Alban. Early morning in the beginning of winter. Outside the tent of Deirdre and Naisi.
Alban. Early morning in the beginning of winter. A wood outside the tent of Deirdre and Naisi. Lavarcham comes in muffled in a cloak. LAVARCHAM -- calling. -- Deirdre. . . . Deirdre. . . . DEIRDRE -- coming from tent. -- My welcome, Lavarcham. . . . Whose curagh is rowing from Ulster? I saw the oars through the tops of the trees, and I thought it was you were coming towards us. LAVARCHAM. I came in the shower was before dawn. DEIRDRE. And who is coming? LAVARCHAM -- mournfully. -- Let you not be startled or taking it bad, Deirdre. It's Fergus bringing messages of peace from Conchubor to take Naisi and his brothers back to Emain. [Sitting down. DEIRDRE -- lightly. -- Naisi and his brothers are well pleased with this place; and what would take them back to Conchubor in Ulster? LAVARCHAM. Their like would go any
place where they'd see death standing. (With more agitation.) I'm in dread Conchubor wants to have yourself and to kill Naisi, and that that'll be the ruin of the Sons of Usna. I'm silly, maybe, to be dreading the like, but those have a great love for yourself have a right to be in dread always. DEIRDRE -- more anxiously. -- Emain should be no safe place for myself and Naisi. And isn't it a hard thing they'll leave us no peace, Lavarcham, and we so quiet in the woods? LAVARCHAM -- impressively. -- It's a hard thing, surely; but let you take my word and swear Naisi, by the earth, and the sun over it, and the four quarters of the moon, he'll not go back to Emain -- for good faith or bad faith -- the time Conchubor's keeping the high throne of Ireland. . . . It's that would save you, surely. DEIRDRE -- without hope. -- There's lit- tle power in oaths to stop what's coming, and little power in what I'd do, Lavarcham, to change the story of Conchubor and Naisi and the things old men foretold. LAVARCHAM -- aggressively. -- Was there little power in what you did the night you dressed in your finery and ran Naisi off
along with you, in spite of Conchubor and the big nobles did dread the blackness of your luck? It was power enough you had that night to bring distress and anguish; and now I'm pointing you a way to save Naisi, you'll not stir stick or straw to aid me. DEIRDRE -- a little haughtily. -- Let you not raise your voice against me, Lavarcham, if you have will itself to guard Naisi. LAVARCHAM -- breaking out in anger. -- Naisi is it? I didn't care if the crows were stripping his thigh-bones at the dawn of day. It's to stop your own despair and wailing, and you waking up in a cold bed, without the man you have your heart on, I am raging now. (Starting up with temper.) Yet there is more men than Naisi in it; and maybe I was a big fool thinking his dangers, and this day, would fill you up with dread. DEIRDRE -- sharply. -- Let you end; such talking is a fool's only, when it's well you know if a thing harmed Naisi it isn't I would live after him. (With distress.) It's well you know it's this day I'm dreading seven years, and I fine nights watching the heifers walking to the haggard with long shadows on the grass; (with emotion) or the time I've been stretched in the sunshine, when I've heard
Ainnle and Ardan stepping lightly, and they saying: Was there ever the like of Deirdre for a happy and sleepy queen? LAVARCHAM -- not fully pacified. -- And yet you'll go, and welcome is it, if Naisi chooses? DEIRDRE. I've dread going or staying, Lavarcham. It's lonesome this place, having happiness like ours, till I'm asking each day will this day match yesterday, and will to- morrow take a good place beside the same day in the year that's gone, and wondering all times is it a game worth playing, living on until you're dried and old, and our joy is gone for ever. LAVARCHAM. If it's that ails you, I tell you there's little hurt getting old, though young girls and poets do be storming at the shapes of age. (Passionately.) There's little hurt getting old, saving when you're looking back, the way I'm looking this day, and seeing the young you have a love for breaking up their hearts with folly. (Going to Deirdre.) Take my word and stop Naisi, and the day'll come you'll have more joy having the senses of an old woman and you with your little grandsons shrieking round you, than I'd have this night putting on the red mouth and the
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
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.
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