The Well At The World's End, by William Morris

Chapter 18

Ralph Departeth From Whitwall With the Fellowship of Clement Chapman

Therewithal they went together to Blaise’s house, and when Blaise saw them, he said: “Well, Ralph, so thou must needs work at a little more idling before thou fallest to in earnest. Forsooth I deem that when thou comest back thou wilt find that we have cut thee out a goodly piece of work for thy sewing. For the good town is gathering a gallant host of men; and we shall look to thee to do well in the hard hand-play, whenso that befalleth. But now come and look at my house within, how fair it is, and thou wilt see that thou wilt have somewhat to fight for, whereas I am.”

Therewith he led them up a stair into the great chamber, which was all newly dight and hung with rich arras of the Story of Hercules; and there was a goodly cupboard of silver vessel, and some gold, and the cupboard was of five shelves as was but meet for a king’s son. So Ralph praised all, but was wishful to depart, for his heart was sore, and he blamed himself in a manner that he must needs lie to his brother.

But Blaise brought them to the upper chamber, and showed them the goodly beds with their cloths, and hangings, and all was as fair as might be. Then Blaise bade bring wine and made them drink; and he gave Ralph a purse of gold, and an anlace very fair of fashion, and brought him to the door thereafter; and Ralph cast his arms about him, and kissed him and strained him to his breast. But Blaise was somewhat moved thereat, and said to him: “Why lad, thou art sorry to depart from me for a little while, and what would it be, were it for long? But ever wert thou a kind and tender-hearted youngling, and we twain are alone in an alien land. Forsooth, I wot that thou hast, as it were, embraced the Upmeads kindred, father, mother and all; and good is that! So now God and the Saints keep thee, and bear in mind the hosting of the good town, and the raising of the banner, that shall be no great while. Fare thee well, lad!”

So they parted, and Ralph went back to the hostel, and gathered his stuff together, and laid it on a sumpter horse, and armed him, and so went into Petergate to join himself to that company. There he found the chapmen, five of them in all, and their lads, and a score of men-at-arms, with whom was Clement, not clad like a merchant, but weaponed, and bearing a coat of proof and a bright sallet on his head.

They greeted each the other, and Ralph said: “Yea, master Clement, and be we riding to battle?” “Maybe,” quoth Clement; “the way is long, and our goods worth the lifting, and there are some rough places that we must needs pass through. But if ye like not the journey, abide here in this town the onset of Walter the Black.”

Therewith he laughed, and Ralph understanding the jape, laughed also; and said: “Well, master Clement, but tell me who be these that we shall meet.” “Yea, and I will tell thee the whole tale of them,” said Clement, “but abide till we are without the gates; I am busy man e’en now, for all is ready for the road, save what I must do. So now bid thy Upmeads squire farewell, and then to horse with thee!”

So Ralph cast his arms about Richard, and kissed him and said: “This is also a farewell to the House where I was born and bred.” And as he spake the thought of the House and the garden, and the pleasant fields of Upmeads came into his heart so bitter-sweet, that it mingled with his sorrow, and well-nigh made him weep. But as for Richard he forebore words, for he was sad at heart for the sundering.

Then he gat to horse, and the whole company of them bestirred them, and they rode out a-gates. And master Clement it was that ordered them, riding up and down along the array.

But Ralph fell to speech with the chapmen and men-at-arms; and both of these were very courteous with him; for they rejoiced in his company, and especially the chapmen, who were somewhat timorous of the perils of the road.

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