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.
snowdrop had thrust up and blossomed, and the celandine had come, and then when the blackthorn bloomed and the Lent-lilies hid the grass betwixt the great chestnut-boles, when the sun shone betwixt the showers and the west wind blew, and the throstles and blackbirds ceased not their song betwixt dawn and dusk, then began Ralph to say to himself, that even if the Well at the World’s End were not, and all that the Sage had told them was but a tale of Swevenham, yet were all better than well if Ursula were but to him a woman beloved rather than a friend.  And whiles he was pensive and silent, even when she was by him, and she noted it and forbore somewhat the sweetness of her glances, and the caressing of her soft speech:  though oft when he looked on her fondly, the blood would rise to her cheeks, and her bosom would heave with the thought of his desire, which quickened hers so sorely, that it became a pain and grief to her.

CHAPTER 13

Of Ursula and the Bear

It befell on a fair sunny morning of spring, that Ralph sat alone on the toft by the rock-house, for Ursula had gone down the meadow to disport her and to bathe in the river.  Ralph was fitting the blade of a dagger to a long ashen shaft, to make him a strong spear; for with the waxing spring the bears were often in the meadows again; and the day before they had come across a family of the beasts in the sandy bight under the mountains; to wit a carle, and a quean with her cubs; the beasts had seen them but afar off, and whereas the men were two and the sun shone back from their weapons, they had forborne them; although they were fierce and proud in those wastes, and could not away with creatures that were not of their kind.  So because of this Ralph had bidden Ursula not to fare abroad without her sword, which was sharp and strong, and she no weakling withal.  He bethought him of this just as he had made an end of his spear-shaping, so therewith he looked aside and saw the said sword hanging to a bough of a little quicken-tree, which grew hard by the door.  Fear came into his heart therewith, so he arose and strode down over the meadow hastily bearing his new spear, and girt with his sword.  Now there was a grove of chestnuts betwixt him and the river, but on the other side of them naught but the green grass down to the water’s edge.

Sure enough as he came under the trees he heard a shrill cry, and knew that it could be naught save Ursula; so he ran thitherward whence came the cry, shouting as he ran, and was scarce come out of the trees ere he saw Ursula indeed, mother-naked, held in chase by a huge bear as big as a bullock:  he shouted again and ran the faster; but even therewith, whether she heard and saw him, and hoped for timely help, or whether she felt her legs failing her, she turned on the bear, and Ralph saw that she had a little axe in her hand wherewith she smote hardily at the beast; but he, after the fashion of his kind, having

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