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The Golden Spears

And once more they heard the fairy music, and marching on the strand before them were the nine little pipers.

“You must get off now,” said the little man, “I can go no farther with you.”

The children scrambled down, and the little man cried “swish,” and himself and the steed shot up through the sea, and they saw him no more. Then they set out after the nine little pipers, and it wasn’t long until they saw rising up from the golden strand and pushing their heads up into the sea above, a mass of dark grey rocks. And as they were gazing at them they saw the rocks opening, and the nine little pipers disappearing through them.

The children hurried on, and when they came up close to the rocks they saw sitting on a flat and polished stone a mermaid combing her golden hair, and singing a strange sweet song that brought the tears to their eyes, and by the mermaid’s side was a little sleek brown otter.

When the mermaid saw them she flung her golden tresses back over her snow-white shoulders, and she beckoned the children to her. Her large eyes were full of sadness; but there was a look so tender upon her face that the children moved towards her without any fear.

“Come to me, little one,” she said to Nora, “come and kiss me,” and in a second her arms were around the child. The mermaid kissed her again and again, as the tears rushed to her eyes, she said:

“Oh, Nora, avourneen, your breath is as sweet as the wild rose that blooms in the green fields of Erin, and happy are you, my children, who have come so lately from the pleasant land. Oh, Connla! Connla! I get the scent of the dew of the Irish grasses and of the purple heather from your feet. And you both can soon return to Erin of the Streams, but I shall not see it till three hundred years have passed away, for I am Liban the Mermaid, daughter of a line of kings. But I may not keep you here. The Fairy Queen is waiting for you in her snow-white palace and her fragrant bowers. And now kiss me once more, Nora, and kiss me, Connla.

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