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Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race

Page: 139

Outside the wicket-gate he again begs Grania to return. “It is certain that I will not go back,” says Grania, “nor part from thee till death part us.” “Then go forward, O Grania,” says Dermot. After they had gone a mile, “I am truly weary, O grandson of Dyna,” says Grania. “It is a good time to be weary,” says Dermot, making a last effort to rid himself of the entanglement, “and return now to thy household again, for I pledge the word of a true warrior that I will never carry thee nor any other woman to all eternity.” “There is no need,” replies Grania, and she directs him where to find horses and a chariot, and Dermot, now finally [pg 299] accepting the inevitable, yokes them, and they proceed on their way to the Ford of Luan on the Shannon.

The Pursuit

Next day Finn, burning with rage, sets out with his warriors on their track. He traces out each of their halting-places, and finds the hut of wattles which Dermot has made for their shelter, and the bed of soft rushes, and the remains of the meal they had eaten. And at each place he finds a piece of unbroken bread or uncooked salmon—Dermot's subtle message to Finn that he has respected the rights of his lord and treated Grania as a sister. But this delicacy of Dermot's is not at all to Crania's mind, and she conveys her wishes to him in a manner which is curiously paralleled by an episode in the tale of Tristan and Iseult of Brittany, as told by Heinrich von Freiberg. They are passing through a piece of wet ground when a splash of water strikes Grania. She turns to her companion: “Thou art a mighty warrior, O Dermot, in battle and sieges and forays, yet meseems that this drop of water is bolder than thou.” This hint that he was keeping at too respectful a distance was taken by Dermot. The die is now cast, and he will never again meet Finn and his old comrades except at the point of the spear.

The tale now loses much of the originality and charm of its opening scene, and recounts in a somewhat mechanical manner a number of episodes in which Dermot is attacked or besieged by the Fianna, and rescues himself and his lady by miracles of boldness or dexterity, or by aid of the magical devices of his foster-father, Angus Ōg. They are chased all over Ireland, and the dolmens in that country are popularly associated [pg 300] with them, being called in the traditions of the peasantry “Beds of Dermot and Grania.”

Grania's character is drawn throughout with great consistency. She is not an heroic woman—hers are not the simple, ardent impulses and unwavering devotion of a Deirdre. The latter is far more primitive. Grania is a curiously modern and what would be called “neurotic” type—wilful, restless, passionate, but full of feminine fascination.

Dermot and Finn Make Peace


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