So they spake of many things, and there was minstrelsy and diverse joyance, till at last the Lord of Utterbol stood up and said: “Now bring in the Bull, that we may speak some words over him; for this is a great feast.” Ralph wondered what bull this might be whereof he spake; but the harps and fiddlers, and all instruments of music struck up a gay and gallant tune, and presently there came into the hall four men richly attired, who held up on spears a canopy of bawdekin, under which went a man-at-arms helmed, and clad in bright armour, who held in his hands a great golden cup fashioned like to a bull, and he bore it forth unto the dais, and gave it into the hands of the Lord. Then straightway all the noise ceased, and the glee and clatter of the hall, and there was dead silence. Then the Lord held the cup aloft and said in a loud voice:
“Hail, all ye folk! I swear by the Bull, and they that made him, that in three years’ time or less I will have purged all the lands of Utterbol of all strong-thieves and cruel tyrants, be they big or little, till all be peace betwixt the mountains and the mark of Goldburg; and the wilderness shall blossom like the rose. Or else shall I die in the pain.”
Therewith he drank of the cup, and all men shouted. Then he sat him down and bade hand the cup to Otter; and Otter took the cup and looked into the bowl and saw the wave of wine, and laughed and cried out: “As for me, what shall I swear but that I will follow the Bull through thick and thin, through peace and unpeace, through grief and joy. This is my oath-swearing.”
And he drank mightily and sat down.
Then turned the Lord to Ralph and said: “And thou who art my master, wilt thou not tell thy friends and the Gods what thou wilt do?”
“No great matter, belike,” said Ralph; “but if ye will it, I will speak out my mind thereon.”
“We will it,” said the Lord.
Then Ralph arose and took the cup and lifted it and
“This I swear, that I will go home to my kindred, yet on
the road will I not gainsay help to any that craveth it.
So may all Hallows help me!”
Therewith he drank: and Bull said: “This is well said, O happy man! But now that men have drunk well, do ye three and Otter come with me into the Tower, whereas the chambers are dight for you, that I may make the most of this good day wherein I have met thee again.”
So they went with him, and when they had sat down in the goodliest chamber of the Tower, and they had been served with wine and spices, the new Lord said to Ralph: “And now, my master, wilt thou not ask somewhat concerning me?” “Yea,” said Ralph, “I will ask thee to tell the tale of how thou camest into thy Lordship.” Said the Lord, “This shall ye hear of me with Otter to help me out. Hearken!”
Bull Telleth of His Winning of the Lordship of Utterbol