312 THE GROAC'H OF THE ISLE OF LOK
He was sitting on a bench outside an inn, when he heard two men who were loading their mules talking about the Groac'h of the island of Lok.
' What is a Groac'h ? ' asked he. ' I have never come across one.' And the men answered that it was the name given to the fairy that dwelt in the lake, and that she was rich—oh ! richer than all the kings in the world put together. Many had gone to the island to try and get possession of her treasures, but no one had ever come back.
As he listened Houarn's mind was made up.
' I will go, and return too,' he said to the muleteers. They stared at him in astonishment, and besought him not to be so mad and to throw away his life in such a foolish manner ; but he only laughed, and answered that if they could tell him of any other way in which to procure a cow and a pig to fatten, he would think no more about it. But the men did not know how this was to be done, and, shaking their heads over his obstinacy, left him to his fate.
So Houarn went down to the sea, and found a boatman who engaged to take him to the isle of Lok.
The island was large, and lying almost across it was a lake, with a narrow opening to the sea. Houarn paid the boatman and sent him away, and then proceeded to walk round the lake. At one end he perceived a small skiff, painted blue and shaped like a swan, lying under a clump of yellow broom. As far as he could see, the swan's head was tucked under its wing, and Houarn, who had never beheld a boat of the sort, went quickly towards it and stepped in, so as to examine it the better. But no sooner was he on board than the swan woke suddenly up ; his head emerged from under his wing, his feet began to move in the water, and in another moment they were in the middle of the lake.
As soon as the young man had recovered from his surprise, he prepared to jump into the lake and swim