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white arms you have, to go walking lonesome byways with a gamey king. DEIRDRE. It's little joy of a young woman, or an old woman, I'll have from this day, surely. But what use is in our talking when there's Naisi on the foreshore, and Fergus with him? LAVARCHAM -- despairingly. -- I'm late so with my warnings, for Fergus'd talk the moon over to take a new path in the sky. (With reproach.) You'll not stop him this day, and isn't it a strange story you were a plague and torment, since you were that height, to those did hang their lifetimes on your voice. (Overcome with trouble; gather- ing her cloak about her.) Don't think bad of my crying. I'm not the like of many and I'd see a score of naked corpses and not heed them at all, but I'm destroyed seeing yourself in your hour of joy when the end is coming surely. [Owen comes in quickly, rather ragged, bows to Deirdre. OWEN -- to Lavarcham. -- Fergus's men are calling you. You were seen on the path, and he and Naisi want you for their talk below. LAVARCHAM -- looking at him with dis- like. -- Yourself's an ill-lucky thing to meet a

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morning is the like of this. Yet if you are a spy itself I'll go and give my word that's wanting surely. [Goes out. OWEN -- to Deirdre. -- So I've found you alone, and I after waiting three weeks getting ague and asthma in the chill of the bogs, till I saw Naisi caught with Fergus. DEIRDRE. I've heard news of Fergus; what brought you from Ulster? OWEN -- who has been searching, finds a loaf and sits down eating greedily, and cut- ting it with a large knife. -- The full moon, I'm thinking, and it squeezing the crack in my skull. Was there ever a man crossed nine waves after a fool's wife and he not away in his head? DEIRDRE -- absently. -- It should be a long time since you left Emain, where there's civility in speech with queens. OWEN. It's a long while, surely. It's three weeks I am losing my manners beside the Saxon bull-frogs at the head of the bog. Three weeks is a long space, and yet you're seven years spancelled with Naisi and the pair. DEIRDRE -- beginning to fold up her silks and jewels. -- Three weeks of your days might be long, surely, yet seven years are a short space for the like of Naisi and myself.

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OWEN -- derisively. -- If they're a short space there aren't many the like of you. Wasn't there a queen in Tara had to walk out every morning till she'd meet a stranger and see the flame of courtship leaping up within his eye? Tell me now, (leaning towards her) are you well pleased that length with the same man snorting next you at the dawn of day? DEIRDRE -- very quietly. -- Am I well pleased seven years seeing the same sun throw- ing light across the branches at the dawn of day? It's a heartbreak to the wise that it's for a short space we have the same things only. (With contempt.) Yet the earth itself is a silly place, maybe, when a man's a fool and talker. OWEN -- sharply. -- Well, go, take your choice. Stay here and rot with Naisi or go to Conchubor in Emain. Conchubor's a wrinkled fool with a swelling belly on him, and eyes falling downward from his shining crown; Naisi should be stale and weary. Yet there are many roads, Deirdre, and I tell you I'd liefer be bleaching in a bog-hole than living on without a touch of kindness from your eyes and voice. It's a poor thing to be so lonesome you'd squeeze kisses on a cur dog's nose. DEIRDRE. Are there no women like

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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.

(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.

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

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

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