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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 674 pages of information about The Well at the World's End.

She answered naught but laid her hands on his breast and put up her face to him, and he kissed her lips.  Then she said:  “Knight, thou hast kissed a thrall and a guileful woman, yet one that shall smart for thee; therefore grudge not the kiss nor repent thee of thy kindness.”

“How shalt thou suffer?” said he.  She looked on him steadfastly a moment, and said:  “Farewell! may all good go with thee.”  Therewith she turned away and walked off slowly through the wood, and somewhat he pitied her, and sighed as he got into his saddle; but he said to himself:  “How might I help her?  Yet true it is that she may well be in an evil case:  I may not help everyone.”  Then he shook his rein and rode his ways.

CHAPTER 2

Ralph Rides the Wood Under the Mountains

A long way now rode Ralph, and naught befell him but the fashion of the wood.  And as he rode, the heart within him was lightened that he had escaped from all the confusion and the lying of those aliens, who knew him not, nor his kindred, and yet would all use him each for his own ends:  and withal he was glad that he was riding all alone upon his quest, but free, unwounded, and well weaponed.

The wood was not very thick whereas he rode, so that he could see the whereabouts of the sun, and rode east as far as he could judge it.  Some little victual he had with him, and he found woodland fruit ripening here and there, and eked out his bread therewith; neither did water fail him, for he rode a good way up along a woodland stream that cleft the thicket, coming down as he deemed from the mountains, and thereby he made the more way:  but at last he deemed that he must needs leave it, as it turned overmuch to the north.  The light was failing when he came into a woodlawn amidst of which was a pool of water, and all that day he had had no adventure with beast or man, since he had sundered from Agatha.  So he lay down and slept there with his naked sword by his side, and awoke not till the sun was high in the heavens next morning.  Then he arose at once and went on his way after he had washed him, and eaten a morsel.

After a little the thick of the wood gave out, and the land was no longer flat, as it had been, but was of dales and of hills, not blinded by trees.  In this land he saw much deer, as hart and wild swine; and he happened also on a bear, who was about a honey tree, and had taken much comb from the wild bees.  On him Ralph drew his sword and drave him exceeding loth from his purchase, so that the knight dined off the bear’s thieving.  Another time he came across a bent where on the south side grew vines well fruited, and the grapes a-ripening; and he ate well thereof before he went on his way.

Before nightfall he came on that same stream again, and it was now running straight from the east; so he slept that night on the bank thereof.  On the morrow he rode up along it a great way, till again it seemed to be coming overmuch from the north; and then he left it, and made on east as near as he could guess it by the sun.

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