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.

So they gat to horse, and the footmen from Garton mounted the horses of the slain Burgers, and had the charge of guarding the twenty that were left.  So they rode off all of them toward Bear Castle, and shortly to say it, came within sight of its rampart two hours before noon.  Sooner had they came thither; but divers times they caught up with small companies of weaponed men, whose heads were turned the same way; and Giles told Ralph each time that they were of the Shepherd-folk going to the mote.  But now when they were come so nigh to the castle they saw a very stream of men setting that way, and winding up the hill to the rampart.  And Giles said:  “It is not to be doubted but that Martha hath sent round the war-brand, and thou wilt presently have an host that will meet thy foemen without delay; and what there lacks in number shall be made good by thy luck, which once again was shown by our falling in with that company e’en now.”

“Yea truly,” said Ralph, “but wilt thou now tell me how I shall guide myself amongst thy folk, and if they will grant me the aid I ask?”

“Look, look,” said Giles, “already some one hath made clear thine asking to our folk; and hearken! up there they are naming the ancient Father of our Race, without whom we may do nought, even with the blessed saints to aid.  There then is thine answer, lord.”

Indeed as he spoke came down on the wind the voice of a chant, sung by many folk, the words whereof he well remembered:  Smite aside axe, O bear-father.  And therewith rose up into the air a column of smoke intermingled with fire from each of the four corners of that stronghold of the Ancient Folk.  Ralph rejoiced when he saw it, and the heart rose within him and fluttered in his bosom, and Ursula, who rode close behind him, looked up into his face well pleased and happy.

Thus rode they up the bent and over the turf bridge into the plain of the garth, and whatso of people were there flocked about to behold the new-come warriors; sooth to say, there were but some two hundreds, who looked but few indeed in the great square place, but more were streaming in every minute.  Giles led him and his men into the north-east corner of the castle, and there they gat off their horses and lay down on the grass awaiting what should betide.

CHAPTER 24

The Folkmote of the Shepherds

In about an hour all the folk within the castle began to set toward the ingle wherein lay Ralph and his fellows, and then all rose up, while the folk of the Shepherds took their places on the slopes of the earth walls, but on the top hard by the fire, which was still burning, stood up an old hoar man with a beard exceeding long; he had a sallet on his head, and held a guisarme in his hand.  All men held their peace when they saw him standing there; and straightway he proclaimed the hallowing of the Mote in such form

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