The sky is grey and overcast. In the distance ponds of light brighten the forest where sunbeams break through cloud. Then, without warning, clouds part and a bright ray of sunlight descends on the slope of Slieve Miss. The rocks sparkle and the grasses dance in the brightness. Some distance away there is persistent bleating.
The Gift Of Hidden Treasure
Patrick hears bleating and clambers over the sunlit rocks to find one of his sheep trapped, her hoof stuck in a crevice. Patrick bends down to release the sheep and as he does so he sees the corner of an old leather bag, its brown weathered surface picked out by strong sunshine. Curious, he reaches to pull the bag out from the crevice. As he pulls the corner rips and spills gold coins and jewellery over the rocks. Patrick is astounded. He gathers up the treasure and thinks how pleased Conchubhar will be when he gives it to him. As soon as he has gathered up the jewellery the sunlight disappears and the mountain reverts to its dark, sombre, winter presence.
He calls T ir and together they guide the sheep down off the mountain. The sky is dull and brooding. All sunshine has left the land. He can smell the presence of rain. Looking west he sees rain clouds gather over the Br ad Valley. The wind is gaining force and the grass starts to wave back and forth tracing the flow of gusts across the face of the mountain. Patrick and T ir herd the sheep into the open pen. He closes the pen and heads off down the mountain to tell Conchubhar the good news.
As he nears Conchubhar's farming settlement he feels a great excitement grow in his breast. He imagines how delighted Conchubhar will be at the sight of the buried treasure. His enthusiasm rises. He starts to run and continues to run until he reaches Conchubhar's home. As he nears the raft rain starts to fall, driven on by the wind. He sees lightening flash and hears the crack of thunder. Inside Fionnula is quietly making a tunic for one of her children, when the door bursts open startling her.
"Pat it's you," she exclaims in a surprised tone.
Fionnula's mother is shocked and rounds on Patrick, who is standing wet through in the doorway.
"How dare you burst into our home without even knocking. You needn't expect any more meals in our house."
"I'm so excited that I forgot to knock. I've found this!" and he thrusts the open bag with all the coins and jewellery into Fionnula's hands.
"I found it on your farm. It's for Conchubhar."
Fionnula bursts into tears and appears grief stricken. Patrick, thinking she would be pleased, is very confused.
"Why are you so upset?" he asks gently.
"Conchubhar has been killed by King Miliucc in a rebellion," she sobs.
Patrick is deeply shocked and distressed. They sit and talk. The sound of thunder rumbles outside.
"He led a raid on the ring fort with his band of armed warriors. They managed to storm the fort and get inside but they were all killed. It was King Miliucc himself who killed Conchubhar in a sword fight. I can't bear the pain and loneliness."
The two embrace and sob.
After grieving together for a while, they separate. Fionnula shares her fears. "How I am ever going to look after the farm and feed the children?" she sobs.
Patrick reassures her.
"This buried treasure I found will keep your family for life. Please, take it."
Fionnula takes out the gold coins and the jewellery and sets them on the floor. They sparkle in the light from the fire.
"You are right Pat, these are very valuable. I am deeply grateful."
She reaches across the floor, picks up a beautiful gold brooch encrusted with gemstones and hands it to Patrick.
"I want you to have this," she says, smiling.
Patrick is delighted, thanks her for her generosity and leaves to let the family grieve in private.
Fionnula turns to her mother,
"Pat doesn't know it, but I have just given him the Brooch of Loughinra – the king's brooch."
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