26. The Country Beneath the Waves


AFTER LEAVING the sea of glass, they came to another sea, and this one seemed like a clear, thin cloud; and it was so transparent, and appeared so light, that they thought at first it would not support the weight of the curragh, and that they might fall from the surface, down through the drifts of light mist, until they reached ocean floor.

Looking down, they could see, in the depths of the clear water, a beautiful country. They were looking down on the roofs of many mansions and fortresses, surrounded by beautiful groves and woods.

In one place a single large tree grew. Standing on its branches was a beast, fierce and terrible to look upon.

Around the tree there was a great herd of oxen grazing, and a man stood nearby to guard them. He was armed with shield, a spear, and sword; but evenso, when he looked up and saw the monster on the tree, he cried out, and turned and fled as fast as his legs could carry him.

Then the monster stretched forth his neck, and, darting his great head downward, plunged his fangs into the back of the largest ox of the whole herd, lifted it off the ground into the tree, and swallowed it down in the twinkling of an eye; whereupon the whole herd took to flight.

When Máel Dúin and his people saw this, they were seized with great terror; for they feared they should not be able to cross the sea over the monster, on account of the extreme mist-like thinness of the water; but on account of the danger they were very careful, and they made their way across it safely.

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