When no wind blows and
the surface of the sea is clear as crystal, the beauties of
Land-under-Waves are revealed to human eyes. It is a fair country
with green vales through which flow silvern streams, and the pebbles
in the beds of the streams are flashing gems of varied hues. There
are deep forests that glitter in eternal sunshine, and bright
flowers that never fade. Rocks are of gold, and the sand is dust of
On a calm morning, in
May, the Feans, who were great warriors in ancient Scotland, being
the offspring of gods and goddesses, were sitting beside the Red
Cataract, below which salmon moved slowly, resting themselves ere
they bean to leap towards the higher waters of the stream. The Sun
was shining bright, and the sea was without a ripple. With eyes of
wonder the Feans gazed on the beauties of Land-under-Waves. None
spoke, so deeply were they absorbed. They saw the silver sands, the
rocks of gold, the gleaming forests, the beautiful flowers, and the
bright streams that flow over beds covered with flashing genes.
As they gazed a boat
was seen on the sea, and for a time the Feans were not sure whether
it moved above the surface or below it. In time, however, as it drew
near they saw that it was on the surface. The boat came towards the
place where they sat, and they saw that a woman pulled the oars.
All the Feans rose to
their feet. Finn, the King of the Feans, and Goll, his chief
warrior, had keen sight, and when the boat was still afar off they
saw that the woman had great beauty. She pulled two oars, which
parted the sea, and the ripples seemed to set in motion all the
trees and flowers of Land-under-Waves.
The boat came
quickly, and when it grounded on the beach, the loveliest woman that
ever eyes gazed upon rose out of it. Her face was mild and touched
with a soft sadness. She was a stranger to the Feans, who knew well
that she had come from afar, and they wondered whence she came and
what were the tidings she brought.
The young woman
walked towards Finn and saluted him, and for a time Finn and all the
Feans were made silent by her exceeding great beauty. At length Finn
spoke to her. "You are welcome, fair young stranger," he said. "Tell
us what tribe you are from, and what is the purpose of your journey
to the land of the Feans."
Softly spoke the
young woman, saying: "I am the daughter of King Under-Waves, and I
shall tell you why I have come here. There is not a land beneath the
sun which I have not searched for Finn and his brave warriors."
Finn said, "will you not tell us why you have searched through the
lands that are far and near, seeking to find us?"
"Then you are Finn
and no other," spoke the maiden.
"I am indeed Finn,
and these who stand near me are my warriors." It was thus that Finn
made answer, speaking modestly, and yet not without pride.
"I have come to ask
for your help," said the maiden, "and I shall have need of it very
soon. Mine enemy pursues me even now."
"I promise to help
you, fair princess," Finn assured her. "Tell me who it is that
Said the maiden: "He
who pursues me over the ocean is a mighty and fearless warrior. His
name is Dark Prince-of-Storm, and he is the son of the White King of
Red-Shields. He means to seize the kingdom of my father and make me
his bride. I have defied him, saying: `Finn shall take me to my
home; he shall be my saviour. Great as is your prowess, you cannot
fight and beat Finn and his heroic band."
Oscar, the young hero
and the grandson of Finn, spoke forth and said: "Even if Finn were
not here, the Dark Prince would not dare to seize you."
As he spoke a shadow
fell athwart the sea, blotting out the vision of Land-under-Waves.
The Feans looked up, and they saw on the skyline a mighty warrior
mounted on a blue-grey steed of ocean; white was its mane and white
its tail, and white the foam that was driven from its nostrils and
The warrior came
swiftly towards the shore, and as his steed rode forward with great
fury, waves rose and broke around it. The breath from its panting
nostrils came over the sea like gusts of tempest.
On the warrior's head
was a flashing helmet, and on his left arm a ridged shield. In his
right hand he grasped a large heavy sword, and when he waved it on
high it flashed bright like lightning.
Faster than a
mountain torrent galloped his horse. The Feans admired the Dark
Prince. He was a great and mighty warrior who bore himself Iike a
The steed came to
land, and when it did so, the Dark Prince leapt from its back and
strode up the beach.
Finn spoke to the
fair daughter of the King Under-Waves and said: "Is this the prince
of whom you have spoken?"
Said the princess:
"It is he and no other. Oh, protect me now, for great is his power!"
"Goll, the old
warrior, and Oscar, the youthful hero, sprang forward and placed
themselves between the Dark Prince and the fair princess. But the
Dark Prince scorned to combat with him. He went towards Finn, who
was unarmed. Goll was made angry at once. He seized a spear and
flung it at the stranger. It did not touch his body, but it split
the ridged shield right through the middle. Then Oscar raised his
spear and flung it from his left hand. It struck the warrior's steed
and slew it. This was accounted a mighty deed, and Ossian, the bard
of the Feans, and father of Oscar, celebrated it in a song which is
still sung in Scotland.
When the steed
perished, Dark Prince turned round with rage and fury, and called
for fifty heroes to combat against him. Then he said that he would
overcome all the Feans and take away the fair princess.
A great battle was
waged on the beach. The Dark Prince sprang upon the Feans, and
fought with fierceness and great strength.
At length Goll went
against him. Both fought with their swords alone, and never was seen
before such a furious combat. Strong was the arm of Goll, and
cunning the thrusts he gave. As he fought on, his battle power
increased, and at length he struck down and slew the Dark Prince.
Nor was ever such a hero overcome since the day when the Ocean Giant
When the Dark Prince
was slain, the wind fell and the sea was hushed, and the sun at
evening shone over the waters. Once again Land-under-Waves was
revealed in all its beauty.
The princess bade
farewell to all the Feans, and Finn went into a boat and went with
her across the sea until they reached the gates of Land-under-Waves.
The entrance to this wonderful land is a sea-cave on the Far Blue
Isle of Ocean. When Finn took leave of the princess, she made him
promise that if ever she had need of his help again, he would give
it to her freely and quickly.
A year and a day went
past, and then came a calm and beautiful morning. Once again the
Feans sat on the shore below the Red Cataract, gazing on the
beauties of Land-under-Waves. As they gazed, a boat came over the
sea, and there was but one person in it.
Said Oscar: "Who
comes hither? Is it the princess of Land-under-Waves once more?"
Finn looked seaward
and said: "No, it is not the princess who comes hither, but a young
The boat drew swiftly
towards the shore, and when the man was within call he hailed Finn
with words of greeting and praise.
"Who are you, and
whence conic you?" Finn asked.
Said the man: "I am
the messenger of the princess of Land-under-Waves. She is ill, and
seems ready to die."
There was great
sorrow among the Feans when they heard the sad tidings.
"What is your message
from the fair princess?" Finn asked.
Said the man: "She
bids you to remember your promise to help her in time of need."
"I have never
forgotten my promise," Finn told him, "and am ready now to fulfil
Said the man: "Then
ask Jeermit, the healer, to come with me so that he may give healing
to the Princess Under-Waves."
Finn made a sign to
Jeermit, and he rose up and went down the beach and entered the
boat. Then the boat went out over the sea towards the Far Blue Isle,
and it went swiftly until it reached the sea-cave through which one
must pass to enter Land-under-Waves.
Now Jeermit was the
fairest of all the members of the Fean band. His father was
Angus-the-Ever-Young, who conferred upon him the power to give
healing for wounds and sickness. Jeermit had knowledge of curative
herbs and life-giving waters, and he had the power, by touching a
sufferer, to prolong life until he found the means to cure.
Jeermit was taken
through the sea-cave of the Far Blue Isle, and for a time he saw
naught, so thick was the darkness; but he heard the splashing of
waves against the rocks. At length light broke forth, and the boat
grounded. Jeermit stepped out, and found himself on a broad level
plain. The boatman walked in front, and Jeermit followed him. They
went on and on, and it seemed that their journey would never end.
Jeermit saw a clump of red sphagnum moss, and plucked some and went
on. Ere long he saw another clump, and plucked some more. A third
time he came to a red moss clump, and from it too he plucked a
portion. The boatman still led on and on, yet Jeermit never felt
At length Jeermit saw
before him a golden castle. He spoke to the boatman, saying: "Whose
castle is that?"
Said the boatman: "It
is the castle of King Under-Waves, and the princess lies within."
Jeermit entered the
castle. He saw many courtiers with pale faces. None spoke: all were
hushed to silence with grief. The queen came towards him, and she
seized his right hand and led him towards the chamber in which the
dying princess lay.
Jeermit knelt beside
her, and when he touched her the power of his healing entered her
veins, and she opened her eyes. As soon as she beheld Jeermit of the
beans she smiled a sweet smile, and all who were in the chamber
"I feel stronger
already," the princess told Jeermit. "Great is the joy I feel to
behold you. But the sickness has not yet left me, and I feat I shall
"I have three
portions of red moss," said Jeermit. "If you will take them in a
drink they will heal you, because they are the three life drops of
"Alas!" the princess
exclaimed, "I cannot drink of any water now except from the cup of
the King of the Plain of Wonder."
Now, great as was
Jeermit's knowledge, he had never heard before of this magic cup.
"A wise woman has
told that if I get three draughts from this cup I shall be cured,"
said the princess. "She said also that when I drink I must swallow
the three portions of red moss from the Wide-Bare-Plain. The moss of
healing you have already found, O Jeermit. But no man shall ever
gain possession of the magic cup of the King of the Plain-of-Wonder,
and I shall not therefore get it, and must die."
Said Jeermit: "There
is not in the world above the sea, or the world below the sea, a
single man who will keep the cup from me. Tell me where dwells the
King of the Plain-of-Wonder. Is his palace far distant from here?"
"No, it is not far
distant," the princess told him. "Plain-of-Wonder is the next
kingdom to that of my father. The two kingdoms are divided by a
river. You may reach that river, O Jeermit, but you may never be
able to cross it."
Said Jeermit : "I now
lay healing spells upon you, and you shall live until I return with
the magic cup."
When he had spoken
thus, he rose up and walked out of the castle. The courtiers who had
been sad when he entered were merry as he went away, and those who
had been silent spoke one to another words of comfort and hope,
because Jeermit had laid healing spells upon the princess.
The King and the
Queen of Land-under-Waves bade the healer of the Feans farewell, and
wished him a safe and speedy journey.
Jeermit went on alone
in the direction of the Plain-of-Wonder. He went on and on until he
reached the river of which the princess had spoken. Then he walked
up and down the river bank searching for a ford, but he could not
"I cannot cross
over," he said aloud. "The princess has spoken truly."
As he spoke a little
brown man rose up out of the river. "Jeermit," he said, "you are now
in sore straits."
Said Jeermit: "Indeed
I am. You have spoken wisely."
"What would you give
to one who would help you in your trouble?"
"Whatever he may ask
"All I ask for," said
the brown man, "is your goodwill."
"That you get
freely," said Jeermit to him.
"I shall carry you
across the river," said the little man.
"You cannot do that."
"Yes, indeed I can."
He stretched forth
his hands and took Jeermit on his back, and walked across the river
with him, treading the surface as if it were hard ground.
As they crossed the
river they passed an island over which hovered a dark mist.
"What island is
that?" asked Jeermit.
"Its name," the brown
man told him, "is Cold Isle-of-the-Dead. There is a well on the
island, and the water of it is healing water."
They reached the
opposite bank, and the brown man said: "You are going to the palace
of King Ian of Wonder-Plain."
"You desire to obtain
the Cup of Healing."
"That is true."
"May you get it,"
said the brown man, who thereupon entered the river.
Ere he disappeared he
spoke again and said: "Know you where you now are?"
In the Kingdom of
Plain-of-Wonder," Jeermit said.
"That is true," said
the little brown man. "It is also Land-under-Mountains. This river
divides Land-under-Mountains from Land-under-Waves."
Jeermit was about to
ask a question, but ere he could speak the little brown man vanished
from before his eyes.
Jeermit went on and
on. There was no sun above him and yet all the land was bright. No
darkness ever comes to Land-under-Mountains, and there is no morning
there and no evening, but always endless day.
Jeermit went on and
on until he saw a silver castle with a roof of gleaming crystal. The
doors were shut, and guarded by armed warriors.
Jeermit blew a blast
on his horn, and called out, "Open and let me in."
A warrior went
towards him with drawn sword. Jeermit flung his spear and slew the
Then the doors of the
castle were opened and King Ian came forth.
"Who are you, and
whence come you?" he asked sternly.
"I am Jeermit," was
the answer he received.
Angus-the-Ever-Young, you are welcome," exclaimed the king. "Why did
you not send a message that you were coming? It is sorrowful to
think you have slain my greatest warrior."
Said Jeermit: "Give
him to drink of the water in the Cup of Healing."
"Bring forth the cup!
" the king called.
The cup was brought
forth, and the king gave it to Jeerinit, saying: "There is no virtue
in the cup unless it is placed in hands of either Angus or his son."
Jeermit touched the
slain warrior's lips with the cup. He poured drops of the water into
the man's mouth, and he sat up. Then he drank all the water in the
cup, and rose to his feet strong and well again, for his wound had
Said Jeermit to the
king: "I have come hither to obtain this cup, and will now take it
with me and go away."
"So be it," answered
the king. "I give you the cup freely. But remember that there is no
longer any healing in it, for my mighty warrior has drunk the magic
Jeermit was not too
well pleased when the King of Wonder-Plain spoke thus. "No matter,"
said he; "I shall take the cup with me."
"I will send a boat
to take you across the river and past the Cold-Isle-of-the-Dead,"
the king said.
Said Jeermit: "I
thank you, but I have no need of a boat."
"May you return
soon," the King said with a smile, for he believed that Jeermit
would never be able to cross the river or pass the
Jeermit bade the king
farewell and went away, as he had come, all alone. He went on and on
until he reached the river. Then he sat down, and gloomy thoughts
entered his mind. He had obtained the cup, but it was empty: he had
returned to the river and could not cross it.
"Alas!" he exclaimed
aloud, "my errand is fruitless. The cup is of no use to me, and I
cannot cross the river, and must needs return in shame to the King
As he spoke the
little brown man rose out of the river.
"You are again in
sore straits, Jeermit," he said.
"Indeed, I am,"
answered the son of Angus. "I got what I went for, but it is
useless, and I cannot cross the river."
"I shall carry you,"
said the little brown man.
"So be it," Jeermit
The little brown man
walked over the river with Jeermit on his shoulders, and went
towards the Cold-Isle-of-the-Dead.
"Whither are you
carrying me now?" asked Jeermit with fear in his heart.
Said the little brown
man: "You desire to heal the daughter of King Under-Waves."
"That is true."
"Your cup is empty,
and you must fill it at the Well of Healing, on the
Cold-Isle-of-the-Dead. That is why I am carrying you towards the
isle. You must not get off my back or set foot on the shore, else
you will never be able to leave it. But have no fear. I shall kneel
down beside the well, and you can dip the cup in it, and carry off
enough water to heal the princess."
Jeermit was well
pleased to hear these words, for he knew that the little brown man
was indeed his friend. He obtained the healing water in the manner
that was promised. Then the little brown man carried him to the
opposite bank of the river, and set him down on the border of
"Now you are
happy-hearted," said the little brown man.
indeed," Jeermit answered.
"Ere I bid you
farewell I shall give you good advice," said the little brown man.
"Why have you helped
me as you have done?" Jeermit asked.
"Because your heart
is warm, and you desire to do good to others," said the little brown
man. "Men who do good to others will ever find friends in the Land
of the Living, in the Land of the Dead, in Land-under-Waves, and in
"I thank you,"
Jeermit said. "Now I am ready for your good advice, knowing that
your friendship is true and lasting."
Said the little brown
man: "You may give the princess water from the Cup-of-Healing, but
she will not be cured unless you drop into the water three portions
of sphagnum moss."
"I have already found
these portions on the broad level plain."
"That is well," said
the other. "Now I have more advice to offer you. When the princess
is healed the king will offer you choice of reward. Take no thing he
offers, but ask for a boat to convey you home again."
"I will follow your
advice," Jeermit promised.
Then the two parted,
and Jeermit went on and on until he came to the golden palace of
King Under-Waves. The princess welcomed him when he was brought into
her room, and said: "No man ever before was given the cup you now
Said Jeermit: "For
your sake I should have got it even if I had to fight an army."
"I feared greatly
that you would never return," sighed the princess.
Jeermit put into the
Cup-of-Healing the three portions of blood-red moss which he had
found, and bade the princess to drink.
Thrice she drank, and
each time she swallowed a portion of red moss. When she drank the
last drop, having swallowed the third portion of red moss, she said:
"Now I am healed. Let a feast be made ready, and I shall sit at the
board with you."
There was great joy
and merriment in the castle when the feast was held. Sorrow was put
away, and music was sounded. When the feast was over, the king spoke
to Jeermit and said: "I would fain reward you for healing my
daughter, the princess. I shall give you as much silver and gold as
you desire, and you shall marry my daughter and become the heir to
Said Jeermit: "If I
marry your daughter I cannot again return to my own land."
"No, you cannot again
return, except on rare and short visits. But here you will spend
happy days, and everyone shall honour you."
Said Jeermit: "The
only reward I ask for, O king, is a small one indeed."
"I promise to give
you whatever you ask for."
Said Jeermit: "Give
me a boat, so that I may return again to my own land, which is very
dear to me, and to my friends and kinsmen, the Feans, whom I love,
and to Finn mac Cool, the great chief of men."
"Your wish is
granted," the king said.
Then Jeermit bade
farewell to all who were in the castle, and when he parted with the
princess she said: "I shall never forget you, Jeermit. You found me
in suffering and gave me relief; you found me dying and gave me back
my life again. When you return to your own land remember me, for I
shall never pass an hour of life without thinking of you with joy
Jeermit crossed the
level plain once again, and reached the place where the boat in
which he had come lay safely moored. The boatman went into it and
seized the oars, and Jeermit went in after him. Then the boat sped
through the deep dark tunnel, where the waves splash unseen against
the rocks, and passed out of the cave on the shore of Far-Blue-Isle.
The boat then went speedily over the sea, and while it was yet afar
off, Finn saw it coming. All the Feans gathered on the shore to bid
"Long have we waited
for you, son of Angus," Finn said.
"What time has passed
since I went away?" asked Jeermit, for it seemed to him that he had
been absent for no more than a day and a night.
"Seven long years
have passed since we bade you farewell," Finn told him, "and we
feared greatly that you would never again come back to us."
Said Jeermit: "In the
lands I visited there is no night, and no change in the year. Glad
am I to return home once again."
Then they all went to
Finn's house, and a great feast was held in honour of Jeermit, who
brought back with him the Cup-of-Healing which he had received from
the KIIla of Wonder-Plain.