Story for the Day: The Two Giants -- Part 2
Continuing with Frewyn's fable of the two legendary giants Cathal and Cine, as sold by Sister Mithe at the church of TussNaTuillin:
Cine, however, would remain under his master’s harsh command. He would learn to follow in his brother’s submission, he would govern his indignation, enjoy his dejection, or he would die under his reprimand.
Frannach deemed Cathal ready to realize the whole of his transgression and accept his remorse, and he lead him to the Karnwyl churchyard and permitted him to sit on the sward while the God pay a visit to a Sister who had called for his assistance. There, sitting on the sward, enjoying the quiet verdency of the south in summer, unbridled and unchecked, he understood the fullness of his crime, for when a child from the church came to speak to him, one whom he had made an orphan by his recklessness, he was compelled to learn the mortifying lessons of charity and commiseration. The child sat beside him, made him a generous present of a few carrots, and only asked that she might touch him in exchange. Long had it been since anyone had spoken a kind word or imparted a gracious gesture to him. The hands of the small child, the fingers grazing his muzzle, was an ecstasy immeasurable to one who had grown accustomed to the thrash of the whip. Water was given him, he was encouraged to eat and drink, and while he permitted the child to climb about him as she would, he had no stomach for eating, starving though he was. The misery of what he had done-- the child who was showing him benevolence and openhandedness was one whom he had unpardonably wronged, and he was vexed and distressed forever. Such admiration from one who had destroyed her home—it was a most untoward anguish, one that instantly forced him to beg for forgiveness from his master.
“Do you understand now what you have done?” asked Frannach when they were alone once more.
Cathal hung his head. “I have killed them, and yet they are kind to me.”
“These are our children. We would avenge those you have killed, and though their progeny have inherited our qualities, they are incapable of inflicting the punishment you deserved. You have learned and have repented, and so I grant your freedom. You may go.”
Cathal did not move; he only lowered his eyes and looked rueful.
“You do not wish to leave?” Frannach asked, with some surprise.
“I want to be free again, to follow my people southward and live in our new settlement, but…” The giant’s voice faltered, he turned aside momentarily, and when he turned back to Frannach, he amended with, “but I want to learn of love.”
Frannach smiled and touched Cathal’s forelock. “If you wish to learn, then I will teach you. Come,” and the God showed Cathal everything he could wish, and allowed him to visit the children of those whom he had wronged and bring the joy of friendship with him, to smooth away any lasting discomfort in his heart and give him every means of palliation. He had been taught the pain of indiscretion, he had learned to seek exoneration, and his amnesty was all his gratulation.
This was the tale that Mithe recounted, and though there was more to the history than what she convyed, the children were young and were therefore spared the minutiae of Cathal’s torture in favour of her relaying the moral of the piece. The children were asked to summarize the lesson as best they could, and were asked to write out the names of the principle characters as neatly as their small and unskilled hands would permit. Gaumhin was up to help those who needed help, and Mithe made the rounds, holding up pencils, assisting in the forming of letters, teaching spellings and giving praise, while Paudrig was left to finish his work by himself, his hand forming the characters C-i-n-e while his awareness was considering all the exquisite punishments that Cathal had suffered, all of which Mithe had judiciously omitted.
“What about when Cathal’s legs wouldnae move ‘cause he pulled the chariot tae much an’ Borras had tae help hem an’ o’?” Paudrig chimed.
Gaumhin sidled him, and said in a quiet voice, “Ah thenk tha might be tae much for the wee-uns, Paudring-lad.”
A scoff and a snuff, and Paudrig slumped in his chair, resting his chin languidly in his palm. “Was never tae much when Ma was tellin’,” was his sighing lamentation, and he must be satisfied that he had been considered cultivated enough—which he knew meant superior enough-- to know the whole of the frightening tale, to have been told all the details of Cathal and Cine’s imprisonment and rehabilitation, to be in the secret of all the modes of maliciousness and generosity, reckoning himself to be very much trusted with Frewyn’s truths and to pity those who did not merit an elder’s honesty. He glaced round the room, to see whether there were any symptoms of anyone knowing anything beyond what Mithe had chosen to impart, but there was nothing, no signs of interest, no bespeaking penetration, nothing to mark out that anyone had any inquisition to know more: Dimeadh was under the glamour of Fionntra’s papilionaceous lashes, his lips wreathed in a foolish grin, Sibhan was agonizing over her poorly written Os, and most of the others were too well occupied with fussing and flumping over their straight lines to busy themselves with any other occupation of mind. He exhaled, plaintive over the deplorable want of interested parties in the class—all of them seemed more inclined to correct their script than they were to hear of Cine’s torment by way of blackthorn boughs and check reins—and must perceive that he and Gaumhin were the only two in the whole of the church who were able to endure all the heinous persecution that the giants’ unpardonable crime had warranted.
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