The Sundering Flood, by William Morris

Chapter lxvi. The Lip of the Sundering Flood

When it was the morning and the sun shone through the house at Wethermel, those two arose and took each other by the hand, and no word they spake together, but went straight to the Sundering Flood, and there they walked slowly and daintily along the very lip thereof; and the day was the crown of all midsummer days, and it seemed to Elfhild that never on the other side had the flowers looked so fair and beautiful. So they went on till they came to the Bight of the Cloven Knoll, and there they looked across a while and yet said nothing. And Elfhild looked curiously toward that cave wherein Osberne first espied her, and she said: “How would it be if there were another one there?” He laughed and said: “There is not another one.” But she said: “Dost thou remember that game I played with the shepherd’s pipe, how that the sheep came all bundling towards me?” “Dearly I remember it,” said Osberne. “Now,” she said, “I will tell thee a thing. I have got the said pipe in my bosom now. It were good game to have it forth and try whether it has lost its power.” He said: “Well, try it.” She said: “Be there sheep about?” And there were no sheep at no great distance.

And she drew forth the pipe and let her lips to it and played, and there came from it that very same sweet old tune that had joyed him so much long aforetime. But when they looked to see what would happen to the sheep, lo and behold they stirred not at all for the sweetness of the tune, nor made as if they heard it. So they laughed, albeit each of them, and Elfhild in especial, was a little grieved that the power had departed from the pipe. And they looked down towards the water, and Elfhild half thought to see a little brown man sitting at the door of the cave. But there was nothing; only it seemed to them both that there came up from the water a sound that said, Give it me back again. And Osberne said: “Didst thou hear that?” “Yea,” she said, “I thought I heard something. What shall we do?” Said he: “Why should he have his pipe back again?” She said: “Let us see what will happen if we cast it down to him.” “Good,” said Osberne, and he took the pipe, and as deftly as he might he cast it towards the mouth of the cave, but it fell a long way short.

But lo, as it was on the very point of striking the water it seemed that it was wafted up to the cave’s mouth, and it vanished away into the cave no slower than might have been looked for. And a faint voice came up from the water and said, I am pleased; good luck go with you.

So they sat down and pondered on these things a while, till at last Elfhild said: “Now will I tell thee a tale as in old days.” And he said: “That is good.” Then she began a tale which was sweet and pleasant, and little like to those terrible things that had happened to those two since they were sundered by the Flood. And it lasted long, and the afternoon was hot, and they were fain for coolness’ sake to creep into the shadow of certain bushes that grew a little off the lip of the Sundering Flood. There they rested them, and when the shadows began to lengthen, they arose and went back hand in hand to Wethermel as they had come.

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