Tuan mac Cairill - James Stephens

On the morrow the state of siege continued, and through that day the servants were sent many times to observe through spy-holes.

Go, he would say, and find out if the worshipper of new gods has taken himself away.

But the servants returned each time with the same information.

The new druid is still there, they said.

All through that day no one could leave the stronghold. And the enforced seclusion wrought on the minds of the servants, while the cessation of all work banded them together in small groups that whispered and discussed and disputed. Then these groups would disperse to peep through the spy-hole at the patient, immobile figure seated before the door, wrapped in a meditation that was timeless and unconcerned. They took fright at the spectacle, and once or twice a woman screamed hysterically, and was bundled away with a companion's hand clapped on her mouth, so that the ear of their master should not be affronted.

He has his own troubles, they said. It is a combat of the gods that is taking place.

So much for the women; but the men also were uneasy. They prowled up and down, tramping from the spy-hole to the kitchen, and from the kitchen to the turreted roof. And from the roof they would look down on the motionless figure below, and speculate on many things, including the staunchness of man, the qualities of their master, and even the possibility that the new gods might be as powerful as the old. From these peepings and discussions they would return languid and discouraged.

If, said one irritable guard, if we buzzed a spear at the persistent stranger, or if one slung at him with a jagged pebble!

What! his master demanded wrathfully, is a spear to be thrown at an unarmed stranger? And from this house! And he soundly cuffed that indelicate servant.

Be at peace all of you, he said, for hunger has a whip, and he will drive the stranger away in the night.

The household retired to wretched beds; but for the master of the house there was no sleep. He marched his halls all night, going often to the spy-hole to see if that shadow was still sitting in the shade, and pacing thence, tormented, preoccupied, refusing even the nose of his favourite dog as it pressed lovingly into his closed palm.

On the morrow he gave in.

The great door was swung wide, and two of his servants carried Finnian into the house, for the saint could no longer walk or stand upright by reason of the hunger and exposure to which he had submitted. But his frame was tough as the unconquerable spirit that dwelt within it, and in no long time he was ready for whatever might come of dispute or anathema.

Being quite re-established he undertook the conversion of the master of the house, and the siege he laid against that notable intelligence was long spoken of among those who are interested in such things.