The Well at the World's End: a tale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 801 pages of information about The Well at the World's End.
that these were yet a good way off.  Now when, after a long ride from the hither end of the valley, they drew nigh to the town, Ralph saw that the walls and towers were not very high or strong, for so steep was the hill whereon the town stood, that it needed not.  Here also was no great castle within the town as at Cheaping Knowe, and the town itself nothing so big, but long and straggling along the top of the ridge.  Cheaping Knowe was all builded of stone; but the houses here were of timber for the most part, done over with pargeting and whitened well.  Yet was the town more cheerful of aspect than Cheaping Knowe, and the folk who came thronging about the chapmen at the gates not so woe-begone, and goodly enough.

Of the lord of Whiteness, Clement told that he paid tribute to him of Cheaping Knowe, rather for love of peace than for fear of him; for he was no ill lord, and free men lived well under him.

So the chapmen lodged in the market-place; and in two days time Ralph got speech of the Deacon of the Chapmen of the Town; who told him two matters; first that the lord of Utterbol had not been in Whiteness these six months; and next that the wild man had verily brought the damsel into the market; but he had turned away thence suddenly with her, without bringing her to the stone, and that it was most like that he would have the lord of Utterbol buy her; who, since he would be deeming that he might easily bend her to his will, would give him the better penny for her.  “At the last,” quoth the Deacon, “the wild man led her away toward the mountain pass that goeth to Goldburg, the damsel and he alone, and she with her hands unbound and riding a little horse.”  Of these tidings Ralph deemed it good that all traces of her were not lost; but his heart misgave him when he thought that by this time she must surely be in the hands of the lord of Utterbol.


They Ride the Mountains Toward Goldburg

Five days the Fellowship abode at Whiteness, and or ever they departed Clement waged men-at-arms of the lord of the town, besides servants to look to the beasts amongst the mountains, so that what with one, what with another, they entered the gates of the mountains a goodly company of four score and ten.

Ralph asked of Bull if any of those whom he might meet in these mountains were of his kindred; and he answered, nay, unless perchance there might be some one or two going their peaceful errands there like Bull Nosy.  So Ralph armed him with a good sword and a shield, and would have given him a steel hood also, but he would not bear it, saying that if sword and shield could not keep his head he had well earned a split skull.

Seven days they rode the mountains, and the way was toilsome and weary enough, for it was naught but a stony maze of the rocks where nothing living dwelt, and nothing grew, save now and again a little dwarf willow.  Yet was there naught worse to meet save toil, because they were over strong for the wild men to meddle with them, whereas the kindreds thereabout were but feeble.

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The Well at the World's End: a tale from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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