William Morris Archive


The next morning Osberne went his way riding on a good horse, and not without treasure in his scrip. He was girt to Boardcleaver and had the wonder-bow and shafts with him; but the byrny, Hardcastle's Loom, he left behind, and had but a white basnet on his head, for he deemed that his friend Sir Medard would purvey him of armour. All the household were without in the garth to see him off, but none went further with him save Stephen the Eater, who rode with him as far as the bent, and closely and lovingly they spake together on the way. But when they were come to the crown of the bent Osberne drew rein and said: "Now, my friend, shalt thou turn about and let me go my ways." And they turned about both and looked down on Wethermel, and Stephen cast his arm abroad and spake: "Best-beloved of all men, how long deemest thou it shall be ere thou seest this again?"

"I wot not," said Osberne; "I am in the hands of Weird, to wend as she will have me: but I will tell thee that I have hoped and prayed that it might be in no longer space than five years; then shall I be of twenty years and three, and she but a few weeks younger, and manhood and womanhood and due service of the kindred shall lie before us both if I find her alive; but if I find her dead, or have sure witness that so she is, that moment shall I turn my face and come back to you, to live and die with you as I may. There is the third thing left, to wit, that I may wander about the world and find her not till I am exceeding old; but even then shall I come back with her, or the memory of her. Now I will not say Remember me, for therein I trust thee, but I will bid thee live hale and merry, that when I see thee again thy face may be as little changed as may be."

Therewith they parted, and Osberne looked not back again.