230 THE PURSUIT OF DIARMID
matter to bring to Fionn that which he asks of you. The head is the head of Diarmid, son of Dowd, and if there were two thousand of you instead of fifty, Diarmid would not let it go.'
' And what are the berries that Fionn asks of us ? ' said they.
' Those berries would never have been heard of but for the jealousy of two women of different tribes, each of whom swore that her husband could hurl a pole farther than the other. So all the rest of the tribes came out to take part in the goaling match, and the game lasted long, and neither won a goal. At last the tribe of the Tuatha De Denann saw that the Fenians were stronger than they, and they went away bearing their provisions with them — nuts, and apples, and fragrant berries. And as they passed near the river Moy one of the berries fell, and turned into a quicken tree. No disease or sickness can touch anyone who eats three of its berries, and were he a hundred years old, the eater of them shall become no more than thirty.
' Since those days the tribe has set a guard over it. He is a crooked giant, with an eye in the midst of his forehead. No weapon can wound him, and he can only die of three strokes from his own iron club. At night he sleeps on the top of the tree, and by day watches at the foot. Around him is a wilderness, and the Fenians dare not hunt there, for fear of that terrible one. These are the berries which Fionn asks of you.'
But Aod, the son of Andala, spoke and declared that he would rather die seeking those berries than return to his own land with his head bowed in shame. So he and Angus his cousin took farewell of Ossian and went their ways, and as they drew near the forest they came on the track of Diarmid; and they followed to the tent, where they found him with Grania. ' Who are you ?' asked Diarmid.
' We are Aod and Angus of the Clan Moirna,' said