Said Ralph: “And how far then are we from Utterbol?” Said David: “After we have left Bull-mead in the Dale of the Tower, where to-morrow thou art to run with the spear, it is four days’ ride to Utterness; and from Utterness ye may come (if my lord will) unto Utterbol in twelve hours. But tell me, knight, how deemest thou of thy tilting to-morrow?” Said Ralph: “Little should I think of it, if little lay upon it.” “Yea,” said David, “but art thou a good tilter?” Ralph laughed: quoth he, “That hangs on the goodness of him that tilteth against me: I have both overthrown, and been overthrown oft enough. Yet again, who shall judge me? for I must tell thee, that were I fairly judged, I should be deemed no ill spear, even when I came not uppermost: for in all these games are haps which no man may foresee.”
“Well, then,” said David, “all will go well with thee for this time: for my lord will judge thee, and if it be seen that thou hast spoken truly, and art more than a little deft at the play, he will be like to make the best of thee, since thou art already paid for.” Ralph laughed: yet as though the jest pleased him but little; and they fell to talk of other matters. And so David departed, and Ralph slept.
Ralph Cometh To the Vale of the Tower
But when it was morning Ralph awoke, and saw that the sun was shining brightly; so he cast his shirt on him, and went out at once, and turned his face eastward, and, scarce awake, said to himself that the clouds lay heavy in the eastward heavens after last night’s haze: but presently his eyes cleared, and he saw that what he had taken for clouds was a huge wall of mountains, black and terrible, that rose up sharp and clear into the morning air; for there was neither cloud nor mist in all the heavens.
Now Ralph, though he were but little used to the sight of great mountains, yet felt his heart rather rise than fall at the sight of them; for he said: “Surely beyond them lieth some new thing for me, life or death: fair fame or the forgetting of all men.” And it was long that he could not take his eyes off them.
As he looked, came up the Captain Otter, and said: “Well, Knight, thou hast seen them this morn, even if ye die ere nightfall.” Said Ralph: “What deemest thou to lie beyond them?”
“Of us none knoweth surely,” said Otter; “whiles I deem that if one were to get to the other side there would be a great plain like to this: whiles that there is naught save mountains beyond, and yet again mountains, like the waves of a huge stone sea. Or whiles I think that one would come to an end of the world, to a place where is naught but a ledge, and then below it a gulf filled with nothing but the howling of winds, and the depth of darkness. Moreover this is my thought, that all we of these parts should be milder men and of better conditions, if yonder terrible wall were away. It is as if we were thralls of the great mountains.”