The Tain Bo Culaigne
Here Is Narrated The Slaying of Redg The Satirist
When the men of Erin had
come together in one place, both Medb and Ailill and
the force that was bringing the bull to the camp and enclosure, they all
declared Cuchulain would be no more valiant than another, were it not for the
wonderful little trick he possessed, the spearlet of Cuchulain. Accordingly the
men of Erin despatched from them Redg, Medb's satirist, to demand the spearlet.
So Redg came forward to where Cuchulain was and asked for the spearlet, but
Cuchulain did not give him the spearlet at once; he did not deem it good and
proper to yield it. Redg declared he would deprive Cuchulain of his honour
unless he got the spearlet. Thereupon Cuchulain hurled the spearlet at him, so
that it struck him in the nape of the neck and fell out through his mouth on the
ground. And the only words Redg uttered were these, "This precious gift is
readily ours," and his soul separated from his body at the ford. Therefrom that
ford is ever since called Ath Solom Shet ('Ford of the Ready Treasure'). And the
copper of the spearlet was thrown into the river. Hence is Uman-Sruth
('Copperstream') ever after.
"Let us ask for a sword-truce from Cuchulain," says Ailill. "Let Lugaid go to
him," one and all answer. Then Lugaid goes to parley with him. "How now do I
stand with the host?" Cuchulain asks. "Disgraceful indeed is the thing thou hast
demanded of them," Lugaid answers, "even this, that thou shouldst have thy women
and maidens and half of thy kine. But more grievous than all do they hold it
that they themselves should be killed and thou provisioned."
Every day there fell a man by Cuchulain till the end of a week. Then faith is
broken with Cuchulain. Twenty are despatched at one time to attack him and he
destroys them all. "Go to him, O Fergus," says Ailill, "that he may vouchsafe us
a change of place." A while after this they proceed to Cronech. These are they
that fell in single combat with him in that place, to wit: the two Roth, the two
Luan, two women-thieves, ten fools, ten cup-bearers, the ten Fergus, the six
Fedelm, the six Fiachu. Now these were all killed by him in single combat.
When their tents were pitched by them in Cronech they discussed what they had
best do with Cuchulain. "I know," quoth Medb, "what is best here. Let someone go
to him from us for a swordpact from him in respect of the host, and he shall
have half the cattle that are here." This message they bring to him. "I will do
it," said Cuchulain, "provided the bond is not broken by you tomorrow."