women and boys and girls went to scoff and to jeer at his battle.
   Cuchulain went to meet him at the ford and he deemed it unbecoming to bring along arm, so he came to the encounter unarmed. Cuchulain knocked all of Larinè's weapons out of his hand as one might knock toys out of the hand of an infant. Cuchulain ground and bruised him between his arms, he lashed him and clasped him, he squeezed him and shook him, so that he spilled all the dirt out of him, so that an unclean, filthy wrack of cloud arose in the four airts wherein he was.
   Then from the middle of the ford Cuchulain hurled Larinè far from him across through the camp till he fell at the door of the tent of his brother. Howbeit from that time forth he never stood up without a moan and as long as he lived s he never ate a meal without plaint, and never thenceforward was he free from weakness of the loins and oppression of the chest and without cramps and the frequent need which obliged him to go out. Still he is the only man that made escape after combat with Cuchulain on the Cualnge Cattle-raid. Nevertheless that maiming took effect upon him, so that it afterwards brought him his death. Such then is the Combat of Larinè on the Táin Bó Cúalnge.