THE STORY OF FINGAL
 "CATHULLIN sat by TURA's wall, by the tree of the rustling sound.
His spear leaned against a rock. His shield lay on grass, by his
side. And as he thus sat deep in thought a scout came running in
all haste and cried, 'Arise! Cathullin, arise! I see the ships
of the north. Many, chief of men, are the foe! Many the heroes
of the sea-born Swaran!'
"Then to the scout the blue-eyed chief replied, 'Thou ever
tremblest. Thy fears have increased the foe. It is Fingal King
of deserts who comes with aid to green Erin of streams.'
" 'Nay, I beheld their chief,' replied the scout, 'tall as a
glittering rock. His spear is a blasted pine. His shield the
rising moon. He bade me say to thee, "Let dark Cathullin
" 'No,' replied the blue-eyed chief, 'I never yield to mortal man.
Dark Cathullin shall be great or dead.' "
Then Cathullin bade the scout summon his warriors to council.
And when they were gathered there was much talk, for some would
give battle at once and some delay until Fingal, the King of
Morven, should come to aid them. But Cathullin himself was eager
to fight, so forward they marched to meet the foe. And the sound
of their going was "as the rushing of a stream of foam when the
thunder is traveling above, and dark-brown night sits on half the
hill." To the camp of Swaran was the sound carried, so that he
sent a messenger to view the foe.
 "He went. He trembling, swift returned. His eyes rolled wildly
round. His heart beat high against his side. His words were
faltering, broken, slow. 'Arise, son of ocean! arise, chief of
the dark brown shields! I see the dark, the mountain stream of
battle. Fly, King of ocean! Fly!'
" 'When did I fly?' replied the King. 'When fled Swaran from the
battle of spears? When did I shrink from danger, chief of the
little soul? Shall Swaran fly from a hero? Were Fingal himself
before me my soul should not darken in fear. Arise, to battle my
thousands! pour round me like the echoing main. Gather round the
bright steel of your King; strong as the rocks of my land, that
meet the storm with joy, and stretch their dark pines to the
"Like autumn's dark storms, pouring from two echoing hills,
towards each other approached the heroes. Like two deep streams
from high rocks meeting, mixing, roaring on the plain; loud,
rough and dark in battle meet Lochlin and Innis-fail. chief
mixes his strokes with chief, and man with man; steel clanging
sounds on steel. Helmets are cleft on high. Blood bursts and
smokes around. Strings murmur on the polished yews. Darts rush
along the sky, spears fall like the circles of light which gild
the face of night. As the noise of the troubled ocean when roll
the waves on high, as the last peal of thunder in heaven, such is
the din of war. Though Cormac's hundred bards were there to give
the fight to song, feeble was the voice of a hundred bards to
send the deaths to future times. For many were the deaths of
heroes; wide poured the blood of the brave."
Then above the clang and clamor of dreadful battle we hear the
mournful dirge of minstrels wailing o'er the dead.
"Mourn, ye sons of song, mourn! Weep on the rocks
 of roaring
winds, O maid of Inistore! Bend thy fair head over the waves,
thou lovelier than the ghost of the hills, when it moves, in a
sunbeam at noon, over the silence of Morven. He is fallen! thy
youth is low! pale beneath the sword of Cathullin. No more shall
valor raise thy love to match the blood of kings. His gray dogs
are howling at home, they see his passing ghost. His bow is in
the hall unstrung. No sound is on the hill of his hinds."
Then once again, the louder for the mourning pause, we hear the
din of battle.
"As roll a thousand waves to the rocks, so Swaran's host came on.
As meets a rock a thousand waves, so Erin met Swaran of spears.
Death raises all his voices around, and mixes with the sounds of
shields. Each hero is a pillar of darkness; the sword a beam of
fire in his hand. The field echoes from wing to wing, as a
hundred hammers that rise by turn, on the red son of the
But now the day is waning. To the noise and horror of battle the
mystery of darkness is added. Friend and foe are wrapped in the
dimness of twilight.
But the fight was not ended, for neither Cathullin nor Swaran had
gained the victory, and ere gray morning broke the battle was
And in this second day's fight Swaran was the victor, but while
the battle still raged white-sailed ships appeared upon the sea.
It was Fingal who came, and Swaran had to fight a second foe.
"Now from the gray mists of the ocean, the white-sailed ships of
Fingal appeared. High is the grove of their masts, as they nod
by turns on the rolling wave."
Swaran saw them from the hill on which he fought, and turning
from the pursuit of the men of Erin, he marched to meet Fingal.
But Cathullin, beaten and ashamed, fled to hide himself:
"bending, weeping, sad and slow, and
 dragging his long spear
behind, Cathullin sank in Cromla's wood, and mourned his fallen
friends. He feared the face of Fingal, who was wont to greet him
from the fields of renown."
But although Cathullin fled, between Fingal and Swaran battle was
renewed till darkness fell. A second day dawned, and again and
again the hosts closed in deadly combat until at length Fingal
and Swaran met face to face.
"There was a clang of arms! their every blow like the hundred
hammers of the furnace. Terrible is the battle of the kings;
dreadful the look of their eyes. Their dark brown shields are
cleft in twain. Their steel flies, broken from their helms.
"They fling their weapons down. Each rushes to his hero's grasp.
Their sinewy arms bend round each other: they turn from side to
side, and strain and stretch their large and spreading limbs
below. But when the pride of their strength arose they shook the
hills with their heels. Rocks tumble from their places on high;
the green-headed bushes are overturned. At length the strength
of Swaran fell; the king of the groves is bound."
The warriors of Swaran fled then, pursued by the sons of Fingal,
till the hero bade the fighting cease, and darkness once more
fell over the dreadful field.
"The clouds of night come rolling down. Darkness rests on the
steeps of Cromla. The stars of the north arise over the rolling
of Erin's waves: they shew their heads of fire, through the
flying mist of heaven. A distant wind roars in the wood. Silent
and dark is the plain of death."
Then through the darkness is heard the sad song of minstrels
mourning for the dead. But soon the scene changes and mourning
"The heroes gathered to the feast. A thousand aged oaks are
burning to the wind. The souls of warriors
 brighten with joy.
But the king of Lochlin (Swaran) is silent. Sorrow reddens in
his eyes of pride. He remembered that he fell.
"Fingal leaned on the shield of his fathers. His gray locks
slowly waved on the wind, and glittered to the beam of night. He
saw the grief of Swaran, and spoke to the first of the bards.
" 'Raise, Ullin, raise the song of peace. O soothe my soul from
war. Let mine ear forget in the sound the dismal noise of arms.
Let a hundred harps be near to gladden the king of Lochlin. He
must depart from us with joy. None ever went sad from Fingal.
The lightening of my sword is against the strong in fight.
Peaceful it lies by my side when warriors yield in war.' "
So at the bidding of Fingal the minstrel sang, and soothed the
grief of Swaran. And when the music ceased Fingal spoke once
" 'King of Lochlin, let thy face brighten with gladness, and thine
ear delight in the harp. Dreadful as the storm of thine ocean
thou hast poured thy valor forth; thy voice has been like the
voice of thousands when they engage in war.
" 'Raise, to-morrow, raise thy white sails to the wind. Or dost
thou choose the fight? that thou mayest depart renowned like the
sun setting in the west.' "
Then Swaran chose to depart in peace. He had no more will to
fight against Fingal, so the two heroes swore friendship
together. Then once again Fingal called for the song of
"A hundred voices at once arose, a hundred harps were strung.
They sang of other times; the mighty chiefs of other years." And
so the night passed till "morning trembles with the beam of the
east; it glimmers on Cromla's side. Over Lena is heard the horn
of Swaran. The sons of the ocean gather around. Silent and sad
 rise on the wave. The blast of Erin is behind their sails.
White as the mist of Morven they float along the sea."
Thus Swaran and his warriors departed, and Fingal, calling his
men together, set forth to hunt. And as he hunted far in the
woods he met Cathullin, still hiding, sad and ashamed. But
Fingal comforted the beaten hero, reminding him of past
victories. Together they returned to Fingal's camp, and there
the heroes sang and feasted until "the soul of Cathullin rose.
The strength of his arm returned. Gladness brightened along his
face. Thus the night passed away in song. We brought back the
morning with joy.
"Fingal arose on the heath and shook his glittering spear. He
moved first towards the plain of Lena. We followed in all our
" 'Spread the sail,' said the King, 'seize the winds as they pour
"We rose on the wave with songs. We rushed with joy through the
foam of the deep."
Thus the hero returned to his own land.
NOTE.—There is no book of Ossian specially edited for children.
Later they may like to read the Century Edition of Macpherson's
Ossian, edited by William Sharpe. Stories about Ossian will be
found among the many books of Celtic tales now published.