The Sundering Flood, by William Morris

Chapter xxxiii. Osberne Seeks Tidings of Elfhild

Now when this stour was all over, and the men of the East Dale were still standing together (not very triumphantly, because of their slain) on the east side of the Cloven Knoll, the Westdalers came toward them treading the field of dead from which the Flood sundered them. As aforesaid, neither the East nor the West had heretofore been much wont to resort to that place because of their dread of the Dwarfs who dwelt in the cave above the whirlpool; but now the passion of battle, and the sorrow for the dead, and the perplexity of the harrying had swept all that out of their minds a while. So the chiefs of the Westdalers stood among the corpses of the aliens on the crown of the ness where Elfhild was wont to stand, and fell to talking with their brethren of the East; and the man who took up the word for them all was Wulfstan of Coldburne, a stead of the lower West Dale. And he fell to praising the good help which the Eastdalers had given them by cleaving so manfully to the shot-stour, which he said had been their deliverance; for delivered they looked to be. “Albeit,” says he, “they whom ye dealt with so manfully, and whom ye have now put to the road, be not the whole host of them, whereas while one moiety turned aside to the shooting, the other went on down the Dale and somewhat away from the Flood; and we left our brethren marching against them, and must turn presently to their helping lest they be outnumbered by the strong-thieves. Yea, and already we fear lest these devils have wasted certain of our steads which would lie on their road, before our folk might fall in with them. And now give us leave! but we pray that ye may live hale and happy for the help ye have given us; and thou in special, Osberne Wulfgrimsson, whom we know, and the tales of thee.”

But as he was on the point of turning away, Osberne said in a loud shrill voice: “Abide, master, and tell me one thing, to wit, the names of the steads which the thieves have wasted.” Said Wulfstan: “I may not, because I know not: hereabout it is thin of dwellings; ‘t is a five miles ere ye shall happen on a good homestead, Longryggs to wit: here is nought but a little stead, fallen to be a cot, wherein dwell none save two women, one old and one young. It is not like that the thieves would have stayed for so little a thing. Farewell; if the battle goes handily with us ye shall have tidings thereof tomorrow if ye will come down hither; or a little lower down maybe, lest the Dwarfs begrudge us.”

And therewith he turned and went toward the place where they deemed they should find the battle. As for the Eastdalers, they might tarry no more in looking to their wounded folk; and a many were hurt so grievously, that they had to be borne home in the four corners; of whom was Stephen the Eater, and he lay long sick, but in the long last, and it was a two months, was healed as well as ever he was. A half score were sore hurt like to this; but of them who might carry their grief home on their own legs were at least a score and six; but thirteen were slain outright. And these it was deemed good, after due thought taken, to lay them in earth in the field but a little way from the Bight of the Cloven Knoll; and the place where they are laid, with plenteous earth heaped over them, has ever since been called Shooters’ Knowe.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/morris/william/m87su/chapter33.html

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 22:07