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The Golden Spears

They will not come for a long time after you have left the fairyland under the sea, and until they come lay aside your helmet, shield, and spear, and warrior’s cloak and golden brooch. But when the time comes when you will be called to battle, enter not upon it without the golden brooch I give you fastened in your cloak, for if you do harm will come to you. Now, kiss me, children; your little mother is waiting for you at the foot of the golden spear, but do not forget to say good-bye to Liban the Mermaid, exiled from the land she loves, and pining in sadness beneath the sea.”

Connla and Nora kissed the fairy queen, and Connla, wearing his golden helmet and silken cloak, and carrying his shield and spear, led Nora with him. They passed from the palace through the garden of roses, through the flowery meadow, through the dark grey rocks, until they reached the golden strand; and there, sitting and singing the strange, sweet song, was Liban the Mermaid.

“And so you are going up to Erin,” she said, “up through the covering waters. Kiss me, children, once again; and when you are in Erin of the Streams, sometimes think of the exile from Erin beneath the sea.”

And the children kissed the mermaid, and with sad hearts, bidding her good-bye, they walked along the golden strand. When they had gone what seemed to them a long way, they began to feel weary; and just then they saw coming towards them a little man in a red jacket leading a coal-black steed.

When they met the little man, he said: “Connla, put Nora up on this steed; then jump up before her.”

Connla did as he was told, and when both of them were mounted––

“Now, Connla,” said the little man, “catch the bridle in your hands, and you, Nora, clasp Connla round the waist, and close your eyes.”

They did as they were bidden, and then the little man said, “Swash, swish!” and the steed shot up from the strand like a lark from the grass, and pierced the covering sea, and went bounding on over the level waters; and when his hoofs struck the hard ground, Connla and Nora opened their eyes, and they saw that they were galloping towards a shady wood.

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