William Morris Archive


On the morrow Birdalone arose betimes, and would not tarry despite all the kindness of that folk and the change which had come over the Isle of Nothing; so the friends saw her down to the boat all together, and bore down with them a deal of bread and cheese and late apples of the last year, for her provision on the road, and a pail of milk withal; and men and women they kissed her at departure, and the meat-fetcher said: If by any means thou mayst find a keel which will carry thee hither, at some time, I would thou wouldst come; for even if thou be old, and we passed away, yet here shall be our children or our grandchildren to welcome thee; and we will tell them the tale of thee that they remember it and long for thee.

Then Birdalone kissed her again, and made much of her, and so stepped into the boat, and fell to her sacrifice to the wight thereof; and those others stared at her and wondered, and spake nought unto her till she was gone gliding over the face of the waters; but as they walked back to the house, they spake amongst themselves that this must be some goddess (for of Holy Church they knew nought) who had come to visit them in her loveliness; and in after times, when this folk waxed a many, and tilled all the isle and made ships and spread to other lands and became great, they yet had a memory of Birdalone as their own very lady and goddess, who had come from the fertile and wise lands to bless them, when first they began to engender on that isle, and had broken bread with them, and slept under their roof, and then departed in a wonderful fashion, as might be looked for of a goddess.

But as for Birdalone, she came not back ever, nor saw that folk again, and now she sped over the water toward the Isle of Kings.

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