But when evening was come, and all the company was merry, Deirdre was wearied with journeying, and she lay upon a couch draped with deerskins, and played with Nathos upon the gold and ivory chess-board. And as Deirdre rested, the door opened, and there entered a messenger from the King.
Then went he forward and told his waiting huntsmen to return by a long and winding path to the castle of the sons of Usna. Three days would it thus take them to reach it, and Nathos with Deirdre would be there on the morrow, if, tarrying not, they walked on through the dark night. But Concobar's messengers would follow the hounds, thinking so to capture Nathos.
Thus was it made known to Lavarcam that in some wise Concobar the King had heard that the swineherd had spoken with Deirdre. Therefore Lavarcam went not to the palace, but turned aside to the camp of the sons of Usna. And Nathos came out to her, and she told him of the loneliness of the fair Deirdre and of her longing to see him.
There, against a background of blue haze, encircled by a network of blossoming blackthorn, shone forth the fairest vision mortal eye had beheld. Speech tarried as Nathos gazed spell-bound. At length the maiden questioned, 'Nathos, son of Usna, what wouldst thou? 'Strange is it that thou shouldst know my name, most fair. No mortal art thou.
Then Lavarcam hastened to the King and told him how that the sons of Usna had come to Erin to live peaceably, but how that the beauty of Deirdre had faded until she was no longer fairest among women. Then was Concobar wroth, and he sent yet another messenger. To this man he said, 'Who was it that slew thy father and thy brother? 'Nathos, son of Usna, O King!
'Again have I dreamed, O Nathos, and in my dream I saw our little company, but as I looked, on the younger son of Fergus alone, was the head left upon his body. Turn aside, and let us go not to Concobar, or that thing which I saw in my dream, it shall come to pass. But Nathos feared not, for had not Fergus come to them with the bond of peace from the King?
'I am Deirdre, and it is the King's will that I wander not forth from yonder cottage but by the side of Lavarcam. Ill would it please him that I should thus roam the forest alone. 'I love thee, Deirdre, and I would serve thee ever. 'I love thee, Nathos, and I would that I might be ever by thy side. Let me flee with thee from this place. Nathos knit his brows in thought.
In fear and wonder Deirdre ran to the spot. No man lay there, but she saw on the bracken the form of a crouching man. She saw, too, the tracks that marked his escape. Nathos followed her, and stooped to take his javelin from the ground. And there, beside it, lay a wooden-hilted knife. 'It is as I thought, he said. 'This knife is used but by the hillmen who are in bondage to Concobar.
'Go, Ardan, said Nathos, 'go to the harbour, and there welcome Fergus from the Green Isle, for he indeed it is and none other. But when Ardan went, Nathos saw that Deirdre's lips grew pale and a great fear looked out from her eyes. 'What terror is it that hath hold of thee? he asked.
But Ardan answered: 'For fear of what may befall us, the sons of Usna, shalt thou never leave us, nor shalt thou go forth from us, but of thine own free will. Early next morning one hundred and fifty men rode with the three sons of Usna and Deirdre, the wife of Nathos, toward the bay where their black galley was harboured.