A Book of Myths

Page: 147

“Dost not know what sound it is?” she asked, divining their thoughts.

“We heard a faint, fearful voice,” they said, “but we know not what it is.”

Then said Finola: “It is the voice of the Christian bell. Soon, now, shall our suffering be ended, for such is the will of God.”

So very happily and peacefully they listened to the ringing of the bell, until Kemoc had said matins. Then said Finola: “Let us now sing our music,” and they praised the Lord of heaven and earth.

And when the wonderful melody of their song reached the ears of Kemoc, he knew that none but the children of Lîr could make such magic-sweet melody. So he hastened to where they were, and when he asked them if they were indeed the children of Lîr, for whose sake he had come to Inis Glora, they told him all their piteous tale.

Then said Kemoc, “Come then to land, and put your trust in me, for on this island shall your enchantment come to an end.” And when most gladly they came, he caused a cunning workman to fashion two slender silver [Pg 304] chains; one he put between Finola and Aed, and the other between Ficra and Conn, and so joyous were they to know again human love, and so happy to join each day with Kemoc in praising God, that the memory of their suffering and sorrow lost all its bitterness. Thus in part were the words of Eva fulfilled, but there had yet to take place the entire fulfilment of her words.

Decca, a princess of Munster, had wed Larguen, king of Connaught, and when news came to her of the wonderful swans of Kemoc, nothing would suffice her but that she should have them for her own. By constant beseeching, she at length prevailed upon Larguen to send messengers to Kemoc, demanding the swans. When the messengers returned with a stern refusal from Kemoc, the king was angry indeed. How dared a mere cleric refuse to gratify the whim of the queen of Larguen of Connaught! To Inis Glora he went, posthaste, himself.

“Is it truth that ye have dared to refuse a gift of your birds to my queen?” he asked, in wrath.

And Kemoc answered: “It is truth.”

Then Larguen, in furious anger, seized hold of the silver chain that bound Finola and Aed together, and of the chain by which Conn and Ficra were bound, and dragged them away from the altar by which they sat, that he might take them to his queen.

But as the king held their chains in his rude grasp, a wondrous thing took place.

Instead of swans, there followed Larguen a very old woman, white-haired and feeble, and three very old men, [Pg 305] bony and wrinkled and grey. And when Larguen beheld them, terror came upon him and he hastened homeward, followed by the bitter denunciations of Kemoc. Then the children of Lîr, in human form at last, turned to Kemoc and besought him to baptize them, because they knew that death was very near.