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.

To those others, and chiefly to Ursula, it seemed that now he spoke strongly and joyously, like to a king and a captain of men.  Richard did his bidding, and was swift in dealing with the messengers.  But the Sage said:  “Ralph, my son, since ye have lost one man-at-arms, and have gotten but this golden angel in his stead, I may better that.  I prithee bid thy man Richard find me armour and weapons that I may amend the shard in thy company.  Thou shalt find me no feeble man when we come to push of staves.”

Ralph laughed, and bade Richard see to it; so he dealt with the host, and bought good war-gear of him, and a trenchant sword, and an axe withal; and when the Sage was armed he looked as doughty a warrior as need be.  By this time was Richard’s horse and war-gear come, and he armed him speedily and gave money to the host, and they rode therewith all four out of the hostel, and found the street empty and still, for the night was wearing.  So rode they without tarrying into Westgate and came to the Bar, and speedily was the gate opened to them; and anon were they on the moonlit road outside of Whitwall.

CHAPTER 14

They Ride Away From Whitwall

But when they were well on the way, and riding a good pace by the clear of the moon, Richard spake to Ralph, and said:  “Wither ride we now?” said Ralph:  “Wither, save to Upmeads?” “Yea, yea,” said Richard, “but by what road? shall we ride down to the ford of the Swelling Flood, and ride the beaten way, or take to the downland and the forest, and so again by the forest and downland and the forest once more, till we come to the Burg of the Four Friths?”

“Which way is the shorter?” said Ralph.  “Forsooth,” said Richard, “by the wildwood ye may ride shorter, if ye know it as I do.”  Quoth the Sage:  “Yea, or as I do.  Hear a wonder! that two men of Swevenham know the wilds more than twenty miles from their own thorp.”

Said Ralph:  “Well, wend we the shorter road; why make more words over it?  Or what lion lieth on the path?  Is it that we may find it hard to give the go-by to the Burg of the Four Friths?”

Said Richard:  “Though the Burg be not very far from Whitwall, we hear but little tidings thence; our chapmen but seldom go there, and none cometh to us thence save such of our men as have strayed thither.  Yet, as I said e’en now in the hostel, there is an air of tidings abroad, and one rumour sayeth, and none denieth it, that the old fierceness and stout headstrong mood of the Burg is broken down, and that men dwell there in peace and quiet.”

Said the Sage:  “In any case we have amongst us lore enough to hoodwink them if they be foes; so that we shall pass easily.  Naught of this need we fear.”

But Richard put his mouth close to Ralph’s ear, and spake to him softly:  “Shall we indeed go by that shorter road, whatever in days gone by may have befallen in places thereon, to which we must go a-nigh tomorrow?” Ralph answered softly in turn:  “Yea, forsooth:  for I were fain to try my heart, how strong it may be.”

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