The Tain Bo Culaigne

The Slaying Of Ferbaeth ('The Witless')

   Then it was that Cuchulain said to his charioteer, namely to Laeg: "Betake thee thither, O master Laeg," said Cuchulain, "to the camp of the men of Erin, and bear a greeting from me to my comrades and foster-brothers and age-mates. Bear a greeting to Ferdiad son of Daman, and to Ferdet son of Daman, and to Brass son of Ferb, and to Lugaid son of Nos, and to Lugaid son of Solamach, to Ferbaeth son of Baetan, and to Ferbaeth son of Ferbend, and a particular greeting withal to mine own foster-brother, to Lugaid son of Nos, for that he is the one man that still has friendliness and friendship with me now on the hosting. And bear him a blessing. Let it be asked diligently of him that he may tell thee who will come to attack me on the morrow."
   Then Laeg went his way to the camp of the men of Erin and brought the aforementioned greetings to the comrades and foster-brothers of Cuchulain. And he also went into the tent of Lugaid son of Nos. Lugaid bade him welcome. "I take that welcome to be truly meant," said Laeg. "'Tis truly meant for thee," replied Lugaid. "To converse with thee am I come from Cuchulain," said Laeg, "and I bring these greetings truly and earnestly from him to the end that thou tell me who comes to fight with Cuchulain to-day."
   "The curse of his fellowship and brotherhood and of his friendship and affection be upon that man," said Laeg. "Even his own real foster-brother himself, Ferbaeth son of Ferbend. He was invited into the tent of Medb a while since. The daughter Finnabair was set by his side. It is she who fills up the drinking-horns for him; it is she who gives him a kiss with every drink that he takes; it is she who serveth the food to him. Not for every one with Medb is the ale that is poured out for Ferbaeth till he is drunk. Only fifty wagon-loads of it have been brought to the camp."
   Then Laeg retraced his steps to Cuchulain, with heavy head, sorrowful, downcast, heaving sighs. "With heavy head, sorrowful, downcast and sighing, my master Laeg comes to meet me," said Cuchulain. "It must be that one of my brothers-in-arms comes to attack me." For he regarded as worse a man of the same training in arms as himself than aught other warrior. "Hail now, O Laeg my friend," cried Cuchulain; "who comes to attack me to-day?"
   "The curse of his fellowship and brotherhood, of his friendship and affection be upon him; even thine own real foster-brother himself, namely Ferbaeth son of Ferbend. A while ago he was summoned into the tent of Medb. The maiden was set by his side; it is she who fills up the drinking-horns for him; it is she who gives him a kiss with every drink; it is she who serveth his food. Not for every one with Medb is the ale that is poured out for Ferbaeth. Only fifty wagon-loads of it have been brought to the camp."
   Ferbaeth by no means waited till morn but he went straightway to the glen that night to recant his friendship with Cuchulain. And Cuchulain called to mind the friendship and fellowship and brotherhood that had been between them; and Ferbaeth would not consent to forego the fight.
   Then in anger, Cuchulain left him and drove the sole of his foot against a holly-spit, so that it pierced through flesh and bone and skin. Thereat Cuchulain gave a strong tug and drew the spit out from its roots. And Cuchulain threw the holly-spit over his shoulder after Ferbaeth, and he would care as much that it reached him or that it reached him not. The spit struck Ferbaeth in the nape of the neck, so that it passed out through his mouth in front and fell to the ground, and thus Ferbaeth fell.
   "Now that was a good throw, Cucuc!" cried Fiachu son of Ferfeb√®, who was on the mound between the two camps, for he considered it a good throw to kill that warrior with a spit of holly. Hence it is that Focherd Murthemni ('the good Cast of Murthemne') is the name of the place where they were.