Ursula smiled on her, but the Sage said: “Mayhappen it is of no avail speaking of such things to a young and fair woman; but what would betide you if the old Burgers were to come back and win their walls again?” The maid who had been a thrall changed countenance at his word; but the other one said: “If the Burgers come back, they will find them upon the walls who have already chaced them. Thou mayst deem me slim and tender, old wise man; but such as mine arm is, it has upheaved the edges against the foe; and if it be a murder to slay a Burger, then am I worthy of the gallows.” “Yea, yea,” quoth Richard, laughing, “ye shall be double-manned then in this good town: ye may well win, unless the sight of you shall make the foe over fierce for the gain.”
Said the Sage “It is well, maiden, and if ye hold to that, and keep your carles in the same road, ye need not to fear the Burgers: and to say sooth, I have it in my mind, that before long ye shall have both war and victory.”
Then Ralph seemed to wake up as from a dream, and he arose, and said: “Thou art in the right, Sage, and to mine eyes it seemeth that both thou and I shall be sharers in the war and the victory.” And therewith he fell to striding up and down the hall, while the two maidens sat gazing on him with gleaming eyes and flushed cheeks.
But in a little while he came back to his seat and sat him down, and fell to talk with the women, and asked them of the town and the building therein, and the markets, whether they throve; and they and two or three of the townsmen or merchants answered all, and told him how fair their estate was, and how thriving was the lot of one and all with them. Therewith was Ralph well pleased, and they sat talking there in good fellowship till the night was somewhat worn, and all men fared to bed.
Ralph Sees Hampton and the Scaur
When it was morning Ralph arose and went into the hall of the hostelry, and even as he entered it the outside door opened, and in came Roger, and Richard with him (for he had been astir very early) and Roger, who was armed from head to foot and wore a coat of the Dry Tree, cried out: “Now, Lord, thou wert best do on thy war-gear, for thou shalt presently be captain of an host.” “Yea, Roger,” quoth Ralph, “and hast thou done well?” “Well enough,” said Richard; “thine host shall not be a great one, but no man in it will be a blencher, for they be all champions of the Dry Tree.”
“Yea,” quoth Roger, “so it was that Stephen a-Hurst brought me to a company of my old fellows, and we went all of us together to the Captain of the Burg (e’en he of the Dry Tree, who in these latest days is made captain of all), and did him to wit that thou hadst a need; and whereas he, as all of us, had heard of the strokes that thou struckest in the wood that day when thy happiness first began, (woe worth the while!) he stickled not to give some of us leave to look on the hand-play with thee. But soft, my Lord! abound not in thanks as yet, till I tell thee. The said Captain hath gotten somewhat of the mind of a chapman by dwelling in a town, ’tis like (the saints forgive me for saying so!) and would strike a bargain with thee.” “Yea,” said Ralph, smiling, “I partly guess what like the bargain is; but say thou.”