Saturday, March 16, 2013

An Irish story for St. Patrick's day, by Asa Leininger



An Irish Battle
by Asa Leininger
  Long ago in Ireland there lived a man whose name was Daniel McHarris.  He had red hair, a small nose, and was a big, strong, tall fellow.  He lived in a small log cabin in a great forest in the southern part of Ireland which, was at that time called Munster.  Daniel’s cabin was made from great big oak trees that he had felled with his shining double headed ax.  It was a magnificent tool and weapon.  The roof was also made of logs that he had laid closely packed together slanting upward to a beam that he had laid at the peak of the walls, going across the whole length of the house and more.  Then to make sure no water would get in he placed clay in all the cracks of the roof and walls.
  The interior of the house was snug and warm and had a big main room with comfy furniture and a huge fireplace which was built from bricks and mortar.  The house had three more rooms: one; the kitchen, two; the dining room, which was between the kitchen and the living room, and three; the bedroom that was through a doorway in the main room.  The bedroom was furnished nicely with a small table that held a large candle that lit the whole room.  The bed was firm, made of oak wood and inlaid with sturdy oak beams, that of course, supported the feather filled mattress, and the thick blankets on top of it.  The door to the house led into the main room and was guarded by a huge wolf- hound who always went with his master to protect him from any possible danger.  The wolfhound, big enough and strong enough to defeat the largest wolf in Ireland, was trained to kill any unfriendly strangers. 

  It was the year 1601 and a cool October evening and Daniel was sitting in the doorway to the house stroking his wolfhound Samson’s soft fur when they both heard a startling noise, they quickly looked to where the sound was coming from.  It was only an owl.  Daniel said in his deep burly accent to the massive dog at his side, “I guess we're all a little jumpy these days, considerin’ we’re in a war and all.”
The wolfhound barked in reply.
  The English, hungry for power had been trying to take over Ireland for over 400 years now and had control already of most of the eastern part of it.  Ireland was now struggling to stay free from the rule of England and it would be only a couple more years until the English finally took over Ulster and had control over all Ireland.  Nonetheless the Irish didn’t give up the fight, they kept on hoping to stay free.
“Well,” said Daniel, “They say there’s gonna be a big fight the day after t’morrow, and if there is, I want to be well rested and ready t’ fight.”  He went inside without another word and went to bed.

  The next day Daniel woke up and went to the doorway to smell the fresh air.  It was warm and he was ready to start the day.  He looked to his side and expected to see Samson, but instead saw nothing.  Samson was gone.  “Samson?”  he called, “Samson?”  then out of some bushes jumped the giant wolfhound carrying two of the biggest hares you ever saw.  Daniel exclaimed in sheer relief, “You scared me there boy!” 
Samson just barked in reply.
  Daniel asked, “You brought breakfast?” then continued, “Good boy.”  Daniel went inside and cooked one rabbit while Samson hungrily devoured the other outside the front door.  After breakfast, Daniel did the daily chores.  First he batted the rug which was made from a bearskin, then he dusted the furniture, did the dishes, and took the ash from the fireplace and dumped it out behind a tree.  Daniel rolled the now empty water-barrel to the creek for his daily supply of water, filled it to the brim and took it back to the house.    Now it was hunting time. 
  Daniel went outside carrying his massive bow with his quiver slung on his back and saxe knife at his side.  He was going to check his traps for small animals so that he could trade their furs, and get some meat with his bow.
  When Daniel was in the forest he and Samson saw a great big 11 prong buck nibbling at some leaves and berries.  Daniel pulled an arrow from his quiver slowly and silently and drew the string back slowly and steadily.  He let the string go and there was a great hissing noise as the arrow whipped across the forest.  There was a loud thwack and the buck was running away.  But, before the buck could get thirty yards Samson was on top of it.  Samson clung on to the leaping buck and clawed and bit ferociously.  Then, all of a sudden it was over and the buck lay dead on the forest floor.  Samson stood over top of the massive buck, his chest heaving.  Daniel let out a sigh of relief and he skinned the big buck with his saxe knife, cut off giant slabs of meat and carried them home along with the skin across the green floor of the foggy wild forest. 
  It was dinnertime when they got back to the cabin.  Daniel prepared and salted some of the meat and then threw it into a pot full of boiling water and sliced some potatoes and carrots and onions and threw them in too.  While it was cooking on top of the wood burning stove, he cut a big slab of meat and threw it to the enormous wolfhound that lay outside his door.  “There ya r’ Samson.” he said, “T’morrow’s a big day y’know, big battle and all.”  Daniel went inside and ate his meal heartily, then came to the door for a breath of fresh air.  “Ahh th’ smell a’ fresh air, i’nt it lovely.”
Samson barked.
“You get a good nights sleep now, I’ll be dependn’ on you if I get into trouble.”
Samson barked in reply.
“Thanks boy, I knew I could count on you old lad.” said Daniel.  Then he went inside to get his much needed sleep.  He would need as much sleep as he could get, for the Battle of Kinsale was going to be one of the fiercest battles in Ireland.
  Daniel woke up the next morning and had breakfast, Samson did too.  “I hate this war!”  exclaimed Daniel, “All this fight, I wish we could just settle this peacefully, but those awful Brits just run round like mad men all day.  I won’t be ruled by some half-brained English King either.  Ireland must stay free!”
Samson howled in agreement.
  They were walking down the path to a clearing where they would meet up with some old friends.  They came to it and there stood two men.  The men had brought an extra horse with them for Daniel.  Daniel walked up to a brawny, muscular one and said “Good t’ see you again Fergus.”  He then turned to the shorter, scrawny man named John and greeted him too.  Then they mounted their horses and rode off at a steady trot so Samson didn’t get too worn out.
  Awhile later they came around a bend in the road, and saw two giant forces; one made up of 1200 English, and the other, of 6000 Irish and 3500 Spaniards who were allied with the Irish to defend their Catholic beliefs against the Protestant Brits.  Both forces were tense, ready for battle, staring at the other with contempt.  Daniel, Fergus, and John rode over to a little clearing, dismounted their horses, and let them graze.  “This is it.” said Fergus. 
“Indeed,”  replied John.
“Well, whatever happens today I want to say, that you two are some of the best friends I’ve got, and I just want t’ thank you for that.”  Daniel said somberly. 
  They walked over to a group of footmen and readied themselves for battle.  Their teeth were clenched tight.  their swords and axes and spears were gleaming in the sunlight.  The horns blasted in their ears and the next thing they knew they were charging at the enemy, running at full speed, yelling as loudly as they could.  The weapons clashed.  All of a sudden they were in combat; raging through the battlefield, striking down English soldiers left and right like all the other Irishmen and Spaniards.  Daniel soon lost sight of Fergus and John in the heat of the battle.  Daniel kept on, slashing and cutting with his giant ax; then all of a sudden he fell to the ground.  An English soldier had hit him in the back of the head with the pommel of his sword and was now approaching him sword held high.  Daniel could barely see him but he knew what was about to happen.  But before the soldier could bring the sword down, Samson leaped on him knocking the man down on his side.  It was a ferocious fight.  Samson was circling the soldier who  dropped his sword and was now ready for hand-to-hand combat.  Samson leaped again knocking the man over, but in doing so, he had let the soldier get a blow in on his head.  The blow stunned the great wolfhound, but didn’t do any real damage.  Samson recovered, leaped again and sent the soldier sprawling five feet back and jumped on the wounded man, slashed with his claws, and bit.  It was over.  The soldier lay lifeless on the ground. 
  The great dog walked over to his master and licked him, reviving him from his unconsciousness.  “Uhhh.” Daniel groaned, then continued “Samson?  You saved me?  Good boy!”
Samson whined in reply.
“I think you’re right  boy.”  Daniel said, “We’d best be getting out a’ here”.  He got up and they fought their way through the battlefield and back to the horses.  Daniel mounted the horse John had brought for him and he rode away, the giant wolfhound following close behind. 
  A while after they had arrived at the cabin John and Fergus reigned their horses in outside the front door and dismounted.  “I’m glad to see you’re alive.”  said Daniel.  The two men were sorely worn out and had a look of utter disgust on their face.  “I take it the battle didn’t go too well.”  stated Daniel.
“That’s an understatement.”  replied Fergus
  “The English scored a decisive victory.”  said John
“Well,” Daniel decided, “The least I could do for you two is get you some coffee and potato soup”.
  Both of the other men replied at the same time, “Oh, Yes Please”
  So they all went inside and had some potato soup and coffee and tried to keep their mind off the battle.  The rest of the day was lovely, considering there had been a terrible battle earlier.  The emerald isle was truly beautiful that day, with a slight mist covering the green trees whose roots went deep down into the mossy, fertile earth.  All of this was surrounded by a pure azure sky that was lit by the sunset of red, pink, purple, and orange.


THE END

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