We left our story in Part I with Kurithir gazing up at Liadan, who had been locked in her room by her sister, Aevil. It was dawn the day after they had first set adoring eyes upon each other.
Part 2 continues:
The day was fair and all went riding gaily to a neighbour’s castle returning at the setting of sun. Aevil put Aillain, the son of her host, to ride with Liadan, ordering him that Liadan must either be guarded, or sent home at the dawn. Aevil then rode with Kurithir and talked much with Flann and was a sweet and gracious lady, charming all. Liadan sat quiet, smiling ever like sun touching mist of the morning. Her heart was full of joy only to hear his voice.
That night, under the tower Kurithir sang and touched the harp:
Sweet-scented branch of silver Abloom above me, Lean low to love me!
Grey bird of harmonies Honey voice, morning star, Wake to love’s dreaming!
His voice and the strings of the harp were whispers soft on the night but along with the fury of Aevil.
Liadan was always accompanied by the dark woman Moria and she listening. The love of Kurithir forced him to the speech of a man to his mate, and he spoke.
“The song of the night was to you, Liadan, and all of me calls for you more strongly than song can be telling. Liadan, marriage is well for two singers who find the same song. It is by that choosing the bird of the forest seeks ever its own mate, for the song is the soul of the winged things. That is so of the birds and it is so of people, Liadan. Thus the nightingale holds his song pure in rapture, thus the children of us will sing our songs, and their own songs, in the future years, Liadan.”
The soul of her moved to him that she trembled but the dark woman, Moria, behind the arras, was ears for Aevil who walked the garden with Flann and Liadan veiled her grey eyes lest he read them too well and spoke in sweet courtesy.
“Fair friend, it must be in the rath (stronghold) of my father I give troth to a man and not in another place,” she said. “That gate will be open to you on a day to come, and your singing will win you fair welcome when you are coming there.”
“Your words are as snowfall at harvest time and the sheaves golden,” spoke Kurithir. “Your eyes make them-selves shadows of grey and are veiling their sweetness. I am servant of Liadan what day of days I may ride her way through the forests.”
“The day may be long-the length of days rests in the heart itself,” said Liadan. “A far circle of visiting is pledged to the friends of our father. That circle must be closed ere we welcome poets or princes at the portal of our own castle.”
“Honey mouth, the sweet coldness of you would freeze the red rose, and all its flame could not save life to it,” he said. “But within me is a deeper flame, and I wait my day and I wait some sign from you for speech again.”
But the bodkin of the dark woman touched the arm of Liadan as a warning against other words and she spoke no more but bent her head over the harp as if alone and Kurithir looked at her, pondering and then called for his stallion and rode alone and apart from the rest that day.
But Liadan rode not at all lest the hand of another man touch her hand, or the hem of her garment, or offer her cup which another than Kurithir had kissed.
But the harp of his in the hall was the only one she touched that day and she wished that forbidden druid power could be hers to charm the strings into speech for his ear alone. With bodkin she traced one word in ogham on the harp frame but Moria watching! More she feared to do, and her tablets of writing had been broken in the rage of Aevil.
The dark woman told to Aevil all that discourse of the day, and Aevil laughed her victory.
“Tomorrow’s sun takes us away from this place and this blind-eyed poet,” she said. “I have a secret to tell, for Flann has desire of me and a king’s rath will yet be my abiding place. But I choose to be away from the roof of my father ere these poet songs again make night sleepless. My marriage comes before her betrothal. See you to that!”
The dark woman promised and praised the maid Aevil, and had joy of the thought of Flann who was king’s son and of power to be.
At the supper time, Aevil held up her square cup of mead and asked a good wish on the road for the morrow. There were words of pleading from many, but Kurithir said no word, only stared at Liadan for a sign-and she there frozen with the grief on her!
“Sun-rise or sun-setting makes no change in me but to leave me in darkness,” he said, “and the servant of Liadan is ever her servant.”
But Aevil laughed at his shoulder. Then she sent Liadan to her chamber on an empty errand and laughed again at Kurithir, and watched him, and his face white.
But the laughter of her scarce touched him, for the reason that he saw only the face of Liadan who had gone past him, dumb and without word of courtesy and she hard struck at the fear of great forest and wilderness between them.
It was that fear made her bold to dare what she dared not do before the people. More quickly than Moria could follow, she sped to the enclosed garden where the red May rose bloomed and close under her linen shift lay a blossom of it before the dark woman grasped her wrist, and drew her within the portal.
“The fury of Donal your father will not be a summer storm to you if he hears of lovers of yours before the Lady Aevil has her right as a wife ahead of you,” she said. “The visits of honour are spoiled by the endless twanging of the fool’s harp, and of yours, and the end of it is coming!”
Liadan knew there were dark words said of Moria in whispers by the people of the hills of Kerry. Her love for Aevil was a real love, but her hate was a thing to fear, and the soul of Liadan trembled, yet the thought of Kurithir brought back life to her, and she spoke.
“With your hands you will not touch me again,” she said, “and this to your warning. As a child I mind me how, for curious reasons, you sang sleeps upon me at noontide. I saw strange things in the sleeps you sent me and some I remember. But I am not now a child and my life is a different thing to me. No will of yours shall be on me again, nor the will of any other mortal, save one only-and I loving that one. My duty to Donal, my father, and Aevil, my sister, will be paid in silence. But to the man who gives me heart-love there has been too much of silence, and the end of that is coming!”
The dark woman looked at her sideways and said no word lest the maid grow wild and run shrieking, or do some other ill thing to shame them. For the words of Liadan told her it was a woman deep in love who spoke, and that at once both her body and mind were sacred to her as love’s offering on an altar.
And Moria went from the chamber in fear of the wrath of Aevil if the lovers met, and in fear of other things! The key on the chain was forgot at her girdle, and it was the first time.
At the foot of the turret stairs she remembered the key and would have turned back, but Aevil was there and heard her story and smiled.
“Wait for the locking of the door,” she said, and frowned and thought. “Since she is turned rebel on our hands, and a dagger is forbid, we will try other ways, and ways will be found. Her poet is sick with love and mooning alone, yet far enough from the turret. Keep you ward, and send to me Aillain, son of our host. He mutters poems of hers instead of grace.”
Things seem to be getting quite difficult for Liadan. Her sister is green with jealousy and envious of the obvious love between Liadan and Kurithir. There are a lot of twists and turn to come in this tail…
So, I have shared some information about a genealogical investigation and a few pages from an ancient story. How do these link and what have they really got to do with anything?
Firstly, I hope that you have enjoyed them for what they are. A coincidental history of my family and how it links so closely, back in time to another family that I am now part of. Also, the story of Liadan and Kurithir raised a number of questions in my mind. I’m sure there are aspects of the tail that might have more resonance with you than others. For me, the key points raised outside of the, somewhat pantomime, evil sister role is the one of connection between Liadan and Kurithir. An instant and strong connection that was always going to be. The story mentioned that;
‘We have found the way to each other at last, and both of us knowing it!’
During the excerpt above this supposition is built upon by Kurithir’s speech to Liadan; ‘for the song is the soul of the winged things. That is so of the birds and it is so of people, Liadan.’’
Are our souls destined to be with each other? They appear to have thought so in ancient times. When taken with other ‘coincidences’ I feel there could well be some truth in this.
You may have some thought about this? Please let me know and comment.
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I found this story on the Sacred Texts site. Visit the site for the full version of the story together with a fantastic selection of texts and tales from around the world.