The Man Who Never Knew Fear

★ The Man Who Never Knew Fear Story :

There was once a lady, and she had two sons whose names were Louras (Lawrence) and Carrol. From the day that Lawrence was born nothing ever made him afraid, but Carrol would never go outside the door from the time the darkness of the night began.

It was the custom at that time when a person died for people to watch the dead person’s grave in turn, one after another; for there used to be destroyers going about stealing the corpses.

When the mother of Carrol and Lawrence died, Carrol said to Lawrence–

‘You say that nothing ever made you afraid yet, but I’ll make a bet with you that you haven’t courage to watch your mother’s tomb to-night.’

‘I’ll make a bet with you that I have,’ said Lawrence.

When the darkness of the night was coming, Lawrence put on his sword and went to the burying-ground. He sat down on a tombstone near his mother’s grave till it was far in the night and sleep was coming upon him. Then he saw a big black thing coming to him, and when it came near him he saw that it was a head without a body that was in it. He drew the sword to give it a blow if it should come any nearer, but it didn’t come. Lawrence remained looking at it until the light of the day was coming, then the head-without-body went, and Lawrence came home.

Carrol asked him, did he see anything in the graveyard.

‘I did,’ said Lawrence, ‘and my mother’s body would be gone, but that I was guarding it.’

‘Was it dead or alive, the person you saw?’ said Carrol.

‘I don’t know was it dead or alive,’ said Lawrence; ‘there was nothing in it but a head without a body.’

‘Weren’t you afraid?’ says Carrol.

‘Indeed I wasn’t,’ said Lawrence; ‘don’t you know that nothing in the world ever put fear on me.’

‘I’ll bet again with you that you haven’t the courage to watch to-night again,’ says Carrol.

‘I would make that bet with you,’ said Lawrence, ‘but that there is a night’s sleep wanting to me. Go yourself to-night.’

‘I wouldn’t go to the graveyard to-night if I were to get the riches of the world,’ says Carrol.

‘Unless you go your mother’s body will be gone in the morning,’ says Lawrence.

‘If only you watch to-night and to-morrow night, I never will ask of you to do a turn of work as long as you will be alive,’ said Carrol, ‘but I think there is fear on you.’

‘To show you that there’s no fear on me,’ said Lawrence, ‘I will watch.’

He went to sleep, and when the evening came he rose up, put on his sword, and went to the graveyard. He sat on a tombstone near his mother’s grave. About the middle of the night he heard a great sound coming. A big black thing came as far as the grave and began rooting up the clay. Lawrence drew back his sword, and with one blow he made two halves of the big black thing, and with the second blow he made two halves of each half, and he saw it no more.

Lawrence went home in the morning, and Carrol asked him did he see anything.

‘I did,’ said Lawrence, ‘and only that I was there my mother’s body would be gone.’

‘Is it the head-without-body that came again?’ said Carrol.

‘It was not, but a big black thing, and it was digging up my mother’s grave until I made two halves of it.’

Lawrence slept that day, and when the evening came he rose up, put on his sword, and went to the churchyard. He sat down on a tombstone until it was the middle of the night. Then he saw a thing as white as snow and as hateful as sin; it had a man’s head on it, and teeth as long as a flax-carder. Lawrence drew back the sword and was going to deal it a blow, when it said–

‘Hold your hand; you have saved your mother’s body, and there is not a man in Ireland as brave as you. There is great riches waiting for you if you go looking for it.’

Lawrence went home, and Carrol asked him did he see anything.

‘I did,’ said Lawrence, ‘and but that I was there my mother’s body would be gone, but there’s no fear of it now.’

In the morning, the day on the morrow, Lawrence said to Carrol–

‘Give me my share of money, and I’ll go on a journey, until I have a look round the country.’

Carrol gave him the money, and he went walking. He went on until he came to a large town. He went into the house of a baker to get bread. The baker began talking to him, and asked him how far he was going.

‘I am going looking for something that will put fear on me,’ said Lawrence.

‘Have you much money?’ said the baker.

‘I have a half-hundred pounds,’ said Lawrence.

‘I’ll bet another half-hundred with you that there will be fear on you if you go to the place that I’ll bid you,’ says the baker.

‘I’ll take your bet,’ said Lawrence, ‘if only the place is not too far away from me.’

‘It’s not a mile from the place where you’re standing,’ said the baker; ‘wait here till the night comes, and then go to the graveyard, and as a sign that you were in it, bring me the goblet that is upon the altar of the old church (cill) that is in the graveyard.’

When the baker made the bet he was certain that he would win, for there was a ghost in the churchyard, and nobody went into it for forty years before that whom he did not kill.

When the darkness of the night came, Lawrence put on his sword and went to the burying-ground. He came to the door of the churchyard and struck it with his sword. The door opened, and there came out a great black ram, and two horns on him as long as flails. Lawrence gave him a blow, and he went out of sight, leaving him up to the two ankles in blood. Lawrence went into the old church, got the goblet, came back to the baker’s house, gave him the goblet, and got the bet. Then the baker asked him did he see anything in the churchyard.

‘I saw a big black ram with long horns on him,’ said Lawrence, ‘and I gave him a blow which drew as much blood out of him as would swim a boat; sure he must be dead by this time.’

In the morning, the day on the morrow, the baker and a lot of people went to the graveyard and they saw the blood of the black ram at the door. They went to the priest and told him that the black ram was banished out of the churchyard. The priest did not believe them, because the churchyard was shut up forty years before that on account of the ghost that was in it, and neither priest nor friar could banish him. The priest came with them to the door of the churchyard, and when he saw the blood he took courage and sent for Lawrence, and heard the story from his own mouth. Then he sent for his blessing-materials, and desired the people to come in till he read mass for them. The priest went in, and Lawrence and the people after him, and he read mass without the big black ram coming as he used to do. The priest was greatly rejoiced, and gave Lawrence another fifty pounds.

On the morning of the next day Lawrence went on his way. He travelled the whole day without seeing a house. About the hour of midnight he came to a great lonely valley, and he saw a large gathering of people looking at two men hurling. Lawrence stood looking at them, as there was a bright light from the moon. It was the good people that were in it, and it was not long until one of them struck a blow on the ball and sent it into Lawrence’s breast. He put his hand in after the ball to draw it out, and what was there in it but the head of a man. When Lawrence got a hold of it, it began screeching, and at last it asked Lawrence–

‘Are you not afraid?’

‘Indeed I am not,’ said Lawrence, and no sooner was the word spoken than both head and people disappeared, and he was left in the glen alone by himself.

He journeyed until he came to another town, and when he ate and drank enough, he went out on the road, and was walking until he came to a great house on the side of the road. As the night was closing in, he went in to try if he could get lodging. There was a young man at the door who said to him–

‘How far are you going, or what are you in search of?’

‘I do not know how far I am going, but I am in search of something that will put fear on me,’ said Lawrence.

‘You have not far to go, then,’ said the young man; ‘if you stop in that big house on the other side of the road there will be fear put on you before morning, and I’ll give you twenty pounds into the bargain.’

‘I’ll stop in it,’ said Lawrence.

The young man went with him, opened the door, and brought him into a large room in the bottom of the house, and said to him, ‘Put down fire for yourself and I’ll send you plenty to eat and drink.’ He put down a fire for himself, and there came a girl to him and brought him everything that he wanted.

He went on very well, until the hour of midnight came, and then he heard a great sound over his head, and it was not long until a stallion and a bull came in and commenced to fight. Lawrence never put to them nor from them, and when they were tired fighting they went out. Lawrence went to sleep, and he never awoke until the young man came in in the morning, and he was surprised when he saw Lawrence alive. He asked him had he seen anything.

‘I saw a stallion and a bull fighting hard for about two hours,’ said Lawrence.

‘And weren’t you afraid?’ said the young man.

‘I was not,’ says Lawrence.

‘If you wait to-night again, I’ll give you another twenty pounds,’ says the young man.

‘I’ll wait, and welcome,’ says Lawrence.

The second night, about ten o’clock, Lawrence was going to sleep, when two black rams came in and began fighting hard. Lawrence neither put to them nor from them, and when twelve o’clock struck they went out. The young man came in the morning and asked him did he see anything last night.

‘I saw two black rams fighting,’ said Lawrence.

‘Were you afraid at all?’ said the young man.

‘I was not,’ said Lawrence.

‘Wait to-night, and I’ll give you another twenty pounds,’ says the young man.

‘All right,’ says Lawrence.

The third night he was falling asleep, when there came in a gray old man and said to him–

‘You are the best hero in Ireland; I died twenty years ago, and all that time I have been in search of a man like you. Come with me now till I show you your riches; I told you when you were watching your mother’s grave that there was great riches waiting for you.’

He took Lawrence to a chamber under ground, and showed him a large pot filled with gold, and said to him–

‘You will have all that if you give twenty pounds to Mary Kerrigan the widow, and get her forgiveness for me for a wrong I did her. Then buy this house, marry my daughter, and you will be happy and rich as long as you live.’

The next morning the young man came to Lawrence and asked him did he see anything last night.

‘I did,’ said Lawrence, ‘and it’s certain that there will be a ghost always in it, but nothing in the world would frighten me; I’ll buy the house and the land round it, if you like.’

‘I’ll ask no price for the house, but I won’t part with the land under a thousand pounds, and I’m sure you haven’t that much.’

‘I have more than would buy all the land and all the herds you have,’ said Lawrence.

When the young man heard that Lawrence was so rich, he invited him to come to dinner. Lawrence went with him, and when the dead man’s daughter saw him she fell in love with him.

Lawrence went to the house of Mary Kerrigan and gave her twenty pounds, and got her forgiveness for the dead man. Then he married the young man’s sister and spent a happy life. He died as he lived, without there being fear on him.

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