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.

CHAPTER 17

They Come Through the Woodland to the Thirsty Desert

So they ride their ways, and when they were come well into the wildwood past the house, and had spoken but few words to each other, Ralph put forth his hand, and stayed Ursula, and they gat off their horses under a great-limbed oak, and did off their armour, and sat down on the greensward there, and loved each other dearly, and wept for joy of their pain and travail and love.  And afterwards, as they sat side by side leaning up against the great oak-bole, Ralph spake and said:  “Now are we two once again all alone in the uttermost parts of the earth, and belike we are not very far from the Well at the World’s End; and now I have bethought me that if we gain that which we seek for, and bear back our lives to our own people, the day may come when we are grown old, for as young as we may seem, that we shall be as lonely then as we are this hour, and that the folk round about us shall be to us as much and no more than these trees and the wild things that dwell amongst them.”

She looked on him and laughed as one over-happy, and said:  “Thou runnest forward swiftly to meet trouble, beloved!  But I say that well will it be in those days if I love the folk then as well as now I love these trees and the wild things whose house they are.”

And she rose up therewith and threw her arms about the oak-bole and kissed its ruggedness, while Ralph as he lay kissed the sleekness of her feet.  And there came a robin hopping over the leaves anigh them, for in that wood most of the creatures, knowing not man, were tame to him, and feared the horses of those twain more than their riders.  And now as Ursula knelt to embrace Ralph with one hand, she held out the other to the said robin who perched on her wrist, and sat there as a hooded falcon had done, and fell to whistling his sweet notes, as if he were a-talking to those new-comers:  then Ursula gave him a song-reward of their broken meat, and he flew up and perched on her shoulder, and nestled up against her cheek, and she laughed happily and said:  “Lo you, sweet, have not the wild things understood my words, and sent this fair messenger to foretell us all good?”

“It is good,” said Ralph laughing, “yet the oak-tree hath not spoken yet, despite of all thy kissing:  and lo there goes thy friend the robin, now thou hast no more meat to give him.”

“He is flying towards the Well at the World’s End,” she said, “and biddeth us onward:  let us to horse and hasten:  for if thou wilt have the whole truth concerning my heart, it is this, that some chance-hap may yet take thee from me ere thou hast drunk of the waters of the Well.”

“Yea,” said Ralph, “and in the innermost of my heart lieth the fear that mayhappen there is no Well, and no healing in it if we find it, and that death, and the backward way may yet sunder us.  This is the worst of my heart, and evil is my coward fear.”

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