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 tomorrow 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 byeways 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; gathering 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 dislike). 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 cutting 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?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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