Fiction > Harvard Classics > The Destruction of Dá Derga’s Hostel
  The Destruction of Dá Derga’s Hostel.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
The Room of Cormac’s Nine Comrades
  “There I saw three men to the west of Cormac, and three to the east of him, and three in front of the same man. Thou wouldst deem that the nine of them had one mother and one father. They are of the same age, equally goodly, equally beautiful, all alike. Thin rods of gold in their mantles. Bent shields of bronze they bear. Ribbed javelins above them. An ivory-hilted sword in the hand of each. An unique feat they have, to wit, each of them takes his sword’s point between his two fingers, and they twirl the swords round their fingers, and the swords afterwards extend themselves by themselves. Liken thou that, O Fer rogain,” says Ingcél.  1
  “Easy,” says Fer rogain, “for me to liken them. It is Conchobar’s son, Cormac Condlongas, the best hero behind a shield in the land of Erin. Of modest mind is that boy! Evil is what he dreads tonight. He is a champion of valour for feats of arms; he is an hospitaller for householding. These are you nine who surround him, the three Dúngusses, and the three Doelgusses, and the three Dangusses, the nine comrades of Cormac Condlongas, son of Conchobar. They have never slain men on account of their misery, and they never spared them on account of their prosperity. Good is the hero who is among them, even Cormac Condlongas. I swear what my tribe swears, nine times ten will fall by Cormac in his first onset, and nine times ten will fall by his people, besides a man for each of their weapons, and a man for each of themselves. And Cormac will share prowess with any man before the Hostel, and he will boast of victory over a king or crown-prince or noble of the reavers; and he himself will chance to escape, though all his people be wounded.”  2
  “Woe to him who shall wreak this Destruction!” says Lomna Drúth, “even because of that one man, Cormac Condlongas, son of Conchobar.” “I swear what my tribe swears,” says Lomna son of Donn Désa, “if I could fulfil my counsel, the Destruction would not be attempted were it only because of that one man, and because of the hero’s beauty and goodness!”  3
  “It is not feasible to prevent it,” says Ingcél: “clouds of weakness come to you. A keen ordeal which will endanger two cheeks of a goat will be opposed by the oath of Fer rogain, who will run. Thy voice, O Lomna,” says Ingcél, “hath taken breaking upon thee: thou art a worthless warrior, and I know thee. Clouds of weakness come to you….  4
  Neither old men nor historians shall declare that I quitted the Destruction, until I shall wreak it.”  5
  “Reproach not our honour, O Ingcél,” say Gér and Gabur and Fer rogain. “The Destruction shall be wrought unless the earth break under it, until all of us are slain thereby.”  6
  “Truly, then, thou hast reason, O Ingcél,” says Lomna Drúth son of Donn Désa. “Not to thee is the loss caused by the Destruction. Thou wilt carry off the head of the king of a foreign country, with thy slaughter of another; and thou and thy brothers will escape from the Destruction, even Ingcél and Ecell and the Yearling of the Rapine.”  7
  “Harder, however, it is for me,” says Lomna Drúth: “woe is me before every one! woe is me after every one! ’Tis my head that will be first tossed about there to-night after an hour among the chariot-shafts, where devilish foes will meet. It will be flung into the Hostel thrice, and thrice will it be flung forth. Woe to him that comes! woe to him with whom one goes! woe to him to whom one goes! Wretches are they that go! wretches are they to whom they go!”  8
  “There is nothing that will come to me,” says Ingcél, “in place of my mother and my father and my seven brothers, and the king of my district, whom ye destroyed with me. There is nothing that I shall not endure henceforward.”  9
  “Though a … should go through them,” say Gér and Gabur and Fer rogain, “the Destruction will be wrought by thee to-night.”  10
  “Woe to him who shall put them under the hands of foes!” says Lomna. “And whom sawest thou afterwards?”  11


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