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.
DEIRDRE -- clearly and gravely. -- It's this hour we're between the daytime and a night where there is sleep for ever, and isn't it a better thing to be following on to a near death, than to be bending the head down, and dragging with the feet, and seeing one day a blight showing upon love where it is sweet and tender. NAISI -- his voice broken with distraction. -- If a near death is coming what will be my trouble losing the earth and the stars over it, and you, Deirdre, are their flame and bright crown? Come away into the safety of the woods. DEIRDRE -- shaking her head slowly. -- There are as many ways to wither love as there are stars in a night of Samhain; but there is no way to keep life, or love with it, a short space only. . . . It's for that there's nothing lonesome like a love is watching out the time most lovers do be sleeping. . . . It's for that we're setting out for Emain Macha when the tide turns on the sand. NAISI -- giving in. -- You're right, maybe. It should be a poor thing to see great lovers and they sleepy and old. DEIRDRE -- with a more tender intensity. -- We're seven years without roughness or
growing weary; seven years so sweet and shining, the gods would be hard set to give us seven days the like of them. It's for that we're going to Emain, where there'll be a rest for ever, or a place for forgetting, in great crowds and they making a stir. NAISI -- very softly. -- We'll go, surely, in place of keeping a watch on a love had no match and it wasting away. (They cling to each other for a moment, then Naisi looks up.) There are Fergus and Lavarcham and my two brothers. [Deirdre goes. Naisi sits with his head bowed. Owen runs in stealthily, comes behind Naisi and seizes him round the arms. Naisi shakes him off and whips out his sword. OWEN -- screaming with derisive laughter and showing his empty hands. -- Ah, Naisi, wasn't it well I didn't kill you that time? There was a fright you got! I've been watch- ing Fergus above -- don't be frightened -- and I've come down to see him getting the cold shoulder, and going off alone. [Fergus and others come in. They are all subdued like men at a queen's wake. NAISI -- putting up his sword. -- There
he is. (Goes to Fergus.) We are going back when the tide turns, I and Deirdre with your- self. ALL. Going back! AINNLE. And you'll end your life with Deirdre, though she has no match for keeping spirits in a little company is far away by itself? ARDAN. It's seven years myself and Ainnle have been servants and bachelors for yourself and Deirdre. Why will you take her back to Conchubor? NAISI. I have done what Deirdre wishes and has chosen. FERGUS. You've made a choice wise men will be glad of in the five ends of Ireland. OWEN. Wise men is it, and they going back to Conchubor? I could stop them only Naisi put in his sword among my father's ribs, and when a man's done that he'll not credit your oath. Going to Conchubor! I could tell of plots and tricks, and spies were well paid for their play. (He throws up a bag of gold.) Are you paid, Fergus? [He scatters gold pieces over Fergus. FERGUS. He is raving. . . . Seize him. OWEN -- flying between them. -- You won't. Let the lot of you be off to Emain, but I'll be off before you. . . . Dead men, dead
men! Men who'll die for Deirdre's beauty; I'll be before you in the grave! [Runs out with his knife in his hand. They all run after him except Lavar- cham, who looks out and then clasps her hands. Deirdre comes out to her in a dark cloak. DEIRDRE. What has happened? LAVARCHAM. It's Owen's gone raging mad, and he's after splitting his gullet beyond at the butt of the stone. There was ill luck this day in his eye. And he knew a power if he'd said it all. [Naisi comes back quickly, followed by the others. AINNLE -- coming in very excited. -- That man knew plots of Conchubor's. We'll not go to Emain, where Conchubor may love her and have hatred for yourself. FERGUS. Would you mind a fool and raver? AINNLE. It's many times there's more sense in madmen than the wise. We will not obey Conchubor. NAISI. I and Deirdre have chosen; we will go back with Fergus. ARDAN. We will not go back. We will burn your curaghs by the sea.
FERGUS. My sons and I will guard them. AINNLE. We will blow the horn of Usna and our friends will come to aid us. NAISI. It is my friends will come. AINNLE. Your friends will bind your hands, and you out of your wits. [Deirdre comes forward quickly and comes between Ainnle and Naisi. DEIRDRE -- in a low voice. -- For seven years the Sons of Usna have not raised their voices in a quarrel. AINNLE. We will not take you to Emain. ARDAN. It is Conchubor has broken our peace. AINNLE -- to Deirdre. -- Stop Naisi go- ing. What way would we live if Conchubor should take you from us? DEIRDRE. There is no one could take me from you. I have chosen to go back with Fergus. Will you quarrel with me, Ainnle, though I have been your queen these seven years in Alban? AINNLE -- subsiding suddenly. -- Naisi has no call to take you. ARDAN. Why are you going? DEIRDRE -- to both of them and the
others. -- It is my wish. . . . It may be I will not have Naisi growing an old man in Alban with an old woman at his side, and young girls pointing out and saying, "that is Deirdre and Naisi had great beauty in their youth." It may be we do well putting a sharp end to the day is brave and glorious, as our fathers put a sharp end to the days of the kings of Ire- land; or that I'm wishing to set my foot on Slieve Fuadh, where I was running one time and leaping the streams, (to Lavarcham) and that I'd be well pleased to see our little apple- trees, Lavarcham, behind our cabin on the hill; or that I've learned, Fergus, it's a lonesome thing to be away from Ireland always. AINNLE -- giving in. -- There is no place but will be lonesome to us from this out, and we thinking on our seven years in Alban. DEIRDRE -- to Naisi. -- It's in this place we'd be lonesome in the end. . . . Take down Fergus to the sea. He has been a guest had a hard welcome and he bringing messages of peace. FERGUS. We will make your curagh ready and it fitted for the voyage of a king. [He goes with Naisi. DEIRDRE. Take your spears, Ainnle and Ardan, and go down before me, and take your
horse-boys to be carrying my cloaks are on the threshold. AINNLE -- obeying. -- It's with a poor heart we'll carry your things this day we have carried merrily so often, and we hungry and cold. [They gather up things and go out. DEIRDRE -- to Lavarcham. -- Go you, too, Lavarcham. You are old, and I will follow quickly. LAVARCHAM. I'm old, surely, and the hopes I had my pride in are broken and torn. [She goes out, with a look of awe at Deirdre. DEIRDRE -- clasping her hands. -- Woods of Cuan, woods of Cuan, dear country of the east! It's seven years we've had a life was joy only, and this day we're going west, this day we're facing death, maybe, and death should be a poor, untidy thing, though it's a queen that dies. [She goes out slowly.