236 THE PURSUIT OF DIARMID
answered Diarmid, ' and truly, I and Grania are here.' Then, in presence of them all, he kissed Grania three times. ' Thou shalt give thy head for those three kisses,' said Fionn.
So Fionn and the four hundred that were with him surrounded the quicken tree, and he bade them on pain of death not to let Diarmid pass through them. Further, he promised to whichever man should go up the tree and fetch down Diarmid, he would give him arms and armour, and whatever place his father held among the Fenians. But Angus heard what Fionn said, and being somewhat of a wizard, came to Diarmid's help, without being seen of the Fenians. And one man after another rolled down the tree.
Howbeit, both Diarmid and Angus felt that this was no place for Grania, and Angus said he would take her with him.
' Take her,' answered Diarmid; ' if I be alive this evening I will follow you. If not, send Grania to her father at Tara.' And with that Angus bade farewell to Diarmid, and flung his magic mantle over himself and Grania, and they passed out and no man knew aught of them till they reached the river Boyne.
When they were safely gone, Diarmid, son of O'Dowd, spoke from the top of the tree. ' I will go down to you,
0 Fionn, and to the Fenians, and will deal slaughter and discomfiture upon you and your people, seeing that I know your wish is to allow me no escape, but to work my death after some manner. Moreover, I have no friend who will help or protect me, since full often have
I wrought havoc among the warriors of the world, for love of you. For there never came on you battle or strait, but I would plunge into it for your sake, and for that of the Fenians. Therefore I swear, 0 Fionn, that thou shalt not get me for nothing.'
' Diarmid speaks truth,' said Oscar. ' Grant him, I pray you, mercy and forgiveness.'