The Roots of the Mountain - Chapter 48
MEN SING IN THE MOTE-HOUSE
Then strode the Warriors of the Wolf over the bodies of the slain on to the dais of their own Hall; and Folk-might led the Sun-beam by the hand, and now was his sword in its sheath, and his face was grown calm, though it was stern and sad. But even as he trod the dais comes a slim swain of the Wolves twisting himself through the throng, and so maketh way to Folk-might, and saith to him:
‘Chieftain, the Alderman of Burgdale sendeth me hither to say a word to thee; even this, which I am to tell to thee and the War-leader both: It is most true that our kinswoman the Bride will not die, but live. So help me, the Warrior and the Face! This is the word of the Alderman.’
When Folk-might heard this, his face changed and he hung his head; and Face-of-god, who was standing close by, beheld him and deemed that tears were falling from his eyes on to the hall-floor. As for him, he grew exceeding glad, and he turned to the Sun-beam and met her eyes, and saw that she could scarce refrain her longing for him; and he was abashed for the sweetness of his love. But she drew close up to him, and spake to him softly and said:
‘This is the day that maketh amends; and yet I long for another day. When I saw thee coming to me that first day in Shadowy Vale, I thought thee so goodly a warrior that my heart was in my mouth. But now how goodly thou art! For the battle is over, and we shall live.’
‘Yea,’ said Face-of-god, ‘and none shall begrudge us our love. Behold thy brother, the hard-heart, the warrior; he weepeth because he hath heard that the Bride shall live. Be sure then that she shall not gainsay him. O fair shall the world be to-morrow!’
But she said: ‘O Gold-mane, I have no words. Is there no minstrelsy amongst us?’
Now by this time were many of the men of the Wolf and the Woodlanders gathered on the dais of the Hall; and the Dalesmen noting this, and wotting that these men were now in their own Mote-house, withdrew them as they might for the press toward the nether end thereof. That the Sun-beam noted, and that all those about her save the War-leader were of the kindreds of the Wolf and the Woodland, and, still speaking softly, she said to Face-of-god:
‘Gold-mane, meseemeth I am now in my wrong place; for now the Wolf raiseth up his head, but I am departing from him. Surely I should now be standing amongst my people of the Face, whereto I am going ere long.’
He said: ‘Beloved, I am now become thy kindred and thine home, and it is meet for thee to stand beside me.’
She cast her eyes adown and answered not; and she fell a-pondering of how sorely she had desired that fair dale, and now she would leave it, and be content and more than content.
But now the kindreds had sundered, they upon the dais ranked themselves together there in the House which their fathers had builded; and when they saw themselves so meetly ordered, their hearts being full with the sweetness of hope accomplished and the joy of deliverance from death, song arose amongst them, and they fell to singing together; and this is somewhat of their singing:
So they sang in the Hall; and there was many a man wept, as the song ended, for those that should never see the good days of the Dale, and all the joy that was to be; and men swore, by all that they loved, that they would never forget those that had fallen in the Winning of Silver-dale; and that when each year the Cups of Memory went round, they should be no mere names to them, but the very men whom they had known and loved.