The Utterbol Riders had slain sixteen of their foemen; for they took none to mercy, and four of their band were slain outright, and six hurt, but not grievously. So they tarried awhile on the field of deed to rest them and tend their wounded men, and so rode on again heedfully.
But Redhead spake: “It is good to see thee tilting, King’s Son. I doubt me I shall never learn thy downright thrust. Dost thou remember how sorry a job I made of it, when we met in the lists at Vale Turris that other day?”
“Yea, yea,” said Ralph. “Thou were best let that flea stick on the wall. For to-day, at least, I have seen thee play at sharps deftly enough.”
Quoth Redhead: “Lord, it is naught, a five minutes’ scramble. That which trieth a man, is to fight and overcome, and straight have to fight with fresh foemen, and yet again, till ye long for dark night to cover you—yea, or even death.”
“Warrior-like and wisely thou speakest,” said Ralph; “and whoever thou servest thou shalt serve well. And now once more I would it were me.”
Redhead shook his head at that word, and said: “I would it might be so; but it will not be so as now.”
Forth on they rode, and slept in a wood that night, keeping good watch; but saw no more of the Black Riders for that time.
On a day thereafter when it was nigh evening, Ralph looked about, and saw a certain wood on the edge of a plain, and he stayed Ursula, and said: “Look round about, beloved; for this is the very field whereas I was betrayed into the hands of the men of Utterbol.” She smiled on him and said: “Let me light down then, that I may kiss the earth of that kind field, where thou wert not stayed over long, but even long enough that we might meet in the dark wood thereafter.”
“Sweetling,” said Ralph, “this mayst thou do and grieve no man, not even for a little. For lo you! the captain is staying the sumpter-beasts, and it is his mind, belike, that we shall sleep in yonder wood to-night.” Therewith he lighted down and she in likewise: then he took her by the hand and led her on a few yards, and said: “Lo, beloved, this quicken-tree; hereby it was that the tent was pitched wherein I lay the night when I was taken.”
She looked on him shyly and said: “Wilt thou not sleep here once more to-night?”
“Yea, well-beloved,” said he, “I will bid them pitch thy tent on this same place, that I may smell the wild thyme again, as I did that other while.”
So there on the field of his ancient grief they rested that night in all love and content.
Of Goldburg Again, and the Queen Thereof