32. The Fruit


FOR A LONG TIME, they were thrown about on high waves that were whipped up by strong winds, but finally, they came to an island with many trees on it. These trees were like hazels, and they were laden with a kind of fruit which the voyagers had not seen before; extremely large, and not very different in appearance from apples, except that they had a rough skin.

After the crew had plucked all the fruit off one small tree, they cast lots who should try them, and the lot fell on Máel Dúin.

So he took some of them, and, squeezing the juice into a vessel, drank it. It threw him quickly into a sleep of intoxication so deep that he seemed to be in a trance rather than in a natural slumber, without breath or motion, and with the red foam on his lips. And from that hour till the same hour next day, no one could tell whether he was living or dead.

When he awoke next day, he told his people to gather as much of the fruit as they could bring away with them; for the world, he told them, had never produced anything of such excellence.

They pressed out the juice of the fruit till they had filled all their vessels; and so powerful was it to produce intoxication and sleep, that, before drinking it, they had to mix a large quantity of water with it to moderate its strength.

And then they rowed away.

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