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The Big Poor People

"For three hundred years they were at Loch Derg, and then, by the power of their enchantment, they were compelled to leave it. They flew to the sea of Moyle, and there they stayed, through the summer's heat and the winter's cold, for three hundred years more. Still the sister told her brothers of the strange men who were to come to Erin and of the bells that were to free them. But they could not be comforted. The strange men were too long in coming.

"When the three hundred years were past they had to fly away again to another sea. As they flew, they passed over the spot where their father's castle had stood and where they had been happy children together. Not a stone of the beautiful castle could they see. It had all crumbled down, and the grass had grown over it for many a year. They saw the fox that had its hole where their father's bright hearth fire had been, and they saw the ditch of dirty water where their father used to welcome kings and bards and wise men at his gate. They kept their way through the air and saw no more; yet they had seen all that there was to see. It gave the poor swans only a little ache at the heart, for they were past hope now. They had suffered too much to believe anything or to think of anything but the suffering that was past and the more suffering that was to come.

"The end of their journey came and they swam in a new sea. Again the sister tried to cheer her brothers, but they could not be cheered. The strange men with the shaven heads would never come, they thought. They had waited for them too long.

"But the hundreds of years that had passed had done more than to bring sorrow to the poor swans. In lands far away a new faith had grown up, not like the Druids' faith. And at last across the sea to Erin came the holy St. Patrick. He brought monks with him, and they had shaven heads. They went about the island and preached, and built chapels. In the east end of each chapel they set up an altar, and they said masses and rang bells. And they built a chapel on the island that has since been called the Isle of Glory.

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