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Tales collection ( )

Tales collection

: :

This collection consist of 62 fairy tales, which teach children to distinguish between good and evil, provoke the readers interest towards sciences, help to develop childrens imagination.

: 2012

: 89.9 .

Tales collection :

Tales collection

Tales collection

This collection consist of 62 fairy tales, which teach children to distinguish between good and evil, provoke the readers interest towards sciences, help to develop childrens imagination.
The book is illustrated by the author.

Lyubov Talimonova Tales Collection Translated from the Russian original by David Parfitt

L. Talimonova, text, illustrations, design

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

The Happiness of the Tuata

Somewhere in the wide blue ocean was an island. An island with mountains, hills, rivers and green valleys. At first glance it looked just like the hundreds of other islands in the ocean. But there was something unusual about it, because it was called the Island of Happiness. It was called this because among the green hills of the island lived the cheerful and good-natured people known as the Tuata. It was no good looking for magnificent palaces and impressive buildings on the Island of Happiness though: the Tuata lived in simple but comfortable houses, made do with basic earthenware crockery, did not use gold cups and had no interest in glittering jewels. The palace of King Kin and Queen Iza only differed from the other houses by standing a little taller than them and being located in the centre of the island on the greenest hill. The Tuata considered their real treasures to be their knowledge, love of hard work, kindness and cheerful nature.
On the island one would often see people sitting outside their houses for long periods of time. The Tuata sat in the sun and seemed to do nothing, but this was only the way it looked. In fact the Tuata were thinking deeply. But what were they thinking about? They thought about everything in the world: their island, the sea, life, how the flowers and trees grow, how the clouds sail across the sky, the Sun and Moon, the stars and many other things. In their thoughts the Tuata travelled across the boundless expanses of the universe and visited the Great Land beyond the sea. In the Great Land they unfortunately saw endless wars and peoples cruelty, envy and greed, and so the happy inhabitants of the island did not like it at all beyond the sea.
The Tuata had a good understanding of the different sciences such as mathematics and physics; they also knew about medicine and treated those who were ill with special herbs. And this is why some houses had unusual structures around them: these were drying racks for herbs.
The Tuata had made several important discoveries in their Houses of Knowledge. They had discovered the laws of motion of the Sun, Moon and stars across the heavens, and over the whole island they had placed stones of different sizes to help them observe exactly where and when the heavenly bodies rose above the Earth and then hid themselves beyond the horizon.
All of the houses on the Island of Happiness were surrounded by large gardens, where the caring Tuata grew not only fruit and vegetables, but also flowers. The people of the island liked roses more than anything else in the world because in the mornings dew-drops would sparkle magically on their petals. The Tuata often waited in their gardens for sunrise just to watch the morning dew appear on their beloved flowers. And the Tuata believed that the dew-drops themselves were notes of beautiful music that had fallen from the sky. The Tuata also believed that rainbows brought a special, magical music to the Earth, and they liked to dance in the rain when they saw a bright rainbow in the sky.

The people of the Island of Happiness loved to gather together and enjoy themselves: to sing and dance, and to tell each other true stories and also tales of magic. For this reason there were many festivals on the island, and it was usually the most learned Tuata who would calculate the special dates for these festivals.
Each summer, when the day was longest and the Sun shone high above the horizon, the people of the Island of Happiness celebrated the beautiful and joyful Festival of Light and the Sun. On this particular day the Tuata always woke up very early and went up to the hilltops or into the mountains, to make sure that they were ready to greet the sunrise. The Tuata loved to see how the first rays of the Sun painted the tops of the mountains and hills in shades of pink, gold and emerald; how the sunlight made the water in the rivers and lakes begin to sparkle; and how the stones that were wet from the morning dew suddenly came to life. From their high position, it seemed to the Tuata that everything on the island was singing and dancing on this festival day, and they really enjoyed themselves: they danced and sang with the flowers, birds, trees, lakes and rivers, hills and stones in the rays of the rising Sun.
Another important festival that the Tuata always liked to celebrate was the Festival of the Moon, which took place one night every autumn. As evening drew in they would put on their long woollen cloaks with hoods, climb slowly to the tops of the hills and light large bonfires. The Tuata would sit around the warm fires, wrapped up in their cloaks, and tell each other various stories, legends and tales, and wait patiently for the large round Moon to rise above the Island of Happiness. The surrounding darkness was so thick that it seemed as if you could almost reach out and touch it, but when the bluish glow of the Moon appeared over the mountains and the gloom receded, everyone fell silent, rose to their feet, stood motionless for a long time and gazed with delight at a world that was flooded with silvery moonlight. Then they all sat down once more around the bonfires that were still warm and began to chant the old magic spells and sing the soft ancient songs.
And so, day after day and year after year the people of the Island of Happiness lived a carefree life. They dreamed, grew flowers, fruit and vegetables, studied the sciences, observed the bright stars, greeted the dawn and the rising of the Sun and Moon, admired the beauty of the world, told each other stories and enjoyed life to the full.
The Tuata were a kind and peaceful people: they never quarrelled about anything and there were no cruel, senseless wars on the island. And all of this was because very long ago, so long ago in fact that none of the Tuata knew exactly when and how it had happened, the ruler of the distant Land of the Sun had given the inhabitants of the island a miraculous green stone. This stone was neither large nor small, and it glistened beautifully in the Sun and shone with every shade of green, but most importantly it was blessed with the ability to bring people peace, joy and happiness. It was no ordinary stone in fact, it was a magic stone. Since ancient times it had stood on a large boulder in the centre of the island and had protected the Tuata without fail from any kind of evil or misfortune.
The people of the island became used to the magic green stone, to a peaceful, calm and happy life, and as the years passed they began to neglect it. Sometimes they forgot to wipe the dust from it for long periods of time, and thought that their happiness would last forever, but one day on the island everything suddenly changed for the worse.
It happened in the summer, while the Sun was blessing the people of the island particularly generously with its light and warmth, the hills and valleys were covered with green, and the fruit were ripening and beautiful roses blooming in the Tuatas gardens.
After waking up one morning the inhabitants of the Island of Happiness suddenly felt a strange and unpleasant chill in their houses. The usual bright summer Sun was not shining into their windows that morning. A strong wind was blowing low grey clouds in from the sea and a fine, cold, autumnal rain was falling continuously; in fact, it felt as though a deep and dreary autumn had suddenly arrived in the middle of summer. Why this had happened no-one knew, but all the Tuata from every part of the island rushed to the magic stone and then froze with amazement and terror when they saw that the stone which had brought them so much happiness was broken. On the large boulder, darkened by rain, lay its glittering green fragments. The magic stone could have been smashed accidentally, or shattered of its own accord into tiny pieces due to the cold or with the passing of time. However, the people gathered around the broken stone began to eye one another spitefully and mistrustfully and then went silently back to their houses. From this time onwards, each of the Tuata began to suspect the others of evil deeds and so they stopped talking to one another. No-one came out of their house any more to sit on their bench and make new discoveries. There were no more festivals on the island. Eventually the smart and tidy houses of the Tuata began to fall into disrepair, the shutters on the windows became crooked, the gardens became overgrown with weeds, the wonderful roses wilted out of grief and sadness for the people, and the whole population of the island divided into two hostile groups that were on the verge of going to war.
The king of the island was very worried by this turn of events and the queen was very sad. Our island has turned from the Island of Happiness into the most unhappy island in the world! What can we do? she said one day, and so the wise king decided to call a meeting of all the inhabitants of the once-happy island. The next day all of the Tuata gathered in the royal palace. Although the people of the island had started to quarrel amongst themselves, in their hearts the Tuata deeply regretted losing their happiness and they all wanted to be as happy again as they were before. The people of the island waited with heavy hearts and hoped that the king would tell them something wise and helpful.
The king started to speak: Dear people of this once-happy island! We were truly happy when we possessed the magic stone. Now this wonderful green stone is broken and we are close to war. Hostility and anger have settled on our island; suspiciousness and all those other vices that thrive in the land beyond the sea. What is more, since the magic stone was broken it has rained continuously on the island and we have not seen the Sun at all. Dear Tuata, surely you must be unhappy with this? I believe that you are. Every one of us wants peace, happiness and quiet, just as we had before. But how can we bring happiness back to the island? It came to us before along with the wonderful stone from the Land of the Sun. The stone was given to use by its ruler, the kind Lugus. I have thought long and hard, and now I am sure that to bring happiness back to our island, one of us must travel to the distant Land of the Sun and return with a new magic stone. In that land there are many magic green stones, and I know that Lugus will certainly give us another to bring back happiness and joy to the island. But who will agree to travel to the Land of the Sun? The journey is long and no-one knows the way there for sure. What should we do? I would like to ask you this, dear Tuata. The people of the island, gathered inside the palace and all around it, became agitated; they all began to speak at once and then started to argue, but suddenly they fell silent and a tall, grey-haired and wise Tuata stepped forward.
My dear king, all of our people consider your decision to be the right one and fully approve of it. Seven of our bravest Tuata have already volunteered to leave immediately in search of the magic stone. They are all prepared for a long and hazardous journey, for my grandmother has told me that many obstacles and ordeals await those who travel to the Land of the Sun. These seven are: Bradag the Nimble, Krudlakh the Sturdy, Gaire the Wise, Anun the Resourceful, Ebor the Judicious, Kana the Fair and Ruta of the Sun. But, wise king, what can we expect on our journey to the land of Lugus? None of us really knows. But I have heard many times from my grandmother that whenever our ancestors had any kind of problem, they always went for help or advice to the good fairy Beta, who still lives in a house on a high cliff not far from the blue ocean. In the past, this wise, kind fairy has never refused to help anyone, and so I think that the first thing we should do is go to her. She may be the only one who knows the way to the Land of the Sun and who can suggest how to avoid the dangers and difficulties on the way. Without her help we will not be able to make this journey and happiness will never return to the island, said the old and wise Tuata, and the king raised no objections. From all around came cries of approval, and then the king and queen proposed to everyone that they would accompany the seven brave Tuata to the cliff where the fairy Beta lived.
The path to this cliff was not an easy one. They had to climb many hills, force their way through tangled undergrowth and wade across several rivers and streams before reaching it. Many of the islanders who had come to lend support soon fell by the wayside, but the seven brave, determined and persistent Tuata completed the journey to the Betas house without too many problems. Each of them knew only too well that ahead of them lay even greater hardships, and this gave them strength and courage.
The king and queen accompanied the seven Tuata as far as the cliff where the fairy Beta lived, and then set off without delay on the return trip, wishing the travellers every success and a safe journey.
* * *
Bradag, Krudlakh, Gaire, Anun, Ebor, Kana and Ruta now stood alone before the high cliff. They could see the fairys house near the top of the cliff, but there were no steps leading to it and it seemed completely inaccessible. How could they possibly reach it? The Tuata grew sad, and in despair Bradag even threw a small stone at the cliff. And then a miracle occurred! The huge steep wall began to stir and slowly parted. The Tuata had discovered an entrance into the cliff; and once inside they saw steps leading upwards which gave them fresh hope. A huge stone door then slid back into place behind them, but in the darkness lights suddenly flared up around them, they began to hear welcoming little bells somewhere in the distance and the steps were now lit with a bluish-green light.
The first to begin climbing the steps was golden-haired Ruta, who looked like a little ray of sunshine. She was the granddaughter of the very same Tuata who had given the king and all the people of the island the wise advice to go and seek help from the fairy Beta. He had also taught his granddaughter a little magic, so Ruta went first so that her friends could follow her safely up the unfamiliar steps.
It must be said that the brave Tuata were still rather afraid of arriving at the magic fairys house without an invitation. Although Beta was kind, like most fairies she probably did not like uninvited guests. And what is more, Beta had not left her home for a hundred years, and during that time no-one had seen her. Time may have aged her and made her less kind and helpful. She may even have forgotten all her secrets and spells. The friends were very worried about this. Without Beta, who could possibly help them to bring back happiness to their island? With these thoughts in their minds the seven friends climbed higher and higher up the steps and their hearts beat anxiously.

When Ruta reached the last step, the door of the fairys house opened unexpectedly. On the threshold stood the fairy herself. Young and beautiful, with long black hair and huge dark eyes, she looked inquiringly at her guests. The Tuata froze at the sudden appearance of the fairy and did not know what they should do, but Beta began to speak first and invited them all into the house. Beta was a magic fairy, and so she had known in advance about the arrival of her guests and already knew all their names and their reason for coming, but she gave no indication of this. She greeted them in a very polite and friendly manner and introduced herself to each of the Tuata in turn, before treating them to an unexpectedly delicious and fragrant tea made from herbs. After the first cup of this wonderful tea the friends felt completely relaxed and began to tell Beta about how the Tuata had lived so contentedly on the Island of Happiness until their magic green stone had been broken, and how the life of the people since then had changed terribly, and how the wise king had decided that a new magic stone should be sought in order to return the lost happiness to the island. The seven Tuata told the fairy that they themselves had volunteered to set off on the long journey to bring back a new green stone and were not afraid of any dangers or difficulties; however, they did not know the route to the Land of the Sun, and so had decided to ask for the kind fairys help. The Tuata said that they were relying on her advice and support for the journey that lay ahead.
Beta listened to the friends silently and attentively. When they had finished their story she leaned back thoughtfully in her armchair, closed her eyes and sat for some time without moving. The Tuata began to worry that the kind fairy had perhaps fallen asleep. But Beta was certainly not asleep. She was thinking deeply about how to help the brave Tuata and bring back happiness to all the people of the island. Beta suddenly opened her eyes again, got up quickly from the armchair and went over to the large carved wooden cupboard where she kept her various herbs, jars, crystal balls, old books and other things that the Tuata were not familiar with. She then picked up a dark blue sapphire ball, went over to the window and asked the friends to let her think for a little while longer in complete silence. The fairy peered intently into the ball, and in its depths pictures began to appear and then disappear as soon as they had come. After several minutes sparks flashed around the blue ball and then vanished. Without looking at anyone, Beta then began to speak softly:
You will have to travel far to find happiness,
Oceans, ravines and fiery rivers
Lie before you. Many ordeals await you.
But courage and friendship will help you along the way,
And happiness will return to the island.

After this Beta placed the blue ball to one side, took from the cupboard a huge ancient book filled with mysterious symbols and letters, and began to read. The Tuata had never seen such symbols and letters before, and they fell completely silent to allow the fairy to concentrate on the mysterious ancient texts. Finally Beta slammed the book shut and announced happily to the friends that they would reach the Land of the Sun safely, obtain another magic stone as a gift from Lugus and bring happiness back to the island.
However, I must accompany you to the Land of the Sun. Wait here for a few minutes as I need to prepare for the journey and I dont want to forget anything, said Beta as she was about to leave the room. The Tuata tried to persuade the magic fairy not to attempt the long and difficult journey as they did not want to tear her away from what she was doing, tire her or most of all put her in danger. However, they did not know how determined Beta was: she did not like to change her mind about things, especially when she was in such a decisive mood.
My dear friends, I understand what you are saying, but without me you will not be able to reach the Land of the Sun and obtain the magic stone from Lugus! And I am just as keen as you are to see happiness return to the island as soon as possible. Without happiness on the island I cannot work my magic, and if this continues I will have to leave my beloved house and go to live somewhere deep in the forest. So please dont try and stop me! said Beta and went into another room to prepare for the journey.
She soon returned and the Tuata were very surprised that she was dressed in the same cloak that she had been wearing when she greeted them on the threshold of her house, and she was carrying nothing but a lantern. The friends did not know that the fairy had stored away everything that they might need during their journey in some secret inside pockets of her long spacious cloak.
And so, if we are ready my friends, let us be on our way. There is not a moment to lose! said Beta, and she cast a decisive glance at the seven Tuata and began to lead them down the bluish-green steps.
When all the Tuata had emerged from the cliff and the huge stone door had closed behind them once more, the fairy led them without hesitating straight towards the sea. Along the way she explained that the wonderful Land of the Sun was another island that was large and very beautiful, and if you were to sail to this island on a ship the journey would take many months. And in order to reach the palace of Lugus, the friends would also have to overcome various obstacles on this other island, so Beta thought it was unwise to waste almost a whole year on the journey across the sea. The Tuata were completely in agreement with her: they did not want to spend long tedious months sailing across the sea either, but they did not know how to shorten the journey and so once again they became quite sad. Beta, on the other hand, did not seem at all worried or downcast, because the Ruler of the Sea, Nuada, was an old and close friend of hers and she was counting on his help.
My dear friends, there is no need to be sad! Of course it is a long voyage by ship to the distant Land of the Sun, but if we ask the Ruler of the Sea, Nuada, to show us a shorter route underwater to that wonderful island, then the journey will not take us so long. I am absolutely sure that Nuada will agree to help us. A hundred years ago I visited him on the seabed and he gave me a magic seashell. I only need to blow into it and the sea will part in front of us and we will be able to walk along the seabed straight to Nuadas palace. Then the water will close once more over our heads, but you have nothing to fear my friends! At the bottom of the sea you will feel just the same as on the land and will even stay dry the only difference is that there will be sand under your feet instead of grass, and instead of trees there will be seaweed. Nuadas place is built from sand, multi-coloured stones and mother-of-pearl shells and the Ruler of the Sea himself is very kind, as long as no-one or nothing makes him angry. When Nuada gets angry the sea usually becomes rough. But you dont need to worry as the sea is now calm and Nuada will be pleased to see us, said the kind fairy to reassure her companions. Then she reached into the pocket of her cloak and pulled out a small, reddish-yellow seashell with black spots that was shaped like a horn. Beta blew into the shell and everything happened just as she had said: the sea parted, leaving a path, and the fairy led the way fearlessly down onto the open seabed. The seven Tuata hurried after her. Along the way they gazed with wonder and curiosity at the underwater world and its inhabitants. In this kingdom everything was unusual and mysterious: instead of air there was water, grass had become sand, trees had turned into seaweed and birds had become fish. Bradag, Krudlakh, Gaire, Ebor, Anun, Ruta and Kana were so absorbed by all this that they didnt even notice that the sea had closed once more over their heads and that they had reached the palace of the Ruler of the Sea.

In a large reception hall they were met by Nuada himself. He approached Beta first, shook her hand warmly and began to ask her all about life on the land, while the Tuata stood and gazed at him in amazement. On the one hand there was nothing unusual about Nuada: he was a tall man with cheerful pale blue eyes; but on the other he was totally different, with his light blue skin and his bright blue hair, beard and moustache. The Tuata had never seen anyone like him on the Island of Happiness. When they introduced themselves to the Ruler of the Sea and then looked round his palace and wonderful underwater garden, they felt as if they were dreaming. In fact, everything that happened on the bottom of the sea seemed to the seven friends like a magical dream. They only came to their senses a little over dinner, when Beta began to ask Nuada for his help. Her words reminded the seven Tuata why they had come down to the bottom of the sea, and they all began to nod their heads in support of her request.
Once Nuada had discovered the reason for their visit and where they had all come from, he at first became thoughtful and even frowned a little, but then he suddenly clapped his hands and beside him, as if from nowhere, appeared two seahorses. He said something to them in a strange sea language and the seahorses glided quickly away. Nuada told his guests that he had decided to lend them his fast-moving magic chariot. After dinner the Ruler of the Sea led the travellers to the gates of the palace and there the Tuata saw Nuadas wonderful chariot.

The chariot was a huge seashell, completely covered in mother-of-pearl and sparkling. The Tuata had never seen such a large seashell before, and so they stopped in amazement, but Beta did not waste any time. She climbed into the unusual carriage and then the Tuata followed her. Nuada was a little worried that the Tuata were going on such a long and possibly dangerous journey, but Beta begged him to stay calm to prevent a storm from rising up over the sea, and then waved goodbye to him. Nuada wished the fairy and the seven Tuata a pleasant journey, commanded the magic chariot to follow Betas orders precisely, and the seashell swayed gently. Beta nodded her head silently and stamped her foot, and with this Nuadas chariot darted off and soon reached such a speed that the Tuata could not see where they were going as everything flew past their eyes at an incredible speed. The Tuata sat holding the edges of the seashell and were afraid that they would fall out of the magic chariot. Beta, on the other hand, remained as calm as only a fairy can be in such situations, and very skilfully steered the chariot.
Gradually the Tuata got used to the speed and began to reflect on what they had seen. Who could imagine that at the bottom of the sea there would be such a wonderful palace, built from seashells and multi-coloured stones, and that in it lived the extraordinary Ruler of the Sea, with bright blue hair, beard and moustache! The Tuata began to dream how, when they returned home, they would tell all the other inhabitants of the Island of Happiness about the wonderful underwater world and its kind ruler, but then a large wave unexpectedly washed their seashell chariot onto a sandy beach. Beta was the first to climb down to the ground, and when the last of the Tuata had left the chariot, another large wave surged up onto the beach and carried the seashell back into the depths of the sea. Then a third wave came and left eight round, sparkling pearls at the feet of the fairy and the seven Tuata. This was a present from Nuada to wish the brave travellers luck with their journey. The fairy hid her pearl away in one of the secret pockets of her cloak, while the Tuata placed their pearls in small leather pouches which they carried around their necks on long pieces of string. The Tuata kept in these pouches the things that were most precious to them, which they were carrying with them on their journey. The friends gazed thankfully at the endless blue ocean and waved to Nuada, who was of course nowhere to be seen, and then turned around and sighed sadly.

The narrow strip of sandy beach lay at the feet of high, sheer and completely smooth cliffs, and the Tuata could not see how they would be able to climb to the top of this inaccessible wall. High up in the sky, white seagulls glided effortlessly and the friends glanced up at them now and again with sadness. The Tuata knew from their childhood that it was wrong to be jealous, but now they simply could not help envying the seagulls, with their wings that allowed them to climb as high as they wished.
Beta was the only one who was not at all worried by the sight of the inaccessible cliffs; in fact she almost seemed cheerful. The Tuata thought that she must have been affected by the fast journey in the magic chariot, and that this first piece of good luck had gone to her head, but they were wrong.
Without paying any attention to the Tuata or their thoughts, Beta took from the pocket of her cloak a small seagull feather and in a whisper recited some magic words over it. She then waved the feather three times and all the seagulls soaring high up in the sky suddenly swooped down with loud, happy cries. When they touched the ground, the white birds turned into tall, slender and proud people; each of them then went up to Beta in turn and very courteously bowed to her. One of the seagull-people, who was still a very young man, pushed past everyone else and did not just walk up to the fairy, but ran towards her and hugged her, kissing her on both cheeks. The Tuata even thought that they heard him call her mother several times. They stood and watched the magic bird-people with bated breath. Now they began to understand why the fairy had not been at all worried by the high cliffs. The seagull-people had welcomed Beta as their old, dear friend and she was no doubt counting on their help. The Tuata watched and listened as the fairy explained something to the bird-people in a strange language, and in response they sighed loudly, waved their arms about, nodded their heads and glanced now and again at the seven friends. It was impossible to call the bird-people bad or unkind, but when the Tuata first fell under their penetrating gaze, they felt as if they were rooted to the spot and could not move.
However, they gradually got used to the piercing glances of these unusual bird-people and calmed down a little, but then Beta finished speaking with them and they once again turned into large dazzling-white birds. Beta told the seven Tuata to sit on the backs of the seagulls and to hold on tight. The friends understood immediately that a dizzying journey through the air lay ahead of them, but they could not afford to turn down the offer of a flight with the seagulls. They knew only too well that it was the only way they could reach the top of the cliffs. The large white birds flapped their wings and shot up into the sky. The poor Tuata pressed themselves even closer to the seagulls and closed their eyes with fear. They only opened them again when they heard the voice of the kind fairy nearby telling them that the flight was over and that they could now let the seagulls go.
Beta and the seven Tuata thanked the tall, handsome, brave and strong bird-people warmly and then they flew away once more up into the sky. As the bird-people were said goodbye, they told Beta that they were always happy to help her due to her kindness and warm heart, as many years before she had saved one of them.
Seeing that the Tuata did not understand a word of what the seagull-people were saying, the fairy smiled and decided to tell the friends the story of how she had become friends with the magical bird-people.
Once upon a time, many years ago, while walking along the seashore, Beta had found a baby seagull with a broken wing. She realised that the young bird was only just beginning to learn to fly and so was unable to cope with strong winds. The bad weather had carried him too far from home and damaged his wing. The young bird had hidden himself helplessly under a large stone and was crying out plaintively when the fairy spotted him. Beta felt very sorry for the unhappy little bird and decided to take him home with her. She did not know whether the baby seagull would survive, but she could not leave him all alone on the seashore. The fairy thought that it was better to try to do something good than to do nothing at all. She picked up the poor little bird, laid him in her basket and carried him back to her house. At home, Beta bathed him in warm water, fed him well, bandaged his broken wing, made a soft little nest for him in her basket and placed it near the stove for warmth.
By the evening the little bird was already looking a bit happier: he had dried out, fluffed his feathers up and was sleeping peacefully in the basket. Beta could now relax as she knew that she had saved the life of the little seagull. To help someone in trouble or to save someones life is the happiest thing that a fairy can do, and so when Beta looked at the bird she had rescued she was filled with joy. Covering him with her woolly knitted shawl, she went to bed in a very happy mood.
The next morning a real miracle took place in Betas house. When she woke up and went to check on her little patient, instead of a bird she saw a small child in the basket.
Although all fairies are magical and are rarely surprised by miracles, such an unexpected transformation from a little seagull into a small child still worried Beta. Then she suddenly remembered the stories that the Ruler of the Sea, Nuada, had told her about the mysterious seagull-people that lived on a distant sunny island, and she realised that the day before on the seashore she had picked up not just any young bird, but a very special bird. The fairy stood and looked at the little boy with his bandaged arm and thought about what she should do next. Should she take him back to the seashore in the hope that his parents would find him there? But what if they didnt find him? Then the little bird would be frozen by the wind among the cold stones and die. Beta could not allow this to happen. She decided to keep the child, bring him up herself and when he was old enough and strong enough to fly back to his own island, then she would let him return to the seagull-people.
From this day on, Beta began to look after the little bird as if he were her own child. She fed him, put him to bed, sang songs to him, told him stories, sewed and knitted beautiful clothes for him and took him for walks. Thanks to the fairys care and concern, his broken arm healed very quickly and soon he began to use it just as skilfully and freely as his healthy arm. When the boy was a little older, Beta taught him to read and write, and soon afterwards she began to teach him science and magic. The seagull-boy was an inquisitive and talented pupil who grasped the scientific and magical knowledge quickly and easily, and Beta was always pleased with him. It is true that he sometimes scared her with his unexpected transformation from boy to bird and back again, but the fairy was never angry with him: she knew that the little boy was just playing with her.
And so the years passed and the fairys pupil grew up. The little boy he became a tall, strong and skilful young man, and one bright spring day Beta realised that it was time for him to return home to the seagull-people. She told her pupil this and he was ready to carry the fairy across the sea on his shoulders as a seagull, but Beta, just to be on the safe side, decided they should take a different route. They went down together to the bottom of the sea, where they spoke to her old friend Nuada, and he led the fairy and her pupil straight to the distant sunny island.
When Beta arrived at the top of the high cliffs on the back of the seagull there was a great commotion in the city of the bird-people. They all began to run from house to house to tell one other that their little bird had not been dashed against the cliffs and drowned in the sea all those years ago. He was alive and healthy, he had grown up, and now he had returned!
In honour of the miraculous rescue of their little bird and his return home, and also of the kindest fairy in the world, the seagull-people declared a holiday in their city. Over a celebratory meal they promised to always help the fairy and to rescue her from any trouble she may find herself in.
And as you can see, the seagull-people kept their word, said Beta and beamed cheerfully at the seven Tuata.
The fairy went on to tell them that her pupil, the dear little bird-child, often flew to visit her and always called her mother.
Beta then told the Tuata the secret that only a good person was able to see the bird-people and their city, while a bad person only saw cliffs beside the sea and seagulls soaring high up in the sky. The bird-people were always happy to make friends with good people, but they did not like people with cold and evil hearts. Wicked, uncaring people were not allowed into the city or the world of the magical seagull-people.
And they can tell immediately, with their sharp, penetrating stare, who is a good person and who is bad, said Beta, bursting out laughing, and she told the seven Tuata some stories about the life of the seagull people. The Tuata listened to the fairy with great interest while they continued on their journey.
The travellers could make out the white city of the seagull-people lay behind them in the distance, and before them lay a wide, unattractive plain covered with burnt, withered grass and a scattering of stones. There were no trees or bushes to be seen anywhere and the wind blew right across the empty plain, but in the distance something sparkled cheerily and invitingly, like a large mirror, and the Tuata guessed right away that this was a lake. The friends cheered up and hurried towards it in the hope of resting on its shore, washing themselves with its clear, cold water and replenishing their supplies of fresh water, but disappointment awaited them. When Beta and the Tuata finally reached the lake, the water in it seemed murky and tasted salty. This made the seven tired Tuata feel sad again, and they sat down in silence on the deserted sandy shore of the lake. As before, it was only the fairy who did not become downcast or seem at all tired. Instead of sitting with her friends and resting a little, she began to pace up and down the shore of the lake and ponder deeply over something. The Tuata sensibly refrained from asking the fairy any questions as they did not want to interrupt the train of her thoughts. Then the fairy stopped suddenly, called them all to her and explained that she not only knew where and how to find fresh water, but also how to build a bridge across the large lake to avoid having to walk around it. She said that she had remembered an ancient spell that could turn salty water into fresh water and this should help them, but the Tuata were a little sceptical.

Dearest Beta, do you really think that the sounds of the spell will make the salty water fresh, and the words of the spell will turn into a stone bridge?! It is hard to believe this, said Bradag with uncertainty in his voice, but the fairy said nothing. Without paying any attention to the doubts of her friends, she went up to the edge of the lake, half covered her eyes, and in a whisper uttered the ancient spell over the water. She then took out a small bluish-grey stone from the pocket of her cloak and said loudly:
From the shore to the stone
Across a bridge I shall go
Amidst the salt I shall find fresh water
And so the stone
I shall throw far out into the lake

And then the fairy did indeed throw the stone as far as she could out into the lake, and a miracle occurred right in front of the Tuatas eyes: in the place where the stone landed a high, rocky island rose up from the water and a bridge stretched from the island to the shore of the lake.
The Tuata began to clap their hands in amazement and delight and ran up to Beta and set about thanking her for her calmness, resourcefulness and wisdom, but the fairy stopped them. She knew that the magic bridge would only last a short time and could disappear at any moment. The fairy of course did not think it was necessary to tell the Tuata about this, but simply advised them not to waste precious time; once they had all crossed to the island, however, the bridge melted away behind them as if it had never been there. It was only Beta who noticed this, however, for as soon as the Tuata had reached the island they had started to explore it. Although it had seemed bleak and lifeless from a distance, under every stone on the island there was in fact a spring with clear, cool water.
The Tuata and the fairy cheered up immediately, filled their empty flasks with fresh water, washed away the dust from the journey and began to splash about happily in the water. But what they did not notice was that not far away, on one of the stones, sat a fair-haired, blue-eyed man, who was watching them and smiling. Kana was the first to notice him and she whispered this to Beta. The rest of the Tuata then looked where Kana pointed and also saw the man who was wearing a light-blue cloak. The Tuata immediately fell silent, eyeing the stranger with curiosity, but the fairy guessed right away that this was Dan himself, Master of the Pure Springs, Streams and Lakes. She had heard about him more than once from the Ruler of the Sea, Nuada, and the seagull-people. And her former pupil, the seagull, had flown to visit her one day, and brought as a present the small bluish-grey stone; he then told the fairy the secret of how Dan crossed from one shore to another and built whole islands in the middle of lakes with the help of such stones. When she was gathering her things for the journey, Beta had had the foresight to take the smooth rounded stone with her. She had read once in an old book how to turn salt water into fresh, and now all this knowledge had proven very useful. Beta waved cheerfully to blue-eyed Dan.
It appeared that the Master of the Springs, Streams and Lakes had also heard about the kind fairy from the seagull-people. He greeted her joyfully, thanked her for helping him turn the salty lake into fresh water, and then asked the travellers where they were going and why. Having listened to the replies of the seven Tuata and the fairy, Dan promised to help his new friends in whatever way he could. But could he do anything to help the travellers? It seemed that he could. Dan presented the fairy and the Tuata with a small jug of pure spring water that never ran dry. Such a jug would always be useful on a long journey. The Master of the Springs, Streams and Lakes also gave Beta several more bluish-grey magic stones just in case the friends needed to cross any rivers or lakes in future. After this Dan took the seven Tuata and the fairy to the far shore of the lake in his boat and said that he would be very happy to see them all again on their return journey.

When Beta and the Tuata turned round to say goodbye to the Dan, they saw that he and his boat had already disappeared and the rocky island in the middle of the lake had sunk back down into the water. Everything was very quiet and peaceful.
The seven Tuata would have liked to stay on the shore for a while and listen to the silence, but the fairy hurried them along. The Sun was already sinking towards the horizon and ahead of them lay a forest that would be better to reach before nightfall.
As the last rays of the Sun lit up the Earth, Beta and the Tuata finally reached the edge of the large forest. It rose up over the plain like a high dark wall. The friends entered the forest by a barely noticeable path and moved ahead slowly, constantly glancing from side to side. The forest around them was dense, very dark and gloomy, and seemed rather unfriendly. The wind whistled through the treetops, owls hooted all around, something rustled and murmured continuously in the branches, blue, yellow and red lights flared up and then disappeared again in the darkness, everywhere smelt of dampness and the seven Tuata were terrified. Having only just entered the forest, they wanted to get out of it as soon as possible but the end was nowhere in sight.
It gradually grew dark and the poor Tuata realised they would have to spend the night in the dense, gloomy and frightening forest. When they emerged into a small clearing amongst the trees they wasted no time in lighting a campfire and sat down around it, huddled up close to one another, and of course, to Beta. All seven Tuata were secretly very glad that the wise, decisive and kind fairy was with them right now. The Tuata knew that the darkness was afraid of light and that evil spirits never came near a brightly-burning campfire. Nevertheless, without Beta they would not have felt as safe and secure, even with a campfire.
All night the fairy told the friends magical tales, and humorous and meaningful stories about the lives of people and fairies; she softly sang ancient songs and recited poetry, and the time until dawn passed quickly.

With the arrival of morning the seven Tuata and Beta ate a hasty breakfast, put out the fire and set off on their way once more. A little tired after the sleepless night, the Tuata walked slowly and often stumbled over clumps of grass or the roots of trees. Only the fairy remained as cheerful as ever and strode through the forest without any sign of tiredness. She continually reassured, comforted and encouraged her friends, fed them sweets from home and gave them water to drink from the magic jug, and thanks to her efforts the Tuata were able to press on through the dark and gloomy forest for several hours.
The forest finally came to an end and the travellers emerged into a brightly-lit green meadow. All around them they could hear birds singing, there were flowers everywhere and there was the wonderful smell of honey in the air. The Suns rays danced merrily on large drops of dew and a multi-coloured rainbow kept appearing and then disappearing over the meadow. After the gloom of the forest depths the open sunny meadow seemed especially warm and inviting to the friends. The Tuata forgot about all their worries, clapped their hands with happiness and began to dance round and round. Then all at once they dropped onto the grass and fell asleep immediately.
The friends did not know how long they slept, but when they woke the Sun was shining just as bright over the meadow and the birds were still singing, but nearby the Tuata saw some unfamiliar and very unusual people. They were all dressed in light, delicate clothes that seemed to be made from fine morning mist. When they walked, their light, nimble legs barely made an impression in the grass, and if these unusual people encountered a particularly beautiful flower in their path, they would simply float over it like graceful butterflies. The Tuata gazed at these strange people with curiosity, and the people themselves regarded the seven Tuata with great interest and smiled welcomingly at them. Every so often they tried to say something to the seven friends in their melodic language, which sounded just like birdsong, but the Tuata understood nothing and shrugged their shoulders helplessly. Only Beta understood their language and could even speak to them. And so the strange people all gathered round the fairy and began to talk with her and then discussed things amongst themselves. Once they had agreed something with Beta, they suddenly flew off and Beta explained to the seven Tuata that these strange flying people were meadow-elves and that they were her distant relatives. The fairy told them that the meadow-elves were a cheerful, kind and friendly people, and that in their meadow land they tended flowers and grasses, looked after hard-working bees, danced in the evenings, greeted the sunrise with songs and still knew the secret of preparing special cakes which gave strength and good spirits to all travellers. She also told the friends that the elves made their cakes from flower pollen, honey and freshly-collected dew.

When the elves found out where we were going and why, they decided to treat us to some of their wonderful cakes. And while the elves are busy preparing them we could take a walk through the sunny meadow, breathe the air that is as sweet as honey and look at their beautiful flowers, suggested Beta, and the Tuata agreed with delight. The friends set off at a leisurely pace through the warm, flower-filled meadow, stopping to examine the flowers in detail. The Tuata saw bluebells, camomile and irises, but many flowers they did not recognize, so they asked Beta about them. She knew the names of all the flowers and grasses in the meadow and the Tuata were amazed at her knowledge, but the fairy said nothing to them about this and just smiled back at them. You see, she could not be a magic fairy without an understanding of nature and plants.
An hour or two passed before the kind elves returned to the meadow. They treated their guests generously to the wonderful cakes and gave them hot tea to drink. For the journey the elves gave Beta and each of the seven Tuata a small linen bag of their cakes, and told them that there was still a long way to go before they reached the palace of Lugus.
Then they led their guests to the edge of the vast flower-filled meadow and warned them that ahead of them lay the dangerous land of Grona, where elves also lived, but not such kind or friendly elves. The meadow-elves explained to the friends that the land of Grona consisted of marshes and swamps, and anyone who became bogged down in these would become a slave of the crafty marsh-elves forever. The marsh-elves used their slaves to make new jackets and shoes for them, do all their housework and look after their large underground herds of cattle. If a cow strayed into the marsh, the marsh-elves would immediately claim it for themselves and declare a holiday as a result of this, because the marsh-elves liked fresh warm milk more than anything else in the world.
The meadow-elves also said that people usually avoided these marshes, but the shortest route to the palace of Lugus was through the marshes and swamps of Grona.
When they heard all this the seven Tuata started to worry how they would be able to pass through the marshes and swamps safely, but the beautiful golden-haired queen of the meadow-elves reassured them. She revealed to Beta and the Tuata the secret of the crafty marsh-elves. It turned out that they were afraid of the magical powers of an ordinary meadow flower: white clover. If the marsh-elves touched it they would lose the ability to speak or move for a whole hour, and so they would not harm any travellers who carried the leaves and flowers of white clover. And the beautiful elf-queen handed each of the seven Tuata and Beta a sprig of white clover and embraced them. Then the meadow-elves wished the friends a safe journey in their melodious language.
Everything turned out exactly as the queen of the meadow-elves had predicted. As soon as the Tuata and Beta crossed the border of the marshy land of Grona, the gleeful marsh-elves began to run towards them from all directions. They were ready to pinch and tickle the travellers, tug at their sleeves, pull on the tails of their cloaks and urge them on towards the swamp. However, when the elves saw that Beta and the Tuata were holding flowers and leaves of white clover, they stopped in their tracks and sighed with disappointment, then looked at the cautious travellers with a mixture of hurt and annoyance and sat down at a safe distance from them on mounds of grass in the marsh. Occasionally the elves called out loudly or whistled to try to cause the travellers to lose their way and fall into the swamp, but at the start of the path through the marsh Beta had instructed the seven Tuata to follow in her footsteps without fail. Because she was a magic fairy, Beta could see through water and earth, and so she knew exactly which ground was hard and which was dangerous swamp. The Tuata realised this and so they followed Beta slowly and carefully, but also bravely and confidently.
And so they passed through all the obstacles and dangers of the marshy land of Grona and found themselves once more on firm and dry ground. When the Tuata looked back they saw that the furious marsh-elves were waving their fists at them. But the friends were not frightened by this. On the contrary, they found it funny, and waved farewell to the marsh-elves with their white clover, and were about to throw it away when the fairy stopped them. She told them that the clover would come in useful on the return journey. At first, Ruta, Kana, Bradag, Krudlakh, Gaire, Ebor and Anun doubted this, as they thought that by that time the white clover would have become wilted and dry, but Beta reminded the friends that the clover was a present to them from the meadow-elves.
Such flowers never wilt and never dry out, she said, and the seven Tuata had no reason to doubt the fairy. On her advice they put away the magic clover in the pockets of their waistcoats and set off again on the path without looking back.
Soon a range of low, rocky hills appeared on the horizon and the friends started to hear a rumbling sound in the distance. This was the River Ton crashing and roaring. It was not a particularly deep river, and it would have been possible to wade across it if it were not so wide, fast and turbulent. The river Ton flowed between two rocky banks, rumbled and foamed around large stones that protruded from the water, and then burst out into the sea.
When the Tuata approached the high and steep banks of the river, they suddenly realised that it would be impossible to wade across it or even cross it in a boat. There was also no bridge to be seen and the Tuata began to lose heart. They started to discuss what to do next, but the noise of the water drowned out their voices. In their distress the friends completely forgot about the bluish-grey magic stones that had been given to them by kind Dan. It is just as well that the fairy remembered them. Having looked down at the swift and raging river, she took one of the little bluish-grey stones from her pocket, threw it far out into the water and a bridge suddenly appeared across the river. The friends hurried across it, and when the last of the Tuata had stepped onto the opposite bank of the fast-moving River Ton, the bridge turned into a bright rainbow that shone over the river. The travellers then continued on their way, and with each step they climbed higher and higher into the hills.
The seven Tuata eventually grew rather tired and sat down on a large stone beside the path to eat some of the elves wonderful cake and drink the water from Dans magic jug. Beta then said: I think we have reached Uim, the land of caves. As far as I know, gnomes live here. These are a small but very hard-working race of people who live and work deep underground. The gnomes mine different valuable metals and precious stones, but they love and value green emeralds most of all. They believe that the special magic powers of emeralds protect gnomes, elves and people from bad things. However, gnomes also like anything green. My dear pupil, the seagull-child, told me that the gnomes usually wear green jackets and green caps. I suppose everyone likes different things The gnomes hide all of the treasures that they have mined in underground caves and no-one has yet managed to find these treasures. I believe that the gnomes are very friendly to people, as long as they do not try to deceive them or take away their treasures by force. We are not going underground in search of gold and silver so they have nothing to fear from us, but all the same I should warn you in advance: if you see bars of precious metals or beautiful sparkling stones in the underground passages and caves, then it is safer not to touch them.

But why do we have to go down into the gnomes underground caves at all, asked the surprised Tuata.
Im afraid that we cant avoid it. The land of Uim is not only a land of caves, but also of mountains. Ahead of us lie mountain peaks so high that the snow on them never melts, and a cold, biting wind always blows through the gorges. We cannot cross mountains like this, so we have no choice but to go down into the caves, replied Beta firmly.
But I heard that there are not only good gnomes, but evil ones too. My grandfather told me that evil gnomes lure travellers in, and then force them to work in their mines and never let them return. Dear fairy, is this true? asked Ruta timidly, and even shivered at these unpleasant thoughts.
I believe this does happen. There are evil gnomes. They dig for metals underground and very rarely come to the surface. I have never seen such gnomes myself, but have also heard about them, said Beta thoughtfully, and the seven Tuata fell silent. They began to look round warily and listened closely to every sound, but the fairy suddenly smiled cheerfully and promised the friends that if they were watchful and careful along the way then nothing bad would happen to them.
In the ancient books I once found the secret of the good and evil gnomes: the good gnomes paint their passages and caves in their beloved green colour, whereas the evil gnomes paint theirs grey. As long as we dont hurry through the underground passages and caves, but calmly and carefully examine everything around us, then we are sure to find ourselves among friends. But in order to better distinguish green from grey, I would advise you to equip yourselves with torches before we go underground, said Beta firmly. And so Bradag, Ebor, Krudlakh, Anun and Gaire quickly headed off to a nearby forest to gather some suitable branches and resin in order to make torches. They soon returned and set about making some torches from the dry pine branches.
When everything was ready the friends set out once again on the steep, rocky path, climbing higher and higher until they reached a narrow and dark crack in the cliff. This was the entrance to one of the caves.
Beta immediately lit the lantern that she had brought with her from home, the Tuata lit their torches, and they all began to examine carefully some signs and markings on the walls of the cave. Once they had made sure that the signs were only in green paint, the friends cheered up: they had been very lucky to find the right cave straight away. However, there were several passages leading from it, and how would they choose the right one?
On the fairys advice the Tuata lit some extra torches, and in the bright light of the flame they found that one passage was painted a green colour. They all set off slowly along it. As soon as the passage forked the Tuata again lit more torches and thoroughly investigated the colour of the new passages. In this way the friends gradually moved deeper and deeper underground. All around them it was exceptionally quiet and dark.
But what was that noise ahead of them? The friends stopped, extinguished their torches just in case, leaving just Betas lantern, and began to move ever more slowly and carefully along the green wall of the passage, holding their breath as they went. In the distance they could see different coloured lights, and could hear some kind of singing, the sound of music and the stamping of small feet. The Tuata listened and decided that only good gnomes could dance so cheerfully and sing such happy songs. The friends moved forward again, but this time a little faster and more boldly. The passage opened out unexpectedly into a large high cave, where coloured torches were burning, cheerful music was playing, and small people in green jackets and caps were singing and dancing.
When they saw their unexpected guests, the little people stopped singing and dancing and the music in the cave died down. The gnomes stood rooted to the spot and frowned. They could not understand who these people were who had arrived during their festival, and why they had come. The gnomes looked at the fairy and her friends in puzzled silence, and the Tuata, who had never seen gnomes before, also said nothing and gazed wide-eyed at the little people in their green jackets and caps. Several minutes passed like this. Beta was the first to break the awkward silence. The fairy strode bravely up to the kind gnomes, gave a little bow and wished them good day or good evening and a happy festival. The gnomes were clearly impressed by Betas words and manners, and they began to discuss something among themselves animatedly. Then, the kind little people fell silent once again and one of the gnomes with a very long beard slowly and solemnly went up to Beta. It appeared that he was the oldest and wisest gnome present at the festival. He first briefly introduced himself: his name was Beglakh. Then he asked Beta and the seven Tuata who they were and why they had come to the gnomes underground caves. When the fairy and the Tuata had given him a detailed account of the purpose of their journey and how they had found themselves in the land of Uim, the kind gnome began to smile, stroked his beard and invited the friends to sit down at a table. At the same time he gave a sign to the rest of the gnomes, and after a minute or two plates and cups filled with every kind of food and drink appeared on the table in front of Beta and the seven Tuata.

While the friends were eating and resting the gnomes began to discuss something amongst themselves again. Then several of them ran off somewhere and soon returned carrying three packages. Beglakh explained to Beta and the Tuata that in the first package was food for them all for the journey, while in the second were precious emeralds especially for the fairy. The gnomes had taken a particular liking to her.
She is as wise and kind as we are! And so wondrously beautiful too! said one of them with delight.
And in the third package lay a single sweet wrapped in paper. The Tuata were surprised that a sweet could help them on their journey, as it would be very difficult to divide it into eight parts, but the wise gnome advised them not to jump to conclusions.
When you leave our mountainous land of Uim, you will reach the bank of the fiery river Tan. This river does not look very wide, deep or fast-moving at first glance, and some think that it is even safe to wade across it, but they are mistaken. The quiet river Tan is a dangerous river. As soon as something or someone enters it, its water turns into flame. And that is why we are giving you this sweet. When you approach the bank of the fiery river, you should immediately throw the sweet into it and you will see what happens next, Beglakh said to them and smiled again.
Of course, the seven Tuata really wanted to know what would happen to the fiery river when they threw the sweet into it, but they did not question Beglakh any more about this, as they did not want to tire the wise gnome with their excessive curiosity. He had told them that the sweet would help them, and so that is what would happen.
When Beta and the Tuata had rested well and even slept for a while, the gnomes led them through the labyrinth of underground passages. They knew all the underground routes and paths very well, so it was not long before they had led the travellers all the way back up to the surface. The high snowy mountains were behind them. The friends were now standing on top of a green hill, at the foot of which flowed a placid river that glittered in the sunlight. At this point, Beta and the Tuata thanked the kind gnomes for their gifts and hospitality, said goodbye to them and continued on their way, and the gnomes went back into their underground caves.
The Tuata and Beta moved slowly down the side of the hill. Around them they could smell flowers and grasses, birds were singing and the Sun warmed them gently, and the seven Tuata found it hard to believe that the beautiful little river at the bottom of the hill held so many dangers. The friends were already beginning to doubt whether this could be the river that the wise gnome had told them about, but to be on the safe side, when they reached the warm sandy bank of the quiet and peaceful-looking river, Anun threw a little stone into the water. As soon as the stone hit the water, flames leapt up in the air before disappearing again, and this convinced the Tuata that the kind, wise gnome had been right about the dangers of the river. Nevertheless, they still had doubts about the magic power of the sweet, but the fairy advised the friends that there was no time to lose and that they should test it as soon as possible.
Whatever you may think, it is better to do as Beglakh told us rather than stand around wasting time on the river bank, said Beta, and with these words she threw the chocolate sweet far out into the river. To the surprise of the seven Tuata, this time the river did not burst into flames. It actually began to grow even calmer and more placid than before, except for one large wave that suddenly crashed loudly against the bank. And at the same time, as if from nowhere, a man in reddish-gold clothes suddenly appeared next to Beta. With a smile of delight on his face he than ran up to the fairy, took her hand and began to thank her whole-heartedly for her kindness and generosity.
The Tuata, who were standing nearby, looked at the strange red man and Beta but had no idea what was happening. It was only after the friends had listened attentively to what the stranger was saying to Beta that they guessed that they were dealing with the Master of the River Tan himself. It seemed that he was very fond of sweets, but no-one, besides the gnomes, ever treated him to any.
And because you were generous with the sweet and decided to share it with me, I promise that I will help you to cross the fiery river, said the Master of the River to Beta and her friends and clapped his hands loudly.
At the same moment a brightly-painted wooden boat appeared beside the riverbank. As a precaution the Tuata touched it first with a twig, but the boat did not burst into flame, and so the friends calmly climbed into it and waited patiently for Beta, who was still talking to the Master of the River. The fairy was questioning him in detail about the route ahead, and he told her that it was not far now to the palace of Lugus: they only needed to pass through the forest of Dokart in which the mischievous wood-spirits lived. The Tuata heard him explain to the fairy that these wood-spirits liked to tickle travellers and surprise them by running across their path; they also like to scare them with mournful groaning and sad sighing, to shroud the path in fog, and to make travellers feel sleepy by singing lullabies. The Master of the Fiery River advised Beta and her friends to follow only the sandy path through the forest of Dokart, and not to turn off it or look to either side, to think only about the meeting with Lugus and not to pay any attention to the tricks of the wood-spirits.
That way, they will soon grow tired of playing pranks on you and will leave you in peace, said the fiery-red Master of the River Tan, and promised that from this day onward, Beta and her friends could use his river without being troubled by fire. He cheerfully invited the fairy and the seven Tuata to come and visit him in future, to sit in the evening on the riverbank in front of a campfire and talk at leisure about all the things in the world. The Tuata and the fairy gladly accepted his invitation, and then Beta joined her friends in the boat and the Master of the Fiery River carefully pushed the boat away from the bank. It glided smoothly across the river by itself without oars or sails, and Bradag and Ebor only needed to change its course every now and again with the help of long poles.

While the friends were crossing the fiery river, its master stood and watched them from the sandy bank and waved a brightly-burning torch that had appeared in his hand as if from nowhere.
And so Beta and the Tuata overcame another obstacle on the road to the Land of the Sun and its wise master, Lugus. On the opposite bank of the fiery river they found the sandy path without difficulty, followed it past green hills covered in flowers, and finally reached the unusual forest of Dokart where the mischievous wood-spirits lived. The travellers had only taken a few steps into the forest when they felt some kind of strange movement around them. It seemed as though the whole forest had suddenly begun to stir and rustle, and then everything happened just as the Master of the Fiery River had told them it would: they began to catch sight of the wood-spirits, dressed in white, darting here and there across the path and trying to frighten the travellers with their loud moans, sighs, whistles and laughter. Even though the Tuata tried hard to ignore this, every now and again they still glanced to the side, sometimes meeting the glances of the wood-spirits and then finding themselves moving much slower. As a result of this, Anun and Kana fell behind the rest of the Tuata and almost lost their way, and so the wise fairy had to take decisive action. She took the large green emeralds from the package that the kind gnomes had given her and placed it in the palm of her hand so that it was clearly visible to the wood-spirits. As soon as she did this the groans, sighs and laughter in the forest stopped. The wood-spirits of Dokart understood immediately that the fairy could only have obtained such an emerald from the gnomes, and if she and her friends had passed through the underground passages and caves of Uim unharmed, then loud groans, whistles and laughter would certainly not frighten them. And so the wood-spirits fell silent, and instead of trying to hamper the progress of the travellers, they watched the Tuata and Beta from a distance with great curiosity and respect.
Nothing else managed to delay the friends on their journey. They moved quickly and easily along the good sandy path and they soon left the forest of Dokart behind them. The Tuata waved farewell to the mischievous wood-spirits, who they were no longer angry with, and pressed on without slowing their pace or stopping along the way. The Tuata could feel that they were already getting close to the Land of the Sun and they were absolutely right. When the path climbed to the top of a hill, they could see before them a wonderful emerald-green valley surrounded by strangely-shaped mountains and cliffs coloured the same shade of green. At the bottom of the valley they could see a large deep-blue lake with fluffy white clouds reflected in its waters. On a flat area of the lake shore a park of astounding beauty had been laid out. It was filled with all kinds of flowers that were brightly-coloured yet not too overpowering; carved wooden bridges had been built over the cool, clear streams; little summerhouses with red and gold roofs were dotted here and there in the lush meadows; and amongst the blossoming trees and bushes the Tuata could make out a very unusual building. It was made entirely of wood and its columns, roof, windows and doors were decorated with carvings, so that from the top of the hill it seemed to the seven Tuata that the building was made from lace. They guessed immediately that this was the palace of the great Lugus.

And there, it seems, is the ruler of the Land of the Sun himself, said Beta thoughtfully, when a tall man in a very simple and modest cloak appeared on the threshold of the wooden palace.