19. The Island of the Four Fences


THE NEXT was a high island, divided into four parts by four walls meeting in the centre.

The first was a wall of gold, the second, a wall of silver, the third, a wall of copper, and the fourth was a wall of crystal.

In the first of the four divisions there were kings gathered; in the second, there were queens; in the third, youths; and in the fourth, there were young maidens.

When the voyagers landed, one of the maidens came down to the shore to meet them. She led them to a house, where she entertained them and gave them food, which she dealt out to them from a small vessel. It looked like cheese, but whatever taste pleased each man best was the taste that he found on it; so each of them thought he was eating his favourite food.

Then she gave them sweet ale from a small bottle which never emptied, and the strength of it caused them to fall into a sweet sleep that lasted three days and three nights.

When they awoke on the morning of the fourth day, they found themselves in their curragh, alone on the open sea; and there was no sign in any direction of either the maiden or the island. So they continued their rowing.

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