Meanwhile Ursula knelt at the mouth of the cave and wept; but Ralph turned him about and stood on the edge of the bank, and looked over the ripple of the stream on to the valley, where the moon was now beginning to cast shadows, till those two came out of the cave for the last time. Then Ralph turned to Ursula and raised her up and kissed her, and they went down all of them from that place of death and ill-hap, and gat to horse on the other side of the stream, and rode three miles further on by the glimmer of the moon, and lay down to rest amongst the bushes of the waste, with few words spoken between them.
They Come to the Castle of Abundance Once More
When they rode on next morning Ralph was few-spoken, and seemed to heed little so long as they made good speed on the way: most of the talk was betwixt Richard and the Sage, Ralph but putting in a word when it would have seemed churlish to forbear.
So they went their ways through the wood till by then the sun was well westering they came out at the Water of the Oak, and Richard drew rein there, and spake: “Here is a fair place for a summer night’s lodging, and I would warrant both good knight and fair lady have lain here aforetime, and wished the dark longer: shall we not rest here?”
Ralph stared at him astonished, and then anger grew in his face for a little, because, forsooth, as Richard and the Sage both wotted of the place of the slaying of the Lady, and he himself had every yard of the way in his mind as they went, it seemed but due that they should have known of this place also, what betid there: but it was not so, and the place was to Richard like any other lawn of the woodland.
But thought came back to Ralph in a moment, and he smiled at his own folly, howbeit he could not do to lie another night on that lawn with other folk than erst. So he said quietly: “Nay, friend, were we not better to make the most of this daylight? Seest thou it wants yet an hour of sunset?”
Richard nodded a yeasay, and the Sage said no word more; but Ursula cast her anxious look on Ralph as though she understood what was moving in him; and therewith those others rode away lightly, but Ralph turned slowly from the oak-tree, and might not forbear looking on to the short sward round about, as if he hoped to see some token left behind. Then he lifted up his face as one awaking, shook his rein, and rode after the others down the long water.
So they turned from the water anon, and rode the woodland ways, and lay that night by a stream that ran west.
They arose betimes on the morrow, and whereas the Sage knew the woodland ways well, they made but a short journey of it to the Castle of Abundance, and came into the little plain but two hours after noon, where saving that the scythe had not yet wended the tall mowing grass in the crofts which the beasts and sheep were not pasturing, all was as on that other tide. The folk were at work in their gardens, or herding their cattle in the meads, and as aforetime they were merry of countenance and well-clad, fair and gentle to look on.