‘Bran and the Bloody Tree’
Finn the son of Fiona Finn rode into the cabin yard
Where Bran was beating a great wolf-hound,
Roped to a tree three times around;
But the fall of the club was the only sound,
For the brave and the strong die-hard.
Beneath the slant of his feathered hat the face of Finn grew red;
His hand was quick to his hunting gun
That shone — a threat in the mountain sun —
“Another stroke — an’ your life is done!
Make loose the dog!” he said.
Bran stood straight in the sunlight and blinked at the morning sky;
His tongue was stiff with the taste of fear
And the voice of Finn was in his ear:
“God may forgive ye, clean and clear,
But never the dog nor I!
“His kin have crouched at the feet of Kings and you think to kill his pride!”
The rope fell slack to the bloody ground,
Then up from the tree gat the great wolf-hound,
And followed Finn as he reined him round
And over the mountain-side.
Then thunder spake from the silence and shattered the Bloody Tree,
And the heart of Bran was filled with dread,
As the ground was washed of its clotted red,
And a cross of black stood in its stead,
As the dawn rose tremblingly.