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Standish O'Grady.

Finn and his companions / by Standish O'Grady online

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THE MASQUE OF FINN 65

Nod : With just one look, for imme-
diately I cast my eyes on the ground.

Wife : Great and awful, and surrounded
by his guards ?

Nod : Nay, nay wife. There was not an
armed man in the tent or around it. He sat
there looking over the plain through the
wide doorway.

Wife : How didst approach him ? What
word was in thy mouth ?

Nod : I approached him not, nor spoke
one word. For when he saw me he rose and
ran to meet me, took me by the hand, led me
in joyfully and affectionately, and caused
me to sit beside him.

Wife : And what saidst thou ?

Nod : Not one word, but I bowed my head
upon my hands over the white beechen table
and wept aloud. And he put his great hand
tenderly upon my shoulder and said {Nod
puts hand dramatically on her shoulder to
show her) " Forget it all, my son. Thou
hast suffered much; but now thou shalt
suffer no more." And that was the manner
of my reception in the Camp of Finn.



66 THE MASQUE OF FINN

{Enter Conan Mael, quietly, by himself).

Wife : Marvellous ! Like some strange
and lovely vision. Wonderful, thy whole
story, Nod, beginning with the unwalled
city.

Nod : Unwalled, truly. There are many
things in Finn's Camp, but there fear is not
to be found, nor shall there be in Rath Nod
from this day forward. Steward !

Steward {enters from house) : My lord.

Nod : Collect my thralls to-morrow for
the destruction of these fortifications. My
Rath, like Finn's city, shall be free for all
to come and go. And bid the people of the
territory come too, for it will be a day of
rejoicing — lay my ramparts level with the
plain, gather and fling the palisades in a
heap for the winter's warmth. Wife, the
keys. ( Wife hands the keys to the Steward
and he to Nod).

Nod {looking at keys) : Aye, well I re-
member them, all the intricate, carefully
devised wards. Fear in every angle and
convolution of them — base fear. {Smiles).
{Here enters old Councillor). Here ! {Tosses
them to the Steward, but retains a key).



THE MASQUE OF FINN 67

Take them to the smith and cause him to
prise off all locks and remove all bars and
bolts and heat his furnace and beat them
into things serviceable. {Meditates, hold-
ing retained key in his hand). And,
Steward !

Steward : My lord !

Nod {handing retained key) : Set free
the prisoners. {Exit Steward to house).

Old Councillor : My lord, I was coun-
cillor to thy father and thy father's father.
My lord, I pray thee be not so hasty, take
time to consider. There are enemies abroad
as well as friends, and thieves as well as
honest men, and unguarded treasure oft
times tempts even the upright.

Nod {sirdling and taking the old man by
the hand) : Old friend, old friend, the wis-
dom of the timid is with thee as it was with
as all in times past. Our walls challenge
the enemy and our locks invite the thief.
This is the day of new things ; this is the day
of the wisdom of Finn.

{Re-enter Steivard, ivith one captive).

Nod : Hast thou loosed them ?



68 THE MASQUE OF FINN

Steward : Aye, my lord, but not this fel-
low. He is the murderer.

Nod : Him too. One murder is not bet-
tered by another. Prisoner, you are free.
Remember this day when thy heart is hot
and thy hand raised to strike. Go, help
prepare my banquet.

Prisoner : My lord and master from
henceforth.

Nod {to Steward) : Cause the dungeon to
be washed and cleansed and let the sun and
wind through it and let it be a playing
ground for children. For if Rath Nod has
been in the past a byeword over all Leinster
for penuriousness, henceforth it will be
famous through time for generosity. And
if any ask you the cause of this great
change, tell them that I have been with
Finn. {Exit Steward, Old Councillor, and
Prisoner. Finn starts to enter here).

Wife : Is he then so great and noble as
thou sayest ?

Nod {turns round impetuously) : If I had
a thousand tongues time would fail me to
celebrate his excellence and praise him as
he deserves. Such a one as he there has not



THE MASQUE OF FINN 69

been, nor will there be till the world's end.
The wisdom of the ancient times is in him
and the wisdom of times to come Sage, seer,
poet, prophet, yet a man moving amongst
men, kind, gentle, considerate, and compas-
sionate. Lo he comes. {Enter Finn and
com f anions).

Nod : My dear lord, master, and friend,
I bid thee welcome to Rath Nod.

CoNAN Mael : Aye, friend, but this time
thou fearest not the rope.

Nod : Nay, Conan Mael, there is no fear
in me now, since I have been with Finn.

{Music here to end).

Finn {to Nod's Wife) : Gentle lady, as I
promised, thy husband is restored to thee
safe and well.

Nod's Wife : Aye, my lord, he is re-
turned in the fulness of youth and wisdom.
But, my lord, I knew in my spirit that you
would return this day, and have a feast pre-
pared if thou wouldst enter.

Finn : Aye, let us feast {turns to Nod's
Wife), but first lead me in to look upon thy

(D 448) ' p



70 THE MASQUE OF FINN

child on whom I poured water and to whom
I gave my blessing.

{Exeunt omnes to house, except Conan).

CoNAN Mael {alone and soliloquizing) :
These Fians are, in my opinion, no better
than vain-glorious fools; and, what is
worse, infecting with their own folly anyone
who hath the misfortune to fall into their
company. Even I, Conan Mael, reputed
amongst the Gael to be a man of understand-
ing, have lost a portion of my good sense
since I began to associate with them. In
body I am indeed much increased, but in
mind, I fear, sorely diminished. Here now
they have gathered in a fresh recruit to their
army of fools. They find an industrious,
sober, and early-rising farmer, an excellent,
sensible, and respectable, most respectable
young man : getting on too, and rising in
the world. And you see what they have
made of him : a madman : just a wild raving
lunatic : ' Down with my walls, smash my
locks and open every door, empty my prison.'
Henceforth nothing but hunting {sounds of
revelry within) shouting and feasting and
tearing of harp springs, industry and thrift
and good sense all gone to the winds. I



THE MASQUE OF FINN 71

must quit the society of these mad men or
they will make me as mad as themselves. I
mean — ah — to-morrow {shouting within),
for there seems to be a fine feast forward
to-night, of which I think I must partake.
(Smacks lips). They are as mad truly as
hares in March : yet — ah : — they are good
company nevertheless. They lack wit truly ;
but that, I think, I can supply. (Clinking
of glasses within, listens well pleased, and
exit with rapidity).



CURTAIN.



PART III
THE TRANSFORMATION OF FINN



THE TRANSFORMATION OF FINN.

{By the Lake on Slieve Gullion, with rocks,
etc. arranged).

{This efisode should he introduced by the
harfs flaying the Coulin right through;
and where music is shown farts of the
Coulin should he flayed. Finn enters
running; he fauses and shouts hack as
to his men).

Finn {enter L.) : 'Twas here I saw it?
{Music ceases). A wonder of the world. Jet
black, swifter than the wind, feet of silver,
antlers of shining gold. Ho ! there ! Oscur !
Ossian ! What, silence ! Ossian ! Again
silence ! Bran, Sceolan. {Enter Fairy from
behind rock). Even my hounds have de-
serted me. {Ea;it running and calling his
hounds; he stofs about seventy yards away.
Music — a few bars till Fairy sfeaks).

{Enter Fairy).

75



76 THE MASQUE OF FINN

Fairy : In the phantom form of a deer
with feet of silver and horns of gold, which
greatly aroused the desire of his simple
heart, have I lured the son of Cumall alone,
to this, my enchanted land, to teach him a
deeper wisdom. {Finn looks about him for
hounds and i eturns slowly). In tribulation
shall he be steeped and in woes shall he be
washed ere he leaves my holy mountain. In
i^y grey enchanted lake shall I plunge him,
the tear-sustained Ocean of Humanity fed
for ever with the weeping of the world. His
moments there shall be centuries and his
time two thousand years. Such is my
power ! He comes ! alone ! For even his
hounds have I separated from him. (Sits
in an attitude of grief).

{Enter Finn).

Finn : Unluckiest of days ! For I have
lost that wondrous prize, and even my
hounds that never before failed to answer
my call have left me — nor is one of all my
men within sight or hearing; and I am
alone in a strange, strange, land ; wild, un-
real, like a dream.

Fairy : Alas ! Alas ! What shall I do ?



THE MASQUE OF FINN 77

Finn (aside) : A lady, young, beautiful,
weeping. (To her). fairest of all the
women of the world despite thy tears, let me
know the cause of thy sorrow and I pledge
thee the word of the Fian Captain of all
Erin, that who'er has wronged thee, him will
I pursue with my vengeance even to the ends
of the earth.

Fairy : Noble hero, I weep for no wrong
done to me by man. I weep for the loss of
a jewel, a ring of marvellous beauty and sur-
passing powder. It I lost long since in this
grey sad lake, and, with it, all the joy and
happiness of my life. And here I sit and
weep remembering it, and all that I have
lost.

Finn (advances, raises her) : O Lady, clad
in a beauty as of the night with stars, weep
no more; I shall recover thee thy ring. I
am Finn, high chief of the Fianna of Erin.
Many have been my exploits. The depths
of the waters are not more obscure to me
than this earth on which I walk. (Music
here till Fairy speaks again). Every nook
of this grey — sad — [Pause. To himself).
What a wailing in the sound of its waves !



78 THE MASQUE OF FINN

(Resumes). Every cranny of this grey, sad,
lake, I shall explore, seeking thy lost
treasure, questing as the hound quests.
Lady, I shall bring thee thy ring.

{Sad music here — The Coulin. Finn
climbs rock, starts astonished, pauses^
'plunges head foremost into the lake).

Fairy : Finn, my hero, if I hurt thee,
it is for thy good and through thee for the
good of all Ireland. Thou shalt emerge like
the Sun, O Finn, and with thee all my far
scattered children. (Turns towards the lake
and waves magic wand and sings or intones).

Fairy's Song.

Sound the depths. Hero of Ireland !
Sound the abysses, Child of the Gael !
Brave, bright, joyous, Son of the Morning,
Now let the Gloom, let the darkness close
thee round.



Man
Man
Free



be a woman, learn of her weakness,
be a child, learn of his wants,
be a slave. Proud, be degraded.



Star of the morning, know the black night.



THE MASQUE OF FINN 79

Squanderer of Erin's gold and silver 1
Pass through Erin's Cities, clad in rags;
Outcast, homeless, comrade with the home-
less !
Drink the bitter cup to the last dregs.

Know it all, son of Cool, son of Basna !
Hero-hunter, peerless Captain of a clan,
Rise again ! Chief — not of the Fians,
Rise again ! Leader of the Sons of Man.

(Ea^it Fairy. Music here till old Finn is
seated. Enter Finn behind rock, old, de-
crepit. As Finn enters, companions start
to enter almost one hundred yards off. Finn
sits. Enter Fians, running and shouting,
'' Finn,'"' Finn").

OssiAN : Silence 1 Surely we saw him on
this mountain. But here by the lake is a
very ancient fisherman. Ancient fisherman,
hast thou seen a hunter with two dogs pass
this way ? {No answer. Ossian repeats the
question).

Finn (whispers) : Describe him to me.

Ossian : A man of great stature, swift
and strong and impetuous, golden yellow
curling hair upon his head.



80 THE MASQUE OF FINN

Finn (whispers) : Nay, I know of none
such.

OssiAN : Come away. The extremity of
old age hath dulled the understanding of
this ancient man. Come away. Let us
circle the entire lake. " Finn."

[Eoceunt all, save Nod, who in the mean-
time has been coming close to and scanning
the old man. He now draws up to him and
kneels weeping before him).

Nod : O my dear lord and master. Is it
thou? What is this that hath overtaken
thee? (Listens to Finn). The fairy be-
guiled thee to search the mighty depths.

Nod (calls) : Ossian ! Conan Mael !
Oscur ! (To Finn). Me, too, in my fiery
youth she beguiled hither. In my face she
dashed with her hands the bitter water of
her enchanted wave. That was why I knew
thee, Finn, when thy nearest and dearest
did not. Hark ! They are coming. Master,
is there any magic rite, whereby we may
undo this enchantment.

Finn : There is. Closer. I shall tell
thee. (Whispers with gesticulation. The
Fians return).



THE MASQUE OF FINN 81

OscuR : Why call'st us? {ISIod stands
over his lord and addresses them).

Nod : Chiefs of the Fians, know that
this wasted and decrepit ancient is indeed
our dear lord and master, transformed by
the Fairy {the Fians moan) who persuaded
him, all unwitting, to plunge into this grey
lake searching for her ring. There she
wreaked upon him her will, causing him to
drink of the waters of woe and to live in a
few moments through thousands of years.
And now — it is his command — ^you will tear
asunder this mountain in which the en-
chantress hath her palace and compel her
to give him to drink the waters of youth,
life, and immortality — the dancing, shin-
ing waters of never-ending Life. {Music
here to end).

{The Fians, with an angry shout, rush
at and tear asunder the mountain; the fairy
is revealed holding a goblet in her hand.
Finn is carried to her by his men. He drinks
and sta\rts up young and strong, nobly at-,
tired, but with silver hair. The Fian^
shout rapturously).

OssiAN : But see ! His hair is like shin-
ing silver and must be restored.



82 THE MASQUE OF FINN

Fairy : That also, will I restore if he so
wishes.

Finn : Companions, what say you ?

All : Nay — let it so remain.

Finn : So it shall.

Fairy : Son of Cumall, a word with
thee.

Finn : Enchantress, what would'st
thou ?

(Finn and Fians kneel or bend the head).

Fairy :

Fian Chief, in dreams' delusions

Thou hast trodden all the depths
Where the sons of Man defeated

Wander broken and oppressed.

It is thine to hunt the red deer,
Thine to lead victorious hosts,

Thine to scatter joy around thee
Life and light and pride and hope.

Be it thine, henceforth, my hero.
To uphold the weak and frail.

To be kind and just and gentle
To the lowliest of the Gael.



THE MASQUE OF FINN 88

Prince of hunters, feasters, fighters,
Seek thee nobler spheres of fame,

Be the heart and soul of Erin,
Be the Manhood of the Gael.

Let thy Spirit with their Spirit,
Mingle till some mighty birth,

Brings the Irish hero saviour
Of the nations of the earth.




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Online LibraryStandish O'GradyFinn and his companions / by Standish O'Grady → online text (page 9 of 9)