240 THE PURSUIT OF DIARMID
' We will give them battle and slay them all,' answered Oscar.
On the morrow Diarmid and Oscar rose, and put on their armour and went their way to the place of combat, where they bound the rims of their shields together, so that they might not be parted in the fight. Next they proclaimed battle against Fionn, and the Scots said they would land and fight them first. They rushed together, and Diarmid passed under them and through them and over them, as a whale would go through small fish. And all of them fell by Diarmid and Oscar before night came, while they themselves had neither cut nor wound.
When Fionn saw that great slaughter he and his men put out to sea, and sailed to the cave where dwelt an old woman, Fionn's nurse. And he told her his story from the beginning. 'I will go with you,' said she, 'and will practise magic against him.'
They came to the Boyne, and the witch threw magic over Fionn and his Fenians, so that the men of Erin knew not they were there; and that day Diarmid was hunting alone, for he had parted from Oscar the day before. Now the witch knew this, and she flew to where a water-lily leaf lay writh a hole in the middle of it, and as the wind lifted the leaf from the surface of the water she cast deadly darts at Diarmid through the hole, and did him great hurt. And every evil that had come upon him was little compared with that evil. Then he felt that unless he could strike her through the hole in the leaf she would slay him on the spot; so he lay down on his back and took his javelin in his hand, and reached her through the hole, and she fell dead.
After that he cut off her head and carried it with him to Angus.
The next day Diarmid rose early and Angus with him, and they went to Fionn and asked if he would make peace with Diarmid, and also to Cormac, King of Erin, with a like question; and they agreed thereto, and asked Diarmid