CONCHUBOR -- impatiently. -- It's not long till you'll see her. But I've matters with Lavarcham, and let you go now, I'm saying. [He shows her out right, as Lavarcham comes in on the left. LAVARCHAM -- looking round her with suspicion. -- This is a queer place to find you, and it's a queer place to be lodging Naisi and his brothers, and Deirdre with them, and the lot of us tired out with the long way we have been walking. CONCHUBOR. You've come along with them the whole journey? LAVARCHAM. I have, then, though I've no call now to be wandering that length to a wedding or a burial, or the two together. (She sits down wearily.) It's a poor thing the way me and you is getting old, Conchubor, and I'm thinking you yourself have no call to be loitering this place getting your death, may- be, in the cold of night. CONCHUBOR. I'm waiting only to know is Fergus stopped in the north. LAVARCHAM -- more sharply. -- He's stopped, surely, and that's a trick has me thinking you have it in mind to bring trouble this night on Emain and Ireland and the big world's east beyond them. (She goes to him.)
And yet you'd do well to be going to your dun, and not putting shame on her meeting the High King, and she seamed and sweaty and in great disorder from the dust of many roads. (Laughing derisively.) Ah, Conchu- bor, my lad, beauty goes quickly in the woods, and you'd let a great gasp, I tell you, if you set your eyes this night on Deirdre. CONCHUBOR -- fiercely. -- It's little I care if she's white and worn, for it's I did rear her from a child. I should have a good right to meet and see her always. LAVARCHAM. A good right is it? Haven't the blind a good right to be seeing, and the lame to be dancing, and the dummies singing tunes? It's that right you have to be looking for gaiety on Deirdre's lips. (Coax- ingly.) Come on to your dun, I'm saying, and leave her quiet for one night itself. CONCHUBOR -- with sudden anger. -- I'll not go, when it's long enough I am above in my dun stretching east and west without a comrade, and I more needy, maybe, than the thieves of Meath. . . . You think I'm old and wise, but I tell you the wise know the old must die, and they'll leave no chance for a thing slipping from them they've set their blood to win.
LAVARCHAM -- nodding her head. -- If you're old and wise, it's I'm the same, Conchu- bor, and I'm telling you you'll not have her though you're ready to destroy mankind and skin the gods to win her. There's things a king can't have, Conchubor, and if you go rampaging this night you'll be apt to win nothing but death for many, and a sloppy face of trouble on your own self before the day will come. CONCHUBOR. It's too much talk you have. (Goes right.) Where is Owen? Did you see him no place and you coming the road? LAVARCHAM. I seen him surely. He went spying on Naisi, and now the worms is spying on his own inside. CONCHUBOR -- exultingly. -- Naisi killed him? LAVARCHAM. He did not, then. It was Owen destroyed himself running mad be- cause of Deirdre. Fools and kings and scholars are all one in a story with her like, and Owen thought he'd be a great man, being the first corpse in the game you'll play this night in Emain. CONCHUBOR. It's yourself should be the first corpse, but my other messengers are coming, men from the clans that hated Usna.
LAVARCHAM -- drawing back hopeless- ly. -- Then the gods have pity on us all! [Men with weapons come in. CONCHUBOR -- to Soldiers. -- Are Ain- nle and Ardan separate from Naisi? MEN. They are, Conchubor. We've got them off, saying they were needed to make ready Deirdre's house. CONCHUBOR. And Naisi and Deirdre are coming? SOLDIER. Naisi's coming, surely, and a woman with him is putting out the glory of the moon is rising and the sun is going down. CONCHUBOR -- looking at Lavarcham. -- That's your story that she's seamed and ugly? SOLDIER. I have more news. (Point- ing to Lavarcham.) When that woman heard you were bringing Naisi this place, she sent a horse-boy to call Fergus from the north. CONCHUBOR -- to Lavarcham. -- It's for that you've been playing your tricks, but what you've won is a nearer death for Naisi. (To Soldiers.) Go up and call my fighters, and take that woman up to Emain. LAVARCHAM. I'd liefer stay this place. I've done my best, but if a bad end is coming,
surely it would be a good thing maybe I was here to tend her. CONCHUBOR -- fiercely. -- Take her to Emain; it's too many tricks she's tried this day already. (A Soldier goes to her.) LAVARCHAM. Don't touch me. (She puts her cloak round her and catches Con- chubor's arm.) I thought to stay your hand with my stories till Fergus would come to be beside them, the way I'd save yourself, Con- chubor, and Naisi and Emain Macha; but I'll walk up now into your halls, and I'll say (with a gesture) it's here nettles will be growing, and beyond thistles and docks. I'll go into your high chambers, where you've been figur- ing yourself stretching out your neck for the kisses of a queen of women; and I'll say it's here there'll be deer stirring and goats scratch- ing, and sheep waking and coughing when there is a great wind from the north. (Shak- ing herself loose. Conchubor makes a sign to Soldiers.) I'm going, surely. In a short space I'll be sitting up with many listening to the flames crackling, and the beams breaking, and I looking on the great blaze will be the end of Emain. [She goes out. CONCHUBOR -- looking out. -- I see two people in the trees; it should be Naisi and
Deirdre. (To Soldier.) Let you tell them they'll lodge here tonight. [Conchubor goes out right. Naisi and Deirdre come in on left, very weary. NAISI -- to Soldiers. -- Is it this place he's made ready for myself and Deirdre? SOLDIER. The Red Branch House is being aired and swept and you'll be called there when a space is by; till then you'd find fruits and drink on this table, and so the gods be with you. [Goes out right. NAISI -- looking round. -- It's a strange place he's put us camping and we come back as his friends. DEIRDRE. He's likely making up a wel- come for us, having curtains shaken out and rich rooms put in order; and it's right he'd have great state to meet us, and you his sister's son. NAISI -- gloomily. -- It's little we want with state or rich rooms or curtains, when we're used to the ferns only and cold streams and they making a stir. DEIRDRE -- roaming round room. -- We want what is our right in Emain (looking at hangings), and though he's riches in store for us it's a shabby, ragged place he's put us wait-
ing, with frayed rugs and skins are eaten by the moths. NAISI -- a little impatiently. -- There are few would worry over skins and moths on this first night that we've come back to Emain. DEIRDRE -- brightly. -- You should be well pleased it's for that I'd worry all times, when it's I have kept your tent these seven years as tidy as a bee-hive or a linnet's nest. If Conchubor'd a queen like me in Emain he'd not have stretched these rags to meet us. (She pulls hanging, and it opens.) There's new earth on the ground and a trench dug. . . . It's a grave, Naisi, that is wide and deep. NAISI -- goes over and pulls back curtain showing grave. -- And that'll be our home in Emain. . . . He's dug it wisely at the butt of a hill, with fallen trees to hide it. He'll want to have us killed and buried before Fergus comes. DEIRDRE. Take me away. . . . Take me to hide in the rocks, for the night is coming quickly. NAISI -- pulling himself together. -- I will not leave my brothers. DEIRDRE -- vehemently. -- It's of us two he's jealous. Come away to the places where we're used to have our company. . . .
Wouldn't it be a good thing to lie hid in the high ferns together? (She pulls him left.) I hear strange words in the trees. NAISI. It should be the strange fighters of Conchubor. I saw them passing as we came. DEIRDRE -- pulling him towards the right. -- Come to this side. Listen, Naisi! NAISI. There are more of them. . . . We are shut in, and I have not Ainnle and Ardan to stand near me. Isn't it a hard thing that we three who have conquered many may not die together? DEIRDRE -- sinking down. -- And isn't it a hard thing that you and I are in this place by our opened grave; though none have lived had happiness like ours those days in Alban that went by so quick. NAISI. It's a hard thing, surely, we've lost those days for ever; and yet it's a good thing, maybe, that all goes quick, for when I'm in that grave it's soon a day'll come you'll be too wearied to be crying out, and that day'll bring you ease. DEIRDRE. I'll not be here to know if that is true. NAISI. It's our three selves he'll kill to- night, and then in two months or three you'll