The first New Moon of May has loosed her silver skirts and all aglitter in the evening twilight she danced upon the western hills. All the Earth was dressed in green, and dewy wet her grassy gown and glistening in the morning Sun. In the call of the curlew we heard her lilting love song, and sweet her scent that, sighing, soft, she bore all fragrant on the blossomed bough. A Saturday morning and we were come together, for love, for Mab of the Summer weather; all for our Lady, for our Wilderness Queen, for her love... for the Earth in her maiden green.
There was Idris who came yesterday afternoon, and Huw and Elen and Gwen and Owen who arrived when the shadows were growing long. Joe and Kathy were come as the twilight crept along the distant hedge, and as the high heavens darkened and Arcturus lit his distant light there were Liz and Judy in the doorway with Coll.
Rhona had been busy these few days and her pantry bore lusty testament to her labours, and the hands of Merian, in whose soul the birds sang their sweetest melodies, had wrought their artistry and their enchantment in the house. Wild flowers she had gathered and the blossoms of the bullace, daisies from the fields and from the watery hollows the big yellow marsh marigolds, and she set them about her in the room in the places where her soul had shown her. And there were paper garlands in the bright new green of Summer's leaves, and she hung draperies upon the walls, all green and misty and the room was looking like a woodland glade. And over all, the ceiling she adorned with the bright green branches of the silver birch. There were others too who had brought their tents and pitched them among the blossoms in the field. There were Rhys and Blodwen, and Rhian and Evan from over the hill. There were Ruth and Ken, and Cindy with Dick and Steve from the east, and Padraig and Caitlin from the home of the west wind. Many were the hearts now gathered in the May, but one was the love to bind us.
Now there was one thing that drew the men together, and one thing that set the men apart; and the first thing was lust, and lust was the second; for the Queen was all the beauty and she stole our hearts away. Oh! she would as soon take us all when the wild mood was upon her and the wind all astir in the grasses on her knoll, but if there is ought in a man, and more in another, the other shall be first on the hill. So this is the way of it, by the hawthorn wand and the silver Moon, and in this wise Merian would choose her a lover:
" He shall sing me a love song, or weave me a tale of enchantment and beauty, or say his love in rhyme and verse, and his words he shall find in the deep valleys of his soul, liquid like the running stream and lovely as the flowers in May. He shall speak to me, and his words shall sing to my soul, of the wild ways of love, of passion like the roaring wind, and of lust as dark and as strong as the deep and heavy scents that haunt the greenwood's shadowed floor. And if his words please me well I shall know the beauty of his strength and the cunning of his arm in combat as I have known the beauty of his soul in words. And if his words fall about my feet like dry leaves in November, he shall learn better words before he find the silver ring. "
And so there were some who, fain to win her love, had cast their words upon a thread, like beads on a necklace, like moonlight flickering on the dancing stream, and some, in the weeks gone by, had sent a story to Merian, and others had sent their verses, and one had sent a song on tape, and alone she had read the words and listened to the love song, and of those who wrought a passion in the heart of Merian were Coll, Huw, Owen, Padraig, Steve, Ken and Evan. She said not a word about who of them charmed better than the other, but that all of these, and only these, would in combat match strength for strength and cunning for cunning, and the lust of the mightiest shall win her ardent love. And the dew was on the grass as the maytide Sun rose over the hills and all the eastern sky was awash with silver-gold and drops of moisture sparkling on the mist-wet leaves.
Now Idris was gone into the field a half hour before and he wore the fiery gold, and with him had gone Merian and she bore the hawthorn wand, and we had seen nought of them in the silver light of the morning, for we had been gathering flowers, and other tasks had they. And now when the Sun was well risen though the heights lay before him still, green-clad and bare of foot we went together through the soft grass of Rhaeadr, and the stream lay before us and Dwy Nant beyond. The racing water chuckled as it danced from stone to stone and the filaments of algae waved in green among the rocks. And here was our Lady in all her beauty standing, and the alders cast their shade about her. Her gown was green as the summer grass and the hem was about her sun-bronzed feet. Broad was the belt she buckled to her waist and a green gem and heavy was the clasp at her neck. Her crown was all of silver and the gems were all of green. Oh! but she was lovely, bare of foot and beautiful on the moss-clad rock, and her bare arms brown as the beech bud scales. And she beckoned with those lovely arms and spoke with her lovely eyes.
Coll it was who went down first to the stream to meet her. There in the water he stood and the torrent went rushing by, and her eyes were lit with laughter and her lips were cast in love. And these were the words he spoke her:
" Like the green leaves agrowing,
And the fast water flowing
To thine ardent love so wild and coursing free,
O Sweet Earth I adore thee
And a lust runs before me
And my staff shall for ever, Mab, to thee. "
"For thy lust I love thee, Coll" she said, and her eyes were lit with moonfire as she kissed him on the lips. And then went Coll into Dwy Nant and, sitting there on the leaf-shaded bank he took up his pipe and the wind himself never breathed a sweeter tune.
Kathy went next into the stream and as our Lady took her hands, she spoke her heart's desire:
" O Earth, lovely Maiden,
With the sweet scents laden,
Let the dew besprinkle, moist, my forest floor.
I'll know the love welling
And the red buds swelling
And the fragrance all about the musky door. "
And the Green Lady said to her: "Love to thee, Kathy, and lust to all our Loves." And then was Kathy gone into Dwy Nant and sitting on the shaded streamside bank with Coll.
And then went another and another, and we spoke as man or as woman for the lust that was in our hearts.
Now Evan was but recently come to the old ways and while the green glades grew deep in his heart the words were a thicket yet in his mind, and so it was that, waiting there in the grass and musing on the words that Coll had spoken, he came of a sudden to the meaning: and him with all the vigour of his youth upon him and the Queen in all her beauty in the glade. So his staff stood straight before him as he stood before the Maid. And with sparkling eyes she held it, the while he spoke his love. And ere all his words were spoken he had gushed all over into her hands.
"Kneel thee down, my Love" she said as she kissed his lips, and her hands in the running stream, and there in the flood as she bathed his cock, full sweetly she sang him the maytide love:
" Wild and wilder thy love to me calling
And dear thy seeds on my broad bosom falling.
Sweet and lovely thy swift river flowing
And soft the rain on my green grasses growing. "
And she kissed him again for the passion was on her and the moonfire was bright in her lustrous eyes. And soon we had all crossed the boundary stream in our love for the Queen of the May.
There in the south of Dwy Nant beyond the ring of stones stood the maypole, tall and strong, and beside it stood the time-keeper and a stop-watch in his hand. Tall he was and upright, like a king of the ancient world. Not the holly himself wore a berry more red than his ruby cloak, and fire was his tunic for a bane to the fell Wight of Winter and the fury of the winter wind. Yellow-gold the emblem emblazoned on his chest, and yellow-gold the gleaming crown that, many-rayed, he bore upon his head. Proud was the fiery one and true. Had he not told the days since the darkness, and every one of them more great than the one before? Had he not given height to the alders and girth to the mighty oak? Aye, and the Earth herself wore all her flowers when his feet trod the high roads, and her streams sang their summer songs.
To him now we went, and the Green Lady with us, some to match strength for strength, and some to watch, for our hearts soared high as the high wind's hurling, and a lust dove deep as the deft fish darting. And the May Queen flushed like the wild rose of Summer as her hands were on the maypole and her fingers spoke her ancient art.
Now seven men there were who sought her love, and one to win her first, but not by twos and twos again may seven in the heats reduce to one; so first the seven must become the four and the three shall yield them way; and strength shall be the victors' limbs and speed shall follow at their heels. Now in the stream on a green island bank some eight times thirteen paces to the east there was a tall tree growing. No sapling child of the forest was he, nor ancient lord of many arms astride the open plain; not he. An alder tree he was. And hard and straight as the unquiet cock he grew from the dark-shaded celandines at his moss-enshrouded roots, and up then and up to the high leaves he held from the shoots that crept close to the sky. Neither bough nor branch he had on him till the height of five grown men. And up there on that tiny skyward limb, where distance dimmed and the blue beguiled the eye, there hung a purse where Idris had put it, and that he had got from Merian. And in the purse and shining white were seven quartzite pebbles for her moonstones, and for the seven who sought her love. And those they would get, and four of them faster than three.
So with numbered sticks they drew lots from the hand of the Fiery One, and Owen drew first try. He donned a pair of supple shoes and thick leggings for his shins and thighs, and a stout jerkin to go about his chest, for the alder wears his bark in concave furrows and the edges cut like an old saw blade. And away then when the Sun gave him "Go!" And like a hare he went in the maytide grass till he came to the alder's foot. Arm over arm then, and leg to arm he climbed, up and up the bare branchless shaft till he reached the leathern purse and claimed a lover's stone. And down then, a long weary way down, to the bottom, and back over the grass to present her his token of love. And the Fiery One timed him three minutes and forty-eight seconds.
Evan drew second and there was nought to choose between him and Owen as he sped to the alder tree. But then the choice was made: in vain he worked with arms and legs: a metre, two metres, a rest, another struggle that availed him nought for all it was a struggle, and then the slow shuffle back to the ground. And then there was merriment and laughing, and one said it was that the fire in his belly he had spilled in her hands and he'd had his will for the day! But he gainsaid the jest, and in all affirmation he vowed there'd be many an old alder would tutor his untrained body twixt now and another May. And besides, he said, would she will it he'd as like take her twice! Oh, how her eyes sparkled for the Summers to come! And for aye, his cock spoke his fealty to the May.
Steve was next and away through the grass, down into the hollow, and up onto the bank and ascending the mighty trunk, and if he ran in the wind that Owen took behind him, it was not in Owen's shadow that he climbed. Three minutes and forty-six seconds he made by the Sun, and that was better than Owen by two.
Now Coll was away through the maytide field, and an easy pace he had with him, neither hurried nor slow, till he came to the alder tree. And then there was a change. With a rhythm like the pine marten he was up among the moonstones, and as soon at the mossy root again, and a fast pace then to the hand of the Moon-maiden. If Owen was a hare in the maytide grass, the red deer himself was the steed that bore the heart of Coll. Loud were the cheers as not a heartbeat more than three minutes and twenty-nine seconds was the time he made.
Ken was on his way next, a fair pace over the grass, but the rhythm wasn't with him on the tree, and five minutes all but two seconds was the time that passed ere he came again to the May Queen.
Padraig went then, and he took an easy stride, albeit he took a faster pace than Coll. Again at the alder root the rhythm changed and the pine marten was among the moonstones. And sooth, by the hallowed horns of the Hairy One! Wasn't it the same red deer and the same mad dash to bear his heart as bore the heart of Coll! And three seconds he took from Coll's fast time as he placed the moonstone in her eager hand, and the cheers would bring a joy to your heart!
And last of the seven went Huw, fast like the pony on the hillside, and a fair rhythmic pace up the mighty tree, but the mischief was in the moonstone and he dropped it, and while he watched it fall to mark its place he lost some moments, and moments more when he took it from the stream. But withal he made three minutes and forty-four seconds where Owen had made four seconds more.
So the three yielded to the four, and the four were Steve, Coll, Padraig and Huw to match strength for strength and whatever that cunning avail them; and the May Queen looked lovely in their eyes and the fire she stirred in their loins.
Now there was an area of ground set out in the field, and six paces was the length of it, and as many paces wide as need might make it. At one end were two hazel poles set not far asunder, albeit the rampant stallion might lack nought of space had he a mind to take the mare between them; and the same at the other end. In one space would stand the one contestant, and in the other his hard-armed foe, and there they would struggle for a championship and the love that is wild and free. To the side at the midpoint where soon would arm and will ply their earnest strength there was a wooden seat whereon a Queen might set her loveliness, with crescent moons in white inlaid below the arm rests and a silver orb engraved upon the back. And here she sat her down, and the Sun to her right hand, and the green gems asparkle in her slender silver crown. We sat where we would in the maytide grass, some at her feet to be near her, and some on the yonder side; and the warriors all four were sat on the yonder side. The May Queen, green-clad and beautiful, turned to the Sun and spoke him her readiness, whereat the Fiery One read the proclamation:
"In this way shall the contest be fought. There shall be no gouging nor biting. There shall be no punching, kicking nor striking to give pain, but only so much as is needful to turn aside the opponent's thrust or flex his limb or throw his balance from under him or his weight where with choice he would not have it. Neither man shall lay hands or feet or an ungentle weight at the front of his adversary's neck not at all that is above, and neither, save it be little, shall give pain that the other may not set aside by yielding. And the dastard who would bring pain to the other man's cock or hurt his balls shall earn no love with the May Queen. The victor of the heat shall be the man who by strength or guile or skilful art prevails upon his worsted foe and brings him, though he will it not, from the place where first that other stood through the hazels where his own feet stand. By my will shall the contests be decided, and my will shall be the May Queen's desire. "
So Steve and Coll drew first from the fiery hand. All the clothes that were not needful they cast aside, and their backs were brown as the hazel nuts and dark emotions smouldered in their eyes.
Steve was standing in the centre of the ground and his eyes met the eyes of the May Queen, and these were the words he spoke:
" Would I shall win, but if I do not,
Even so may there be joy in it for thee. "
And he went then to the end and stood between the hazel poles. And Coll strode then before her and his words spoke the lust of his loins and the love that was in his heart:
" Would I shall win and thy cunt joy thee full,
But whoever shall stand, may he stand to thee well. "
And Coll went then to stand between his hazels and turned his face to Steve, and six paces and as many moments stood between them.
And then came the horn's clear note upon the maytide air, and with careful step and warily came the adversaries from their posts. To the middle of the ground they came, the one to the other, and whereas it was easier in the thrust than to pull the body that had a will to stand its ground, they made a half circuit of each other and bent shoulder to shoulder, and Coll bent the lower. And thereat he got the advantage and Steve was too heavy above and too light below, wherefore he made a quick step to the side and the tactic laid Coll in the grass. Quick as a hawk then Steve swooped on his prey, and Coll was lifted to his finger tips and his legs borne skyward in Steve's powerful arms and the people gasped for the surprise and the speed of it, and admiration sparkled in the May Queen's eyes. But with the speed of the snake Coll had his own arms round Steve's legs, and they fell heavily. Coll was up first, and though it were no more than the blink of an eye before Steve was rising, Coll had him by the legs while he yet had three limbs on the ground, and he pulled his legs from behind him and laid him on the good earth that bore him. Then were Coll's hands on Steve's ribs, and Steve sought to thrust them off, but Coll caught his hand and put his arm up behind him, and then was Steve's case forlorn. So he yielded, and loud were the cheers as Coll took him by the hazel sticks; and bright were the May Queen's eyes.
And now came Padraig and Huw and threw off their clothes, and their shoulders were the oak himself and hornbeam hard their sturdy limbs.
Padraig stood first before the Green Lady and love and passion were the words he spoke her:
" Would I shall defy him and he shall not defy me,
But withal, ye've a right to a hard cock inside ye. "
And as he took his post between the hazel sticks, Huw stood before our Lady Queen, and all desire and love were in the words he bore upon his lips:
" If my will prevail, full well I shall serve thee,
And if it be another, may he serve thee not less. "
So now stood Huw and Padraig where before stood Coll and Steve. Not for long they stood, for like an exaltation the note was sounded and the six paces became four and the four became two and the two became none at all. Stealthy was Huw, wary like the mountain hare, and Padraig was at his side and they made a half circuit, and Padraig made a half circuit more. Huw made to take him but Padraig made a backward step, and fast as thought he was at Huw's back, and Huw had spun round, but Padraig was stalking him now, like a weasel in the long grass. He took a wide arc and Huw pursued him, but Padraig was under his arm and at his back again, and by his front before Huw had turned. Huw made a quick jump, but Padraig made a quicker and was away from him. So Huw came on and Padraig was at his left hand, and at his right, and at his back, and the lights of all the wild were dancing in the May Queen's eyes. To the right he jumped, and Huw leapt at him, but again he jumped, backward and to the side, and neither man had yet laid a hand on the other. Padraig was moving fast now, round and round like the wily stoat, and who could keep count of the rings they made? Back a pace went Padraig, and with him went Huw, and never a hand met hand nor shoulder felt another shoulder's thrust. And then was Huw mazed and he lost his footing, and when he got up Padraig was not where he was when he went down. Back he went again, and Huw after him. Back he went and back and through his hazel sticks, and Huw gave not a thought to mark the boundary where he didn't think he was. And so by guile was Huw enticed across his opponent's threshold, and not a hand laid on him! And the cheers were wild for a right cunning deed and Padraig stirred love in the heart of the May Queen.
So come we now to the final contest where victor shall set his case before victor and, from it, a champion shall stand on the maytide field. But that Padraig should have a rest, there was some music, and here was Dick on the pipe and Cindy with the drum of many voices, and Huw and Rhian to sing a wild craggy song of the wild rutting deer and of the grace and the lure of the fleet-footed hind... And the drum was singing of the thunder on the plain and the antlers' click, click, clicking, and our feet were there and dancing and the music grew the wilder and the dancing grew the faster, and Huw's deep voice was the roaring of the stag... And the thump, thump, thump of the drum, and the high voice of Rhian rising like a wind in the pine trees... And the feet were stamping and the people whirling in and out, and there was Padraig who should have been resting, wild-eyed and roaring and whirling with the rest of them, and Coll there too, and I think they danced better than them all! And when it was done Padraig said it was the best rest that ever he had. So they stood till the wind was in their lungs again, and a fine sight and lusty they looked to the May Queen. "Oh, I love thee, Brirn!" she said, "By the Horns, I love thee!" And some said that, for a fair fight and true, she looked at neither man, but the truth was that her eager eyes besought them both.
So they went to their posts and stood between the hazels, and the May Queen beheld Padraig and his eyes were dark and baleful as a he-goat, and she turned her to Coll and a he-goat's dark and baleful eyes had he; and she got a joy thereat.
Hushed were the voices now, and the horn cried combat on the maytide field and cock and cunt alike in passion stirred as mighty warrior strode to pit his warrior's might. Low to the ground they came, and their dark eyes said nought, save of hidden deeds, and defiance. Warily now Padraig sought the back of Coll, and Coll desired to be where Padraig stood. Quick as a hare Padraig darted to the side of Coll, but Coll was quicker and the speed of the wild cat was in his limbs as he put his foot between Padraig's legs and Padraig was laid in the grass. Fierce then the wild cat, and he pounced on his prey and he had Padraig by the legs and he was dragging him backward, and nought but the grass for Padraig's grasping hands to cling to, and the grass gave him only of yielding. Wild were the cheers and "Coll!" was the cry and merry as moonlight on a wind-stirred lake was the light in the May Queen's eyes. But he hadn't got him the way he wanted him on the grass and Padraig bent his legs where Coll could not flex his wrists, and ere they reached the hazels he was free of him, and back to the middle of the ground.
Face to face they stood, and no light of eye betrayed the ready limb nor slant of body spoke of action planned. And the wind himself spoke not a whisper as each sought what the other hid. For a few tense moments only thus they stood, the two of them, and the quiet and the cunning gathered about them. And Padraig was gone! Like a weasel in the hole where a weasel isn't wanted he shot through the gap in Coll's legs, and up then and under him, and Coll was tossed like a pine cone on the mountain torrent as he was hurled from Padraig's back into the grass. How the May Queen's eyes sparkled! And the women sighed in wonder and the deep roar of battle rose and rumbled in the throats of her men and rolled like thunder on the maytide field. Swift as the eagle he swooped and turned Coll on his face and got him by the legs and heaved him over the grass and, whereas Coll was on his face there was nought his legs could do that Padraig's wrists could not. And a new cry was up, wild and strong as the storm wind, and "Paddy!" was the name of it and borne on a dozen lips. What man it was it mattered not, but that the winner win, and the May Queen was out of her seat and all love and admiration was the way of her. But lithe as the hazel was Coll and he arched his back and set a deviation on Padraig's course, and while he put it right he had him by the legs and brought him down at the very threshold.
Now stood they again at the middle, low to the ground, and shoulder was to shoulder matched. Legs with legs sought to make debate while body with the other body sought to gain by guile. To the one way they strove, and as little to the other, and the breath came heavy from their lungs. All hushed were the people as, like two stags locked in deadly combat, they yielded neither will nor way. And the lights in the May Queen's eyes were dark now, deep and full of mysteries: of mighty boulder poised against the hillside rock, of granite spike athwart the raging river's flood, of crashing waves for ever beating on unyielding rocks. Dark were her thoughts as the Thunder's Bride; and she loved them wondrous well.
Weary they were and they yielded not to the other; wearier, yet wearier, and the Sun saw but their shadows move. And the weariness took them and they fell from exhaustion there in the grass and lay in front of the May Queen. And their lungs made play with the hurricane.
Sweetly she looked where her love drew her longing and they, as they lay there, turned their eyes and beheld her beauty, and her aspect was lovely as the Moon. And as they saw her there before them in passion clothed and green, full thirteenfold their limbs grew strong and thirteenfold their will.
Up then they rose and passion filled, and the whirlwind danced before the May, and like ash keys in a wild wind your head would spin to put the number on the rings they made. And Coll had Padraig by the arm and went in under him and pulled him over his back. And up then and shoulder to shoulder and Coll was into Padraig, and faster than thought and fast as the springtide flood, and Padraig yielded him a pace and the people were all of wonder for Coll had pushed him on the way where, with choice, the other would fain have gone. Ah, but it was fast! And Padraig fought the foe that rode the springtide flood and came up against him like the goat in anger wrought, and when Coll was sensed of the fury that was at him, of a sudden and all cunning he gave him way. And Padraig, like the great goat of Sliabh na Tocht, drove him on and bore him four paces on the way before the guile was out and he stood his ground. And Coll was at the back of him then, and he turned on the very threshold and shoulder to shoulder they thrust.
Giants now they were, and fell to see. Let time himself assail them with his fearful fangs, and come away empty-handed. And their blood was risen like the springtide floods and the mayhawk was high in the air. Not a sound was borne on awe-sealed lips; no insect stirred the silent grass and the trees withheld their whispering. The Sun strode silent on his way and the loudest sound of all was my own heart counting his footsteps on the road..... And then all of a sudden it was broken! A piercing scream it was, like a wild thing, like the noise in the stoat's eyes, like the shearing of the mountain's side, like the hideous fangs of a nameless death, and it came like a devouring wave and swallowed all your strength and was awash in the caverns of your stomach. And then it was over, and though Padraig relented but for one moment in that terror, in that moment Coll had him and took him through the hazels.
Oh! wild was the mood and the stamping of the feet as he strode at the right hand of the Fiery One to the foot of the maypole and seated himself there upon a mossy log with the Sun at his back behind him and the lust of his loins before him. And there was Judy with the deep-voiced drum, beating the deepest note of all, quiet at first, then louder and louder: Dhum... dhum... dhum... Dhum. Dhum... dhum... dhum... Dhum... like the heartbeat of eternity rising out of the dawn of time. And the Fiery One had the horns in his hands and set them upon the head before him. Then Idris took off the cloth of fire and put it in a round and golden disc and donned the green like the rest of us, and the golden disc was hauled to the top of the maypole. And the Horned One rose from his seat and the deep drum was beating. And the May Queen loosed her belt and cast off her long green dress and stood there before him in her shimmering green gown. Like the misty green of the springtide woodland it adored her, soft and flowing and done at the deep hem with the big pale green leaves of white bryony and tied in pale green ribbons like the bryony's climbing, winding tendrils. Like a mist it was about her that it hid nought of her loveliness, but hung like the tresses of the silver birth about her graceful stem, or like the flow of water in a woodland glade, trickling green and shining on the filmy ferns. Oh, the passion that was on her! And all of Summer shining in her eyes! And his cock grew hard and smooth as the basalt rocks and straight to the high-riding Moon. And the drum stopped where there wasn't an end, and the May Queen spoke, and her voice was full of Summer and of moonfire was the passion of her wild and lustrous eyes:
" Brirn of the wildways, of green leaf and blood,
I have called thee and I shall have thee
And I shall take thee to love. "
And the rhythem came again and was rising up like a great swell out of the deep Earth, and we joined with one another, hand in hand and woman to man and danced all the maypole round. And wild was the pipe that Owen played as we sang of the maytide love:
" Sing love to the Wild Green Maiden;
Sing love to the Forest King,
And love to the green-leaved May then,
And love to the silver ring.
Sing high, sing low,
And the warm winds blow,
And the trees with the green leaves laden! "
Wild was the dance, and the horns in our midst, and the maypole was straight and high. And when we had danced the ring drew back. And horned of head and naked was the Lord of the Greenwood standing. And the Green Lady was stood but thirteen paces o'er the maytide grass and all love and passion was the art she wrought. O Wild, Wild Queen! O Wilderness Wide! Full fair of form we saw thee then. And Faith! By thine arts we loved thee!
She came neither forward to meet him nor went she aback, but all sweetly she leaned with her body like the birch tree leans with the wind. Her hands bore flowing streamers now whereon the birch leaves were twined and, sinuous as her own fair body, they spoke the art that her own body spoke. And in the one at the left hand the sweet woodruff shone, and apple blossom flushed with Spring was in the right. But as a girdle wrought in green she wore her older art and there about her waist, and bright with bullace blossom, hung in loops the wanton hawthorn leaves. And sinuously she danced amid the leaves and 'mid the flowers and her hips were slowly swaying for her cunt was full of sweetness and her brown arms were beckoning as she called the Summer in. And then she stopped her dancing, but her eyes were dancing still and all passion was the glyph that, silently, bewitchingly, she formed upon her lovely lips. And a soft light came into her eyes, and as she turned and her green gown turned about her, she let slip from her fingers the sweet scented woodruff 'mid the birch where it was woven, and away then she went through the vernal grass and thirteen paces to the north; and to east and west her green gown swung as her feet trod the northern path. And her posy lay in the grass, all sweet and scented of her summer love.
Horned, he smelt her then, and down on the knee he stooped, and the deep drum was beating and the grass grew all around. And he tossed his head and he cast about, and his feet to the north and her love were bound. And he came to the posy she laid in the grass, and the drum spoke loud of the maytide sound. And he picked up the garland all fragrant and green. And by the Horns! That rhythm! Loud and louder in his breast was beating, love and lust to the Maiden speaking.
And e'er so little to the north she danced, and her green gown swung to the west and the east, and her arms were full of apple blossoms and her eyes in her love were glittering. And so sweetly she let the birch garland fall and her blossoms she placed for the warm wind to find them. And north again she danced and all green was beneath her right hand and green to her left and her eyes were all sparkling, for passing fain she was of him and her cunt was full of love.
On the maytide trail he sought her as the heart beat in his breast. And the trees grew tall by the eastern horn and the trees grew tall by the west. And down in the grass for her love he cast, and the northern path liked him best. And he came to her blossoms; like a fair wind he came, like a fair wind that blows where her love scent goes. And there in all their fragrance, full strong he knew her love.
Northerly, still northerly, the Green Maid trod o'er the land, and easterly and westerly her green gown swung 'neath the art of her fair maiden hand. And she went at last into the ring of stones by the south point for her cunt was full of yearning there and fain she was of fucking with the lusty Forest Lord. All longing now and passion was the way of her; all love was the Maiden Earth. And just inside the ring she turned about, and the Horned One beheld her golden-thighed and lovely in her gown of green. But passing subtle was her maiden art and wondrous swift the change she wrought: full perilous her aspect now and passion filled, and wanton were her eyes and wild as her hands were on her hawthorn girdle and her fingers did the clasp asunder. And there in the ring of stones she spread her girdle in the grass, and straightway took up her wand from the heap of hawthorn branches where her secret art had had it hid.
And the Horned One came over the grass and into the ring and he knelt in the green girdle beneath him. And he lifted a blossom for the fragrance was in it and the sweetness told him her love.
Full passioned then the May Queen and the wand was in her hand, and her voice was full of Summer as she bound him round and round:
" Stay! Mighty Horned; I bind thee round!
By Maytide Morn full strong thou'rt bound!
Our love be free and passion burn
In grass and tree and flower and fern.
Strong sons together raise we kin
By fur and feather, scale and fin.
Oh, aye, for daughters we shall lie
On land, in waters, earth and sky.
By Sun above, by starry rim,
O Brirn! O Love! I'll have thee in! "
And she beckoned to us and there was no nay-saying her, and we came, one and all, into the ring of stones and were seated in the grass. And she beckoned to the hedgerows where in groups were people from the local farms and village homesteads gathered, that they draw without the circle near about her. And her eyes were on the Horned One now and the wand was set aside, and she stooped with her body and made him a glyph right beautiful to read wherein was all her passion writ and all the forest wild would wot the way she was in. And more she said again with arms and hands that, graceful, moved like slender boughs, and fingers flickering as of branches in the eager breeze. Her hips in their moving said d esire, and her hands were about caressing and the trees were grown tall and her gown flowed green all about her. And the rhythm was in her moving. And the Horned One was rising up on his haunches. Wider now her hips were swaying; wilder was her passion playing. Wilful was her wanton glancing; wide and wild the maytide dancing. And the Horned One was rising straight up before her on the ring wherein he stood. And whereas nought but ribbons held her gown about her, she loosed them every one, and the green was about her beautiful shoulders and spread in a compass about her 'neath her brown and lovely arms. And away then she cast it through the maytide air; far and far she cast her gown of green as naked as a flower before the wind she danced. And the passion was on her. And all astir with lust, and roving, was the Horned One in the ring where with enchantment fast she had bound him.
With the hawthorn branches now she sealed the ways, all thirteen about the ring of stones, and went straightway then to her love and, by her maiden hand she bore him o'er the threshold of her wild and ardent love.
Joyful now the Forest Lord and joyful too the Maiden Earth, and she took his cock into her lovely hands and caressed it most sweetly as if it were all her joy and there was nought in all her world more lovely, and she went down on her knee and kissed it and held it with her hands that it lie by her nose for the smell of it and she took it into her full and lovely lips. But he raised her up for her fragrance was all about him and he kissed her, and whereas she knew his longing, and no less was it her own sweet longing, she opened her thighs, wherefore all his desire was for the well at the world's end. Ah! sweet the dew and fragrant on the blessed grove, and long he knelt and sank his nose where all her fragrance rose to call him. Long, long, he knelt before her and her lovely fingers wrote her magic on the sun-bronzed neck beneath her. And soft now her eyes like opals, or like a woodland pool beneath the shadows' shifting, or like the lovely Moon a roaming in a watery sky. And the fragrance of it drifted on the maytide air. And truth to tell, there were many who, in all that beauty, cast their clothes aside, and many men who gat the horns upon their head.
And when her legs had gone all weak so that scarce she could stand the longer for all the desire and trembling that was on her, they sat them down in the grass. Cross-legg'd they were, the one before the other, and while the lovely hands and slender fingers of the May Queen ran like gossamer on the rugged ribs before her, no less the skill and deft the hands that wrought an ecstasy upon her own fair body's skin. And the sighs were as a summer wind or, gasping, sudden, like the lightning shower upon the thirsty Earth. Like the scent of the gorse adrift on the summer hills the hands were roaming in the ancient paths of love and her slender hands were making little circlets about his neck, and nought but his finger tips wrought ecstasy upon her lovely back. And down then and down till he came to her nether lips. And when she felt his fingers were in her body she took his cock into her hands and made a rhythm like the rhythm that was wrought inside her. And hard it was in her lovely lands, and the hardness was a joy to her. And the sultry look was come upon their faces, flushed and lovely as the morning sky; and fast, excited, eager was the breathing of the May Queen and the breathing of her lusty Forest Lord. And she made a low moaning noise with her mouth and her hands left off their thrusting of his cock. And she lay her down in the maytide grass and her legs she cast asunder.
Right fair of form and beautiful he saw her as he knelt between her lovely thighs, and like a field of growing corn a rippling to the playing wind her body in her passion moved as she saw him before her, horned against the sky. So he put his cock where most she yearned to have it and he thrust it deep inside her, and she made a noise in her throat no whit graceful but lovely to hear and full of all the fire and longing of her body. And as he went down upon her she brought her legs up and made a clasp of them behind his back, and he laid his face upon the Lady's face and his nose upon her lovely skin, and thrust with all desire and love full deep and hard within her eager cunt. And when she was joyed enough in that wise she loosed her clasp about him and he took her up so that she sat astride him and his cock straight up inside her. So she writhed upon it in her passion and her arms wee twined about him as the honeysuckle in the hedgerow twines and scents the summer air.
Now the sky was darkening and the air felt damp as the clustering clouds were gathering grey, and when the May Queen saw them coming down the western hills her eyes were lit with a wild and passionate fire and she bade her Lover lie before her as, with open thighs and eager, she sat astride his surging loins; and she raised her head upon her beautiful shoulders, that her eyes behold the lowering sky. And the wind was astir in the grass. And the passion of the dance was on her as, with her nether lips about him, she rode the rampant cock.
Magnificent her aspect in the darkening field as the Horned One surged beneath her and her hair was blown about her shoulders to the freshening wind. Straight-backed she was in all her nakedness beneath the darkening sky and the wild light was in her eyes and her beauty was grown awesome to behold. O Mab, Beloved Earth! Never woman knew thy passion nor thy beauty then, save her name be every woman and her love be every lusty swain!
There was a catching now in the rhythm that she wrought and a low, sweet sound was in her throat. All weak her body, and her ardour fiery strong as she laid her in her tumult in the grass beside him and, with sighs and by the passion of her moving, bade her Lover, by her longing, serve her love. And never man had sweeter toil nor fainer would his lady serve, for with all his heart and all his loins he loved the Queen of the May.
All wanton in the grass she lay and her passion and her beauty all about her, and her arms thrown wide and her legs cast wide asunder. And the joy and the lust of all the wilderness was at her as her eyes beheld the horns against the lowering sky and her cunt was 'ware of the rhythm that was wrought inside her. Grey were the clouds that rolled upon the horns; all seeping, damp, the love she bore within her cunt.
And the rhythm was coming hard now, and a low, wild noise was in her throat. Higher, harder wore the waves of passion, and the rhythm rose up and whelmed her and the noise in her throat burst out in a wild and shuddering cry that rent the air all around and rolled on and on as an unwrought hymn to the very clouds, wild, raw and old as time, and the clouds were rent as she lay in the grass 'neath her Forest Lord. And the big drops were falling, and her face to the heavens turned and her hands to the wide open sky.
And in a while they drew them asunder and the shower was spent of his burden, and as the May Queen lay in the grass full plenished of her love, the Horned One sat by her side and looked on her with all sweetness in his eyes; and fain she was of his sweetness and joyed of the deed there wrought.
Lovely was her aspect as she lay all glistening in the grass, and as she lay there in her loveliness and the rain upon her lovely skin, we brought her flowers and laid them upon her to adorn her. There were daisies aplenty and primroses withal, and marsh marigolds, big and golden, from the alder marshes. Lady's smock about the watery meadows and the shy wood sorrel from the shady hedge she bore upon her bosom, and the sweet scented woodruff for its fragrance, and the blossoms of the apple and the cherry, flushed with pink and snowy white. Full strong and well we loved the Maiden Earth, for in all her beauty she was dight before us. And the Sun himself made a merry face as he looked upon the lovely Earth. And the green leaves of the hazel we laid upon her lover and right well she beheld him arrayed.
Now the Horned One rose up from her and took the hands of two maidens, and t wo men then to take the maidens' hands, and so from one to another round the ring. And we danced in this way, to wit, that nowise hurried were our footsteps through the grass, but graceful as it were in the footsteps of the silver Moon, and a full circle round we danced to our Lady-Queen. And when the circuit was at an end we came together close about her and shoulder was to shoulder pressed, till the rhythm of the closing ebbed, and there came a surge that welled from out the centre of the circle, wide and ever wider till our arms would stretch no further, like the rhythm of the womb that, plenished of its precious burden, fain would bring it as a treasure proud and fair before te Sun. And a circuit more we danced about her till the pulsing rhythm came again; and eight were the rings we danced around, and eight were the waves of her woman's way.
And when the eighth wave had run its course about her we loosed our hands and she rose in the midst of us in all her flowers clad, and they dripped from her body as she rose and as she moved about the hallowed ground, and from her arms and from her lovely hands and fingers to her feet as she scattered them all about her in the May.
And straightway she took aside the hawthorn branch that stood athwart the northern portal of the ring and came out into the field and we with her, and every woman for the most part chose her a man that he go down to her in the grass in his love, and not a man there was who, though his will be free, was not by love and lust full bonded in his very heart. And the women all would have Padraig for the prowess of him and his dark and lustful eye, till one and all said it were right that Rhona for all her toil about the feast should feel him first where all her longing waxed inside her. And Rhian took Huw for the wild and lustful song they wrought together, and so each one to the swain of her heart's desire. And of the local people who had gathered there, there were some who, with their sweethearts at their hand, came and stood, the twain, before the May Queen that she bless them in their love together, and she bless the womb and what, by love, was wrought inside it. And she came then among her own people that our love be ever sweeter as we played the play of passion in the grass.
And so came that part to an end and the local people wended homeward on their way. The May Queen dight her in her green again and we gathered the hawthorn branches and brought them into the house with us and set them about the walls, and a merry feast we had.
And in the evening Coll wrought a little waxen doll upon a candle that he gave into the hands of our Lady and our Love, whereafter as the evening wore and the shadows gathered round and the slender Moon hung, lovely, in the western sky, we fell to the telling of stories and the saying of verses and the singing of songs of lust and love. And the May Queen chose who first would sing his song or tell his tale and who would come after, and though there was not a tale nor a song but that it wrought its love and sweetness in every heart there gathered, sweeter and fairer wrought than the ones that first she chose were the ones she chose to follow after, and fine tales had Coll and Padraig, and Owen's story liked her best of all; and sooth, it was a tale of lust and love to remember.
And after that when every tale was told and every love song sung that sought, by the telling and by the singing, to win her maytide love, full many more were the lays of love and the tales of lust and enchantment that followed on as the very waters follow water in the joyous tumbling of the river's springtide flood. And Owen, not content with having told the best tale of all would tell another no whit worse, and a verse where was all of beauty and of passion wrought. And we said he was born of the faery love, and the May Queen's heart went out to him:
"Oh, 'tis in my bed tonight the Moon shall find thee, Owen" she said, and forsooth was the Moon well content. And all the Earth in green was dight, and our love she bore about her.