Last week Deirdre persuaded Naoise to elope with her…
Once Naoise was convinced, he wasted no time. He stood up tall on the grass beside me and sang a complex series of notes. They drifted out of his mouth and flew into the breeze, wild and untamed. Almost instantly there was a rustling in the wood a few metres away, and out of it sprang two young men, brandishing their weapons and looking extremely like my Naoise, although far less handsome. They looked very surprised on finding no enemies and sheathed their swords.
“You had us thinking you were in trouble there. What is it, Naoise?” the younger of the two said indignantly as they came up to us.
“Well, I’m going to be married,” he informed them.
They glanced at me and bowed slightly. “Well that was quick work, Naoise.”
Naoise drew them aside and spoke to them in a hush. I watched their faces, as they changed from interested to horrified and then shocked.
“…stealing the king’s bride!” came the outraged whisper. “You know what will happen…”
Naoise looked sheepish at that and I could tell he was relating how I had threatened to curse him. They argued for several more minutes until Naoise had obviously had enough.
“I am taking her away, tonight,” he declared firmly. “So you can either come with me, or not.”
The brothers looked at each other, “Nothing but disaster can come of this, Naoise, but the sons of Usnach always stand by each other. If nothing can change your mind, we will come with you.”
I watched them approach me, relieved, for it was freezing in the February wind. “Well,” said Naoise jauntily, “Deirdre, these two scamps are my brothers, Ainnle and Ardan. They are coming with us.”
They are coming with us! At this first reference to our journey excitement and hope began to rise like a bubble inside me.
“When shall we start?” I asked.
“Well, there are certain things I need to arrange,” Naoise replied, “And I suppose you must want to pack some things as well. How about tonight?”
“The sooner the better,” I threw back my head and laughed for joy. “I can climb out over the wall and meet you. And speaking of that, I had better get home before I’m missed.”
“Very well then,” Naoise quickly outlined the plan, “When you hear an owl’s hoot, climb out. I’ll be waiting.”