The Wooing of Emer: Part 12

Last week Cuchulainn broke Emer out of her father’s fort and eloped with her…

An army thundered after us across the plain of Bregia as we galloped away from Lusk. My heart raced. The feel of the horses pulling at the bits, the wind in your hair, with an enemy before or behind you and comrades beside – nothing beats it.

Beside Cuchulainn, Emer laughed for joy. She was finally free.

“Stop!” cried Cuchulainn as the water of the first ford lapped at the chariot wheels. He jumped out. Of course. The second task Emer set him.

Leading the forces was a huge red ugly woman. Scenmend, Emer’s aunt. She threw one cast at him with her slingshot, and Cuchulainn went charging in.

I shall not give details of what happened next. Suffice it to say the battles were bloody as we raced ever northwards. As Emer and I witnessed each of Cuchulainn’s new acrobatic feats, our eyes grew round. Emer’s blazed with pride. After each new fight she greeted him with high words that sounded almost like poetry. My skin tingled. I felt like history was being made that day.

Emain Macha loomed up before us in the dusk of evening. Outside was silent, but the feasting hall was loud with cheers as Cuchulainn brought the blushing Emer into the firelight. They at once approached the king, who beamed down upon them both, and spoke great words of welcome.

That night they were married. As soon as Emer had recovered from the journey, they walked round the central fire and joined their hands with cord.

Some people thought Cuchulainn would never marry, that he would never find a girl to suit him. But I say he has found exactly the girl to suit him. Emer will never care about how many adventures Cuchulainn has away from her. What she will care about is whether Cuchulainn gives her the rightful place as his wife when she is with him, in their own home or at the court. And he will do that. She can offer him something no other woman can – quickness of mind and intelligent conversation. He respects everything about her. I think they will do well together.