“Is it deemed a holy place in the land, then?” said Ralph.
“I wot not the meaning of holy,” said the other: “but all we deem that when Goldburg shall fall, the world shall change, so that living therein shall be hard to them that have not drunk of the water of the Well at the World’s End.”
Ralph was silent a while and eyed the captain curiously: then he said: “Have the Goldburgers so drunk?” Said the captain: “Nay, nay; but the word goes that under each tower of Goldburg lieth a youth and a maiden that have drunk of the water, and might not die save by point and edge.”
Then was Ralph silent again, for once more he fell pondering the matter if he had been led away to be offered as a blood offering to some of evil gods of the land. But as he pondered a flourish of trumpets was blown, and all men sprang up, and the captain said to Ralph: “Now hath our Lord done his dinner and we must to horse.” Anon they were on the way again, and they rode long and saw little change in the aspect of the land, neither did that cloudlike token of the distant mountains grow any greater or clearer to Ralph’s deeming.
The Lord of Utterbol Will Wot of Ralph’s Might and Minstrelsy
A little before sunset they made halt for the night, and Ralph was shown to a tent as erst, and had meat and drink good enough brought to him. But somewhat after he had done eating comes David to him and says: “Up, young man! and come to my lord, he asketh for thee.”
“What will he want with me?” said Ralph.
“Yea, that is a proper question to ask!” quoth David; “as though the knife should ask the cutler, what wilt thou cut with me? Dost thou deem that I durst ask him of his will with thee?” “I am ready to go with thee,” said Ralph.
So they went forth; but Ralph’s heart fell and he sickened at the thought of seeing that man again. Nevertheless he set his face as brass, and thrust back both his fear and his hatred for a fitter occasion.
Soon they came into the pavilion of the Lord, who was sitting there as yester eve, save that his gown was red, and done about with gold and turquoise and emerald. David brought Ralph nigh to his seat, but spake not. The mighty lord was sitting with his head drooping, and his arm hanging over his knee, with a heavy countenance as though he were brooding matters which pleased him naught. But in a while he sat up with a start, and turned about and saw David standing there with Ralph, and spake at once like a man waking up: “He that sold thee to me said that thou wert of avail for many things. Now tell me, what canst thou do?”
Ralph so hated him, that he was of half a mind to answer naught save by smiting him to slay him; but there was no weapon anigh, and life was sweet to him with all the tale that was lying ahead. So he answered coldly: “It is sooth, lord, that I can do more than one deed.”