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296
A BOOK OF MYTHS

"Lîr loves thee no longer," she made answer. "He will not trust his children to thee, lest thou shouldst work them some ill."

But her father did not believe her lying words. Speedily he sent messengers to Shee Finnaha that they might bring back the children who ever carried joy with them. Amazed, Lîr received the message, and when he learned that Eva had reached the palace alone, a terrible dread arose in his heart. In great haste he set out, and as he passed by Lake Darvra he heard voices singing melodies so sweet and moving that he was fain, in spite of his fears, to stop and listen. And lo, as he listened, he found that the singers were four swans, that swam close up to where he stood, and greeted him in the glad voices of his own dear children. All that night he stayed beside them, and when they had told him their piteous tale and he knew that no power could free them till the years of their doom were accomplished, Lîr's heart was like to break with pitying love and infinite sorrow. At dawn he took a tender leave of them and drove to the house of Bodb the Red. Terrible were the words of Lîr, and dark was his face as he told the king the evil thing that Eva had done. And Eva, who had thought in the madness of her jealousy that Lîr would give her all his love when he was a childless man, shrank, white and trembling, away from him when she saw the furious hatred in his eyes. Then said the king, and his anger was even as the anger of Lîr:

"The suffering of the little children who are dear