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yourself could be your friends in Emain? OWEN -- vehemently. -- There are none like you, Deirdre. It's for that I'm asking are you going back this night with Fergus? DEIRDRE. I will go where Naisi chooses. OWEN -- with a burst of rage. -- It's Naisi, Naisi, is it? Then, I tell you, you'll have great sport one day seeing Naisi getting a harshness in his two sheep's eyes and he looking on yourself. Would you credit it, my father used to be in the broom and heather kissing Lavarcham, with a little bird chirping out above their heads, and now she'd scare a raven from a carcase on a hill. (With a sad cry that brings dignity into his voice.) Queens get old, Deirdre, with their white and long arms going from them, and their backs hoop- ing. I tell you it's a poor thing to see a queen's nose reaching down to scrape her chin. DEIRDRE -- looking out, a little uneasy. -- Naisi and Fergus are coming on the path. OWEN. I'll go so, for if I had you seven years I'd be jealous of the midges and the dust is in the air. (Muffles himself in his cloak; with a sort of warning in his voice.) I'll give you a riddle, Deirdre: Why isn't my father as ugly and old as Conchubor? You've no answer? . . . . It's because Naisi killed him.

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(With curious expression.) Think of that and you awake at night, hearing Naisi snor- ing, or the night you hear strange stories of the things I'm doing in Alban or in Ulster either. [He goes out, and in a moment Naisi and Fergus come in on the other side. NAISI -- gaily. -- Fergus has brought mes- sages of peace from Conchubor. DEIRDRE -- greeting Fergus. -- He is welcome. Let you rest, Fergus, you should be hot and thirsty after mounting the rocks. FERGUS. It's a sunny nook you've found in Alban; yet any man would be well pleased mounting higher rocks to fetch yourself and Naisi back to Emain. DEIRDRE -- with keenness. -- They've answered? They would go? FERGUS -- benignly. -- They have not, but when I was a young man we'd have given a lifetime to be in Ireland a score of weeks; and to this day the old men have nothing so heavy as knowing it's in a short while they'll lose the high skies are over Ireland, and the lonesome mornings with birds crying on the bogs. Let you come this day, for there's no place but Ireland where the Gael can have peace always.

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NAISI -- gruffly. -- It's true, surely. Yet we're better this place while Conchubor's in Emain Macha. FERGUS -- giving him parchments. -- There are your sureties and Conchubor's seal. (To Deirdre.) I am your surety with Con- chubor. You'll not be young always, and it's time you were making yourselves ready for the years will come, building up a homely dun beside the seas of Ireland, and getting in your children from the princes' wives. It's little joy wandering till age is on you and your youth is gone away, so you'd best come this night, for you'd have great pleasure putting out your foot and saying, "I am in Ireland, surely." DEIRDRE. It isn't pleasure I'd have while Conchubor is king in Emain. FERGUS -- almost annoyed. -- Would you doubt the seals of Conall Cearneach and the kings of Meath? (He gets parchments from his cloak and gives them to Naisi. More gently.) It's easy being fearful and you alone in the woods, yet it would be a poor thing if a timid woman (taunting her a little) could turn away the Sons of Usna from the life of kings. Let you be thinking on the years to come, Deirdre, and the way you'd have a right

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to see Naisi a high and white-haired justice beside some king of Emain. Wouldn't it be a poor story if a queen the like of you should have no thought but to be scraping up her hours dallying in the sunshine with the sons of kings? DEIRDRE -- turning away a little haught- ily. -- I leave the choice to Naisi. (Turning back towards Fergus.) Yet you'd do well, Fergus, to go on your own way, for the sake of your own years, so you'll not be saying till your hour of death, maybe, it was yourself brought Naisi and his brothers to a grave was scooped by treachery. [Goes into tent. FERGUS. It is a poor thing to see a queen so lonesome and afraid. (He watches till he is sure Deirdre cannot hear him.) Listen now to what I'm saying. You'd do well to come back to men and women are your match and comrades, and not be lingering until the day that you'll grow weary, and hurt Deirdre showing her the hardness will grow up within your eyes. . . . You're here years and plenty to know it's truth I'm saying. [Deirdre comes out of tent with a horn of wine, she catches the beginning of Naisi's speech and stops with stony wonder.

NAISI -- very thoughtfully. -- I'll not tell you a lie. There have been days a while past when I've been throwing a line for salmon or watching for the run of hares, that I've a dread upon me a day'd come I'd weary of her voice, (very slowly) and Deirdre'd see I'd wearied. FERGUS -- sympathetic but triumphant. -- I knew it, Naisi. . . . And take my word, Deirdre's seen your dread and she'll have no peace from this out in the woods. NAISI -- with confidence. -- She's not seen it. . . . Deirdre's no thought of getting old or wearied; it's that puts wonder in her days, and she with spirits would keep bravery and laughter in a town with plague. [Deirdre drops the horn of wine and crouches down where she is. FERGUS. That humour'll leave her. But we've no call going too far, with one word borrowing another. Will you come this night to Emain Macha? NAISI. I'll not go, Fergus. I've had dreams of getting old and weary, and losing my delight in Deirdre; but my dreams were dreams only. What are Conchubor's seals and all your talk of Emain and the fools of Meath beside one evening in Glen Masain? We'll stay this place till our lives and time are

worn out. It's that word you may take in your curagh to Conchubor in Emain. FERGUS -- gathering up his parchments. -- And you won't go, surely. NAISI. I will not. . . . I've had dread, I tell you, dread winter and summer, and the autumn and the springtime, even when there's a bird in every bush making his own stir till the fall of night; but this talk's brought me ease, and I see we're as happy as the leaves on the young trees, and we'll be so ever and always, though we'd live the age of the eagle and the salmon and the crow of Britain. FERGUS -- with anger. -- Where are your brothers? My message is for them also. NAISI. You'll see them above chasing otters by the stream. FERGUS -- bitterly. -- It isn't much I was mistaken, thinking you were hunters only. [He goes, Naisi turns towards tent and sees Deirdre crouching down with her cloak round her face. Deirdre comes out. NAISI. You've heard my words to Fergus? (She does not answer. A pause. He puts his arm round her.) Leave troubling, and we'll go this night to Glen da Ruadh,

where the salmon will be running with the tide. [Crosses and sits down. DEIRDRE -- in a very low voice. -- With the tide in a little while we will be journeying again, or it is our own blood maybe will be running away. (She turns and clings to him.) The dawn and evening are a little while, the winter and the summer pass quickly, and what way would you and I, Naisi, have joy for ever? NAISI. We'll have the joy is highest till our age is come, for it isn't Fergus's talk of great deeds could take us back to Emain. DEIRDRE. It isn't to great deeds you're going but to near troubles, and the shortening of your days the time that they are bright and sunny; and isn't it a poor thing that I, Deirdre, could not hold you away? NAISI. I've said we'd stay in Alban always. DEIRDRE. There's no place to stay al- ways. . . . It's a long time we've had, pressing the lips together, going up and down, resting in our arms, Naisi, waking with the smell of June in the tops of the grasses, and listening to the birds in the branches that are highest. . . . It's a long time we've had, but the end has come, surely.

NAISI. Would you have us go to Emain, though if any ask the reason we do not know it, and we journeying as the thrushes come from the north, or young birds fly out on a dark sea? DEIRDRE. There's reason all times for an end that's come. And I'm well pleased, Naisi, we're going forward in the winter the time the sun has a low place, and the moon has her mastery in a dark sky, for it's you and I are well lodged our last day, where there is a light behind the clear trees, and the berries on the thorns are a red wall. NAISI. If our time in this place is ended, come away without Ainnle and Ardan to the woods of the east, for it's right to be away from all people when two lovers have their love only. Come away and we'll be safe always. DEIRDRE -- broken-hearted. -- There's no safe place, Naisi, on the ridge of the world. . . . . And it's in the quiet woods I've seen them digging our grave, throwing out the clay on leaves are bright and withered. NAISI -- still more eagerly. -- Come away, Deirdre, and it's little we'll think of safety or the grave beyond it, and we resting in a little corner between the daytime and the long night.

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