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Then they showed him the bird that was on the waves of the lake--a swan she was and she floated proudly. The swan came towards them and as she drew nearer they could hear her voice. The sounds she made were not like any sound of birds, but like the sounds bards make chanting their verses. Words came on high notes and low notes, but they were like words in a strange language. And still the swan chanted as she drew near to the shore where Gilly and the six robbers stood.

She spread out her wings, and, raising her neck she curved it, while she stayed watching the men on the bank. "Hear the Swan of Endless Tales--the Swan of Endless Tales" she sang in words they knew. Then she raised herself out of the water, turned round in the air, and flew back to the middle of the lake.

"Time for us to be leaving the place when there is a bird on the lake that can speak like that," said Mogue, who had been the Captain of the Robbers. "To-night I'm leaving this townland."

"And I am leaving too," said another robber. "And I too," said another. "And I may be going away from this place," said Gilly of the Goatskin.

The robbers went away from him and back to the house and Gilly sat by the edge of the lake waiting to see if the Swan of Endless Tales would come back and tell him something. She did not come. As Gilly sat there the farmer who had lost his goat, his sheep and his bullock came by. He was dragging one foot after the other and looking very downcast. "What is the matter with you, honest man?" said Gilly.

The farmer told him how he had lost his goat, his sheep and his bullock. He told him how he had thought he heard his goat bleating and his sheep ba'ing, and how he went through the wood to search for them, and how his bullock was gone when he came back to the road. "And what to say to my wife Ann I don't know," said he, "particularly as I have brought no shawl to put her in good humor. Heavy is the blame she'll give me on account of my losing a goat, a sheep and a bullock."

Gilly took a key out of his pocket. "Do you see this key?" said he. "Take it and open the byre door at such a place, and you'll find in that byre your goat, your sheep and your bullock. There are robbers in that house, but if they try to prevent your taking your own tell them that all the threshers of the country are coming to beat them with flails." The farmer took the key and went away very thankful to Gilly. The story says that he got back his goat, his sheep and his bullock and made it an excuse that he had seen three magpies on the road for not going to the fair to buy a shawl for his wife Ann. The robbers were very frightened when he told them about the threshers coming and they went away from that part of the country.

As for Gilly, he thought he would go back to the Old Woman of Beare for his name. He took the path by the edge of the lake. And as he journeyed along with his holly-stick in his hand he heard the Swan of Endless Tales chanting.

Next: Part I