William Morris Archive


Therewith the Carline sat down, and there was great cheer and rumour in the hall, and folk wondered what was to come next; but it is not to be said but that they had an inkling of what had befallen. Then Elfhild arose and cast off her grey clothes, and was clad thereunder in the finest of fine gear of gold and of green, and surely, said everybody, that never was such beauty seen in hall. And for a while people held their breaths, as they that see a wonder which they fear may pass away. And then a great shout rent the hall, and there it was done. A tall man rose in his place, a grey cloak fell from him, and he was clad all in glittering armour, and there was none that did not know him for Osberne Wulfgrimsson, who has been called the Red Lad. And he said in a bold and free voice: "See, my masters and dear friends, if I have not kept tryst with you; for it is of a sooth five years well told since I departed from Wethermel with little hope in my heart. And now forsooth is no hope in my heart, for all the hope has budded and blossomed and fruited, and I am yours and ye are mine while the days last. And this is the woman that I have won; and O I would that it had been earlier, though God wot I laboured at it. And now I think ye will be good to her as ye will be good to me, and what tale shall there be except of peace and quiet in these far-away upland vales?"

[Unwritten Song]

So passed the hours into deep might at Wethermel, and folk went to sleep scarce trowing in the wonders that they had heard and seen. And there were few among them that did not long for the dawn and the daylight, that they might once again cast eyes upon Osberne and his beloved. And hard it were to say which of those twain was the loveliest. But surely about both of them there was then and always a sweet wisdom that never went beyond what was due and meet for the land they lived in or the people with whom they dwelt. So that all round them the folk grew better and not the worser.

Continue to Chapter 66

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