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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "Black, Brown, and Gray"

Black, Brown, and Gray

Here now is the cup for you," said Dubh to Fin MacCumhail.

Fin praised him greatly for what he had done, and turning to Dun said: "Now tell us what happened in your watch."

"When my turn came I set fire to the log which you gave me, and walked on; the dog Bran following, till I saw a light. When I came to the light, I found a house in which was a crowd of people, all fighting except one very old man on a high place above the rest. He called to them for peace, and told them to be quiet. 'For,' said he, 'I have a better gift for you than the one you lost this night,' and he took out the small knife of division with a bare bone, and said: 'This is the knife that was stolen from Fin MacCumhail, a hundred years ago, and whenever you cut on the bone with the knife, you'll get your fill of the best meat on earth.'

"Then he handed the knife and the bone to the man nearest him, who cut from it all the meat he wanted, and then passed it to his neighbor. The knife went from hand to hand till it came to me, then I took it, slipped out, and hurried away. When I came to the fountain, my log was burned, and here are the knife and bone for you."

"You have done a great work, and deserve my best praise," said Fin. "We are sure of the best eating and drinking as long as we keep the cup and the knife."

"Now what have you seen in your part of the night?" said Fin to Glasán.

"I went out," said Glasán, "with the dog Bran, and walked on till I saw a light, and when I came to the light I saw a house, which I entered. Inside were heaps of dead men, killed in fighting, and I wondered greatly when I saw them. At last I lay down in the midst of the corpses, put some of them over me and waited to see what would happen.

"Soon an old hag came in at the door, she had but one arm, one leg, and the one tooth out of her upper jaw, and that tooth as long as her leg, and she used it for a crutch as she hobbled along. She threw aside the first corpse she met and took two bites out of the second,—for she threw every lean corpse away and took two bites out of every fat one.

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