The bare trees are picked out by the low slanting, winter sunshine. Birdsong fills the air. A gentle river gurgles between brown banks. Large green ferns waver in the soft breeze. The woodland path follows the gurgling river higher into the hills.
The First Hint Of Freedom
Patrick is thinking of Conchubhar's death and the failed rebellion as he follows the path higher and higher. A duck darts out from the riverbank and scoots across the water as he nears an old blown-down tree.
"Conchubhar failed. His rebellion failed," he muses. "There must be a better way."
As he reflects on Conchubhar's death his mind turns to the Vanishing Lake and the pure, graceful, white swan. He feels drawn, as if by an invisible hand, back to the lake.
He decides to visit the lake by continuing up the Br ad River by the path that Maebh had taken. As he climbs, the river becomes smaller and smaller until it is only a small bubbling stream, then as he clambers up the bank by the waterfall, he is in rapture at the still presence of the lake's calm water. There, floating in the centre of the still lake, is the swan.
Patrick sits on the banks of the lake and tries to relax. However much he tries he finds his mind troubled and stressed by the death of Conchubhar and his feelings of bondage and slavery.
"Now Conchubhar is dead I feel more trapped than ever," he muses. As he sits in this stressed and perplexed state, the swan glides over close to the bank where he sits.
"Why does this lake and the swan feel so significant?" he ponders.
Then Patrick hears a rustling in the trees behind him and out skips Maebh and some of the children he recognizes from the time he danced with them around the fairy thorn. They form a circle around Patrick and dance round and round laughing, singing and playing jokes. Eventually the children sit in a group in front of Patrick with Maebh in the middle.
"Why are you feeling so morose Pat?" she asks.
The swan draws closer to where Patrick sits. He feels this calling to confide in the children. He tells them of his despair at being a slave, his grief at the death of Conchubhar, how he found the treasure and was given the brooch and of his great calling, which seems so out of reach. The children listen sympathetically. Then Maebh says,
"Pat I feel you can now release yourself from your commitment to Conchubhar's family. Their needs are now met by the buried treasure."
"Yes and you don't have to stick with Lord Melnic because you never swore allegiance to him," Amergin adds.
Patrick is surprised. "I never looked at it like that," he replies. "But how can I break away?"
"Why don't we return to the Vanishing Lake and we'll create an escape plan," Maebh suggests.
Then the children rise, run into the forest laughing and singing and disappear. Patrick sits quietly. He feels a deep sense of relaxation as he rests by the lake in the presence of the swan. He watches her glide gracefully across the lake, her pristine white body reflecting in the still blue water.
"Why are you here?" he ponders. "Why do you never fly?"
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