THE PURSUIT OF DIARMID 225
hook upon it, and a holly berry on the rod, and fished in the stream. In three casts he had taken three fish. That night they ate a good supper, and while Diarmid and Grania slept, Muadan kept watch for them.
At dawn Diarmid woke Grania and told her to watch while Muadan slept, as he was going to climb a hill near by, and see where they had best go.
He soon stood on the top and looked round about him. In front of him was a great company of ships bearing towards him out of the west. They landed at the foot of the hill where Diarmid stood, and he swiftly ran down to meet them and to ask of what country they were.
' We are three royal chiefs,' said they, ' and are sent by Fionn to take an enemy of his whom he has outlawed, called Diarmid O'Dowd. And with us are three fierce hounds whom we will loose upon his track. Fire burns them not, nor water drowns them, nor weapons wound them, and of us there are two thousand men. Moreover, tell us who you yourself are, and if you have any tidings of the son of O'Dowd.'
'I am but a warrior walking the world with the strength of my arm and the blade of my sword. But I warn you, you will have no common man to deal with if you meet Diarmid, whom but yesterday I saw.'
' Well, no one has been found yet,' said they.
' Is there wine in your ships ? ' asked Diarmid.
' There is,' answered they.
'If you would bring a tun of it here, I would do a trick for you.' So the wine was sent for, and Diarmid raised the cask up and drank from it, and took it up to the top of the hill and stood on it, and it glided with him to the bottom. And that trick he did thrice, standing on the tun as it came and went. But the strangers only scoffed, and they told him they could do a much better trick than that, and one of them jumped on the tun. Then, before it could move, Diarmid gave the tun a kick, and the young man fell, and the tun rolled over and 15