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A Dream Of Angus Oge
by [?]

The day had been wet and wild, and the woods looked dim and drenched from the window where Con sat. All the day long his ever restless feet were running to the door in a vain hope of sunshine. His sister, Norah, to quiet him had told him over and over again the tales which delighted him, the delight of hearing which was second only to the delight of living them over himself, when as Cuculain he kept the ford which led to Ulla, his sole hero heart matching the hosts of Meave; or as Fergus he wielded the sword of light the Druids made and gave to the champion, which in its sweep shore away the crests of the mountains; or as Brian, the ill-fated child of Turann, he went with his brothers in the ocean-sweeping boat farther than ever Columbus traveled, winning one by one in dire conflict with kings and enchanters the treasures which would appease the implacable heart of Lu.

He had just died in a corner of the room from his many wounds when Norah came in declaring that all these famous heroes must go to bed. He protested in vain, but indeed he was sleepy, and before he had been carried half-way to the room the little soft face drooped with half-closed eyes, while he drowsily rubbed his nose upon her shoulder in an effort to keep awake. For a while she flitted about him, looking, with her dark, shadowy hair flickering in the dim, silver light like one of the beautiful heroines of Gaelic romance, or one of the twilight, race of the Sidhe. Before going she sat by his bed and sang to him some verses of a song, set to an old Celtic air whose low intonations were full of a half-soundless mystery:

Over the hill-tops the gay lights are peeping;
Down in the vale where the dim fleeces stray
Ceases the smoke from the hamlet upcreeping:
Come, thou, my shepherd, and lead me away.

“Who’s the shepherd?” said the boy, suddenly sitting up.

“Hush, alannah, I will tell you another time.” She continued still more softly:

Lord of the Wand, draw forth from the darkness,
Warp of the silver, and woof of the gold:
Leave the poor shade there bereft in its starkness:
Wrapped in the fleece we will enter the Fold.

There from the many-orbed heart where the Mother
Breathes forth the love on her darlings who roam,
We will send dreams to their land of another
Land of the Shining, their birthplace and home.

He would have asked a hundred questions, but she bent over him, enveloping him with a sudden nightfall of hair, to give him his good-night kiss, and departed. Immediately the boy sat up again; all his sleepiness gone. The pure, gay, delicate spirit of childhood was darting at ideas dimly perceived in the delicious moonlight of romance which silvered his brain, where may airy and beautiful figures were moving: The Fianna with floating locks chasing the flying deer; shapes more solemn, vast, and misty, guarding the avenues to unspeakable secrets; but he steadily pursued his idea.

“I guess he’s one of the people who take you away to faeryland. Wonder if he’d come to me? Think it’s easy going away,” with an intuitive perception of the frailty of the link binding childhood to earth in its dreams. (As a man Con will strive with passionate intensity to regain that free, gay motion in the upper airs.) “Think I’ll try if he’ll come,” and he sang, with as near an approach as he could make to the glimmering cadences of his sister’s voice:

Come, thou, my shepherd, and lead me away.

He then lay back quite still and waited. He could not say whether hours or minutes had passed, or whether he had slept or not, until he was aware of a tall golden-bearded man standing by his bed. Wonderfully light was this figure, as if the sunlight ran through his limbs; a spiritual beauty was on the face, and those strange eyes of bronze and gold with their subtle intense gaze made Con aware for the first time of the difference between inner and out in himself.