THE PURSUIT OF DIARMID 227
Angus, and took his two javelins, whose stroke none could cure. Grania trembled at this brave sight, but Diarmid soothed her fears, and went oft' to meet the Fenians.
'What tidings of the son of O'Dowd?' said they. ' Show us where he is, that we may take his head to Fionn.'
'The body and life of Diarmid are under my protection, and I will not betray him.'
'Then we will take your head, as Fionn is your enemy,' said they.
' Take it if you can,' answered Diarmid, and he drew his sword and struck at the head of the man next him, and it rolled away from the body. Then he rushed on the host, and slew them right and left, and none lived to tell the tale but the three green chiefs and a few men who went back to their ships. And they returned the next morning and renewed the fight, but Diarmid vanquished them, and binding them fast, left them where they were. For he knew that there were only four men in the world that could loose them.
After this Diarmid called to Grania and Muadan to come with him, and they travelled till Grania grew weary, and Muadan carried her on his back to the foot of a great mountain. And there they rested on the bank of the stream.
Meanwhile the few men who had been left alive abandoned their ship, and sought the three chiefs who were lying bound on the hill. They tried to loosen the bands of the captives, but only drew them tighter.
Soon they saw the witch-messenger of Fionn coming over the tops of the hills skimming from one to the other as lightly as a swallow.
' Who has made this great slaughter ? ' said she.
' Who are you that ask ? ' said they.
' I am Deirdre, the witch-messenger of Fionn, and he has sent me to look for you.''