Tuesday, September 23, 2014


          I have read somewhere of an Irishman, a son of Finn I think, Oisin probably, or maybe his brother or perhaps I’ve mistook my generations and it’s Oisin’s son that I’m speaking of, but – in any event – the man went to live among the fairies, having fallen in love with a queen. (It always seems to be a queen of the fairies in such doings, as if Titania or Maeve have nothing on their day calendars but to go find a mortal with whom to dally. Does no one love a Sidhe alewife, or pine for the daughter of the fairy who mends the carts?) And, being a hero and the son of a hero, he did nothing so common as hang about the Far Lands for a while; he abode there for a space of time.

          But there came a moment to Oisin, if that’s who he was, and he missed the sun and the moon (light in the barrows is stored in urns and grudgingly ladled out, so that if fairies weren’t quick healers they’d be known for their bruised shins and battered noses, which would detract from their glamour). He missed his brothers too, and the warriors of the Fianna Faile, and he thought he’d make them a visit, perhaps stopping at an alehouse to see how the year’s brewing had come out and whether the aleman’s daughter remembered him. Now, if he were wise, he’d perhaps have noticed that the moment that brought him this thought was a very old and tattered scrap of an instant, as if it had been traveling long, and the way not easy, to find him. However, it is burden enough for a man to be a hero and the son of a hero, and had there been wisdom in him too Oisin could scarce have stood from the weight of it all, strong man that he was.

          Now, the queen of the fairies (or perhaps she was only a duchess, or even a mere marquise of the fairies; I look always to tell the harsh truth but characters in my stories often stand on tip-toe when they see me looking their way) advised against him going, telling him that the sunlit lands would seem very drab after his days with the Sidhe, and was it not enough for him to have won the love of a queen (or a duchess, or marquise, or even – Powers save us from such things! – a baroness)? and that it was altogether a bad idea. Thus it was determined that he would go, and he put on his boots with the silver spurs and saddled his great white horse with a saddle of gold and rode off. (He took off the spurs a few minutes later; fairy horses are not kindly things, and – lover of the queen or no – it would have had him on the ground under its hooves in a moment had he so much as scratched it with a spur, be it never so glittering).

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