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On the morrow morn, then, Birdalone spake farewell both to Aurea and Atra; but as for Viridis, she sent her word that she had no heart thereto, and yet she sent her a word of comfort, to wit, that she deemed that they would one day meet again. Aurea, in her parting words, part praised her, part chid her; saying that she did well and kindly and valiantly, as her wont was. Yet, said she, when all is said, thou mightest have abided this tangle and trouble, which at the worst had not been so evil as death between us. Yea, sister, said Birdalone, but might not death have come of my abiding?

As she spake, in came Atra, with her head somewhat drooped, meek and humble, her cheeks red, her hands trembling; and she said: Wilt thou take now my word of farewell and blessing, and the kiss of peace betwixt us, and bear away the memory of our kindness together?

Birdalone stood up proud and straight, and was somewhat pale as she suffered Atra to kiss her cheeks and mouth, and said: Now hast thou forgiven me that weird dragged me in betwixt thy love and thy goodhap; and I have forgiven thee that I am led away by weird into the waste and the wilderness of love. Farewell. Therewith she went her way to the gate, and the others followed her not.

Without abode her Arnold and the four men-at-arms, and her palfrey and a sumpter-horse bearing two goodly coffers, wherein Viridis had let load raiment and other havings for her; and Arnold came up to her smiling, and said: My lady Viridis hath given me a pouch wherein is money to bear for thee to Greenford and hand over to thee there when we be safe; and she hath bidden me to be in all wise obedient unto thee, lady, which needed not, whereas now and from hence forth am I by mine own will thy very servant to do thy pleasure always and everywhere.

She thanked him and smiled on him kindly, so that his heart beat fast for joy and love of her; and therewith she gat into the saddle and they rode their ways together, and Birdalone looked back never till the Castle of the Quest was shut from their eyes by the nesses of the little hills.

Here ends the Fifth Part of the Water of the Wondrous Isles, which is called The Tale of the Quest’s Ending, and begins the Sixth Part of the said tale, which is called The Days of Absence.

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