There then she stayed the horse, and, flushed and panting, got lightly into the saddle and bestrode it, and, leaning over on the beast’s neck, smote his flanks with her heels; the horse was fresh, though his master had been weary, whereas the said messenger had gotten him from a forester some six miles away in the wood that morning, so the nag answered to her call for speed, and she went a great gallop into the wood, and was hidden in a twinkling from any eyes that might be looking out of the Castle.
Without checking the nag she sped along, half mad with joy at the freedom of this happy morn. Nigh aimless she was, but had an inkling that it were well with her if she could hold northward ever; for the old man aforesaid had told her of Oakenrealm, and how it lay northward of them; so that way she drifted as the thicket would suffer her. When she had gone as much of a gallop as she might for some half hour, she drew rein to breathe her nag, and hearkened; she turned in the saddle, but heard nought to affright her, so she went on again, but some what more soberly; and thuswise she rode for some two hours, and the day waxed hot, and she was come to a clear pool amidst of a little clearing, covered with fine greensward right down to the water’s edge.
There she made stay, and got off her horse, and stood awhile by him as he cropped the sweet grass; and the birds sang at the edge of the thicket, and the rabbits crept and gambolled on the other side of the water; and from the pool’s edge the moorhens cried. She stood half leaning against the side of the horse till she became somewhat drowsy; yea, and even dreamed a little, and that little but ill, it seemed, as she gave a troubled cry and shrank together and turned pale. Then she rubbed her eyes and smiled, and turned to the pool, where now a little ripple was running over the face of it, and a thought came upon her, and she set her hand to the clasp of her gown and undid it, and drew the gown off her shoulders, and so did off all her raiment, and stood naked a little on the warm sunny grass, and then bestirred her and went lightly into the pool, and bathed and sported there, and then came on to the grass again, and went to and fro to dry her in the air and sun. Then she did on her raiment again, and laid her down under a thorn-bush by the pool-side, and there, would she, would she not, went to sleep soundly and dreamed not. And when she awoke she deemed her sleep had been long, but it was not so, but scarce a score of minutes. Anyhow, she sprang up now and went to her horse, and drew the girths tight (which she had loosed erewhile,) and so bestrode the good horse, and shook the reins, and rode away much comforted and enheartened.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:53