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So Cuchulain hastened his father, and Sualtach bade him farewell, and slipped away to Emain Macha. But when he found the warriors were asleep, his old lethargy came over Sualtach, and he forgot the message of Cuchulain, and under Emain’s ramparts he took up his abode. “Here will I wait in safety,” he thought; “and when the King and chiefs awake, I, with the first of them, will march to war with Meave. I will not be behind, but all alone I have not the heart to fight.”


No sooner had Sualtach gone his way than Cuchulain entered a forest close at hand and out of an oak sapling cut a four-pronged pole, which with one sweep of his swift sword he cleared of all its twigs and leaves and small branches. With the finger-tips of his right hand he hurled it out behind his chariot, going at full pace, so that it sank into the ground in the middle of the stream, and stood up just above the water. Upon the pole he flung a ring or twisted collar of young birch, and on the ring he carved his name and a message in secret runes. Just at that moment two young men of the host of Meave, gone out before the troops to scout, came near and watched him.


No time had they to turn and flee, for with one leap Cuchulain was upon them, and both their heads struck off. These and the two heads of their charioteers were soon impaled on the four points of the forked pole; but the chariots he turned back, driving them towards the host of Meave. When the warriors saw the chariots return with headless men, they thought the army of Ulster must be close before them, waiting their coming at the ford. Therefore a great company of them marched forward to the stream, ready and armed for battle, but nothing did they see but a tall pole that stood upright in the swirling waters of the stream, bearing a rude carved collar on its top, and on the point of every branching prong a bleeding new-slain head.

・strikeは「叩く」の意味で有名ですが,「剣で斬り落とす」の意味でstrike offが使えるようです。

“Go now,” said Ailill to his man, “fetch me the collar here.” But all in vain he tried to read the words engraven on the ring. “What, Fergus, are the words inscribed upon this ring?” said he. “Who could have written them? A strange thing, verily, it seems to me, that two brave scouts could have been slain like this, well-nigh within the sight of all our men. A marvel, I confess, this thing to me.”



“Not that it is at which I marvel,” Fergus said; “I marvel rather that with one sweep of the sword this tree was felled and cleaned of all its twigs. See, it is written on the ring that with one hand this pole was thrown, and fixed firmly in its bed; it is written here, moreover, that the men of Erin are forbidden to pass this ford, until in exactly the same manner it is plucked up again.”

“One man only in the army can do that, namely, you yourself, O Fergus!” answered Meave. “Now help us in this strait and pluck the pole out of the river’s bed for us.”
“Bring me a chariot, then, and I will see what I can do.”








A chariot was brought and Fergus mounted into it. With all his force he dashed down into the water, and with his finger-tips in passing by he tried to draw the pole out of its place. But all in vain; the pole stood fast, and though he tugged and strained, so that the chariot flew into little bits and fragments, he could not stir or move the pole an inch. One chariot after another he essayed, and all of them went into splinters, but not one whit the looser was the pole.




At last Meave said: “Give over, Fergus; enough of my people’s chariots are broken with this game. Get your own chariot and pull out the pole. Right well I guess your purpose; for you have in mind to hamper and delay the progress of our host till Ulster be aroused and come to meet us; but that your guidance led us all astray, we might be even now in Ulster’s border-lands.”



Then Fergus’s own mighty chariot was brought, all made of iron, studded o’er with nails, heavy and massive in its make. Upright he stood in it, and with a powerful, superhuman pull he wrenched with one hand’s finger-tips the pole from out its bed, and handed it to Ailill.


Attentively and long the King considered it, and then he asked, “Whom thinkest thou, O Fergus, it might be who threw this pole into the river-bed and slaughtered our two scouts? Was it Conall the victorious, or Celtchar, or even Conor himself? Surely it was some brave, well-seasoned man, some warrior of old renown, who did a deed like this!” “I think,” said Fergus, “that not one of these three heroes would have come alone from Ulster, unattended by their bodyguard and troops.” “Whom, then, thinkest thou was here?” persisted Ailill; “who could have done this deed?” “I think,” said Fergus, “that it was Cuchulain, Ulster’s Hound.”








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