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The Golden Spears

It chanced one day that when they were resting in the noontide heat, under the perfumed shade of a hawthorn in bloom, they saw on the edge of the meadow, spread out before them, a speckled thrush cowering in the grass.

“Oh, Connla! Connla! Look at the thrush––and, look, look up in the sky, there is a hawk!” cried Nora.

Connla looked up, and he saw the hawk with quivering wings, and he knew that in a second it would pounce down on the frightened thrush. He jumped to his feet, fixed a stone in his sling, and before the whirr of the stone shooting through the air was silent, the stricken hawk tumbled headlong in the grass.

The thrush, shaking its wings, rose joyously in the air, and perching upon an elm-tree in sight of the children, he sang a song so sweet that they left the hawthorn shade and walked along together until they stood under the branches of the elm; and they listened and listened to the thrush’s song, and at last Nora said:

“Oh, Connla! did you ever hear a song so sweet as this?”

“No,” said Connla, “and I do believe sweeter music was never heard before.”

“Ah,” said the thrush, “that’s because you never heard the nine little pipers playing. And now, Connla and Nora, you saved my life to-day.”

“It was Nora saved it,” said Connla, “for she pointed you out to me, and also pointed out the hawk which was about to pounce on you.”

“It was Connla saved you,” said Nora, “for he slew the hawk with his sling.”

“I owe my life to both of you,” said the thrush. “You like my song, and you say you have never heard anything so sweet; but wait till you hear the nine little pipers playing.”

“And when shall we hear them?” said the children.

“Well,” said the thrush, “sit outside your door to-morrow evening, and wait and watch until the shadows have crept up the heather, and then, when the mountain top is gleaming like a golden spear, look at the line where the shadow on the heather meets the sunshine, and you shall see what you shall see.”

And having said this, the thrush sang another song sweeter than the first, and then saying “good-bye,” he flew away into the woods.

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Category: Celtic folktales
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