The Princess of Land-under-Waves
When no wind blows and the surface of the sea is clear as crystal, the beauties of Land-under-Waves are revealed to human eyes. It is a fair country with green vales through which flow silvern streams, and the pebbles in the beds of the streams are flashing gems of varied hues. There are deep forests that glitter in eternal sunshine, and bright flowers that never fade. Rocks are of gold, and the sand is dust of silver.
On a calm morning in May, the Feans, who were great warriors in ancient Scotland, being the offspring of gods and goddesses, were sitting beside the Red Cataract, below which salmon moved slowly, resting themselves ere they began to leap towards the higher waters of the stream. The sun was shining bright, and the sea was without a ripple. With eyes of wonder the Feans gazed on the beauties of Land-under-Waves. None spoke, so deeply were they absorbed. They saw the silver sands, the rocks of gold, the gleaming [p. 58] forests, the beautiful flowers, and the bright streams that flow over beds covered with flashing gems.
As they gazed a boat was seen on the sea, and for a time the Feans were not sure whether it moved above the surface or below it. In time, however, as it drew near they saw that it was on the surface. The boat came towards the place where they sat, and they saw that a woman pulled the oars.
All the Feans rose to their feet. Finn, the King of the Feans, and Goll, his chief warrior, had keen sight, and when the boat was still afar off they saw that the woman had great beauty. She pulled two oars, which parted the sea, and the ripples seemed to set in motion all the trees and flowers of Land-under-Waves.
The boat came quickly, and when it grounded on the beach, the loveliest woman that ever eyes, gazed upon rose out of it. Her face was mild and touched with a soft sadness. She was a stranger to the Feans, who knew well that she had come from afar, and they wondered whence she came and what were the tidings she brought.
The young woman walked towards Finn and saluted him, and for a time Finn and all the Feans were made silent by her exceeding great beauty. At length Finn spoke to her. You are welcome, fair young stranger, he said. Tell [p. 59] us what tribe you are from, and what is the purpose of your journey to the land of the Feans.
Softly spoke the young woman, saying: I am the daughter of King Under-Waves, and I shall tell you why I have come here. There is not a land beneath the sun which I have not searched for Finn and his brave warriors.
Beautiful maiden, Finn said, will you not tell us why you have searched through the lands that are far and near, seeking to find us?
Then you are Finn and no other, spoke the maiden.
I am indeed Finn, and these who stand near me are my warriors. It was thus that Finn made answer, speaking modestly, and yet not without pride.