The Way Forward

Last week Deirdre discovered the significance of black, red, and white when she had a vivid dream…

When Lebharcham arrived in the morning, for the day’s lessons, I drew her into a corner of the room and, not without a tremor of fear, revealed everything – well, almost everything.

“Dear tutor,” I begged, “Please help me understand.  I don’t know what this means.  I’m sure we are linked in some way.  Some mysterious way I can’t explain.  Please help me find out.”  I kept it at that.  Even Lebharcham might split on me if she knows I won’t marry the king.

I could see Lebharcham’s inner struggle.  She has always loved me, and, although she won’t say so, I think she disapproves of the king’s wish to marry me.  But then, what authority am I begging her to defy.  For a moment I felt a prick of conscience, but it rapidly faded.  She doesn’t have anything to do with my not marrying the king.  I’m going to escape even if I don’t meet this young man.

Finally her expression softened, and I could see her love for me had won out.  “Deirdre, my dear,” she replied, “I have never approved of your betrothal, as I think you know.  Yes, I know who this young man is.  I will tell you his name.”

My face flushed red as I gazed at her in excitement.

“He is called Naoise, the son of Usnach, nephew to the king.  Now that is all, Deirdre.  I will get into trouble as it is.”

But it was enough.  I flung my arms around her, “Thank you, Lebharcham.  Now I can find out what this all means.”

One step at a time.  So I settled quietly to my reading practice, to allay any fears in Lebharcham’s mind.

“Deirdre, you must be careful.”

I jumped and looked up.  Lebharcham looked at me so sternly that I quivered slightly.

“I would warn you, child.”

“About what?”  I asked her.

“You are right, there is something mysterious behind your dream.  You must watch your coming days carefully.”

I put the book down, “Do you mean that my connection with this young man is dangerous, or that my dream in general is dangerous because it is a dream?”

“Maybe both.  Deirdre, be careful!”

Surprised at this cautious tone from a poet, I only nodded and turned back to my book.

Later that night I began to lay my plans.  First, I want to see the king, to see if it’s actually worth all the upset of breaking my betrothal.  Marrying a man I have never met fills me with a cold dread, but then not marrying him will make him very angry.  King Conchobar is very powerful, and there isn’t anywhere else I could run to.  I just want to make sure I’m doing the right thing.  And then I’ll find this young man, and begin to put the puzzle together.

In three days time there’s a festival.  That would be the perfect time to slip out and reconnoitre.