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

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 674 pages of information about The Well at the World's End.
have the souls of men in their bodies, but that they were utterly vile through and through, like the shapes of an evil dream.  Therefore he thought shame of it to show the Queen’s letter to them, even as if he had shown them the very naked body of her, who had been so piteous kind to him.  Also he had no mind to wear his heart on his sleeve, but would keep his own counsel, and let his foemen speak and show what was in their minds.  For this cause he now made himself sweet, and was of good cheer with old David, deeming him to be a great man there; as indeed he was, being the chief counsellor of the Lord of Utterbol; though forsooth not so much his counsellor as that he durst counsel otherwise than as the Lord desired to go; unless he thought that it would bring his said Lord, and therefore himself, to very present peril and damage.  In short, though this man had not been bought for money, he was little better than a thrall of the higher sort, as forsooth were all the Lord’s men, saving the best and trustiest of his warriors:  and these were men whom the Lord somewhat feared himself:  though, on the other hand, he could not but know that they understood how the dread of the Lord of Utterbol was a shield to them, and that if it were to die out amongst men, their own skins were not worth many days’ purchase.

So then David spake pleasantly with Ralph, and ate and drank with him, and saw that he was well bedded for the night, and left him in the first watch.  But Ralph lay down in little more trouble than the night before, when, though he were being led friendly to Utterness, yet he had not been able to think what he should do when he came there:  whereas now he thought:  Who knoweth what shall betide? and for me there is nought to do save to lay hold of the occasion that another may give me.  And at the worst I scarce deem that I am being led to the slaughter.

CHAPTER 33

Ralph is Brought on the Road Towards Utterbol

But now when it was morning they struck the tents and laded them on wains, and went their ways the selfsame road that Ralph had been minded for yesterday; to wit the road to Utterness; but now must he ride it unarmed and guarded:  other shame had he none.  Indeed David, who stuck close to his side all day, was so sugary sweet with him, and praised and encouraged him so diligently, that Ralph began to have misgivings that all this kindness was but as the flower-garlands wherewith the heathen times men were wont to deck the slaughter-beasts for the blood-offering.  Yea, and into his mind came certain tales of how there were heathen men yet in the world, who beguiled men and women, and offered them up to their devils, whom they called gods:  but all this ran off him soon, when he bethought him how little wisdom there was in running to meet the evil, which might be on the way, and that way a rough and perilous one.  So he plucked up heart, and spake freely and gaily with David and one or two others who rode anigh.

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