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Irish Fairy Tales

 The Birth Of Bran 
Page 2 of 3

IT WAS SAD to see the beautiful, slender dog standing shivering and astonished, and sad to see the lovely eyes that looked out pitifully in terror and amazement. But Uct Dealv did not feel sad. She clasped a chain about the hound's neck, and they set off westward towards the house of Fergus Fionnliath, who was reputed to be the unfriendliest man in the world to a dog. It was because of his reputation that Uct Dealv was bringing the hound to him. She did not want a good home for this dog: she wanted the worst home that could be found in the world, and she thought that Fergus would revenge for her the rage and jealousy which she felt towards Tuiren.
      As they paced along Uct Dealv railed bitterly against the hound, and shook and jerked her chain. Many a sharp cry the hound gave in that journey, many a mild lament.
      "Ah, supplanter! Ah, taker of another girl's sweetheart!" said Uct Dealv fiercely. "How would your lover take it if he could see you now? How would he look if he saw your pointy ears, your long thin snout, your shivering, skinny legs, and your long grey tail. He would not love you now, bad girl!"
      "Have you heard of Fergus Fionnliath," she said again, "the man who does not like dogs?"
      Tuiren had indeed heard of him.
      "It is to Fergus I shall bring you," cried Uct Dealv. "He will throw stones at you. You have never had a stone thrown at you. Ah, bad girl! You do not know how a stone sounds as it nips the ear with a whirling buzz, nor how jagged and heavy it feels as it thumps against a skinny leg. Robber! Mortal! Bad girl! You have never been whipped, but you will be whipped now. You shall hear the song of a lash as it curls forward and bites inward and drags backward. You shall dig up old bones stealthily at night, and chew them against famine. You shall whine and squeal at the moon, and shiver in the cold, and you will never take another girl's sweetheart again."
      And it was in those terms and in that tone that she spoke to Tuiren as they journeyed forward, so that the hound trembled and shrank, and whined pitifully and in despair.
      They came to Fergus Fionnliath's stronghold, and Uct Dealv demanded admittance.
      "Leave that dog outside," said the servant.
      "I will not do so," said the pretended messenger.
      "You can come in without the dog, or you can stay out with the dog," said the surly guardian.
      "By my hand," cried Uct Dealv, "I will come in with this dog, or your master shall answer for it to Fionn."
      At the name of Fionn the servant almost fell out of his standing. He flew to acquaint his master, and Fergus himself came to the great door of the stronghold.
      "By my faith," he cried in amazement, "it is a dog."
      "A dog it is," growled the glum servant.
      "Go you away," said Fergus to Uct Dealv, "and when you have killed the dog come back to me and I will give you a present."
      "Life and health, my good master, from Fionn, the son of Uail, the son of Baiscne," said she to Fergus.
      "Life and health back to Fionn," he replied. "Come into the house and give your message, but leave the dog outside, for I don't like dogs."
      "The dog comes in," the messenger replied.
      "How is that?" cried Fergus angrily.
      "Fionn sends you this hound to take care of until he comes for her," said the messenger.
      "I wonder at that," Fergus growled, "for Fionn knows well that there is not a man in the world has less of a liking for dogs than I have."
      "However that may be, master, I have given Fionn's message, and here at my heel is the dog. Do you take her or refuse her?"
      "If I could refuse anything to Fionn it would be a dog," said Fergus, "but I could not refuse anything to Fionn, so give me the hound."
      Uct Dealv put the chain in his hand.
      "Ah, bad dog!" said she.
      And then she went away well satisfied with her revenge, and returned to her own people in the Shi.
      On the following day Fergus called his servant.
      "Has that dog stopped shivering yet?" he asked.
      "It has not, sir," said the servant.
      "Bring the beast here," said his master, "for whoever else is dissatisfied Fionn must be satisfied."
      The dog was brought, and he examined it with a jaundiced and bitter eye.
      "It has the shivers indeed," he said.
      "The shivers it has," said the servant.
      "How do you cure the shivers?" his master demanded, for he thought that if the animal's legs dropped off Fionn would not be satisfied.
      "There is a way," said the servant doubtfully.
      "If there is a way, tell it to me," cried his master angrily.
      "If you were to take the beast up in your arms and hug it and kiss it, the shivers would stop," said the man.
      "Do you mean--?" his master thundered, and he stretched his hand for a club.
      "I heard that," said the servant humbly.
      "Take that dog up," Fergus commanded, "and hug it and kiss it, and if I find a single shiver left in the beast I'll break your head."
      The man bent to the hound, but it snapped a piece out of his hand, and nearly bit his nose off as well.
      "That dog doesn't like me," said the man.
      "Nor do I," roared Fergus; "get out of my sight."
      The man went away and Fergus was left alone with the hound, but the poor creature was so terrified that it began to tremble ten times worse than before.
      "Its legs will drop off," said Fergus. "Fionn will blame me," he cried in despair.
      He walked to the hound.
      "If you snap at my nose, or if you put as much as the start of a tooth into the beginning of a finger!" he growled.

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