Grey mistiness covers the sky. The air is turning colder and sharper. Each tree is completely still. Not even the smallest branches are moving. Every tree is reflected perfectly in the lake's mirrored surface. Beyond these reflections, the swan glides effortlessly. The crisp, still air and misty cloud suggest the imminence of snow.
The Vow Of Love
Patrick is sitting contemplating the swan. The reflections of her long, elegant neck and white body in the lake's still water captivate him. As Patrick watches, the swan glides into the centre of the lake and floats motionless watching, not even the tiniest ripple emanating from her body.
Patrick turns once again to his decision to escape. He wonders how he will tell the children. As he observes the swan a presence descends. The lake seems more real than ever. Then he hears a sweet melody drift across the lake. It is the voice of a young boy singing.
Patrick is entranced.
"Where does this singing come from?" he wonders.
He looks across the lake to the source and sees a large ancient standing stone. He rises to investigate. As he walks around the lake he sees the children gathered around the stone and Amergin singing. Patrick continues around the lake to greet the children.
When he approaches, the singing stops.
"We have been waiting for you," says Maebh. "Have you thought any more about the escape plan?"
Patrick stops and observes the gathering. Each young face is looking eagerly and expectantly up at him. He is aware of the sacrifice each of them will be making if he says yes and they decide to support him in his escape plan. They are waiting for an answer.
"I've decided to go ahead with the plan."
Maebh stands up and announces, "I'm right with you Pat." The others follow suit. "We're all right with you Pat," Maebh confirms.
"But you are risking your life by joining this plan!" exclaims Patrick.
"We are happy to do it for you Pat," Maebh replies.
The others nod in agreement.
Maebh points to the ancient standing stone. It has a hole in the centre just big enough to put a hand through.
"This is the holestone," she comments, "In ancient times members of a clan who made a solemn agreement shook hands through the hole in this stone. I suggest we do the same."
So as the Song of Amergin is sung, each of the children step forward, shake Patrick's hand and swear allegiance to him and to his plan.
This simple ceremony continues until all but one of the children has sworn allegiance. Then, after hesitating for a moment, Ossian steps up to the holestone and takes Patrick firmly by the hand.
"You too Ossian! You too!"
After taking Ossian's hand and hearing him swear allegiance, Patrick is overcome with emotion. The children gather around him lovingly.
"We know how you feel," they say gently.
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