A Year and a Day
If you touch the ground of Erin you will be at once a weak, old man, you can never come back to Tir-na-n-Oge, you will never see me, and I shall never see you again. Will you promise me, if I will let you go, that you will not get off the horse's back or let go his bridle?'
"Oisin promised and she let him go. Away over the water the horse galloped again. Tir-na-n-Oge, with its warm sun and its sweet air, was left behind. A damp sea-wind came up, and it blew the salt spray harshly into Oisin's face as the horse dashed along. It was a joy to him. No more of the soft comforts of that weary island. This was something for a man to face. Yet he did not forget the Princess, and he meant to go back to her when he had seen his land and his people once more. Then the clouds and the fog drifted away and the sun shone out, but still the salt spray covered him, and he felt stronger as he made his way against it and felt the great, free breeze from the east. And now he saw something like a little cloud on the horizon, and it rose higher and grew wider, and then its misty brown faded away and he saw the beautiful green shores of Erin."
The old woman paused again and said over softly to herself: "The beautiful—beautiful green shores of Erin."
"The horse and the rider soon reached the land now. Oisin rode first to the spot where he had first met the Princess of Tir-na-n-Oge and where he had last seen his father and his companions. He did not think to find them there, but he felt that it was the first place to which he should go. The forest had been cleared away a little, and a strange building stood there. It was a small house, built of stone, and there was a cross on the top of it. Inside he heard a sound of singing. He rode to the door and looked in. There were people kneeling before a man who stood in a higher place than the rest and held up a golden cup.
"This was something that Oisin did not understand, and he rode away, remembering what the Princess had told him, that he would find Ireland changed.