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accede to it, I could propose a mode of redoubling the present friendship which I entertain for Lir. You all know that I have three daughters, the fairest in the kingdom, and I would praise them further, but that I am their father. I mean Aov, Aoife, and Alve, of whom Lir might choose which he pleased, to supply the place of his dead wife.”
The speech of the king circulated amongst the Tuatha Danaans, and all agreed that a messenger ought to be sent to Lir in order to propose the connection, with a suitable dowry for the bride. When the ambassador arrived at the palace of Lir, he found the latter willing to accept the proposal, and, accordingly, both returned together to the royal residence of Bogh Dearg, on the shores of Lough Derg, where they were received on the part of the Tuatha Danaans with all the acclamations that even a more popular prince could expect. All parties seemed to take an interest in promoting the union.
The three danghters were sitting on chairs richly ornamented, in a hall of their father's palace. Near them sat the queen, wife of Bogh Dearg. When Lir and the monarch entered, the latter directed his attention to the three princesses, and bade him choose which he would.
“I do not know which of the three to choose,” said Lir, “but the eldest is the most royal, and besides it is just that she should have precedence of the rest."
“Then,” said the monarch, “ that is Aov." " Aov, then, I choose,” replied Lir.
The marriage was celebrated with the magnificence becoming the rank of the parties. They remained a fortnight in the palace of the monarch, after which they went to the residence of Lir, who gave a splendid banquet on his arrival. In the progress of time Aov had twins, a son and a daughter, who were named, the one Fingula, and the other Aodh, or Eugene. In her next confinement, she gave birth to two sons, to whom were given the names of Fiacra and Cornu, but died herself, in a few days after. Lir was exceedingly grieved at her death, and, only for the love he bore his children, would almost have wished to die along with her. The tidings reached the monarch, who, together with all his household, made great lamentations for his eldest daughter, grieving more especially for the affliction which it caused to Lir.
“Nevertheless," said the monarch,“ what has occurred need not dissolve the connection between Lir and us, for he can, if he please, take my second daughter, Aoife, to supply her place.”
This speech, as was intended, soon found its way to Lir, who set out immediately for the palace of Bogh Dearg. The marriage was celebrated with the same splendor as on the former occasion, and Lir, after spending some time at the monarch’s palace, returned to his house with Aoife, where he received her with all the love and honor which she could expect. For some time Aoife returned the same to him and to his children ; and indeed any person who once saw those children could not avoid giving them all the love which any creature could receive. Frequently the old monarch came to see them to Lir's house, and often took them to his own, where he would gladly keep them, but that their father could not bear to have them out of his sight. It was the custom of the Tuatha Danaans to entertain each other in succession. When they assembled at the house of Lir, the four children were the whole subject of discourse, and the chief ornament of the day, they were so fair and so winning both in their appearances and their dispositions; and even as they dispersed to their several homes, the guests were heard to speak of nothing else. Lir himself would rise every morning at daybreak, and going to the apartment in which his children lay, would lie down among them for a while. The black poison of jealousy began at length to insinuate itself into the mind of Aoife. As if the love of Lir were not wide enough to comprehend them and herself, she conceived a mortal hatred against her sister's children. She feigned illness, and remained nearly a year in that condition, totally occupied in devising in her mind some means of ruining the children.
One morning she ordered her chariot, to the great surprise of Lir, who, however, was well pleased at this sign of returning health. Aoife next desired that the four children of Lir should be placed in the chariot with her, and drove away in the direction of Bogh Dearg's house. It was much against her will that Fingula, the daughter, went into the carriage, for she had long observed the increasing coolness in the mind of her stepmother, and guessed that she had no kindly purpose in her thoughts at present. She could not, however, avoid the destiny that was prepared for her, nor escape the suffering which she was doomed to undergo.
Aoife continued her journey until she arrived at Fion. dach, where dwelt some of her father's people whom she knew to be deeply skilled in the art of the Druids. Having arrived at their residence, she went into the place where they were, and endeavored to prevail on them to kill the children, telling them that their father through his affection for them had slighted her, and promising to bestow on them all the riches which they could require.
"Ah,” replied the Druids, “we would not kill the children of Lir for the whole world. You took an evil thought into your mind, and left your shame behind you, when you came with such a request to us."
“Then if you will not,” cried Aoife, seizing a sword which lay near, “I will avenge myself, for I am resolved they shall not live.”
Saying these words, she rushed out with the drawn sword, but through her womanhood she lost her courage when she was about to strike at the children. She then returned the sword to the Druids, and said she could not kill them.
Aoife resumed her journey, and they all drove on untii they reached the shores of Lough Dairvreae, on the Lake of the Speckled Oak. Here she unharnessed the horses, and desired the children to descend and bathe in the lake. They did as she bade, but when all were in the water, she took a magic wand and struck them with it one after another. One after another the forms of the beautiful children disappeared, and four white swans were seen upon the water in their stead, when she addressed them in the following words:
A011.. Away, you children of the king! I have separated your lives
from joy. Your people will grieve to hear these tidings, but you shall con
tinue birds. , What I have done, I have done through hatred of you, and
mnalice to your father.
We, left here on the waters, must be tossed from wave to ware.
In the mean time Lir, returning to his palace, missed his children, and finding Aoife not yet come home, immediately guessed that she had destroyed them, for he likewise had observed her jealousy. In the morning he ordered his chariot to be prepared, and, following the track of his wife, travelled along until he came to the Lake of the Speckled Oak, when the children saw the chariot approaching, and Fingula spoke as follows:
By yon old Oak, whose branches hoar
"T' is royal Lir himself who leads the shining band. Lir came to the brink of the water, and when he heard the birds conversing, as they drew nigh, in human language, I asked them how they became endowed with that surprising gift.
“Know, Lir,” replied Fingula, “that we are your four children, who, through the frantic jealousy of our