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who has had them transformed into four swans, and abandoned them on the Lake of the Speckled Oak. They have been seen in that place by a great multitude of our people, who have heard the story from themselves, for they retain their speech and reason as before.”
The monarch started at these words, and, looking on Aoife, immediately became convinced that Lir had spoken the truth. He began to upbraid his daughter in a rough and angry tone.
“Malicious as you were," said he, "you will suffer more by this cruel deed than the children of Lir, for they in the progress of time will be released from their sufferings, and their souls will be made happy in the end."
He then asked her into what shape of all living creatures she would least like to be transformed.
“Speak,” said he, "for it is not in your power to avoid telling the truth.”
Aoife, thus constrained, replied with a horrible look and tone, that there was no form which she more abhorred than that of a Deamhain Eidhir, or Demon of the Air.
“That form, then," said the monarch, “shall soon be yours”; and while he said so, he took a magic collar and laid it on her. Immediately losing her own shape, she flew away, shrieking, in that of a foul Spirit of the Air, in which she continues to this day, and will to the end of time, according to her deserts.
Soon afterwards, the monarch and the Tuatha Danaans went to the Lake of the Speckled Oak and encamped upon its shores, listening to the music of the birds. The Sons of Mile, likewise, came thither from every part of Ireland, and formed an encampment in the same place, for there never was music comparable to that of those swans. Sometimes they related their mournful story, sometimes they would answer the questions proposed to them by the people on shore, and talk familiarly witk their relatives and friends, and at others they sung, both by day and night, the most delightful music that was ever heard by human ear; so that the listeners on shore, notwithstanding the grief and uneasiness in which they continued, enjoyed as sweet sleep, and arose as fresh and vigorous, as if they had been resting in their accustomed beds at home. The two multitudes of the Sons of Mile, and of the Tuatha Danaans, thus remained in their respective encampments during the space of thirty years. At the end of that time, Fingula addressed her brethren as follows:
“Are you ignorant, my brothers, that but one night is left of the time which you were to spend upon the lake?”
On hearing this, the three brethren grew very sorrowful, and uttered many plaintive cries and sounds of grief; for they were almost as happy on that lake, enjoying the company of their friends and relatives, talking with them and answering their questions, as they would have been in their own home; more especially, when compared to the grief they felt on leaving it for the wild and stormy sea that lies to the north of Ireland. Early in the morning they came as close to the brink of the lake as they could, and spoke to their father and their friends, to all of whom they bade a mournful farewell, repeating those pitiful lines that follow :
Receive, O royal sage, our last farewell,
Thou of the potent spell !
We meet — we meet no more!
We leave your happy bowers.
We meet, we meet no more !
On Moyle's wild waters tost,
To weave a mournful tale.
To waste in various pain.
To heave on ocean's breast.
Through many a year to freeze, —
For Lir’s soft beds of down!
Early we part unblest!
Lone Dairvreac's peaceful lake.
Rise, brethren dear!
Farewell, a last farewell !
We meet —— we meet no more ! Having ended those verses, the swans took wing and, arising lightly on the air, continued their flight until they reached the Sruih na Maoile, or the Sea of Moyle, as those waters were called which flowed between Ireland and Scotland. Their departure occasioned deep sorrow to all who witnessed it, and they had a law proclaimed throughout the kingdom, that any one, from the king to the peasant, who should kill a swan, let his power be as great as it might, should meet with certain death. In the mean time, the children of Lir found that they had made an unhappy change of place. When they saw the broad wild ocean around them, they grew cold and hungry, and began to fall into despair, thinking that all they ever suffered was nothing until they were sent to these seas. They remained on the waters until one night it began to freeze very hard.
“My loving brothers," said Fingula, "we make very unwise provision against the coming night if we do not keep close together; and lest by any mischance we should lose sight of each other, let us appoint a place where we may meet again as soon as it may be in our power.”
“In that case, dear sister,” said the three brothers, “let us meet at the Carrig na Roin (or the Rock of the Seals), for that is a place with which we are all acquainted.”
They continued thus until about the middle of the night. The wind then increased to a storm, the waters arose, and the mountains of brine as they rolled and broke around them sparkled in the gloom as if they had taken fire. So great was the tempest that the children of Lir were separated by the waves. All were scattered far and wide, nor could one tell whither any of the three others had been driven. At length it abated
a little of its violence, the deep became more settled, and Fingula found herself alone. Not being able to see her brethren anywhere around, she felt the deepest anxiety of mind, and at length broke forth into the following words:
Heart-broken o'er these seas I glide,
My frozen wings together clinging:
I hear my brethren singing.
Three lingering ages, marked by woes,
Since first we left Lone Dairvreac's water
To Lir's unbappy daughter.
Beloved alike, O loved so well,
That made your sister's breast your pillow.
Where idam you o'er the billow ?
Hid by what rocks or secret caves,
That wont beneath my wings to slumber,
Ere time restore our number.
Tossed by the surge and sleety storm
At random o'er this bring water ;
Of Lir's unhappy daughter.