Gods and Fighting Men

The Quarrel

   And as to Osgar and Diarmuid, they went on, and no cut or wound on them, to where Angus and Grania were at Brugh na Boinne; and there was a good welcome before them, and Diarmuid told them the whole story from beginning to end, and it is much that Grania did not die then and there, hearing all he had gone through.
   And then she and Diarmuid set out again, and they went and stopped for a while in a cave that was near the sea.
   And one night while they were there a great storm came on, so that they went into the far part of the cave. But bad as the night was, a man of the Fomor, Ciach, the Fierce One, his name was, came over the western ocean in a curragh, with two oars, and he drew it into the cave for shelter. And Diarmuid bade him welcome, and they sat down to play chess together. And he got the best of the game, and what he asked as his winnings was Grania to be his wife, and he put his arms about her as if to bring her away. And Grania said: "I am this long time going with the third best man of the Fianna, and he never came as near as that to me."
   And Diarmuid took his sword to kill Ciach, and there was anger on Grania when she saw that, and she had a knife in her hand and she struck it into Diarmuid's thigh. And Diarmuid made an end of the Fomor, and he said no word to Grania, but ran out and away through the storm.
   And Grania went following after him, and calling to him, but there was great anger on him and be would not answer her. And at last at the break of day she overtook him, and after a while they heard the cry of a heron, and she asked him what was it made the heron cry out.
   "Tell me that," she said, "Grandson of Duibhne, to whom I gave my love." And Diarmuid said: "O Grania, daughter of the High King, woman who never took a step aright, it is because she was frozen to the rocks she gave that cry." And Grania was asking forgiveness of him, and he was reproaching her, and it is what he said: "O Grania of the beautiful hair, though you are more beautiful than the green tree under blossom, your love passes away as quickly as the cold cloud at break of day. And you are asking a hard thing of me now," he said, "and it is a pity what you said to me, Grania, for it was you brought me away from the house of my lord, that I am banished from it to this day; and now I am troubled through the night, fretting after its delight in every place.
   "I am like a wild deer, or a beast that is astray, going ever and always through the long valleys; there is great longing on me to see one of my kindred from the host.
   "I left my own people that were brighter than lime or snow; their heart was full of generosity to me, like the sun that is high above us; but now they follow me angrily to every harbour and every strand.
   "I lost my people by you, and my lord, and my large bright ships on every sea; I lost my treasure and my gold; it is hunger you gave me through your love.
   "I lost my country and my kindred; my men that were used to serve me; I lost quietness and affection; I lost the men of Ireland and the Fianna entirely.
   "I lost delight and music; I lost my own right doing and my honour; I lost the Fianna of Ireland, my great kinsmen, for the sake of the love you gave me.
   "O Grania, white as snow, it would have been a better choice for you to have given hatred to me, or gentleness to the Head of the Fianna."
   And Grania said: "O Diarmuid of the face like snow or like the down of the mountains, the sound of your voice was dearer to me than all the riches of the leader of the Fianna.
   "Your blue eye is dearer to me than his strength, and his gold and his great hall; the love-spot on your forehead is better to me than honey in streams; the time I first looked on it, it was more to me than the whole host of the King of Ireland.
   "My heart fell down there and then before your high beauty; when you came beside me, it was like the whole of life in one day.
   "O Diarmuid of the beautiful hands, take me now the same as before; it was with me the fault was entirely; give me your promise not to leave me."
   But Diarmuid said: "How can I take you again, you are a woman too fond of words; one day you give up the Head of the Fianna, and the next day myself, and no lie in it.
   "It is you parted me from Finn, the way I fell under sorrow and grief; and you left me yourself, the time I was full of affection."
   And Grania said: "Do not leave me now this way, and my love for you ever growing like the fresh branches of the tree with the kind long heat of the day."
   But Diarmuid, would not give in to her, and he said: "You are a woman full of words, and it is you have put me under sorrow. I took you with myself, and you struck at me for the sake of the man of the Fomor."
   They came then to a place where there was a cave, and water running by it, and they stopped to rest; and Grania said: "Have you a mind to eat bread and meat now, Diarmuid?"
   "I would eat it indeed if I had it," said Diarmuid.
   "Give me a knife, so," she said, "till I cut it." "Look for the knife in the sheaf where you put it yourself," said Diarmuid.
   She saw then that the knife was in his thigh where she had struck it, for he would not draw it out himself. So she drew it out then; and that was the greatest shame that ever came upon her.
   They stopped then in the cave. And the next day when they went on again, Diarmuid did not leave unbroken bread like he had left every other day as a sign to Finn that he had kept his faith with him, but it was broken bread he left after him.

Deidre of the Sorrows, by John Duncan