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Full text of "The roots of the mountains, wherein is told somewhat of the lives of the men of Burgdale, their friends, their neighbours, their foemen and their fellows in arms"

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MR. WILLIAM IMORRIS'S WORKS. 

Just Puhlishfd, sqitare crown %7<n, 200//., ds. 

A TALE OK THE HOUSE OF THE WOLFINGS, and 
all the Kindreds of the Mark. Written in Prose and Verse. 
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A DREAM OF JOHN BALL and A KING'S LESSON. 

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SIGNS OF CHANGE. Seven Lectures delivered on various 
occasions. 



THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 



THE ROOTS OF THE MOUiNTAINS 
kVHEREIN IS TOLD SOMEWHAT OF 
THE LIVES OF THE MEN OF BURG/ 
DALE THEIR FRIENDS THEIR 
MEIGHBOURS THEIR FOEMEN AND 
THEIR FELLOWS IN ARMS 
BY WILLIAM MORRIS 



WHILES CARRIED O'ER THE IRON ROAD, 

WE HURRY BY SOME FAIR ARODE ; 

THE GARDEN BRIGHT AMIDST THE HAY, 

THE YELLOW WAIN UPON THE WAY, 

THE DINING MEN, THE WIND THAT SWEEPS 

LIGHT LOCKS FROM OFF THE SUN-SWEET HEAPS — 

THE GABLE GREY, THE HOARY ROOF, 

HERE NOW — AND NOW SO FAR ALOOF. 

HOW SORELY THEN WE LONG TO STAY 

AND MIDST ITS SWEETNESS WEAR THE DAY, 

AND 'NEATH ITS CHANGING SHADOWS SIT, 

AND FEEL OURSELVES A PART OF IT. 

SUCH REST, SUCH STAY, I STROVE TO WIN 

WITH THESE SAME LEAVES THAT LIE HEREIN. 



LONDON MDCCCXC : REEVES AND TURNER 
CXCVI STRAND .n® 




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CHISVVKK PRESS :— CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO. 
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE. 



CONTENTS. 

Page- 
Chapter I. Of Burgstead and its Folk and its Neighbours . . i 

//. Of Face-of-god and his Kindred 12 

///. They talk of divers viatters in the Hall .... 18 

Il\ Face-of-god fareth to the Wood again .... 25 

V. Face-of-god falls in u-iih Menfolk on the Mountain 34 

I'l. Of Face-of-god and those Mountain-dwellers . . 39 

VII. Face-of-god talketh iviih the Friend on the Mountain 50 

VIII. Face-of-god comcfh home again to Burgstead . . 57 

IX. Those Brethren fare to the Yen-wood with the Bride 59 

A'. New Tidings in the Dale t3 

XI. Men make Oath at Burgstead on the Holy Boar . 69 

XII. Stone-face telleth concerning the Wood-wights . . 74 

XIII. They fare to the Hunting of the Elk 78 

XIV. Concerning Face-of-god and the Mountain ... 82 
XV. Murder amongst the Folk of the Woodlanders . . 87 

XVI. The Bride speaketh with Face-of-god 93 

XVII. The Token cometh from the Mountain .... 97 

XVIII. Face-of-god talketh with the Friend in Shadowy Vale 1 05 

A7A'. The fair Woman telleth Face-of-god of her Kindred 109 

A'A'. Those two together hold the Ring of the Earth-god 1 24 

XXI. Face-of-god looktth on the Dusky Men . . . . 141 

A"A7/. Face-of-god cometh home to Burgstead . . . . 151 

XXIIf. Talk in the Hall of the House of the Face . . . 162 

XXIV. Face-of-god giveih that Token to the Bride . . . 165 

A'A'T'. Of the Gate-thing at Burgstead 170 

XXVI. The Ending of the Gate-thing 183 

XXVII. Face-of-god leadeth a Band through the Wood . . 191 

XXVIII. The Men of Burgdale meet the Runaways . . . 202 

A'A7A'. They bring the Runaivays to Burgstead . . . . 216 

A'A'A'. Hall-face goeth toward Rose-dale 225 

XXXI. Of the Weapon-shoiv 0/ the Men of Burgdale and 

their Neighbours 231 

XXXII. The Men of Shadowy Vale come to the Spring 

Market at Burgstead 239 

The Alderman gives Gifts to them of Shadowy Vale 251 

The Chieftains take counsel in the Hall of the Face 255 

Face-of-god talketh with the Sun-beam .... 268 



Chapter Page 

XXXVI. Folk-might speaketh with the Bride 275 

XXXVII. Of the Folk-mote of the Dalesmen, the Shepherd- 
Folk, and the Woodland Carles : the Banner of 

the V/olf displayed 282 

XXXVIII. Of the Great Folk-mote: Atonements given, and 

Men made sackless 287 

XXXIX. Of the Great Folk-mote : Men take rede of the War. 
faring, the Fellowship, and the War-leader. Folk- 
might telleth whence his People came. The Folk- 
mote sundered 2g2 

XL. Of the Hosting in Shadowy Vale 301 

XLI. The Host departeth from Shadowy Vale : the first 

Day's journey 311 

XLII. The Host ccmeth to the edges of Silver-dale . . 318 
XLIII. Face-of-god looketh on Silver-dale : the Bowmen's 

battle 322 

XLIV. Of the Onslaught of the Men of the Steer, the 

Bridge, and the Bull 335 

XLV. Of Face -of- god's Onslaught 343 

XLVI. Alen meet in the Market of Silver-stead . . . 352 

XLVII. The Kindreds win the Mote-house 363 

XLVIII. Men sing in the Mote-house 367 

XLIX. Dallach fareth to Rose-dale : Crow telleth of his 

Errand: the Kindreds eat their meat inSilver-dale 372 

L. Folk-might seeth the Bride and speaketh %vith her . 378 

LI. The Dead borne to bale : the Mote-house re-hallowed 382 

LII. Of the new Beginning of good Days in Silver-dale 384 

LIII. Of the Word which Hall-ward of the Steer had for 

Folk-might 386 

LIV. Tidings of Dallach : a Folk-mote in Silver-dale . 391 

LV. Departure jrom Silver-dale 394 

LVI. Talk upon the Wild-wood Way 403 

LVII. How the Host came home again 404 

LVI II. How the Maiden Wa.d was held in Burgdale . . 400 
LIX. The Behest of Face-of-god to the Bride Accom- 
plished: a Mote-stead appointed for the three 
Folks, to wit, the Men of Burgdale, the Shepherds, 
and the Children of the Wo^ 41 S 



THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS 

CHAPTER 1. OF BURGSTEAD AND ITS POLK AND ITS 
NEIGHBOURS. 

ONCr" upon a time amidst the mountains and hills and 
falling streams of a fair land there was a town or thorp 
in a certain valley-. This was well-nigh encompassed by 
a wall of sheer cliffs; toward the East and the great mountains 
they drew together till they went near to meet, and left but a 
narrow path on either side of a stony stream that came rattling 
down into the Dale : toward the river at that end the hills lowered 
somewhat, though they still ended in sheer rocks ; but up from 
it, and more especially on the north side, they swelled into great 
shoulders of land, then dipped a little, and rose again into the 
sides of huge fells clad with pine-woods, and cleft here and there 
by deep ghylls : thence again they rose higher and steeper, and 
ever higher till they drew dark and naked out of the woods to 
meet the snow-fields and ice-rivers of the high mountains. But 
that was far away from the pass by the little river into the valley; 
and the said river was no drain from the snow-fields white and 
thick with the grinding of the ice, but clear and bright were its 
waters that came from wells amidst the bare rocky heaths. 

The upper end of the valley, where it first began to open out 
from the pass, was rugged and broken by rocks and ridges of 
water-borne stones, but presently it smoothed itself into mere 
grassy swellings and knolls, and at last into a fair and fertile 
plain swelling up into a green wave, as it were, against the rock- 
wall which encompassed it on all sides save where the river came 
gushing out of the strait pass at the east end, and where at the 
west end it poured itself out of the Dale toward the lowlands and 
the plain of the great river. 

Now the valley was some ten miles of our measure from that 
place of the rocks and the stone-ridges, to where the faces of the 
hills drew somewhat anigh to the river again at the west, and 

I B 



Of the waters then fell aback along the edge of the great plain ; like as when 
of Cvirgdale. yg fare a-sailing past two nesses of a river-mouth, and the main- 
sea lieth open before you. 

Besides the river afore-mentioned, which men called the Wel- 
tering Water, there were other waters in the Dale. Near the 
eastern pass, entangled in the rocky ground was a deep tarn full 
of cold springs and about two acres in measure, and therefrom 
ran a stream which fell into the Weltering Water amidst the 
grassy knolls. Black seemed the waters of that tarn which on 
one side washed the rocks-wall of the Dale ; ugly and aweful it 
seemed to men, and none knew what la}' beneath its waters save 
black mis-shapen trouts that few cared to bring to net or angle : 
and it was called the Death-Tarn. 

Other waters yet there were : here and there from the hills on 
both sides, but especially from the south side, came trickles of 
water that ran in pretty brooks down to the river ; and some of 
these sprang bubbling up amidst the foot-mounds of the sheer- 
rocks ; some had cleft a rugged and strait way through them, 
and came tumbling down into the Dale at diverse heights from 
their faces. But on the north side about halfway down the Dale, 
one stream somewhat bigger than the others, and dealing with 
softer ground, had cleft for itself a wider way ; and the folk had 
laboured this way wider yet, till they had made them a road run- 
ning north along the west side of the stream. Sooth to say, ex- 
cept for the strait pass along the river at the eastern end, and the 
wider pass at the western, they had no other way (save one of 
which a word anon) out of the Dale but such as mountain goats 
and bold cragsmen might take ; and even of these but few. 

This midway stream was called the Wildlake, and the way 
along it Wildlake's Way, because it came to them out of the 
wood, which on that north side stretched away from nigh to the 
lip of the valley-wall up to the pine woods and the high fells on 
the east and north, and down to the plain country on the west 
and south. 

2 



N>3\v when the Weltering Water came out of the rocky tangle Of the Port- 
near the pass, it was turned aside by the ground till it swung "-^y- 
right up to the feet of the Southern crags ; then it turned and 
slowly bent round again northward, and at last fairly doubled 
back on itself before it turned again to run westward ; so that 
when, after its second double, it had come to flowing softly west- 
ward under the northern crags, it had cast two thirds of a girdle 
round about a space of land a little below the grassy knolls and 
tofts aforesaid ; and there in that fair space between the folds of 
the Weltering Water stood the Thorp whereof the tale hath told. 

The men thereof had widened and deepened the Weltering 
W^ater about them, and had bridged it over to the plain meads ; 
and athwart the throat of the space left clear by the water they 
had built them a strong wall though not very high, with a gate 
amidst and a tower on either side thereof. Moreover, on the 
face of the cliiT which was but a stone's throw from the gate they 
had made them stairs and ladders to go up by ; and on a knoll 
nigh the brow had built a watch-tower of stone strong and great, 
lest war should come into the land from over the hills. That 
tower was ancient, and therefrom the Thorp had its name and the 
•whole valley also; and it was called Burgstead in Burgdalc. 

So long as the Weltering Water ran straight along by the 
northern cliffs after it had left Burgstead, betwixt the water and 
the cliffs was a wide flat way fashioned by man's hand. Thus 
was the water again a good defence to the Thorp, for it ran slow 
and deep there, and there was no other ground betwixt it and the 
cliffs save that road, which was easy to bar across so that no foe- 
men might pass without battle, and this road was called the Port- 
way. For a long mile the river ran under the northern cliffs, and 
then turned into the midst of the Dale, and went its way west- 
ward a broad stream winding in gentle laps and folds here and 
there down to the out-gate of the Dale. But the Portway held 
on still underneath the rock-wall, till the sheer-rocks grew some- 
what broken, and were cumbered with certain screes, and at last 

3 



OfWildlake's the wayfarer came upon the break in them, and the ghyll through 
Way and the which ran the Wildlake with Wildlake's Way beside it, but the 
Mote-stead. Portway still went on all down the Dale and away to the Plain- 
country. 

That road in the ghyll, which was neither wide nor smooth, 
the wayfarer into the wood must follow, till it lifted itself out of 
the ghyll, and left the Wildlake coming rattling down by many 
steps from the east; and now the way went straight north through 
the woodland, ever mounting higher, (because the whole set of 
the land was toward the high fells,) but not in any cleft or ghyll. 
The wood itself thereabout was thick, a blended growth of diverse 
kinds of trees, but most of oak and ash ; light and air enough 
came through their boughs to suffer the holly and bramble and 
eglantine and other small wood to grow together into thickets, 
which no man could pass without hewing a way. But before it 
is told whereto Wildlake's Way led, it must be said that on the 
east side of the ghyll, where it first began just over the Portway, 
the hill's brow was clear of wood for a certain space, and there, 
overlooking all the Dale, was the Mote-stead of the Dalesmen, 
marked out by a great ring of stones, amidst of which was the 
mound for the Judges and the Altar of the Gods before it. And 
this was the holy place of the men of the Dale and of other folk 
whereof the tale shall now tell. 

For when Wildlake's Way had gone some three miles from 
the Mote-stead, the trees began to thin, and presently afterwards 
was a clearing and the dwellings of men, built of timber as may 
well be thought. These houses were neither rich nor great, nor 
was the folk a mighty folk, because they were but a few, albeit 
body by body they were stout carles enough. They had not 
affinity with the Dalesmen, and did not wed with them, yet it 
is to be deemed that they were somewhat akin to them. To be 
short, though they were freemen, yet as regards the Dalesmen 
were they well-nigh their servants ; for they were but poor in 
goods, and had to lean upon them somewhat. No tillage they 
: 4 



had among those high trees ; and of beasts nought save some Of the Wood- 
flocks of goats and a few asses. Hunters they were, and char- land-Carles. 
coal-burners, and therein the deftest of men, and they could shoot 
well in the bow withal : so they trucked their charcoal and their 
smoked venison and their peltries with the Dalesmen for wheat 
and wine and weapons and weed; and the Dalesmen gave them 
main good pennyworths, as men who had abundance wherewith 
to uphold their kinsmen, though they were but far-away kin. 
Stout hands had these Woodlanders and true hearts as any; but 
the\- were few-spoken and to those that needed them not some- 
what surly of speech and grim of visage : brown-skinned they 
were, but light-haired ; well-eyed, with but little red in their 
checks : their women were not very fair, for they toiled like the 
men, or more. They were thought to be wiser than most men 
in foreseeing things to come. They were much given to spells, 
and songs of wir.ardr}', and were very mindful of the old stor}'- 
lays, wherein the}' were far more wordy than in their daily speech. 
IMuch skill had they in runes, and were exceeding deft in scor- 
ing them on treen bowls, and on staves, and door-posts and roof- 
beams and standing-beds and such like things. Many a day when 
the snow was drifting over their roofs, and hanging heavy on the 
tree-boughs, and the wind was roaring through the trees aloft and 
rattling about the close thicket, when the boughs were clattering 
in the wind, and crashing down beneath the weight of the gathering 
freezing snow, when all beasts and men lay close in their lairs, 
would they sit long hours about the house-fire with the knife or the 
gouge in hand, with the timber twixt their knees and the whetstone 
beside them, hearkening to some tale of old times and the days 
when their banner was abroad in the world; and the}' the while 
wheedling into growth out of the tough wood knots and blossoms 
and leaves and the images of beasts and warriors and women. 

They were called nought save the Woodland-Carles in that 
da}', though time had been when they had borne a nobler name: 
and their abode was called Carlstead. Shortly, for all they had 

5 



Of the Shep- and all they had not, for all they were and all they were not, 
herd-Folk. they were well-beloved by their friends and feared by their foes. 
Now when Wildlake's Way was gotten to Carlstead, there 
was an end of it toward the north; though beyond it in a right 
line the wood was thinner, because of the hewing of the Carles. 
But the road itself turned west at once and went on through the 
wood, till some four miles further it first thinned and then ceased 
altogether, the ground going down-hill all the way: for this was 
the lower flank of the first great upheaval toward the high moun- 
tains. But presently, after the wood was ended, the land broke 
into swelling downs and winding dales of no great height or depth, 
with a few scattered trees about the hill-sides, mostly thorns or 
scrubby oaks, gnarled and bent and kept down by the western 
wind: here and there also were yew-trees, and whiles the hill- 
sides would be grown over with box-wood, but none very great; 
and often juniper grew abundantly. This then was the country 
of the Shepherds, who were friends both of the Dalesmen and the 
Woodlanders. They dwelt not in any fenced town or thorp, but 
their homesteads were scattered about as was handy for water and 
shelter. Nevertheless they had their own stronghold; for amid- 
most of their country, on the highest of a certain down above a 
bottom where a willowy stream winded, was a great earthwork : 
the walls thereof were high and clean and overlapping at the en- 
tering in, and amidst of it was a deep well of water, so that it was 
a very defensible place : and thereto would they drive their flocks 
and herds when war was in the land, for nought but a very great 
host might win it; and this stronghold they called Greenbury. 

These Shepherd-Folk were strong and tall like the Woodlanders, 
for they were partly of the same blood, but burnt they were both 
ruddy and brown: they were of more words than the Woodlanders, 
but yet not many-worded. They knew well all those old story-lays, 
(and this partly by the minstrelsy of the Woodlanders,) but they 
had scant skill in wizardry, and would send for the Woodlanders, 
both men and women, to do whatso they needed therein. They 

6 



were very hale and long-lived, whereas they dwelt in clear bright Of the Shcp- 
air, and they mostly went light-clad even in the winter, so strong herd-Folk. 
and merry were they. They wedded with the Woodlanders and 
the Dalesmen both ; at least certain houses of them did so. They 
grew no corn; nought but a few pot-herbs, but had their meal of 
the Dalesmen ; and in the summer they dravc some oi^ their milch- 
kine into the Dale for the abundance of grass there; whereas their 
own hills a^'d bents and winding valleys were net plenteously 
watered, except here and there as in the bottom under Green- 
bury. No swine they had, and but few horses, but of sheep very 
many, and of the best both for their flesh and their wool. Yet 
were they nought so deft craftsmen at the loom as were the Dales- 
men, and their women were not very eager at the weaving, though 
they loathed not the spindle and rock. Shortly, the}' were merry 
folk well-beloved of the Dalesmen, quick to wrath, though it 
abode not long with them; not very curious in their houses and 
halls, which were but little, and were decked mostly with the 
handiwork of the Woodland-Carles their guests; who when they 
were abiding with them, would oft stand long hours nose to beam, 
scoring and nicking and hammering, answering no word spoken 
to them but with aye or no, desiring nought save the endurance 
of the daylight. Aloreover, this shepherd-folk heeded not gay 
raiment overmuch, but commonly went clad in white woollen or 
sheep-brown w-eed. 

But beyond this shepherd-folk were more downs and more, 
scantily peopled, and that after a while by folk with whom they 
had no kinship or affinity, and who were at whiles their foes. 
Yet was there no enduring enmity between them; and ever after 
war and battle came peace; and all blood-wites were duly paid 
and no long feud followed: nor were the Dalesmen and the 
Woodlanders always in these wars, though at whiles they were. 
Thus then it fared with these people. 

But now that we have told of the folks with whom the Dales- 
men had kinship, affinity, and friendship, tell we of their chief 

7 



Of Burgstead abode, Burgstead to wit, and of its fashion. As hath been told, 
and its houses. Jt Jay upon the land made nigh into an isle by the folds of the 
Weltering Water towards the uppermost end of the Dale; and 
It was warded by the deep water, and by the wall aforesaid with 
its towers. Now the Dale at its widest, to wit where Wildlake 
fell into it, was but nine furlongs over, but at Burgstead it was 
far narrower ; so that betwixt the wall and the wandering stream 
there was but a space of fifty acres, and therein lay Burgstead 
in a space of the shape of a sword-pommel: and the houses of 
the kinships lay about it, amidst of gardens and orchards, but 
little ordered into streets and lanes, save that a way went clean 
through everything from the tower-warded gate to the bridge 
over the Water, which was warded by two other towers on its 
hither side. 

As to the houses, they were some bigger, some smaller, as the 
house-mates needed. Some were old, but not very old, save two 
only, and some quite new, but of these there were not many : they 
were all built fairly of stone and lime, with much fair and curious 
carved work of knots and beasts and men round about the doors ; 
or whiles a wale of such-like work all along the house-front. For 
as deft as were the Woodlanders with knife and gouge on the 
oaken beams, even so deft were the Dalesmen with mallet and 
chisel on the face of the hewn stone ; and this was a great pas- 
time about the Thorp. Within these houses had but a hall and 
solar, with shut-beds out from the hall on one side or two, with 
whatso of kitchen and buttery and out-bower men deemed handy. 
Many men dwelt in each house, either kinsfolk, or such as were 
joined to the kindred. 

Near to the gate of Burgstead in that street aforesaid and 
facing east was the biggest house of the Thorp ; it was one of 
the two abovesaid which were older than any other. Its door- 
posts and the lintel of the door were carved with knots and twi- 
ning stems fairer than other houses of that stead ; and on the 
wall beside the door carved over many stones was an image 



wrought in the likeness of a man with a wide face, which was 
terrible to behold, although it smiled: he bore a bent bow in his 
hand with an arrow fitted to its string, and about the head of him 
was a ring of rays like the beams of the sun, and at his feet was 
a dragon, which had crept, as it were, from amidst of the blos- 
somed knots of the door-post wherewith the tail of him was yet 
entwined. And this head with the ring of ra3's about it was 
wrought into the adornment of that house, both within and with- 
out, in many other places, but on never another house of the Dale ; 
and it was called the House of the Face. Thereof hath the tale 
much to tell hereafter, but as now it goeth on to tell of the ways 
of life of the Dalesmen. 

In Burgstead was no IMote-hall or Town-house or Church, 
such as we wot of in these da3's ; and their market-place was 
wheresoever an}' might choose to pitch a booth : but for the most 
part this was done in the wide street betwixt the gate and the 
bridge. As to a meeting-place, were there any small matters 
between man and man, these would the Alderman or one of the 
Wardens deal with, sitting in Court with the neighbours on the 
v>ide space just outside the Gate : but if it were to do with greater 
matters, such as great mansla3Mngs and blood-wites, or the making 
of war or ending of it, or the choosing of the Alderman and the 
Wardens, such matters must be put off to the Folk-mote, which 
could but be held in the place aforesaid where was the Doom-ring 
and the Altar of the Gods ; and at that Folk-mote both the Shep- 
herd-Folk and the Woodland-Carles foregathered with the Dales- 
men, and dul}' said their say. There also they held their great 
feasts and made offerings to the Gods for the Fruitfulncss of the 
Year, the Ingathering of the Increase, and in Memory- of their 
Forefathers. Natheless at Yule-tide also they feasted from house 
to house to be glad with the rest of Midwinter, and man}' a cup 
they drank at those feasts to the memory- of the fathers, and the 
days when the world was wider to them, and their banners fared 
far afield. 

9 c 



Of the House 
of the Face. 
Of Feasts and 
Folk-motes. 



Cf the hus- But besides these dwellings of men in the field between the 

bandry of" the •^yall and the water, there were homesteads up and down the Dale 
Dalesmen and ^yi^^reso men found it easy and pleasant to dwell : their halls 
were built of much the same fashion as those within the Thorp; 
but many had a high garth-wall cast about them, so that they 
might make a stout defence in their own houses if war came into 
the Dale. 

As to their work afield; in many places the Dale was fair with 
growth of trees, and especially were there long groves of sweet 
chestnut standing on the grass, of the fruit whereof the folk had 
much gain. Also on the south side nigh to the western end was 
a wood or two of 3ew-trees very great and old, whence they gat 
them bow-staves, for the Dalesmen also shot well in the bow. 
Much wheat and rye they raised in the Dale, and especially at 
the nether end thereof. Apples and pears and cherries and plums 
they had in plenty; of which trees, some grew about the borders 
of the acres, some in the gardens of the Thorp and the home- 
steads. On the slopes that had grown from the breaking down 
here and there of the Northern cliffs, and which faced the South 
and the Sun's burning, were rows of goodly vines, whereof the 
folk made them enough and to spare of strong wine both white 
and red. 

As to their beasts ; swine they had a man}-, but not many sheep, 
since herein they trusted to their trucking with their friends the 
Shepherds ; they had horses, and j-et but a few, for they were 
stout in going afoot ; and, had they a journey to make with 
women big with babes, or with children or outworn elders, they 
Vt^ould yoke their oxen to their wains, and go fair and softly 
whither they would. But the said oxen and all their neat were 
exceeding big and fair, far other than the little beasts of the 
Shepherd-Folk ; they were either dun of colour, or white with 
black horns (and those very great) and black tail-tufts and ear- 
tips. Asses they had, and mules for the paths of the mountains 
to the east ; geese and hens enough, and dogs not a few, great 

10 



hounds stronger than wolves, sharp-nosed, long-jawed, dun of Of the wares 
colour, shag-haired. o^ the Dales- 

As to their wares ; they were very deft weavers of wool and '"'^"* 
flax, and made a shift to dye the thrums in fair colours ; since 
both woad and madder came to them good cheap by means of 
the merchants of the plain country, and of greening weeds was 
abundance at hand. Good smiths they were in all the metals : 
they washed somewhat of gold out of the sands of the Weltering 
Water, and copper and tin they fetched from the rocks of the 
eastern mountains ; but of silver they saw little, and iron they 
must buy of the merchants of the plain, who came to them twice 
in the year, to wit in the spring and the late autumn just before 
the snows. Their wares the}' bought with wool spun and in the 
fleece, and fine cloth, and skins or wine and young neat both 
steers and heifers, and wrought copper bowls, and gold and copper 
by weight, for they had no stamped monc}'. And they guested 
these merchants well, for they loved them, because of the tales 
they told them of the Plain and its cities, and the manslayings 
therein, and the fall of Kings and Dukes, and the uprising of 
Captains. 

Thus then lived this folk in much plenty and ease of life, 
though not delicately nor desiring things out of measure. They 
wrought with their hands and wearied themselves ; and they 
rested from their toil and feasted and were merry : to-morrow 
was not a burden to them, nor yesterday' a thing which they would 
fain forget : life shamed them not, nor did death make them 
afraid. 

As for the Dale wherein they dwelt, it was indeed most fair 
and lovely, and the}- deemed it the Blessing of the l^arth, and 
they trod its flowery grass beside its rippled streams amidst its 
green tree-boughs proudly and joyfully with goodly bodies and 
merry hearts. 



II 



CHAPTER II. OF FACE-OF-GOD AND HIS KINDRED. 

A man t B AELLS the tale, that on an evening of late autumn when 

Cometh from | ^y^^ weather was fair, calm, and sunny, there cam.e a man 
, out of the wood hard by the Mote-stead aforesaid, who sat 

him down at the roots of the Speech-mound, casting down before 
him a roe-buck which he had just slain in the wood. He was a 
young man of three and twenty summers ; he was so clad that he 
had on him a sheep-brown kirtle and leggings of like stuff bound 
about with white leather thongs; he bore a short-sword in his 
girdle and a little axe withal; the sword with fair wrought gilded 
hilts and a dew-shoe of like fashion to its sheath. He had his 
quiver at his back and bare in his hand his bow unstrung. He 
was tall and strong, very fair of fashion both of limbs and face, 
white-skinned, but for the sun's tanning, and ruddy-cheeked : his 
beard was little and fine, his hair yellow and curling, cut some- 
what close, but for its length so plenteous, and so thick, that none 
could fail to note it. He had no hat nor hood upon his head, 
nought but a fillet of golden beads. 

As he sat down he glanced at the dale below him with a well- 
pleased look, and then cast his eyes down to the grass at his feet, 
as though to hold a little longer all unchanged the image of the 
fair place he had just seen. I'he sun was low in the heavens, and 
his slant beams fell yellow all up the dale, gilding the chestnut 
groves grown dusk and grey with autumn, and the black masses 
of the elm-boughs, and gleaming back here and there from the 
pools of the Weltering Water. Down in the midmost meadows 
the long-horned dun kine were moving slowly as they fed along 
the edges of the stream, and a dog was bounding about with 
exceeding swiftness here and there among them. At a sharply 
curved bight of the river the man could see a little vermilion flame 
flickering about, and above it a thin blue veil of smoke hanging 
in the air, and clinging to the boughs of the willows anear; about 
it were a dozen menfolk clear to see, some sitting, some standing, 

12 



some walkincr to and fro, but all in company together: four of Folk dance at 
these were brown-clad and short-skirtcd like himself, and from eventide, 
above the hand of one came a flash of light as the sun smote upon 
the steel of his spear. The others were long-skirted and clad 
gaj'cr, and amongst them were red and blue and green and white 
garments, and they were clear to be seen for women. Just as the 
young man looked up again, those of them who were sitting down 
rose up, and those that were strolling drew nigh, and they joined 
hands together, and fell to dancing on the grass, and the dog and 
another one with him came up to the dancers and raced about and 
betwixt them; and so clear to see were they all and so little, be- 
ing far away, that they looked like dainty well-wrought puppets. 

The 3"0ung man sat smiling at it for a little, and then rose up 
and shouldered his venison, and went down intoWildlakc's Way, 
and present!}' was fairly in the Dale and striding along the Port- 
way beside the northern cliffs, whose greyness was gilded yet b}'^ 
the last rays of the sun, though in a minute or two it would go 
under the western rim. He went fast and cheeril}', murmuring 
to himself snatches of old songs; none overtook him on the road, 
but he overtook divers folk going alone or in company toward 
Burgstcad; swains and old men, mothers and maidens coming 
from the field and the acre, or going from house to house; and 
one or two he met but not many. All these greeted him kindl}', 
and he them again; but he stayed not to speak with any, but went 
as one in haste. 

It was dusk by then he passed under the gate of Burgstead ; 
he went straight thence to the door of the House of the Face, and 
entered as one who is at home, and need go no further, nor abide 
a bidding. 

The hall he came into straight out of the open air was long and 
somewhat narrow and not right high; it was well-nigh dark now 
within, but since he knew where to look, he could see by the 
flicker that leapt up now and then from the smouldering brands 
ot the hearth amidmost the hall under the luffer, that there were 

^3 



The venison but three men therein, and belike thev were even they whom he 
is late. looked to find there, and for their part they looked for his coming, 

and knew his step. 

He set down his venison on the floor, and cried out in a cheery 
voice: 'Ho, Kettel! Are all men gone without doors to sleep so 
near the winter-tide, that the Hall is as dark as a cave? Hither 
to me! Or art thou also sleeping?' 

A voice came from the further side of the hearth: 'Yea, lord, 
asleep I am, and have been, and dreaming; and in mj^ dream I 
dealt with the flesh-pots and the cake-board, and thou shalt see 
my dream come true presently to thy gain.' 

Quoth another voice: ' Kettel hath had out that share of his 
dream already belike, if the saw sayeth sooth about cooks. All 
ye have been away, so belike he hath done as Rafe's dog when 
Rafe ran away from the slain buck.' 

He laughed therewith, and Kettel with him, and a third voice 
joined the laughter. The young man also laughed and said : 
'Here I bring the venison which my kinsman desired; but as 
ye see I have brought it over-late : but take it, Kettel. When 
cometh my father from the stithy?' 

Quoth Kettel: 'My lord hath been hard at it shaping the 
Yule-tide sword, and doth not lightly leave such work, as 3-e 
wot, but he will be here presently, for he has sent to bid us dight 
for supper straightway.' 

Said the young man: 'Where are there lords in the dale, 
Kettel, or hast thou made some thyself, that thou must be al- 
ways throwing them in my teeth?' 

'Son of the Alderman,' said Kettel, 'ye call me Kettel, which 
is no name of mine, so why should I not call thee lord, which is no 
dignity of thine, since it goes well over my tongue from old use 
and wont ? But here comes m}' mate of the kettle, and the 
women and lads. Sit down by the hearth away from their hurry, 
and I will fetch thee the hand-water.' 

The young man sat down, and Kettel took up the venison 

14 



and went his ways toward the door at the lower end of the hall; The Hall of 
but ere he reached it it opened, and a noisy crowd entered of men, ^^^ House of 
women, boys, and dogs, some bearing great wax candles, some ' ^ x-acc 
bowls and cups and dishes and trenchers, and some the boards for 
the meal. 

The voung man sat quiet smiling and winking his eyes at the 
sudden flood of light let into the dark place ; he took in without 
looking at this or the other thing the aspect of his Fathers' 
House, so long familiar to him ; yet to-night he had a pleasure 
ill it above his wont, and in all the stir of the household ; for the 
thought of the wood wherein he had wandered all day yd hung 
heavy upon him. Came one of the girls and cast fresh brands 
on the smouldering fire and stirred it into a blaze, and the w^ax 
candles were set up on the dais, so that between them and the 
ncw^-quickened fire everj'^ corner of the hall was bright. As 
aforesaid it was long and narrow, over-arched with stone and 
not right high, the windows high up under the springing of the 
roof-arch and all on the side toward the street ; over against 
them were the arches of the shut-beds of the house-mates. The 
walls were bare that evening, but folk were wont to hang up 
ballings of woven pictures thereon when feasts and high-days 
were toward ; and all along the walls were the tenter-hooks for 
that purpose, and divers weapons and tools were hanging from 
them here and there. About the dais behind the thwart-table 
were now stuck for adornment leav}- boughs of oak now just 
beginning to turn with the first frosts. High up on the gable 
wall above the tenter-hooks for the hangings were carven fair 
imagery and knots and twining stems ; for there in the hewn 
stone was set forth that same image with the rayed head that 
was on the outside wall, and he was smiting the dragon and 
slaying him ; but here inside the house all this was stained in 
fair and lively colours, and the sun-like rays round the head of 
the image were of beaten gold. At the lower end of the hall 
were two doors going into the butteries, and kitchen, and other 

15 



The Alder- out-bowers ; and above these doors was a loft upborne by stone 
man cometh pillars, which loft was the sleeping chamber of the goodman of 
'"• the house ; but the outward door was halfway between the said 

loft and the hearth of the hall. 

So the young man took the shoes from his feet and then sat 
watching the women and lads arraying the boards, till Kettel 
came again to him with an old woman bearing the ewer and 
basin, who washed his feet and poured the water over his hands, 
and gave him the towel with fair-broidered ends to dry them withal. 
Scarce had he made an end of this ere through the outer door 
came in three men and a 3'oung woman with them ; the fore- 
most of these was a man younger by some two years than the 
first-comer, but so like him that none might misdoubt that he was 
his brother ; the next was an old man with a long v^hite beard, 
but hale and upright ; and lastly came a man of middle-age, who 
led the young woman by the hand. He was taller than the first 
of the young men, though the other who entered with him out- 
went him in height ; a stark carle he was, broad across the 
shoulders, thin in the flank, long-armed and big-handed ; very 
noble and well-fashioned of countenance, with a straight nose 
and grey eyes underneath a broad brow : his hair grown some- 
what scanty was done about with a fillet of golden beads like the 
young men his sons. For indeed this was their father, and the 
master of the House. 

His name was Iron-face, for he v.'as the deftest of weapon- 
smiths, and he was the Alderman of the Dalesmen, and well- 
beloved of them ; his kindred was deemed the noblest of the 
Dale, and long had the}' dwelt in the House of the Face. But 
of his sons the youngest, the new-comer, was named Hall-face, 
and his brother the elder Face-of-god ; which name was of old 
use amongst the kindred, and many great men and stout warriors 
had borne it aforetime : and this young man, in great love had 
he been gotten, and in much hope had he been reared, and 
therefore had he been named after the best of the kindred. But 

i6 



his mother, who was hight the Jewel, and had been a very fair Tlie Bride 
woman, was dead now, and Iron-face lacked a wife. fold of. 

Face-of-god was well-beloved of his kindred and of all the 
Folk of the Dale, and he had gotten a to-name, and was called 
Gold-mane because of the abundance and fairness of his hair. 

As for the young woman that was led in by Iron-face, she 
was the betrothed ot Face-of-god, and her name was the Hride. 
She looked with such e^-es of love on him when she saw him in 
the hall, as though she had never seen him before but once, nor 
loved him but since yesterday; though in truth they had grown up 
together and had seen each other most days of the j-ear for many 
years. She was of the kindred with whom the chiefs and great 
men of the Face mostly wedded, which was indeed far away 
kindred of them. She was a fair woman and strong : not easily 
daunted amidst perils : she was hardy and handy and light-foot : 
she could swim as well as any, and could shoot well in the bow, 
and wield sword and spear : yet was she kind and compassionate, 
and of great courtesy, and the ver}' dogs and kine trusted in her 
and loved her. Her hair was dark red of hue, long and fine 
and plenteous, her eyes great and brown, her brow broad and 
very fair, her lips fine and red : her cheek not rudd}', yet nowise 
sallow, but clear and bright : tall she was and of excellent 
fashion, but well-knit and well-measured rather than slender and 
wavering as the willow-bough. Her voice was sweet and soft, 
her words few, but exceeding dear to the listener. In short, she 
was a woman born to be the ransom of her Folk. 

Now as to the names which the menfolk of the Face bore, and 
they an ancient kindred, a kindred of chieftains, it has been said 
that in times past their image of the God of the Farth had 
over his treen face a mask of beaten gold fashioned to the shape 
of the image ; and that when the Alderman of the Folk died, 
he to wit who served the God and bore on his arm the gold-ring 
between the people and the altar, this visor or face of God was 
laid over the face of him who had been in a manner his priest, 

17 D 



Of Stone-face, and tliercvvith he was borne to mound ; and the new Alderman 
and priest had it in charge to fashion a new visor for the God ; 
and whereas for long this great kindred had been chieftains of the 
people, they had been, and were all so named, that the word 
Face was ever a part of their names. 



CHAPTER III. THEY TALK OF DIVERS MATTERS IN 
THE HALL. 

"^OW Face-of-god, who is also called Gold-mane, rose up 
to meet the new-comers, and each of them greeted him 
kindly, and the Bride kissed him on the cheek, and he 
her in like wise; and he looked kindly on her, and took her hand, 
and went on up the hall to the dais, following his father and the 
old man ; as for him, he was of the kindred of the House, and 
was foster-father of Iron-face and of his sons both ; and his name 
was Stone-face : a stark warrior had he been when he was young, 
and even now he could do a man's work in the battlefield, and his 
understanding was as good as that of a man in his prime. So 
went these and four others up on to the dais and sat down before 
the thwart-table looking down the hall, for the meat was now on 
the board ; and of the others there were some fifty men and women 
who were deemed to be of the kindred and sat at the endlono- 
tables. 

So then the Alderman stood up and made the sign of the 
Hammer over the meat, the token of his craft and of his God. 
Then they fell to with good hearts, for there was enough and to 
spare of meat and drink. There was bread and flesh (though 
not Gold-mane's venison), and leeks and roasted chestnuts of the 
grove, and red-cheeked apples of the garth, and honey enough of 
that year's gathering, and medlars sharp and mellow: moreover, 
good wine of the western bents went up and down the hall in 
great gilded copper bowls and in mazers girt and lipped with gold. 

i8 



But when they were full of meat, and had drunken somewhat, Face-of-god 
they fell to speech, and Iron-face spake aloud to his son, who had t^"*^ pf l^'s 
but been speaking softly to the Bride as one playmate to the """""S- 
other : but the Alderman said : * Scarce are the wood-deer 
grown, kinsman, when I must needs eat sheep's flesh on a Thurs- 
da}-, though my son has lain abroad in the woods all night to 
hunt for mc.' 

And therewith he smiled in the young man's face; but Gold- 
mane reddened and said : * So is it, kinsman, I can hit what I 
can see ; but not what is hidden.' 

Iron-face laughed and said : ' Hast thou been to the Woodland- 
Carles ? are their women fairer than our cousins ? ' 

Face-of-god took up the Bride's hand in his and kissed it and 
laid it to his cheek ; and then turned to his father and said : 
* Nay, father, I saw not the Wood-carles, nor went to their abode ; 
and on no day do I lust after their women. Moreover, I brought 
home a roebuck of the fattest ; but I was over-late for Kettel, and 
the flesh was ready for the board by then I came.' 

' Well, son,' quoth Iron-face, for he was merry, 'a roebuck is 
but a little deer for such big men as are thou and I. But I rede 
thee take the Bride along with thee the next time ; and she shall 
seek whilest thou slcepest, and hit when thou missest.' 

Then Face-of-god smiled, but he frowned somewhat also, and he 
said : ' Well were that, indeed ! But if ye must needs drag a true 
tale out of me : that roebuck I shot at the very edge of the wood 
nigh to the Mote-stead as I was coming home : harts had I seen 
in the wood and its lawns, and boars, and bucks, and loosed not 
at them : for indeed when I awoke in the morning in that wood- 
lawn ye wot of, I wandered up and down with my bow unbent. 
So it was that I fared as if I were seeking something, I know not 
what, that should iill up something lacking to me, I know not 
what. Thus I felt in myself even so long as I was underneath 
the black boughs, and there was none beside me and before me, 
and none to turn aback to: but when I came out again into the 

19 



The offer of sunshine, and I saw the fair dale, and the happy abode lying 

Iron-face to before me, and folk abroad in the meads merry in the eventide; 

his son. ^i^gj^ ^25 J fyij f^ij^ Qf it^ ai^j loathed the wood as an empty thing 

that had nought to give me ; and lo you ! all that I had been 

longing for in the wood, was it not in this House and ready to 

my hand ? — and that is good meseemeth.' 

Therewith he drank of the cup which the Bride put into his 
hand after she had kissed the rim, but when he had set it down 
again he spake once more : 

* And yet now I am sitting honoured and well-beloved in the 
House of my Fathers, with the holy hearth sparkling and gleam- 
ing down there before me ; and she that shall bear my children 
sitting soft and kind by my side, and the bold lads I shall one 
day lead in battle drinking out of my very cup : now it seems to 
me that amidst all this, the dark cold wood, wherein abide but 
the beasts and the Foes of the Gods, is bidding me to it and draw- 
ing me thither. Narrow is the Dale and the World is wide ; I 
would it were dawn and daylight, that I might be afoot again.' 
And he half rose up from his place. But his father bent his 
brow on him and said : * Kinsman, thou hast a long tongue for 
a half-trained whelp : nor see I whitherward thy mind is wan- 
dering, but if it be on the road of a lad's desire to go further and 
fare worse. Hearken then, I will offer thee somewhat ! Soon 
shall the West-country merchants be here with their winter truck. 
How sayest thou? hast thou a mind to fare back with them, and 
look on the Plain and its Cities, and take and give with the 
strangers? To whom indeed thou shalt be nothing save a purse 
with a few lumps of gold in it, or maybe a spear in the stranger's 
band on the stricken field, or a bow on the wall of an alien city. 
This is a craft which thou mayst well learn, since thou shalt be 
a chieftain ; a craft good to learn, however grievous it be in the 
learning. And I myself have oeen there ; for in my youth I de- 
sired sore to k)ok on the world beyond the mountains; so I went^ 
and I filled my belly with the fruit of my own desires, and a bitter 

20 



meat was that ; but now that it has passed through me, and I Face-of-god 
vet alive, belike I am more of a grown man for having endured ^^'H "ot go to 
its gripe. Kven so may it well be with thee, son ; so go if thou riain. 
wilt ; and thou shalt go with my blessing, and with gold and 
wares and wain and spearmen.' 

' Na}',' said Face-of-god, ' I thank thee, for it is well offered ; 
but I will not go, for I have no lust for the Plain and its Cities; 
I love the Dale well, and all that is round about it ; therein will 
I live and die.' 

Therewith he fell a-musing ; and the Bride looked at him 
anxiously, but spake not. Sooth to say her heart was sinking, 
as though she foreboded some new thing, which should thrust it- 
self into their merr}' life. 

But the old man Stone-face took up the word and said : 

' Son Gold-mane, it behovcth me to speak, since belike I know 
the wild-wood better than most, and have done for these three- 
score and ten j-ears ; to my cost. Now I perceive that thou 
longest for the wood and the innermost of it ; and wot ye what? 
This longing will at whiles entangle the sons of our chieftains, 
though this Alderman that now is hath been free therefrom, which 
is well for him. For, time was this longino; came over me, and 
I went whither it led me : overlong it were to tell of all that be- 
fell me because of it, and how my heart bled thereby. So sorry 
were the tidings that came of it, that now meseemeth my heart 
should be of stone and not my face, had it not been for the love 
wherewith I have loved the sons of the kindred. Therefore, son, 
it were not ill if ye went west away with the merchants this win- 
ter, and learned the dealings of the cities, and brought us back 
talcs thereof' 

But Gold-mane cried out somewhat angrily, ' I tell thee, foster- 
father, that I have no mind for the cities and their men and their 
fools and their whores and their runagates. But as for the wood 
and its wonders, I have done with it, save for hunting there along 
with others of the Folk. So let thy mind be at ease ; and for 

21 



The marvels the rest, I will do what the Alderman commandeth, and whatso 

and perils of my father craveth of me.' 

the wood. i ^jj(j jj^^t is xveW, son,' said Stone-face, * if what ye say 

come to pass, as sore I misdoubt me it will not. But well it 
were, well it were ! For such things are in the wood, yea and 
before ye come to its innermost, as may well try the stoutest 
heart. Therein are Kobbolds, and Wights that love not men, 
things unto whom the grief of men is as the sound of the fiddle- 
bow unto us. And there abide the ghosts of those that may not 
rest ; and there wander the dwarfs and the mountain-dwellers, 
the dealers in marvels, the givers of gifts that destroy Houses ; 
the forgers of the curse that clingeth and the murder that flitteth 
to and fro. There moreover are the lairs of Wights in the 
shapes of women, that draw a 3"oung man's heart out of his body, 
and fill up the empty place with desire never to be satisfied, that 
they may mock him therewith and waste his manhood and 
destroy him. Nor say I much of the strong-thieves that dwell 
there, since thou art a valiant sword ; or of them who have been 
made Wolves of the Holy Places ; or of the Murder-Carles, the 
remnants and ofT-scourings of wicked and wretched Folks — men 
who think as much of the life of a man as of the life of a fly. 
Yet happiest is the man whom they shall tear in pieces, than 
he who shall live burdened by the curse of the Foes of the Gods.' 
The house-master looked on his son as the old carle spake, 
and a cloud gathered on his face a while ; and when Stone-face 
had made an end he spake : 

' This is long and evil talk for the end of a merry da}-, O 
fosterer ! Wilt thou not drink a draught, O Redesman, and 
then stand up and set thy fiddle-bow a-dancing, and cause it 
draw some fair words after it ? For my cousin's face hath grown 
sadder than a young maid's should be, and my son's eyes gleam 
with thoughts that are far away from us and abroad in the wild- 
wood seeking marvels.' 

Then arose a man of middle-age from the too of the endlong 

22 



bench on the east side of the hall : a man tall, thin and scant- Rcdcsmanthc 
haired, with a nose like an eagle's neb : he reached out his hand Mmstrel 
for the bowl, and when the}' had given to him he handled it, and *'"S^ * 
raised it aloft and cried : 

' Here I drink a double health to Face-of-god and the Bride, 
and the love that lieth between them, and the love betwixt them 
twain and us.' 

He drank therewith, and the wine went up and down the 
hall, and all men drank, both carles and queens, with shouting 
and great jo}'. Then Redcsman put down the cup (for it had 
come into his hands again), and reached his hand to the wall 
behind him, and took down his fiddle hanging there in its case, 
and drew it out and fell to tuning it, while the hall grew silent 
tc hearken : then he handled the bow and laid it on the strings 
ti J they wailed and chuckled sweeth', and when the song was well 
awake and stirring briskly, then he lifted up his voice and sang : 

The Minstrel saith : 
' why on this morning, ye maids, are 3'e tripping 

Aloof from the meadows yet fresh with the dew, 
Where under the west wind the river is lipping 

The fragrance of mint, the white blooms and the blue ? 

For rough is the Pcrtway v>-here panting 3'e wander; 

On your feet and your gown-hems tlie dust lieth dun ; 
Ccme trip through the grass and the meadow-sweet yonder, 

And forget neath the willows the sword of the sun. 

The Maidens answer : 
Though fair are the moon-daisies down b}' the river. 

And soft is the grass and the white clover sweet ; 
Though twixt us and the rock-wall the hot glare doth quiver, 

And the dust of the wheel-way is dun on our feet ; 

Yet here on the way shall we walk on this morning 

Though the sun burncth here, and sweet, cool is the mead ; 

23 



The Maiden For here when in old da3's the Burg gave its warning, 
Ward. Stood stark under weapons the doughty of deed. 

Here came on the aliens their proud words a-crying, 
And here on our threshold they stumbled and fell ; 

Here silent at even the steel-clad were lying, 
And here were our mothers the story to tell. 

Here then on the morn of the eve of the wedding 
We pray to the Mighty that we too may bear 

Such war-walls for warding of orchard and steading. 
That the new days be merry as old days were dear.' 

Therewith he made an end, and shouts and glad cries arose 
all about the hall ; and an old man arose and cried : ' A cup to the 
memory of the Might}' of the Day of the Warding of the Wa}-s.' 
For you must know this song told of a custom of the Folk, held 
in memory of a time of bygone battle, wherein they had over- 
thrown a great host of aliens on the Portway betwixt the river 
and the cliffs, two furlonas from the gate of Burgstead. So 
now two weeks before Midsummer those maidens who were 
presently to be wedded went early in the morning to that place 
clad in very fair raiment, swords girt to their sides and spears in 
their hands, and abode there on the highway from morn till even 
as though they were a guard to it. And they made merry there, 
singing songs and telling tales of times past : and at the sun- 
setting their grooms came to fetch them away to the Feast of the 
Eve of the Wedding. 

While the song was a-singing Face-of-god took the Bride's 
hand in his and caressed it, and was soft and blithe with her ; 
and she reddened and trembled for pleasure, and called to mind 
wedding feasts that had been, and fair brides that she had seen 
thereat, and she forgot her fears and her heart was at peace again. 

And Iron-face looked well-pleased on the two from time to 
time, and smiled, but forbore words to them. 

But up and down the hall men talked with one another about 

24 



things loner ago bctid : for their hearts were high and they desired Face-of-god 
deeds ; but in that fair Dale so happy were the years from day |" the morn- 
to day that there was but little to tell of. So deepened the night '"S- 
and waned, and Gold-mane and the Bride still talked sweetly 
together, and at whiles kindly to the others ; and by seeming he 
had clean forgotten the wood and its wonders. 

Then at last the Alderman called for the cup of good-night, 
and men drank thereof and went their ways to bed. 



CHAPTER IV. FACE-OF-GOD FARETH TO THE WOOD 
AGAIN. 

WHEN it was the earliest morning and dawn was but just 
beginning, Face-of-god awoke and rose up from his 
bed, and came forth into the hall naked in his shirt, and 
stood by the hearth, wherein the pilcd-up embers were yet red, 
and looked about and could sec nothing stirring in the dimness: 
then he fetched water and washed the night-tide off him, and clad 
himself in haste, and was even as he was j'esterday, save that he 
left his bow and quiver in their place and took instead a short 
casting-spear; moreover he took a leathern scrip and went there- 
with to the buttery, and set therein bread and flesh and a little 
gilded beaker ; and all this he did with but little noise ; for he 
would not be questioned, lest he should have to answer himself 
as well as others. 

Thus he went quietl}- out of doors, for the door was but latched, 
since no bolts or bars or locks were used in Burgstead, and through 
the town-gate, which stood open, save when rumours of war were 
about. He turned his face straight towards Wildlake's Wa}"^, 
walking briskly, but at whiles looking back over his shoulder 
toward the East to note what way was made by the dawnino-, 
and how the sky lightened above the mountain passes. 

25 E 



the Bride. 



Face-of-god By then he was come to the place where the Maiden Ward 

thinketh of -yyas held in the summer the dawn was so far forward that all 
things had their due colours, and were clear to see in the shadow- 
less day. It was a bright morning, with an easterly air stirring 
that drave away the haze and dried the meadows, which had 
otherwise been rim}'; for it was cold. Gold-mane lingered on 
the place a little, and his eyes fell on the road, as dusty yet as in 
Redesman's song; for the autumn had been very dry, and the 
strip of green that edged the outside of the way was worn and 
dusty also. On the edge of it, half in the dusty road, half on 
the worn grass, was a long twine of briony red-berried and black- 
leaved ; and right in the midst of the road were two twigs of 
great-leaved sturd}' pollard oak, as though they had been thrown 
aside there yesterday by women or children a-sporting; and the 
deep white dust yet held the marks of feet, some bare, some shod, 
crossing each other here and there. Face-of-god smiled as he 
passed on, as a man with a happy thought ; for his mind showed 
him a picture of the Bride as she would be leading the Maiden 
Ward next summer, and singing first among the singers, and he 
saw her as clearly as he had often seen her verily, and before him 
was the fashion of her hands and all her bod}', and the little 
mark on her right wrist, and the place where her arm whitened, 
because the sleeve guarded it against the sun, which had long 
been pleasant unto him, and the little hollow in her chin, and 
the lock of red-brown hair waving in the wind above her brow, 
and shining in the sun as brightly as the Alderman's cunningest 
work of golden wire. Soft and sweet seemed that picture, till 
he almost seemed to hear her sweet voice calling to him, and de- 
sire of her so took hold of the youth, that it stirred him up to go 
swiftlier as he strode on, the clay brightening behind him. 

Now was it nigh sunrise, and he began to meet folk on the 
way, though not many ; since for most their way lay afield, and 
not towards the Burg. The first was a Woodlander, tall and 
gaunt, striding beside his ass, whose panniers were laden with 

26 



charcoal. The carle's daughter, a little maiden of seven winters, Face-of-god 
was riding on the ass's back betwixt the panniers, and prattling rnakcth 
to herself in the cold morning ; for she was pleased with the clear "^^'g^ibours. 
light in the east, and the smooth wide turf of the meadows, as 
one who had not often been far from the shadow of the heavy 
trees of the wood, and their dark wall round about the clearing 
where they dwelt. Face-of-god gave the twain the sele of the 
day in merry fashion as he passed them b}', and the sober dark- 
faced man nodded to him but spake no word, and the child stayed 
her prattle to watch him as he went by. 

Then came the sound of the rattle of wheels, and, as he doubled 
an angle of the rock-wall, he came upon a wain drawn by four 
dun kine, wherein lay a young woman all muffled up against the 
cold with furs and cloths ; beside the yoke-beasts went her man, 
a well-knit trim-faced Dalesman clad bravely in holiday raiment, 
girt with a goodly sword, bearing a bright steel helm on his head, 
in his hand a long spear with a gay red and white shaft done 
about with copper bands. He looked merry and proud of his 
wain-load, and the woman was smiling kindly on him from out 
of her scarlet and fur ; but now she turned a weary happy face 
on Gold-mane, for they knew him, as did all men of the Dale. 

So he stopped when they met, for the goodman had already 
stayed his slow beasts, and the goodwife had risen a little on her 
cushions to greet him, yet slowly and but a little, for she was 
great with child, and not far from her time. That knew Gold- 
mane well, and what was toward, and why the goodman wore his 
fine clothes, and why the wain was decked with oak-boughs and 
the yoke-beasts with their best gilded bells and copper-adorned 
harness. For it was a custom with many of the kindreds that 
the goodwife should fare to her father's house to lie in with her 
first babe, and the day of her coming home was made a great feast 
in the house. So then Face-of-god cried out : ' Hail to thee, O 
WardifT! Shrewd is the wind this morning, and thou dost well 
to heed it carefully, this thine orchard, this thy garden, this thy 

27 



his road. 



Face-of-god fair apple-tree ! To a good hall thou wendest, and the Wine of 
cannot tell of Increase shall be sweet there this even.' 

Then smiled Warcliff all across his face, and the goodwife hung 
her head and reddened. Said the goodman : 'Wilt thou not be 
with us, son of the Alderman, as surely thy father shall be?' 

' Nay,' said Face-of-god, * though I were fain of it : my own 
matters carry me away.' 

' What matters ? ' said Warcliff; ' perchance thou art for the 
cities this autumn ? ' 

Face-of-god answered somewhat stiffly : ' Nay, I am not ; ' 
and then more kindly, and smiling, ' All roads lead not down 
to the Plain, friend.' 

'What road then farest thou away from us?' said the goodwife. 

' The way of my will,' he answered. 

' And what way is that ? ' said she ; ' take heed, lest I get a 
longing to know. For then must thou needs tell me, or deal 
with the carle there beside thee.' 

'Nay, goodwife,' said Face-of-god, 'let not that longing take 
thee ; for on that matter I am even as wise as thou. Now good 
speed to thee and to the new-comer ! ' 

Therewith he went close up to the wain, and reached out his 
hand to her, and she gave him hers and he kissed it, and so went 
his ways smiling kindly on them. Then the carle cried to hiskine, 
and they bent down their heads to the 3'oke ; and presently, as he 
walked on, he heard the rumble of the wain mingling with the 
tinkling of their bells, which in a little while became measured 
and musical, and sounded above the creaking of the axles and 
the rattle of the gear and the roll of the great wheels over the 
road : and so it grew thinner and thinner till it all died away 
behind him. 

He was now come to where the river turned away from the 
sheer rock-wall, which was not so high there as in most other 
places, as there had been in old time long screes from the cliff, 
which had now grown together, with the waxing of herbs and the 

28 



washing down of the earth on to them, and made a steady slope More neigh- 
OT low hill going down riverward. Over this the road lifted itself hours come on 

above the level of the meadows, kcepino; a little way from the ^° ^ ' 

women to ^^■it 

cliffs, while on the other side its bank was somewhat broken and 
steep here and there. As Face-of-god came up to one of these 
broken places, the sun rose over the eastern pass, and the meadows 
grew golden with its long beams. He lingered, and looked back 
under his hand, and as he did so heard the voices and laughter 
of women coming up from the slope below him, and presently a 
young woman came struggling up the broken bank with hand 
and knee, and cast herself down on the roadside turf laughing 
and panting. She was a long-limbed light-made woman, dark- 
faced and black-haired : amidst her laughter she looked up and 
saw Gold-mane, who had stopped at once when he saw her ; she 
held out her hands to him, and said lightly, though her face 
flushed withal : 

' Come hither, thou, and help the others to climb the bank ; 
for they are beaten in the race, and now must they do after my 
will ; that was the forfeit.' 

He went up to her, and took her hands and kissed them, as 
was the custom of the Dale, and said : 

*Hail to thee, Long-coat! who be they, and whither away this 
morning early ? ' 

She looked hard at him, and fondl}' belike, as she answered 
slowly : ' They be the two maidens of my father's house, whom 
thou knowest ; and our errand, all three of us, is to Burgstead, 
to the Feast of the Wine of Increase which shall be drunk this 
even.' 

As she spake came another woman half up the bank, to whom 
went Face-of-god, and, taking her hands, drew her up while she 
laughed merrily in his face: he saluted her as he had Long- 
coat, and then with a laugh turned about to wait for the third ; 
who came indeed, but after a little while, for she had abided, 
hearing their voices. Her also Gold-mane drew up, and kissed 

29 



Face-of-god 
giveth doom 
coqcerning 
the forfeit. 



her hands, and she lay on the grass by Long-coat, but the second 
maiden stood up beside the young man. She was white-skinned 
and golden-haired, a very fair damsel, whereas the last-comer 
was but comel}^ as were well-nigh all the women of the Dale. 

Said Face-of-god, looking on the three : * How comes it, 
maidens, that ye are but in your kirtles this sharp autumn morn- 
ing ? or where have ye left your gowns or your cloaks?' 

For indeed they were clad but in close-fitting blue kirtles of 
fine wool, embroidered aboMt the hems with gold and coloured 
threads. 

The last-comer laughed and said : ' What ails thee, Gold- 
mane, to be so careful of us, as if thou wert our mother or our 
nurse ? Yet if thou must needs know, there hang our gowns on 
the thorn-bush down yonder; for we have been running a match 
and a forfeit ; to wit, that she who was last on the highway 
should go down again and bring them up all three ; and now 
that is m}' day's work : but since thou art here. Alderman's son, 
thou shalt go down instead of me and fetch them up.' 

But he laughed merrily and outright, and said : * That will I 
not, for there be but twenty-four hours in the day, and what 
between eating and drinking and talking to fair maidens, I have 
enough to do in every one of them. Wasteful are ye women, 
and simple is your forfeit. Now will I, who am the Alderman's 
son, give forth a doom, and will ordain that one of you fetch up 
the gowns yourselves, and that Long-coat be the one ; for she is 
the fleetest-footed and ablest thereto. Will ye take my doom ? 
for later on I shall not be wiser.' 

' Yea,' said the fair woman, ' not because thou art the Alder- 
man's son, but because thou art the fairest man of the Dale, and 
mayst bid us poor souls what thou wilt.' 

Face-of-god reddened at her words, and the speaker and the 
last-comer laughed; but Long-coat held her peace: she cast one 
very sober look on him, and then ran lightly down the bent; he 
drew near the edge of it, and watched her going ; for her light-foot 

30 



slimncss was fair to look on: and he noted that when she was He comcth 
nigh the thorn-bush whereon hunj the brip[ht-broidered gowns, '"'^o ^^e 
and deemed belike that she was not seen, she kissed both her '^'^'^^"-wooci. 
hands where he had kissed them erst. 

Thereat he drew aback and turned away shyly, scarce looking 
at the other twain, who smiled on him with somewhat jeering 
looks ; but he bade them farewell and departed speedily; and if 
they spoke, it was but softly, for he heard their voices no more. 

He went on under tlic sunlight which was now gilding the out- 
standing stones of the clilTs, and still his mind was set upon the 
Bride; and his meeting with the mother of the yet unborn bab}', and 
with the three women with their freshness and fairness, did some- 
how turn his thought the more upon her, since she was the woman 
who was to be his amongst all women, for she was far fairer than 
an}' one of them; and through all manner of life and through all 
kinds oi^ deeds would he be with her, and know more of her fair- 
ness and kindness than an}' other could : and him seemed he could 
see pictures of her and of him amidst all these deeds and wa3's. 

Now he went very swiftly; for he was eager, though he knew 
not for what, and he thought but little of the things on which his 
eyes fell. He met none else on the road till he was come to Wild- 
lake's Way, though he saw folk enough down in the meadows ; 
he was soon amidst the first of the trees, and without making any 
stay set his face east and somewhat north, that is, toward the 
slopes that led to the great mountains. He said to himself aloud, 
as he wended the wood : ' Strange ! yestereven I thought much 
of the wood, and I set my mind on not going thither, and this 
morning I thought nothing of it, and here am I amidst its trees, 
and wending towards its innermost.' 

His way was easy at first, because the wood for a little space 
was all of beech, so that there was no undergrowth, and he went 
lightly betwixt the tall grey and smooth boles ; albeit his heart 
was nought so gay as it was in the dale amidst the sunshine. 
After a while the beech-wood grew thinner, and at last gave out 

31 



A path before altogether, and he came into a space of rough broken ground with 
him that nought but a few scrubby oaks and thorn-bushes growing thereon 

seemeth hke a j^^j.^ ^^^ there. The sun was high in the heavens now, and 
shone brightly down on the waste, though there were a few white 
clouds high up above him. The rabbits scuttled out of the grass 
before him ; here and there he turned aside from a stone on which 
lay coiled an adder sunning itself; now and again both hart and 
hind bounded away from before him, or a sounder of wild swine 
ran grunting away toward closer covert. But nought did he see 
but the common sights and sounds of the woodland ; nor did he 
look for aught else, for he knew this part of the woodland indif- 
ferent well. 

He held on over this treeless waste for an hour or more, when 
the ground began to be less rugged, and he came upon trees again, 
but thinly scattered, oak and ash and hornbeam not right great, 
with thickets of holly and blackthorn between them. The set 
of the ground was still steadily up to the east and north-east, and 
he followed it as one who wcndeth an assured way. At last before 
him seemed to rise a wall of trees and thicket; but when he drew 
near to it, lo! an opening in a certain place, and a little path as 
if men were wont to thread the tangle of the wood thereby ; 
though hitherto he had noted no slot of men, nor any sign of 
them, since he had plunged into the deep of the beech-wocd. He 
took the path as one who needs must, and went his ways as it 
led. In sooth it was well-nigh blind, but he was a deft woods- 
man, and by means of it skirted many a close thicket that had 
otherwise stayed him. So on he went, and though the boughs 
were close enough overhead, and the sun came through but in 
flecks,he judged that it was growing towards noon, and he wotted 
well that he was growing aweary. For he had been long afoot, 
and the more part of the time on a rough way, or breasting a 
slope which was at whiles steen enough. 

At last the track led him skirting about an exceeding close 
thicket into a small clearing, through which ran a little wood- 

32 



men. 



land rill amidst rushes and dead leaves : there was a low mound The token of 
near the eastern side cf this wood-lawn, as though there had atlwellmgot 
once been a dwelling of man there, but no other sign or slot of 
man was there. 

So Face-of-god made stay in that place, casting himself down 
beside the rill to rest him and eat and drink somewhat. What- 
ever thoughts had been with him through the wood (and they 
had been many) concerning his House and his name, and his 
father, and the journey he might make to the cities of the \\'cst- 
land, and what was to befall him when he was wedded, and what 
war or trouble should be on his hands — all this was now mingled 
together and confused by this rest amidst his weariness. He laid 
down his scrip, and drew his meat from it and ate what he 
would, and dipping his gilded beaker into the brook, drank water 
smacking oi' the damp musty savour of the woodland ; and then 
his head sank back on a little mound in the short turf, and he 
fell asleep at once. A long dream he had in short space ; and 
therein were blent his thoughts of the morning with the deeds 
of yesterday; and other matters long forgotten in his waking 
hours came back to his slumber in unordered confusion : all which 
made up for him pictures clear, but of little meaning, save that, 
as oft befalls in dreams, whatever he was a-doins; he felt himself 
belated. 

When he awoke, smiling at something strange in his gone-by 
dream, he looked up to the heavens, thinking to see signs of the 
even at hand, for he seemed to have been dreaming so long. 
The sky was thinly overcast by now, but by his wonted wood- 
craft he knew the whereabouts of the sun, and that it was scant 
an hour after noon. He sat there till he was wholly awake, and 
then drank once more of the woodland water ; and he said to 
himself, but out loud, for he was fain of the sound of a man's 
voice, though it were but his own: 

'W^hat is mine errand hither? Whither wend I? What 
shall I have done to-morrow that I have hitherto left undone ? 

33 F 



He goeth on Or what manner of man shall I be then other than I am 

his way again, now ? ' 

Yet though he said the words he failed to think the thought, or 
it left him in a moment of time, and he thought but of the Bride 
and her kindness. Yet that abode with him but a moment, and 
again he saw himself and those two women on the highway edge, 
and Long-coat lingering on the slope below, kissing his kisses on 
her hands ; and he was sorry that she desired him overmuch, for 
she was a fair woman and a friendly. But all that also flowed 
from him at once, and he had no thought in him but that he also 
desired something that he lacked : and this was a burden to him, 
and he rose up frowning, and said to himself, ' Am I become a 
mere sport of dreams, whether I sleep or wake ? I will go back- 
ward — or forward, but will think no more.' 

Then he ordered his gear again, and took the path onward 
and upward toward the Great Mountains ; and the track was 
even fainter than before for a while, so that he had to seek his 
way diligently. 



CHAPTER V. FACE-OF-GOD FALLS IN WITH MENFOLK 
ON THE MOUNTAIN. 

NOW he plodded on steadil}', and for a long time the forest 
changed but little, and of wild things he saw only a few 
of those that love the closest covert. The ground still 
went up and up, though at whiles were hollows, and steeper 
bents out of them again, and the half-blind path or slot still led 
past the close thickets and fallen trees, and he made way with- 
out let or hindrance. At last once more the wood began to thin, 
and the trees themselves to be smaller and gnarled and ill- 
grown : therewithal the day was w aning, and the sky was quite 
clear again as the afternoon grew into a fair autumn evening. 
Now the trees failed altogether, and the slope grown steeper 

34 



was covered with heather and Hng ; and looking up, he saw before He comcth 
him quite near by seeming in the clear even (though indeed they '"'o the pine- 
were yet far away) the snowy peaks flushed with the sinking ^^o°^^- 
sun against the frosty dark-grey eastern sky ; and below them 
the dark rock-mountains, and below these again, and nigh to him 
indeed, the fells covered with pine-woods and looking like a wall 
to the heaths he trod. 

He stayed a little while and turned his head to look at the way 
wherebv he had come ; but that way a swell of the oak-forest 
hid everything but the wood itself, making a wall behind him as 
the pine-wood made a wall before. There came across him then a 
sharp memory of the boding words which Stone-face had spoken 
last night, and he felt as if he were now indeed within the trap. 
But presently he laughed and said : ' I am a fool : this comes of 
being alone in the dark wood and the dismal waste, after the 
merry faces of the Dale had swept away my foolish musings of 
yesterday and the day before. Lo i here I stand, a man of the 
Face, sword and axe by m}- side ; if death come, it can but come 
once ; and if I fear not death, what shall make me afraid ? The 
Gods hate me not, and will not hurt me ; and they are not ugly, 
but beauteous.' 

Therewith he strode on again, and soon came to a place 
where the ground sank into a shallow valley and the ling gave 
place to grass for a while, and there were tall old pines scattered 
about, and betwixt them grey rocks ; this he passed through, 
climbing a steep bent out oi^ it, and the pines were all about 
him now, though growing wide apart, till at last he came to where 
they thickened into a wood, not very close, wherethrough he 
went merrily, singing to himself and swinging his spear. He was 
soon through this wood, and came on to a wide well-grassed 
wood-lawn, hedged by the wood aforesaid on three sides, but 
sloping up slowly toward the black wall of the thicker pine-wood 
on the fourth side, and about half a furlong overthwart and end- 
long. The sun had set while he was in the last wood, but it was 

35 






A house in still broad daylight on the wood-lawn, and as he stood there he 
the pine- was ware of a house under the pine-wood on the other side, built 

wood A long and low, much like the houses of the Woodland-Carles, but 
the wood rougher fashioned and of unhewn trees. He gazed on it, and said 

aloud to himself as his wont was : 

* Marvellous! here is a dwelling of man, scarce a day's journey 
from Burgstead; yet have I never heard tell of it : may happen 
some of the Woodland-Carles have built it, and are on some errand 
of hunting peltries up in the mountains, or maybe are seeking 
copper and tin among the rocks. Well, at least let us go see what 
manner of men dwell there, and if they are minded for a guest to- 
night; for fain were 1 of a bed beneath a roof, and of a board with 
strong meat and drink on it.' 

Therewith he set forward, not heeding much that the wood he 
had passed through was hard on his left hand ; but he had gone 
but twenty paces when he saw a red thing at the edge of the wood, 
and then a glitter, and a spear came whistling forth, and smote 
his own spear so hard close to the steel that it flew out of his hand ; 
then came a great shout, and a man clad in a scarlet kirtle ran 
forth on him. Face-of-god had his axe in his hand in a twinkling, 
and ran at once to meet his foe ; but the man had the hill on his 
side as he rushed on with a short-sword in his hand. Axe and 
sword clashed together for a moment of time, and then both the 
men rolled over on the grass together, and Face-of-god as he fell 
deemed that he heard the shrill cry of a woman. Now Face-of- 
god found that he was the nethermost, for if he was strong, yet 
was his foe stronger; the axe had flown out of his hand also, while 
the strange man still kept a hold of his short-sword ; andpresentl}', 
though he still struggled all he could, he saw the man draw back 
his hand to smite with the said sword ; and at that nick of time the 
foeman's knee was on his breast, his left hand was doubled back 
behind him, and his right wrist was gripped hard in the stranger's 
left hand. Even therewith his ears, sharpened by the coming death, 
heard the sound of footsteps and fluttering raiment drawing near ; 

36 



somcthincr dark came between him and the sky; there was the Afairwonian. 
sound of a great stroke, and the big man loosened his grip and fell 
olT him to one side. 

Face-of-god leapt up and ran to his axe and got hoki of it ; 
but turning round found himself face to face with a tall woman 
holding in her hand a stout staff like the limb of a tree. She was 
calm and smiling, though forsooth it was she who had stricken the 
stroke and stayed the sword from his throat. His hand and axe 
dropped down to his side when he saw what it was that faced him, 
andthatthewomanwasyoungand fair; so he spaketohcrand said: 

' What aileth, maiden ? is this man thy foe ? doth he oppress 
thee ? shall 1 slay him ?' 

She laughed and said : 'Thou art open-handed in th}- proffers : 
he might have asked the like concerning thee but a minute ago.' 

' Yea, yea,' said Gold-mane, laughing also, ' but he asked it 
not of thee.' 

' That is sooth/ she said, ' but since thou hast asked me, I 
will tell thee that if thou slay him it will be my harm as well as 
his ; and in my country a man that taketh a gift is not wont 
to break the giver's head with it straightway. The man is my 
brother, O stranger, and presentl}-, if thou wilt, thou mayst be 
eating at the same board with him. Or if thou wilt, thou mayst go 
thy ways unhurt into the wood. But I had liefer of the twain that 
thou wert in our house to-night ; for thou hast a wrong against us.' 

Her voice was sweet and clear, and she spake the last words 
kindly, and drcwsomewliat nigher to Gold-mane. Therewithal the 
smitten man sat up, and put his hand to his head, and quoth he : 

' Angry is my sister ! good it is to wear the helm abroad when 
she shakcth the nut-trees.' 

' Naj',' said she, * it is thy luck that thou wert bare-headed, 
else had I been forced to smite thee on the face. Thou churl, 
since when hath it been our wont to thrust knives into a guest, who 
is come of great kin, a man of gentle heart and fair face ? Come 
hither and handsel him self-doom for thy fool's onset !' 

37 



Peace is made. The man rose to his feet and said : *Well, sister, least said, 
soonest mended. A clout on the head is worse than a woman's 
chiding ; but since ye have given me one, ye may forbear the other.' 

Therewith he drew near to them. He was a very big-made 
man, most stalwarth, with dark red hair and a thin pointed beard ; 
his nose was straight and fine, his ej^es grey and well-opened, but 
somewhat fierce withal. Yet was he in nowise evil-looking ; he 
seemed some thirty summers old. He was clad in a short scarlet 
kirtle, a goodly garment, with a hood of like web pulled off his 
head on to his shoulders : he bore a great gold ring on his left 
arm, and a collar of gold came down on to his breast from under 
his hood. 

As for the woman, she was clad in a long white linen smock, 
and over it a short gown of dark blue woollen, and she had skin 
shoes on her feet. 

Now the man came up to Face-of-god, and took his hand and 
said : ' I deemed thee a foe, and I may not have over-many foes 
alive : but it seems that thou art to be a friend, and that is well 
and better; so herewith I handsel thee self-doom in the matter of 
the onslaught.' 

Then Face-of-god laughed and said : ' The doom is soon given 
forth ; against the tumble on the grass I set the clout on the head ; 
there is nought left over to pay to any man's son.' 

Said the scarlet-clad man : ' Belike by thine eyes thou art a true 
man, and wilt not bewray me. Now is there no foeman here, but 
rather maybe a friend both now and in time to come.' There- 
with he cast his arms about Face-of-god and kissed him. But 
Face-of-god turned about to the woman and said: 'Is the peace 
wholly made ?' 

She shook her head and said soberly : * Nay, thou art too fair 
for a woman to kiss.' 

He flushed red, as his wont was when a woman praised him ; 
yet was his heart full of pleasure and wcU-liking. But she laid 
her hand on his shoulder and said: * Now is it for thee to choose 

38 



betwixt the wild-wood and the hall, and whether thou wilt be a On the thres- 
guest or a wayfarer this nio;ht.' hoki of the 

As she touched him there took hold of him a sweetness of plea- """^'^• 
sure he had never felt erst, and he answered : * I will be thy guest 
and not thy stranger.' 

' Come then,' she said, and took his hand in hers, so that he 
scarce felt the earth under his feet, as they went all three together 
toward the house in the gathering dusk, while eastward where the 
peaks of the great mountains dipped was a light that told of the 
rising of the moon. 



CHAPTER VI. OF FACE-OF-GOD AND THOSE MOUX- 
TAIN-DWELLERS. 

A YARD or two from the threshold Go!d-mane hung back 
a moment, entangled in some such misgiving as a man is 
wont to feel when he is just about to do some new deed, 
but is not yet deep in the story ; his new friends noted that, for 
they smiled each in their own way, and the woman drew her hand 
away from his. Face-of-god held out his still as though to take 
hers again, and therewithal he changed countenance and said as 
though he had stayed but to ask that question : 

' Tell me thy name, tall man ; and thou, fair woman, tell mc 
thine ; for how can we talk together else ? ' 

The man laughed outright and said : *The young chieftain 
thinks that this house also should be his ! Nay, young man, I 
know what is in th}- thought, be not ashamed that thou art wary; 
and be assured ! We shall hurt thee no more than thou hast 
been hurt. Now as to my name ; the name that was born with 
me is gone : the name that was given me hath been taken from 
me : now I belike must give myself a name, and that shall be 
Wild-wearer ; but it may be that thou thyself shalt one day 
give me another, and call me Guest.' 

39 



They enter 
into the 
house. 



His sister gared at him solemnly as he spoke, and Face-of-god 
beholding her the while, deemed that her beauty grew and grew 
till she seemed as awcful as a Goddess ; and into his mind it 
came that this over-strong man and over-lovely woman were 
nought mortal, and they withal dealing with him as father and 
mother deal with a wayward child : then for a moment his heart 
failed him, and he longed for the peace of Burgdale, and even the 
lonely wood. But therewith she turned to him and let her hand 
come into his again, and looked kindly on him and said : * And 
as for me, call me the Friend ; the name is good and will serve 
for many things.' 

He looked down from her face and his eyes lighted on her hand, 
and when he noted even amid the evening dusk how fair and 
lovely it was fashioned, and yet as though it were deft in the 
crafts that the daughters of menfolk use, his fear departed, and 
the pleasure of his longing filled his heart, and he drew her hand 
to him to kiss it; but she held it back. Then he said: ' It is the 
custom of the Dale to all women.' 

So she let him kiss her hand, heeding the kiss nothing, and 
said soberly : 

' Then art thou of Burgdale, and if it were lawful to guess, 
I would say that thy name is Face-of-god, of the House of 
the Face.' 

' Even so it is,' said he, ' but in the Dale those that love me 
do mostly call me Gold-mane.' 

* It is well named,' she said, * and seldom wilt thou be called 
otherwise, for thou wilt be well-beloved. But come in now. Gold- 
mane, for night is at hand, and here have we meat and lodging 
such as an hungry and weary man may take ; though we be 
broken people, dwellers in the waste.' 

Therewith she led him gentl^^ over the threshold into the hall, 
and it seemed to him as if she were the fairest and the noblest of 
all the Queens of ancient story. 

When he was in the house he looked and saw that, rough as 

40 



it was without it lacked not fairness within. The floor was of The fashion 

hard-trodden earth strewn with pine-twigs, and with here and of the hall. 

there brown bearskins laid on it : there was a standing table near 

the upper end athwart the hall, and a dais beyond that, but no 

endlong table. Gold-mane looked to the shut-beds, and saw 

that the\- were large and fair, though there were but a few of them ; 

and at the lower end was a loft for a sleeping chamber dight very 

fairly with broidered cloths. The hangings on the walls, though 

they left some places bare which were hung with fresh boughs, 

were fairer than any he had ever seen, so that he deemed that they 

must come from far countries and the Cit}' of Cities : therein were 

ima2:es wroup-ht of warriors and fair women of old time and their 

dealings with the Gods and the Giants, and Wondrous wights ; 

and he deemed that this was the story of some great kindred, and 

that their token and the sign of their banner must needs be the 

Wood-wolf, for everywhere was it wrought in these pictured webs. 

Perforce he looked long and earnestly at these fair things, for the 

hall was not dark yet, because the brands on the hearth were 

flaming their last, and when Wild-wearer beheld him so gazing, 

he stood up and looked too for a moment, and then smote his 

right hand on the hilt of his sword, and turned away and strode 

up and down the hall as one in angry thought. 

But the woman, even the Friend, bestirred herself for the ser- 
vice of the guest, and brought water for his hands and feet, and 
when she had washed him, bore him the wine of Welcome and 
drank to him and bade him drink ; and he all the while was shame- 
faced ; for it was to him as if one of the Ladies of the Heavenly 
Burg were doing him service. Then she went away by a door 
at the lower end of the hall, and Wild-wearer came and sat down 
by Gold-mane, and fell a-talking with him about the ways of the 
Dalesmen, and their garths, and the pastures and growths thereof; 
and what temper the carles themselves were of ; which were 
good men, which were ill, which was loved and which scorned; no 
otherwise than if he had been the goodman of some neighbouring 

41 G 



Another new- dale ; and Gold-mane told him whatso he knew, for he saw no 
comer. harm therein. 

After a while the outer door opened, and there came in a woman 
of some five-and-twenty winters, trimly and strongly built; short- 
skirted she was and clad as a hunter, with a bow in her hand and 
a quiver at her back : she unslung a pouch, which she emptied at 
Wild-wearer's feet of a leash of hares and two brace of moun- 
tain grouse ; of Face-of-god she took but little heed. 

Said Wild-wearer : ' This is good for to-morrow, not for to- 
day ; the meat is well-nigh on the board,' 

Then Gold-mane smiled, for he called to mind his home-coming 
of yesterday. But the woman said : 

' The fault is not mine ; she told me of the coming guest but 
three hours agone.' 

' Ay ? ' said Wild-wearer, ' she looked for a guest then ? ' 

* Yea, certes,' said the woman, ' else wh}' went I forth this, 
afternoon, as wearied as I was with yesterday ? ' 

' Well, well,' said Wild-wearer, ' get to thy due work or go 
play ; I meddle not with meat ! and for thee all jests are as 
bitter earnest.' 

* And with thee, chief,' she said, ' it is no otherwise; surely I 
am made on thy model.' 

* Thy tongue is longer, friend,' said he ; * now tarry if thou 
wilt, and if the supper's service craveth thee not.' 

She turned away with one keen look at Face-of-god, and de- 
parted through the door at the lower end of the hall. 

By this time the hall was dusk, for there were no candles there, 
and the hearth-fire was but smouldering. Wild-wearer sat silent 
and musing now, and Face-of-god spake not, for he was deep in 
wild and happy dreams. At last the lower door opened and the fair 
woman came into the hall with a torch in either hand, after whom 
came the huntress, now clad in a dark blue kirtle, and an old 
woman yet straight and hale ; and these twain bore in the vic- 
tuals and the table-gear. Then the three fell to dighting the 

42 



board, and when it was all read}^ and Gold-mane and Wild- More men 
wearer were set down to it, and with them the fair woman and <'0'"^ '"to 
the huntress, the old woman threw good store of fresh brands on ' 

the hearth, so that the light shone into every corner ; and even 
therewith the outer door opened, and four more men entered, 
whereof one was old, but big and stalwarth, the other three 
3'oung : they were all clad roughly in sheep-brown weed, but 
had helms upon their heads and spears in their hands and great 
swords girt to their sides ; and they seemed doughty men and 
ready for battle. One of the 3'oung men cast down b}' the door 
the carcass of a big-horned mountain sheep, and then they all 
trooped off to the out-bower by the lower door, and came back 
presently fairly clad and without their weapons. Wild-wearer 
nodded to them kindly, and the}' sat at table paying no more 
heed to Face-of-god than to cast him a nod for salutation. 

Then said the old woman to them : ' Well, lads, have ye 
been doing or sleeping ?' 

'Sleeping, mother,' said one of the young men, 'as was but 
due after last night was, and to-morrow shall be.' 

Said the huntress : ' Hold thy peace. Wood-wise, and let thy 
tongue help thy teeth to deal with thy meat ; for this is not the 
talking hour.' 

* Nay, Bow-may,' said another of the swains, ' since here is a 
new man, now is the time to talk to him.' 

Said the huntress : ' 'Tis thine hands that talk best, Wood- 
wont ; it is not they that shall bring thee to shame.' 

Spake the third : ' What have we to do with shame here, far 
awa}' from dooms and doomers, and elders, and wardens, and 
guarded castles ? If the new man listeth to speak, let him speak ; 
or to fight, then let him ; it shall ever be man to man.' 

Then spake the old woman : ' Son Wood-wicked, hold thy 
peace, and forget the steel that ever eggeth thee on to draw.' 

Therewith she set the last matters on the board, while the 
three swains sat and eyed Gold-mane somewhat fiercely, now that 

43 



Talk in the words had stirred them, and he had sat there saying nothing, as 
^all. one who was better than they, and contemned them ; but now 

spake Wild-wearer : 

' Whoso hungreth let him cat ! Whoso would slumber, let 
him to bed. But he who would bicker, it must needs be with 
me. Here is a man of the Dale, who hath sought the wood in 
peace, and hath found us. His hand is ready and his heart is 
guileless : if ye fear him, run away to the wood, and come back 
when he is gone ; but none shall mock him while I sit by : now, 
lads, be merr}' and blithe with the guest.' 

Then the young men greeted Gold-mane, and the old man 
said : * Art thou of Burgstead ? then wilt thou be of the House 
of the Face, and thy name will be Face-of-god ; for that man 
is called the fairest of the Dale, and there shall be none fairer 
than thou.' 

Face-of-god laughed and said : ' There be but few mirrors in 
Burgdale, and I have no mind to journey west to the cities to see 
what manner of man I be : that were ill husbandry. But now I have 
heard the names of the three swains, tell me thy name, father ! ' 

Spake the huntress : ' This is my father's brother, and his name 
is Wood-father ; or ye shall call him so : and I am called Bow- 
may because I shoot well in the bow : and this old carline is my 
erne's wife, and now belike my mother, if I need one. But thou, 
fair-faced Dalesman, little dost thou need a mirror in the Dale so 
long as women abide there ; for their faces shall be instead of 
mirrors to tell thee whether thou be fair and lovely.' 

Thereat they all laughed and fell to their victual, which was 
abundant, of wood-venison and mountain-fowl, but of bread was 
no great plenty ; wine lacked not, and that of the best ; and 
Gold-mane noted that the cups and the apparel of the horns and 
mazers were not of gold nor gilded copper, but of silver ; and he 
marvelled thereat, for in the Dale silver was rare. 

So they ate and drank, and Gold-mane looked ever on the 
Friend, and spake much with her, and he deemed her friendly 

44 



indeed, and she seemed most pleased when he spoke best, and Wilci-ucarcr 
led him on to do so. Wild-wearer was but of few words, and calleth strange 
those somewhat harsh ; 3et was he as a man striving to be cour- "5 . • j| ^ 
teous and blithe ; but of the others Bow-may was the greatest j^^jj 
speaker. 

Wild-wearer called healths to the Sun, and the Moon, and the 
Hosts of Heaven ; to the Gods of the Earth ; to the Wood- 
wights ; and to the Guest. Other healths also he called, the 
meaning of which was dark to Gold-mane ; to w'it, the Jaws of 
the Wolf; the Silver Arm ; the Red Hand ; the Golden Bushel ; 
and the Ragged Sword. But when he asked the Friend con- 
cerning these names what they might signify, she shook her head 
and answered not. 

At last Wild-wearer cried out : 'Now, lads, the night weareth 
and the guest is weary : therefore whoso of you hath in him any 
minstrels}-, now let him make it, for later on it shall be over-late.' 

Then arose Wood-wont and went to his shut-bed and groped 
therein, and took from out of it a fiddle in its case ; and he 
opened the case and drew from it a very goodly fiddle, and he 
stood on the floor amidst of the hall and Bow-may his cousin with 
him ; and he laid his bow on the fiddle and woke up song in it, 
and when it was well awake she fell a-singing, and he to answer- 
ing her song, and at the last all they of the house sang together ; 
and this is the meaning of the words which they sang : 

She singeth. 
Now IS the rain upon the da}', 

And every water's wide ; 
Why busk ye then to wear the wa}', 

And whither will ye ride ? 

He singeth. 
Our kine are on the eyot still. 
The eddies lap them round ; 
45 



The Moun- All dykes the wind-worn waters fill, 

tain-song. And waneth grass and ground. 

She singeth. 
O ride ye to the river's brim 

In war-weed fair to see ? 
Or winter waters will ye swim 

In hauberks to the knee ? 

He singeth. 
Wild is the day, and dim with rain, 

Our sheep are warded ill ; 
The wood-wolves gather for the plain, 

Their ravening maws to fill. 

She singeth. 
Na}^ what is this, and what have ye, 

A hunter's band, to bear 
The Banner of our Battle-glee 

The skulking wolves to scare ? 

He singeth. 
O women, when we wend our ways 

To deal with death and dread. 
The Banner of our Fathers' Days 

Must flap the wind o'erhead. 

She singeth. 
Ah, for the maidens that ye leave ! 

Who now shall save the hay ? 
What grooms shall kiss our lips at eve, 

When June hath mastered May ? 

He singeth. 
The wheat is won, the seed is sown. 
Here toileth many a maid, 
46 



And ere the hay knee-deep hath grown The Song of 

Your grooms the grass shall wade. the Ford. 

They sing all together. 
Then fair befall the mountain-side 

Whereon the pla^- shall be ! 
And fair befall the summer-tide 

That whoso lives shall see. 

Face-of-god thought the song goodly, but to the others it was 
well known. Then said Wood-father : 

' O foster-son, thy foster-brother hath sung well for a wood 
abider : but we are deeming that his singina shall be but as a 
starling to a throstle matched against thy new-come guest. 
Therefore, Dalesman, sing us a song of the Dale, and if ye 
will, let it be of gardens and pleasant houses of stone, and fair 
damsels therein, and swains with them who toil not overmuch for 
a scant livelihood, as do they of the waste, whose heads may not 
be seen in the Holy Places.' 

Said Gold-mane : ' Father, it is ill to set the words of a lonely 
man afar from his kin against the song that cometh from the heart 
of a noble house ; 3-et may I not gainsay thee, but will sing to 
thee what I may call to mind, and it is called the Song of the Ford.' 

Therewith he sang in a sweet and clear voice : and this is the 
meaning of his words : 

In hay-tide, through the day new-born, 

Across the meads we come ; 
Our hauberks brush the blossomed corn 

A furlong short of home. 

Ere yet the gabies we behold 

Forth flashcth the red sun, 
And smites our fallow helms and cold 

Though all the fight be done. 

47 



In this last mead of mowing-grass 

Sweet doth the clover smell, 
Crushed neath our feet red with the pass 
Where hell was blent with hell. 

And now the willowy stream is nigh, 

Down wend we to the ford ; 
No shafts across its fishes fly. 

Nor flasheth there a sword. 

But lo ! what gleameth on the bank 

Across the water wan. 
As when our blood the mouse-ear drank 

And red the river ran ? 

Nay, hasten to the ripple clear, 

Look at the grass be3'ond ! 
Lo 3-e the dainty band and dear 

Of maidens fair and fond ! 

Lo how they needs must take the stream! 

The water hides their feet ; 
On fair kind arms the gold doth gleam, 

And midst the ford we meet. 

Up through the garden two and two, 

And on the flowers we drip ; 
Their wet feet kiss the morning dew 

As lip lies close to lip. 

Here now we sing ; here now we stay : 

By these grey walls we tell 
The love that lived from out the fra}'. 

The love that fought and fell. 

When he was done they all said that he had sung well, and 

48 



that the song was sweet. Yet did Wild-wcarcr smile somewhat ; The day's 
and Bow-may said outright : 'Soft is the song, and hath been made ending, 
by lads and minstrels rather than by warriors.' 

'Nay, kinswoman,' said Wood-father,' thou art hard to please; 
the guest is kind, and hath given us that I asked for, and I give 
him all thanks therefor.' 

Face-of-god smiled, but he heeded little what they said, for as 
he sang he had noted that the Friend looked kindly on him ; and 
he thought he saw that once or twice she put out her hand as if to 
touch him, but drew it back again each time. She spake after a 
little and said : 

' Here now hath been a stream of song running betwixt the 
Mountain and the Dale even as doth a river; and this is good to 
come between our dreams of what hath been and what shall be.' 
Then she turned to Gold- mane, and said to him scarce loud enough 
for all to hear : 

' Herewith I bid thee good-night, O Dalesman ; and this other 
word I have to thee : heed not what befalleth in the night, but 
sleep thy best, for nought shall be to thy scathe. And when thou 
wakest in the morning, if we are yet here, it is well ; but if we 
are not, then abide us no long while, but break thy fast on the 
victual thou wilt find upon the board, and so depart and go thy 
ways home. And yet thou mayst look to it to see us again before 
thou diest.' 

Therewith she held out her hand to him, and he took it and kissed 
it ; and she went to her chamber-aloft at the lower end of the hall. 
And when she was gone, once more he had a deeming of her that 
she was of the kindred of the Gods. At her departure him-seemed 
that the hall grew dull and small and smoky, and the night seemed 
long to him and doubtful the coming of the day. 



49 " 



CHAPTER VII. FACE-OF-GOD TALKETH WITH THE 
FRIEND ON THE MOUNTAIN. 

A stir in the ^^ O now went all men to bed ; and Face-of-god's shut-bed was 
night. j^^ over against the outer door and toward the lower end of the 

hall, and on the panel about it hung the weapons and shields 
of men. Fair was that chamber and roomy, and the man was 
wear}' despite his eagerness, so that he went to sleep as soon as 
his head touched the pillow; but within a while (he deemed about 
two hours after midnight) he was awaked by the clattering of 
the weapons against the panel, and the sound of men's hands 
taking them down ; and when he was fully awake, he heard withal 
men going up and down the house as if on errands : but he called 
to mind what the Friend had said to him, and he did not so much 
as turn himself toward the hall; for he said : * Belike these men 
are outlaws and Wolves of the Holy Places, yet by seeming they 
are good fellows and nought churlish, nor have I to do with taking 
up the feud against them. I will abide the morning. Yet me- 
seemeth that she drew me hither: for what cause?' 

Therewith he fell asleep again, and dreamed no more. But 
when he awoke the sun was shining broad upon the hall-floor, and 
he sat up and listened, but could hear no sound save the moaning 
of the wind in the pine-boughs and the chatter of the starlings 
about the gables of the house ; and the place seemed so exceeding 
lonely to him that he was in a manner feared by that loneliness. 
Then he arose and clad himself, and went forth into the hall 
and gazed about him, and at first he deemed indeed that there was 
no one therein. But at last he looked and beheld the upper gable, 
and there underneath a most goodly hanging was the glorious 
shape of a woman sitting on a bench covered over with a cloth of 
gold and silver ; and he looked and looked to see if the woman 
might stir, and if she were alive, and she turned her head toward 
him, and lo it was the Friend; and his heart rose to his mouth for 
wonder and fear and desire. For now he doubted whether the 

50 



other folk were aught save shows and shadows, and she the Goddess The Friend 
who had fashioned them out of nothing for his bewilderment, pre- '" f^e Hall, 
sently to return to nothing. 

Yet whatever he might fear or doubt, he went up the hall to- 
wards her till he was quite nigh to her, and there he stood silent, 
wondering at her beauty and desiring her kindness. 

Grey-eyed she was like her brother ; but her hair the colour of 
red wheat : her lips full and red, her chin round, her nose fine and 
straight. Her hands and all her body fashioned exceeding sweetly 
and delicately ; yet not as if she were an image of which the 
like might be found if the craftsman were but deft enough to make 
a perfect thing, but in such a way that there was none like to 
her for those that had eyes to behold her as she was; and none 
could ever be made like to her, even by such a master-craftsman 
as could fashion a body without a blemish. 

She was clad in a white smock, whose hems were broidered 
with gold wire and precious gems of the Mountains, and over that 
a gown woven of gold and silver : scarce hath the world such 
another. On her head was a fillet of gold and gems, and there 
were wondrous gold rings on her arms : her feet lay bare on the 
dark grey wolf-skin that was stretched before her. 

She smiled kindly upon his solemn and troubled face, and her 
voice sounded strangely familiar to him coming from all that 
loveliness, as she said : ' Hail, Face-of-god ! here am I left 
alone, although I deemed last night that I should be gone with the 
others. Therefore am I fain to show myself to thee in fairer 
array than yesternight ; for though we dwell in the wild-wood, 
afar from the solace of folk, yet are we not of thralls' blood. But 
come now, I bid thee break thy fast and talk with me a little 
while ; and then shalt thou depart in peace.' 

Spake Face-of-god, and his voice trembled as he spake : 
■* What art thou ? Last night I deemed at whiles once and again 
that thou wcrt of the Gods; and now that I behold thee thus, 
and it is broad daylight, and of those others is no more to be seen 

51 



The Friend than if they had never lived, I cannot but deem that it is even so, 

talketh with and that thou comest from the City that shall never perish. Now 

Face-ot-god. jj- ^j^^^ ^^ ^ goddess, I have nought to pray thee, save to slay 

me speedily if thou hast a mind for my death. But if thou art 

a woman ' 

She broke in : * Gold-mane, stay thy prayer and hold thy 
peace for this time, lest thou repent when repentance availeth 
not. And this I say because I am none of the Gods nor akin to 
them, save far off through the generations, as art thou also, and 
all men of goodly kindred. Now I bid thee eat thy meat, since 'tis 
ill talking betwixt a full man and a fasting ; and I have dight it 
myself with mine own hands ; for Bow-may and the Wood-mother 
went away with the rest three hours before dawn. Come sit and 
eat as thou hast a hardy heart ; as forsooth thou shouldest do if 
I were a very goddess. Take heed, friend, lest I take thee for 
some damsel of the lower Dale arrayed in Earl's garments.' 

She laughed therewith, and leaned toward him and put forth 
her hand to him, and he took it and caressed it; and the exceed- 
ing beauty of her body and of the raiment which was as it were a 
part of her and her loveliness, made her laughter and her friendly 
words strange to him, as if one did not belong to the other; as in 
a dream it might be. Nevertheless he did as she bade him, and 
sat at the board and ate, while she leaned forward on the arm of 
her chair and spake to him in friendly wise. And he wondered 
as she spake that she knew so much of him and his : and he kept 
saying to himself: * She drew me hither ; wherefore did she so ?* 

But she said : ' Gold-mane, how fareth thy father the Alder- 
man ? is he as good a wright as ever ?' 

He told her : Yea, that ever was his hammer on the iron, the 
copper, and the gold, and that no wright in the Dale was as deft 
as he. 

Said she : ' Would he not have had thee seek to the Cities, to 
see the ways of the outer world?' 

* Yea,' said he. 

52 



She said : * Thou wcrt wise to na3-say that offer ; thou shalt She asketh 
have enough to do in the Dale and round about it in twelve after his 
months' time.' kindred. 

'Art thou foresighted ?' said he. 

' Folk have called me so,' she said, ' but I wot not. But thy 
brother Hall-face, how fareth he?' 

'Well;' said he, 'to my deeming he is the Sword of our 
House, and the Warrior of the Dale, if the days were rcadj 
for him.' 

* And Stone-face, that stark ancient,' she said, ' doth he still 
love the Folk of the Dale, and hate all other folks?' 

' Nay,' he said, ' I know not that, but I know that he loveth 
us, and above all me and my father.' 

Again she spake : ' How fareth the Bride, the fair maid to 
whom thou art affianced ?' 

As she spake, it was to him as if his heart was stricken cold ; 
but he put a force upon himself, and neither reddened nor 
whitened, nor changed countenance in any way ; so he answered : 
* She was well the eve of yesterday.' Then he remembered what 
she was, and her beauty and valour, and he constrained himself 
to say : ' Each day she growcth fairer ; there is no man's son 
and no daughter of woman that does not love her ; yea, the very 
beasts of field and fold love her.' 

The Friend looked at him steadil}' and spake no word, but a 
red flush mounted to her cheeks and brow and changed her face ; 
and he marvelled thereat ; for still he misdoubted that she was 
a Goddess. But it passed away in a moment, and she smiled 
and said : 

' Guest, thou scemcst to wonder that I know concerning thee 
and the Dale and thy kindred. But now shalt thou wot that I 
have been in the Dale once and again, and my brother oftener 
still ; and that I have seen thee before yesterday.' 

' That is marvellous,' quoth he, ' for sure am I that I have not 
seen thee.' 

53 



A tale of the * Yet thou hast seen me,' she said ; * yet not altogether as I am 
Burgstead now;' and therewith she smiled on him friendly, 
market. « Yiow is this ?' said he ; ' art thou a skin-changer ? ' 

* Yea, in a fashion,' she said. * Hearken ! dost thou perchance 
remember a day of last summer when there was a market holden 
in Burgstead; and there stood in the way over against the 
House of the Face a tall old carle who was trucking deer-skins 
for diverse gear ; and with him was a queen, tall and dark- 
skinned, somewhat well-liking, her hair bound up in a white 
coif so that none of it could be seen ; by the token that she had 
a large stone of mountain blue set in silver stuck in the said coif? ' 

As she spoke she set her hand to her bosom and drew some- 
thing from it, and held forth her hand to Gold-mane, and lo 
amidst the palm the great blue stone set in silver. 

* Wondrous as a dream is this,' said Face-of-god, * for these 
twain I remember well, and what followed.' 

She said : ' I will tell thee that. There came a man of the Shep- 
herd-Folk, drunk or foolish, or both, who began to chaffer with the 
big carle ; but ever on the queen were his eyes set, and presently 
he put forth his hand to her to clip her, whereon the big carle 
hove up his fist and smote him, so that he fell to earth noseling. 
Then ran the folk together to hale off the stranger and help the 
shepherd, and it was like that the stranger should be mishandled. 
Then there thrust through the press a young man with yellow 
hair and grey eyes, who cried out, " Fellows, let be ! The 
stranger had the right of it ; this is no matter to make a quarrel 
or a court case of. Let the market go on ! This man and maid 
are true folk." So when the folk heard the 3'oung man and his bid- 
ding, they forebore and let the carle and the queen be, and the shep- 
herd wenthiswayslittlehurt. Now then, who wasthisyoungman?' 

Quoth Gold-mane: 'It was L^ven I, and meseemeth it was no 
great deed to do.' 

' Yea,' she said, ' and the big carle was my brother, and the 
tall queen, it was myself.' 

54 



* How then,' said he, * for she was as dark-skinned as a dwarf, Face-of-god 
and thou so bright and fair?' must depart. 

She said : ♦ VVell, if the woods are good for nothing else, yet 
are they good for the growing of herbs, and I know the craft of 
simpling ; and with one of these herbs had I stained my skin and 
my brother's also. And it showed the darkerbeneath the whitecoif' 

* Yea,' said he, 'but why must ye needs fare in feigned shapes ? 
Ye would have been welcome guests in the Dale howsoever 3'e 
had come.' 

* I may not tell thee hereof as now,' said she. 

Said Gold-mane : ' Yet thou mayst belike tell me wherefore 
it was that thy brother desired to slay me yesterda}^, if he knew 
me, who I was.' 

'Gold-mane,' she said, * thou art not slain, so little story need 
be made of that : for the rest, belike he knew thee not at that 
moment. So it falls with us, that we look to see foes rather than 
friends in the wild-woods. Many uncouth things are therein. 
Moreover, I must tell thee of my brother that whiles he is as the 
stalled bull late let loose, and nothing is good to him save battle 
and onset ; and then is he blind and knows not friend from foe.'' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Thou hast asked of me and mine; wilt 
thou not tell me of thee and thine?' 

' Nay,' she said, ' not as now ; thou must betake thee to the 
wa}'. Whitherwert thou wending when thou happcnedst upon us ? ' 

He said : ' I know not ; I was seeking something, but I knew 
not what — meseemeth that now I have found it.' 

* Art thou for the great mountains seeking gems ? ' she said. 
* Yet go not thither to-day : for who knoweth what thou shalt 
meet there that shall be thy foe ? ' 

He said : ' Na}-, nay ; I have nought to do but to abide here as 
long as I may, looking upon thee and hearkening to thy voice.' 

Her eyes were upon his, but yet she did not seem to see him, 
and for a while she answered not ; and still he wondered that mere 
words should come from so fair a thing ; for whether she moved 

55 



The meeting foot, or hand, or knee, or turned this way or that, each time she 
to be. stirred it was a caress to his very heart. 

He spake again : ' May I not abide here a while ? What 
scathe may be in that ? ' 

' It is not so,' she said ; * thou must depart, and that straight- 
way : lo, there lieth thy spear which the Wood-mother hath 
brought in from the waste. Take thy gear to thee and wend thy 
ways. Have patience I I will lead thee to the place where we 
first met and there give thee farewell.' 

Therewith she arose and he also perforce, and when they came 
to the doorway she stepped across the threshold and then turned 
back and gave him her hand and so led him forth, the sun flashing 
back from her golden raiment. Together they went over the short 
grey grass of that hill-side till they came to the place where he 
had arisen from that wrestle with her brother. There she stayed 
him and said : 

' This is the place ; here must we part.' 

But his heart failed him and he faltered in his speech as he said : 

* When shall I see thee again ? Wilt thou slay me if I seek 
to thee hither once more ? ' 

* Hearken,' she said, ' autumn is now a-dying into winter : let 
winter and its snows go past : nor seek to me hither; for me thou 
should'st not find, but thy death thou mightest well fall in with; 
and I would not that thou shouldest die. When winter is gone, 
and spring is on the land, if thou hast not forgotten us thou shalt 
meet us again. Yet shalt thou go further than this Woodland 
Hall, In Shadowy Vale shalt thou seek to me then, and there 
will I talk with thee.' 

* And where,' said he, ' is Shadowy Vale ? for thereof have I 
never heard tell.' 

She said : ' The token when it cometh to thee shall show thee 
thereof and the way thither. Art thou a babbler. Gold-mane?' 
He said : * I have won no prize for babbling hitherto.' 
She said: ' If thou listest to babble concerning what hath be- 

56 



fallen thee on the Mountain, so do, and repent it once only, that The woman 
is, thy life long.' goeth into 

♦ Why should I say any word thereof? ' said he. ' Dost thou '''<^ ''°"''^^- 
not know the sweetness of such a tale untold ? ' 

He spake as one who is somewhat wrathful, and she answered 
h'jniMv and kindly: 

' Well is that. Bide thou the token that shall lead thee to 
Shadowy \ ale. Farewell now.' 

She drew her hand from his, and turned and went her ways 
swiftly to the house: he could not choose but gaze on her as she 
went glittering-bright and fair in that grey place of the moun- 
tains, till the dark doorway swallowed up her beauty. Then he 
turned away and took the path through the pine-woods, mut- 
tering to himself as he went : 

' What thing have I done now that hitherto I had not done ? 
What manner of man am I to-day other than the man I was 
yesterday? ' 



CHAPTER VIII. FACE-OF-GOD COMETH HOME AGAIN 
TO BURGSTEAD. 

FACE-OF-GOD went back through the wood by the way 
he had come, paying little heed to the things about him. 
For whatever he thought of strayed not one whit from the 
ima^e of the Fair Woman of the Mountain-side. 

He went through the wood swiftlicr than yesterday-, and made 
no stay for noon or aught else, nor did he linger on the road 
when he was come into the Dale, either to speak to an}' or to 
note what they did. So he came to the House of the Face about 
dusk, and found no man within the hall cither carle or queen. So 
lie cried out on the folk, and there came in a damsel of the house, 
whom he greeted kindly and she him again. He bade her bring 
the washina-water, and she did so and washed his feet and his 

57 I 



Face-of-god hands. She was a fair maid enough, as were most in the Dale, 
in gay attire, but he heeded her little ; and when she was done he kissed not 
her cheek for her pains, as his wont was, but let her go her ways 
unthanked. But he went to his shut-bed and opened his chest, 
and drew fair raiment from it, and did off his wood-gear, and did 
on him a goodly scarlet kirtle fairly broidered, and a collar with 
gems of price therein, and other braveries. And when he was so 
attired he came out into the hall, and there was old Stone-face 
standing by the hearth, which was blazing brightly with fresh 
brands, so that things were clear to see. 

Stone-face noted Gold-mane's gay raiment, for he was not wont 
to wear such attire, save on the feasts and high days when he 
behoved to. So the old man smiled and said : 

' Welcome back from the Wood ! But what is it ? Hast thou 
been wedded there, or who hath made thee Earl and King?' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Foster-father, sooth it is that I have been 
to the wood, but there have I seen nought of manfolk worse than 
myself. Nowas to my raiment, needs must I keep it from the moth. 
And I am weary withal, and this kirtle is light and easy to me. 
Moreover, I look to see the Bride here again, and I would pleasure 
her with the sight of gay raiment upon me.' 

* Naj',' said Stone-face, ' hast thou not seen some woman in the 
wood arrayed like the image of a God ? and hath she not bidden 
thee thus to worship her to-night ? For I know that such wights 
be in the wood, and that such is their wont.' 

Said Gold-mane : ' I worship nought save the Gods and the 
Fathers. Nor saw I in the wood any such as thou sayest.' 

Therewith Stone-face shook his head ; but after a while he said : 
* Art thou for the wood to-morrow ?' 

' Nay,' said Gold-manc angril}', knitting his brows. 

' The morrow of to-morrow,' said Stone- face, * is the day when 
we look to see the Westland merchants : after all, wilt thou not 
go hence with them when they wend their ways back before the 
first snows fall ? ' 

58 



' Nay,' said he, ' I have no mind to it, fosterer ; cease egging They will 
mc on hereto.' liave him go 

Then Stone-face shook his head again, and looked on him long, ^° ^"^ Cities. 
and muttered : ' To the wood wilt thou go to-morrow or next day ; 
or some day when doomed is thine undoing.' 

Therewith entered the service and torches, and presently after 
came the Alderman with Hall-face ; and Iron-face greeted his son 
and said to him : ' Thou hast not hit the time to do on thy gay 
raiment, for the Bride will not be here to-night ; she bideth still 
at the Feast at the Apple-tree House : or wilt thou be there, son?* 

'Nay,' said Face-of-god, ' I am over-weary. And as for my rai- 
ment, it is well ; it is for thine honour and the honour of the name.' 

So to tabic thc}' went, and Iron-face asked his son of his ways 
again, and whether he was quite fixed in his mind not to go down 
to the Plain and the Cities : ' For,' said he, ' the morrow of to- 
morrow shall the merchants be here, and this were great news for 
them if the son ofthe Alderman should be their faring-fellow back.' 

But F'acc-of-god answered without any haste or heat : ' Nay, 
father, it may not be : fear not, thou shalt see that I have a good 
will to work and live in the Dale.' 

And in good sooth, though he was a young man and loved 
mirth and the ways of his own will, he was a stalwarth workman, 
and few could mow a match with him in the hay-month and win 
it; or fell trees as certainly- and swiftly, or drive as straight and 
clean a furrow through the stiff land ofthe lower Dale ; and in 
other matters also was he deft and sturdv. 



CHAPTER IX. THOSE BRETHREN FARE TO THE YEW- 
WOOD WITH THE BRIDE. 

NEXT morning Facc-of-god dight himself for work, and 
took his axe ; for his brother Hall-face had bidden him 
go down with him to the Yew-wood and cut timber there, 

59 



wood. 



On the road since he of all iren knew where to go straight to the sticks that 
to the Yew- vvould quarter best for bow-staves; whereas the Alderman had the 
right of hewing in that wood. So they went forth, those brethren, 
from the House of the Face, but when they were gotten to the 
gate, who should be there but the Bride awaiting them, and she 
with an ass duly saddled for bearing the yew-sticks. Because 
Hall-face had told her that he and belike Gold-mane were going 
to hew in the wood, and she thought it good to be of the company, 
as oft had befallen erst. When they met she greeted Face-of-god 
and kissed him as her wont was; and he looked upon her and saw 
how fair she was, and how kind and friendly were her eyes that 
beheld him, and how her whole face was eager for him as their 
lips parted. Then his heart failed him, when he knew that he 
no longer desired her as she did him, and he said within himself : 
' Would that she had been of our nighest kindred ! Would that 
I had had a sister and that this were she !' 

So the three went along the highway down the Dale, and Hall- 
face and the Bride talked merrily together and laughed, for she 
was happy, since she knew that Gold-mane had been to the wood 
and was back safe and much as he had been before. So indeed 
it seemed of him ; for though at first he was moody and of few 
words, yet presently he cursed himself for a mar-sport, and so fell 
into the talk, and enforced himself to be merry; and soon he was 
so indeed ; for he thought : ' She drew me thither : she hath a deed 
for me to do. I shall do the deed and have my reward. Soon 
will the spring-tide be here, and I shall be a young man yet when 
it comes.' 

So came they to the place where he had met the three maidens 
yesterday ; there they also turned from the highway ; and as they 
went down the bent. Gold-mane could not but turn his eyes on the 
beauty of the Bride and the lovely ways of her body : but pre- 
sently he remembered all that had betid, and turned away again 
as one who is noting what it behoves him not to note. And he 
said to himself : ' Where art thou, Gold-mane ? Whose art thou ? 

60 



Yea, even if that had been but a dream that I have dreamed, yet The Bride 
would that this fair woman were my sister ! ' singeth. 

So came they to the Yew-wood, and the brethren fell to work, 
and the Bride with them, for she was deft with the axe and strong 
withal. But at midday they rested on the green slope without 
the Yew-wood ; and they ate bread and flesh and onions and 
apples, and drank red wine of the Dale. And while they were 
resting after their meat, the Bride sang to them, and her song was 
a la}' of time past ; and here 3e have somewhat of it : 

'Tis over the hill and over the dale 

Men ride from the city fast and far, 
If they may have a soothfast tale. 

True tidincrs of the host of war. 

And first they hap on men-at-arms, 

All clad in steel from head to foot : 
Now tell true tale of the new-come harms, 

And the gathered hosts of the mountain-root. 

Fair sirs, from murder-carles wc flee, 

Whose fashion is as the mountain-trolls' ; 
No man can tell how many they be. 

And the voice of their host as the thunder rolls. 

They were weary men at the ending of day. 

But they spurred nor stayed for longer word. 
Now ye, O merchants, whither away ? 

What do yc there with the helm and the sword? 

O we must fight for life and gear. 

For our beasts are spent and our wains are stayed, 
And the host of the ISlountain-men draws near, 

That maketh all the world afraid. 
6i 



The Bride They left the chapmen on the hill, 

jjngeth. And through the eve and through the night 

They rode to have true tidings still, 

And were there on the way when the dawn was bright. 

O damsels fair, what do ye then 

To loiter thus upon the way, 
And have no fear of the Mountain-men, 

The host of the carles that strip and slay ? 

O riders weary with the road. 

Come eat and drink on the grass hereby ! 

And lay you down in a fair abode 

Till the midday sun is broad and high ; 

Then unto you shall we come aback, 

And lead you forth to the Mountain-men, 

To note their plenty and their lack. 
And have true tidings there and then. 

'Tis over the hill and over the dale 

They ride from the mountain fast and far ; 

And now have they learned a soothfast tale, 
True tidings of the host of war. 

It was summer-tide and the Month of Hay, 
And men and maids must fare afield ; 

But we saw the place were the bow- staves lay, 
And the hall was hung with spear and shield. 

When the moon was high we drank in the hall. 

And they drank to the guests and were kind and blithe. 

And they said : Come back when the chestnuts fall. 
And the wine-carts wend across the hythe. 

Come oft and o'er again, they said ; 
Wander your ways ; but we abide 
62 



For all the world in the little stead ; The Biidc is 

For wise are we, though the world be wide. happy. 

Yea, come in arms if ye will, the}- said ; 

And despite your host shall we abide 
For life or death in the little stead ; 

For wise are we, though the world be wide. 

So she made an end and looked at the fairness of the dale spread- 
in j wide before her, and a robin came nio-h from out of a thornbush 
and sun;; his song also, the sweet herald of coming winter; and the 
lapwings wheeled about, black and white, above the meadow by 
the river, sending forth their wheedling pipe as the}- hung above the 
soft turf. 

She felt the brothers near her, and knew their friendliness from 
of old, and she was happy ; nor had she looked closer at Gold- 
mane would she have noted any change in him belike ; for the meat 
and the good wine, and the fair sunny time, and the Bride's sweet 
voice, and the ancient song softened his heart while it fed the 
desire therein. 

So in a while they arose from their rest and did what was left 
them of their work, and so went back to Burgstcad through the 
fair afternoon; by seeming all three in all content. But yet Gold- 
mane, as from time to time he looked upon the Bride, kept saying 
to himself : ' O if she had been but my sister ! sweet had the kin- 
ship been ! ' 



CHAPTER X. NEW TIDINGS IN THE DALE. 

IT was three days thereafter that Gold-mane, leading an ass, 
went along the highway to fetch home certain fleeces which 
were needed for the house from a stead a little west of Wild- 
lake ; but he had gone scant half a mile ere he fell in with a 

63 



A throng throng of folk going to Burgstead. They were of the Shep- 
with trouble herds ; they had weapons with them, and some were clad in coats 
111 the midst, ^f f^nce. They went along making a great noise, for they were 
all talking each to each at the same time, and seemed very hot 
and eager about some matter. When they saw Gold-mane anigh, 
they stopped, and the throng opened as if to let him into their 
midmost ; so he mingled with them, and they stood in a ring 
about him and an old man more ill-favoured than it was the 
wont of the Dalesmen to be. 

For he was long, stooping, gaunt and spindle-shanked, his 
hands big and crippled with gout : his cheeks were red after an 
old man's fashion, covered with a crimson network like a pippin ; 
his lips thin and not well hiding his few teeth ; his nose long like 
a snipe's neb. In short, a shame and a laughing-stock to the 
Folk, and a man whom the kindreds had in small esteem, and that 
for good reasons. 

Face-of-god knew him at once for a notable close-fist and 
starve-all fool of the Shepherds ; and his name was now become 
Penny-thumb the Lean, whatever it might once have been. 

So Face-of-god greeted all men, and they him again ; and he 
said : ' What aileth you, neighbours ? Your weapons are 
bare, but I see not that they be bloody. What is it, good- 
man Penny-thumb?' 

Penny-thumb did but groan for all answer ; but a stout carle 
who stood by with a broad grin on his face answered and said : 

* Face-of-god, evil tidings be abroad ; the strong-thieves of 
the wood are astir ; and some deem that the wood-wights be 
helping them.' 

* Yea, and what is the deed they have done ? ' said Gold-mane. 
Said the carle : 'Thou knowest Penny-thumb's abode?' 

' Yea surely,' said Face-of god ; ' fair are the water-meadows 
about it ; great gain of cheese can be gotten thence.' 
' Hast thou been within the house ?' said the carle. 

* Nay,' said Gold-mane. 

64 



Then spake Penny-thumb : ' Within is scant gear : we gather Ransacking 
for others to scatter ; we make meat for others' mouths.' of ^ close-fist. 

The carle laughed : * Sooth is that,' said he, ' that there is 
little gear therein now ; for the strong-thieves have voided both 
hall and bower and byre.' 

* And when was that ?' said Face-of-god. 

' The night before last night,' said the carle, * the door was 
smitten on, and when none answered it was broken down.' 

* Yea,' quoth Penny-thumb, ' a host entered, and they in arms.' 
'No host was within,' said the carle, 'nought but Penny-thumb 

and his sister and his sister's son, and three carles that work for 
him ; and one of them, Rusty to wit, was the worst man of the 
hill-country. These then the host whereof the goodman telleth 
bound, but without doing them any scathe ; and they ransacked 
the house, and took awa}' much gear ; ^-et left some.' 

'Thoulicst,' said Penny-thumb; 'they took little and left none.' 

Thereat all men laughed, for this seemed to them good game, 

and another man said : ' Well, neighbour Penny-thumb, if it was 

so little, thou hast done unneighbourly in giving us such a heap of 

trouble about it.' 

And they laughed again, but the first carle said : ' True it is, 
goodman, that thou wert exceeding eager to raise the hue and cry 
after that little when we happed upon thee and thy housemates 
bound in your chairs yesterday morning. Well, Alderman's son, 
short is the tale to tell : we could not fail to follow the gear, and 
the slot led us into the wood, and ill is the going there for us 
shepherds, who arc used to the bare downs, save Rusty, who was 
a good woodsman and lifted the slot for us ; so he outwent us 
all, and ran out of sight of us, so presently we came upon him 
dead-slain, with the manslayer's spear in his breast. What then 
could we do but turn back again, for now was the wood blind 
now Rusty was dead, and we knew not whither to follow the 
fray ; and the man himself was but little loss : so back we turned, 
and told goodman Penny-thumb of all this, for we had left him 

65 K 



A spear not alone in his hall lamenting his gear ; so we bided to-day's morn, 
wrought in and have come out now, with our neighbour and the spear, and 
the Dale. jj^g j^^^j corpse of Rusty. Stand aside, neighbours, and let the 

Alderman's son see it.' 

They did so, and there was the corpse of a thin-faced tall 
wiry man, somewhat foxy of aspect, lying on a hand-bier covered 
with black cloth. 

* Yea, Face-of-god,' said the carle, * he is not good to see now 
he is dead, yet alive was he worser : but, look you, though the man 
was no good man, yet was he of our people, and the feud is with us ; 
so we would see the Alderman, and do him to wit of the tidings, 
that he may call the neighbours together to seek a blood-wite for 
Rusty and atonement for the ransacking. Or what sayest thou ? ' 
' Have ye the spear that ye found in Rust}-?' quoth Gold-mane. 
' Yea verily,' said the carle. ' Hither with it, neighbours ; give 
it to the Alderman's son.' 

So the spear came into his hand, and he looked at it and said : 
* This is no spear of the smiths' work of the Dale, as my father 
will tell you. We take but little keep of the forging of spear- 
heads here, so that they be well-tempered and made so as to ride 
well on the shaft ; but this head, daintily is it wrought, the blood- 
trench as clean and trim as though it were an Earl's sword. See 
3'ou withal this inlaying of runes on the steel ? It is done with 
no tin or copper, but with very silver ; and these bands about the 
shaft be of silver also. It is a fair weapon, and the owner hath 
a loss of it greater than his gain in the slaying of Rusty ; and he 
will have left it in the wound so that he might be known here- 
after, and that he might be said not to have murdered Rusty but 
to have slain him. Or how think ye ? ' 

They all said that this seemed like to be; but that if the man 
who had slain Rusty were one of the ransackers they might have 
a blood-wite of him, if they could find him. Gold-mane said that 
so it was, and therewithal he gave the shepherds good-speed and 
went on his way. 

66 



But they came to Burgstead and found the Alderman, and in A court hclJ. 
due time was a Court hold, and a finding uttered, and outlawry 
given forth for the manslaying and the ransacking against certain 
men unknown. As for the spear, it was laid up in the House of 
the Face. 

But Facc-of-god pondered these matters in his mind, for such 
ransackings there had been none of in late years; and he said to 
himself that his friends of the Mountain must have other folk, 
of which the Dalesmen knew nought, whose gear they could lift, 
or how could they live in that place. And he marvelled that they 
should risk drawing the Dalesmen's wrath upon them; whereas 
they of the Dale were strong men not easily daunted, albeit 
peaceable enough if not stirred to wrath. For in good sooth he had 
no doubt concerning that spear, whose it was and whence it came: 
forthat verj'weapon had been leaning against the panelof his shut- 
bed the night he slept on the Mountain, and all the other spears 
that he saw there were more or less of the same fashion, and 
adorned with silver. 

Albeit all that he knew, and all that he thought of, he kept in 
his own heart and said nothing of it. 

So wore the autumn into early winter; and theWestland mer- 
chants came in due time, and departed without Face-of-god, 
though his father made him that offer one last time. He went to 
and fro about his work in the Dale, and seemed to most men's e3'es 
nought changed from what he had been. But the Bride noted 
that he saw her less often than his wont was, and abode with her 
a lesser space when he met her; and she could not think what this 
might mean; nor had she heart to ask him thereof, though she 
was sorry and grieved, but rather withdrew her company from 
him somewhat; and when she perceived that he noted it not, and 
made no question of it, then was she the sorrier. 

But the first winter -snow came on with a great storm of wind 
from the north-east, so that no man stirred abroad who was not 
•compelled thereto, and those who went abroad risked life and limb 

67 



The cowers thereby. Next morning all was calm again, and the snow was 
cowed. deep, but it did not endure long, for the wind shifted to the south- 

west and the thaw came, and three days after, when folk could 
fare easily again up and down the Dale, came tidings to Burgstead 
and the Alderman from the Lower Dale, how a house called 
Greentofts had been ransacked there, and none knew by whom. 
Nowthe goodmanof Greentofts was little loved of the neighbours: 
he was grasping and overbearing, and had often cowed others out 
of their due : he was very cross-grained, both at home and abroad : 
his wife had fled from his hand, neither did his sons find it good 
to abide with him : therewithal he was wealthy of goods, a strong 
man and a deft man-at-arms. When his sons and his wife de- 
parted from him, and none other of the Dalesmen cared to abide 
with him, he went down into the Plain, and got thence men to be 
with him for hire, men who were not well seen to in their own 
land. These to the number of twelve abode with him, and did 
his bidding whenso it pleased them. Two more had he had who 
had been slain by good men of the Dale for their masterful ways ; 
and no blood-wite had been paid for them, because of their ill- 
doings, though they had not been made outlaws. This man of 
Greentofts was called Harts-bane after his father, who was a 
great hunter. 

Now the full tidings of the ransacking were these : The storm 
began two hours before sunset, and an hour thereafter, when it 
was quite dark, for without none could see because the wind was 
at its height and the drift of the snow was hard and full, the hall- 
door flew open ; and at first men thought it had been the wind,^ 
until they saw in the dimness (for all lights but the fire on the 
hearth had been quenched) certain things tumbling in which at 
first they deemed were wolves ; but when they took swords and 
staves against them, lo they were met by swords and axes, and 
they saw that the seeming wolves were men with wolf-skins drawn 
over them. So the new-comers cowed them that they threw down 
their weapons, and were bound in their places ; but when they 

68 



were bound, and had had time to note who the ransackers were, Yule-tide in 
they saw that there were but six of them all told, who had cowed Burgstead. 
and bound Harts-bane and his twelve masterful men ; and this 
they deemed a great shaming to them, as might well be. 

So then the stead was ransacked, and those wolves took away 
what thev would, and went their wa\'S through the fierce storm, 
and none could tell whether they had lived or died in it; but at 
least neither the men nor their prey were seen again ; nor did 
the}' leave any slot, for next morning the snow lay deep over 
everything. 

No doubt had Gold-mane but that these ransackers were his 
friends of the Mountain ; but he held his peace, abiding till the 
winter should be over. 



CHAPTER XI. MEN MAKE OATH AT BURGSTEAD ON 
THE HOLY BOAR. 

A WEEK after the ransacking at Greentofts the snow and 
the winter came on in earnest, and all the Dale laj- in snow, 
and men went on skids when they fared up and down the 
Dale or on the Mountain. 

All w-as now tidinglcss till Yule over, and in Burgstead was 
there feasting and joyancc enough ; and especially at the House 
cf the Face was high-tide holdcn, and the Alderman and his sons 
and Stone-face and all the kindred and all their men sat in 
glorious attire within the hall ; and many others were there of 
the best of the kindreds of Burgstead who had been bidden. 

Face-of-god sat between his father and Stone-face ; and he 
looked up and down the tables and the hall and saw not the 
Bride, and his heart misgave him because she was not there, and 
he wondered what had befallen and if she were sick of sorrow. 

But Iron-face beheld him how he gazed about, and he laughed ; 
for he was exceeding merry that night and fared as a young man. 

69 



the Face. 



High-tide in Then he said to his son : * Whom seekest thou, son ? is there some- 
the Hall of one lacking ? ' 

Face-of-god reddened as one who lies unused to it, and said : 
' Yea, kinsman, so it is that I was seeking the Bride my 
kinswoman.' 

'Nay,' said Iron-face, ' call her not kinswoman : therein is ill- 
luck, lest it seem that thou art to wed one too nigh thine own 
blood. Call her the Bride only : to thee and to me the name is 
good. Well, son, desirest thou sorely to see her ? ' 

* Yea, yea, surely,' said Face-of-god ; but his eyes went all 
about the hall still, as though his mind strayed from the place and 
that home of his. 

Said Iron-face : * Have patience, son, thou shalt see her anon, 
and that in such guise as shall please thee.' 

Therewithal came the maidens with the ewers of wine, and 
they filled all horns and beakers, and then stood by the endlong 
tables on either side laughing and talking with the carles and the 
older women ; and the hall was a fair sight to see, for the many 
candles burned bright and the fire on the hearth flared up, and 
those maids were clad in fair raiment, and there was none of them 
but was comely, and some were fair, and some very fair : the walls 
also were hung with goodly pictured cloths, and the image of the 
God of the Face looked down smiling terribly from the gable-end 
above the high-seat. 

Thus as they sat the}' heard the sound of a horn winded close 
outside the hall door, and the door was smitten on. Then rose 
Iron-face smiling merril}', and cried out : 

* Enter ye, whether ye be friends or foes : for if ye be foemen, 
yet shall 3'e keep the holy peace of Yule, unless ye be the foes 
of all kindreds and nations, and then shall we slay you.' 

Thereat some who knew what was toward laughed; but Gold- 
mane, who had been away from Burgstead some days past, 
marvelled and knit his brows, and let his right hand fall on his 
sword-hilt. For this folk, who were of merry ways, were wont 

70 



to deal diversely with the Yule-tide customs in the manner of Afairwoman 
shows ; and he knew not that this was one of them. '" '^'^^ ^*^'- 

Now was the outer door thrown open, and there entered seven 
men, whereof two were all-armed in bright war-gear, and two 
bore slug-horns, and two bore up somewhat on a dish covered 
over with a piece of rich cloth, and the seventh stood before them 
all wrapped up in a dark fur mantle. 

Thus they stood a moment ; and when he saw their number, 
back to Gold-mane's heart came the thought of those folk on the 
Mountain : for indeed he was somewhat out of himself for doubt 
and longing, else would he have deemed that all this was but a 
Yule-tide play. 

Now the men with the slug-horns set them to their mouths and . 
blew a lona blast; while the first of the new-comers set hand to 
the clasps of the fur cloak and let it fall to the ground, and lo ! 
a woman exceeding beauteous, clad in glistering raiment of gold 
and fine web ; her hair wreathed with bay, and in her hand a 
naked sword with goodly- wrought golden hilt and polished blue- 
gleaming blade. 

Face-of-god started up in his seat, and stared like a man new- 
wakened from a strange dream : because for one moment he 
deemed verily that it was the Woman of the Mountain arrayed 
as he had last seen her, and he cried aloud ' The Friend, 
the P'riend !' 

His father brake out into loud laughter thereat, and clapped 
his son on the shoulder and said : ' Yea, yea, lad, thou mayst 
well say the Friend ; for this is thine old playmate whom thou 
hast been looking round the hall for, arrayed this eve in such 
fashion as is meet for her goodliness and her worthiness. Yea, 
this is the Friend indeed ! ' 

Then waxed Face-of-god as red as blood for shame, and he sat 
him down in his place again : for now he wotted what was to- 
ward, and saw that this fair woman was the Bride. 

But Stone-face from the other side looked keenly on him. 



The Holy Then blew the horns again, and the Bride stepped daintily up 

Boar on the the hall, and the sweet odour of her raiment went from her about 
table. jj^g fire-warmed dwelling, and her beauty moved all hearts with 

love. So stood she at the high-table ; and those two who bore 
the burden set it down thereon and drew off the covering, and lo! 
there was the Holy Boar of Yule on which men were wont to 
make oath of deeds that they would do in the coming year, ac- 
cording to the custom of their forefathers. Then the Bride laid 
the goodly sword beside the dish, and then went round the table 
and sat down betwixt Face-of-god and Stone-face, and turned 
kindly to Gold-mane, and was glad ; for now was his fair face 
as its wont was to be. He in turn smiled upon her, for she was 
fair and kind and his fellow for many a day. 

Now the men-at-arms stood each side the Boar, and out from 
them on each side stood the two hornsmen : then these blew up 
again, whereon the Alderman stood up and cried : 

' Ye sons of the brave who have any deed that ye may be de- 
sirous of doing, come up, come lay j'our hand on the sword, and 
the point of the sword to the Holy Beast, and swear the oath that 
lieth on your hearts.' 

Therewith he sat down, and there strode a man up the hall, 
strong-built and sturdy, but short of stature ; black-haired, red- 
bearded, and ruddy-faced : and he stood on the dais, and took up 
the sword and laid its point on the Boar, and said: 

' I am Bristler, son of Brightling, a man of the Shepherds. 
Here by the Holy Boar I swear to follow up the ransackers of 
Penny-thumb and thesla3'ers of Rusty. And I take this feud upon 
me, although they be no good men, because I am of the kin and 
it fallethto me, since others forbear; and when the Court was hal- 
lowed hereon I was away out of the Dale and the Downs. So 
help me the Warrior, and the God of the Earth.' 

Then the Alderman nodded his head to him kindl}', and 
reached him out a cup of wine, and as he drank there went up a 
rumour of praise from the hall ; and men said that his oath was 

72 



manly and that he was like to keep it; for he was a good man- Oaths are 
at-arms and a stout heart. sworn upon 

Then came up three men of the Shepherds and two of the Dale ^'*^''' 
and swore to help Bristlcr in his feud, and men thought it well 
sworn. 

After that came a braggart, a man very gay of his raiment, 
and swore with manj- words that if he lived the year through he 
would be a captain over the men of the Plain, and would come 
back again with man}- gifts for his friends in the Dale. This 
men deemed foolishly sworn, for they knew the man; so they 
jeered at him and laughed as he went back to his place ashamed. 

Then swore three others oaths not hard to be kept, and men 
laughed and were mcrr}'. 

At last uprose the Alderman, and said: 'Kinsmen, and good 
fellows, good da3'S and peaceable are in the Dale as now; and of 
such days little is the stor}', and little it availeth to swear a deed 
of derring-do : yet three things I swear by this Beast; and first 
to gainsay no man's asking if I may perform it; and next to set 
right above law and mercy above custom; and lastly, if the daj-s 
change and war cometh to us or we go to meet it, I will be no 
backwardcr in the onset than three fathoms behind the foremost. 
So help me the Warrior, and the God of the Face and the Holy 
Earth I ' 

Therewith he sat down, and all men shouted for joy of him, 
and said that it was most like that he would keep his oath. 

Last of all uprose Facc-of-god and took upthe sword and looked 
at it; and so bright was the blade that he saw in it the image of 
the golden braveries which the Bride bore, and even some broken 
image of her face. Then he handled the hilt and laid the point 
on the Boar, and cried : 

' Hereby I swear to wed the fairest woman of the Earth before 
the year is worn to an end ; and that whether the Dalesmen gain- 
say me or the men beyond the Dale. So help me the Warrior, 
and the God of the Face and the Holy Earth I ' 

73 L 



Stone-face 
fbrbodeth. 
A winter 
morning. 



Therewith he sat down ; and once more men shouted for the 
love of him and of the Bride, and they said he had sworn well 
and like a chieftain. 

But the Bride noted him that neither were his eyes nor his voice 
like to their wont as he swore, for she knew him well ; and thereat 
was she ill at ease, for now whatever was new in him was to her a 
threat of evil to come. 

Stone-face also noted him, and he knew the young man better 
than all others save the Bride, and he saw withal that she was ill- 
pleased, and he said to himself : ' I will speak to my fosterling to- 
morrow if I may find him alone.' 

So came the swearing to an end, and they fell to on their meat 
and feasted on the Boar of Atonement after they had duly given 
the Gods their due share, and the wine went about the hall and 
men were merry till they drank the parting cup and fared to rest 
in the shut-beds, and whereso else they might in the Hall and the 
House, for there were many men there. 



CHAPTER XII. STONE-FACE TELLETH CONCERNING 
THE WOOD-WIGHTS. 

EARLY on the morrow Gold-mane arose and clad himself 
and went out-a-doors and over the trodden snow on to the 
bridge over the Weltering Water, and there betook himself 
into one of the coins of safety built over the up-stream piles ; 
there he leaned against the wall and turned his face to the Thorp, 
and fell to pondering on his case. And first he thought about his 
oath, and how that he had sworn to wed the Mountain Woman, 
although his kindred and her kindred should gainsay him, yea and 
herself also. Great seemed that oath to him, yet at that moment 
he wished he had made it greater, and made all the kindred, yea 
and the Bride herself, sure of the meaning of the words of it : and 
he deemed himself a dastard that he had not done so. Then he 



1 



looked round him and beheld the winter, and he fell into mere Stone-face 
longingthatthespringwcrc comeand the token from the Mountain, comcth. 
Things seemed loo hard for him to deal with, and he between a 
mighty folk and two wayward women; and he went nigh to wish 
that ho had taken his fi^thcr's offer and gone down to the Cities ; 
and even had he met his banc : well were that ! And, as joung 
folk will, he set to work making a picture of his deeds there, had 
he been there. He showed himself the stricken fight in the plain, 
and the press, and the struggle, and the breaking of the serried 
band, and himself amidst the ring of foemen doing most valiantl}', 
and falling there at last, his shield o'er-heavy with the weight of 
foemen's spears for a man to uphold it. Then the victor}* of his 
folk and the lamentation and praise over the slain man of the 
Mountain Dales, and the burial of the valiant warrior, the praising 
weeping folk meeting him at the Cit3-gate, laid stark and cold in 
his arms on the gold-hung garlanded bier. 

There ended his dream, and he laughed aloud and said : * I 
am a fool ! All this were good and sweet if I should see it m}'- 
self ; and forsooth that is how I am thinking of it, as if I still 
alive should see myself dead and famous ! ' 

Then he turned a little and looked at the houses of the Thorp 
lying dark about the snow}- ways under the starlit heavens of the 
winter morning : dark they were indeed and grey, save where 
here and there the half-burned Yule-fire reddened the windows 
of a hall, or where, as in one place, the candle of some early wakcr 
shone white in a chamber window. There was scarce a man 
astir, he deemed, and no sound reached him save the crowing of 
the cocks mufilcd by their houses, and a faint sound of beasts in 
the byres. 

Thus he stood a while, his thoughts wandering now, lill pre- 
sently he heard footsteps coming his way down the street and 
turned toward them, and lo it was the old man Stone-face. He 
had seen Gold-mane go out, and had risen and followed him that 
he might talk with him apart. Gold-manc greeted him kindly, 

75 



Tales of the though, sooth to sa}', he was but half content to see him ; since he 

wood. doubted, what was verily the case, that his foster-father would 

give him many words, counselling him to refrain from going to 

the wood, and this was loathsome to him ; but he spake and said : 

' Mcseems, father, that the eastern sky is brightening toward 

dawn.' 

' Yea,' quoth Stone-face. 

' It will be light in an hour,' said Face-of-god. 

* Even so,' said Stone-face. 

* And a fair day for the morrow of Yule,' said the swain. 

' Yea,' said Stone-face, ' and what wilt thou do with the fair 
day ? Wilt thou to the wood ? ' 

' Ma^'be, father,' said Gold-mane ; * Hail-face and some of 
the swains are talking of elks up the fells which may be trapped 
in the drifts, and if they go a-hunting them, I may go in 
their company.' 

* Ah, son,' quoth Stone-face, ' thou wilt look to see other kind 
of beasts than elks. Things may ye fall in with there who may 
not be impounded in the snow like to elks, but can go light-foot 
on the top of the soft drift from one place to another.' 

Said Gold' mane : 'Father, fear me not; I shall either refrain 
me from the wood, or if I go, I shall go to hunt the wood-deer 
with other hunters. But since thou hast come to me, tell me more 
about the wood, for th}-^ tales thereof are fair.' 

* Yea,' said Stone-face, ' fair tales of foul things, as oft it be- 
falleth in theworld. Hearken now! if thou deemest that what thou 
seekest shall come readier to thine hand because of the winter and 
the snow, thou errest. For the wights that waylay the bodies and 
souls of the mighty in the wild-wood heed such matters nothing ; 
\'ea and at Yule-tide are thev most abroad, and most armed for 
the fray. Even such an one have I seen time agone, when the 
snow was deep and the wind was rough ; and it was in the like- 
ness of a woman clad in such raiment as the Bride bore last night, 
and she trod the snow light-foot in thin raiment where it would 

76 



scarce bear the skids of a deft snow-runner. Hvcn so she stood The beguil- 
before me ; the icy wind blew her raiment round about her, and '"g ot a 
drifted the hair from her garlanded head toward me, and she as ^^ '''■'■"3'■• 
fair and fresh as in the midsummer days. Up the fell she fared, 
sweetest oi' all things to look on, and beckoned on me to follow ; 
on me, the Warrior, the Stout-heart ; and I followed, and between 
us grief was born ; but I it was that fostered that child and not 
she. Always when she would be, was she merry and lovely; and 
even so is she now, for she is of those that be long-lived. And 
I wot that thou hast seen even such an one ! ' 

*TelI me more of th}' talcs, foster-father,' said Gold-manc, 
' and fear not for me ! ' 

' Ah, son,' he said, ' mayst thou have no such tales to tell to 
those that shall be young when thou art old. Yet hearken ! We 
sat in the hall together and there was no third ; and methought 
that the birds sang and the flowers bloomed, and sweet was their 
savour, though it was mid-winter. A rose-wreath was on her 
head ; grapes were on the board, and fair unwrinkled summer 
apples on the day that we feasted together. When was the feast? 
sayst thou. Long ago. W' hat was the hall, thou sayest, wherein 
ye feasted ? I know not if it were on the earth or under it, or if 
we rode the clouds that even. But on the morrow what was there 
but the stark wood and the drift of the snow, and the iron wind 
howling through the branches, and a lonely man, a wanderer rising 
from the ground. A wanderer through the wood and up the fell, 
and up the high mountain, and up and up to the edges of the ice- 
river and the green caves of the ice-hills. A wanderer in spring, 
in summer, autumn and winter, with an empty heart and a burning 
never-satisfied desire ; who hath seen in the uncouth places many 
an evil unmanly shape, many a foul hag and changing ugl}' 
semblance ; who hath suffered hunger and thirst and wounding 
and fever, and hath seen many things, but hath never again seen 
that fair woman, or that lovely feast-hall. 

* All praise and honour to the House of the Face, and the 

77 



The world bounteous valiant men thereof! and the like praise and honour 
awake. to the fair women whom they wed of the valiant and goodly 

House of the Steer ! ' 

'Even so say I,' quoth Gold-mane calmly; *but now wend 
we aback to the House, for it is morning indeed, and folk will be 
stirring there.' 

So they turned from the bridge together ; and Stone-face was 
kind and fatherly, and was telling his foster-son many wise 
things concerning the life of a chieftain, and the giving-out of 
dooms and the gathering for battle ; to all which talk Face-of- 
god seemed to hearken gladly, but indeed hearkened not at all ; 
for verily his eyes were beholding that snowy waste, and the fair 
woman upon it; even such an one as Stone-face had told of. 



CHAPTER XIII. THEY FARE TO THE HUNTING OF 
THE ELK. 

WHEN they came into the Hall, the hearth-fire had been 
quickened, and the sleepers on the floor had been 
wakened, and all folk were astir. So the old man sat 
down by the hearth while Gold-mane busied himself in fetching 
wood and water, and in sweeping out the Hall, and other such 
works of the early morning. In a little while Hall-face and the 
other young men and warriors were afoot duly clad, and the 
Alderman came from his chamber and greeted all men kindly. 
Soon meat was set upon the boards, and men broke their fast ; and 
da}' dawned while they were about it, and ere it was all done the 
sun rose clear and golden, so that all men knew that the day 
would be fair, for the frost seemed hard and enduring. 

Then the eager young men and the hunters, and those who 
knew the mountain best drew together about the hearth, and fell 
to talking of the hunting of the elk ; and there were three there 
who knew both the woods and also the fells right up to the ice- 

78 



rivers better than an}' other ; and these said that they who were The hunt 
fain of the hunting of the elk would have no likelier time than "^ "!'• 
that day for a year to come. Short was the rede betwixt them, 
for they said they would go to the work at once and make the 
most of the short winter daylight. So they went each to his 
place, and some outside that House to their fathers' houses to 
fetch each man his gear. Facc-of-god for his part went to his 
shut-bed, and stood by his chest, and opened it, and drew out of 
it a fine hauberk of ring-mail which his father had made for him : 
for though Face-of-god was a deft wright, he was not by a long 
wa}' so deft as his father, who was the deftest of all men of that 
time and country- ; so that the alien merchants would give him 
what he would for his hauberks and helms, whenso he would 
chaffer with them, which was but seldom. So Face-of-god did 
on this hauberk over his kirtle, and over it he cast his foul- 
weather weed, so that none might see it : he girt a strong war- 
sword to his side, cast his quiver over his shoulder, and took his 
bow in his hand, although he had little lust to shoot elks that 
da}', even as Stone-face had said ; therewithal he took his skids, 
and went forth of the hall to the gate of the Burg ; whereto 
gathered the whole company of twenty-three, and Gold-mane the 
twenty-fourth. And each man there had his skids and his bow 
and quiver, and whatso other weapon, as short-sword, or wood- 
knife, or axe, seemed good to him. 

So they went out-a-gatcs, and clomb the stairway in the cliff 
which led to the ancient watch-tower : for it was on the lower slopes 
of the fells which lay near to the Weltering Water that they 
looked to find the elks, and this was the nighest road thereto. 
When they had gotten to the top they lost no time, but went 
their ways nearly due east, making way easily where there were 
but scattered trees close to the lip of the sheer cliffs. 

They went merrily on their skids over the close-lying snow, 
and were soon up on the great shoulders of the fells that went up 
from the bank of the Weltering Water : at noon they came into 

79 



Face-of-goil a little dale wherein were a few trees, and there they abided to 
missing. eat their meat, and were very merry, making for themselves 

tables and benches of the drifted snow, and piling it up to wind- 
ward as a defence against the wind, which had now arisen, little 
but bitter from the south-east ; so that some, and they the wisest, 
began to look for foul weather : wherefore they tarried the shorter 
while in the said dale or hollow. 

But they were scarcely on their way again before the aforesaid 
south-east wind began to grow bigger, and at last blew a gale, 
and brought up with it a drift of fine snow, through which they yet 
made their way, but slowly, till the drift grew so thick that they 
could not see each other five paces apart. 

Then perforce they made stay, and gathered together under a 
bent which by good luck they happened upon, where they were 
sheltered from the worst of the drift. There they abode, till in 
less than an hour's space the drift abated and the wind fell, and 
in a little while after it was quite clear, with the sun shining 
brightly and the young waxing moon white and high up in the 
heavens ; and the frost was harder than ever. 

This seemed good to them ; but now that they could see each 
other's faces they fell to telling over their company, and there 
was none missing save Face-of-god. They were somewhat dis- 
mayed thereat, but knew not what to do, and they deemed he 
might not be far off, either a little behind or a little ahead ; and 
Hall-face said : 

' There is no need to make this to-do about my brother ; he 
can take good care of himself; neither does a warrior of the Face 
die because of a little cold and frost and snow-drift. Withal 
Gold-mane is a wilful man, and of late days hath been wilful 
beyond his wont ; let us now find the elks.' 

So they went on their ways hoping to fall in with him again. 
No long story need be made of their hunting, for not very far 
from where they had taken shelter they came upon the elks, 
many of them, impounded in the drifts, pretty much where the deft 

80 



hunters looked to find them. There then was battle between Fate-of-god 

the elks and the men, till the beasts were all slain and only one ^'^'^^ home. 

man hurt : then they made them sleighs from wood which they 

found in the hollows thereby, and they laid the carcasses thereon, 

and so turned their faces homeward, dragging their prey with 

them. But they met not Facc-of-god either there or on the way 

home ; and Hall-face said : ' Maybe Gold-mane will lie on the 

fell to-night ; and I would I were with him ; for adventures oft 

befall such folk when they abide in the wilds.' 

Now it was late at night b}' then they reached Burgstead, so 
laden as the}' were with the dead beasts; but they heeded the night 
little, for the moon was well-nigh as bright as day for them. 
But when the}- came to the gate of the Thorp, there were assem- 
bled the goodmen and swains to meet them with torches and 
wine in their honour. There also was Gold-mane come back 
before them, yea for these two hours; and he stood clad in his 
holiday raiment and smiled on them. 

Then was there some jeering at him that he was come back 
empty-handed from the hunting, and that he was not able to 
abide the wind and the drift ; but he laughed thereat, for all this 
was but game and play, since men knew him for a keen hunter and 
a stout woodsman ; and they had deemed it a heavy loss of him if he 
had been cast away, as some feared he had been : and his brother 
Hall-face embraced him and kissed him, and said to him : 'Now 
the next time that thou farest to the wood will I be with thee foot to 
foot, and never leave thee, and then mescemcth I shall wot of the 
tale that hath befallen thee, and belike it shall be no sorry one.' 

Face-of-god laughed and answered but little, and they all betook 
them to the House of the Face and held high feast therein, for 
as late as the night was, in honour of this Hunting of the Elk. 

No man cared to question Face-of-god closely as to hov/ or 
where he had strayed from the hunt; for he had told his own tale 
at once as soon zs became home, to wit, that his right-foot skid- 
strap had broken, and even while he stopped to mend it came on 

8 1 M 



The true tale that drift and weather ; and that he could not move from that 
of Face-of- place without losing his way, and that when it had cleared he 
SO"' knew not whither they had gone because the snow had covered 

their slot. So he deemed it not unlike that they had gone back, 
and that he might come up with one or two on the way, and that 
in any case he wotted well that they could look after themselves ; 
so he turned back, not going ver}' swiftly. All this seemed like 
enough, and a little matter except to jest about, so no man made 
any question concerning it : only old Stone-face said to himself: 
' Now were I fain to have a true tale out of him, but it is little 
likely that anj-thing shall come of my much questioning ; and it is 
ill forcing a young man to tell lies.' 

So he held his peace, and the feast went on merrily and blithely. 



CHAPTER XIV. CONCERNING FACE-OF-GOD AND THE 
MOUNTAIN. 

UT it must be told of Gold-mane that what had befallen 
him was in this wise. His skid- strap brake in good sooth, 
and he staj'ed to mend it ; but when he had done what was 
needful, he looked up and saw no man nigh, what for the drift, 
and that they had gone on somewhat ; so he rose to his feet, and 
without more delay, instead of keeping on toward the elk-ground 
and the way his face had been set, he turned himself north-and- 
by-east, and went his ways swiftly towards that airt, because he 
deemed that it might lead him to the Mountain-hall where he 
had guested. He abode not for the storm to clear, but swept off 
through the thick of it; and indeed the wind was somewhat at his 
back, so that he went the swiftlier. But when the drift was gotten 
to its very worst, he sheltered himself for a little in a hollow be- 
hind a thorn-bush he stumbled upon. As soon as it began to 
abate he went on again, and at last when it was quite clear, and 
the sun shone out, he found himself on a long slope of the fells 

82 



covered deep with smooth white snow, and at the higher end a A deft archer 
great crag rising bare fifty feet above the snow, and more rocks, but on the moun- 
none so great, and broken ground as he judged (the snow beina ^^'"• 
deep) about it on the hither side; and on the further, three great 
pinc-treesall bent dovvnandminglcdtogetherbythcirloadof snow. 
Thitherward he made, as a man might, seeing nothing else to 
note before him ; but he had not made man}' strides when forth 
from behind the crag by the pine-trees came a man ; and at first 
Face-of-god thought it might be one of his hunting-fellows gone 
astray, and he hailed him in a loud voice, but as he looked he saw 
the sun flash back from a bright helm on the new-comer's head ; 
albeit he kept on his way till there was but a space of two hun- 
dred yards between them; when lo ! the helm-bearer notched a 
shaft to his bent bow and loosed at Face-of-god, and the arrow 
came whistling and passed six inches by his right ear. Then 
Face-of-god stopped perplexed with his case ; for he was on the 
deep snow in his skids, with his bow unbent, and he knew not how 
to bend it speedil}'. He was loth to turn his back and flee, and 
indeed he scarce deemed that it would help him. Meanwhile of 
his tarrying the archer loosed again at him, and this time the shaft 
flew close to his left ear. Then Face-of-god thought to cast him- 
self down into the snow, but he was ashamed; till there came a 
third shaft which flew over his head amidmost and close to it. 
*Good shooting on the Mountain!' muttered he; 'the next shaft 
will be amidst my breast, and who knows whether the Alder- 
man's handiwork will keep it out.' 

So he cried aloud: 'Thou shootcst well, brother; but art thou 
a foe ? If thou art, I have a sword b}- mj' side, and so hast thou ; 
come hither to me, and let us fight it out friendly if we must 
needs fight.' 

A laugh came down the wind to him clear but somewhat 
shrill, and the archer came swiftly towards him on his skids with 
no weapon in his hand save his bow ; so that Face-of-god did not 
draw his sword, but stood wondering. 

«3 



hall 



One from the As they drew nearer he beheld the face of the new-comer, and 
Mountain- deemed that he had seen it before ; and soon, for all that it was 

hooded close by the ill-weather raiment, he perceived it to be the 

face of Bow-may, ruddy and smiling. 

She laughed out loud again, as she stopped herself within three 

feet of him, and said: 

* Yea, friend Yellow-hair, we heard of the elks and looked to 
see thee hereabouts, and I knew thee at once when I came out from 
behind the crag and saw thee stand bewildered/ 

Said Gold-mane : ' Hail to thee, Bow-may ! and glad am I 
to see thee. But thou liest in saying that thou knewest me ; else 
why didst thou shoot those three shafts at me ? Surely thou art 
not so quick as that with all thy friends : these be sharp greetings 
of you Mountain-folk.' 

* Thou lad with the sweet mouth,' she said, ' I like to see thee 
and hear thee talk, but now must I hasten thy departure ; so 
stand we here no longer. Let us get down into the wood where 
we can do off our skids and sit down, and then will I tell thee 
the tidings. Come on!' 

And she caught his hand in hers, and they went speedily 
down the slopes toward the great oak-wood, the wind whistling 
past their ears. 

' Whither are we going ? ' said he. 

Said she: *I am to show thee the way back home, which thou 
wilt not know surely amidst this snow. Come, no words! thou 
shalt not have my ta!e from me till we are in the wood : so the 
sooner we are there the sooner shalt thou be pleased.' 

So Face-of-god held his peace, and they went on swiftly side 
by side. But it was not Bow-may's wont to be silent for long, 
so presently she said : 

*Thou art good to do as Ibid thee; but see thou, sweet play- 
mate, for all thou art a chieftain's son, thou wert but feather- 
brained to ask me why] shot at thee. I shoot at thee! that were 
a fine tale to tell her this even! Or dost thou think that I could 

84 



wood . 



shoot at a big man on the snow at two hundred paces and miss They sit 
him three times? Unless I aimed to miss.' down in the 

'Yea, Bow-may,' said he, 'art thou so deft a Bow-may ? Thou 
shalt be in my company whenso I fare to battle.' 

' Indeed,' she said, ' therein thou sayest but the bare truth : 
nowhere else shall I be, and thou shalt find my bow no worse than 
a good shield.' 

He laughed somewhat lightly; but she looked on him soberly 
and said : ' Laugh in that fashion on the da}- of battle, and we 
shall be well content with thee I ' 

So on the}' sped ver}- swiftly, for their wa}' was mostl}' down 
hill, so that the}' were soon amongst the outskirting trees of the 
wood, and presently- after reached the edge of the thicket, beyond 
which the ground was but thinly covered with snow. 

There the}- took off their skids, and went into the thick wood 
and sat down under a hornbeam tree ; and ere Gold-mane could 
open his mouth to speak Bow-may began and said : 

' Well it was that I fell in with thee, Dalesman, else had there 
been murders of men to tell of; but ever she ordereth all things 
wisely, though unwisely hast thou done to seek to her. Hearken I 
dost thou think that thou hast done well that thou hast me here 
with my tale ? Well, hadst thou busied thyself with the slaying 
of elks, or with sitting quietly at home, yet shouldcst thou have 
heard my tale, and thou shouldest have seen me in Burgstead in 
a day or two to tell thee concerning the flitting of the token. And 
ill it is that I have missed it, for fain had I been to behold the 
House of the Face, and to have seen thee sitting there in thy 
dignity amidst the kindred of chieftains.' 

And she sighed therewith. But he said : ' Ho!d up thine heart. 
Bow-may ! On the word oi^ a true man that shall befall thee one 
day. But come, playmate, give me thy tale I ' 

' Yea,' she said, ' I must now tell thee in the wild-wood what 
else I had told thee in the Hall. Hearken closely, for this is the 
message : 

B5 



A message 
from the 
Mountain. 



' Kieek not to me again till thou hast the token ; else assuredly wilt 
thou be slain J and I shall he sorry for ynany a day. Thereof as now 1 
may not tell thee more. Now as to the token : When March is worn 
two weeks fail not to go to and fro on the place of the Maiden Ward 
for an hour before sunrise every day till thou hear tidings.^ 

* Now,' quoth Bow-may, * hast thou hearkened and understood ?' 

* Yea,' said he. 

She said : ' Then tell me the words of my message concerning 
the token.' And he did so word for word. Then she said : 

* It is well, there is no more to say. Now must I lead thee till 
thou knowest the wood ; and then mayst thou get on to the smooth 
snow again, and so home merrily. Yet, thou grey-eyed fellow, 
I will have my pay of thee before I do that last work.' 

Therewith she turned about to him and took his head between 
her hands, and kissed him well favouredly both cheeks and mouth ; 
and she laughed, albeit the tears stood in her eyes as she said : 
' Now smelleth the wood sweeter, and summer will come back 
again. And even thus will I do once more when we stand side 
by side in battle array.' 

He smiled kindly on her and nodded as they both rose up from 
the earth : she had taken off her foul-weather gloves while they 
spake, and he kissed her hand, which was shapely of fashion albeit 
somewhat brown, and hard of palm, and he said in friendly wise : 

* Thou art a merry faring-fellow. Bow-may, and belike shalt 
be withal a true fighting-fellow. Come now, thou shalt be my 
sister and I thy brother, in despite of those three shafts across 
the snow.' 

He laughed therewith ; she laughed not, but seemed glad, and 
said soberly : 

' Yea, I may well be thy sister ; for belike I also am of the 
people of the Gods, who have come into these Dales by many far 
ways. I am of the House of the Ragged Sword of the Kindred 
of the Wolf. Come, brother, let us toward Wildlake's Way.' 

Therewith she went before him and led through the thicket 

86 



as by an assured and wonted path, and he followed hard at heel ; Face-of-god 

but his thought went from her for a while ; for those words of pondereth. 

brother and sister that he had spoken called to his mind the Bride, 

and theirkindness of little children, and the days when they seemed 

to have nought to do but to make the sun brighter, and the flowers 

fairer, and the grass greener, and the birds happier each for the 

other ; and a hard and evil thing it seemed to him that now he 

should be making all these things nought and dreary to her, now 

when he had become a man and deeds lay before him. Yet again 

was he solaced by what Bow-may had said concerning battle to 

come ; for he deemed that she must have had this from the Friend's 

foreseeing ; and he longed sore for deeds to do, wherein all these 

things might be cleared up and washen clean as it were. 

So passed they through the wood a long way, and it was get- 
ting dark therein, and Gold-mane said : 

' Hold now. Bow-may, for I am at home here.' 

She looked around and said : * Yea, so it is : I was thinking 
cf many things. Farewell and live merrily till March comes and 
the token ! ' 

Therewith she turned and went her ways and was soon out of 
sight, and he went lightly through the wood, and then on skids 
over the hard snow along the Dale's edge till he was come to the 
watch-tower, when the moon was bright in heaven. 

Thus was he at Burgstead and the House of the Face betimes, 
and before the hunters were gotten back. 



CHAPTER XV. MURDER AMONGST THE FOLK OF THE 
WOODLANDERS. 

SO wore awa}' midwinter tidingless. Stone-face spake no 
more to Face-of-god about the wood and its wights, when 
he saw that the young man had come back hale and merry, 
and seemed not to crave over-much to go back thither. As for 

87 



Tidings from the Bride, she was sad, and more than misdoubted all ; but daunt- 
Carlstead. j^gg ^2 5]^^ ^^^g j^, matters that try men's hardihood, she yet lacked 
heart to ask of Face-of-god what had befallen him since the au- 
tumn-tide, or where he was with her. So she put a force upon her- 
self not to look sad or craving when she was in his company, as full 
oft she was ; for he rather sought her than shunned her. For when 
he saw her thus, he deemed things were changing with her as they 
had changed with him, and he bethought him of what he had 
spoken to Bow-may, and deemed that even so he might speak 
with the Bride when the time came, and that she would not be 
grieved beyond measure, and all would be well. 

Now came on the thaw, and the snow went, and the grass grew 
all up and down the Dale, and all waters were big. And about 
this time arose rumours of strange men in the wood, uncouth, 
vile, and murderous, and many of the feebler sort were made 
timorous thereby. 

But a little before March was born came new tidings from the 
Woodlanders ; to wit : There came en a time to the house of a 
woodland carle, a worthy goodman well renowned of all, two 
wayfarers in the first watch of the night ; and these men said that 
they were wending down to the Plain from a f ar-av;ay dale, Rose- 
dale to wit, which all men had heard of, £ind that they had stra\'ed 
from the way and were exceeding weary, and they craved a meal's 
me?.t and lodgirg for the night. 

This the goodman might nowise gainsay, and he saw no harm 
in it, wherefore he bade them abide and be merry. 

These men, said they who told the tidings, were outlanders, 
and no man had seen any like them before : they were armed, £nd 
bore short bows made of horn, and round targets, and coats-of- 
fence done over with ho-'n ccr.les ; they had crooked swords girt 
to their sides, and axes of steel forged all in one piece, right good 
weapons. They were clad in scarlet and had much silver on their 
raiment and about their weapons, and great rings of the same on 
their arms ; and all this silver seemed brand-new. 

88 



Now the Woodland Carle gave them of such things as he had, Foul deeds in 
and was kind and blithe to them : there were in his house besides ^ guest-hall. 
himself five men of his sons and kindred, and his wife and three 
daughters and two other maids. So they feasted after the Wood- 
landers' fashion, and went to bed a little before midnight. Two 
hours after, the carle awoke and heard a little stir, and he looked 
and saw the guests on their feet amidst the hall clad in all their 
war-gear ; and they had betwixt them his two j'oungest daughters, 
maids of fifteen and twelve winters, and had bound their hands 
and done clouts over their mouths, so that they might not cry out ; 
and they were just at point to carry them off. Thereat the good- 
man, naked as he was, caught up his sword and made at these 
murder-carles, and or ever they were ware of him he had hewn 
down one and turned to face the other, who smote at him with his 
steel axe and gave him a great wound on the shoulder, and there- 
withal fled out at the open door and forth into the wood. 

The Woodlander made no stay to raise the cry (there was no 
need, for the hall was astir now from end to end, and men getting 
to their weapons), but ran out after the felon even as he was ; and, 
in spite of his grievous hurt, overran him no long way from the 
house before he had gotten into the thicket. But the man was 
nimble and strong, and the goodman unsteady' from his wound, 
and by then the others of the household came up with the hue and 
cry he had gotten two more sore wounds and was just making 
an end of throttling the felon with his bare hands. So he fell into 
their arms fainting from weakness, and for all they could do he 
died in two hours' time from that axe-wound in his shoulder, and 
another on the side of the head, and a knife-thrust in his side ; and 
j he was a man of sixt^^ winters. 

But the stranger he had slain outright; and the one whom ho 
had smitten in the hall died before the dawn, thrusting all help 
aside, and making no sound of speech. 

When these tidings came to Burgstead they seemed great to 
all men, and to Gold-mane more than all. So he and many others 

89 N 



Two evil men took their weapons and fared up to Wildlake's Way, and so came 
lying dead. to the Woodland Carles. But the Woodlanders had borne out the 
carcasses of those felons and laid them on the green before Wood- 
grey's door (for that was the name of the dead goodman), and 
they were saying that they would not bury such accursed folk, but 
would bear them a little way so that they should not be vexed 
with the stink of them, and cast them into the thicket for the wolf 
and the wild-cat and the stoat to deal with ; and they should lie 
there, weapons and silver and all ; and they deemed it base to strip 
such wretches, for who would wear their raiment or bear their 
weapons after them. 

There was a great ring of folk round about them when they 
of Burgstead drew near, and they shouted for joy to see their 
neighbours, and made way before them. Then the Dalesmen 
cursed these murderers who had slain so good a man, and they all 
praised his manliness, whereas he ran out into the night naked 
and wounded after his foe, and had fallen like his folk of old time. 
It was a bright spring afternoon in that clearing of the Wood, 
and they looked at the two dead men closely; and Gold-mane, 
who had been somewhat silent and moody till then, became merry 
and wordy ; for he beheld the men and saw that they were utterly 
strange to him : they were short of stature, crooked-legged, long- 
armed, very strong for their size : with small blue eyes, snubbed- 
nosed, wide-mouthed, thin-lipped, very swarthy of skin, exceed- 
ing foul of favour. He and all others wondered who they were, 
and whence they came, for never had they seen their like ; and the 
Woodlanders, who often guested outlanders strayed from the way 
of divers kindreds and nations, said also that none such had they 
ever seen. But Stone-face, who stood by Gold-mane, shook his 
head and quoth he : 

' The Wild-wood holdeth many marvels, and these be of them : 
the spawn of evil wights quickeneth therein, and at other whiles 
it melteth away again like the snow ; so may it be with 
these carcasses.' 

90 



And some of the older folk of the Woodlanders who stood by Song ariscth 
hearkened what he said, and deemed his words wise, for they '" ^'i^ hall, 
remembered their ancient lore and man}' a tale of old time. 

Thereafter they of Burgstead went into Wood-grey's hall, 
or as many of them as might, for it was but a poor place and not 
right great. There they saw the goodman laid on the dais in all 
his war-gear, under the last tie-beam of his hall, whereon was 
carved amidst much goodly work of knots and flowers and 
twining stems the image of the Wolf of the Waste, his jaws open 
and gaping : the wife and daughters of the goodman and other 
women of the folk stood about the bier singing some old song in 
a low voice, and some sobbing therewithal, for the man was much 
beloved : and much people of the Woodlanders was in the hall, 
and it was somewhat dusk within. 

So the Burgstead men greeted that folk kindl}' and humbly, 
and again they fell to praising the dead man, saying how his deed 
should long be remembered in the Dale and wide about ; and 
the}^ called him a fearless man and of great worth. And the 
women hearkened, and ceased their crooning and their sobbing, and 
stood up proudly and raised their heads with gleaming eyes ; and 
as the words of the Burgstead men ended, they lifted up their 
voices and sang loudlj' and clearl}-, standing together in a row, 
ten of them, on the dais of that poor hall, facing the gable and 
the wolf-adorned tie-beam, heeding nought as they sang what 
was about or behind them. 

And this is some of what they sang : 

Why sit ye bare in the spinning-room ? 
Why weave ye naked at the loom ? 

Bare and white as the moon we be. 

That the I'^arth and the drifting night may see. 

Now what is the worst of all your work ? 
What curse amidst the web shall lurk ? 

9^ 






The Song of The worst of the work our hands shall win 

the Weaving Is wrack and ruin round the kin. 



of the Banner. 



Shall the woollen jarn and the flaxen thread 
Be gear for living men or dead ? 

The woollen yarn and the flaxen thread 
Shall flare 'twixt living; men and dead. 

O wha^ is the ending of your day ? 
When shall ye rise and wend away ? 

Our day shall end to-morrow morn, 
When we hear the voice of the battle-horn. 

Where first shall eyes of men behold 
This weaving of the moonlight cold ? 

There where the alien host abides 
The gathering on the Mountain-sides. 

How long aloft shall the fair web fly 

When the bows are bent and the spears draw nigh ? 

From eve to morn and morn till eve 
Aloft shall fly the work we weave. 

What then is this, the web ye win ? 
What wood-beast waxeth stark therein ? 

We weave the W^olf and the gift of war 
From the men that were to the men that are. 

So sang they : and much were all men moved at their singing, 
and there was none but called to mind the old days of the Fathers, 
and the years when their banner went wide in the world. 

But the Woodlanders feasted them of Burgstead what they 
might, and then went the Dalesmen back to their houses ; but on 

92 



ilevds. 



the morrow's morrow they fared thither again, and Wood-grey Men's decm- 
was laid in mound amidst a o-rcat assemblage of the Folk. '"S °^ ^^^^^ 

>r> o .1 i„ 

Many men said that there was no doubt that those two felons 
were of the company of those who had ransacked the steads of 
Penny-thumb and Harts-bane ; and so at first deemed Rristler 
the son of Brightling : but after a while, when he had had time to 
think of it, he changed his mind ; for he said that such men as 
these would have slain first and ransacked afterwards : and some 
who loved neither Pcnn^'-thumb nor Harts-bane said that they 
would not have been at the pains to choose for ransacking the 
two worst men about the Dale, wliose loss was no loss to any 
but themselves. 

As for Gold-mane he knew not what to think, except that his 
friends of the Mountain had had nought to do with it. 

So wore the days awhile. 



CHAPTER XVI. THE BRIDE SPEAKETH WITH FACE-OF- 
GOD. 

FEBRUARY had died into March, and March was now 
twelve days old, on a fair and sunny day an hour before 
noon; and Face-of-god was in a meadow a scant mile down 
the Dale from Burgstead. He had been driving a bull into a 
goodman's byre nearb}', and had had to spend toil and patience 
both in getting him out of the fields and into the byre ; for the 
beast was hot with the spring da^'S and the new grass. So now 
he was resting himself in happy mood in an exceeding pleasant 
place, a little meadow to wit, on one side whereof was a great 
orchard or grove oi' sweet chestnuts, which went right up to the 
ti ct of the Southern ClifTs : across the meadow ran a clear brook 
towards the Weltering Water, free from big stones, in some places 
Jammed up for the flooding of the deep pasture-meadow, and 
with the grass growing on its lips down to the very water. There 

93 



the Bride. 



Face-of-god was a low bank just outside the chestnut trees, as if someone had 
tlunketh of raised a dyke about them when they were youna, which had been 
trodden low and spreading through the lapse of years by the 
faring of many men and beasts. The primroses bloomed thick 
upon it now, and here and there along it was a low blackthorn 
bush in full blossom ; from the mid-meadow and right down to 
the lip of the brook was the grass well nigh hidden by the blos- 
soms of the meadow-saffron, with daffodils sprinkled about 
amongst them, and in the trees and bushes the birds, and chiefly 
the blackbirds, were singing their loudest. 

There sat Face-of-god on the bank resting after his toil, and 
happy was his mood ; since in two days' wearing he should be 
pacing the Maiden Ward awaiting the token that was to lead 
him to Shadowy Vale ; so he sat calling to mind the Friend as 
he had last seen her, and striv^ing as it were to set her image 
standing on the flowery grass before him, till all the beauty of 
the meadow seemed bare and empty to him without her. Then 
it fell into his mind that this had been a beloved trysting-place 
betwixt him and the Bride, and that often when they were little 
would they come to gather chestnuts in the grove, and thereafter 
sit and prattle on the old dyke ; or in spring when the season 
was warm would they go barefoot into the brook, seeking its 
treasures of troutlets and flowers and clean-washed agate pebbles. 
Yea, and time not long ago had they met here to talk as lovers, 
and sat on that very bank in all the kindness of good days with- 
out a blemish, and both he and she had loved the place well for 
its wealth of blossoms and deep grass and goodly trees and clear 
running stream. 

As he thought of all this, and how often there he had praised 
to himself her beaut}-, which he scarce dared praise to her, he 
frowned and slowly rose to his feet, and turned toward the chest- 
nut-grove, as though he would go thence that way ; but or ever 
he stepped down from the dyke he turned about again, and even 
therewith, like the very image and ghost of his thought, lo! the 

94 



Bride herself coming up from out the brook and wending toward The Bride 
him, her wet naked feet gleaming in the sun as they trod down liersclf, 
the tender meadow-saffron and brushed past the tufts of daffodils. 
He stood staring at her discomforted, for on that day he had much 
to think of that seemed happy to him, and he deemed that she 
would now question him, and liis mind pondered divers ways of 
answering her, and none seemed good to him. She drew near and 
let her skirts fall over her feet, and came to him, her gown hem 
dragging over the flowers: then she stood straight up before him 
and greeted him, but reached not forth her hand to him nor touched 
him. Her face was paler that its wont, and her voice trembled 
as she spake to him and said : 

' Face-of-god, I would ask thee a gift.' 

' All gifts,' he said, ' that thou mayest ask, and I may give, 
lie open to thee.' 

She said : ' If I be alive when the time comes this gift thou 
mayst well give me.' 

'Sweet kinswoman,' said he, 'tell me what it is that thou 
wouldest have of me.' And he was ill-at-ease as he waited for 
her answer. 

She said : * Ah, kinsman, kinsman ! Woe on the day that 
maketh kinship accursed to me because thou desirest it !' 

He held his peace and was exceeding sorry; and she said: 

' This is the gift that I ask of thee, that in the days to come 
when thou art wedded, thou wilt give me the second man-child 
whom thou begettest.' 

He said : ' This shalt thou have, and would that I might give 
thee much more. Would that we were little children together 
once again, as when we played here in other days.' 

She said : ' I would have a token of thee that thou shalt show to 
the God, and swear on it to give me the gift. For the times change.' 

' What token wilt thou have ?' said he. 

She said : ' When next thou farest to the W^ood, thou shalt 
bring me back, it maybe a flower from the bank ye sit upon, or 

95 



The Gift to a splinter from the dais of the hall wherein ye feast, or maybe a 
be and its ring or some matter that the strangers are wont to wear. That 
token. si^aii be the token.' 

She spoke slowly, hanging her head adown, but she lifted it 
presently and looked into his face and said : 

' Woe's me, woe's me, Gold-mane ! How evil is this day, 
when bewailing me I may not bewail thee also! For I know that 
thine heart is glad. All through the winter have I kept this hidden 
in my heart, and durst not speak to thee. But now the spring- 
tide hath driven me to it. Let summer come, and who shall say?' 

Great was his grief, and his shame kept him silent, and he had 
no word to say ; and again she said : 

* Tell me, Gold-mane, when goest thou thither ?' 

He said : ' I know not surely, may happen in two days, may 
happen in ten. Why askest thou?' 

'O friend!' she said, ' is it a new thing that I should ask 
thee whither thou goest and whence thou comest, and the times 
of thy coming and going. Farewell to-day ! Forget not the 
token. Woe's me, that I may not kiss thy fair face !' 

She spread her arms abroad and lifted up her face as one who 
waileth, but no sound came from her lips ; then she turned about 
and went away as she had come. 

But as for him he stood there after she was gone in all confu- 
sion, as if he were undone : for he felt his manhood lessened that 
he should thus and so sorely have hurt a friend, and in a manner 
against his will. And 3'et he was somewhat wroth with her, that 
she had come upon him so suddenly, and spoken to him with such 
mastery, and in so few words, and he with none to make answer 
to her, and that she had so marred his pleasure and his hope of 
that fair day. Then he sat him down again on the flowery bank, 
and little by little his heart softened, and he once more called to 
mind many a time when they had been there before, and the plays 
and the games they had had together there when they were little. 
And he bethought him of the days that were long to him then, 

96 



and now seemed short to him, and as if they were all grown to- The first day's 
gcther into one stor}', and that a sweet one. Then his breast "^tcli on the 
heaved with a sob, and the tears rose to his eyes and burned and Vy" ," 
stuncr him, and he fell a-weeping for that sweet tale, and wept as 
he had wept once before on that old dyke when there had been 
some child's quarrel between them, and she had gone away and 
left him. 

Then after awhile he ceased his weeping, and looked about 
him lest anyone might be coming, and then he arose and went to 
and fro in the chestnut-grove for a good while, and afterwards 
went his ways from that meadow, saying to himself: 'Yet re- 
maineth to me the morrow of to-morrow, and that is the first of 
the days of the watching for the token.' 

But all that day he was slow to meet the eyes of men ; and 
in the hall that eve he was silent and moody ; for from time to 
time it came over him that some of his manhood had departed 
from him. 



CHAPTER XVII. THE TOKEN COMETH FROM THE 
MOUNTAIN. 

THE next day wore away tidingless; and theday after Face- 
of-god arose betimes; for it was the first da}' oi' his watch, 
and he was at the Maiden Ward before the time appointed 
on a very fair and bright morning, and he went to and fro on that 
place, and had no tidings. So he came away somewhat cast down, 
and said within himself: 'Is it but a lie and a mocking when all 
is said ?' 

On the morrow he went thither again, and the morn was wild 
and storm}- with drift of rain, and low clouds hurrying over the 
earth, though for the sunrise they lifted a little in the east, and 
the sun came up over the passes, amidst the red and angry rack of 
clouds. This morn also gave him no tidings of the token, and he 

97 O 



third. 



The second was wroth and perturbed in spirit : but towards evening he said : 
day's watch. ' It is well : ten days she gave me, so that she might be able to 
And the ^^^^ without fail on one of them ; she will not fail me.' 

So again on the morrow he was there betimes, and the morn 
was windy as on the day before, but the clouds higher and of better 
promise for the day. Face-of-god walked to and fro on the 
Maiden Ward, and as he turned toward Burgstead for the tenth 
time, he heard, as he deemed, a bow-string twang afar oflF, and even 
therewith came a shaft flying heavily like a winged bird, which 
smote a great standing- stone on the other side of the way, where 
of old some chieftain had been buried, and fell to earth at its foot. 
He went up to it and handled it, and saw that there was a piece 
of thin parchment wrapped about it, which indeed he was eager 
to unwrap at once, but forebore ; because he was on the highway, 
and people were already astir, and even then passed by him a good- 
man of the Dale with a man of his going afield together, and they 
gave him the sele of the day. So he went along the highway a 
little till he came to a place where was a footbridge over into the 
meadow. He crossed thereby and went swiftly till he reached 
a rising ground grown over with hazel-trees ; there he sat down 
among the rabbit-holes, the primrose and wild-garlic blooming 
about him, and three blackbirds answering one another from the 
edges of the coppice. Straightway when he had looked and seen 
none coming he broke the threads that were wound about the scroll 
and the arrow, and unrolled the parchment ; and there was writing 
thereon in black ink of small letters, but very fair, and this is what 
he read therein : 

Come thou to the Mountain Hall by the path which thou knovuest 
ofy on the morrow of the day whereon thou readest this. Rise betimes 
and come armed, for there are other men than we in the wood^ to 
whom thy death should be a gain. When thou art come to the Hall^ 
thou shalt find no 7nan therein ; but a great hound only, tied to a 
bench nigh the dais. Call him by his name., Sure-foot to wit, and 
give him to eat from the meat upon the board, and give him water 

98 



to drink. If the day is then far spent, as it is like to be, abide thou A letter from 
with the hound in the hall through the night, and eat of what thou the Mountain. 
shalt find there ; but see that the hound fares not abroad till the 
morrow'' s morn : then lead him out and bring him to the north-east 
corner of the Hall, and he shall lift the slot for thee that leadeth to 
the Shadowy Vale. Follow him and all good go with thee. 

Now when he had read this, earth seemed fair indeed about 
him, and he scarce knew whither to turn or what to do to make 
the most of his jo}'. He presently went back to Burgstead and 
into the House of the Face, where all men were astir now, and 
the da}- was clearing. He hid the shaft under his kirtle, for he 
^vould not that any should see it ; so he went to his shut-bed and 
laid it up in his chest, wherein he kept his chiefest treasures; but 
the writing on the scroll he set in his bosom and so hid it. He 
went jo^-fuU}' and proudly, as one who knoweth more tidings and 
better than those around him. But Stone-face beheld him, and 
said : ' Foster-son, thou art happy. Is it that the spring-tide is 
in thy blood, and maketh thee blithe with all things, or hast thou 
some new tidings ? Na}', I would not have an answer out of 
thee ; but here is good rede : when next thou goest into the 
wood, it were nought so ill for thee to have a valiant old carle by 
thy side ; one that loveth thee, and would die for thee if need were ; 
one who might watch when thou wert seeking. Or else beware ! 
for there are evil things abroad in the Wood, and moreover the 
brethren of those two felons who were slain at Carlstead.' 

Then Gold-mane constrained himself to answer the old carle 
softly ; and he thanked him kindly for his offer, and said that 
so it should be before long. So the talk between them fell, and 
Stone-face went away somewhat well-pleased. 

And now was Face-of-god become wary ; and he would not 
draw men's eyes and speech on him ; so he went afield with Hall- 
face to deal with the lambs and the ewes, and did like other men. 
No less wary was he in the hall that even, and neither spake much 
nor little ; and when his father spake to him concerning the Bride, 

99 



1 



Mountain- 
hall aaain 



f ace-of-god and made game of him as a somewhat sluggish groom, he did not 
Cometh to the change countenance, but answered h'ghtly what came to hand. 

On the morrow ere the earliest dawn he was afoot, and he clad 
himself and did on his hauberk, his father's work, which was fine- 
wrought and a stout defence, and reached down to his knees ; and 
over that he did on a goodly green kirtle well embroidered : he 
girt his war-sword to his side, and it was the work of his father's 
father, and a very good sword : its name was Dale-warden. He- 
did a good helm on his head, and slung a targe at his back, and 
took two spears in his hand, short but strong-shafted and well- 
steeled. Thus arrayed he left Burgstead before the dawn, and 
came to Wildlake's Way and betook him to the Woodland. He 
made no stop or stay on the path, but ate his meat standing by 
an oak-tree close by the half-blind track. When he came to the 
little wood-lawn, where was the toft of the ancient house, he looked 
all round about him, for he deemed that a likely place for those 
ugly wood-wights to set on him ; but nought befell him, though 
he stooped and drank of the woodland rill warily enough. So he 
passed on ; and there were other places also where he fared warily, 
because they seemed like to hold lurking felons ; though forsooth 
the whole wood might well serve their turn. But no evil befell 
him, and at last, when it yet lacked an hour to sunset, he came 
to the wood-lawn where Wild-wearer had made his onset that 
other eve. 

He went straight up to the house, his heart beating, and he 
scarce believing but that he should find the Friend abiding him 
there : but when he pushed the door it gave way before him at 
once, and he entered and found no man therein, and the walls 
stripped bare and no shield or weapon hanging on the panels. But 
the hound he saw tied to a bench nigh the dais, and the bristles 
on the beast's neck arose, and he snarled on Face-of-god, and 
strained on his leathern leash. Then Face-of-god went up to 
him and called him by his name. Sure-foot, and gave him his hand 
to lick, and he brought him water, and fed him with flesh from 

100 



the meat on the board ; so the beast became friendl}* and wagged The Hound 
his tail and whined and slobbered his hand. '" t^'ie Hail. 

Then he went all about the house, and saw and heard no living 
thing therein save the mice in the panels and Sure-foot. So he 
came back to the dais, and sat him down at the board and ate his 
fill, and thought concerning his case. And it came into his mind 
that the Woman of the Mountain had some deed for him to do 
which would try his manliness and exalt his fame ; and his heart 
rose high and he was glad, and he saw himself sitting beside her 
on the dais of a very fair hall beloved and honoured of all the 
folk, and none had aught to sa}' against him or owed him any 
grudge. Thus he pleased himself in thinking of the good days 
to come, sitting there till the hall grew dusk and dark and the 
night-wind moaned about it. 

Then after a while he arose and raked together the brands on 
the hearth, and made light in the hall and looked to the door. And 
he found there were bolts and bars thereto, so he shot the bolts and 
drew the bars into their places and made all as sure as might be. 
Then he brought Sure-foot down from the dais, and tied him up 
so that he might lie down athwart the door, and then lay down 
in his hauberk with his naked sword ready to his hand, and slept 
a long while. 

When he awoke it was darker than when he had lain him 
down, for the moon had set ; yet he deemed that the day was at 
point of breaking. So he fetched water and washed the night off 
him, and saw a little glimmer of the dawn. Then he ate some- 
what oi' the meat on the board, and did on his helm and his other 
gear, andunbarred the door, and led Sure-foot without, and brought 
him to the north-east corner of the house, and in a little while he 
lifted the slot and they departed, the man and the hound, just as 
dawn broke from over the mountains. 

Sure-foot led right into the heart of the pine-wood, and it was 
dark enough therein, with nought but a feeble glimmer for some 
while, and long was the way therethrough ; but in two hours' 

lOl 



The Wilder- space was there something of a break, and they came to the shore 
ncss. of a dark deep tarn on whose windless and green waters the day- 

light shone fully. The hound skirted the water, and led on un- 
checked till the trees began to grow smaller and the air colder 
for all that the sun was higher ; for they had been going up and 
up all the way. 

So at last after a six hours' journey they came clean out of the 
pine-wood, and before them lay the black wilderness of the bare 
mountains, and beyond them, looking quite near now, the great 
ice-peaks, the wall of the world. It was but an hour short of noon 
by this time, and the high sun shone down on a barren boggy 
moss which lay betwixt them and the rocky waste. Sure-toot 
made no stay, but threaded the ways that went betwixt the quag- 
mires, and in another hour led Face-of-god into a winding valley 
blinded by great rocks, and everywhere stony and rough, with a 
trickle of water running amidst of it. The hound fared on up the 
dale to w^here the water was bridged by a great fallen stone, and 
so over it and up a steep bent on the further side, on to a mar- 
vellously rough mountain-neck, whiles mere black sand cumbered 
with scattered rocks and stones, whiles beset with mires grown 
over with the cottony mire-grass ; here and there a little scanty 
grass growing ; otherwhere nought but dwarf willow ever dying 
ever growing, mingled with moss or red-blossom.ed sengreen ; and 
all blending together into mere desolation. 

Few living things they saw there ; up on the neck a few sheep 
were grazing the scanty grass, but there was none to tend them ; 
yet Face-of-god deemed the sight of them good, for there must be 
men anigh who owned them. For the rest, the whimbrel laughed 
across the mires; high up in heaven a great eagle was hanging; 
once and again a grey fox leapt up before them, and the heath- 
fowl whirred up from under Face-of-god's feet. A raven who' 
was sitting croaking on a rock in that first dale stirred uneasily on 
his perch as he saw them, and when they were passed flapped his 
wings and flew after them croaking still. 

102 



Now they fared over that neck somewhat east, making but The gate of 
slow way because the ground was so broken and rocky ; and in Shadowy 
another hour's space Sure-foot led down-hill due east to where the ' 

stony neck sank into another desolate miry heath still falling to- 
ward the cast, but whose further side was walled by a rampart 
of crags cleft at their tops into marvellous shapes, coal-black, un- 
grassed and unmosscd. Thitherward the hound led straight, and 
Gold-mane followed wondering : as he drew near them he saw 
that they were not very high, the tallest peak scant fiftv feet from 
the face of the heath. 

They made their way through the scattered rocks at the foot 
of these crags, till, just where the rock-wall seemed the closest, 
the way through the stones turned into a path going through it 
skew-wise ; and it was now so clear a path that belike it had 
been bettered by men's hands. Down thereby Face-of-god fol- 
lowed the hound, deeming that he was come to the gates of the 
Shadowy Vale, and the path went down steeply and swiftl3% 
But when he had gone down a while, the rocks on his right hand 
sank lower for a space, so that he could look over and see what 
lay beneath. 

There lay below him a long narrow vale quite plain at the 
bottom, walled on the further side as on the hither by sheer rocks 
of black stone. The plain was grown over with grass, but he 
could see no tree therein : a deep river, dark and green, ran through 
the vale, sometimes through its midmost, sometimes lapping the 
further rock-wall: and he thought indeed that on many a day in 
the 3'ear the sun would never shine on that valley. 

Thus much he saw, and then the rocks rose again and shut it 
from his sight; and at last they drew so close together over head 
that he was in a way going through a cave with little daylight 
coming from above, and in the end he was in a cave indeed and 
mere darkness : but with the last feeble glimmer of light he 
thought he saw carved on a smooth space of the living rock at his 
Ictt hand the image of a wolf 

103 



In Shadowy This cave lasted but a little wa}', and soon the hound and the 

Vale. man were going once more between sheer black rocks, and the 

path grew steeper \'et and was cut into steps. At last there was 
a sharp turn, and they stood on the top of a long stony scree, 
down which Sure-foot bounded eagerly, givingtongue as he went; 
but Face-of-god stood still and looked, for now the whole Dale 
lay open before him. 

That river ran from north to south, and at the south end the 
cliffs drew so close to it that looking thence no outgate could be 
seen ; but at the north end there was as it were a dreary street 
of rocks, the river flowing amidmost and leaving little foothold 
on either side, somewhat as it was with the pass leading from the 
mountains into Burgdale. 

Amidmost of the Dale a little toward the north end he saw a 
doom-ring of black stones, and hard by it an ancient hall builded 
of the same black stone both wall and roof, and thitherward was 
Sure-foot now running. Face-of-god looked up and down the 
Dale and could see no break in the wall of sheer rock : toward 
the southern end he saw a few booths and cots built roughl}' of 
stone and thatched with turf; thereabout he saw a few folk moving 
about, the most of whom seemed to be women and children; there 
were some sheep and lambs near these cots, and a herd of fifty 
or so of somewhat goodly mountain-kine were feeding higher up 
the valley. He could look down into the river from where he 
stood, and he saw that it ran between rocky banks going straight 
down from the face of the meadow, which was rather high above 
the water, so that it seemed little likely that the water should rise 
over its banks, either in summer or winter ; and in summer was 
it like to be highest, because the vale was so near to the high moun- 
tains and their snows. 



104 



CHAPTER XVIII. FACE-OF-GOD TALKETH WITH THE 
FRIEND IN SHADOWY VALE. 

IT was now about two hours after noon, and a broad band of A fair 
sunlight la}' upon the grass of the vale below Gold-mane's ^vckome. 
feet ; he went lightly down the scree, and strode forward 
over the level grass toward the Doom-ring, his helm and war- 
gear glittering bright in the sun. He must needs go through the 
Doom-ring to come to the Hall, and as he stepped out from behind 
the last of the big upright-stones, he saw a woman standing on 
the threshold of the Hall-door, which was but some score oi' paces 
from him, and knew her at once for the Friend. 

She was clad like himself in a green kirtle gail}' embroidered 
and fitting close to her body, and had no gown or cloak over it ; 
she had a golden fillet on her head beset with blue mountain 
stones, and her hair hung loose behind her. 

Her beaut}' was so exceeding, and so far beyond all memory 
of her that his mind had held, that once more fear of her fell upon 
Face-of-god, and he stood still with beating heart till she should 
speak to him. But she came forward swiftly with both her hands 
held out, smiling and happy-faced, and looking very kindl}- on 
him, and she took his hands and said to him : 

' Now welcome. Gold-mane, welcome, Face-of-god ! and twice 
welcome art thou and threefold. Lo ! this is the day that thou 
hast asked for : art thou happy in it ?' 

He lifted her hands to his lips and kissed them timorously, but 
said nought ; and therewithal Sure-foot came running forth from 
the Hall, and fell to bounding round about them, barking noisily 
after the manner of dogs who have met their masters again ; and 
still she held his hands and beheld him kindly. Then she called 
the hound to her, and patted him on the neck and quieted him, 
and then turned to Face-of-god and laughed happily and said : 

' I do not bid thee hold thy peace ; yet thou sayest nought. Is 
it well with thee ? ' 

105 P 






The Image of * Yea,' he said, * and more than well.' 

the Wolf. *Thou seemest to me a goodly warrior,' she said; ' hast thou 

met any foemen yesterday or this morning?' 

' Nay,' said he, ' none hindered me ; thou hast made the ways 
easy to me.' 

She said soberly, * Such as I might do, I did. But we may 
not wield everything, for our foes are many, and I feared for thee. 
But come thou into our house, which is ours, and far more ours 
than the booth before the pine-wood.' 

She took his hand again and led him toward the door, but 
Face-of-god looked up, and above the lintel he saw carved on the 
dark stone that image of the Wolf, even as he had seen it carved 
on Wood-grey's tie-beam ; ?.nd therewith such thoughts came 
into his mind that he stopped to look, pressing the Friend's hand 
hard as though bidding her note it. The stone wherein the image 
was carved was darker than the other building stones, and might 
be called black ; the jaws of the wood-beast were open and 
gaping, and had been painted with cinnabar, but wind and 
weather had worn away the most of the colour. 

Spake the Friend : ' So it is : thou beholdest the token of the 
God and Father of our Fathers, that telleth the tale of so many 
days, that the days which now pass by us be to them but as the 
drop in the sea of waters. Thou beholdest the sign of our sor- 
row, the memory of our wrong ; yet is it also the token of our 
hope. Ma^^be it shall lead thee far.' 

'Whither?' said he. But she answered not a great while, 
and he looked at her as she stood a-gazing on the image, and saw 
how the tears stole out of her eyes and ran adown her cheeks. 
Then again came the thought to him of W^ood-grey's hall, and 
the women of the kindred standing before the Wolf and singing 
of him ; and though there was little comeliness in them and she 
was so exceeding beauteous, he could not but deem that they were 
akin to her. 

But after a while she wiped the tears from her face and turned 

1 06 



to him and said: 'My friend, the Wolf shall lead thee no- They go info 
whither but where I also shall be, whatsoever peril or grief may the Hall. 
beset the road or lurk at the ending thereof. Thou shalt be no 
thrall, to labour while I look on.' 

His heart swelled within him as she spoke, and he was at 
point to beseech her love that moment ; but now her face had 
grown gay and bright again, and she said while he was gathering 
words to speak withal : 

' Come in. Gold-mane, come into our house ; for I Jiave many 
things to say to thee. And moreover thou art so hushed, and so 
fearsome in thy mail, that I think thou yet deemest me to be a 
Wight of the Waste, such as Stone-face thy Fosterer told thee 
tales off and forewarned thee. So would I eat before thee, and 
sign the meat with the sign of the Earth-god's Hammer, to show 
thee that he is in error concerning me, and that I am a very 
woman flesh and fell, as my kindred were before me.' 

He laughed and was exceeding glad, and said : ' Tell me 
now, kind friend, dost thou deem that Stone-face's tales are mere 
mockery of his dreams, and that he is beguiled by empty sem- 
blances or less ? Or are there such Wights in the Waste.' 

' Nay,' she said, ' the man is a true man ; and of^ these things 
are there many ancient tales which we may not doubt. Yet so it 
is that such wights have I never yet seen, nor aught to scare me 
save evil men : belike it is that I have been over-much busied in 
dealing with sorrow and ruin to look after them : or it may be 
that they feared me and the wrath-breeding grief of the kindred.' 
He looked at her earnestly, and the wisdom of her heart 
seemed to enter into his; but she said : * It is of men we must 
talk, and of me and thee. Come with me, my friend.' 

And she stepped lightly over the threshold and drew him in. 
The Hall was stern and grim and somewhat dusk^', for its win- 
dows were but small : it was all of stone, both walls and roof. 
There was no timber-work therein save the benches and chairs, 
and a little about the doors at the lower end that led to the but- 

10? 



A game of tery and out-bowers ; and this seemed to have been wrought of 
spear-casting. Jate years ; yea, the chairs against the gable on the dais were 
of stone built into the wall, adorned with carving somewhat 
sparingly, the image of the Wolf being done over the midmost of 
them. He looked up and down the Hall, and deemed it some 
seventy feet over all from end to end ; and he could see in the 
dimness those same goodly hangings on the wall which he had 
seen in the woodland booth. 

She led him up to the dais, and stood there leaning up against 
the arm of one cf those stone seats silent for a while ; then she 
turned and looked at him, and said : 

* Yea, thou lookest a goodly warrior ; yet am I glad that thou 
camest hither without battle. Tell me, Gold-mane,' she said, 
taking one of his spears from his hand, ' art thou deft with 
the spear ? ' 

' I have been called so,' said he. 

She looked at him sweetly and said : * Canst thou show me 
the feat of spear-throwing in this Hall, or shall we wend outside 
presently that I may see thee throw?' 

« The Hall sufficeth,' he said. « Shall I set this steel in the 
lintel of the buttery door yonder?' 

'Yea, if thou canst,' she said. 

He smiled and took the spear from her, and poised it and 
shook it till it quivered again, then suddenly drew back his arm 
and cast, and the shaft sped whistling down the dim hall, and 
smote the aforesaid door-lintel and stuck there quivering : then 
he sprang down from the dais, and ran down the hall, and put 
forth his hand and pulled it forth from the wood, and was on the 
dais again in a trice, and cast again, and the second time set the 
spear in the same place, and then took his other spear from the 
board and cast it, and there stood the two staves in the wood side 
by side ; then he went soberly down the hall and drew them 
both out of the wood and came back to her, while she stood 
w-atching him, her cheek flushed, her lips a little parted. 

io8 



armour. 



She said : ' Good spear-casting, forsooth ! and far above what Face-ofgod 
our folk can do, who be no groat throwers of the spear.' doeth oft' his 

Gold-manc laughed : ' Sooth is that,' said he, * or hardl}' were 
I here to teach thee spear-throwing.' 

' Wilt thou f!c-vt-r be paid for that simple onslaught ?' she said. 

' Have I been paid then ?' said he. 

She reddened, for she remembered her word to him on the 
mountain ; and he put his hand on her shoulder and kissed her 
cheek, but timorously; nor did she withstand him or shrink 
aback, but said soberly : 

'Good indeed is thy spear-throwing, and mcseems my brother 
will love thee when he hath seen thee strike a stroke or two in 
wrath. But, fair warrior, there be no foemen here : so get thee 
to the lower end oi the Hall, and in the bower beyond shalt thou 
find fresh water ; there wash the waste from off thee, and do oif 
thine helm and hauberk, and come back speedily and eat with 
me ; for I hunger, and so dost thou.' 

He did as she bade him, and came back presently bearing 
in his hand both helm and hauberk, and he looked hVht-limbed 
and trim and lissome, an exceeding goodly man. 



CHAPTER XIX. THE FAIR WOMAN TELLETH FACE- 
OF-GOD OF HER KINDRED. 

WHEN he came back to the dais he saw that there was 
meat upon the board, and the Friend said to him : 
' Now art thou Gold-mane indeed : but come now, 
sit by me and eat, though the Wood-woman giveth thee but a 
sorry banquet, O guest ; but from the Dale it is, and we be too 
far now from the dwellings of men to have delicate meat on the 
board, though to-night when they come back thy cheer shall be 
better. Yet even then thou shalt have no such dainties as Stone- 
face hath imagined for thee at the hands of the Wood-wight.* 

109 



They eat She laughed therewith, and he no less ; and in sooth the meat 

together. vvas but simple, of curds and new cheese, meat of the herdsmen. 

But Face-of-god said gaily : ' Sweet it shall be to me ; good is 
all that the Friend giveth.' 

Then she raised her hand and made the sign of the Hammer 
over the board, and looked up at him and said : 

' Hath the Earth-god changed my face, Gold-mane, to what I 
verily am ?' 

He held his face close to hers and looked into it, and him- 
seemed it was as pure as the waters of a mountain lake, and as fine 
and well-wrought every deal of it as when his father had wrought 
in his stithy many days and fashioned a small piece of great mas- 
ter^^ He was ashamed to kiss her again, but he said to himself, 
* This is the fairest woman of the world, whom I have sworn to 
wed this year.' Then he spake aloud and said : 

* I see the face of the Friend, and it will not change to me.' 
Again she reddened a little, and the happy look in her face 

seemed to grow yet sweeter, and he was bewildered with longing 
and delight. 

But she stood up and went to an ambrye in the wall and brought 
forth a horn shod and lipped with silver of ancient fashion, and 
she poured wine into it and held it forth and said : 

* O guest from the Dale, I pledge thee ! and when thou hast 
drunk to me in turn we will talk of weighty matters. For 
indeed I bear hopes in my hands too heavy for the daughters of 
men to bear ; and thou art a chieftain's son, and mayst well 
help me to bear them ; so let us talk simply and without guile, 
as folk that trust one another.' 

So she drank and held out the horn to him, and he took the 
horn and her hand both, and he kissed her hand and said : 

* Here in this Hall I drink to the Sons of the Wolf, whoso- 
ever they be.' Therewith he drank and he said : * Simply and 
guilelessly indeed will I talk with thee ; for I am weary of lies, 
and for thy sake have I told a many.' 

IIO 



' Thou shalt tell no more,' she said ; ' and as for the health She askctli of 
thou hast drunk, it is good, and shall proHt thee. Now sit we tidings, 
here in these ancient scats and let us talk.' 

So they sat them down while the sun was westering in the March 
afternoon, and she said : 

* Tell me first what tidings have been in the Dale.' 

Sohe told hcrof the ransackingsandof the murder at Carlstead. 

She said : ' These tidings have \ e heard before, and some 
deal of them we know better than ye do, or can ; for we were 
the ransackers of Penny-thumb and Harts-bane. Thereof will 
I say more presently. What other tidings hast thou to tell of? 
What oaths were sworn upon the Boar last Yule ? ' 

So he told her of the oath of Bristler the son of BrightHng. 
She smiled and said : ' He shall keep his oath, and yet redden 
no blade.' 

Then he told of his father's oath, and she said : 

* It is good ; but even so would he do and no oath sworn. 
All men may trust Iron-face. And thou, my friend, what oath 
didst thou swear ? ' 

His face grew somewhat troubled as he said : ' I swore to 
wed the fairest woman in the world, though the Dalesmen gain- 
said me, and they beyond the Dale.' 

' Yea,' she said, ' and there is no need to ask thee whom thou 
didst mean by thy " fairest woman," for I have seen that thou 
deemest me fair enough. My friend, maybe thy kindred will be 
against it, and the kindred of the Bride ; and it might be that 
my kindred would have gainsaid it if things were not as they 
are. But though all men gainsay it, yet will not I. It is meet 
and right that we twain wed.' 

She spake very soberly and quietly, but when she had spoken 
there was nothing in his heart but joy and gladness : yet shame 
of her loveliness refrained him, and he cast down his eyes before 
hers. Then she said in a kind voice : 

* I know thee, how glad thou art of this word of mine, because 

III 



Glad is Face- thou lookest On me with e3'cs of love, and thinkest of me as better 
of-god. than I am ; though I am no ill woman and no beguiler. But 

this is not all that I have to say to thee, though it be much; for 
there are more folk in the world than thou and I only. But I 
told thee this first, that thou mightest trust me in all things. 
So, my friend, if thou canst, refrain thy joy and thy longing a 
little, and hearken to what concerneth thee and me, and thy 
people and mine.' 

* Fair woman and sweet friend,' he said, ' thou kncwest of a 
gladness which is hard to bear if one must lay it aside for a 
while ; and of a longing which is hard to refrain if it mingle 
with another longing — knowest thou not ? ' 

' Yea,' she said, ' I know it.' 

* Yet,' said Face-of-god, ' I will forbear as thou biddest me. 
Tell me, then, what were the felons who were slain at Carlstead? 
Knowest thou of them ? ' 

* Over well,' she said, ' they are our foes this many a year ; 
and since we met last autumn they have become foes of you 
Dalesmen also. Soon shall ye have tidings of them ; and it was 
against them that I bade thee arm yesterday.' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Is it against them that thou wouldst have 
us do battle along with thy folk ? ' 

' So it is,' she said ; 'no other foemen have we. And now, Gold- 
mane, thou art become a friend of the Wolf, and shalt before long 
be of affinity with our House; that other day thou didst ask me 
to tell thee of me and mine, and now will I do according to thine 
asking. Short shall my tale be ; because maybe thou shalt hear 
it told again, and in goodly wise, before thine whole folk, 

' As thou wottest we be now outlaws and Wolves' Heads ; 
and whiles we lift the gear of men, but ever if we may of ill 
men and not of good ; there is no worthy goodman of the Dale 
from whom we would take one hoof, or a skin of wine, or a cake 
of wax. 

* Wherefore are we outlaws ? Because we have been driven 

112 



from our own, and \vc bore away our lives and our weapons, and Tlie Men of 

little else; and for our lands, thou seest this Vale in the howl- the Wolf first 

incr wilderness and how narrow and poor it is, thouc-h it hath ^°'"f ^° 
, » , ^ • • .■ / ^ Shadowy 

been the nurse or warriors in time past. y^j^^ •' 

' Hearken ! Time long ago came the kindred of the Wolf 
to these Mountains of the World ; and they were in a pass in 
the stony maze and the utter wilderness of the Mountains, and 
the foe was behind them in numbers not to be borne up against. 
And so it befell that the pass forked, and there were two ways 
before our F'olk ; and one part of them would take the way to 
the north and the other the way to the south ; and the}' could 
not agree which way the whole Folk should take. So they 
sundered into two companies, and one took one way and one 
another. Now as to those who fared by the southern road, wc 
knew not what befell them, nor for long and long had wc an}- 
tale of them. 

* But we who took the northern road, we happened on this 
Vale amidst the wilderness, and we were weary of fleeing from 
the over-mastering foe ; and the dale seemed enough, and a 
refuge, and a place to dwell in, and no man was there before us, 
and few were like to find it, and we were but a few. So we 
dwelt here in this Vale for as wild as it is, the place where the 
sun shineth never in the winter, and scant is the summer sun- 
shine therein. Here we raised a Doom-ring and builded us a 
Hall, wherein thou now sittest beside me, O friend, and we 
dwelt here many seasons. 

' We had a few sheep in the wilderness, and a few neat fed 
down the grass of the Vale ; and we found gems and copper in 
the rocks about us wherewith at whiles to chatter with the aliens, 
and fish we drew from our river the Shivering Flood. Also it 
is not to be hidden that in those days we did not spare to lift 
the goods of men ; yea, whiles would our warriors fare down 
unto the edges of the Plain and lie in wait there till the time 
served, and then drive the spoil from under the very walls of the 

113 a 



They win Cities. Our men were not little-hearted, nor did our women 
Silver-dale. lament the death of warriors over-much, for they were there to 
bear more warriors to the Folk. 

* But the seasons passed, and the Folk multiplied in Shadowy 
Vale, and livelihood seemed like to fail them, and needs must 
they seek wider lands. So by wa3's which thou wilt one day 
wot of, we came into a valley that lieth north-west of Shadowy 
Vale : a land like thine of Burgdale, or better ; wide it was, 
plenteous of grass and trees, well watered, full of all things that 
man can desire. 

' Were there men before us in this Dale ? sayest thou. Yea, 
but not very many, and they feeble in battle, weak of heart, 
though strong of body. These, when they saw the Sons of the 
Wolf with weapons in their hands, felt themselves puny before 
us, and their hearts failed them ; and they came to us with gifts, 
and offered to share the Dale between them and us, for they said 
there was enough for both folks. So we took their offer and 
became their friends ; and some of our Houses wedded wives of 
the strangers, and gave them their women to wife. Therein 
they did amiss ; for the blended Folk as the generations passed 
became softer than our blood, and many were untrusty and 
greedy and tyrannous, and the days of the whoredom fell upon us, 
and when we deemed ourselves the mightiest then were we the 
nearest to our fall. But the House whereof I am would never 
wed with these Westlanders, and other Houses there were who 
had affinity with us who chiefly wedded with us of the Wolf, 
and their fathers had come with ours into that fruitful Dale ; 
and these were called the Red Hand, and the Silver Arm, and 
the Golden Bushel, and the Ragged Sword. Thou hast heard 
those names once before, friend ? ' 

' Yea,' he said, and as he spoke the picture of that other 
day came back to him, and he called to mind all that he had 
said, and his happiness of that hour seemed the more and the 
sweeter for that memor}-. 

114 






She went en : ' Fair and goodly is that Dale as mine own eyes The Aliens. 
have seen, and plentiful of all things, and up in its mountains to the 
east are caves and pits whence silver is digged abundantl}'; therefore 
is the Dale called Silver-dale. Hast thou heard thereof, my friend ? ' 

' Na}',' said Face-of-god, ' though I have marvelled whence 
ye gat such foison of silver.' 

He looked on her and marvelled, for now she seemed as if it 
were another woman ; her e^'es were gleaming bright, her lips 
were parted ; there was a bright red flush on the pommels of her 
two cheeks as she spake again and said : 

' Happy lived the Folk in Silver-dale for many and many 
winters and summers : the seasons were good and no lack was 
there : little sickness there was and less war, and all seemed 
better than well. It is strange that ye Dalesmen have not heard 
of Silver-dale.' 

• Nay,' said he, * but I have not ; oi^ Rose-dale have I heard, 
as a land very far away : but no further do we know of toward 
that airt. Lieth Silver-dale anywhere nigh to Rose-dale ? ' 

She said : ' It is the next dale to it, yet is it a far journey 
betwixt the two, for the ice-sea pusheth a horn in betwixt them ; 
and even below the ice the mountain-neck is passable to none 
save a bold crag-climber, and to him only bearing his life in his 
hands. But, mj' friend, I am but lingering over my tale, be- 
cause it grieveth me sore to have to tell it. Hearken then ! In 
the days when I had seen but ten summers, and my brother was 
a very young man, but exceeding strong, and as beautiful as 
thou art now, war fell en us without rumour or warning ; for 
there swarmed into Silver-dale, though not by the wa^'s whereby 
we had entered it, a host of aliens, short of stature, crooked of 
limb, foul of aspect, but fierce warriors and armed full well : 
they were men having no country to go back to, though they 
had no women or children with them, as we had when we were 
j'oung in these lands, but used all women whom they took as 
their beastly lust bade them, making them their thralls if they 

115 



The Great slew them not. Soon we found that these foemen asked no more 
Undoing. of us than all we had, and therewithal our lives to be cast away 

or used for their service as beasts of burden or pleasure. There 
then we gathered our fighting-men and withstood them ; and if 
we had been all of the kindreds of the Wolf and the fruit of the 
wives of warriors, we should have driven back these felons and 
saved the Dale, though it maybe more than half ruined : but the 
most part of us were of that mingled blood, or of the generations 
of the Dalesmen whom we had conquered long ago, and stout as 
they were of body their hearts failed them, and the}' gave them- 
selves up to the aliens to be as their oxen and asses. 

' Why make a long tale of it ? We who were left, and could 
brook death but not thraldom, fought it out together, women 
as well as men, till the sweetness of life and a happy chance for 
escape bid us flee, vanquished but free men. For at the end of 
three days' fight we had been driven up to the easternmost end 
of the Dale, and up anigh to the jaws of the pass whereby the 
Folk had first come into Silver-dale, and we had those with us 
who knew every cranny of that way, while to strangers who knew 
it not it was utterly impassable ; night was coming on also, and 
even those murder-carles were weary with slaying ; and, more- 
over, on this last day, when they saw that they had won all, they 
were fighting to keep, and not to slaj', and a few stubborn carles 
and queens, of what use would they be, or where was the gain 
of risking life to win them ? 

' So they forbore us, and night came on moonless and dark ; and 
it was the early spring season,whenthedaysare not yet long, and so 
by night and cloud we fled away, and back again to Shadowy Vale. 
' Forsooth, we were but a few ; for when we were gotten into 
this Vale, this strip of grass and water in the wilderness, and had 
told up our company, we were but two hundred and thirty and five 
of men and women and children. For there were an hundred and 
thirty and three grown men of all ages, and of women grown seventy 
and five, and one score and seven children, whereof I was one; 

ii6 



for, as thou mayst deem, it was easier for grown men w^ith wea- Redes in 
pons in their hands to escape from that slaughter than for women Shadowy 
and children. ^^''-'• 

' There sat we in yonder Doom-ring and took counsel, and to 
some it seemed o-ood that we should all dwell together in Shadowy 
\'ale,and beset the skirts of the foemen till the days should better; 
but others deemed that there was little avail therein ; and there 
was a mighty man of the kindred. Stone-wolf by name, a man of 
middle-age, and he said, that late in life had he tasted of war, 
and though the banquet was made bitter with defeat, yet did the 
meat seem wholesome to him. " Come down with mc to the 
Cities of the Plain," said he, "all you who are stout warriors; 
and leave we here the old men and the swains and the women 
and children. Hateful are the folk there, and full of malice, but 
soft withal and dastardly. Let us go down thither and make our- 
selves strong amongst them, and sell our valour for their wealth 
till we come to rule them, and they make us their kings, and we 
establish the Folk of the Wolf amongst the aliens ; then will we 
come back hither and bring away that which we have left." 

' So he spake, and the more part of the warriors yeasaid his 
rede, and they went w^ith him to the Westland, and amongst these 
was my brother Folk-might (for that is his name in the kindred). 
And I sorrowed at his departure, for he had borne me thither out 
of the flames and the clash of swords and the press of battle, and 
to me had he ever been kind and loving, albeit he hath had the 
words of hard and froward used on him full oft. 

'So in this Vale abode we that were left, and the seasons passed; 
som.c of the elders died, and some of the children also ; but more 
children were born, for amongst us were men and women to whom 
it was lawful to wed with each other. Even with this scanty rem- 
nant was left some of the life of the kindred oi^ old days ; and 
after we had been here but a little while, the young men, yea and 
the old also, and even some of the women, would steal through 
the passes that we, and we only, knew of, and would fall upon 

117 



Vale. 



Life in the Aliens in Silver-dale as occasion served, and lift their goods^^ 

Shadowy both live and dead ; and this became both a craft and a pastime 
amongst us. Nor may I hide that we sometimes went lifting 
otherwhere ; for in the summer and autumn we would fare west a 
little and abide in the woods the season through, and hunt the 
deer thereof, and whiles would we drive the spoil from the scat- 
tered folk not far from your Shepherd-Folk ; but with the Shep- 
herds themselves and with you Dalesmen we meddled not. 

' Now that little wood-lawn with the toft of an ancient dwell- 
ing in it, wherein, saith Bow-may, thou didst once rest, was one 
of our summer abodes ; and later on we built the hall under the 
pine-wood that thou knowest. 

' Thus then grew up our young men ; and our maids were little 
softer; e'en such as Bow-may is (and kind is she withal), and it 
seemed in very sooth as if the Spirit of the Wolf was with us, 
and the roughness of the Waste made us fierce ; and law we had 
not and heeded not, though love was amongst us.' 

She stopped awhile and fell a-musing, and her face softened, 
and she turned to him with that sweet happy look upon it and said r 

' Desolate and dreary is the Dale, thou deemest, friend ; and 
yet for me I love it and its dark-green water, and it is to m.e as 
if the Fathers of the kindred visit it and hold converse with us; 
and there I grew up when I was little, before I knew what a v.-oman 
was, and strange communings had I with the wilderness. Friend, 
when we are wedded, and thou art a great chieftain, as thou wilt 
be, I shall ask of thee the boon to suffer me to abide here at whiles 
that I may remember the days when I was little and the love of 
the kindred waxed in me.' 

' This is but a little thing to ask,' said Face-of-god ; ' I would 
thou hadst asked me more.' 

' Fear not,' she said, ' I shall ask thee for much and many 
things ; and some of them belike thou shalt deny me.' 

He shook his head ; but she smiled in his face and said : 

' Yea, so it is, friend ; but hearken. The seasons passed, and 

Tl8 



six years wore, and I was grown a tall slim maiden, fleet o{ foot The return of 
and able to endure toil enough, though I never bore weapons, nor ^he warriors, 
have done. So on a fair even oi^ midsummer when we were to- 
gether, the most of us, round about this Hall and the Doom-ring, 
we saw a tall man in bright war-gear come forth into the Dale by 
the path that thou camcst, and then another and another till there 
were two score and seven men-at-arms standing on the grass below 
the scree yonder ; by that time had we gotten some weapons in our 
hands, and westood together tomeetthenew-comers,but thevdrew 
no sword and notched no shaft, but came towards us laughing and 
J030US, and lo! it was my brother Folk-might and his men, those 
that were left of them, come back to us from the Westland. 

' Glad indeed was I to behold him ; and for him when he had 
taken me in his arms and looked up and down the Dale, he cried 
out : ' In many fair places and many rich dwellings have I been ; 
but this is the hour that I have looked for.' 

* Now when we asked him concerning Stone-wolf and the others 
who were missing (for ten tens of stalwarth men had fared to the 
Westland), he swept out his hand toward the west and said with 
a solemn face : " There they lie, and grass groweth over their 
bones, and we who have come aback, and ye who have abided, 
these are now the children of the Wolf: there are no more now 
on the earth." 

* Let be ! It was a fair even and high was the feast in the Hall 
that night, and sweet was the converse with our folk come back. 
A glad man was mj' brother Folk-might when he heard that for 
years past we had been lifting the gear of men, and chiefly of the 
Aliens in Silver-dale : and he himself was become learned in war 
and a deft leader of men. 

' So the days passed and the seasons, and we lived on as we 
might ; but with P'olk-might's return there began to grow up in 
all our hearts what had long been flourishing in mine, and that 
was the hope of one day winning back our own again, and dying 
amidst the dear groves of Silver-dale. Within these years we had 

119 



The Hope increased somewhat in number ; for if we had lost those warriors 
ariseth. in the Westland, and some old men who had died in the Dale, 

3'et our children had grown up (I have now seen twenty and one 
summers) and more were growing up. Moreover, after the first 
year, from the time when we began to fall upon the Dusky Men of 
Silver-dale, from timetotime they who went on such adventures set 
free such thralls of our blood as they could fall in with and whom 
they could trust in, and they dwelt (and yet dwell) with us in the 
Dale : first and last we have taken in three score and twelve of 
such men, and a score of women-thralls withal. 

' Now during these seasons, and not very long ago, after I was 
a woman grown, the thought came to me, and to Folk-might also, 
that there were kindreds of the people dwelling anear us whom 
we might so deal with that they should become our friends and 
brothers in arms, and that through them we might win back 
Silver-dale. 

* Of Rose-dale we wotted already that the Folk were nought 
of our blood, feeble in the field, cowed by the Dusky Men, and 
at last made thralls to them ; so nought was to do there. But 
Folk-might went to and fro to gather tidings : at whiles I with 
him, at whiles one or more of Wood-father's children, who with 
their father and mother and Bow-may have abided in the Vale ever 
since the Great Undoing. 

* Soon he fell in with thy Folk, and first of all with the Wood- 
landers, and that was a joy to him ; for wot ye what ? He got 
to know that these men were the children of those of our Folk 
who had sundered from us in the mountain passes time long and 
long ago ; and he loved them, for he saw that they were hardy 
and trusty, and warriors at heart. 

* Thenhewent amongsttheShepherd-Folk,andhedeemedthem 
good men easily stirred, and deemed that they might soon be won 
to friendship ; and he knew that they were mostly come from the 
Houses oi" the Woodlanders, so that they also were of the kindred, 

' And last he came into Burgdale, and found there a merry 

120 



and happ3' Folk, little wont to war, but stout-hearted, and no- The spells 

wise puny either of body or soul ; he went there often and learned ^^ Wood- 

much about them, and deemed that they would not be hard to "'"'"'■*'■• 

win to fellowship. And he found that the House of the Face 

was the chiefest house there ; and that the Alderman and his sons 

were well beloved of all the folk, and that they were the men to 

be won first, since through them should all others be won. I also 

went to Burgstcad with him twice, as I told thee erst ; and I saw 

thee, and I deemed that thou wouldest lightly become our friend; 

and it came into my mind that I myself might wed thee, and that 

the House of the Face thereby- might have affinity thenceforth 

with the Children of the Wolf.' 

He said : ' Why didst thou deem thus of me, O friend ? ' 

She laughed and said : ' Dost thou long to hear me say the 
wordswhen thou knowcst my thought well ? So be it. I saw thee 
both young and fair ; and I knew thee to be the son of a noble, 
worthy, guileless man and of a beauteous woman of great wits 
and good rede. And I found thee to be kind and open-handed 
and simple like thj- father, and like thy mother wiser than thou 
thyself knew of thyself ; and that thou wert desirous of deeds and 
fain of women.' 

She was silent for a while, and he also : then he said : ' Didst 
thou draw me to the woods and to thee ? ' 

She reddened and said : ' I am no spell-wife : but true it is 
that Wood-mother made a waxenimageof thee, and thrust through 
the heart thereof the pin of my girdle-buckle, and stroked it every 
mornino: with an oak-bough over which she had suno- spells. But 
dost thou not remember. Gold-mane, how that one day last Hay- 
month, as vewere resting in the meadows in the cool of thecvenincr, 
there came to you a minstrel that played to you on the fiddle, and 
therewith sang a song that melted all your hearts, and that this 
song told of the Wild-wood, and what was therein of desire and 
peril and beguiling and death, and love unto Death itself? Dost 
thou remember, friend ? ' 

121 R 



The cause of ' Yea,' he said, ' and how when the minstrel was done Stone- 
Folk-might's f^ce fell to telling us more tales yet of the woodland, and the 
onslaught. minstrel sang again and yet again, till his tales had entered into 
my very heart.' 

' Yea,' she said, * and that minstrel was Wood-wont; and I sent 
him to sing to thee and thine, deeming that if thou didst hearken, 
thou would'st seek the woodland and happen upon us ? ' 

He laughed and said : ' Thou didst not doubt but that if we 
met, thou mightest do with me as thou wouldest ? ' 
' So it is,' she said, ' that I doubted it little.' 
' Therein wert thou wise,' said Face-of-god ; ' but now that 
we are talking without guile to each other, mightest thou tell me 
wherefore it was that Folk-might made that onslaught upon me ? 
For certain it is that he was minded to slay me.' 

She said : ' It was sooth what I told thee, that whiles he groweth 
so battle-eager that whatso edge-tool he beareth must needs come 
out of the scabbard ; but there was more in it than that, which I 
could not tell thee erst. Two days before thy coming he had 
been down to Burgstead in the guise of an old carle such as thou 
sawest him with me in the market-place. There was he guested 
in your Hall, and once more saw thee and the Bride together ; 
and he saw the eyes of love wherewith she looked on thee (for 
so much he told me), and deemed that thou didst take her love but 
lightly. And he himself looked on her with such love (and this 
he told me not) that he deemed nought good enough for her, and 
would have had thee give thyself up wholly to her ; for my 
brother is a generous man, my friend. So when I told him on 
the morn of that day whereon we met that we looked to see thee 
that eve (for indeed I am somewhat foreseeing), he said : " Look 
thou. Sun-beam, if he cometh, it is not unlike that I shall drive a 
spear through him." "Wherefore?" said I; "can he serve our 
turn when he is dead ? " Said he : "I care little. Mine own 
turn will I serve. Thou sayest JVherefore? I tell thee this strip- 
ling beguileth to her torment the fairest woman that is in the 

122 



world — such an one as is meet to be the mother of chieftains, and Face-of-god 
to stand by warriors in their dayof peril, I have seen her; and angry. 
thus have I seen her." Then said I : *' Greatly forsooth shalt thou 
pleasure her by slaving him ! " And he answered : '* I shall plea- 
sure mvself. And one day she shall thank mc,when she taketh my 
hand in hers and we go together to the Bride-bed." Therewith 
came over me a clear foresight of the hours to come, and I said to 
him : " Yea, Folk-might, cast the spear and draw the sword ; but 
him thou shalt not slay: and thou shalt one da}' sec him standing 
with us before the shafts of the Dusky Men." So I spake ; but he 
looked fiercely at me, and departed and shunned me all that day, 
and b}' good hap I was hard at hand when thou drewest nigh our 
abode. Nay, Gold-niane, what would'st thou with thy sword ? 
Why art thou so red and wrathful ? Would'st thou fight with m}' 
brother because he loveth thy friend, thine old playmate, thj- kins- 
woman, and thinkcth pity of her sorrow ? ' 

He said, with knit brow and gleaming eyes: 'Would the man 
take her awa}' from me perforce ? ' 

* My friend,' she said, ' thou art not yet so wise as not to be a 
fool at whiles. Is it not so that she herself hath taken herself 
from thee, since she hath come to know that thou hast given thy- 
self to another ? Hath she noted nought of thee this winter and 
spring ? Is she well pleased with the ways of thee ? ' 

He said: 'Thou hast spoken simpl^'with me, and I will do no 
less with thee. It was but four days agone that she did mc to 
wit that she knew of me how I sought my love on the Mountain ; 
and she put me to sore shame, and afterwards I wept for her 
sorrow.' 

Therewith he told her all that the Bride had said to him, as 
he well might, for he had forgotten no word of it. 

Then said the I'riend : ' She shall have the token that she 
craveth, and it is I that shall give it to her.' 

Therewith she took from her finger a ring wherein was set a 
very fair changeful mountain-stone, and gave it to him, and said: 

123 



The Sun- * Thou shalt give her this and tell her whence thou hadst it; 

beam names and tell her that I bid her remember that To-morrow is a new day.' 

herself. 

CHAPTER XX. THOSE TWO TOGETHER HOLD THE 
RING OF THE EARTH-GOD. 

AND now they fell silent both of them, and sat hearkening 
the sounds of the Dale, from the whistle of the plover 
down by the water-side to the far-off voices of the children 
and maidens about the kine in the lower meadows. At last Gold- 
mane took up the word and said : 

* Sweet friend, tell me the uttermost of what thou would'st have 
of me. Is it not that I should stand b}' thee and thine in the Folk- 
mote of the Dalesmen, and speak for you when ye pray us for 
help against your foemen; and then again that I do my best when 
ye and we are arrayed for battle against the Dusky Men? This 
is easy to do, and great is the reward thou offerest me.' 

* I look for this service of thee,' she said, ' and none other.' 

' And when I go down to the battle,' said he, ' shalt thou be 
sorry for our sundering ? ' 

She said: 'There shall be no sundering; I shall wend with thee.' 

Said he : ' And if I were slain in the battle, would'st thou 
lament me ?' 

' Thou shalt not be slain,' she said. 

Again was there silence betwixt them, till at last he said : 

* 1 his then is why thou didst draw me to thee in the Wild-wood?' 
' Yea,' said she. 

Again for a while no word was spoken, and Face-of-god looked 
on her till she cast her e3'es down before him. 

Then at last he spake, and the colour came and went in his 
face as he said : ' Tell me thy name what it is.' 

She said : ' I am called the Sun-beam.' 

Then he said, and his voice trembled therewith : ' O Sun-beam, 
I have been seeking pleasant and cunning words, and can find 

124 



beam. 



none such. But tell me this if thou wilt: dost thou desire me as The wisdom 
I desire thee ? or is it that thou wilt suffer me to wed thee and "^ ''i*-' ^u"- 
hed thee at last as mere payment for the help that I shall give to 
thee and thine? Nay, doubt it not that I will take the payment, 
if this is what thou wilt give me and nought else. Yet tell me.' 

Her face grew troubled, and she said : 

' Gold-mane, maybe that thou hast now asked me one question 
too many ; for this is no fair game to be played between us. For 
thcc, as I deem, there arc this day but two people in the world, 
and that is thou and I, and the earth is for us two alone. But, 
my friend, though I have seen but twenty and one summers, it is 
nowise so with me, and to me there arc many in the world ; and 
chiefly the Folk of the Wolf, amidst whose ver}' heart I have 
grown up. Moreover, I can think of her whom I have supplanted, 
the Bride to wit ; and I know her, and how bitter and empt}^ 
her da3-s shall be for a while, and how vain all our redes for her 
shall seem to her. Yea, I know her sorrow, and sec it and grieve 
for it : so canst not thou, unless thou verily see her before thee, 
her face unhapp}', and her voice changed and hard. Well, I will 
tell thee what thou askest. When I drew thee to me on the Moun- 
tain I thought but of the friendship and brotherhood to be knitted 
up between our two Folks, nor did I anywise desire thy love of 
a young man. But when I saw thee on the heath and in the 
Hall that da}-, it pleased me to think that a man so fair and 
chieftain-like should one day lie b\' my side ; and again when I 
saw that the love of me had taken hold of thee, I would not have 
thee grieved because of me, but would have thee happy. And 
now what shall I say ? — I know not ; I cannot tell. Yet am I 
the Friend, as erst I called myself. 

* And, Gold-mane, I have seen hitherto but the outward show 
and image of tlice, and though that be goodly, how would it be 
if thou didst shame me with Httlc-heartedness and evil deeds ? Let 
me see thee in the Folk-mote and the battle, and then may I 
answer thee.' 

125 



The love of Then she held her peace, and he answered nothing ; and she 

the Sun-beam, turned her face from him and said : 

' Out on it ! have I beguiled myself as well as thee ? These are 
but empty words I have been saying. If thou wilt drag the truth 
out of me, this is the ver}' truth : that to-day is happy to me as 
it is to thee, and that I have longed sore for its coming. O Gold- 
mane, O speech-friend, if thou wert to pray me or command me 
that 1 lie in thine arms to-night, I should know not how to gain- 
say thee. Yet I beseech thee to forbear, lest thy death and mine 
come of it. And why should we die, O friend, when we are so 
3'oung, and the world lies so fair before us, and the happ}' days 
are at hand when the Children of the Wolf and the kindreds of 
the Dale shall deliver the Folk, and all days shall be good and 
all years ? ' 

The}^ had both risen up as she spake, and now he put forth 
his hands to her and took her in his arms, wondering the while, as 
he drew her to him, how much slenderer and smaller and weaker 
she seemed in his embrace than he had thought of her ; and when 
their lips met, he felt that she kissed him as he her. Then he held 
her bjf the shoulders at arms' length from him, and beheld her 
face how her eyes were closed and her lips quivering. But be- 
fore him, in a moment of time, passed a picture of the life to be 
in the fair Dale, and all she would give him there, and the days 
good and lovely from morn to eve and eve to morn ; and though 
in that moment it was hard for him to speak, at last he spoke in 
a voice hoarse at first, and said : 

' Thou sayest sooth, O friend ; we will not die, but live ; I will 
not drag our deaths upon us both, nor put a sword in the hands 
of Folk-might, who loves me not.' 

Then he kissed her on the brow and said : * Now shalt thou 
take me by the hand and lead me forth from the Hall. For the 
day is waxing old, and here meseemeth in this dim hall there 
are words crossing in the air about us — words spoken in days long 
ago, and tales of old time, that keep egging me on to do my will 

126 



and die, because that is all that the world hath for a valiant man; Theygofoiih 
and to such words I would not hearken, for in this hour I have from the Hall, 
no will to die, nor can I think of death.' 

She took his hand and led him forth without more words, and 
they went hand in hand and paced slowly round the Doom-ring, 
the light air breathing upon them till their faces were as calm and 
quiet as their wont was, and hers especially as bright and happy as 
when he had first seen her that day- 

The sun was sinking now, and only sent one golden ray into 
the valley through a cleft in the western rock-wall, but the sky 
overhead was bright and clear ; from the meadows came the sound 
<)f the lowing of kine and the voices of children a-sporting, and 
it seemed to Gold-mane that they were drawing nigher, both the 
•children and the kine, and somewhat hebcgrudged it that he should 
not be alone with the Friend. 

Now when they had made half the circuit of the Doom-ring, 
the Sun-beam stopped him, and then led him through the Ring 
of Stones, and brought him up to the altar which was amidst of 
it ; and the altar was a great black stone hewn smooth and clean, 
and with the image of the Wolf carvcn on the front thereof; and 
on its face la}- the gold ring which the priest or captain of the 
Folk bore on his arm between the God and the people at all 
folk-motes. 

So she said : * This is the altar of the God of Earth, and often 
hath it been reddened by mighty men ; and thereon lieth the Ring 
of the Sons of the Wolf; and now it were well that we swore 
troth on that ring before my brother cometh ; for now will he soon 
be here.' 

Then Gold-mane took the Ring and thrust his right hand 
through it, and took her right hand in his ; so that the Ring lay 
on both their hands, and therewith he spake aloud : 

'I am Face-of-god of the House of the Face, and I do thee to 
■wit, O God of the Flarth, that I pledge my troth to this woman, 
the Sun-beam of the Kindred of the Wolf, to beget my offspring 

127 



The troth on her, and to live with her, and to die with her : so help me, 
plighted. thou God of the Earth, and the Warrior and the God of the 
Face !' 

Then spake the Sun-beam : ' I, the Sun-beam of the Children 
of the Wolf, pledge my troth to Face-of-god to lie in his bed and 
to bear his children and none other's, and to be his speech-friend 
till I die : so help me the Wolf and the Warrior and the God 
of the Earth!' 

Then they laid the Ring on the altar again, and they kissed each 
other long and sweetly, and then turned away from the altar and 
departed from the Doom-ring, going hand in hand together down 
the meadow, and as they went, the noise of the kine and the chil- 
dren grew nearer and nearer, and presently came the whole com- 
pany of them round a ness of the rock-wall ; there were some 
thirty little lads and lasses driving on the milch-kine, with half 
a score of older maids and grown women, one of whom was Bow- 
may, who was lightly and scantily clad, as one who heeds not 
the weather, or deems all months midsummer. 

The children came running up merrily when they saw the 
Sun-beam, but stopped short shyly when they noted the tall fair 
stranger with her. They were all strong and sturdy children, and 
some very fair, but brown with the weather, if not with the sun. 
Bow-may came up to Gold-mane and took his hand and greeted 
him kindly and said : 

' So here thou art at last in Shadowy Vale ; and I hope that 
thou art content therewith, and as happy as I would wish thee to 
be. Well, this is the iirst time ; and when thou comest the second 
time it may well be that the world shall be growing better.' 

She held the distaff which she bore in her hand (for she had 
been spinning) as if it were a spear ; her limbs were goodly and 
shapely, and she trod the thick grass of the Vale with a kind of 
wary firmness, as though foemen might be lurking nearby. The 
Sun-beam smiled upon her kindly and said : 

'That shall not fail to be. Bow-may : ye have won a new friend 

128 



to-day. But tell me, when dost thou look to see the men here, Speech is 
for 1 was down by the water when they went away yesterday?' sweet to 

* They shall come into the Dale a little after sunset,' said '""^• 
Bow-may. 

'Shall I abide them, my friend?' said Gold-mane, turning to 
the Sun-beam. 

'Yea,' she said ; * for what else art thou come hither? or art 
thou so pressed to depart from us ? Last time we met thou wert 
not so hasty to sunder.' 

They smiled on each other ; and Bow-may looked on them and 
laughed outright ; then a flush showed in her cheeks through the 
tan of them, and she turned toward the children and the other 
women who were busied about the milking of the kine. 

But those two sat down together on a bank amidst the plain 
meadow, facing the river and the eastern rock-wall, and the Sun- 
beam said : 

' I am fain to speak to thee and to see thine e3'es watching me 
while I speak ; and now, my friend, I will tell thee something 
unasked which has to do with what e'en now thou didst ask 
me ; for I would have thee trust me wholly, and know me for 
what I am. Time was I schemed and planned for this day of be- 
trothal ; but now I tell thee it has become no longer needful for 
bringing to pass our fellowship in arms with thy people. Yea 
yesterday, ere he went on a hunt, whereof he shall tell thee, Folk- 
might was against it, in words at least ; and yet as one who 
would have it done if he might have no part in it. So, in good 
sooth, this hand that lieth in thine is the hand of a wilful woman, 
who desireth a man, and would keep him for her speech-friend. 
Now art thou fond and happy ; yet bear in mind that there are 
deeds to be done, and the troth we have just plighted must be 
paid for. So hearken, I bid thee. Dost thou care to know why 
the wheedling of thee is no longer needful to us ? ' 

He said : ' A little while ago 1 should have said, Yea, if thy 
lips say the words. But now, O friend, it seemcth as if thine 

129 S 



Needs must heart were already become a part of mine, and I feel as if the 

the men of chieftain were growing up in me and the longing for deeds : so 

fi k ^ s^y? Tell me, for I were fain to hear what toucheth the welfare 

^ ■ of thy Folk and their fellowship with m}' Folk ; for on that also 

have I set my heart ? ' 

She said gravely and with solemn eyes : 

' What thou sayest is good : full glad am I that I have not 
plighted my troth to a mere goodly lad, but rather to a chieftain 
and a warrior. Now then hearken ! Since I saw thee first in the 
autumn this hath happened, that the Dusky Men, increasing both 
in numbers and insolence, have it in their hearts to win more than 
Silver-dale, and it is years since they have fallen upon Rose-dale 
and conquered it, rather by murder than by battle, and made all 
men thralls there, for feeble were the Folk thereof; and doubt 
it not but that they will look into Burgdale before long. They 
are already abroad in the woods, and were it not for the fear of 
the Wolf they would be thicker therein, and faring wider; for 
we have slain many of them, coming upon them unawares ; and 
they know not where we dwell, nor who we be : so they fear to 
spread about over-much and pry into unknown places lest the Wolf 
howl on them. Yet beware ! for they will gather in numbers that 
we may not meet, and then will they swarm into the Dale ; and 
if ye would live your happy life that ye love so well, ye must 
now fight for it ; and in that battle must ye needs join yourselves 
to us, that we may help each other. Herein have ye nought to 
choose, for now with you it is no longer a thing to talk of whether 
ye will help certain strangers and guests and thereby win some 
gain to yourselves, but whether ye have the hearts to fight for 
yourselves, and the wits to be the fellows of tall men and stout 
warriors who have pledged their lives to win or die for it.' 

She was silent a little and then turned and looked fondly on 
Face-of-god and said : 

' Therefore, Gold-mane, we need thee no longer ; for thou must 
needs fight in our battle. I have no longer aught to do to wheedle 

130 



thee to love me. Yet if thou wilt love me, then am I a glad The warriors 
woman.' ^"'l f'olk- 

Hc said : ' Thou wottest well that thou hast all my love, neither '^^S^'^^ ^°'"^ 
will I fail thee in the battle. I am not little-hcartcd, though I 
"would have given myself to thee for no reward.' 

' It is well,' said the Sun-beam ; ' nought is undone by that 
which I have done. Moreover, it is good that wc have plighted 
troth to-day. For Folk-might will presently hear thereof, and he 
must needs abide the thing which is done. Hearken! he comcth.' 

For as she spoke there came a glad cry from the women and 
children, and those two stood up and turned toward the west 
and beheld the warriors of the Wolf coming down into the Dale 
by the way that Gold-mane had come. 

* Come,' said the Sun-beam, ' here are your brethren in arms, 
let us go greet them ; they will rejoice in thee.' 

So they went thither, and there stood eighty and seven men on 
the grass below the scree and Folk-might their captain ; and be- 
sides some valiant women, and a few carles who were on watch 
on the waste, and a half score who had been left in the Dale, these 
were all the warriors of the Wolf. They were clad in no holiday 
raiment, not even Folk-might, but were in sheep-brown gear of 
the coarsest, like to husbandmen late come from the plough, but 
armed well and goodly. 

But when the twain drew near, the men clashed their spears on 
their shields, and cried out for joy of them, for they all knew what 
Face-of-god's presence there betokened of fellowship with the kin- 
dreds ; but Folk-might came forward and took Face-of-god's hand 
and greeted him and said : 

' Hail, son of the Alderman! Here hast thou come into the 
ancient abode of chieftains and warriors, and belike deeds await 
thee also.' 

Yet his brow was knitted as he said these words, and he spake 
slowly, as one that constraineth himself; but presently his face 
cleared somewhat and he said : 



oath. 



Folk-might ' Dalesman, it behoveth thy people to bestir them if ye would 

asketh ol the Jfye and see good days. Hath my sister told thee what is toward? 
Or what sayest thou ? ' 

* Hail to thee, son of the Wolf ! ' said Face-of-god. * Thy sister 
hath told me all ; and even if these Dusky Felons were not our foe- 
men also, yet could I have my way, we should have given thee all 
help, and should have brought back peace and good days to thy folk.' 

Then Folk-might flushed red and spake, as he cast out his hand 
towards the warriors and up and down toward the Dale : 

' These be my folk, and these only : and as to peace, only those 
of us know of it who are old men. Yet is it well ; and if we and 
3'e together be strong enough to bring back good days to the 
feeble men Vv'hom the Dusky Ones torment in Silver-dale it shall 
be better yet.' 

Then he turned about to his sister, and looked keenly into her 
eyes till she reddened, and took her hand and looked at the wrist 
and said : 

' O sister, see I not the mark on thy wrist of the Ring of the 
God of the Earth? Have not oaths been sworn since yesterda}'? ' 

' True it is,' she said, ' that this man and I have plighted troth 
together at the altar of the Doom-ring.' 

Said Folk-might : ' Thou wilt have thy will, and I may not 
amend it.' Therewith he turned about to Face-of-god and said ; 

' Thou must look to it to keep this oath, whatever other one 
thou hast failed in.' 

Said Face-of-god somewhat wrathfully : ' I shall keep it^ 
whether thou biddest me to keep it or break it.' 

' That is well,' said Folk-might, ' and then for all that hath 
gone before thou mayest in a manner pay, if thou art dauntless 
before the foe.' 

' I look to be no blencher in the battle,' said Face-of-god ; ' that 
is not the fashion of our kindred, whosoever may be before us. 
Yea, and even were it thy blade, O mighty warrior of the Wolf,. 
I would do my best to meet it in manly fashion.' 

132 



As he spake he half drew forth Dale-warden from his sheath, Counting the 
looking steadily into the eyes of Folk-might; and the Sun-beam arm-nngs. 
looked upon him happily. Hut Folk-might laughed and said : 

' Thy sword is good, and I deem that thine heart will not fail 
thee; but it is by my side and not in face of me that thou shalt 
redden the good blade : I see not the day when we twain shall 
hew at each other.' 

Then in a while he spake again : 

' Thou must pardon us if our words are rough ; for we have 
stood in rough places, where we had to speak both short and loud, 
whereas there was much to do. But now will we twain talk oi 
matters that concern chieftains who are going on a hard adven- 
ture. And ve women, do ye dight the Hall for the evening feast, 
which shall be the feast of the troth-plight for you twain. This 
indeed we owe thee, O guest ; for little shall be thine heritage 
which thou shalt have with my sister, over and above that thy 
sword winneth for thee.' 

But the Sun-beam said : ' Hast thou an}- to-night?' 

' Yea,' he said ; ' Spear-god, how many was it ? ' 

There came forward a tall man bearing an axe in his right 
hand, and carrying over his shoulder by his left hand a bundle 
of silver arm-rings just such as Gold-mane had seen on the felons 
who were slain by Wood-grey's house. The carle cast them on 
the ground and then knelt down and fell to telling them over ; 
and then looked up and said : ' Twelve yesterday in the wood 
where the battle was going on ; and this morning seven b}' the 
tarn in the pine-wood and six near this eastern edge of the wood : 
one score and five all told. But, Folk-might, the)- are coming 
nigh to Shadowy Vale.' 

' Sooth is that,' said Folk-might ; ' but it shall be looked to. 
Come now apart with me, Face-of-god.' 

So the others went their ways toward the Hall, while Folk- 
might led the Burgdaler to a sheltered nook under the sheer 
rocks, and there they sat down to talk, and Folk-might asked 

'33 



Folk-might Gold- mane closely of the muster of the Dalesmen and the 

speaketh with Shepherds and the Woodland Carles, and he was well pleased 

ace-o -go . y^}igjj Face-of-god told him of how many could march to a 

stricken field, and of their archery, and of their weapons and 

their goodness. 

All this took some time in the telling, andnow night was coming 
on apace, and Folk-might said : 

* Now will it be time to go to the Hall ; but keep in thy mind 
that these Dusky Men will overrun you unless ye deal with them 
betimes. These are of the kind that ye must cast fear into their 
hearts by falling on them ; for if ye abide till they fall upon you, 
they are like the winter wolves that swarm on and on, how many 
soever ye slay. And this above all things shall help you, that 
we shall bring you whereas ye shall fall on them unawares and 
destroy them as boys do with a wasp's nest. Yet shall many a 
mother's son bite the dust. 

* Is it not so that in four weeks' time is your spring-feast and 
market at Burgstead, and thereafter the great Folk-mote ? ' 

* So it is,' said Gold-mane. 

* Thither shall I come then,' said Folk-might, ' and give my- 
self out for the slayer of Rusty and the ransacker of Harts-bane 
and Penny-thumb ; and therefor shall I offer good blood-wite 
and theft-wite ; and thy father shall take that ; for he is a just 
man. Then shall I tell my tale. Yet it may be thou shalt see 
us before if battle betide. And now fair befall this new year ; 
for soon shall the scabbards be empty and the white swords 
be dancing in the air, and spears and axes shall be the growth 
of this spring-tide.' 

And he leaped up from his seat and walked to and fro before 
Gold-mane, and now was it grown quite dark. Then Folk-might 
turned to Face-of-god and said : 

'Come, guest, the windows of the Hall are yellow ; let us to the 
feast. To-morrow shalt thou get thee to the beginning of this 
work. I hope of thee that thou art a good sword ; else have I 



done a folly and my sister a worse one. But now forget that, They go into 
and feast.' the Hall. 

Gold-manc arose, not very well at ease, for the man seemed 
overbearing; yet how might he fall upon the Sun-beam's kindred, 
and the captain of these new brethren in arms? So he spake not. 
But Folk-might said to him : 

' Yet I would not have thee forget that I was wroth with thee 
Vv-hcn I saw thee to-day; and had it not been for the coming battle 
I had drawn sword upon thee.' 

Then Face-of-god's wrath was stirred, and he said : 

' There is vet time for that I but why art thou wroth with me? 
And I shall tell thee that there is little manliness in thy chiding. 
For how may I fight with thee, thou the brother of my plighted 
speech-friend and my captain in this battle ? ' 

' Therein thou sayest sooth,' said Folk-might ; ' but hard it 
was to see you two standing together ; and thou canst not give 
the Bride to me as 1 give my sister to thee. For I have seen her, 
and I have seen her looking at thee ; and I know that she will 
not have it so.' 

Then they went on together toward the Hall, and Face-of-god 
was silent and somewhat troubled ; and as the}' drew near to the 
Hall, Folk-might spake again ; 

' Yet time ma}' amend it ; and if not, there is the battle, and 
mavbe the end. Now be we merry ! ' 

So they went into the Hall together, and there was the Sun- 
beam gloriously arrayed, as erst in the woodland bower, and Face- 
of-god sat on the dais beside her, and the uttermost sweetness of 
desire entered into his soul as he noted her eyes and her mouth, 
that were grown so kind to him, and her hand that strayed to- 
ward his. 

The Hall was full of folk, and all those warriors were therewith 
Wood-father and his sons, and Wood-mother, and Bow-may and 
many other women ; and Gold-mane looked down the Hall and 
deemed that he had never seen such stalwarth bodies of men, or 



song;s sunsr. 



Healths are SO bold and meet for battle : as for the women he had seen fairer 
drunk, and jn Burgdale,but these were fair of their own fashion, shapely and 
well-knit, and strong-armed and large-limbed, yet sweet-voiced 
and gentle withal. Nay, the verj' lads of fifteen winters or so, 
whereof a few were there, seemed bold and bright-ej'ed and keen 
of wit, and it seemed like that if the warriors fared afield these 
would be with them. 

So wore the feast; and Folk-might as aforetime amongst the 
healths called on men to drink to the Jaws of the Wolf, and the 
Red Hand, and the Silver Arm, and the Golden Bushel, and the 
Ragged Sword. But now had Face-of-god no need to ask what 
these meant, since he knew that the}' were the names of the kin- 
dreds of the Wolf. They drank also to the troth-plight and to 
those twain, and shouted aloud over the health and clashed their 
weapons : and Gold-mane wondered what echo of that shout 
would reach to Burgstead. 

Then sang men songs of old time, and amongst them Wood- 
wont stood with his fiddle amidst the Hall and Bow-may beside 
him, and they sang in turn to it sweetly and clearly ; and this is 
some of what they sang : 

She singeth. 
Wild is the waste and long leagues over ; 

Whither then wend ye spear and sword. 
Where nought shall see your helms but the plover, 

Far and far from the dear Dale's sward? 

He singeth. 
Many a league shall we wend together 

With helm and spear and bended bov/. 
Hark! how the wind blows up for weather : 

Dark shall the night be whither we go. 

Dark shall the night be round the byre, 
And dark as we drive the brindled kine ; 
136 



Dark and dark round the beacon-fire, The Maiden's 

Dark down in the pass round our wavering line. Litting. 

Turn on thy path, O fair-foot maiden, 

And come our ways by the pathless road ; 
Look how the clouds hanci; low and laden 

Over the walls of the old abode ! 

She singeth. 
Bare arc mv feet for the rough waste's wending, 

Wild is the wind, and my kirtle's thin ; 
Faint shall 1 be ere the long way's ending 

Drops down to the Dale and the grief therein. 

He singeth. 
Do on the brogues of the wild-wood rover, 

Do on the byrnics' ring-close mail ; 
Take thou the staff that the barbs hang over, 

O'er the wind and the waste and the way to prevail. 

Come, for how from thee shall I sunder ? 

Come, that a tale may arise in the land ; 
Come, that the night may be held for a wonder, 

When the Wolf was led b}' a maiden's hand ! 

She singeth. 
New will I fare as ye are faring, 

And wend no way but the wa^' ye wend ; 
And bear but the burdens ye are bearing, 

And end the day as ve shall end. 

And many an eve when the clouds are drifting 

Down through the Dale till they dim the roof. 
Shall they tell in the Hall of the ISIaiden's Lifting, 

And how we dravc the spoil aloof. 

\1- T 



vay. 



Folk-might They sing together. 

telleth Face- Qver the moss through the wind and the weather, 
°'^S°^ ''^^^^ Through the morn and the eve and the death of the day, 

Wend we man and maid together, 
For out of the waste is born the fray. 

Then the Sun-beam spake to Gold-mane softly, and told him 
how this song was made by a minstrel concerning a foray in the 
earl}' days of their first abode in Shadowy Vale, and how in good 
sooth a maiden led the fray and was the captain of the warriors : 

* Erst,' she said, 'this was counted as a wonder ; but now we 
are so few that it is no wonder though the women will do what- 
soever they may.' 

So they talked, and Gold-mane v/as very happy ; but ere the 
good-night cup v/as drunk, Folk-might spake to Face-of-god 
and said : 

* It were well that ye rose betimes in the morning : but thou 
shalt not go back by the way thou earnest. Wood-wise and an- 
other shall go with thee, and show thee a way across the necks 
and the heaths, which is rough enough as far as toil goes, but 
where thy life shall be safer ; and thereby shalt thou hit the ghyll 
of the Weltering Water, and so come down safely into Burgdale. 
Now that we are friends and fellows, it is no hurt for thee to know 
the shortest way to Shadowy Vale. What thou shalt tell con- 
cerning us in Burgdale I leave the tale thereof to thee; yet belike 
thou wilt not tell everything till I come to Burgstead at the spring 
market-tide. Now must 1 presently to bed; for before daylight 
to-morrow must I be following the hunt along with two score good 
men of ours.' 

' What beast is alield then ? ' said Gold-mane. 

Said Folk-might ; ' The beasts that beset our lives, the Dusky 
Men. In these days we have learned how to find companies of 
them ; and forsooth every week they draw nigher to this Dale ; 
and some day they should happen upon us if we were not to look 

138 



to it, and then would there be a murder great and grim ; there- Of the Silver- 
fore we scour the heaths round about, and the skirts of the wood- ^^'•-' thralls. 
land, and we fall upon these felons in divers guises, so that they 
may not know us for the same men ; whiles are we clad in home- 
spun, as to-dav, and seem like to field-working carles ; whiles in 
scarlet and gold, like knights of the Wcstland ; whiles in wolf- 
skins ; whiles in white glittering gear, like the Wights of the 
Waste : and in all guises these felons, for all their fierce hearts, 
fear us, and flee from us, and wc follow and slay them, and so 
minish their numbers somewhat against the great da}' of battle.' 

' Tell me,' said Gold-mane ; ' when we fall upon Silver-dale 
shall their thralls, the old Dale-dwellers, fight for them or for us ?' 

Said Folk-might : ' The Dusky jSIen will not dare to put wea- 
pons into the hands of their thralls. Nay, the thralls shall help 
us; for though they have but small stomach for the fight, yet joy- 
fuUv when the fight is over shall the\' cut their masters' throats.' 

' How is it with these thralls ? ' said Gold-mane. ' I have never 
seen a thrall.' 

* But I,' said Folk-might, 'have seen a many down in the Cities. 
And there were thralls who were the tyrants of thralls, and held 
the whip over them ; and of the others there were some who were 
not very hardly entreated. But with these it is otherwise, and they 
all bear grievous pains daih' ; for the Dusky Men are as hogs in 
a garden of lilies. Whatsoever is fair there have they defiled and 
deflowered, and thev wallow in our fair halls as swine strayed from 
the dunghill. No delight in life, no sweet da^^s do they have for 
themselves, and they begrudge the delight of others therein. 
Therefore their thralls know no rest or solace ; their reward of 
toil is many stripes, and the healing of^ their stripes grievous toil. 
To many have thc\- appointed to dig and mine in the silver-yield- 
ing cliffs, and of all the tasks is that the sorest, and there do stripes 
abound the most. Such thralls art thou happy not to behold till 
thou hast set them free; as we shall do.' 

' Tell me again,' said Face-of-god ; ' is there no mixed folk 

13Q 



The sleeping- between these Dusky Men and the Dalesmen, since they have no 
cup, women of their own, but lie with the women of the Dale ? More- 

over, do not the poor folk of the Dale beget and bear children, so 
that there are thralls born of thralls ? ' 

'Wisely thou askest this,' said Folk-might, 'but thereof shall I 
tell thee, that when a Dusky Carle mingles with a woman of the 
Dale, the child which she beareth shall oftenest favour his race 
and not hers ; or else shall it be witless, a fool natural. But as 
for the children of these poor thralls ; yea, the masters cause them 
to breed if so their masterships will, and when the children are 
born, they keep them or slay them as they will, as they would with 
whelps or calves. To be short, year by 3'ear these vile wretches 
grow fiercer and more beastly, and their thralls more hapless and 
down-trodden ; and now at last is come the time either to do or 
to die, as ye men of Burgdale shall speedily find out. But nowmust 
I go sleep if I am to be where I look to be at sunrise to-morrow.' 

Therewith he called for the sleeping-cup, and it was drunk, and 
all men fared to bed. But the Sun-beam took Gold- mane's hand 
ere they parted, and said : 

' I shall arise betimes on the morrow ; so I say not farewell 
to-night ; yea, and after to-morrow it shall not be long ere we 
meet again.' 

So Gold-mane lay down in that ancient hall, and it seemed to 
him ere he slept as if his own kindred were slipping away from 
him and he were becoming a child of the Wolf. ' And yet,' said 
he to himself, ' I am become a man ; for my Friend, now she no 
lono-er telleth me to do or forbear, and I tremble. Nay, rather she 
is fain to take the word from me ; and this great warrior and ripe 
man, he talketh with me as if I were a chieftain meet for converse 
with chieftains. Even so it is and shall be.' 

And soon thereafter he fell asleep in the Hall in Shadowy Vale. 



14.0 



CHAPTER XXI. FACE-OF-GOD LOOKETH ON THE 
DUSKY MEN. 

WHEN he awoke again he saw a man standing over him, Morning and 
and knew him for Wood-wise : he was clad in his war- departure 
gear, and had his quiver at his back and his bow in his ^'^'"^^• 
hand, for Wood-father's children were all good bowmen, though 
not so sure as Bow-ma}'. He spake to Face-of-god : 

'Dawn is in the sky, Dalesman ; there is yet time for thee to 
wash the nicrht off of thee in our bath of the Shivering Flood and 
to put thy mouth to the milk-bowl ; but time for nought else : for 
I and Bow-may arc appointed thy fellows for the road, and it were 
well that we were back home speedily.' 

So Face-of-god leapt up and went forth from the Hall, and 
Wood-wise led to where was a pool in the river with steps cut 
down to it in the rocky bank. 

* This,' said Wood-wise, ' is the Carle's Bath ; but the Queen's 
is lower down, where the water is wider and shallower below 
the little mid-dale force.' 

So Gold-mane stripped off his raiment and leapt into the ice- 
cold pool; and they had brought his weapons and war-gear 
with them ; so when he came out he clad and armed himself for 
the road, and then turned with Wood-wise toward the outgate 
of the Dale ; and soon they saw two men coming from lower 
down the water in such wise that they would presently cross their 
path, and as yet it was little more than twilight, so that they saw 
not at first who they were, but as they drew nearer they knew 
them for the Sun-beam and Bow-ma^-. The Sun-beam was clad 
but in her white linen smock and blue gown as he had first seen 
her ; her hair was wet and dripping with the river, her face 
fresh and ros}' : she carried in her two hands a great bowl of 
milk, and stepped delicately, lest she should spill it. But Bow- 
may was clad in her war-gear with helm and byrny, and a quiver 
at her back, and a bended bow in her hand. So they greeted 

141 



betimes. 



The Sun- each other kindl}', and the Sun-beam gave the bowl to Face-of- 
beam abroad god and said : 

' Drink, guest, for thou hast a long and thirsty road before thee.' 

So Face-of-god drank, and gave her the bowl back again, and 
she smiled on him and drank, and the others after her till the bowl 
was empty: then Bow-may put her hand on Wood-wise's shoulder, 
and they led on toward the outgate, while those twain followed 
them hand in hand. But the Sun-beam said : 

' This then is the new day I spoke of, and lo ! it bringeth 
our sundering with it ; yet shall it be no longer than a day when 
all is said, and new da3'S shall follow after. And now, my friend, 
I shall see thee no later than the April market ; for doubt not 
that I shall go thither with Folk-might, whether he will or not. 
Also as I led thee out of the house when we last met, so shall I 
lead thee out of the Dale to-day, and I will go with thee a little 
way on the waste ; and therefore am I shod this morning, as thou 
seest, for the ways on the waste are rough. And now I bid thee 
have courage while my hand holdeth thine. For afterwards I need 
not bid thee anything; for thou wilt have enough to do when thou 
comest to thy Folk, and must needs think more of warriors then 
than of maidens.' 

He looked at her and longed for her, but said soberl}^ : 'Thou 
art kind, O friend, and thinkest kindly of me ever. But me- 
thinks it were not well done for thee to wend with me over a deal 
of the waste, and come back by thyself alone, when ye have so 
many foemen nearby.' 

* Nay,' she said, ' they be nought so near as that yet, and I 
wot that Folk-might hath gone forth toward the north-west, where 
he looketh to fall in with a company of the foemen. His battle 
shall be a guard unto us.' 

' I pray thee turn back at the top of the outgate,' said he, ' and 
be not venturesome. Thou wottest that the pitcher is not broken 
the first time it goeth to the well, nor maybe the twentieth, but 
It last it cometh not back.' 

142 



She said : ' Nevertheless I shall have my will heroin. And it Peace amidst 
is but a little way I will wend with thee.' "^ ^■•''"■• 

Therewith were they come to the scree, and talk fell down be- 
tween them as they clomb it ; but when they were in the dark- 
some passage of the rocks, and could scarce see one another, Face- 
of-god said : 

* Where then is another outgate from the Dale ? Is it not up 
the water ? ' 

' Yea,' she said, ' and there is none other : at the lower end 
the rocks rise sheer from out the water, and a little further down 
is a great force thundering betwixt them ; so that by no boat or 
raft mav ye come out of the Dale. But the outgate up the water 
is called the Road of War, as this is named the Path of Peace. 
But now are all ways ways of war.' 

' There is peace in my heart,' said Gold-mane. 
She answered not for a while, but pressed his hand, and he felt 
her breath on his cheek ; and even therewithal they came out of 
the dark, and Gold-mane saw that her cheek was flushed ; and 
now she spake : 

' One thing would I sa}' to thee, my friend. Thou hast seen me 
amongst men of war, amongst outlaws who seek violence ; thou 
hast heard me bid my brother to count the slain, and I shrinking 
not ; thou knowest (for I have told thee) how I have schemed and 
schemed for victorious battle. Yet I would not have thee think 
of me as a Chooser of the Slain, a warrior maiden, or as of one 
who hath no joy save in the battle whereto she biddeth others. 
O friend, the many peaceful hours that I have had on the grass 
down yonder, sitting with my rock and spindle in hand, the chil- 
dren round about my knees hearkening to some old story so well 
remembered by me ! or the milking of the kine in the dewy 
summer even, when all was still but for the voice of the water 
and the cries of the happy children, and there round about me 
were the dear and beauteous maidens with whom I had grown 
up, happy amidst all our troubles, since their life was free and 

143 



Face-of-god they knew no guile. In such times my heart was at peace in- 
telleth of the deed, and it seemed to me as if we had won all we needed ; as 
peace ot jj- ^^j. ^^^j turmoil were over, after they had brought about peace 

^ ■ and good days for our little folk. 

* And as for the days that be, are they not as that rugged pass, 
full of bitter winds and the voice of hurrying waters, that leadeth 
yonder to Silver-dale, as thou hast divined ? and there is nought 
good in it save that the breath of life is therein, and that it leadeth 
to pleasant places and the peace and plenty of the fair dale.' 

' Sweet friend,' he said, ' what thou sayest is better than well: 
for time shall be, if we come alive out of this pass of battle and 
bitter strife, when I shall lead thee into Burgdale to dwell there. 
And thou wottest of our people that there is little strife and grudg- 
ing amongst them, and that they are merry, and fair to look on, 
both men and women ; and no man there lacketh what the earth 
may give us, and it is a saying amongst us that there may a 
man have that which he desireth save the sun and moon in his 
hands to play with : and of this gladness, which is made up of 
many little matters, what story may be told ? Yet amongst it 
shall I live and thou with me ; and ill indeed it were if it wearied 
thee and thou wert ever longing for some day of victorious strife, 
and to behold me coming back from battle high-raised on the 
shields of men and crowned with bay; if thine ears must ever be 
tickled with the talk of men and their songs concerning my war- 
rior deeds. For thus it shall not be. When I drive the herds it 
shall be at the neighbours' bidding whereso they will ; not necks 
of men shall I smite, but the stalks of the tall wheat, and the 
boles of the timber-trees which the woodreeve hath marked for 
felling ; the stilts of the plough rather than the hilts of the sword 
shall harden my hands ; my shafts shall be for the deer, and my 
spears for the wood-boar, til! war and sorrow fall upon us, and I 
fight for the ceasing of war and trouble. And though I be called 
a chief and of the blood of chiefs, yet shall I not be masterful to 
the goodman of the Dale, but rather to my hound ; for my chief- 

144 



tainship shall be that I shall be well beloved and trusted, and They come 
that no man shall grudge against me. Canst thou learn to love °"^ °^ 
such a life, which to me scemeth lovely? And thou? of whom ,r / "^ 
I say that thou art as if thou wert come down from the golden 
chairs of the Burg of the Gods.' 

They were well-nigh out of the steep path by now, and the 
daylight was bright about them ; there she sta3-ed her feet a 
moment and turned to him and said : 

*A11 this should I love even now, if the grief of our Folk were 
but healed, and hereafter shall I learn yet more of thy well- 
beloved face.' 

Therewith she laid her face to his and kissed him fondly, and 
put his hand to her side and held it there, saying : ' Soon shall 
wc be one in body and in soul.' 

And he laughed with joy and pride of life, and took her hand 
and led her on again, and said : 

* Yet feel the cold rings of my hauberk, my friend ; look at the 
spears that cumber my hand, and at Dale-warden hanging by 
m}' side. Thou shalt 3'et see me as the Slain's Chooser would 
see her speech-friend; for there is much to do ere we win wheat- 
harvest in Burgdale.' 

Therewith they stepped together on to the level ground of the 
waste, and saw Row-ma}- sitting on a stone hard by, and Wood- 
wise standing beside her bending his bow. Bow-may smiled on 
Gold-mane and rose up, and they all went on together, turning 
so that they went nearly alongside the wall of the \'ale, but 
westering a little ; then the Sun-beam said : 

' Many a time have I trodden this heath alongside our rock- 
wall ; for if ye wend a little further as our faces are turned, ye 
come to the crags over the place where the Shivering P'lood goeth 
out of Shadow}' Vale. There when ye have clomb a little may'st 
thou stand on the edge of the rock-wall, and look down and be- 
hold the Flood swirling and eddying in the black gorge of the 
rocks, and see presently the reek of the force go up, and hear the 

145 U 



The Wolf- thunder of the waters as they pour over it : and all this about us 
whoop, now is as the garden cf our house — is it not so, Bow-may ? ' 

' Yea,' said she, ' and there are goodly cluster-berries to be 
gotten hereabout in the autumn ; many a time have the Sun- 
beam and I reddened our lips with them. Yet is it best to be 
wary when war is abroad and hot withal.' 

* Yea,' said the Sun-beam, ' and all this place comes into the 
story of our House : lo! Gold-mane, two score paces before us a 
little on our right hand those five gre}^ stones. They are called 
the Rocks of the Elders : for there in the first days of our abiding 
in Shadowy Vale the Elders were wont to come together to talk 
privily upon our matters.' 

Face-of-god looked thither as she spoke, but therewith saw 
Bow-may, who went on the left hand of the Sun-beam, as Face- 
of-god on her right hand, notch a shaft on her bent bow, and 
Wood-wise, who was on his right hand, saw it also and did the 
like, and therewithal Face-of-god got his target on to his arm, 
and even as he did so Bow-may cried out suddenly : 

'Yea, yea ! Cast thyself on to the ground. Sun-beam ! Gold- 
mane, targe and spear, targe and spear! For I see steel gleaming 
yonder out from behind the Elders' Rocks.' 

Scarce were the words out of her mouth ere three shafts came 
flying, and the bow-strings twanged. Gold-mane felt that one 
smote his helm and glanced from it. Therewithal he saw the Sun- 
beam fall to earth, though he knew not if she had but cast herself 
down as Bow-may bade. Bow-may's string twanged at once, and 
a yell came from the foemen : but Wood-wise loosed not, but 
set his hand to his mouth and gave a loud wild cry — Ha ! ha I 
ha ! ha ! How-ow-ow ! — ending in a long and exceeding great 
whoop like nought but the wolf's howl. Now Gold-mane thinking 
swiftly, in a moment of time, as war-meet men do, judged that 
if the Sun-beam were hurt (and she had made no cry), it were 
yet wiser to fall on the foe before turning to tend her, or else all 
might be lost ; so he rushed forward spear in hand and target on 

146 



arm, and saw, as he opened up the flank of the Klders' Rocks, six Onslaught 
men, whereof one leaned aback on the rock with How-may's shaft ^^"J victory, 
in his shoulder, and two others were just in act of loosing at him. 
In a moment, as he rushed at them, one shaft went whistlincr by 
him, and the other glanced from off his target ; he cast a spear 
as he bounded on, and saw it smite one of the shooters full in the 
naked face, and saw the blood spout out and change his face and 
the man roll over, and then in another moment four men were 
hewing at him with their short steel axes. He thrust out his 
target against them, and then let the weight of his bod}' come on 
his other spear, and drave it through the second shooter's throat, 
and even therewith was smitten on the helm so hard that, though 
the Alderman's work held out, he fell to his knees, holding his 
target over his head and striving to draw forth Dale-warden; in 
that nick of time a shaft whistled close by his ear, and as he 
rose to his feet again he saw his foeman rolling over and over, 
clutching at the ling with both hands. Then rang out again the 
terrible wolf-whoop from Wood-wise's mouth, and both he and 
Bow-may loosed a shaft, for the two other foes had turned their 
backs and were fleeing fast. Again Bow-may hit the clout, and 
the Dusky INIan fell dead at once, but Wood-wise's arrow flew 
•over the felon's shoulder as he ran. Then in a trice was Gold- 
mane bounding after him like the hare just roused from her form ; 
for it came into his head that these felons had beheld them coming 
up out of the \'ale, and that if even this one man escaped, he 
-would bring his company down upon the Vale-dwellers. 

Strong and light-foot as any was Face-of-god, and though he 
was cumbered with his hauberk, yet was Iron-face's handiwork 
far lighter than the war-coat of the Dusky Man, and the race 
was soon over. The felon turned breathless to meet Gold-mane, 
who drave his target against him and cast him to earth, and as 
he strove to rise smote oif his head at one stroke ; for Dale- 
warden was a good sword and the Dalesman as fierce of mood 
as might be. There he let the felon lie, and, turning, walked 

147 



The Sun- back swiftly toward the Elders' Rocks, and found there Wood- 
beam hath wise and the dead foemen, for the carle had slain the wounded, 
been atraid. ^^^ j^^ ^.^^ ^^^^ drawing the silver arm-rings off the slain men ; 

for all these Dusky Felons bore silver arm-rings. But Bow-may 

was walking towards the Sun-beam, and thitherward followed 

Gold-mane speedily. 

He found her sitting on a tussock of grass close by where she 

had fallen, her face pale, her eyes eager and gleaming ; she looked 

up at him as he drew nigher and said : 

* Friend, art thou hurt ? ' 

' Na}',' he said, * and thou ? Thou art pale.' 

* I am not hurt,' she said. Then she smiled and said again : 
' Did I not tell thee that I am no warrior like Bow-ma}' here ? 
Such deeds make maidens pale.' 

Said Bow-may: ' If ye will have the truth. Gold-mane, she is 
not wont to grow pale when battle is nigh her. Look 3'ou, she 
hath had the gift of a new delight, and findeth it sweeter and 
softer than she had any thought of; and now hath she feared lest 
it should be taken from her.' 

' Bow-may saith but the sooth,' said the Sun-beam simply^ 
* and kind it is of her to say it. I saw thee, Bow-may, and good 
was thy shooting, and I love thee for it.' 

Said Bow-may : ' I never shoot otherwise than well. But 
those idle shooters of the Dusky Ones, whereabouts nigh to thee 
went their shafts ? ' 

Said the Sun-beam : ' Onejustliftedthehairbymy left ear, and 
that was not so ill-aimed ; as for the other, it pierced my raiment 
by my right knee, and pinned me to the earth, so that I tottered 
and fell, and my gown and smock are grievously wounded, both 
of them.' 

And she took the folds of the garments in her hands to show 
the rents therein ; and hercolourwas come again, and she was glad. 

' What were best to do now ? ' she said. 

Said Face-of-god : ' Let us tarry a little ; for some of thy 

148 



carles shall surely come up from the Vale : because they will Men come up 
have heard Wood-wise's whoop, since the wind sets that way.' trom the Vale. 

'Yea, they will come,' said the Sun-beam. 

' Good is that,' said Face-of-god ; ' for they shall take the 
dead felons and cast them where they be not seen if perchance 
any more stray hereby. For if they wind them, they may well 
happen on the path down to the \'ale. Also, my friend, it 
were well if thou wert to bid a good few of the carles that are 
in the \'alc to keep watch and ward about here, lest there be 
more foemen wandering about the waste.' 

She said : ' Thou art wise in war. Gold-mane ; I will do as 
thou biddcst mc. But soothly this is a perilous thing that the 
Dusky Men are gotten so close to the Vale.' 

Said Face-of-god: 'This will Folk-might look to when he 
Cometh home ; and it is most like that he will deem it good to 
fall on them somewhere a good way aloof, so as to draw them 
off from wandering over the waste. Also I will do my best to 
busy them when I am home in Burgdale.' 

Therewith came up Wood-wise, and fell to talk with them ; 
and his mind it was that these foemen were but a band of stra3'ers, 
and had had no inkling of Shadowy Vale till they had heard them 
talking together as they came up the path from the Vale, and that 
then they had made that ambush behind the Elders' Rocks, so that 
they might slay the men, and then bear off the woman. He said 
withal that it would be best to carry their corpses further on, so that 
they miglit be cast over the cliffs into the fierce stream of the 
Shivering Flood. 

Amidst this talk came up men from the Vale, a score of them, 
well armed ; and they ran to meet the wayfarers ; and when they 
heard what had befallen, they rejoiced exceedingly, and were 
above all glad that Face-of-god had shown himself dought}' and 
deft ; and they deemed his rede wise, to set a watch thereabouts 
till Folk-might came home, and said that tliey would do even so. 

Then spake the Sun-beam and said : 

149 



riiey kiss ' Now must ye wayfarers depart ; for the road is but rough, 

together be- and the day not over-long.' 

fore the folk. Then she turned to Face-of-god and put her hand on his 
shoulder, and brought her face close to his and spake to him softly : 
* Doth this second parting seem at all strange to thee, and that I 
am now so familiar to thee, I whom thou didst once deem to be 
a very goddess ? And now thou hast seen me redden before thine 
eyes because of thee ; and thou hast seen me grow pale with fear 
because of thee ; and thou hast felt my caresses which I might 
not refrain ; even as if I were altogether such a maiden as ye 
warriors hang about for a nine days' wonder, and then all is over 
save an achincr heart — wilt thou do so with me ? Tell me, have 
I not belittled myself before thee as if I asked thee to scorn me ? 
For thus desire dealeth both with maid and man.' 

He said : * In all this there is but one thing for me to say, and 
that is that I love thee ; and surely none the less, but rather the 
more, because thou lovest me, and art of my kind, and mayest 
share in my deeds and think well of them. Now is my heart 
full of joy, and one thing only weigheth on it ; and that is that 
my kinswoman the Bride begrudgeth our love together. Foi 
this is the thing that of all things most misliketh me, that any 
should bear a grudge against me.' 

She said : * Forget not the token, and my message to her.' 
' I will not forget it,' said he. ' And now I bid thee to kiss 
me even before all these that are looking on ; for there is nought 
to belittle us therein, since we be troth-plight.' 

And indeed those folk stood all round about them gazing on 
them, but a little aloof, that they might not hear their words if 
they were minded to talk privily. For they had long loved the 
Sun-beam, and now the love of Face-of-god had begun to spring 
up in their hearts. 

So the twain embraced and kissed one another, and made no 
haste thereover ; and those men deemed that but meet and right, 
and clashed their weapons on their shields in token of their joy. 

150 



Then Face-of-god turned about and strode out of the ring of Departure 

men, with Bow-may and Wood-wise beside him, and they went fi'O'" 

on their iournev over the necks towards Burg-stead. But the Sriatlowy 
•» -'- /-I Vale 

Sun-bcam turned slowly from that place toward the \'ale, and 

two of the stoutest carles went along with her to guard her from 

harm, and she went down into the \'ale pondering all these things 

in her heart. 

Then the other carles dragged off the corpses of the Dusky 
Men till they had brought them to the sheer rocks above the 
Shivering Flood, and there they tossed them over into the boiling 
caldron of the force, and so departed taking with them the silver 
arm-rings of the slain to add to the tale. 

But when the}- came back into the Vale the Sun-beam duly 
ordered that watch and ward to keep the ingate thereto, and note 
all that should befall till Folk-miorht came home. 



CHAPTER XXII. FACE-OF-GOD COMETH HOME TO 
BURGSTEAD. 

BUT Face-of-god with Bow-may and Wood-wise fared over 
the waste, going at first alongside the cliffs of the Shivering 
Flood, and then afterwards turning somewhat to the west. 
They soon had to climb a very high and steep bent goino- up to 
a mountain-neck ; and the way over the neck was rough indeed 
when they were on it, and they toiled out of it into a barren valle}-, 
and out of the valley again on to a rough neck ; and such-like 
was their journey the day long, for they were going athwart all 
those great dykes that went from the ice-mountains toward the 
lower dales like the outspread fingers of a hand or the roots of a 
great tree. And the ice-mountains they had on their left hands 
and whiles at their backs. 

They went very warily, with their bows bended and spear in 
hand, but saw no man, good or bad, and but few living things. 

151 



A rest in the At noon they rested in a valley where was a stream, but no grass. 
Wilderness. nought but stones and sand ; but where the}^ were at least sheltered 
from the wind, which was mostl}- very great in these high wastes ; 
and there Bow-may drew meat and wine from a wallet she bore, 
and they ate and drank, and were merry enough ; and Bow- 
may said : 

' I would I were going all the way with thee, Gold-mane ; for 
I long sore to let my eyes rest a while on the land where I shall 
one day live.' 

'Yea,' said Face-of-god, 'art thou minded to dwell there? 
We shall be glad of that.' 

' Whither are thy wits straying ? ' said she ; ' whether I am 
minded to it or not, I shall dwell there.' 

And Wood-wise nodded a yea to her. But Face-of-god said : 
' Good will be th}' dwelling ; bat wherefore must it be so ? ' 

Then Wood-wise laughed and said: 'I shall tell thee in fewer 
words than she will, and time presses now : Wood-father and 
Wood-mother, and I and m}' two brethren and this woman have 
ever been about and anigh the Sun-beam ; and we deem that war 
and other troubles have made us of closer kin to her than we were 
born, whether j^e call it brotherhood or what not, and never shall 
we sunder from her in life or in death. So when thou goest to 
Burgdale with her, there shall we be.' 

Then was Face-of-god glad when he found that they deemed 
his wedding so settled and sure ; but Wood-wise fell to making 
ready for the road. And Face-of-god said to him : 

' Tell me one thing. Wood-wise; that whoop that thou gavest 
forth when we were at handy-strokes e'en now — is it but a cr}- of 
thine own or is it of thy Folk, and shall 1 hear it again ? ' 

'Thou may'st look to hear k many a time,' said Wood-wise, 
' for it is the cry of the Wolf. Seldom indeed hath battle been 
joined where men of our blood are, but that cr}' is given forth. 
Come now, to the road ! ' 

So they went their ways and the road worsened upon them, and 

152 



toilsome was the climbing up steep bents and the scaling of doubt- They come to 
ful paths in the clilT-sides, so that the journey, though the distance the Weltering 
of It were not so long to the fowl flying, was much eked out for ^^^"'^' 
them, and it was not till near nightfall that they came on the 
ghyll of the Weltering Water some six miles above Burgstead. 
Forsooth W'ood-wise said that the way might be made less toil- 
some though far longer b}' turning back eastward a little past the 
vale where the}- had rested at midday ; and that seemed good to 
Gold-mane, in case they should be wending hereafter in a great 
compan}- between Burgdale and Shadowy X'ale. 

But now those two went with Face-of-god down a path in the 
side of the cliff whereby him-seemed he had gone before; and they 
came doivn into the ghyll and sat down together on a stone b}' 
the water-side, and Face-of-god spake to them kindly, for he 
deemed them good and trusty faring -fellows. 

* Bow-ma}-,' said he, ' thou saidst a while ago that thou wouldst 
be fain to look on Burgdale ; and indeed it is fair and lovely, and 
ye may soon be in it if 3'e will. Ye shall both be more than wel- 
come to the house of my father, and heartily I bid you thither. 
For night is on us, and the way back is long and toilsome and be- 
set with peril. Sister Bow-may, thou wottest that it would be a 
sore grief to me if thou camest to any harm, and thou also, fellow 
Wood-wise. Daylight is a good faring-fellow over the waste.' 

Said Bow-may : ' Thou art kind, Gold-manc, and that is thy 
wont, I know; and fain were I to-night of the candles in thine hall. 
But we may not tarry; for thou wottest how busy we be at home ; 
and Sun-beam needeth me, if it were only to make her sure that no 
Dusky Man is bearing oft thine head by its lovely locks. Neither 
shall we journey in the mirk night; for look you, the moon yonder.' 

'\Ve!l,' said Face-of-god, 'parting is ill at the best, and I 
would 1 could give you twain a gift, and especially to thee, my 
sister Bow-may.' 

Said Wood-wise: ' Thou may'st well do that ; or at least promise 
the gift; and that is all one as if we held it in our hands. ' 

153 >^ 



sift 



Face-of-god * Yea,' said Bow-may, ' Wood-wise and I have been thinking in 

promiseth one way belike; and I was at point to ask a gift of thee.' 

'What is it?' said Gold-mane. 'Surelyit is thine, ifit werebut 
a guerdon for thy good shooting.' 

She laughed and handled the skirts of his hauberk as she said : 
' Show us the dint in thine helm that the steel axe made this 
morning.' 

'There is no such great dint,' said he; 'my father forged that 
helm, and his work is better than good.' 

'Yea,' said Bow-may, 'and might I have hauberk and helm of 
his handiwork, and Wood-wise a good sword of the same, then 
were I a glad woman, and this man a happy carle.' 

Said Gold-mane : ' I am well pleased at thine asking, and so 
shall Iron-face be when he heareth of thine archery; and how 
that Hall-face were now his only son but for thy close shooting. 
But now must I to the way ; for my heart tells me that there may 
have been tidings in Burgstead this while I have been aloof.' 

So they rose all three, and Bow-may said : 

' Thou art a kind brother, and soon shall we meet again ; and 
that will be well.' 

Then he put his hands on her shoulders and kissed both her 
cheeks; and he kissed Wood-wise, and turned and went his ways, 
threading the stony tangle about the Weltering Water, which was 
now at middle height, and running clear and strong ; so turning 
once he beheld Wood-wise and Bow-may climbing the path up 
the side of the ghyll, and Bow-may turned to him also and waved 
her bow as token of farewell. Then he went upon his way, which 
was rough enough to follow by night, though the moon was shin- 
ing brightly high aloft. Yet as he knew his road he made but 
little of it all, and in somewhat more than an hour and a half was 
come out of the pass into the broken ground at the head of the 
Dale, and began to make his way speedily under the bright moon- 
light toward the Gate, still going close by the water. But as 
he went he heard of a sudden cries and rumour not far from him, 

154 



unwonted in that place, where none dwelt, and where the onlv The Hue 
folk he might look to see were those who cast an angle into the ^nd Cry. 
pools and eddies of the Water. Moreover, he saw about the place 
whence came the cries torches moving swiftly hither and thither ; 
so that he looked to hear of new tidings, and staved his feet and 
looked keenly about him on every side; and just then, between 
his rough path and the shimmer of the dancing moonlit water, he 
saw the moon smite on something gleaming; so, as quietly as he 
could, he got his target on his arm, and shortened his spear in his 
right hand, and then turned sharpU' toward that gleam. Even 
therewith up sprang a man on his right hand, and then another 
in front of him just betwixt him and the water; an axe gleamed 
bright in the moon, and he caught a great stroke on his target, and 
therewith drave his left shoulder straight forward, so that the man 
before him fell over into the water with a might}' splash ; for they 
were at the verj' edge of the deepest eddy of the Water. Then 
he spun round on his heel, heeding not that another stroke had 
fallen on his right shoulder, yet ill-aimed, and not with the full 
edge, so that it ran down his b3'rny and rent it not. So he sent 
the thrust of his spear crashing through the face and skull of the 
smitcr, and looked not to him as he fell, but stood still, brandish- 
ing his spear and crying out, ^For the Burg and the Face! For 
the Burg and the Face ! ' 

No other foe came against him, but like to the echo of his cry 
rose a clear shout not far aloof, ' For the Face, for the Face I For 
the Burg and the Face!' He muttered, ' So ends the dav as it 
begun,' and shouted loud again, ' For the Burg and the Face ! ' 
And in a minute more came breaking forth from the stone-heaps 
into the moonlit space before the water the tall shapes of the men 
of Burgstead, the red torchlight and the moonlight flashing back 
from their war-gear and weapons; for every man had his sword 
or spear in hand. 

Hall-face was the first of them, and he threw his arms about 
his brother and said : * Well met. Gold-mane, though thou comcst 

155 



Va 



They know amongst US like Stone-fist of the Mountain. Art thou hurt? With 
net Shadowy vvhom hast thou dealt? Where be they? Whence comest thou?' 

'Na}', I am not hurt,' said Face-of-god. 'Stint thy questions 
then, till thou hast told me whom thou seekest with spear and 
sword and candle.' 

' Two felons were they,' said Hall-face, ' even such as ye saw 
lying dead at Wood-grey's the other day.' 

' Then may ye sheathe your swords and go home,' said Gold- 
mane, 'for one Heth at the bottom of the eddy, and the other, thy 
feet are well-nigh treading on him. Hall-face.' 

Then arose a rumour of praise and victory, and they brought 
the torches nigh and looked at the fallen man, and found that he 
was stark dead ; so they even let him lie there till the morrow, 
and all turned about toward the Thorp ; and many looked on 
Face-of-god and wondered concerning him, whence he was and 
what had befallen him. Indeed, they would have asked him there- 
of, but could not get at him to ask; but whoso could, went as nigh 
to Hall-face and him as they might, to hearken to the talk between 
the brothers. 

So as they went along Hall-face did veril}' ask him whence he 
came : ' For was it not so,' said he, ' that thou didst enter into 
the wood seeking some adventure early in the morning the day 
before yesterday ? ' 

' Sooth is that,' said Face-of-god, ' and I came to Shadowy 
Vale, and thence am I come this morning.' 

Said Hall-face: 'I know not Shadowy Vale, nor doth any of 
us. This is a new word. How say ye, friends, doth any man 
here know of Shadowy Vale ? ' 

They all said, 'Nay.' 

Then said Hall-face : ' Hast thou been amongst mere ghosts 
and marvels, brother, or cometh this tale of thy minstrelsy ? ' 

' For all your words,' said Gold-mane, ' to that Vale have I 
been ; and, to speak shortl}' (for I desire to have your tale, and 
am waiting for it), I will tell thee that I found there no marvels 

156 



or strancrc wicrlus, but a folk of valiant men : a folk small in Two talt*^ to 
numbers, but great oi^ heart ; a folk come, as we be, from the "<^ told. 
Fathers and the Gods. And this, moreover, is to be said of them, 
that they are the foes of these felons of whom ye were chasing these 
twain. And these same Dusky Men of Silver-dale would slay 
them every man if they might ; and if we look not to it they will 
soon be doing the same by us ; for they are many, and as venomous 
as adders, as fierce as bears, and as foul as swine. But these 
valiant men, who bear on their banner the image of the Wolf, 
should be our fellows in arms, and they have good will thereto ; 
and they shall show us the way to Silver-dale b}' blind paths, so 
that we may fall upon these felons while they dwell there torment- 
ing the poor people of the land, and thus may we destroy them 
as lads a hornet's nest. Or else the days shall be hard for us.' 

The men who hung about them drank in his words greedily. 
But Hall-face was silent a little while, and then he said : ' Brother 
Gold-mane, these be great tidings. Time was when we might 
have deemed them but a minstrel's tale; for Silver-dale we know 
not, of which thou speakest so glibl}', nor the Dusky Men, any 
more than the Shadowy Vale. Howbeit, things have befallen these 
two last days so strange and new, that putting them together with 
the murder at Wood-grey's, and thy words which seem somewhat 
wild, it may well seem to us that tidings unlooked for are coming 
our way.' 

' Come, then,' said Face-of-god, * give me what thou hast in 
thy scrip, and trust me, I shall not jeer at thy tale.' 

Said Hall-face : * I also will be short with the tale ; and that 
the more, as meseemeth it is not yet done, and that thou thyself 
shalt share in the ending of it. It was the day before yesterday, 
that is the day when thou departedst into the woods on that ad- 
venture whereof thou shalt one day tell me more, wilt thou not?' 

' Yea, in good time,' said Facc-of-god. 

* Well,' quoth Hall-face, * we went into the woods that day 
and in the morning, but after sunrise, to the number of a score : 



A hunt of we looked to meet a bear and a she-bear with cubs in a certain 
the Burgstead place ; for one of the Woodlanders, a keen hunter, had told us of 
'^^^' their lair. Also we were wishful to slay some of the wild-swine, 

the yearlings, if we might. Therefore, though we had no helms 
or shields or coats of fence, we had bowshot a plenty, and good 
store of casting-weapons, besides our wood-knives and an axe or 
so ; and some of us, of whom I was one, bore our battle-swords, 
as we are wont ever to do, be the foe beast or man. 

' Thus armed we went up Wildlake's Wa}^ and came to Carl- 
stead, where half-a-score Woodlanders joined themselves to us, so 
that we became a band. We went up the half-cleared places past 
Carlstead for a mile, and then turned east into the wood, and went 
I know not how far, for the Woodlanders led us by crooked paths, 
but two hours wore away in our going, till we came to the place 
where they looked to find the bears. It is a place that may well 
be noted, for it is unlike the wood round about. There is a close 
thicket some two furlongs about of thorn and briar and ill-grown 
ash and oak and other trees, planted by the birds belike ; and it 
stands as it were in an island amidst of a wide-spreading wood- 
lawn of fine turf, set about in the most goodly fashion with great 
tall straight-boled oak-trees, that seem to have been planted of 
set purpose by man's hand. Yea, dost thou know the place?' 

' Methinks I do,' said Gold-mane, ' and I seem to have heard 
the Woodlanders give it a name and call it Boars-bait.' 

' That may be,' said Hall-face. ' Well, there we were, the 
dogs and the men, and we drew nigh the thicket and beset it, and 
doubted not to find prey therein : but when we would set the dogs 
at the thicket to enter it, they were uneasy, and would not take 
up the slot, but growled and turned about this way and that, so 
that we deemed that they winded some fierce beast at our flanks 
or backs. 

* Even so it was, and fierce enough and deadly was the beast; 
for suddenly we heard bow-strings twang, and shafts came flying; 
and Iron-shield of the Upper Dale, who was close beside me, leapt 

158 



up into the air and tell down dead with an arrow through his back. Kutlc in the 
Then I bethought me in the twinkling of an eye, and I cried out, Wood. 
" The foe arc on us I take the cover of the tree-boles and be wary! 
For the Burg and the Face! For the Burg and the Face!" 

'So we scattered and covered ourselves with the oak-boles, but 
besides Iron-shield, who was slain outright, two goodmcn were 
sorelv hurt, to wit Bald-face, a man of our house, and Stonyford 
of the Lower Dale. 

' I looked from behind my tree-bole, a great one ; and far off down 
the crladcs I saw men moving, clad in gay raiment ; but nearer 
to me, not a hundred yards from my cover, I saw an arm clad in 
scarlet come out from behind a tree-bole, so I loosed at it, and 
missed not ; for straight there tottered out from behind the tree 
one of those dusky foul-favoured men like to those that were slain 
by Wood-grey. I had another shaft ready notched, so I loosed 
and set the shaft in his throat, and he fell. 

'Straightway was a yelling and howling about us like the cries 
of scalded curs, and the oak-wood swarmed thick with these felons 
rushing on us ; for it seems that the man whom I had slain wjs a 
chief amongst them, or we judged so b}' his goodly raiment. 

' Methought then our last day was come. What could we do 
but run together again after we had loosed at a venture, and so 
withstand them sword and spear in hand? Some fell beneath our 
shot, but not man}', for they came on very swiftly. 

'So they fell on us; but for all their fierceness and their num- 
bers they might not break our arra}', and we slew four and hurt 
many by sword-hewing and spear-casting and push of spear ; and 
five oi us were hurt and one slain by their dart-casting. So they 
drew off from us a little, and strove to spread out and fall to shoot- 
ing at us again ; but this we would not suffer, but pushed on as 
they fell back, keeping as close together as we might for the trees. 
For we said that wc would all die together if needs must ; and 
verily the stour was hard. 

* Yet hearken I In that nick of time rose up a strange cry not 

159 



The Wolf far from us, Ha ! ha ! ha! ha ! How-ow-ow ! ending like the howl 
howls. of a wolf, and then another and another and another, till the 

whole wood rang again. 

' At first we deemed that here were come fresh foemen, and 
that we were undone indeed ; but when they heard it, the foe- 
men before us faltered and gave way, and at last turned their 
backs and fled, and we followed, keeping well together still : 
thereby the more part oi^ these men escaped us, for they fled 
wildly here and there from those who bore that cry with them ; 
so we knew that our work was being done for us ; therefore we 
stood, and saw tall men clad in sheep-brown weed running through 
the glades pursuing those felons and smiting them down, till both 
fleers and pursuers passed out of our sight like men in a dream, 
or as when ye roll up a pictured cloth to lay it in the coff^er. 

* But to Stone-face's mind those brown-clad men were the 
Wights of the Wood that be of the Fathers' blood, and our very 
friends ; and when some of us would 3et have gone forward and 
foregathered with them, and followed the chase along with them. 
Stone-face gainsaid it, bidding us not to run into the arms of a 
second death, when we had but just escaped from the first. Sooth 
to say, moreover, we had divers hurt men that needed looking to. 
' So what with one thing, what with another, we turned back : 
but War-cliff's brother, a tall man, had felled two of those felons 
with an oak sapling which he had torn from the thicket ; but he had 
not slain them, and by now they were just awakening from their 
swoon, and were sitting up looking rojnd them with fierce roll- 
ing eyes, expecting the stroke, for Raven of Longscree was stand- 
ing over them with a naked war-sword in his hand. But now 
that our blood was cool, we were loth to slaj' them as they lay 
in our hands; so we bound them and brought them away with 
us; and our own dead we carried also on such biers as we might 
lightly make there, and with them three that were so grievously 
hurt that they might not go afoot, these we left at Carlstead : 
they w^ere Tardy the Son of the Untamed, and Swan of Bull- 

i6o 



meadow, both of the Lower Dale, and a Woodlandcr, Undoomed They come to 
to wit. But the dead were Iron-shield aforesaid, and Wool-sark, the Gate, 
and the Hewer, a Woodlander. 

* So came we sadly at eventide to Burc^stcad with the two dead 
Burgdalers, and the captive felons, and the wounded of us that 
might go afoot ; and 3'e may judge that they of Burgdale and our 
father deemed these tidings great enough, and wotted not what 
next should befall. Stone-face would have had those two felons 
slain there and then; for no true tale could we get out of them, 
nor indeed any word at all. But the Alderman would not have 
it so ; and he deemed they might serve our turn as hostages if 
anv of our folk should be taken : for one and all we deemed, and 
still deem, that war is on us and that new folk have gathered on 
our skirts. 

' So the captives were shut up in the red out-bower of our 
house ; and our father was minded that thou mightcst tell us some- 
what of them when thou wert come home. But about dusk to- 
da}- the word went that the}^ had broken out and gotten them 
weapons and fled up the Dale ; and so it was. 

' But to-morrow morning will a Gate-thing be holdcn, and 
there it will be looked for of thee that thou tell us a true tale of 
th}' goings. For it is deemed, and it is my deeming especially, 
that thou may'st tell us more of these men than thou hast yet 
told us. Is it not so? ' 

' Yea, surely,' said Gold-mane, ' I can make as many words 
as ye will about it ; yet when all is said, it will come to much 
the same tale as I have already told thee. Yet belike, if 3'e are 
minded to take up the sword to defend you, I may tell you in 
what wise to lay hold on the hilts.' 

' And that is well,' said Hall-face, ' and no less do I look for 
of thee. But lo ! here are we come to the Gate of the Burg that 
abideth battle.' 



161 



CHAPTER XXIII. TALK IN THE HALL OF THE HOUSE 
OF THE FACE. 

Men hearken "W N sooth they were come to the very Gate of Burgstead, 
in the Hall. | and the great gates were shut, and only a wicket was open, 
and a half score of stout men in all their war-gear v/ere hold- 
ing ward thereby. The}' gave place to Hall-face and his com- 
pany, albeit some of the warders followed them through the wicket 
that they might hear the story told. 

The street was full of folk, both men and women, talking to- 
gether eagerly concerning all these tidings, and when they saw the 
men of the Hue-and-cry they came thronging about them, so that 
they might scarce get to the door of the House of the Face be- 
cause of the press ; so Hall-face (who was a very tall man) 
cried out : 

' Good people, all is well ! the runaways are slain, and Face- 
of-god is come back with us ; give place a little, that we may 
come into our house.' 

Then the throng set up a shout, and made way a little, so that 
Hall-face and Gold-mane and the others could get to the door. 
And they entered into the Hall, and saw much folk therein ; and 
men were sitting at table, for supper was not yet over. But when 
they saw the new-comers they mostly rose up from the board and 
stood silent to hear the tale, for they had been talking many to- 
gether each to each, so that the Hall was full of confused noise. 

So Hall-face again cried out : ' Men in this hall, good is the 
tidings. The runaways are slain ; and it was Face-of-god who 
slew them as he came back safe from the waste.' 

Then they shouted for jo}', and the brethren and Stone-face 
with them (for he had entered with them from the street) went 
up on to the dais, while the others of the Hue-and-cry gat them 
seats where they might at the endlong tables. 

But when Face-of-god came up on to the dais, there sat Iron-face 
looking down on the thronged Hall with a ruddy cheerful counte- 

162 



r.ance, and beside him sat the Bride ; for he had caused her to The Bride 
be brought thither when he had heard oi the tidings of battle, kisscth Face- 
She was daintily clad in a flame-coloured kirtle embroidered with °'-S'''^ again, 
gold about the bosom and sleeves, and there was a fillet of golden 
roses on her ruddy hair. Her eyes shone bright and eager, and 
the pommels of her checks were flushed and red contrary to their 
wont. Needs must Gold-mane sit by her, and when he came close 
to her he knew not what to do, but he put forth his hand to her, 
vet with a troubled countenance ; for he feared her grief mingled 
with her beauty : as for her, she wavered in her mind whether she 
should forbear to touch him or not ; but she saw that men about 
were looking at them, and especially was Iron-face looking on 
her : therefore she stood up and took Gold-mane's hand and 
kissed his face as she had been wont to do, and by then was 
her face as white as paper ; and her anguish pierced his heart, so 
that he well-nigh groaned for grief of her. But Iron-face looked 
on her and said kindly: 

'Kinswoman, thou art pale; thou hast feared for thy mate 
amidst all these tidings of war, and still fearest for him. But 
pluck up a heart ; for the man is a deft warrior for all his fair 
face, which thou lovest as a woman should, and his hands may yet 
save his head. And if he be slain, j-et are there other men of the 
kindred, and the earth will not be a desert to thee even then.' 

She looked at Iron-face, and the colour was come back to her 
face somewhat, and she said : 

' It is true ; I have feared for him ; for he goeth into perilous 
places. But for thee, thou art kind, and I thank thee for it.' 

And therewith she kissed Iron-face and sat down in her place, 
and strove to overmaster her grief, that her face might not be 
changed by it; for now were thoughts of battle, and valiant hopes 
arising in men's hearts ; and it seemed to her too grievous if she 
should mar that feast on the eve of battle. 

But Iron-face kissed and embraced his son and said : ' Art 
thou late come from the waste ? Hast thou seen new things ? 

163 



Face-of-god We look to have a notable tale from thee ; though here also have 
is sorry. been tidings, and it is not unlike that we shall presently have new 

work on our hands.' 

* Father,' quoth Face-of-god, ' I deem that when thou hast 
heard my tale thou wilt think no less of it than that there are 
valiant folk to be holpen, poor folk to be delivered, and evil folk 
to be swept from off the face of the earth.' 

' Jt is well, son,' said Iron-face. ' I see that thy tale is long ; 
let it alone for to-night. To-morrow shall we hold a Gate-thing, 
and then shall we hear all that thou hast to tell. Now eat thy meat 
and drink a bowl of wine, and comfort thy troth-plight maiden.' 

So Gold-mane sat down by the Bride, and ate and drank as he 
needs must ; but he was ill at ease and he durst not speak to her. 
For, on the one hand, he thought concerning his love for the Sun- 
beam, and how sweet and good a thing it was that she should 
take him by the hand and lead him into noble deeds and great 
fame, caressing him so softly and sweetly the while ; and, on the 
other hand, there sat the Bride beside him, sorrowful and angry, 
begrudging all that sweetness of love, as though it were something 
foul and unseemly; and heavy on him lay the weight of that 
grudge, for he was a man of a friendly heart. 

Stone-face sat outward from him on the other side of the Bride ; 
and he leaned across her towards Gold-mane and said : 

* Fair shall be thy tale to-morrow, if thou tellest us all thine 
adventure. Or wilt thou tell us less than all?' 

Said Face-of-god : ' In good time shalt thou know it all, fos- 
ter-father ; but it is not unlike that by the time that thou hast 
heard it, there shall be so many other things to tell of, that my 
tale shall seem of little account to thee — even as the saw saith 
that one nail driveth out the other.' 

*Yea,' said Stone-face, *but one tale belike shall be knit up 
with the others, as it fareth with the figures that come one after 
other on the weaver's cloth ; though one maketh not the other^ 
yet one cometh of the other.' 

164 



Said Facc-of-god : * Wise art thou now, foster-father, but thou The garden 
shalt be wiser yet in this matter b}' then a month hath worn : and "^ ^he Fare, 
to-morrow shalt thou know enough to set thine hands a-work,' 

So the talk fell between them ; and the night wore, and the 
men of Hurgdale feasted in their ancient hall with merrj- hearts, 
little weighed down by thought of the battle that might be and 
the trouble to come ; for they were valorous and kindly folk. 



CHAPTER XXIV. FACE-OF-GOD GIVETH THAT TOKEN 
TO THE BRIDE. 

NOW on the morrow, when Facc-of-god arose and other men 
with him, and the Hall was astir and there was no little 
throng therein, the Bride came up to him ; for she had 
slept in the House of the Face by the bidding of the Alderman ; 
and she spake to him before all men, and bade him come forth 
with her into the garden, because she would speak to him apart. 
He yeasaid her, though with a heavy heart ; and to the folk 
about that seemed meet and due, since those twain were deemed 
to be troth-plight, and they smiled kindly on them as they went 
out of the Hall together. 

So they came into the garden, where the pear-trees were blos- 
soming over the spring lilies, and the cherries were showering 
their flowers on the deep green grass, and everything smellcd 
sweetly on the warm windless spring morning. 

She led the wa}', going before him till they came by a smooth 
crrass path between the berry bushes, to a square space of grass 
about which were barberry trees, their first tender leaves bright 
green in the sun against the dry yellowish twigs. There was a 
sundial amidmost of the grass, and betwixt the garden-boughs 
one could see the long grey roof of the ancient hall ; and sweet 
familiar sounds oi the nesting birds and men and women going 
on their errands were all about in the scented air. She turned 

165 



about at the sundial and faced Face-of-god, her hand lightly 
laid on the scored brass, and spake with no anger in her voice : 
' I ask thee if thou hast brought me the token whereon thou 
shalt swear to give me that gift.' 

* Yea,' said he; and therewith drew the ring from his bosom, 
and held it out to her. She reached out her hand to him slowly 
and took it, and their fingers met as she did so, and he noted that 
her hand was warm and firm and wholesome as he well remem- 
bered it. 

She said : * Whence hadst thou this fair finger-ring ? ' 

Said Face-of-god : ' My friend there in the mountain-valley drew 
it from off her finger for thee, and bade me bear thee a message.' 

Her face flushed red : * Yea,' she said, * and doth she send me 
a message ? Then doth she know of me, and ye have talked of 
me together. — Well, give the message ! ' 

Said Face-of-god : ' She saith, that thou shalt bear in mind. 
That to-morrow is a new day.' 

* Yea,' she said, * for her it is so, and for thee ; but not for me. 
But now I have brought thee here that thou mightest swear thine 
oath to me ; lay thine hand on this ring and on this brazen plate 
whereby the sun measures the hours of the day for happy folk, 
and swear by the spring-tide of the year and all glad things that 
find a mate, and by the God of the Earth that rejoiceth in the 
life of man.' 

Then he laid his hand on the finger-ring as it lay on the dial- 
plate and said : 

' By the spring-tide and the live things that long to multiply 
their kind ; by the God of the Earth that rejoiceth in the life of 
man, I swear to give to my kinswoman the Bride the second 
man-child that I beget; to be hers, to leave or cherish, to love or 
hate, as her will may bid her.' Then he looked on her soberly 
and said : ' It is duly sworn ; is it enough ? ' 

' Yea,' she said ; but he saw how the tears ran out of her e3^es 
and wetted the bosom of her kirtle, and she hung her head for 

1 66 



shame ci her grief. And Gold-mane was all abashed, and had 'To-morrow 
no word to say ; for he knew that no word of his might comfort '^ ^ ""^^^ ^^y-^ 
her ; and he deemed it ill done to stay there and behold her sor- 
row; and he knew not how to get him gone, and be glad elsewhere, 
end leave her alone. 

Then, as if she had read his thought, she looked up at him and 
said smiling a little amidst of her tears : 

' I bid thee stay by me till the flood is over ; for I have yet a 
word to say to thee.' 

So he stood there gazing dovvn on the grass in his turn, and 
not daring to raise his eyes to her face, and the minutes seemed 
long to him : till at last she said in a voice scarcely yet clear of 
weeping : 

' Wilt thou say anything to me, and tell me what thou hast 
done, and why, and what thou deemest will come of it ? ' 

He said : ' I will tell the truth as I know it, because thou askest 
it cf me, and not because I would excuse myself before thee. 
What have I done ? Yesterday I plighted my troth to wed the 
woman that I metlast autumn in the wood. And why? I wot not 
wh}', but that I longed for her. Yet I must tell thee that it seemed 
to me, and yet seemeth, that I might do no otherwise — that there 
was nothing else in the world for me to do. What do I deem will 
come of it, sayest thou ? This, that we shall be happy together, 
she and I, till the day cf our death.' 

She said : ' And even so long shall I be sorry : so far are we 
sundered now. Alas ! who looked for it ? And whither shall I 
turn to now ? ' 

Said Gold-mane : ' She bade me tell thee that to-morrow is a 
new day : meseemeth I know her meaning.' 

' No word cf hers hath an}- meaning to me,' said the Bride. 

' Nay,' said he, ' but hast thou not heard these rumours of war 
that are in the Dale ? Shall not these things avail thee ? Much 
may grow out of them ; and thou with the mighty heart, so faith- 
ful and compassionate!' 

167 



Grief and She said :* What sayest thou ? What may grow out of them? 

silence in Yea, I have heard those rumours as a man sick to death heareth 

the garden. ^^^ j.^jj^ ^^ their business down in the street while he lieth on his 

bed; and already he hath done with it all, and hath no world to 

mend or mar. For me nought shall grow out of it. What meanest 

thou ? ' 

Said Gold-mane : ' Is there nought in the fellowship of Folks, 
and the aiding of the valiant, and the deliverance of the hapless? ' 

' Nay,' she said, ' there is nought to me. I cannot think of it 
to-day nor yet to-morrow belike. Yet true it is that I may mingle 
in it, though thinking nought of it. But this shall not avail me.' 

She was silent a little, but presently spake and said : ' Thou 
sayest right ; it is not thou that hast done this, but the woman who 
sent me the ring and the message of an old saw. O that she 
should be born to sunder us ! How hath it befallen that I am now 
so little to thee and she so much ? ' 

And again she was silent ; and after a while Face-of-god spake 
kindly and softly and said : * Kinswoman, wilt thou for ever be- 
grudge our love ? this grudge lieth heavy on my soul, and it is I 
alone that have to bear it.' 

She said : ' This is but a light burden for thee to bear, when 
thou hast nought else to bear ! But do I begrudge thee thy love. 
Gold-mane ? 1 know not that. Rather meseemeth I do not be- 
lieve in it — nor shall do ever.' 

Then she held her peace a long while, nor did he speak one word : 
and they were so still, that a robin came hopping about them, 
close to the hem of her kirtle, and a starling pitched in the apple- 
tree hard by and whistled and chuckled, turning about and about, 
heeding them nought. Then at last she lifted up her face from 
looking on the grass and said : ' These are idle words and avail 
nothing : one thing only I know, that we are sundered. And now 
it repenteth me that I have shown thee my tears and my grief 
and my sickness of the earth and those that dwell thereon. I am 
ashamed of it, as if thou hadst smitten me, and I had come and 

1 68 



shown thee the stripes, and said, See what thou hast done ! hast The Bride 

thou no pity ? Yea, thou piticst mc, and wilt try to forget thy "'1' declare 

pity. Belike thou art right when thou sayest. To-morrow is a new ''j.'^ sundt-rmg 

day ; belike matters will arise that will call me back to life, and pij^ht 

I shall once more take heed of the joy and sorrow of m}- people. 

Nay, it is most like that this I shall feign to do even now. But 

if to-morrow be a new day, it is to-day now and not to-morrow, 

and so shall it be for long. Hereof belike we shall talk no more, 

thou and I. For as the days wear, the dealings between us shall 

be that thou shalt but get thee away from my life, and I shall be 

nought to thee but the name of a kinswoman. Thus should it be 

even wert tiiou to strive to make it otherwise ; and thou shalt not 

strive. So let all this be ; for this is not the word I had to sa}^ to 

thee. But hearken I now are we sundered, and it irketh me beyond 

measure that folk know it not, and are kind, and rejoice in our 

love, and deem it a happy thing for the folk ; and this burden I 

may bear no longer. So I shall declare unto men that I will not 

wed thee ; and belike the}- may wonder why it is, till they see thee 

wedded to the Woman of the Mountain. Art thou content that 

so it shall be?' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Nay, thou shalt not take this all upon 
thyself; I also shall declare unto the Folk that I will wed none 
but her, the Mountain- Woman.' 

She said : ' This shalt thou not do ; I forbid it thee. And I 
will take it all upon myself Shall I have it said of me that I 
am unmeet to wed thee, and that thou hast found me out at last 
and at latest ? I lay this upon thee, that wheresoever I declare this 
and whatsoever I may say, thou shalt hold thy peace. This at 
least thou may'st do for me. Wilt thou ? ' 

' Yea,' he said, ' though it shall put me to shame.' 

Again she was silent for a little ; then she said : 

' O Gold-manc, this would I take upon myself not soothly for 
any shame o^ seeming to be thy cast-ort ; but because it is 1 who 
needs must bear all the sorrow of our sundering ; and I have the 

169 Z 



Face-of-god will to bear it greater and heavier, that I ma}' be as the women 

is sorry for oi" old time, and they that have come from the Gods, lest I belittle 

past days. ^^ jjfg ^-^j^ malice and spite and confusion, and it become 

poisonous to me. Be at peace ! be at peace ! And leave all to the 

wearing of the years ; and forget not that which thou hast sworn ! ' 

Therewith she turned and went from that green place toward 

the Houseof the Face, walking slowlythrough the gardenamongst 

the sweet odours, beneath the fair blossoms, a body most dainty 

and beauteous of fashion, but the casket of grievous sorrow, which 

all that goodliness availed not. 

But Face-of-god lingered in that place a little, and for that 
little while the joy of his life was dulled and overworn ; and the 
days before his wandering on the mountain seemed to him free and 
careless and happy days that he could not but regret. He was 
ashamed, moreover, that this so unquenchable grief should come 
but of him, and the pleasure of his life, which he himself had found 
out for himself, and which was but such a litlle portion of the Earth 
and the deeds thereof. But presently his thought wandered from 
all this, and as he turned away from the sundial and went his ways 
through the garden, he called to m.ind his longing for the day of 
the spring market, when he should see the Sun-beam again and be 
cherished by the sweetness of her love. 



CHAPTER XXV. OF THE GATE-THING AT BURGSTEAD. 

UT now must he hasten, for the Gate-thing was to be 
holden two hours before noon ; so he betook him speedily 
to the Hall, and took his shield and did on a goodly helm 
and girt his sword to his side, for men must needs go to all folk- 
motes with their weapons and clad in war-gear. Thus he went 
forth to the Gate with many others, and there already were many 
folk assembled in the space aforesaid betwixt the Gate of the Burg 
and the sheer rocks on the face of which were the steps that led 

170 



up to the ancient Tower on the height. The Alderman was Men gather 
sitting on the great stone by the Gate-side which was his appointed to the Gate- 
place, and beside him on the stone bench were the six Wardens ^"'"S- 
of the Burg; but of the six Wardens oi the Dale there were but 
three, for the others had not ^'et heard tell of the battle or had 
got the summons to the Thing, since they had been about their 
business down the Dale. 

Face-of-god took his place silently amongst the neighbours, but 
men made wa\' for him, so that he must needs stand in front, facing 
his father and the Wardens ; and there went up a murmur of ex- 
pectation round about him, both because the word had gone about 
that he had a tale of new tidings to tell, and also because men 
deemed him their best and handiest man, though he was yet 
so young. 

Now the Alderman looked around and beheld a great throng 
gathered together, and he looked on the shadow of the Gate which 
the southering sun was casting on the hard white ground of the 
Thing-stead, and he saw that it had just taken in the standing- 
stone which was in the midst of the place. On the face of the 
said stone was carvcn the image of a fighting man with shield on 
arm and axe in hand ; for it had been set there in old time in 
memory of the man who had bidden the Folk build the Gate and 
its wall, and had showed them how to fashion it : for he was a 
deft house-smith as well as a great warrior ; and his name was 
Iron-hand. So when the Alderman saw that this stone was wholly 
within the shadow o( the Gate he knew that it was the due time 
for the hallowing-in of the Thing. So he bade one of the wardens 
who sat beside him and had a great slug-horn slung about him, to 
rise and set the horn to his mouth. 

So that man arose and blew three great blasts that went bellow- 
ing about the towers and down the street, and beat back again 
from the face of the sheer rocks and up them and over into the 
wild-wood ; and the sound of it went on the light west-wind along 
the lips of the Dale toward the mountain wastes. And many a 

171 



The Gate- goodman^ when he heard the voice of the horn in the bright spring 
thing morning, left spade or axe or plough-stihs, or the foddering of the 

hallowed in. eyyes and their youngHngs, and turned back home to fetch his 
sword and helm and hasten to the Thing, though he knew not 
why it was summoned : and women wending over the meadows, 
who had not yet heard of the battle in the wood, hearkened and 
stood still on the green grass or amidst the ripples of the ford, and 
the threat of coming trouble smote heavy on their hearts, for they 
knew that great tidings must be towards if a Thing must needs 
be summoned so close to the Great Folk-mote. 

But now the Alderman stood up and spake amidst the silence 
that followed the last echoes of the horn : 

' Now is hallowed in this Gate-thing of the Burgstead Men 
and the Men of the Dale, wherein they shall take counsel concern- 
ing matters late befallen, that press hard upon them. Let no man 
break the peace of the Holy Thing, lest he become a man accursed 
in holy places from the plain up to the mountain, and from the 
mountain down to the plain ; a man not to be cherished of any 
man of good will, not be holpen with victuals or edge-tool or 
draught-beast ; a man to be sheltered under no roof-tree, and 
warmed at no hearth of man : so help us the Warrior and the 
God of the Earth, and Him of the Face, and all the Fathers !' 

When he had spoken men clashed their weapons in token of 
assent; and he sat down again, and there was silence for a space. 
But presently came thrusting forward a goodman of the Dale, who 
seemed as if he had come hurriedly to the Thing ; for his face was 
running down with sv/eat, his wide-rimmed iron cap sat awry 
over his brow, and he was girt with a rusty sword without a 
scabbard, and the girdle was ill-braced up about his loins. So 
he said : 

' I am Red-coat of Waterless of the Lower Dale. Early this 
morning as I was going afield I met on the way a man akin to me, 
Fox of Upton to wit, and he told me that men were being sum- 
moned to a Gate-thing. So I turned back home, and caught up 

172 



any weapon that came hand}', and here I am, Alderman, asking The Aldcr- 
thee of the tidings which hath driven thee to call this Thing so '"^n settcth 
hard on the Great Folk-mote, for I know them not.' ^"''''' ^"^•'"g^- 

Then stood up Iron-face the Alderman and said : ' This is 
well asked, and soon shall ye be as wise as I am on this matter. 
Know ye, O men oi' Burgstead and the Dale, that we had not 
called this Gate-thing so hard on the Great F'olk-mote had not 
great need been to look into troublous matters. Long have ve 
dwelt in peace, and it is 3-ears on vears now since any foeman hath 
fallen on the Dale : but, as 3e will bear in mind, last autumn were 
there ransackings in the Dale and amidst of the Shepherds after 
the manner of deeds of war ; and it troubleth us that none can sa}' 
who wrought these ill deeds. Next, but a little while agone, was 
Wood-grey, a valiant goodman of the Woodlanders, slain close 
to his own door b}' evil men. These men we took at first for mere 
gangrcl felons and outcasts from their own folk : though there were 
some who spoke against that from the beginning. 

' But thirdly are new tidings again : for three days ago, while 
some of the folk were hunting peaceably in the Wild-wood and 
thinking no evil, they were fallen upon of set purpose by a host of 
men-at-arms, and nought would serve but mere battle for dear 
life, so that many of our neighbours were hurt, and three slain out- 
right; and now mark this, that those who there fell upon our folk 
were clad and armed even as the two felons that slew Wood-grey, 
and moreover were like them in aspect of body. Now stand forth 
Hall-face my son, and answer to my questions in a loud voice, so 
that all may hear thee.' 

So Hall-face stood forth, clad in gleaming war-gear, with an 
axe over his shoulder, and seemed a doughty warrior. And Iron- 
face said to him : 

♦ Tell mc, son, those whom ye met in the wood, and of whom 
ye brought home two captives, how much like were the}'^ to the 
murder-carles at Wood-grey's ?' 

Said Hall-face : ' As like as peas out of the same cod, and to 

173 



The tale of our eyes all those whom we saw in the wood might have been sons 
Hall-face. of one father and one mother, so much alike were they.' 

' Yea,' said the Alderman ; ' now tell me how many by thy 
deeming fell upon you in the wood ? ' 

Said Hall-face : * We deemed that if they were any less than 
threescore, they were little less.' 

' Great was the odds,' said the Alderman. 'Or how many 
were ye ? ' 

* One score and seven,' said Hall-face. 

Said the Alderman : ' And yet ye escaped with life all save 
those three?' 

Hall-face said : * I deem that scarce one should have come 
back alive, had it not been that as we fought came a noise like 
the howling of wolves, and thereat the foemen turned and fled, 
and there followed on the fleers tall men clad in sheep-brown 
raiment, who smote them down as they fled.' 

' Here then is the story, neighbours,' said the Alderman, ' and 
ye may see thereby that if those slayers of Wood-grey were out- 
cast, their band is a great one; but it seemeth rather that they 
were men of a folk whose craft it is to rob with the armed hand, 
and to slay the robbed ; and that they are now gathering on our 
borders for war. Yet, moreover, they have foemen in the woods 
who should be fellows-in-arms of us. How sayest thou. Stone- 
face? Thou art old, and hast seen many wars in the Dale, and 
knowest the Wild-wood to its innermost. 

'Alderman,' said Stone-face, ' and ye neighbours of the Dale, 
maybe these foes whom ye have met are not of the race of man, 
but are trolls and wood-wights. Now if they be trolls it is ill, 
for then is the world growing worser, and the wood shall be right 
perilous for those who needs must fare therein. Yet if they be 
men it is a worse matter ; for the trolls would not come out of 
the waste into the sunlight of the Dale. But these foes, if they 
be men, are lusting after our fair Dale to eat it up, and it is most 
like that they are gathering a huge host to fall upon us at home. 

174 



Such things I have hoard of when 1 was young, and the aspect The dead 

of the evil men who overran the kindreds of old time, according Colons: 

to all tales and lays that I have heard, is even such as the aspect ^^ce-of-god 

of those whom we have seen of late. As to those wolves who 

saved the neighbours and chased their focmen, there is one here 

who belike knoweth more of all this than we dc>, and that, O 

Alderman, is thy son whom I have fostered, Face-of-god to wit. 

Bid him answer to thy questioning, and tell us what he hath 

seen and heard of late ; then shall we verily know the whole 

storv as far as it can be known.' 

Then men pressed round, and were eager to hear what Face- 
of-god would be saying. But or ever the Alderman could begin 
to question him, the throng was cloven b}- new-comers, and these 
were the men who had been sent to bring home the corpses of the 
Dusky Men : so they had cast loaded hooks into the Weltering 
Water, and had dragged up him whom F'ace-of-god had shoved 
into the edd}-, and who had sunk like a stone just where he fell, 
and now the}' were bringing him on a bier along with him who 
had been slain a-land. The\- were set down in the place before 
the Alderman, and men who had not seen them before looked 
eagerly on them that they might behold the aspect of their 
foemen ; and nought lovely were they to look on ; for the drowned 
man was already bleached and swollen with the water, and the 
other, his face was all wryed and twisted with that spear-thrust 
in the mouth. 

Then the Alderman said : ' I would question my son Face-of- 
god. Let him stand forth!' 

And therewith he smiled merrily in his son's face, for he was 
standing right in front of him; and he said: 

'Ask of me, Alderman, and I will answer.' 

' Kinsman,' said Iron-face, *look at these two dead men, and \ 

tell me, if thou hast seen any such besides those two murder- 
carles who were slain at Carlstead ; or if thou knowest aught of 
their folk ? ' 



Face-of-god Said Face-of-god : 'Yesterday I saw six others like to these 

telleth ot both in array and of body, and three of them I slew, for we were 

Shadowy -^^ battle with them early in the morning.' 

There was a murmur of joy at this word, since all men took 
these felons for deadly foemen; but Iron-face said: 'What 
meanest thou by "we"?' 

' I and the men who had guested me overnight,' said Face-of- 
god, ' and they slew the other three ; or rather a woman of them 
slew the felons.' 

' Valiant she was ; all good go with her hand ! ' said the Alder- 
man, ' But what be these people, and where do they dwell ? ' 

Said Face-of-god: 'As to what they are, they are of the kin- 
dred of the Gods and the Fathers, valiant men, and guest-cherish- 
ing : rich have they been, and now are poor: and their poverty 
cometh of these same felons, who mastered them by numbers not 
to be withstood. As to where they dwell : when I say the name 
of their dwelling-place men mock at me, as if I named some 
valley in the moon: yet came I to Burgdale thence in one day 
across the mountain-necks led by sure guides, and I tell thee that 
the name of their abode is Shadowy Vale.' 

'Yea,' said Iron-face, 'knoweth any man here of Shadowy 
Vale, or where it is?' 

None answered for a while; but there was an old man who 
was sitting on the shafts of a wain on the outskirts of the throng, 
and when he heard this word he asked his neighbour what the 
Alderman was saying, and he told him. Then said that elder : 

' Give me place ; for I have a word to say hereon.' Therewith 
he arose, and made his way to the front of the ring of men, and 
said: 'Alderman, thou knowest me?' 

'Yea,' said Iron-face, ' thou art called the Fiddle, because of 
thy sweet speech and thy minstrelsy; whereof I mind me well 
in the time when I was young and thou no longer young.' 

' So it is,' said the Fiddle. 'Now hearken ! When I was very 
younj I heard of a vale lying far away across the mountain- 

176 



necks ; a vale where the sun shone never in winter and scantily The Fiddle 

in summer; for my sworn foster-brother, Fight-fain, a bold man l^^th seen 

and a great hunter, had happened upon it; and on a day in full ' ^"°"T 

midsummer he brought me thither; and even now I see the Vale 

before me as in a picture ; a marvellous place, well grassed, 

treeless, narrow, betwixt great clifF-walls of black stone, with a 

green river running through it towards a yawning gap and a huge 

force. Amidst that \'ale was a doom-ring of black stones, and 

nigh thereto a feast-hall well buildcd of the like stones, over 

whose door was carven the image of a wolf with red gaping 

jaws, and within it (for we entered into it) were stone benches 

on the dais. Thence wc came away, and thither again we went 

in late autumn, and so dusk and cold it was at that season, that 

we knew not what to call it save the valley of deep shade. But 

its real name we never knew; for there was no man there to 

give us a name or tell us any tale thereof; but all was waste 

there ; the wimbrel laughed across its water, the raven croaked 

from its crags, the eagle screamed over it, and the voices of its 

waters never ceased; and thus we left it. So the seasons passed, 

and we went thither no more : for Fight-fain died, and without 

him wandering over the waste was irksome to me; so never 

have I seen that valley again, or heard men tell thereof. 

* Now, neighbours, have I told you of a valley which seemcth 
to be Shadowy Vale; and this is true and no made-up story.' 

The Alderman nodded kindly to him, and then said to Face- 
of-god : 'Kinsman, is this word according with what thou knowest 
of Shadowy \'ale ? ' 

' Yea, on all points,' said Face-of-god; 'he hath put before me 
a picture of the valley. And whereas he saith, that in his youth 
it was waste, this also goeth with my knowledge thereof, l-'or once 
was it peopled, and then was waste, and now again is it peopled.' 

*Tell us then more of the folk thereof,' said the Alderman ; 
'are they many ? ' 

'Nay,' said Face-of-god, 'they are not. How might they be 

177 AA 



Face-o^-god's many, dwelling in that narrow Vale amid the wastes ? But they 
story. are valiant, both men and women, and strong and well-liking. 

Once the}^ dwelt in a fair dale called Silver-dale, the name whereof 
will be to you as a name in a lay; and there were they wealthy and 
happy. Then fell upon them this murderous Folk, whom they call 
the Dusky Men ; and they fought and were overcome, and many 
of them were slain, and many enthralled, and the remnant of them 
escaped through the passes of the mountains and came back to 
dwell in Shadowy Vale, where their forefathers had dwelt long and 
long ago ; and this overthrow befell them ten years agone. But 
now their old foemen have broken out from Silver-dale and have 
taken to scouring the wood seeking prey ; so they fall upon these 
Dusky Men as occasion serves, and sla}' them without pity, as if 
they were adders or evil dragons ; and indeed they be worse. 
And these valiant men know for certain that their foemen are 
now of mind to fall upon this Dale and destroy it, as they have 
done with others nigher to them. And they will slay our men, 
and lie with our women against their will, and enthrall our children, 
and torment all those that lie under their hands till life shall be 
worse than death to them. Therefore, O Alderman and Wardens, 
and ye neighbours all, it behoveth you to take counsel what we 
shall do, and that speedily.' 

There was again a murmur, as of men nothing daunted, but 
intent on taking some way through the coming trouble. But no 
man said aught till the Alderman spake : 

'When didst thou first happen upon this Earl-folk, son?' 

' Late last autumn,' said Face-of-god. 

Said Iron-face : ' Then mightest thou have told us of this tale 
before.' 

' Yea,' said his son, * but I knew it not, or but little of it, till 
two days agone. In the autumn I wandered in the woodland, and 
on the fell I happened on a few of this folk dwelling in a booth 
by the pine-wood ; and they were kind and guest-fain with me, 
and gave me meat and drink and lodging, and bade me come to 

178 



Shadowy Vale in the spring, when I should know more of them. His deeming 
And that was I fain of; for they arc wise and goodly- men. But ^^ ^^^'^ "i^^" 
I deemed no more of those that I saw there save as men who had " ^ ^"""T 
been outlawed by their own folk for deeds that were unlawful be- 
like, but not shameful, and were biding their time of return, and 
were living as they might meanwhile. But of the whole Folk 
and their foemen knew I no more than ye did, till two days 
agone, when I met them again in Shadowy Vale. Also I think 
before long ye shall see their chieftain in Burgstead, for he hath 
a word for us. Lastly, my mind it is that those brown-clad men 
who lielped Hall-face and his compan}- in the wood were nought 
but men of this Earl-kin seeking their foemen ; for indeed they 
told me that they had come upon a battle in the woodland where- 
in they had slain their foemen. Now have I told you all that ye 
need to know concerning these matters.' 

Again was there silence as Iron-face sat pondering a question 
for his son ; then a goodman of the Upper Dale, Gritgarth to wit, 
spake and said : 

' Gold-mane mine, tdl us how many is this folk ; I mean their 
fighting-men ?' 

* Well asked, neighbour,' said Iron-face. 

Said Face-of-god : 'Their fighting-men of full age may be 
five score ; but besides that there shall be some two or three 
score of women that will fight, whoever says them nay ; and 
many of these are little worse in the field than men ; or no worse, 
for they shoot well in the bow. Moreover, there will be a full 
score of swains not yet twenty winters old whom ye may not 
hinder to fight if anything is a-doing.' 

* This is no great host,' said the Alderman ; * yet if they deem 
there is little to lose by fighting, and nought to gain by sitting 
still, they may go far in winning their desire ; and that more 
especially if they may draw into their quarrel some other valiant 
Folk more in number than they be. I marvel not, though, they 
•were kind to thee, son Gold-mane, if they knew who thou wert.' 

179 



Thegoodmen 
give out their 
deeming on 
the matter. 



* They knew it,' said Face-of-god. 

'Neighbours,' said the Alderman, *have ye any rede hereon,, 
and aught to say to back your rede ? ' 

Then spake the Fiddle : * As ye know and may see, I am now 
very old, and, as the word goes, unmeet for battle : yet might I 
get me to the field, either on mine own legs or on the legs of some 
four-foot beast, I would strike, if it were but one stroke, on these 
pests of the earth. And, Alderman, meseemeth we shall do amiss 
if we bid not the Earl-folk of Shadowy Vale to be our fellows in 
arms in this adventure. For look you, how few soever they be,^ 
they will be sure to know the ways of our foemen, and the moun- 
tain passes, and the surest and nighest roads across the necks 
and the mires of the waste ; and though they be not a host, yet 
shall they be worth a host to us ? ' 

When men heard his words they shouted for joy of them ; for 
hatred of the Dusky Men who should so mar their happy life in 
the Dale was growing up in them, and the more that hatred 
waxed, the more waxed their love of those valiant ones. 

Now Red-coat of Waterless spake again : he was a big man,, 
both tall and broad, ruddy-faced and red-haired, some forty 
winters old. He said : 

' Life hath been well with us of the Lower Dale, and we deem 
that we have much to lose in losing it. Yet ill would the bargain 
be to buy life with thralldom : we have been over-merry hitherto 
for that. Therefore I say, to battle ! And as to these men, these 
well-wishers of Face-of-god, if they also are minded for battle 
with our foes, we were fools indeed if we did not join them to our 
company, were they but one score instead of six.' 

Men shouted again, and they said that Red-coat had spoken well. 

Then one after other the goodmen of the Dale came and gave 
their word for fellowship in arms with the Men of Shadowy Vale, 
if there were such as Face-of-god had said, which they doubted 
not; and amongst them that spake were Fox of Nethertown,, 
and Warwell, and Gritgarth, and Bearswain, and Warcliff, and 

i8o 



Hart o( Highdiff, and Worm of Willowholm, and BuUsbane, AWar-leadL-r 
and Highneb of the Marsh : all these were stout men-at-arms chosen, 
and men of good counsel. 

Last of all the Alderman spake and said : 

' As to the war, that must we needs meet if all be sooth that 
we have heard, and I doubt it not. 

' Now therefore let us look to it like wise men while time yet 
serves. Ye shall know that the muster of the Dalesmen will 
bring under shield eight long hundreds of men well-armed, and 
of the Shepherd-Folk four hundreds, and of the Woodlanders two 
hundreds ; and this is a goodly host if it be well ordered and 
wisely led. Now am I your Alderman and 3'our Doomster, and I 
can heave up a sword as well as another maybe, nor do I think 
that I shall blench in the battle ; yet I misdoubt me that I am 
no leader or orderer of men-of-war : therefore ye will do wisely 
to choose a wiser man-at-arms than I be for your War-leader ; 
and if at the Great Folk-mote, when all the Houses and Kindreds 
are gathered, menyeasay your choosing, then let him abide ; but 
if they naysay it, let him give place to another. For time presses. 
Will ye so choose ? ' 

'Yea, yea!' cried all men. 

' Good is that, neighbours,' said the Alderman. * Whom will 
ye have for War-leader ? Consider well.' 

Short was their rede, for every man opened his mouth and cried 
out ' Facc-of-god ! ' Then said the Alderman : 

* The man is young and untried ; yet though he is so near 
akin to me, I will say that ye will do wisely to take him ; for he 
is both deft of his hands and brisk ; and moreover, of this matter 
he knowcth more than all we together. Now therefore I declare 
him your War-leader till the time of the Great Folk-mote.' 

Then all men shouted with great glee and clashed their weapons; 
but some few put their heads together and spake apart a little 
while, and then one of them, Red-coat of Waterless to wit, came 
forward and said: 'Alderman, some of us deem it good that 

181 



men afield. 



The War- Stone-face, the old man wise in war and in the waj^s of the Wood, 
leader calleth should be named as a counsellor to the War-leader ; and Hall-face, 
a very brisk and strong young man, to be his right hand and 
sword-bearer.' 

'Good is that,' said Iron-face. 'Neighbours, will ye have it so? ^ 

This also they yeasaid without delay, and the Alderman de- 
clared Stone-face and Hall-face the helpers of Face-of-god in 
this business. Then he said : 

' If any hath aught to say concerning what is best to be done 
at once, it were good that he said it now before all and not to 
murmur and grudge hereafter.' 

None spake save the Fiddle, who said : ' Alderman and War- 
leader, one thing would I say : that if these foemen are anywise 
akin to those overrunners of the Folks of whom the tales went in 
my youth (for I also as well as Stone-face mind me well of those 
tales concerning them), it shall not avail us to sit still and await 
their onset. For then may they not be withstood, when they 
have gathered head and burst out and over the folk that have 
been happy, even as the waters that overtop a dyke and cover 
with their muddy ruin the deep green grass and the flower-buds 
of spring. Therefore my rede is, as soon as may be to go seek 
these folk in the woodland and wheresoever else they may be 
wandering. What sayest thou, Face-of-god ? ' 

* My rede is as thine,' said he ; 'and to begin with, I do now 
call upon ten tens of good men to meet me in arms at the begin- 
ning of Wildlake's Way to-morrow morning at daybreak ; and I 
bid my brother Hall-face to summon such as are most meet thereto. 
For this I deem good, that we scour the wood daily at present 
till we hear fresh tidings from them of Shadowy Vale, who are 
nigher than we to the foemen. Now, neighbours, are ye ready 
to meet me ? ' 

Then all shouted, ' Yea, we will go, we will go ! ' 

Said the Alderman : ' Now have we made provision for the war 
in that which is nearest to our hands. Yet have we to deal with 

182 



the matter of the fellowship with the Folk whom Face-of-god A fair-clad 
iiath seen. This is a matter for thee, son, at least till the Great ^^arrior. 
Folk-mote is holdcn. Tell me then, shall we send a messenger 
to Shadowy \'ale to speak with this folk, or shall we abide the 
chieftain's coming?' 

* By my rede,' said Facc-of-god, 'we shall abide his coming : 
for first, though I might well make my way thither, I doubt if I 
could give any the bearings, so that he could come there without 
me ; and belike I am needed at home, since I am become War- 
leader. Moreover, when your messenger cometh to Shadowy 
\'ale, he may well chance to find neither the chieftain there, nor 
the best of his men; for whiles are they here, and whiles there, as 
they wend following after the Dusky Men.' 

*It is well, son,' said the Alderman, * let it be as thou savest : 
soothly this matter must needs be brought before the Great Folk- 
mote. Now will I ask if any other hath an\- word to sa}-, or any 
rede to give before this Gate-thing sundereth ? ' 

But no man came forward, and all men seemed well content 
and of good heart ; and it was now well past noontide. 



CHAPTER XXVI. THE ENDING OF THE GATE-THING. 

BUT just as the Alderman was on the point of rising to declare 
the breaking-up of the Thing, there came a stirin the throng 
and it opened, and a warrior came forth into the innermost 
of the ring of men, arrayed in goodly glittering war-gear; dad in 
such wise that a tunicle of precious gold-wrought web covered the 
hauberk all but the sleeves thereof, and the hem of it beset with blue 
mountain-stones smote against the ankles and well-nigh touched 
the feet, shod with sandals gold-embroidered and gemmed. This 
warrior bore a goodlv gilded helm on the head, and held in hand 
a spear with gold-garlanded shaft, and was girt with a sword whose 
hilts and scabbard both were adorned with gold and gems : bcard- 

'^3 



less, smooth-cheeked, exceeding fair of face was the warrior, but 
pale and somewhat haggard-eyed : and those who were nearby 
beheld and wondered ; for they saw that there was come the Bride 
arrayed for war and battle, as if she were a messenger from the 
House of the Gods, and the Burg that endureth for ever. 

Then she fell to speech in a voice which at first was somewhat 
hoarse and broken, but cleared as she went on, and she said : 

* There sittest thou, O Alderman of Burgdale ! Is Face-of-god 
thy son anywhere nigh, so that he can hear me ? ' 

But Iron-face wondered at her word, and said : * He is beside 
thee, as he should be.' For indeed Face-of-god was touching her, 
shoulder to shoulder. But she looked not to the right hand nor 
the left, but said : 

' Hearken, Iron-face ! Chiefof the House of the Face, Alderman 
of the Dale, and ye also, neighbours and goodmen of the Dale : 
I am a woman called the Bride, of the House of the Steer, and ye 
have heard that I have plighted my troth to Face-of-god to wed 
with him, to love him, and lie in his bed. But it is not so: we 
are not troth-plight ; nor will I wed with him, nor any other, but 
will wend with yo'd to the war, and play my part therein accord- 
ing to what might is in me ; nor will I be worser than the wives 
of Shadowy Vale.' 

Face-of-god heard her words with no change of countenance ; 
but Iron-face reddened over all his face, and stared at her, and 
knit his brows and said : 

' Maiden, what are these words ? What have we done to 
thee ? Have I not been to thee as a father, and loved thee dearly ? 
Is not m}' son goodly and manly and deft in arms ? Hath it not 
ever been the wont of the House of the Face to wed in the House 
of the Steer ? and in these two Houses there hath never yet been 
a goodlier man and a lovelier maidenthan are ye two. What have 
we done then ? ' 

' Ye have done nought against me,' she said, ' and all that 
thou sayest is sooth ; yet will I not wed with Face-of-god.' 

184 



Yet fiercer waxed the face of the Alderman, and he said in a Iron-face is 
loud voice : ^"g^X- 

' But how if I tell thee that I will speak with thy kindred of 
the Steer, and thou shalt do after my bidding whether thou wilt 
or whether thou wilt not ? ' 

' And how will ye compel me thereto ? ' she said. ' Are there 
thralls in the Dale ? Or will ye make me an outlaw ? Who 
shall heed it ? Or I shall betake mc to Shadow^' Vale and become 
one of their warrior-maidens.' 

Now was the Alderman's face changing from red to white, and 
belike he forgat the Thing, and what he was doing there, and he 
cried out : 

' This is an evil da}-, and who shall help me ? Thou, Face- 
of-god, what hast thou to say ? Wilt thou let this woman go 
without a word ? What hath bewitched thee ? ' 

But never a word spake his son, but stood looking straight 
forward, cold and calm by seeming. Then turned Iron-face again 
to the Bride, and said in a softer voice : 

' Tell me, maiden, whom I erst called daughter, what hath be- 
fallen, that thou wilt leave my son ; thou who wert once so kind 
and loving to him ; whose hand was always seeking his, whose 
eyes were ever following his ; who wouldst go where he bade, 
and come when he called. What hath betid that ye have cast 
him out, and llee from our House ? ' 

She flushed red beneath her helm and said : 

* There is war in the land, and I have seen it coming, and that 
things shall change around us. I have looked about me and seen 
men happy and women content, and children weary for mere 
mirth and joy. And I have thought, in a day, or two days or three, 
all this shall be changed, and the women shall be, some anxious 
and wearied with waiting, some casting all hope away ; and the 
men, some shall come back to the garth no more, and some shall 
come back maimed and useless, and there shall be loss of friends 
and fellows, and mirth departed, and dull days and empty hours, 

185 ' R B 



Fair words of and the children wandering about marvelling at the sorrow of 
the Bride. the house. All this I saw before me, and grief and pain and 
wounding and death ; and I said : Shall I be an}- better than 
the worst of the folk that loveth me ? Nay, this shall never be ; 
and since I have learned to be deft with mine hands in all the play 
of war, and that I am as strong as many a man, and as hard}'- 
hearted as any, I will give myself to the Warrior and the God 
of the Face; and the battle-field shall be my home, and the after- 
grief of the fight my banquet and holiday, that I may bear the 
burden of my people, in the battle and out of it ; and know every 
sorrow that the Dale hath ; and cast aside as a grievous and ugly 
thing the bed of the warrior that the maiden desires, and the toying 
of lips and hands and soft w^ords of desire, and all the joy that 
dwelleth in the Castle of Love and the Garden thereof; while the 
world outside is sick and sorry, and the fields lie waste and the 
harvest burneth. Even so have I sworn, even so v.'ill I do.' 

Her eyes glittered and her cheek was flushed, and her voice was 
clear and ringing now; and when she ended there arose a murmur of 
praise from the men round about her. But Iron-face said coldly : 

' These are great words; but I know not what the3^mean. If 
thou wilt to the field and fight among the carles (and that I would 
not naj-sa}', for it hath oft been done and praised aforetime), why 
shouldest thou not go side by side with Face-of-god and as his 
plighted maiden?' 

The light which the sweetness of speech had brought into her 
face had died out of it now, and she looked weary and hapless as 
she answered him slowl}' : 

' I will not wed with Face-of-god, but will fare afield as a 
virgin of war, as I have sworn to the Warrior.' 

Then waxed Iron-face exceeding wroth, and he rose up before 
all men and cried loudly and ficrcelv : 

' There is some lie abroad, that windeth about us as the gos- 
samers in the lanes of an autumn morning.' 

And therewith he strode up to Face-of-god as though he had 

i86 



nought to do with the Thing; and he stood before him and cried Iron-face 
out at him while all men wondered : would break 

'Thou! what hast thou done to turn this maiden's heart to '[''^ F^ce ot 
stone ? Who is it that is devising guile with thee to throw aside °' 

tiiis worthy wedding in a worthy House, with whom our sons are 
i\cT wont to wed ? Speak, tell the tale! ' 

But l''ace-of-god held his peace and stood calm and proud be- 
fore all men. 

Then the blood mounted to Iron-face's head, and he forgat folk 
and kindred and the war to come, and he cried so that all the place 
rang with the words of his anger : 

'Thou dastard! I see thee now; it is thou that hast done this, 
and not the maiden ; and now thou hast made her bear a double 
burden, and set her on to speak for thee, whilst thou standest by 
saying nought, and wilt take no scruple's weight of her shame 
upon thee !' 

But his son spake never a word, and Iron-face cried : ' Out on 
thee ! I know thee now, and why thou wouldest not to the West- 
land last winter. I am no fool ; I know thee. Where hast thou 
hidden the stranger woman ? ' 

Therewith he drew forth his sword and hove it aloft as if to 
hew down Facc-of-god, who spake not nor flinched nor raised 
a hand from his side. But the Bride threw herself in front of 
Gold-mane, while there arose an angry cry of *The Peace of the 
Holy Thing! Peace-breaking, peace-breaking!' and some cried, 
* For the War-leader, the War-leader ! ' and as men could for the 
press they drew forth their swords, and there was tumult and noise 
all over the Thing-stead. 

But Stone-face caught hold of the Alderman's rii;ht arm and 
dragged down the sword, and the big carle. Red-coat of Water- 
less, came up behind him and cast his arms about his middle and 
drew him back ; and presently he looked around him, and slowly 
sheathed his sword, and went back to his place and sat him down ; 
and in a little while the noise abated and swords were sheathed, 

187 



breaker. 



The Alder- and men waxed quiet again, and the Alderman arose and said in 
man dooms a loud voice, but in the wonted way of the head man of the Thing : 
w!X!.!"" ' ^^""^ hzth been trouble in the Holy Thing ; a violent man 

hath troubled it, and drawn sword on a neighbour; will the neigh- 
bours give the dooming hereof into the hands of the Alderman ? ' 

Now all knew Iron-face, and they cried out, ' That will we.' 
So he spake again : 

' I doom the troubler of the Peace of the Holy Thing to pay a 
fine, to wit double the blood-wite that would be duly paid for a 
full-grown freeman of the kindreds.' 

Then the cry went up and men yeasaid his doom, and all said 
that it was well and fairly doomed ; and Iron-face sat still. 

But Stone-face stood forth and said : 

' Here have been wild words in the air ; and dreams have taken 
shape and come amongst us, and have bewitched us, so that friends 
and kin have wrangled. And meseemcth that this is through the 
wizardry of these felons, who, even dead as they are, have cast 
spells over us. Good it were to cast them into the Death Tarn, 
and then to get to our work ; for there is much to do.' 

All men 3-easaid that ; and Forkbeard of Lea went with 
those who had borne the corpses thither to cast them into the 
black pool. 

But the Fiddle spake and said : 

* Stone-face sayeth sooth. O Alderman, thou art no young man, 
yet am I old enough to be thy father ; so will I give thee a rede, 
and say this : Face-of-god thy son is no liar or dastard or be- 
guiler, but he is a young man and exceeding goodly of fashion, 
well-spoken and kind ; so that few women may look on him and 
hear him without desiring his kindness and love, and to such men 
as this many things happen. Moreover, he hath now become our 
captain, and is a deft warrior with his hands, and as I deem, a sober 
and careful leader of men ; therefore we need him and his courage 
and his skill of leading. So rage not against him as if he had 
done an ill deed not to be forgiven — whatever he hath done, 

188 



whereof we know not — for life is long before him, and most like Peace at the 
we shall still have to thank him for man}- good deeds towards us. Thing. 
As for the maiden, she is both lovely and wise. She hath a sorrow 
at her heart, and we deem that we know what it is. Yet hath 
she not lied when she said that she would bear the burden of the 
griefs of the people. Even so shall she do ; and whether she will, 
or whether she will not, that shall heal her own griefs. F'or to- 
morrow is a new day. Therefore, if thou do after my rede, thou 
wilt not meddle betwixt these twain, but wilt remember all that 
we have to do, and that war is coming upon us. And when that 
is over, we shall turn round and behold each other, and see that 
we are not wholly what we were before ; and then shall that 
which were hard to forgive, be forgotten, and that which is remem- 
bered be easy to forgive.' 

So he spake ; and Iron-face sat still and put his left hand to 
his beard as one who pondereth ; but the Bride looked in the face 
of the old man the Fiddle, and then she turned and looked at 
Gold-mane, and her face softened, and she stood before the Alder- 
man, and bent down before him and held out both her hands to 
him the palms upward. Then she said: 'Thou hast been wroth 
with me, and I marvel not ; for thj'hope, and the hope which we 
all had, hath deceived thee. But kind indeed hast thou been to 
me ere now : therefore I pray thee take it not amiss if 1 call to thy 
mind the oath which thou swearedst on the H0I3' Boar last Yule, 
that thou wouldst not gainsay the prayer of any man if thou 
couldcst perform it ; therefore I bid thee naysay not mine : and 
that is, that thou wilt ask me no more about this matter, but wilt 
suffer me to fare afield like an}' swain of the Dale, and to deal so 
with m}' folk that they shall not hinder me. Also I pray thee that 
thou wilt put no shame upon Face-of-god my playmate and my 
kinsman, nor show thine anger to him openly, even if for a little 
while thy love for him be abated. No more than this will I ask 
of thee.' 

All men who heard her were moved to the heart by her kind- 

189 



Men go home ness and the sweetness of her voice, which was like to the robin 
from the singing suddenly on a frosty morning of early winter. But as 

Gate-thing. f^^ Gold-mane, his heart was smitten sorely by it, and her sor- 
row and her friendliness grieved him out of measure. 

But Iron-face answered after a little while, speaking slowly 
and hoarsely, and with the shame yet clinging to him of a man 
who has been wroth and has speedily let his wrath run off him. 
So he said : 

' It is well, my daughter. I have no will to forswear myself; 
nor hast thou asked me a thing which is over-hard. Yet indeed 
I would that to-day were yesterday, or that many days were 
worn away,' 

Then he stood up and cried in a loud voice over the throng : 
' Let none forget the muster; but held him ready against the 
time that the Warden shall come to him. Let all men obey the 
War-leader, Face-of-god, without question or delay. As to the 
fine of the peace-breaker, it shall be laid on the altar of the God 
at the Great Folk-mote. Herewith is the Thing broken up.' 

Then all men shouted and clashed their weapons, and so 
sundered, and went about their business. 

And the talk of men it was that the breaking of the troth- 
plight between those twain was ill ; for they loved Face-of-god, 
and as for the Bride they deemed her the Dearest of the kin- 
dreds and the Jewel of the Folk, and as if she were the fairest 
and the kindest of all the Gods. Neither did the wrath of Iron- 
face mislike any; but they said he had done w-ell and manly 
both to be wroth and to let his wrath run off him. As to the 
war which was to come, they kept a good heart about it, and 
deemed it as a game to be played, wherein they might show 
themselves deft and valiant, and so get back to their merry 
life again. 

So wore the day through afternoon to even and night. 



190 



CHAPTER XXVII. FACE-OF-uOD LEADETH A BAND 
THROUGH THE WOOD. 

NEXT morning tryst was held faithfully, and an hundred Stone-face in 
and a half were gathered together on Wildlake's Way ; '^'^'■' ^'Jod. 
and Face-of-god ordered them into three companies. 
He made Hall-face leader over the first one, and bade him hold 
on his way northward, and then to make for Boars-bait and 
see if he should meet with anything thereabout where the battle 
had been. Red-coat of Waterless he made captain of the 
second band ; and he had it in charge to wend eastward along 
the edge of the Dale, and not to go deep into the wood, but to 
go as far as he might within the time appointed, toward the 
IVlountains. Furthermore, he bade both Hall-face and Red-coat 
to bring their bands back to Wildlake's Way by the morrow 
at sunset, where other goodmen should be come to take the places 
of their men ; and then if he and his company were back again, 
he would bid them further what to do ; but if not, as seemed 
likely, then Hall-face's band to go west toward the Shepherd 
country half a day's journey, and so back, and Red-coat's east 
along the Dale's lip again for the like time, and then back, so 
that there might be a constant watch and ward of the Dale kept 
acrainst the Felons. 

All being ordered Gold-mane led his own compan}- north-east 
through the thick wood, thinking that he might so fare as to 
come nio;h to Silver-dale, or at least to hear tidings thereof This 
intent he told to Stone-face, but the old man shook his head 
and said : 

' Good is this if it ma}- be done ; but it is not for everyone 
to go down to Hell in his lifetime and come back safe with a tale 
thereof. However, whither thou wilt lead, thither will I follow, 
though assured death waylayeth us.' 

And the old carle was joyous and proud to be on this adven- 
ture, and said, that it was good indeed that his foster-son had with 

191 



Wood. 



Men setking him a man well stricken in years, who had both seen many things, 
through the and learned many, and had good rede to give to valiant men. 

So they went on their ways, and fared very warily when they 
were gotten beyond those parts of the wood which they knew 
well. By this time they were strung out in a long line ; and 
they noted their road carefully, blazing the trees on either side 
when there were trees, and piling up little stone-heaps where the 
trees failed them. For Stone-face said that oft it befell men amidst 
the thicket and the waste to be misled by wights that begrudged 
men their lives, so that the}' went round and round in a ring which 
they might not depart from till they died ; and no man doubted 
his word herein. 

All day they went, and met no foe, nay, no man at all ; nought 
but the wild things of the wood ; and that day the wood changed 
little about them from mile to mile. There were many thickets 
across their road which they had to go round about ; so that to 
the crow flying over the tree-tops the journey had not been long 
to the place where night came upon them, and where they had to 
make the wood their bedchamber. 

That night they lighted no fire, but ate such cold victual as 
they might carry with them ; nor had they shot any venison, 
since they had with them more than enough ; they made little 
noise or stir therefore and fell asleep when they had set the watch. 

On the morrow they arose betimes, and broke their fast and 
went their ways till noon : by then the wood had thinned some- 
what, and there was little underwood betwixt the scrubby oak 
and ash which were pretty nigh all the trees about : the ground 
also was broken, and here and there rocky, and they went into 
and out of rough little dales, most of which had in them a brook 
of water running west and south-west ; and now Face-of-god 
led his men somewhat more easterly ; and still for some while 
they met no man. 

At last, about four hours after noon, when they were going 
less warily, because they had hitherto come across nothing to 

192 



hinder them, rising over the brow of a somewhat steep ridge, They come 
they saw down in the valley below them a half score of men "po" ^'^^ fo^- 
sitting by the brook-side eating and drinking, theirweapons lying 
beside them, and along with them stood a woman with her hands 
tied behind her back. 

They saw at once that these men were of the Felons, so they 
that had their bows bent, loosed at them without more ado, while 
the others ran in upon them with sword and spear. The felons 
leapt up and ran scattering down the dale, such of them as were 
not smitten by the shafts ; but he who was nighest to the woman, 
ere he ran, turned and caught up a sword from the ground and 
thrust it through her, and the next moment fell across the brook 
with an arrow in his back. 

No one of the felons was nimble enough to escape from the 
fleet-foot hunters of Burgdale, and they were all slain there to 
the number of eleven. 

Butwhen they came back to the woman to tend her, she breathed 
her last in their hands : she was a young and fair woman, black- 
haired and dark-e3'ed. She had on her body a gown of rich web, 
but nought else : she had been bruised and sore mishandled, and 
the Burgdale carles wept for pity of her, and for wrath, as they 
straightened her limbs on the turf of the little valley. They let 
her lie there a little, whilst they searched round about, lest there 
should be any other poor soul needing their help, or any felon 
lurking thereby ; but they found nought else save a bundle wherein 
was another rich gown and divers woman's gear, and sundry rings 
and jewels, and therewithal the weapons and war-gear of a knight, 
delicately wrought after the Westland fashion: these seemed to 
them to betoken other foul deeds of these murder-carles. So when 
they had abided a while, they laid the dead woman in mould by 
the brook-side, and buried with her the other woman's attire and 
the knight's gear, all but his sword and shield, which they had 
away with them : then they cast the carcasses of the felons into the 
brake, but brought away their weapons and the silver rings from 

193 CC 



A strange their arms, which they wore like all the others of them whom they 
m^. had fallen in with ; and so went on their way to the north-east, 

full of wrath against those dastards of the Earth. 

It was hard on sunset when they left the valley of murder, and 
they went no long way thence before they must needs make stay 
for the night ; and when they had arrayed their sleeping-stead 
the moon was up, and they saw that before them lay the close 
wood again, for they had made their lair on the top of a little ridge. 

There then they lay, and nought stirred them in the night, and 
betimes on the morrow they were afoot, and entered the above- 
said thicket, wherein two of them, keen hunters, had been afore- 
time, but had not gone deep into it. Through this wood they 
went all day toward the north-east, and met nought but the wild 
things therein. At last, when it was near sunset, they came out 
of the thicket into a small plain, or shallovv dale rather, with no 
great trees in it, but thorn-brakes here and there where the ground 
sank into hollows ; a little river ran through the midst of it, and 
winded round about a height whose face toward the river went 
down sheer into the water, but away from it sank down in a long 
slope to where the thick wood began again : and this height or 
burg looked well-nigh west. 

Thitherward they went ; but as they were drawing nigh to the 
river, and were on the top of a bent above a bushy hollow between 
them and the water, they espied a man standing in the river near 
the bank, who saw them not, because he was stooping down intent 
on something in the bank or under it : so they gat them speedily 
down into the hollow without noise, that they might get some 
tidings of the man. 

Then Face-of-god bade his men abide hidden under the bushes 
and stole forward quietly up the further bank of the hollow, his 
target on his arm and his spear poised. When he was behind 
the last bush on the top of the bent he was within half a spear- 
cast of the water and the man ; so he looked on him and saw 
that he was quite naked except for a clout about his middle. 

194 



Facc-of-god saw at once that he was not one of the Dusky A runaway 
Men ; he was a black-haired man, but white-skinned, and of fair thrall, 
stature, though not so tall as the Burgdale folk. He was busied 
in tickling trouts, and just as Face-of-god came out from the bush 
into the westering sunlight, he threw up a fish on to the bank, 
and looked up therewithal, and beheld the weaponcd man glitter- 
ing, and uttered a cry, but fled not when he saw the spear poised 
for casting. 

Then Face-of-god spake to him and said : ' Come hither, 
W'^oodsman ! we will not harm thee, but we desire speech of thee : 
and it will not avail thee to flee, since I have bowmen of the best 
in the hollow yonder.' 

The man put forth his hands towards him as if praying him 
to forbear casting, and looked at him hard, and then came drip- 
ping from out the water, and seemed not greatly afeard; for he 
stooped down and picked up the trouts he had taken, and came 
towards Face-of-god stringing the last-caught one through the 
gills on to the withy whereon were the others : and Face-of-god 
saw that he was a goodl}' man of some thirty winters. 

Then Face-of-god looked on him with friendly e3'es and said : 

* Art thou a foemen ? or wilt thou be helpful to us ? ' 

He answered in the speech of the kindreds with the hoarse 
voice of a much weather-beaten man : 

*Thou seest, lord, that I am naked and unarmed.' 

* Yet mayst thou bewray us,' said Face-of-god. ' What man 
art thou ? ' 

Said the man: *I am the runaway thrall of evil men; I have 
fled from Rose-dale and the Dusky Men. Hast thou the heart 
to hurt me ?' 

'We are the foemen of the Dusky Men,' said Face-of-god; 

* wilt thou help us against them ?' 

The man knit his brows and said : * Yea, if ye will give me 
3'our word not to suffer me to fall into their hands alive. But 
whence art thou, to be so bold ? ' 



The runaway 
amongst the 
Dalesmen. 



Said Face-of-god : * We are of Burgdale ; and I will swear- 
to thee on the edge of the sword that thou shalt not fall alive into 
the hands of the Dusky Men.' 

* Of Burgdale have I heard,' said the man ; * and in sooth 
thou seemest not such a man as would bewray a hapless man. 
But now had I best bring you to some lurking-place where ye 
shall not be easily found of these devils, who now oft-times scour 
the woods hereabout.' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Come first and see my fellows ; and then 
if thou thinkest we have need to hide, it is well.' 

So the man went side by side with him towards their lair, and 
as they went Gold-mane noted marks of stripes on his back and 
sides, and said : ' Sorely hast thou been mishandled, poor man ! ' 

Then the man turned on him and said somewhat fiercely : 
* Said I not that I had been a thrall of the Dusky Men ? how 
then should I have escaped tormenting and scourging, if I had 
been with them for but three days ? ' 

As he spake they came about a thorn-bush, and there were the 
Burgdale men down in the hollow ; and the man said : * Are 
these thy fellows ? Call to mind that thou hast sworn by the 
edge of the sword not to hurt me.' 

' Poor man ! ' said Face-of-god ; * these are thy friends, unless 
thou bewrayest us.' 

Then he cried aloud to his folk : ' Here is now a good hap ! 
this is a runaway thrall of the Dusky Men; of him shall we hear 
tidings ; so cherish him all ye may.' 

So the carles thronged about him and bestirred themselves to 
help him, and one gave him his surcoat for a kirtle, and another 
cast a cloak about him; and they brought him meat and drink, 
such as they had ready to hand : and the man looked as if he 
scarce believed in all this, but deemed himself to be in a dream. 
But presently he turned to Face-of-god and said : 

' Now I see so many men and weapons I deem that ye have 
no need to skulk in caves to-night, though I know of good ones : 

196 



yet shall ye do well not to light a fire till moon-setting ; for the He prayeth to 
flame ve may li^rhtlv hide, but the smoke may be seen from far ^^ taken to 
aloof.' ^ ^ ^ ' •> ^"^g^^^l^^. 

But they bade him to meat, and he needed no second bidding lunaways. 
but ate lustily, and they gave him wine, and he drank a great 
■draught and sighed as for joy. Then he said in a trembling 
voice, as though he feared a naysay : 

' If ye are from Burgdale ye shall be faring back again pre- 
sently ; and I pra}' you to take me with you.' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Yea surely, friend, that will we do, and 
rejoice in thee.' 

Then he drank another cup which Warcliff held out to him, 
and spake again : ' Yet if 3-e would abide here till about noon 
to-morrow, or mayhappen a little later, I would bring other run- 
aways to see you ; and them also might ye take with you : 3'c 
may think when ye see them that j'e shall have small gain of 
their company ; for poor wretched folk they be, like to myself. 
Yet since ye seek for tidings, herein might they do you more ser- 
vice than I ; for amongst them are some who came out of the 
hapless Dale within this moon ; and it is six months since I 
escaped. Moreover, though they may look spent and outworn 
now, yet if ye give them a little rest, and feed them well, they 
shall yet do man}' a day's work for \ou : and I tell you that if 
ve take them for thralls, and put collars on their necks, and use 
them no worse than a goodman useth his oxen and his asses, 
beating them not save when they are idle or at fault, it shall be 
to them as if they were come to heaven out of hell, and to such 
goodhap as the}' have not thought of, save in dreams, for man}' 
and many a day. And thus I entreat you to do because ye seem 
to me to be happy and merciful men, who will not begrudge us 
this happiness.' 

The carles of Burgdale listened eagerly to what he said, and 
they looked at him with great eyes and marvelled ; and their 
hearts were moved with pity towards him ; and Stone-face said : 

197 



They make * Herein, O War-leader, need I give thee no rede, for thou 

much of the mayst see clearly that all wc deem that we should lose our man- 
runaway, hood and become th« dastards of the Warrior if we did not abide 
the coming of these poor men, and take them back to the Dale, 
and cherish them.' 

* Yea,' said Wolf of Whitegarth, * and great thanks we owe 
to this man that he biddeth us this : for great will be the gain to 
us if we become so like the Gods that we may deliver the poor 
from misery. Now must I needs think how they shall wonder 
when they come to Burgdale and find out how happy it is to 
dwell there.' 

'Surely,' said Face-of-god, 'thus shall we do, whatever cometh 
of It. But, friend of the wood, as to thralls, there be none such 
in the Dale, but therein are all men friends and neighbours, and 
even so shall ye be.' 

And he fell a-musing, when he bethought him of how little he 
had known of sorrow. 

But that man, when he beheld the happy faces of the Burg- 
dalers, and hearkened to their friendly voices, and understood 
what they said, and he also was become strong with the meat 
and drink, he bowed his head adown and wept a long while ; 
and they meddled not with him, till he turned again to them 
and said : 

' Since ye are in arms, and seem to be seeking your foemen, I 
suppose ye wot that these tyrants and man-quellers will fall upon 
you in Burgdale ere the summer is well worn.' 

' So much we deem indeed,' said Face~of-god, ' but we were 
fain to hear the certainty of it, and how thou knowest thereof.' 

Said the man : ' It was six moons ago that I fled, as I have 
told you ; and even then it was the common talk amongst our 
masters that there were fair dales to the south which they would 
overrun. Man would say to man : We were over many in Silver- 
dale, and we needed more thralls, because those we had were 
lessening, and especially the women ; now are we more at ease 

198 



in Rose-dale, though we have sent thralls to Silver-dale ; but Supper in 
yet we can bear no more men from thence to eat up our stock the perilous 
from us : let them fare south to the happy dales, and conquer "'°o^'^"' 
them, and we will go with them and help therein, whether we 
come back to Rose-dale or no. Such talk did I hear then with 
mine own ears : but some of those whom 1 shall bring to you to- 
morrow shall know better what is doing, since they have fled 
from Rose-dale but a few days. Moreover, there is a man and 
a woman who have fled from Silver-dale itself, and are but a 
month from it, journeying all the time save when they must 
needs hide ; and these say that their masters have got to know 
the ways to Burgdale, and are minded for it before the winter, 
as I said ; and nought else but the ways thither do they desire to 
know, since they have no fear.' 

By then was night come, and though the moon was high in 
heaven, and lighted all that waste, the Burgdalers must needs 
light a fire for cooking their meat, whatsoever that woodsman 
might say ; moreover, the night was cold and somewhat frosty. 
A little before they had come to that place they had shot a fat 
buck and some smaller deer, but of other meat they had no great 
store, though there was wine enough. So they lit their fire in the 
thickest of the thorn-bush to hide it all they might, and thereat 
they cooked their venison and the trouts which the runaway had 
taken, and they fell to, and ate and drank and were merry, 
making much of that poor man till him-seemed he was gotten 
into the company of the kindest of the Gods. 

But when they were full, Face-of-god spake to him, and asked 
him his name ; and he named himself Dallach ; but said he : 
' Lord, this is according to the naming of men in Rose-dale before 
we were enthralled : but now what names have thralls ? Also I 
am not altogether of the blood of them of Rose-dale, but of better 
and more warrior-like kin.' 

Said Faceof-god: 'Thou hast named Silver-dale; knowest 
thou it?' 

199 



Dallach tells Dallach answered : ' I have never seen it. It is far hence ; in 

his tale. a week's journey, making all diligence, and not being forced to 

hide and skulk like those runaways, ye shall come to the mouth 

thereof lying west, where its rock-walls fall off toward the plain.' 

* But,' said Face-of-god, * is there no other way into that 
Dale ? ' 

' Nay, none that folk wot of,' said Dallach, ' except to bold 
cragsmen with their lives in their hands.' 

' Knowest thou aught of the affairs of Silver-dale ? ' said 
Face-of-god. 

Said Dallach : ' Somewhat I know : we wot that but a few 
years ago there was a valiant folk dwelling therein, who were 
lords of the whole dale, and that they were vanquished by the 
Dusky Men : but whether they were all slain and enthralled we 
wot not ; but we deem it otherwise. As for me it is of their blood 
that I am partly come ; for my father's father came thence to 
settle in Rose-dale, and wedded a woman of the Dale, who was 
my father's mother.' 

* When was it that ye fell under the Dusky Men ? ' said 
Face-of-god. 

Said Dallach : ' It was five years ago. They came into the 
Dale a great company, all in arms.' 

' Was there battle betwixt you ? ' said Face-of-god. 

' Alas ! not so,' said Dallach. * We were a happy folk there ; 
but soft and delicate : for the Dale is exceeding fertile, and beareth 
wealth in abundance, both corn and oil and wine and fruit, and 
of beasts for man's service the best that may be. Would that 
there had been battle, and that I had died therein with those that 
had a heart to fight ; and even so saith now every man, yea, every 
woman in the Dale. But it Vs'as not so when the elders met in 
our Council-House on the day when the Dusky Men bade us pay 
them tribute and give them houses to dwell in and lands to live 
by. Then had we weapons in our hands, but no hearts to 
use them.' 

200 



* What befell then ?' said the goodman of Whitegarth. Athrall'stale 

Said Dallach : 'Look ye to it, lords, that it befall not in Burg- 
dale ! We gave them all they asked for, and deemed we had 
much left. What befell, sayst thou ? We sat quiet ; we went 
about our work in fear and trembling, for grim and hideous were 
they to look on. At first they meddled not much with us, save 
to take from our houses what the}' would of meat and drink, or 
raiment, or plenishing. And all this we deemed wc might bear, 
and that we needed no more than to toil a little more each day so 
as to win somewhat more of wealth. But soon we found that it 
would not be so ; for they had no mind to till the teeming earth 
or work in the acres we had given them, or to sit at the loom, 
or hammer in the stithy, or do any manlike work ; it was we that 
must do all that for their behoof, and it was altogether for them 
that we laboured, and nought for ourselves ; and our bodies were 
only so much our own as they were needful to be kept alive for 
labour. Herein were our tasks harder than the toil of any mules 
or asses, save for the younger and goodlier of the women, whom 
they would keep fair and delicate to be their bed-thralls. 

' Yet not even so were our bodies safe from their malice : for 
these men were not only t3Tants, but fools and madmen. Let 
alone that there were few days without stripes and torments to 
satiate their fury or their pleasure, so that in all streets and nigh 
any house might you hear wailing and screaming and groaning ; 
but moreover, though a wise man would not willingly slay his own 
thrall any more than his own horse or ox, yet did these men so 
wax in folly and malice, that they would often hew at man or 
woman as they met them in the way from mere grimness of soul ; 
and if they slew them it was well. Thereof indeed came quarrels 
enough betwixt master and master, for they are much given to 
man-slaying amongst themselves: but what profit to us thereof? 
Nay, if the dead man were a chieftain, then woe betide the thralls ! 
for thereof must many an one be slain on his grave-mound to serve 
him on the hcU-road. To be short : we have heard of men who 

201 D D 



Dallachfareth be fierce, and men who be grim ; but these we may scarce believe 
to seek his to be men at all, but trolls rather ; and ill will it be if their race 
fellows. waxeth in the world.' 

The Burgdale men hearkened with all their ears, and wondered 
that such things could befall ; and they rejoiced at the work that 
lay before them, and their hearts rose high at the thought of battle 
in that behalf, and the fame that should come of it. As for the 
runaway, they made so much of him that the man marvelled; for 
they dealt with him like a woman cherishing a son, and knew not 
how to be kind enough to him. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. THE MEN OF BURGDALE MEET THE 
RUNAWAYS. 

NOW ere the night was far spent, Dallach arose and said : 
' Kind folk, ye will presently be sleeping ; but I bid you 
keep a good watch, and if ye will be ruled by me, ye will 
kindle no fire on the morrow, for the smoke riseth thick in the 
morning air, and is as a beacon. As for me, I shall leave you 
here to rest, and I myself will fare on mine errand.' 

They bade him sleep and rest him after so many toils and hard- 
ships, saying that they were not tied to an hour to be back in 
Burgdale ; but he said : * Nay, the moon is high, and it is as good 
as daylight to me, who could find my way even by starlight; and 
your tarrying here is nowise safe. Moreover, if I could find those 
folk and bring them part of the way by night and cloud it were 
well ; for if we were taken again, burning quick would be the best 
death by which we should die. As for me, now am I strong with 
meat and drink and hope ; and when I come to Burgdale there 
will be time enough for resting and slumber.' 

Said Face-of-god : * Shall I not wend with thee to see these 
people and the lairs wherein they hide ? ' 

The man smiled: 'Nay, earl,' said he, 'that shall not be. 

202 



For wot ye what ? If they were to sec me in company of a man- Face-of-god 

at-arms they would deem that I was bringing the (oe upon them, ^^<^ Stonc- 

and would Hee, or mayhappen would fall upon us. For as for ^" ^ "P 

me, when I saw thee, thou wert close anigh me, so I knew thee to ^' 

be no Dusky Man ; but they would see the glitter of thine arms 

from afar, and to them all weaponed men are focmcn. Thou, 

lord, knowcst not the heart of a thrall, nor the fear and doubt that 

is in it. Na}', I myself mustcastolT these clothes that ye havegivcn 

me, and fare naked, lest the}' mistrust me. Only I will take a 

spear in my hand, and sling a knife round my neck, if ye will give 

them to me ; for if the worst happen, I will not be taken alive.' 

Therewith he cast off his raiment, and they gave him the weapons 
and wished him good speed, and he went his way twixt moonlight 
and shadow ; but the Burgdalers went to sleep when they had set 
a watch. 

Early in the morning they awoke, and the sun was shining 
and the thrushes singing in the thorn-brake, and all seemed fair 
and peaceful, and a little haze still hung about the face of the 
burg over the river. So they went down to the water and washed 
the night from off them; and thence the most part of them went back 
to their lair among the thorn-bushes : but four of them went up 
the dale into the oak-wood to shoot a buck, and five more they 
sent out to watch their skirts around them ; and Face-of-god with 
old Stone-face went over a ford of the stream, and came on to 
the lower slope oi^ the burg, and so went up it to the top. 
Thence they looked about to see if aught were stirring, but they 
saw little save the waste and the wood, which on the north-east 
was thick of big trees stretching out a long way. Their own 
lair was clear to see over its bank and the bushes thereof, and 
that misliked Face-of-god, lest any foe should climb the burg 
that day. The morning was clear, and Face-of-god looking 
north-and-by-west deemed he saw smoke rising into the air over 
the tree-covered ridges that hid the further distance toward that 
airt, though further east uphove the black shoulders of the Great 

203 



The elves that Waste and the snowy peaks behind them. The said smoke was 

love the van- not such as cometh from one great fire, but was like a thin veil 

quished wane gtajnincr the pale blue skv, as when men are burning; ling on the 
with them. i i °j i . . , r & & 

heath-side and it is seen aloor. 

He showed that smoke to Stone-face, who smiled and said : 
* Now will they be lighting the cooking fires in Rose-dale : would 
I were there with a few hundreds of axes and staves at my back ! ' 

' Yea,' said Face-of-god, smiling in his face, ' but where I pray 
thee are these elves and wood-wights, that we meet them not ? 
Grim things there are in the woods, and things fair enough also : 
but meseemeth that the trolls and the elves of thy young years 
have been frighted away.' 

Said Stone-face : ' Maybe, foster-son ; that hath been seen ere 
now, that when one race of man overrunneth the land inhabited 
by another, the wights and elves that love the vanquished are 
seen no more, or get them away far off into the outermost wilds, 
where few men ever come.' 

'Yea,' said Face-of-god, 'that may well be. But deemest 
thou by that token that we shall be vanquished ? ' 

* As for us, I know not,' said Stone-face ; ' but thj' friends of 
Shadowy Vale have been vanquished. Moreover, concerning 
these felons whom now we are hunting, are we all so sure that they 
be men ? Certain it is, that when I go into battle with them, 
I shall smite with no more pity than my sword, as if I were 
smiting things that may not feel the woes of man.' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Yea, even so shall it be with me. But 
what thinkest thou of these runaways ? Shall we have tidings of 
them, or shall Dallach bring the foe upon us ? It was for the sake 
of that question that I have clomb the burg : and that we might 
watch the land about us.' 

* Nay,' said Stone-face, * I have seen many men, and I deem of 
Dallach that he is a true man. I deem we shall soon have tidings 
of his fellows ; and they mayhave seen the elves and wood-wights : 
I would fain ask them thereof, and am eager to see them.' 

204 



Said Facc-of-god : * And I somewhat dread to see them, and They see the 
their rags and their misery and the weals of their stripes. It irked new-comers 
me to see Dalla<:h when he lirst fell to his meat last night, how J^"^ ^^^ 
he ate like a dog for fear and famine. How shall it be, moreover, ^^^' 
when we have them in the Dale, and they fall to the deed of 
kind there, as the}' needs must. Will they not bear us evil and 
thrall-like men ?' 

'Maybe,' said Stone-face, 'and maybe not; for they have 
been thralls but for a little while : and I deem that in no long time 
shall ye see them much bettered by plenteous meat and rest. And 
afterall issaid, this Dallach borehimlikea valiantman; alsoitwas 
valiant of him to flee ; and of the others may ye say the like. But 
look you ! there are men going down yonder towards our lair : 
belike those shall be our guests, and there be no Dusky Men 
amongst them. Come, let us home I ' 

So Facc-of-god looked and beheld from the height of the burg 
shapes of men grey and colourless creeping toward the lair from 
sunshine to shadow, like wild creatures shy and fearful of the 
hunter, or so he deemed of them. 

So he turned away, angry and sad of heart, and the twain went 
down the burg and across the water to their camp, having seen 
little to tell of from the height. 

When they came to their campment there were their folk stand- 
ing in a ring round about Dallach and the other runaways. They 
made way for the War-leader and Stone-face, who came amongst 
them and beheld the Runaways, that the}' were many more than they 
looked to see ; for the}' were of carles one score and three, and 
of women eighteen, all told save Dallach. When they saw those 
twain come through the ring of men and perceived that they were 
chieftains, some of them fell down on their knees before them and 
held out their joined hands to them, and kissed the Burgdalers' 
feet and the hems of their garments, while the tears streamed out 
of their eyes : some stood moving little and staring before them 
stupidly : and some kept glancing from face to face of the well- 

205 



thialldom. 



Tokens of liking happy Burgdale carles, though for a while even their faces 
heavy were sad and downcast at the sight of the poor men : some also 

kept murmuring one or two words in their country tongue, and 
Dallach told Face-of-god that these were crying out for victual. 
It must be said of these poor folk that they were of divers con- 
ditions, and chiefly of three : and first there were seven of Rose- 
dale and five of Silver-dale late come to the wood (of these Silver- 
dalers Dallach had told but of two, for the other three were 
but just come). Of these twelve were seven women, and all, save 
two of the women, were clad in one scanty kirtle or shirt only ; 
for such was the wont of the Dusky Men with their thralls. They 
had brought away weapons, and had amongst them six axes and 
a spear, and a sword, and five knives, and one man had a shield. 
Yet though these were clad and armed, yet in some wise were 
they the worst of all ; they were so timorous and cringing, and 
most of them heavy-eyed and sullen and down-looking. Many 
of them had been grievously mishandled : one man had had his 
left hand smitten off; another was docked of three of his toes, 
and the gristle of his nose slit up ; one was halt, and four had 
been ear-cropped, nor did any lack weals of whipping. Of the 
Silver-dale new-comers the three men were the worst of all 
the Runaways, with wild wandering eyes, but sullen also, and 
cringing if any drew nigh, and would not look anyone in the 
face, save presently Face-of-god, on whom they were soon fond 
to fawn, as a dog on his master. But the women who were 
with them, and who were well-nigh as timorous as the men, were 
those two gaily-clad ones, and they were soft-handed and white- 
skinned, save for the last days of weather in the wood ; for they 
had been bed-thralls of the Dusky Men. 

Such were the new-comers to the wood. But others had been, 
like Dallach, months therein ; it may be said that there were 
eighteen of these, carles and queens together. Little raiment 
they had amongst them, and some were all but stark naked, so 
that on these might well be seen as on Dallach the marks of old 

206 



stripes, and of these also were there men who had been shorn of The l)est of 
some member or other, and they were all burnt and blackened tl"= Run- 
by the weather oi" the woodland ; yet for all their nakedness, ^^^J'*- 
they bore themselves bolder and more manlike than the later 
comers, nor did they altogether lack weapons taken from their 
foemen, and most of them had some edge-tool or another. Of 
these folk were four from Silver-dale, though Dallachkncw it not. 
Besides these were a half score and one who had been years 
in the wood instead of months ; weather-beaten indeed were these, 
shaggy and rough-skinned like wild men of kind. Some of them 
had made themselves skin breeches or clouts, some went stark 
naked; of weapons of the Dale had they few, but the}' bore 
bows of hazel or w^'ch-elm strung with deer-gut, and shafts 
headed with Hint stones ; staves also of the same fashion, and 
great clubs of oak or holly : some of them also had made them 
targets of skin and willow-twigs, for these were the warriors of 
the Runaways : they had a few steel knives amongst them, but 
had mostl}' learned the craft of using sharp flints for knives : but 
four of these were women. 

Tiiree of these men were of the kindreds of the Wolf from 
Silver-dale, and had been in the wood for hard upon ten years, 
and wild as they were, and without hope of meeting their fellows 
again, they went proudly and boldly amongst the others, over- 
topping them by the head and more. For the greater part of 
these men were somewhat short of stature, though by nature 
strong and stout of body. 

It must be told that though Dallach had thus gotten all these 
man}' Runaways together, yet had they not been dwelling 
together as one folk ; for they durst not, lest the Dusky Men 
should hear thereof and fall upon them, but they had kept 
themselves as best they could in caves and in brakes three to- 
gether or two, or even faring alone as Dallach did : onl}' as he 
was a strong and stout-hearted man, he went to and fro and 
wandered about more than the others, so that he foregathered 

207 



land. 



The Run- with most of them and knew them. He said also that he doubted 
aways feasted not but that there were more Runaways in the wood, but these 
in the wood- -^^re all he could come at. Divers who had fled had died from 
time to time, and some had been caught and cruelly slain by their 
masters. They were none of them old ; the oldest, said Dallach, 
scant of forty winters, though many from their aspect might have 
been old enough. 

So Face-of-god looked and beheld all these poor people ; and 
said to himself, that he might well have dreaded that sight. For 
here was he brought face to face with the Sorrow of the Earth, 
whereof he had known nought heretofore, save it might be as a 
tale in a minstrel's song. And when he thought of the minutes 
that had made the hours, and the hours that had made the days 
that these men had passed through, his heart failed him, and he 
was dumb and might not speak, though he perceived that the 
men of Burgdale looked for speech from him ; but he waved 
his hand to his folk, and they understood him, for they had 
heard Dallach say that some of them were crying for victual. 
So they set to work and dighted for them such meat as they had, 
and they set them down on the grass and made themselves their 
carvers and serving-men, and bade them eat what they would of 
such as there was. Yet, indeed, it grieved the Burgdalers again to 
note how these folk were driven to eat ; for they themselves, though 
they were merry folk, were exceeding courteous at table, and of 
great observance of manners : whereas these poor Runaways ate, 
some of them like hungry dogs, and some hiding their meat as if 
they feared it should be taken from them, and some cowering over 
it like falcons, and scarce any with a manlike pleasure in their 
meal. And, their eating over, the more part of them sat dull and 
mopish, and as if all things were forgotten for the time present. 
Albeit presently Dallach bestirred him and said to Face-of- 
god : ' Lord of the Earl-folk, if I might give thee rede, it were 
best to turn your faces to Burgdale without more tarrying. For 
we are over-nigh to Rose-dale, being but thus many in com- 

208 



pany. But when we come to our next resting-place, then shall I They turn 
brino^ thee to speech with the last-comers from Silver-dale ; for about to 
there they talk with the tongue oi' the kindreds ; but we of Rose- ^"'"S'^^'^' 
dale for the more part talk otherwise ; though in my house it 
came down from father to son.' 

* Yea,' said Face-of-god, gazing still on that unhappy folk, 
as they sat or lay upon the grass at rest for a little while : but 
him-seemed as he gazed that some memories of past time stirred 
in some of them ; for some, they hung their heads and the tears 
stole out of their eyes and rolled down their cheeks. But those 
older Runaways of Silver-dale were not crouched down like 
most of the others, but strode up and down like beasts in a den ; 
yet were the tears on the face of one of these. Then Face-of- 
god constrained himself, and spake to the folk, and said : ' We 
are now over-nigh to our foes of Rose-dale to lie here any longer, 
being too few to fall upon them. We will come hither again 
with a host when we have duly questioned these men who have 
sought refuge with us : and let us call yonder height the Burg 
of the Runawa3's, and it shall be a landmark for us when we 
are on the road to Rose-dale.' 

Then the Burgdalers bade the Runaways courteously and 
kindly to arise and take the road with them ; and by that time 
were their men all come in ; and four of them had venison with 
them, which was needful, if they were to eat that night or the 
morrow, as the guests had eaten them to the bone. 

So they tarried no more, but set out on the homeward way ; 
and Face-of-god bade Dallach walk beside him, and asked him 
much concerning Rose-dale and its Dusky Men. Dallach told 
him that these were not so many as they were masterful, not being 
above eight hundreds of men, all fighting-men. As to women, 
they had none of their own race, but lay with the Dalcswomen at 
their will, and begat children of them ; and all or most of the said 
children favoured the race of their begetters. Of the men-children 
they reared most, but the women-children they slew at once ; for 

209 E E 



Dallach tells they valued not women of their own blood : but besides the women 

of the griefs of the Dale, they would go at whiles in bands to the edges of the 

of Rose-dale. Plain and beguile wayfarers, and bring back with them thence 

women to be their bed-thralls ; albeit some of these were bought 

with a price from the Westland men. 

As to the number of the folk of Rose-dale, its own folk, he 
said they would number some five thousand souls, one with 
another ; of whom some thousand might be fit to bear arms if 
they had the heart thereto, as they had none. Yet being closely 
questioned, he deemed that they might fall on their masters from 
behind, if battle were joined. 

He said that the folk of Rose-dale had been a goodly folk 
before they were enthralled, and peaceable with one another, 
but that now it was a sport of the Dusky Men to set a match be- 
tween their thralls to fight it out with sword and buckler or other- 
wise ; and the vanquished man, if he were not sore hurt, they 
would scourge, or shear some member from him, or even slay 
him outright, if the match between the owners were so made. 
And many other sad and grievous tales he told to Face-of- 
god, more than need be told again ; so that the War-leader went 
along sorry and angry, with his teeth set, and his hand on the 
sword-hilt. 

Thus they went till night fell on them, and they could scarce 
see the signs they had made on their outward journey. Then 
they made stay in a little valley, having set a watch duly ; and 
since they were by this time far from Rose-dale, and were a great 
company as regarded scattered bands of the foe, they lighted their 
fires and cooked their venison, and made good cheer to the Run- 
aways, and so went to sleep in the wild-wood. 

When morning was come they gat them at once to the road ; 

and if the Burgdalers were eager to be out of the wood, their 

eagerness was as nought to the eagerness of the Runaways, most 

' of whom could not be easy now, and deemed every minute lost 

unless they were wending on to the Dale ; so that this day they 

210 



kindreds. 



were willing to get over the more ground, whereas they had not Three mn- 
■set out on their road till afternoon yestcrda}'. aways of the 

Howsoever, they rested at noontide, and Face-of-god bade Dai- 
lach bring him to speech with others of the Runaways, and first 
that he might talk with those three men of the kindreds who had 
fled from Silver-dale in early days. So Dallach brought them to 
him ; but he found that though they spake the tongue, they were 
so few-spoken from wildness and loneliness, at least at first, that 
nought could come from them that was not dragged from them. 

These men said that they had been in the wood more than nine 
years, so that they knew but little of the conditions of the Dale 
in that present day. However, as to what Dallach had said con- 
cerning the Dusky Men, the}- strengthened his words ; and they 
said that the Dusky Men took no delight save in beholding tor- 
ments and misery, and that they doubted if they were men or trolls. 
They said that since they had dwelt in the wood they had slain 
not a few of the foemen, waylaying them as occasion served, but 
that in this warfare they had lost two of their fellows. When 
Face-of-god asked them of their deeming of the numbers of the 
Dusky Men, they said that before those bands had broken into 
Rose-dale, they counted them, as far as they could call to mind, 
at about three thousand men, all warriors ; and that somewhat 
less than one thousand had gone up into Rose-dale, and some had 
died, and many had been cast away in the wild-wood, their 
fellows knew not how. Yet had not their numbers in Silver-dale 
diminished ; because two years after they (the speakers) had fled, 
came three more Dusky Companies or Tribes into Silver-dale, and 
each of these tribes was of three long hundreds ; and with their 
coming had the cruelty and misery much increased in the Dale, 
so that the thralls began to die fast ; and that drave the Dusky 
Men beyond the borders of Silver-dale, so that they fell upon 
Rose-dale. When asked how many of the kindreds might yet 
be abiding in Silver-dale, their faces clouded, and they seemed 
exceeding wroth, and answered, that they would willingly hope 

211 



Afairwoman, that most of those that had not been slain at the time of the over- 
throw were now dead, yet indeed they feared there were yet some 
alive, and mayhappen not a few women. 

By then must they get on foot again, and so the talk fell be- 
tween them ; but when they made stay for the night, after they 
had done their meat, Face-of-god pra3'ed Dallach bring to him 
some of the latest-come folk from Silver-dale, and he brought to 
him the man and the woman who had been in the Dale within that 
moon. As to the man, if those of the Earl-folk had been few- 
spoken from fierceness and wildness, he was no less so from mere 
dulness and weariness of misery ; but the woman's tongue went 
glibly enough, and it seemed to pleasure her to talk about her 
past miseries. As aforesaid, she was better clad than most cf 
those of Rose-dale, and indeed might be called gaily clad, and 
where her raiment was befouled or rent, it was from the roughness 
of the wood and its weather, and not from the thralldom. She was 
a young and fair woman, black-haired and grey-eyed. She had 
washed herself that day in a woodland stream which they had 
crossed on the road, and had arrayed her garments as trimly as she 
might, and had plucked some fumitorj', wherewith she had made 
a garland for her head. She sat down on the grass in front of 
Face-of-god, while the man her mate stood leaning against a tree 
and looked on her greedily. The Burgdale carles drew near to 
her to hearken her story, and looked kindly on the twain. She 
smiled on them, but especially on Face-of-god, and said : 

* Thou hast sent for me, lord, and I wot well thou wouldst 
hear my tale shortly, for it would be long to tell if I were to tell 
it fully, and bring into it all that I have endured, which has been 
bitter enough, for all that ye see me smooth of skin and well- 
liking of body. I have been the bed-thrall of one of the chief- 
tains of the Dusky Men, at whose house many of their great men 
would assemble, so that ye may ask me whatso ye will ; as I have 
heard much talk and may call it to mind. Now if ye ask me 
whether I have fled because of the shame that I, a free woman 

212 



come of free folk, should be a mere thrall in the bed of the foes of How slie fltd. 
my kin, and with no price paid for me, I must needs say it is not 
so ; since over long have we of the Dale been thralls to be ashamed 
of such a matter. And again, if ye deem that I have fled because 
I have been burdened with grievous toil and been driven thereto 
by the whip, ye may look on ni}' hands and my bod}' and ye will 
see that 1 have toiled little therewith : nor again did I flee be- 
cause I could not endure a few stripes now and again ; for such 
usage do thralls look for, even when the}- are delicately kept for 
the sake of the fairness of their bodies, and this they may well 
endure ; yez also, and the mere fear of death by torment now and 
again. But before me la}' death both assured and horrible ; so I 
took mine own counsel, and told none for fearofbewrayal, save him 
who guarded me ; and that was this man ; who fled not from fear, 
but from love of me, and to him I have given all that I might 
give. So we got out of the house and down the Dale b}'^ night 
and cloud, and hid for one whole day in the Dale itself, where I 
trembled and feared, so that I deemed I should die of fear ; but this 
man was well pleased with my company, and with the lack of toil 
and beatino; even for the day. And in the niaht again we fled and 
reached the wild-wood before dawn, and well-nigh fell into the 
hands of those who were hunting us, and had outgone us the day 
before, as we lay hid. Well, what is to say ? They saw us not, 
else had we not been here, but scattered piece-meal over the land. 
This carle knew the passes of the wood, because he had followed 
his master therein, who was a great hunter in the wastes, con- 
trary to the wont of these men, and he had lain a night on the 
burg yonder ; therefore he brought me thither, because he knew 
that thereabout was plenty of pre}' easy to take, and he had a 
bow with him ; and there we fell in with others of our folk who 
had fled before, and with Dallach ; who e'en now told us what 
was hard to believe, that there was a fair young man like one of 
the Gods leading a band of goodly warriors, and seeking for us 
to bring us into a peaceful and happy land ; and this man would 

213 



A threat of a not have gone with him because he feared that he might fail into- 
Dusky Lord, thralldom of other folk, who would take me away from him ; but 
for me, I said I would go in any case, for I was weary of the wood 
and its roughness and toil, and that if I had a new master he 
would scarcely be worse than my old one was at hisbest, and him I 
could endure. So I went, and glad and glad I am, whatever ye will 
do with me. And now will I answer whatso ye may ask of me.' 

She laid her limbs together daintily and looked fondly on Face- 
of-god, and the carle scowled at her somewhat at first, but 
presently, as he watched her, his face smoothed itself out of its 
wrinkles. 

But Face-of-god pondered a little while, and then asked the 
woman if she had heard any words to remember of late days con- 
cerning the affairs of the Dusky Men and their intent ; and he said : 

' I pray thee, sister, be truthful in thine answer, for somewhat 
lieth on it.' 

She said : ' How could I speak aught but the sooth to thee, O 
lovely lord? The last word spoken hereof I mind me well : for 
my master had been mishandling me, and I was sullen to him after 
the smart, and he mocked and jeered me, and said : Ye women 
deem we cannot do without you, but ye are fools, and know 
nothing ; we are going to conquer a new land where the women 
are plenty, and far fairer than ye be ; and we shall leave you to 
fare afield like the other thralls, or work in the digging of silver ; 
and belike ye wot what that meaneth. Also he said that they 
would leave us to the new tribe of their folk, far wilder than they, 
whom they looked for in the Dale in about a moon's wearing; so 
that they needs must seek to other lands. Also this same talk 
would we hear whenever it pleased any of them to mock us their 
bed-thralls. Now, my sweet lord, this is nought but the very 
sooth.' 

Again spake Face-of-god after a while : 

' Tell me, sister, hast thou heard of any of the Dusky Men be- 
ing slain in the wood ? ' 

214 



'Yea,' she said, and turned pale therewith and caught her Funeral 
breath as one choking ; but said in a Httic while : fashions of the 

' This alone was it hard for me to tell thee amongst all the ^^^^^V ^^^"• 
griefs I have borne, whereof I might have told thee many tales, 
and will do one day if thou wilt suffer it; but fear makes this 
h.ard for me. For in very sooth this was the cause of my fleeing, 
that my master was brought in slain by an arrow in the wood ; 
and he was to be borne to bale and burned in three days' wearing ; 
and we three bed-thralls of his, and three of the best of the mcn- 
tliralls, were to beburned quick on his bale-fire after sore torments ; 
therefore I fled, and hid a knife in my bosom, that I might not 
be taken alive; but sweet was life to me, and belike I should not 
have smitten myself.' 

And she wept sore for pity of herself before them all. But 
Face-of-god said : 

* Knowest thou, sister, by whom the man was slain ? ' 

' Nav,' she said, still sobbing ; ' but I heard nouglit thereof, nor 
had I noted it in my terror. The death of others, who were slain 
before him, and the loss of man}', we knew not how, made them 
more bitterl}-^ cruel with us.' 

And again was she weeping ; but Face-of-god said kindly to 
her : ' Weep no more, sister, for now shall all thy troubles be 
over : I feel in my heart that we shall overcome these felons, and 
make an end of them, and there then is Burgdale for thee in its 
length and breadth, or thine own Dale to dwell in freely.' 

' Nay,' she said, ' never will I go back thither!' and she turned 
round to him and kissed his feet, and then arose and turned a 
little toward her mate; and the carle caught her by the hand and 
led her away, and seemed glad so to do. 

So once again they fell asleep in the woods, and again the next 
morning fared on their way early that they might come into Burg- 
dale before nightfall. When they stayed a while at noontide 
and ate, Face-of-god again had talk with the Runaways, and this 
time with those of Rose-dale, and he heard much the same story 

215 



Out of the from them that he had heard before, told in divers ways, till his 

wood again, heart was sick with the hearino- of it. 

On this last day Face-of-god led his men well athwart the 
wood, so that he hit Wildlake's Way without coming to Carl- 
stead; and he came down into the Dale some four hours after 
noon on a bright day of latter March. At the ingate to the 
Dale he found watches set, the men whereof told him that the 
tidings were not right great. Hall-face's company had fallen in 
with a band of the Felons three score in number in the oak-wood 
nigh to Boars-bait, and had slain some and chased the rest, since 
they found it hard to follow them home as the}' ran for the tangled 
thicket : of the Burgdalers had two been slain and five hurt in 
this battle. 

As for Red-coat's company, they had fallen in with no foemen. 



CHAPTER XXIX. THEY BRING THE RUNAWAYS TO 
BURGSTEAD. 

SO now being out of the wood, they went peaceably and safely 
along the Portway, the Runaways mingling with the Dales- 
men. Strange showed amidst the health and wealth of the 
Dale the rags and misery and nakedness of the thralls, like a 
dream amidst the trim gaiety of spring ; and whomsoever they 
met, or came up with on the road, whatso his business might be, 
could not refrain himself from following them, but mingled with 
the men-at-arms, and asked them of the tidings; and when they 
heard who these poor people were, even delivered thralls of the 
Foemen, they were glad at heart and cried out for joy ; and many 
of the women, nay, of the men also, when they first came across 
that misery from out the heart of their own pleasant life, wept 
for pity and love of the poor folk, now at last set free, and blessed 
the swords that should do the like by the whole people. 

They went slowly as men began to gather about them ; yea, 

216 



some of the good folk that lived hard by must needs fare home to The min- 

their houses to fetch cakes and wine for the guests; and they strelsycometh 

made them sit down and rest on the green grass by the side of f*^ '^'"^ "^ 

into Jjiifff- 
the Portway, and eat and drink to cheer their hearts ; others, ^i^^d^ 

women and young swains, while they rested went down into the 
meadows and plucked of the spring flowers, and twined them 
hastily with deft and well-wont fingers into chaplets and garlands 
for their heads and bodies. Thus indeed they covered their naked- 
ness, till the lowering faces and weather-beaten skins of those 
hardly-entreated thralls looked grimly out from amidst the knots 
of cowslip and oxlip, and the branches of the milk-white black- 
thorn bloom, and the long trumpets of the daffodils, of the hue 
that wrappeth round the quill which the webster takes in hand 
when she would pleasure her soul with the sight of the yellow 
growing upon the dark green web. 

So they went on again as the evening was waning, and when 
they were gotten within a furlong of the Gate, lo ! there was come 
the minstrelsy, the pipe and the tabor, the fiddle and the harp, 
and the folk that had learned to sing the sweetest, both men and 
women, and Redesman at the head of them all. 

Then fell the throng into an ordered company ; first went the 
music, and then a score of Facc-of-god's warriors with drawn 
swords and uplifted spears ; and then the flower-bedecked misery 
of the Runaways, men and women going together, gaunt, be- 
fouled, and hollow-eyed, with here and there a flushed cheek or 
gleaming eye, or tear-bedewed face, as the joy and triumph of the 
eve pierced through their wonted weariness of grief ; then the rest 
of the warriors, and lastly the mingled crowd of Dalesfolk, tall 
men and fair women gaily arrayed, clean-faced, clear-skinned, and 
sleek-haired, with glancing eyes and ruddy lips. 

And now Redesman turned about to the music and drew his 
bow across his fiddle, and the other bows ran out in concert, and 
the harps followed the story of them, and he lifted up his voice 
and sang the words of an old song, and all the singers joined him 

217 F F 



The Song of and blended their voices with his. And these are some of the 
Spring-tide. words which they sang : 

Lo ! here is Spring, and all we are living, 
We that were wan with Winter's fear ; 

Reach out your hands to her hands that are giving. 
Lest ye lose her love and the light of the year. 

Many a morn did we wake to sorrow, 

When low on the land the cloud-wrath lay ; 

Many an eve we feared to-morrow. 
The unbegun unfinished day. 

Ah we — we hoped not, and thou wert tardy ; 

Nought wert thou helping; nought we prayed. 
Where was the eager heart, the hardy ? 

W^here was the sweet-voiced unafraid ? 

But now thou lovest, now thoa leadest, 
Where is gone the grief of our minds ? 

What was the word of the tale, that thou heedest 
E'en as the breath of the bygone winds ? 

Green and green is thy garment growing 

Over thy blossoming limbs beneath ; 
Up o'er our feet rise the blades of thy sowing, 

Pierced are our hearts with thine odorous breath. 

But where art thou wending, thou new-comer ? 

Hurrying on to the Courts of the Sun ? 
Where art thou now in the House of the Summer ? 

Told are thy days and thj^ deed is done. 

Spring has been here for us that are living 
After the days of Winter's fear; 
2l8 



Here in our hands is the wealth of her giving. The Bride 

The Love of the Earth, and the Light of the Year. beholdcth the 



Runaways 



Thus came they to the Gate, and lo ! the Bride thereby, leaning 
acrainst a buttress, gazing with no dull eyes at the coming throng. 
She was now clad in her woman's attire again, to wit a light 
iUime-coloured gown over a green kirtle ; but she yet bore a gilded 
lulm on her head and a sword girt to her side in token of her 
oath to the God. She had been in Hall-face's company in that 
last battle, and had done a man's service there, fighting very 
valiantly, but had not been hurt, and had come back to Burgstead 
v.hen the shift of men was. 

Now she drew herself up and stood a little way before the Gate 
and looked forth on the throng, and when her eyes beheld the 
Runawa3S amidst of the weaponed carles of Burgdalc, her face 
flushed, and her eyes filled with tears as she stood, partK' won- 
dering, partly deeming what they were. She waited till Stone- 
face came by her, and then she took the old man by the sleeve, 
and drew him apart a little and said to him : ' What meaneth this 
show, my friend ? Who hath clad these folk thus strangely ; and 
who be these three naked tall ones, so fierce-looking, but some- 
what noble of aspect?' 

For indeed those three men of the kindreds, when they had 
i;ottcn into the Dale, and had rested them, and drunk a cup of 
u ine, and when they had seen the chaplets and wreaths of the 
spring-flowers wherewith the}' were bedecked, and had smelt the 
sweet savour of them, fell to walking proudly", heeding not their 
nakedness ; for no rag had they upon them save breech-clouts of 
deer-skin : they had changed weapons with the Burgdale carles ; 
and one had gotten a great axe, which he bore over his shoulder, 
and the shaft thereof was all done about with copper; and another 
had shouldered a long heavy thrusting-spear, and the third, an ex- 
ceeding tall man, bore a long broad-bladed war-sword. Thus they 
went, brown of skin beneath their flower-garlands, their long hair 

219 



Stone-face 
telleth the 
Bride of the 
Runaways. 



bleached by the sun falling about their shoulders ; high they 
strode amongst the shuffling carles and tripping women of the later- 
come thralls. But when they heard the music, and saw that they 
were coming to the Gate in triumph, strange thoughts of old memo- 
ries swelled up in their hearts, and they refrained them not from 
weeping, for they felt that the joy of life had come back to them. 

Nor must it be deemed that these were the only ones amongst 
the Runaways whose hearts were cheered and softened : already 
were many of them coming back to life, as they felt their worn 
bodies caressed by the clear soft air of Burgdale, and the sweet- 
ness of the flowers that hung about them, and saw all round 
about the kind and happy faces of their well-willers. 

So Stone-face looked on the Bride as she stood with face yet 
tear-bedewed, awaiting his answer, and said : 

' Daughter, thou sa3'est who clad these folk thus ? It was 
misery that hath so dight them ; and they are the images of 
what we shall be if we love foul life better than fair death, 
and so fall into the hands of the Felons, who were the masters of 
these men. As for the tall naked men, they are of our own 
blood, and kinsmen to Face-of-god's new friends ; and they are 
of the best of the vanquished : it was in early days that they fled 
from thralldom ; as we may have to do. Now, daughter, I bid 
thee be as joyous as thou art valiant, and then shall all be well.' 

Therewith she smiled on him, and he departed, and she stood 
a little while, as the throng moved on and was swallowed by 
the Gate, and looked after them ; and for all her pity for the 
other folk, she thought chiefl}' of those fearless tall men who 
were of the blood of those with whom it was lawful to wed. 

There she stood as the wind dried the tears upon her cheeks, 
thinking of the sorrow which these folk had endured, and their 
stripes and mocking, their squalor and famine ; and she wondered 
and looked on her own fair and shapely hands with the precious 
finger-rings thereon, and on the dainty cloth and trim broidery 
of her sleeve; and she touched her smooth cheek with the back 

220 



of her hand, and smiled, and felt the spring sweet in her mouth, They come 

and its savour goodlv in her nostrils ; and therewith she called '"fo Burg- 

to mind the aspect of her lovely body, as whiles she had seen it '""^^' " 

imaged, all its full measure, in the clear pool at midsummer, 

or piece-meal, in the shining steel of the Westland mirror. She 

thought also with what joy she drew the breath of life, yea, even 

amidst of grief, and of how sweet and pure and well-nurtured 

she was, and how well beloved of many friends and the whole 

folk, and she set all this beside those woeful bodies and lowering 

faces, and felt shame of her sorrow of heart, and the pain it had 

brought to her ; and ever amidst shame and pity of all that 

misery rose up before her the images of those tall fierce men, 

and it seemed to her as if she had seen something like to them 

in some dream or imagination of her mind. 

So came the Burgdalers and their guests into the street of 
Burgstcad amidst music and singing; and the throng was great 
there. Then Face-of-god bade make a ring about the strangers, 
and they did so, and he and the Runaways alone were in the midst 
of it ; and he spake in a loud voice and said : 

' Men of the Dale and the Burg, these folk whom here ye sec in 
such a sorry plight are they whom our deadly foes have rejoiced to 
torment ; let us therefore rejoice to cherish them. Now let those 
men come forth who deem that they have enough and more, so that 
they may each take into their houses some two or three of these 
friends such as would be fain to be together. And since I am War- 
leader, and have the right hereto, 1 will first choose them whom 
1 will lead into the House of the Face. And lo you I will I have this 
man (and he laid his hand on Dallach),who is he whom I first came 
across, and who found us all these others, and next I will have 
yonder tall carles, the three of them, because I perceive them to be 
men meet to be with a War-leader, and to follow him in battle.' 

Therewith he drew the three Men of the Wolf towards him, 
but Dallach already was standing beside him. And folk rejoiced 
in Face-of-god. 

221 



The Burg- But the Bride came forward next, and spake to him meekly 

dalers take in and simply : 

those guests. < War-leader, let me have of the women those who need me 

most, that I may bring them to the House of the Steer, and try 
if there be not some good days yet to be found for them, wherein 
they shall but remember the past grief as an ugly dream.' 

Then Face-of-god looked on her, and him-seemed he had never 
seen her so fair ; and all the shame wherewith he had beheld her 
of late was gone from him, and his heart ran over with friendly 
love towards her as she looked into his face with kindly eyes ; 
and he said : 

* Kinswoman, take thy choice as thy kindness biddeth, and 
happy shall they be whom thou choosest.' 

She bowed her head soberlj', and chose from among the guests 
four women of the saddest and most grievous, and no man of 
their kindred spake for going along with them ; then she went 
her ways home, leading one of them by the hand, and strange 
was it to see those twain going through sun and shade together, 
that poor wretch along with the goodliest of women. 

Then came forward one after other of the worthy goodmen of 
the Dale, and especially such as were old, and they led away 
one one man, and another two, and another three, and often 
would a man crave to go with a woman or a woman with a man, 
and it was not gainsaid them. So were all the guests appor- 
tioned, and ill-content were those goodmen that had to depart 
without a guest ; and one man would say to another : ' Such- 
an-one, be not downcast ; this guest shall be between us, if he 
will, and shall dwell with thee and me month about ; but this 
first month with me, since I was first comer.' And so forth 
was it said. 

Now to prevent the time to come, it may be said about the 
Runaways, that when they had been a little while amongst the 
Burgdalers, well fed and well clad and kindly cherished, it was 
marvellous how they were bettered in aspect of body, and it began 

222 



to be seen of them that they were well-favoured people, and How the 

divers of the women exceeding goodly, black-haired and grey- Runaways 

eyed, and very dear-skinned and white-skinned; most of them *^'^"' 

were young, and the oldest had not seen above forty winters. 

They of Rose-dale, and especially such as had first fled away 

to the wood, were very soon seen to be merry and kindly folk ; 

but they who had been longest in captivity, and notably those 

t:om Silver-dale who were not of the kindreds, were for a long 

i.nie sullen and heavy, and it availed little to trust to them for 

i'.-,o doing of work ; albeit they would follow about their friends 

oi' Burgdale with the love of a dog ; also the\- were, divers of 

t'.i.cm, somewhat thievish, and if they lacked anything would 

liofer take it by stealth than ask for it ; which forsooth the Burg- 

d.ile men took not amiss, but deemed of it as a jest rather. 

\'^cry few of the Runaways had any will to fare back to their 
o!d homes, or indeed could be got to go into the wood, or, after 
a day or two, to say an\' v/ord of Rose-dale or Silver-dale. In 
this and other matters the Burgdalers dealt with them as with 
children who must have their way; for they deemed that their 
guests had much time to make up ; also they were well content 
when the}' saw how goodl}' they were, for these Dalesmen loved 
to see men goodly of body and of a cheerful countenance. 

As for Dallach and the three Silver-dale men of the kindred, 
they went gladly whereas the Burgdale men would have them ; 
and half a score others took weapons in their hands when the 
war was foughten : concerning which more hereafter. 

But on the even whereof the tale now tells, Face-of-god and 
Stone-face and their company met after nightfall in the Hall 
of the Face clad in glorious raiment, and therewith were Dallach 
and the men of Silver-dale, washen and docked of their long hair, 
after the fiishion of warriors who bear the helm ; and they were 
clad in gay attire, with battle-swords girt to their sides and gold 
rings on their arms. Somewhat stern and sad-eyed were those 
Silver-dalers yet, though they looked on those about them kindly 

223 



Face-of-god and courteously when they met their eyes ; and Face-of-god 
leadeth those yearned towards them when he called to mind the beauty and 
^ree into the ^js^q^ ^^d loving-kindness of the Sun-beam. They were, as 
aforesaid, strong men and tall, and one of them taller than any 
amidst that house of tall men. Their names were Wolf-stone, 
the tallest, and God-swain, and Spear-fist ; and God-swain the 
youngest was of thirty winters, and Wolf-stone of fort3\ They 
came into the Hall in such wise, that when they were washed 
and attired, and all men were assembled in the Hall, and the 
Alderman and the chieftains sitting on the dais, Face-of-god 
brought them in from the out-bower, holding Dallach by the 
right hand "and Wolf-stone by the left ; and he looked but a 
stripling beside that huge man. 

And when the men in the Hall beheld such goodly warriors, 
and remembered their grief late past, they all stood up and 
shouted for joy of them. But Face-of-god passed up the Hall 
with them, and stood before the dais and said : 

' O Alderman of the Dale and Chief of the House of the 
Face, here I bring to you the foes of our foemen, whom I have 
met in the Wild-wood, and bidden to our House ; and rae- 
seemeth they will be our friends, and stand beside us in the day 
of battle. Therefore I say, take these guests and me together, 
or put us all to the door together ; and if thou wilt take them, 
then show them to such places as thou deemest meet.' 
Then stood up the Alderman and said : 

' Men oi' Silver-dale and Rose-dale, I bid you welcome ! Be 
ye our friends, and abide here with us as long as seemeth good 
to you, and share in all that is ours. Son Face-of-god, show 
these warriors to seats on the dais beside thee, and cherish them 
as well as thou knovvest how.' 

Then Face-of-god brought them up on to the dais and sat 
down on the right hand of his father, with Dallach on his right 
hand, and then Wolf-stone out from him ; then sat Stone-face, 
that there might be a man of the Dale to talk with them and 

224 



serve them; and on hi's right hand first Spcar-fist and then God- The Alder- 
swain. And when they were all sat down, and the meat was "J^n giycth 

on the board, Iron- face turned to his son Face-of-god and took ^^«-"*-goa 
... , 1 . 1 . 1 J ■ 1 -11 1 . c:oocl words. 

his hand, and said in a loud voice, so that many might hear him : ° 

' Son Facc-of-god, son Gold-mane, thou bearest with thee 
both ill luck and good. Erewhile, when thou wanderedst out 
into the Wild-wood, seeking thou knewest not what from out of 
the Land of Dreams, thou didst but bring aback to us grief 
and shame ; but now that thou hast gone forth with the neigh- 
bours seeking thy foemen, thou hast come aback to us with thine 
hands full of honour and joy for us, and we thank thee for thy 
gifts, and I call thee a lucky man. Herewith, kinsman, I drink 
to thee and the lasting of th}' luck.' 

Therewith he stood up and drank the health of the War- 
leader and the Guests : and all men were exceeding joyous 
thereat, when they called to mind his wrath at the Gate-thing, 
and they shouted for gladness as they drank that health, and 
the feast became exceeding merry in the House of the P'ace ; 
and as to the war to come, it seemed to them as if it were over 
and done in all triumph. 



CHAPTER XXX. HALL-FACE GOETH TOWARD ROSE- 
DALE. 

ON the morrow Face-of-god took counsel with Hall-face and 
Stone-face as to what were best to be done, and they sat on 
the dais in the Hall to talk it over. 
Short was the time that had worn since that day in Shadowy 
Vale, for it was but eight days since then ; yet so many thincrs 
had befallen in that time, and, to speak shortlv, the outlook tor 
the Burgdalers had changed so much, that the time seemed long to 
all the three, and especially to Face-of-god. 

It was yet twenty days till the Great Folk-mote should beholden, 

225 G G 



matters. 



Rede con- and to Hall-face the time seemed lonp; enough to do somewhat, 
cerning and he deemed it were good to gather force and fall on the Dusky 

Men in Rose-dale, since now they had gotten men who could lead 
them the nighest way and by the safest passes, and who knew all 
the ways of the foemen. But to Stone-face this rede seemed not 
so good ; for they would have to go and come back, and fight 
and conquer, in less time than twenty days, or be belated of the 
Folk-mote, and meanwhile much might happen. 

* For,' said Stone-face,' we may deem the fighting-menof Rose- 
dale to be little less than one thousand, and however we fall on them, 
even if it be unawares at first, they shall fight stubbornly ; so 
that we may not send against them many less than they be, and 
that shall strip Burgdale of its fighting-men, so that whatever 
befalls, we that be left shall have to bide at home.' 

Now was Face-of-god of the same mind as Stone-face ; and 
he said moreover : ' When we go to Rose-dale we must abide 
there a while unless we be overthrown. For if ye conquer it and 
come away at once, presently shall the tidings come to the ears 
of the Dusky Men in Silver-dale, and they shall join themselves 
to those of Rose-dale who have fled before you, and between 
them they shall destroy the unhappy people therein ; for ye can- 
not take them all away with you : and that shall they do all the 
more now, when they look to have new thralls in Burgdale, both 
men and women. And this we may not suifer, but must abide till 
we have met all our foemen and have overcome them, so that the 
poor folk there shall be safe from them till they have learned how 
to defend their dale. Now my rede is, that we send out the War- 
arrow at once up and down the Dale, and to the Shepherds and 
Woodlanders, and appoint a day for the Muster and Weapon- 
show of all our Folk, and that day to be the day before the 
Spring Market, that is to say, four days before the Great Folk- 
mote, and meantime that we keep sure watch about the border 
of the wood, and now and again scour the wood, so as to clear 
the Dale of their wandering bands.' 

226 



* Yea,' said Hall-face ; ' and I pray thee, brother, let me have Hall-facc to 
an hundred of men and thy Dallach, and let us go somewhat deep ■■''<^'' toward 
into the wood towards Rose-dale, and sec what we may come ^o''^-"^''"- 
across ; peradventurc it might be something better than hart or 
wild-swine.' 

Said F'ace-of-god : ' I see no harm therein, if Dallach gocth 
with thee freely ; for I will have no force put on him or any other 
of the Runaways. Yet meseemeth it were not ill for thee to find 
the road to Rose-dale ; for I have it in my mind to send a company 
thither to give those Rose-dale man-quellcrs somewhat to do at 
home when we fall upon Silver-dale. Therefore go find Dallach, 
and get thy men together at once ; for the sooner thou art gone 
on th}'^ way the better. But this I bid thee, go no further than 
three da3's out, that ye may be back home betimes.' 

At this word Hall-face's eyes gleamed with joy, and he went 
out from the Hall straightway and sought Dallach, and found him 
atthe Gate. Iron-face had given him a newsword,a good one, and 
had bidden him call it Thicket-clearer, and he would not leave 
it any moment of the day or night, but would lay it under his 
pillow at night as a child does with a new toy ; and now he was 
leaning against a buttress and drawing the said sword half out 
of the scabbard and poring over its blade, which was indeed fair 
enough, being wrought with dark grey waving lines like the eddies 
of the Weltering Water. 

So Hall-face greeted him, and smiled and said : 

* Guest, if thou wilt, thou may'st take that new blade of my 
father's work which thou lovest so, a journey which shall rejoice it.' 

' Yea,' said Dallach, ' I suppose that thou wouldest fare on 
thy brother's footsteps, and decmest that I am the man to lead 
thee on the road, and even f^irther than he went ; and though it 
might be thought by some that I have seen enough of Rose-dale 
and the parts thereabout for one while, yet will I go with thee ; 
for now am I a man again, body and soul.' 

And therewith he drew Thicket-clearer right out of his sheath 

227 



Hall face and waved him in the air. And Hall-face was glad of hiin 

comes back, and said he was well apaid of his help. So they went away to- 
gether to gather men, and on the morrow Hali-face departed 
and went into the Wild-wood with Dallach and an hundred and 
two score men. 

But as for Face-of-god, he fared up and down the Dale 
following the War-arrow, and went into all houses, and talked 
with the folk, both young and old, men and women, and told 
them closely all that had betid and all that was like to betide;, 
and he was well pleased with that which he saw and heard ; for all 
took his words well, and were nought afeard or dismayed by the 
tidings; and he saw that they would not hang aback. Mean- 
time the days wore, and Hall-face came not back till the seventh 
day, and he brought with him twelve more Runaways, of whom 
five were women. But he had lost four men, and had with him 
Dallach and five others of the Dalesmen borne upon litters sore 
hurt ; and this was his stcry : 

They got to the Burg of the Runaways on the forenoon of the 
third day, and thereby came on five carles of the Runaways — men 
who had missed meeting Dallach that other day, but knew what 
had been done ; for one of them had been sick and could not come 
with him, and he had told the others : so now they were hanging 
about the Burg of the Runaways hoping somewhat that he might 
come again ; and they met the Burgdalers full of joy, and brought 
them trouts that they had caught in the river. 

As for the other runaways, namel}', five women and two more 
carles — theyhad gotten them close to theentrance into Silver-dale, 
where by night and cloud they came en a campment of the Dusky 
Men, who were leading home these seven poor wretches, runaways 
whom they had caught, that the}' might slay them most evilly in 
Rose-stead. So Hall-face fell on the Dusky Men, and delivered 
their captives, but slew not all the foe, and they that fled brought 
pursuers on them who came up vi^ith them the next day, so near 
was Rose-dale, though they made all diligence homeward. The 

228 



Hur^dalcrs must needs turn and fight with those pursuers, and at Men slain 
last they dravc them aback so that they might go on their ways ^"d hurt, 
home. They let not the grass grow beneath their feet thereafter, 
till they were assured by meeting a band of the VVoodlanders, 
who had gone forth to help them, and with whom they rested a 
little. But neither so were they quite done with the foemen, who 
came upon them next day a ver}- many : these however the}' and 
the Woodlanders, who were all fresh and unwounded and very 
valiant, speedily put to the worse ; and so they came on to Burg- 
stead, leaving those of them who were sorest hurt to be tended by 
the Woodlanders at Carlstead, who, as might be looked for, deah 
with them very lovingly. 

It was in the first tight that they suffered that loss of slain and 
wounded ; and therein the newly delivered thralls fought valiantly 
against their masters : as for Dallach,it was no marvel, said Hall- 
face, that he was hurt ; but rather a marvel that he was not slain, 
so little he recked of point and edge, if he might but slay the 
foemen. 

Such was Hall-face's tale ; and Face-of-god deemed that he 
had done unwisely to let him go that journey ; for the slaying of 
a few Dusky Men was but a light gain to set against the loss of 
so many Burgdalers ; yet was he glad of the deliverance of those 
Runaways, and deemed it a gain indeed. But henceforth would 
he hold all still till he should have tidings of Folk-might; so 
nought was done thereafter save the warding of the Dale, from the 
country of the Shepherds to the Waste above the Eastern passes. 

But Face-of-god himself went up amongst the Shepherds, 
and abode with a goodman hight Hound-under-Greenbury, who 
gathered to him the folk from the country-side, and they went up 
on to Grcenbur}', and sat on the green grass while he spoke with 
them and told them, as he had told the others, what had been 
done and what should be done. And they heard him gladl}-, and 
he deemed that there would be no blenching in them, for they 
were all in one tale to live and die with their friends of Burgdale, 

229 



Face-of-god and they said that they would have no other word save that to 

speaketh with bear to the Great Folk-mote. 

t e ooc- g^ ]^g went away well-pleased, and he fared on thence to the 

Woodlanders, and guested at the house of a valiant man hight 
Wargrove, who on the morrow morn called the folk together to 
a green lawn of the Wild-wood, so that there was scarce a soul 
of them that was not there. Then he laid the whole matter be- 
fore them ; and if the Dalesmen had been merry and read}', and 
the Shepherds stout-hearted and friendly, yet were the Wood- 
landers more eager still, so that every hour seemed long to them 
till they stood in their war-gear ; and they told him that now at 
last was the hour drawing nigh which they had dreamed of, but 
had scarce dared to hope for, when the lost way should be found, 
and the crooked made straight, and that which had been broken 
should be mended ; that their meat and drink, and sleeping and 
waking, and all that they did were now become to them but the 
means of living till the day was come whereon the two remnants 
of the children of the Wolf should meet and become one Folk to 
live or die together. 

Then went Face-of-god back to Burgstead again, and as he 
stood anigh the Thing-stead once more, and looked down on the 
Dale as he had beheld it last autumn, he bethought him that with 
all that had been done and all that had been promised, the earth 
was clearing of her trouble, and that now there was nought betwixt 
him and the happy days of life which the Dale should give to the 
dwellers therein, save the gathering hosts of the battle-field and 
the day when the last word should be spoken and the first stroke 
smitten. So he went down on to the Portway well content. 

Thereafter till the day oi^ the Weapon-show there is nought to 
tell of, save that Dallach and the other wounded men began to 
grow whole again; and all men sat at home, or went on the 
woodland ward, expecting great tidings after the holding of 
the Folk-mote. 

2':.o 



CHAPTER XXXI. OF THE WEAPON-SHOW OF THE 
MEN OF BURGDALE AND THEIR NEIGHBOURS. 

N^ OW on the day appointed for the Weapon-show came the Men gather in 
Folk flock-meal to the great and wide meadow that was ''^^' rneadow. 
cleft by Wildlake as it ran to join the Welterina Water. 
Early in the morning, even before sunrise, had the wains full of 
women and children begun to come thither. Also there came 
little horses and asses from the Shepherd country with one or two 
or three damsels or children sitting on each, and by wain-side or 
by beast strode the men of the house, merry and fair in their war- 
gear. The Woodlanders, moreover, man and woman, elder and 
swain and young damsel, streamed oat of the wood from Carl- 
stead, eager to make the day begin before the sunrise, and end be- 
fore his setting. 

Then all men fell to pitching of tents and tilting over of wains ; 
for the April sun was hot in the Dale, and when he arose the 
meads were gay with more than the spring flowers ; for the tents 
and the tilts were stained and broidcred with many colours, and 
there was none who had not furbished up his war-gear so that 
all shone and glittered. And many wore gay surcoats over their 
armour, and the women were clad in all their bravery, and the 
Housesmostly of a suit; for one bore blue and another corn-colour, 
and another green, and another brazil, and so forth, and all gleam- 
ing and glowing with broidery of gold and bright hues. But the 
women of tlie Shepherds were all clad in white, embroidered with 
green boughs and red blossoms, and the Woodland women wore 
dark red kirtles. Moreover, the women had set garlands of flowers 
on their heads and the helms of the men, and for the most part 
they were slim of body and tall and light-limbed, and as dainty 
to look upon as the willow-boughs that waved on the brook-side. 

Thither had the goodmen who were guesting the Runaways 
brought their guests, even now much bettered by their new soft 
days ; and much the poor folk marvelled at all tliis joyance, and 

231 



they scarce knew where they were ; but to some it brought back 
to their minds days of joyance before the thralldom and all that 
they had lost, so that their hearts were heavy a while, till the\' saw 
the warriors of the kindreds streaming into the mead and bethought 
them why they carried steel. 

Now b}'' then the sun was full}' up there was a great throng on 
the Portway, and this was the folk of the Burg on their way to 
the Weapon-mead. The men-at-arms were in the midst of the 
throng, and at the head of them was the War-leader, with the 
banner of the Face before him, wherein was done the image of the 
God with the ray-ringed head. But at the rearward of the warriors 
went the Alderman and the Burg-wardens, before whom was borne 
the banner of the Burg pictured with the Gate and its Towers; 
but in the midst betwixt those two was the banner of the Steer, 
a white beast on a green field. 

So when the Dale-wardens who were down in the meadow heard 
the music and beheld who were coming, they bade the companies 
of the Dale and the Shepherds and the Woodlanders who were 
down there to pitch their banners in a half circle about the ingle 
of the meadow which was made by the streams of Wildlake and 
the Weltering Water, and gather to them to be ordered there 
under their leaders of scores and half-hundreds and hundreds ; and 
even so they did. But the banners of the Dale without the Burg 
were the Bridge, and the Bull, and the Vine, and the Sickle. And 
theShepherds had three banners, towitGreenbury, and the Fleece, 
and the Thorn. 

As for the Woodlanders, they said that the}' were abiding their 
great banner, but it should come in good time ; ' and meantime,' 
said they, ' here are the war-tokens that we shall fight under ; for 
they are good enough banners for us poor men, the remnant of the 
valiant of time past.' Therewith they showed two great spears, 
and athwart the one was tied an arrow, its point dipped in blood, 
its feathers singed with fire ; and they said, ' This is the banner 
of the War-shaft.' 

232 



On the other spear there was nought ; but the head thereof The War- 
was great and long, and they had so burnished the steel that the '^"ader taketh 
sun smote out a ray of light from it, so that it might be seen from ^^^^' 
afar. And they said : 'This is the Banner of the Spear I Down 
\ onder where the ravens arc gathering ye shall see a banner fly- 
ing over us. There shall fall man}' a mother's sen.' 

Smiled the Dale-wardens, and said that these were good ban- 
ners to fight under ; and those that stood nearby shouted for the 
\ aliancy of the Woodland Carles. 

Now the Dale-wardens went to the entrance from the Portway 
to the meadow, and there met the Men of the Burg, and two of 
them went one on either side of the War-leader to show him to 
his seat, and the others abode till the Alderman and Burcr-war- 
dens came up, and then joined themselves to them, and the horns 
blew up both in the meadow and on the road, and the new-comers 
went their ways to their appointed places amidst the shouts of the 
Dalesmen ; and the women and children and old men from the 
Burg followed after, till all the mead was covered with bright 
raiment and glittering gear, save within the ring of men at the 
further end. 

So came the War-leader to his seat of green turf raised in the 
ngle aforesaid ; and he stood beside it till the Alderman and War- 
ions had taken their places on a seat behind him raised higher 
than his ; below him on the step of his scat sat the Scrivener 
with his pen and ink-horn and scroll of parchment, and men had 
brought him a smooth shield whereon to write. 

On the left side of Face-of-god stood the men of the Face 
all glittering in their arms, and amongst them were Wolf-stone 
and his two fellows, but Dallach was not yet whole of his hurts. 
On his right were the folk of the House of the Steer : the leader 
of that House was an old white-bearded man, grandfather of the 
Bride, for her father was dead ; and who but the Bride herself 
stood beside him in her glorious war-gear, looking as if she were 
new come from the City of the Gods, thought most men ; but 

233 H H 



The War- those who beheld her closely deemed that she looked heavy-eyed 
leader and haggard, as if she were aweary. Nevertheless, wheresoever 

speaketh. ^j^^ passed, and whosoever looked on her (and all men looked on 

her), there arose a murmur of praise and love ; and the women, 
and especially the young ones, said how fair her deed was, and 
how meet she was for it ; and some of them were for doing on 
war-gear and faring to battle with the carles ; and of these some 
were sober and solemn, as was well seen afterwards, and some 
spake lightly : some also fell to boasting of how they could run 
and climb and swim and shoot in the bow, and fell to baring of 
their arms to show how strong they were : and indeed they were 
no weaklings, though their arms were fair. 

There then stood the ring of men, each company under its 
banner ; and beyond them stood the women and children and 
men unmeet for battle ; and be3'ond them again the tilted wains 
and the tents. 

Now Face-of-god sat him down on the turf-seat with his bright 
helm on his head and his naked sword across his knees, while 
the horns blew up loudly, and when they had done, the elder of 
the Dale-wardens cried out for silence. Then again arose Face- 
of-god and said : 

' Men of the Dale, and ye friends of the Shepherds, and ye, O 
valiant Woodlanders ; we are not assembled here to take coun- 
sel, for in three days' time shall the Great Folk-mote be holden, 
whereat shall be counsel enough. But since I have been ap- 
pointed your Chief and War-leader, till such time as the Folk- 
rnote shall either yeasay or naysay my leadership, I have sent 
for you that we may look each other in the face and number our 
host and behold our weapons, and see if we be meet for battle and 
for the dealing with a great host of foemen. For now no longer 
can it be said that we are going to war, but rather that war is 
on our borders, and we are blended with it ; as many have learned 
to their cost ; for some have been slain and some sorely hurt. 
Therefore I bid you now, all ye that are weaponed, wend past us 

234 



that the tale of you may be taken. But first let every hundred- The Steer, 

leader and half-hundred-Icadcr and score-leader make sure that '''^ Bridge, 

he hath his tale aright, and give his word to the captain of his ^ , , ' . 

, Hnd tlie Vine 

banner that he in turn ma}' give it out to the Scrivener with his 

name and the House and Company that he leadcth.' 

So he spake and sat him adown ; and the horns blew again in 
token that the companies should go past ; and the first that came 
was Hall-ward of the House of the Steer, and the first of those 
that went after him was the Bride, going as if she were his son. 

So he cried out his name, and the name of his House, and said, 
'An hundred and a half,' and passed forth, his men following 
him in most goodly array. Each man was girt with a good sword 
and bore a long heavy spear over his shoulder, save a score who 
bare bows; and no man lacked a helm, a shield, and a coat offence. 

Then came a goodly man of thirty winters, and stayed before 
the Scrivener and cried out : 

' Write down the House of the Bridge of the Upper Dale at 
one hundred, and War-well their leader.' 

And he strode on, and his men followed clad and weaponed 
like those of the Steer, save that some had axes hanging to their 
girdles instead of swords ; and most bore casting-spears instead of 
the long spears, and half a score were bowmen. 

Then came Fox of Upton leading the men of the Bull of Mid- 
dale, an hundred and a half lacking two; very great and tall were 
his men, and they also bore long spears, and one score and two 
were bowmen. 

Then Fork-beard of Lea, a man well on in j'ears, led on the 
men of the Vine, an hundred and a half and five men thereto; 
two score of them bare bow in hand and were girt with sword ; 
the rest bore their swords naked in their right hands, and their 
shields (which were but small bucklers) hanging at their backs, 
and in the left hand each bore two casting-spears. W^ith these 
went two doughty women-at-arms among the bowmen, tall and 
well-knit, already growing brown with the spring sun, for their 

235 



The Sickle, work lay among the stocks of the vines on the southvvard-look- 

the Face, and jng bents. 

Gieenbury Next came a tall young man, yellow-haired, with a thin red 

°° ^* beard, and gave himself out for Red-beard of the Knolls; he bore 

his father's name, as the custom of their house was, but the old 
man, who had long been head man of the House of the Sickle, was 
late dead in his bed, and the young man had not seen twenty 
winters. He bade the Scrivener write the tale of the Men of the 
Sickle at an hundred and a half, and his folk fared past the War- 
leader joyously, being one half of them bowmen; and fell shooters 
they were ; the other half were girt with swords, and bore withal 
long ashen staves armed with great blades curved inwards, which 
weapon they called heft-sax. 

All these bands, as the name and the tale of them was declared 
were greeted with loud shouts from their fellows and the by- 
standers ; but now arose a greater shout still, as Stone-face, clad 
in goodly glittering array, came forth and said : 

* I am Stone-face of the House of the Face, and I bring with 
me two hundreds of men with their best war-gear and weapons : 
write it down. Scrivener ! ' 

And he strode on like a young man after those who had gone 
past, and after him came the tall Hall-face and his men, a gallant 
si jht to see : two score bowmen girt with swords, and the others 
with naked swords waving aloft, and each bearing two casting- 
spears in his left hand. 

Then came a man of middle age, broad-shouldered, yellow- 
haired, blue-eyed, of wide and ruddy countenance, and after him 
a goodly company ; and again great was the shout that went up 
to the heavens ; for he said : 

' Scrivener, write down that Hound-under-Greenbury, from 
amongst the dwellers in the hills where the sheep feed, leadeth the 
men who go under the banner of Greenbury, to the tale of an 
hundred and four score.' 

Therewith he passed on, and his men followed, stout, stark, 

236 



and merry-faced, girt with swords, and bearing over their shoul- Now go by 
ders long-staved axes, and spears not so long as those which ''^e Fleece, 
the Dalesmen bore : and they had but a half score of arrow- shot \ T.r"' 
with them. ,,,3^^^ ^^j 

Next came a young man, blue-eyed also, with hair the colour the Spear, 
of flax on the distaff, broad-faced and short-nosed, low of stature, 
but vcr}' strong-built, who cried out in a loud, cheerful voice : 

' I am Strongitharm of the Shepherds, and these valiant men 
are of the Fleece and the Thorn blended together, for so thc3' would 
have it ; and their tale is one hundred and two score and ten.' 

Then the men of those kindreds went past merry and shouting, 
and they were clad and weaponed like to them of Greenburv, but 
had with them a score of bowmen. And all these Shepherd-folk 
wore over their hauberks white woollen surcoats broidcred with 
green and red. 

Now again uprose the crj-, and there stood before the War- 
leader a very tall man of fifty winters, dark-faced and grcy-e3'ed, 
and he spake slowly and somewhat softly, and said : 

' War-leader, this is Red-wolf of the W^oodlanders leading the 
men who go under the sign of the War-shaft, to the number of 
an hundred and two.' 

Then he passed on, and his men after him, tall, lean, and silent 
amidst the shouting. All these men bare bows, for they were 
keen hunters ; each had at his girdle a little axe and a wood- 
knife, and some had long swords withal. They wore, ever3-onc 
of the carles, sliort green surcoats over their coats oi^ fence ; but 
amongst them were three women who bore like weapons to the 
men, but were clad in red kirtles under their hauberks, which 
were of good ring-mail gleaming over them from throat to knee. 

Last came another tall man, but j^oung, of twcntv-five winters, 
and spake : 

' Scrivener, I am Bears-bane of the Woodlanders, and these 
that come after me wend under the sign of the Spear, and the}- are 
of the tale of one hundred and seven.' 

237 



The tale of And he passed by at once, and his men followed him, clad and 

the Fighting- weaponed no otherwise than they of the War-shaft, and with 
'"^"* them were two women. 

Now went all those companies back to their banners, and stood 
there ; and there arose among the bystanders much talk concern- 
ing the Weapon-show, and who were the best arrayed of the 
Houses. And of the old men, some spake of past weapon-shows 
which they had seen in their youth, and they set them beside this 
one, and praised and blamed. So it went on a little while till 
the horns blew again, and once more there was silence. Then 
arose Face-of-god and said : 

' Men of Burgdale, and ye Shepherd-folk, and ye of the 
Woodland, now shall ye wot how many weaponed men we may 
bring together for this war. Scrivener, arise and give forth the 
tale of the companies, as they have been told unto you.' 

Then the Scrivener stood up on the turf-bench beside Face-of- 
god, and spake in a loud voice, reading from his scroll : 

' Of the Men of Burgdale there have passed by me nine hun- 
dreds and six ; of the Shepherds three hundreds and eight and ten ; 
and of the Woodlanders two hundreds and nine ; so that all told 
our men are fourteen hundreds and thirty and three.' 

Now in those days men reckoned by long hundreds, so that 
the whole tale of the host was one thousand, five hundred, and 
four score and one, telling the tale in short hundreds. 

When the tale had been given forth and heard, men shouted 
again, and they rejoiced that they were so many. For it exceeded 
the reckoning which the Alderman had given out at the Gate- 
thing. But Face-of-god said : 

' Neighbours, we have held our Weapon-show ; but now hold 
you ready, each man, for tlie Hosting toward very battle ; for 
belike within seven days shall the leaders of hundreds and twenties 
summon you to be ready in arms to take whatso fortune may be- 
fall. Now is sundered the Weapon-show. Be ye as merry to- 
day as your hearts bid you to be.' 

238 



Therewith he came down from his scat with the Alderman and TheWeapon- 
the Wardens, and they mingled with the good folk of the Dale ^'lo^ sun- 
and the Shepherds and the \\'oodlandcrs, and merry was their "'^'^'-''"• 
converse there. It yet lacked an hour of noon ; so presently they 
fell to and feasted in the green meadow, drinking from wain to 
wain and from tent to tent ; and thereafter they played and 
sported in the meads, shooting at the butts and wrestling, and 
trying other masteries. Then they fell to dancing one and all, 
and so at last to supper on the green grass in great merriment. 
Nor might you have known from the demeanour of any that any 
threat of evil overhung the Dale. Nay, so glad were the}', and 
so friendly, that you might rather have deemed that this was the 
land whereof tales tell, wherein people die not, but live for ever, 
without growing any older than when the}' first come thither, 
unless they be born into the land itself, and then they grow into 
fair manhood, and so abide. In sooth, both tlie land and the folk 
■were fair enough to be that land and the folk thereof. 

But a little after sunset they sundered, and some fared home ; 
but many of them abode in the tents and tilted wains, because 
the morrow w'as the first da}' of the Spring Market : and already 
were some of the W^cstland chapmen come ; yea, two of them 
were w'ith the bystanders in the meadow ; and more were looked 
for ere the night was far spent. 



CHAPTER XXXII. THE MEN OF SHADOWY VALE COME 
TO THE SPRING MARKET AT RURGSTEAD. 

ON the morrow betimes in the morning the Westland chap- 
men, who were now all come, went out from the House 
of the F'ace, where they were ever wont to be lodged, and 
set up their booths adown the street betwixt gate and bridge. 
Gay was the show ; for the booths were tilted over with painted 
cloths, and the merchants themselves were clad in long gowns of 

239 



their wares 



The Chap- fine cloth ; scarlet, and blue, and white, and green, and black, 
men and with broidered welts of gold and silver ; and their knaves were 

gaily attired in short coats of divers hues, with silver rings about 
their arms, and short swords girt to their sides. People began 
to gather about these chapmen at once when they fell to opening 
their bales and their packs, and unloading their wains. There 
had they iron, both in pigs and forged scrap and nails ; steel 
they had, and silver, both in ingots and vessel ; pearls from over 
sea ; cinnabar and other colours for staining, such as were not in 
the mountains : madder from the marshes, and purple of the sea, 
and scarlet grain from the holm-oaks by its edge, and woad from 
the deep clayey fields of the plain ; silken thread also from the 
outer ocean, and rare webs of silk, and jars of olive oil, and fine 
pottery, and scented woods, and sugar of the cane. But gold they 
had none with them, for that they took there; and for weapons, 
save a few silver-gilt toys, they had no market. 

So presently they fell to chaffer ; for the carles brought them 
little bags of the river-borne gold, so that the weights and scales 
were at work ; others had with them scrolls and tallies to tell the 
number of the beasts which they had to sell, and the chapmen 
gave them wares therefor without beholding the beasts ; for they 
wotted that the Dalesmen lied not in chaffer. While the day 
was yet young withal came the Dalesmen from the mid and 
nether Dale with their wares and set up their booths ; and they 
had with them flasks and kegs of the wine which they had to sell ; 
and bales of the good winter-woven cloth, some grey, some dyed, 
and pieces of fine linen ; and blades of swords, and knives, and 
axes of such fashion as the Westland men used ; and golden 
cups and chains, and fair rings set with mountain-blue stones, 
and copper bowls, and vessels gilt and parcel-gilt, and mountain- 
blue for staining. There were men of the Shepherds also with 
such fleeces as they could spare from the daily chaffer with the 
neighbours. And of the Woodlanders were four carles and a 
woman with peltries and dressed deer-skins, and a few pieces 

240 



of well-carvcn wood-work for bedsteads and chairs and such The market 
like. openeth. 

Soon was the Burg thronged with folk in all its open places, and 
all were cac;er and merry, and it could not have been told from 
their demeanour and countenance that the shadow of a grievous 
trouble hung over them. True it was that every man of the 
Dale and the neighbours was girt with his sword, or bore spear 
or axe or other weapon in his hand, and that most had their 
bucklers at their backs and their helms on their heads ; but this 
was ever their custom at all meetings of men, not because they 
dreaded war or were fain of strife, but in token that they were 
free men, from whom none should take the weapons without battle. 

Such were the folk of the land : as for the chapmen, they were 
well-spoken and courteous, and blithe with the folk, as they well 
might be, for they had good pennyworths of them ; yet they dealt 
with them without using measureless lying, as behoved folk deal- 
ing with simple and proud people ; and many was the tale they 
told of the tidings of the Cities and the Plain. 

There amongst the throng was the Bride in her maiden's 
attire, but girt with the sword, going from booth to booth with 
her guests of the Runaways, and doing those poor people what 
pleasure she might, and giving them gifts from the goods there, 
such as they set their hearts on. And the more part of the Run- 
awa3'S were about among the people of the Fair; but Dallach, 
being still weak, sat on a bench by the door of the House of the 
Face looking on well-pleased at all the stir of folk. 

Hall-face was gone on the woodland ward ; while Face-of- 
god went among the folk in his most glorious attire ; but he soon 
betook him to the place of meeting without the Gate, where 
Stone-face and some of the elders were sitting alono- with the 
Alderman, beside whom sat the head man of the merchants, clad 
in a gown of fine scarlet embroidered with the best work of the 
Dale, with a golden chaplet on his head, and a good sword, 
golden-hilted, by his side, all which the Alderman had given to 

241 II 



The chiefs sit him that morning. These chiefs were talking together concerning 
in th6 Gate the tidings of the Plain, and many a tale the guest told to the 
and talk. Dalesmen, some true, some false. For there had been battles 

down there, and the fall of kings, and destruction of people, as 
oft befalleth in the guileful Cities. He told them also, in answer 
to their story of the Dusky Men, of how men even such-like, but 
riding on horses, or drawn in wains, an host not to be numbered, 
had erewhile overthrown the hosts of the Cities of the Plain, and 
had wrought evils scarce to be told of; and how they had piled up 
the skulls of slaughtered folk into great hills beside the cit^'-gates, 
so that the sun might no longer shine into the streets; and how 
because of the death and the rapine, grass had grown in the 
kings' chambers, and the wolves had chased deer in the Temples 
of the Gods. 

* But,' quoth he, * I know you, bold tillers of the soil, valiant 
scourers of the Wild-wood, that the worst that can befall you will 
be to die under shield, and that ye shall suffer no torment of the 
thrall. May the undying Gods bless the threshold of this Gate, 
and oft may I come hither to taste of your kindness ! May your 
race, the uncorrupt, increase and multiply, till your valiant men 
and clean maidens make the bitter sweet and purify the earth ! ' 
He spake smooth-tongued and smiling, handling the while the 
folds of his fine scarlet gown, and belike he meant a full half of 
what he said ; for he was a man very eloquent of speech, and had 
spoken with kings, uncowed and pleased with his speaking ; 
and for that cause and his riches had he been made chief of the 
chapmen. As he spake the heart of Face-of-god swelled within 
him, and his cheek flushed ; but Iron-face sat up straight and proud, 
and a light smile played about his face, as he said gravely : 

' Friend of the Westland, I thank thee for the blessing and the 
kind word. Such as we are, we are ; nor do I deem that the very 
Gods shall change us. And if they will be our friends, it is well ; 
for we desire nought of them save their friendship ; and if they 
will be our foes, that also shall we bear ; nor will we curse them for 

242 



-doing that which their lives bid them to do. What sayest thou, They hear a 
Face-of-god, my son ? ' horn windo-d. 

' Yea, father,' said Face-of-god, ' I say that the very Gods, 
though they slay me, cannot unmake my life that has been. If 
thev do deeds, 3et shall we also do.' 

The Outlander smiled as they spake, and bowed his head to 
Iron-face and Face-of-god, and wondered at their pride of heart, 
marvelling what they would sa}' to the great men of the Cities if 
the}' should meet them. 

But as they sat a-taiking, there came two men running to them 
from the Portway, their weapons all clattering upon them, and 
they heard withal the sound of a horn winded not far off very loud 
and clear ; and the Chapman's cheek paled : for in sooth he 
doubted that war was at hand, after all he had heard of the 
Dalesmen's dealings with the Dusky Men. And all battle was 
loathsome to him, nor for all the gain of his chaffer had he come 
into the Dale, had he known that war was looked for. 

But the chiefs of the Dalesmen stirred not, nor changed coun- 
tenance ; and some of the goodmen who were in the street nigh 
the Gate came forth to see what was toward^ for they also had 
heard the voice of the horn. 

Then one of those messengers came up breathless, and stood 
before the chiefs, and said : 

* New tidings. Alderman ; here be weaponed strangers come 
into the Dale ? ' 

The Alderman smiled on him and said : 'Yea, son, and are 
they a great host of men ? ' 

' Nay,' said the man, ' not above a score as I deem, and there 
is a woman with them.' 

' Then shall we abide them here,' said the Alderman, ' and 
thou mightest have saved thy breath, and suffered them to bring 
tidings of themselves ; since the}- may scarce bring us war. For 
no man dcsircth certain and present death ; and that is all that 
:3uch a band may win at our hands in battle to-day ; and all who 

243 



Gate. 



Strangers come in peace are welcome to us. What like are they to be- 

come to the hold ? ' 

Said the man : ' They are tall men gloriously attired, so that 
they seem like kinsmen of the Gods ; and they bear flowering 
boughs in their hands.' 

The Alderman laughed, and said : * If they be Gods they are 
welcome indeed ; and they shall grow the wiser for their coming ; 
for they shall learn how guest-fain the Burgdale men may be. 
But if, as I deem, they be like unto us, and but the children of 
the Gods, then are they as welcome, and it may be more so, and 
our greeting to them shall be as their greeting to us would be.' 

Even as he spake the horn was winded nearer yet, and more 
loudly, and folk came pouring out of the Gate to learn the tidings. 
Presently the strangers came from off the Portway into the space 
before the Gate; and their leader was a tall and goodly man of some 
thirty winters, in glorious array, helm on head and sword by side, 
his surcoat green and flowery like the spring meads. In his right 
hand he held a branch of the blossomed black-thorn (for some 
was yet in blossom), and his left had hold of the hand of an ex- 
ceeding fair woman who went beside him : behind him was a 
score of weaponed men in goodly attire, some bearing bows, some 
long spears, but each bearing a flowering bough in hand. 

The tall man stopped in the midst of the space, and the Alder- 
man and they with him stirred not ; though, as for Face-of-god, 
it was to him as if summer had come suddenly into the midst of 
winter, and for the very sweetness of delight his face grew pale. 

Then the new-comer drew nigh to the Alderman and said : 

* Hail to the Gate and the men of the Gate ! Hail to the kin- 
dred of the children of the Gods ! ' 

But the Alderman stood up and spake : * And hail to thee, 
tall man ! Fair greeting to thee and thy company ! Wilt thou 
name thyself with thine own name, or shall I call thee nought 
save Guest ? Welcome art thou, by whatsoever name thou wilt 
be called. Here may'st thou and thy folk abide as long as ye will. ^ 

244 



Said the new-comer : * Thanks have thou for thy greeting Folk-might 
and for thy bidding! And that bidding shall we take, what- would give up 
soever may come o\' it; for we are minded to abide with thee for sword. 
a while. But know thou, O Alderman of the Dalesmen, that I 
am not sackless toward thee and thine. My name is Folk-might 
of the Children of the Wolf, and this woman is the Sun-beam, 
my sister, and these behind me are of my kindred, and are well 
beloved and trusty. We are no evil men or wrong-doers ; yet 
have we been driven into sore straits, wherein men must needs 
at whiles do deeds that make their friends few and their foes 
many. So it may be that I am thy foeman. Yet, if thou 
doubtest of me that I shall be a baneful guest, thou shalt have 
our weapons of us, and then mayest thou do thy will upon us 
without dread ; and here first of all is my sword ! ' 

Therewith he cast down the flowering branch he was bearing, 
and pulled his sword from out his sheath, and took it by the point, 
and held out the hilt to Iron-face. 

But the Alderman smiled kindly on him and said : 

' The blade is a good one, and I say it who know the craft of 
sword-forging ; but I need it not, for thou scest I have a sword 
b}' my side. Keep your weapons, one and all ; for ye have come 
amongst many and those no weaklings: and if so be that thy guilt 
against us is so great that we must needs fall on you, ye will 
need all your war-gear. But hereof is no need to speak till the 
time ot the Folk-mote, which will be holden in three days' wear- 
ing ; so let us forbear this matter till then ; for I deem we shall 
have enough to sa}- of other matters. Now, Folk-might, sit down 
beside me, and thou also. Sun-beam, fairest of women.' 

Therewith he looked into her face and reddened, and said : 

' Yet belike thou hast a word of greeting for my son, Face-of- 
god, unless it be so that ye have not seen him before ? ' 

Then Face-of-god came forward, and took Folk-might by the 
hand and kissed him ; and he stood before the Sun-beam and 
took her hand, and the world waxed a wonder to him as he kissed 

245 



her cheeks ; and in no wise did she change countenance, save that 
her eyes softened, and she gazed at him full kindly from the happi- 
ness of her soul. 

Then Face-of-god said: * Welcome, Guests, who erewhile 
guestedmesowell: nowbeginneth the dayof your well-doingto the 
men of Burgdale ; th e refore will we do to you as well as we may.' 

Then Folk-might and the Sun-beam sat them down with the 
chieftains, one on either side of the Alderman, but Face-of-god 
passed forth to the others, and greeted them one by one : of them 
was Wood-father and his three sons, and Bow-may ; and they 
rejoiced exceedingly to see him, and Bow-may said : 

' Now it gladdens my heart to look upon thee alive and thriving^ 
and to remember that day last winter when I met thee on the snow, 
and turned thee back from the perilous path to thy pleasure,, 
which the Dusky Men were besetting, of whom thou knewest 
nought. Yea, it was merry that tide ; but this is better. Nay, 
friend,' she said, ' it availeth thee nought to strive to look out 
of the back of thine head : let it be enough to thee that she is 
there. Thou art now become a great chieftain, and she is no 
less ; and this is a meeting of chieftains, and the folk are look- 
ing on and expecting demeanour of them as of the Gods ; and 
she is not to be dealt with as if she were the daughter of some 
little goodman with whom one hath made tr3St in the meadcvv'S. 
There ! hearken to me for a while ; at least till I tell thee that 
thou seemest to me to hold thine head higher than when last I 
saw thee ; though that is no long time either. Hast thou been 
in battle again since that day?' 

* Nay,' he said, * I have stricken no stroke since I slew two 
felons within the same hour that we parted. And thou, sister, 
what hast thou done ? ' 

She said : ' The grey goose hath been on the wing thrice since 
that, bearing on it the bane of evil things.' 

Then said Wood-wise : ' Kinswoman, tell him of that battle, 
since thou art deft with thy tongue.' 

246 



She said : * Weary on battles ! it is nought save this : twelve She telleth 
days agone needs must every fighting-man of the Wolf, carle or of another 
queen, wend away from Shadowy \ ale, while those unmeet for ^^' • 
battle we hid aw'av in the caves at the nether end of the Dale : 
but Sun-beam would not endure that night, and fared with us, 
though she handled no weapon. All this w^e had to do because 
we had learned that a great company of the Dusky Men were 
over-nigh to our Dale, and needs must we fall upon them, lest 
they should learn too much, and spread the stor}-. W^ell, so wise 
was Folk-might that we came on them unawares by night and 
cloud at the edge of the Pine-wood, and but one of our men was 
slain, and of them not one escaped ; and when the fight w-as over 
we counted four score and ten of their arm-rings.' 

He said : ' Did that or aught else come of our meeting with 
them that morning ? ' 

' Nay,' she said, ' nought came of it : those w-e slew were but 
a stra^'ing band. Na^', the four score and ten slain in the Pine- 
wood knew not of Shadowy Vale belike, and had no intent for 
it : they were but scouring the wood seeking their warriors that 
had gone out from Silver-dale and came not aback.' 

' '1 hou art wise in war, Bow-may,' said Face-of-god, and he 
smiled withal. 

Bow-may reddened and said : ' Friend Gold-mane, dost thou 
perchance deem that there is aught ill in my warring ? And the 
Sun-beam, she naysayeth the bearing of weapons ; though I deem 
that she hath little fear of them when they come her way.' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Na}^ I deem no ill of it, but much good. 
For I suppose that thou hast learned overmuch of the wont of 
the Dusky Men, and hast seen their thralls? ' 

She knitted her brows, and all the merriment went out of her 
face at that word, and she answered : * Yea, thou hast it ; for I 
have both seen their thralls and been in the Dale of thralldom ; 
and how then can I do less than I do ? But for thee, I perceive 
that thou hast been nigh unto our foes and hast fallen in with 

247 



through 
the Gate 



Face-of-god their thralls ; and that is well ; for whatso tales we had told thee 
would lead thereof it is like thou wouldst not have trowed in, as now thou 
the Guests must do, since thou thyself hast seen these poor folk. But now 
I will tell thee, Gold-mane, that my soul is sick of these comings 
and goings for the slaughter of a few wretches ; and I long for 
the Great Day of Battle, when it will be seen whether we shall 
live or die; and though I laugh and jest, yet doth the wearing 
of the days wear me.' 

He looked kindly on her and said : * I am War-leader of this 
Folk, and trust me that the waiting-tide shall not be long ; where- 
fore now, sister, be merry to-day, for that is but meet and right ; 
and cast aside thy care, for presentl}' shalt thou behold many new 
friends. But now meseemeth overlong have ye been standing 
before our Gate, and it is time that ye should see the inside of 
our Burg and the inside of our House.' 

Indeed by this time so many men had come out of the street 
that the place before the Gate was all thronged, and from where 
he stood Face-of-god could scarce see his father, or Folk-might 
and the Sun-beam and the chieftains. 

So he took Wood-father by the hand, and close behind him 
came Wood-wise and Bow-may, and he cried out for wa}' that 
he might speak with the Alderman, and men gave way to them, 
and he led those new-comers close up to the gate-seats of the 
Elders, and as he clove the press smiling and bright-eyed and 
happy, all gazed on him ; but the Sun-beam, who was sitting 
between Iron-face and the Westland Chapman, and who hereto- 
fore had been agaze with eyes beholding little, past whose ears 
the words went unheard, and whose mind wandered into thoughts 
of things unfashioned j-et, when she beheld him close to her again, 
then, taken unawares, her ej^es caressed him, and she turned as 
red as a rose, as she felt all the sweetness of desire go forth from 
her to meet him. So that, he perceiving it, his voice was the 
clearer and sweeter for the inward joy he felt, as he said : 

* Alderman, meseemeth it is now time that we bring our Guests 

248 



into the House of our Fathers ; for since they are in warlike array, The Alder- 

and we are no longer living in peace, and I am now War-leader '"^n biddeth 

of the Dale, I deem it but meet that I should have the guestina ^'^'^ Guests to 

enter into tii^ 

of them. Moreover, when we are come into our House, I will f,-,^^^ 
bid thee look into thy treasury, that thou may'st find tliercin 
somewhat which it ma}' pleasure us to give to our Guests.' 

Said Iron-face : 'Thou sayest well, son, and since the day is 
now worn past noon, and these folk are but just come from the 
Waste, therefore such as we have of meat and drink abideth them. 
And surely there is within our house a coffer which belongeth to 
thee and me ; and forsooth I know not why we keep the treasures 
hoarded therein, save that it be for this cause : that if we were 
to give to our friends that which we ourselves use and love, which 
would be of all things pleasant to us, if we gave them such 
goods, they would be worn and worsened b}' our use of them. 
For this reason, therefore, do we keep fair things which we use 
not, so that we may give them to our friends. 

' Now, Guests, both of the Waste and the Wcstland, since 
here is no Gate-thing or meeting of the Dale-wardens, and we 
sit here but for our pleasure, let us go take our pleasure within 
doors for a while, if it seem good to you.' 

Therewith he arose, and the folk made way for him and his 
Guests ; and Folk-might went on the right hand of Iron-face, and 
beside him went the Chapman, who looked on him with a half- 
smile, as though he knew somewhat of him. But on the other 
side of Iron-face went the Sun-beam, whose hand he held, and 
after these came Face-of-god, leading in the rest of the New- 
comers, who j-et held the flowery branches in their hands. 

Now so much had Face-of-god told the Dalesmen, that they 
deemed they all knew these men for their battle-fellows of whom 
they had heard tell ; and this the more as the men were so goodly 
and manly of aspect, especially Folk-might, so that they seemed as 
if they were nigh akin to the Gods. As for the Sun-beam, they 
knew not how to praise her beauty enough, but they said that 

249 K K 



The Bride they had never known before how fair the Gods might be. So 
beholdeth the they raised a great shout of welcome as the men came through 
Sun-beam. ^.j^^ q^^^ ^^^^ ^j^^ Burg, and all men turned their backs on the 
booths, so eager were they to behold closely these new friends. 

But as the Guests went from the Gate to the House of the 
Face, going very slowly because of the press, there in the front 
of the throng stood the Bride with the women of the Runaways, 
whom she had caused to be clad very fairly ; and she was fain to 
do them a pleasure by bringing them to sight of these new-comers, 
of whom she had not heard who they were, though she had heard 
the cry that strangers were at hand. So there she stood smiling 
a little with the pleasure of showing a fair sight to the poor 
people, as folk do with children. But when she saw those twain 
going on each side of the Alderman she knew them at once ; 
and when the Sun-beam, who was on his left side, passed so close 
to her that she could see the very smoothness and dainty fashion 
of her skin, then was she astonied, and the world seemed strange 
to her, and till they were gone by, and for a while afterwards, she 
knew not where she was nor what she did, though it seemed to 
her as if she still saw the face of that fair woman as in a picture. 
But the Sun-beam had noted her at first, even amongst the fair 
women of Burgstead, and she so steady and bright beside the 
wandering timorous eyes and lowering faces of the thralls. But 
suddenly, as eye met eye, she saw her face change ; she saw 
her cheek whiten, her eyes stare, and her lips quiver, and she 
knew at once who it was ; for she had not seen her before as 
Folk-might had. Then the Sun-beam cast her eyes adown, lest 
her compassion might show in her face, and be a fresh grief to 
her that had lost the wedding and the love ; and so she passed on. 
As for Folk-might, he had seen her at once amongst all that 
folk as he came into the street, and in sooth he was looking for 
her ; and when he saw her face change, as the sight of the Sun- 
beam smote upon her heart, his own face burned with shame and 
anger, and he looked back at her as he went toward the House. 

250 



But she saw him not, nor noted him ; and none deemed it strange The Guests 
that he looked long on the Bride, the treasure of Burgstead. But '" the Hall 
for some while Folk-might was few-spoken and sharp-spoken '"^ Face, 
amoncrst the chieftains ; for he was slow to master his loneincr and 
his wrath. 

So when all the Guests had entered the door of the House oi' 
the Face, the Alderman turned back, and, standing on the 
threshold o( his House, spake unto the throng : 

' Men o'i the Dale, and \'e Outlanders who may be here, know 
that this is a liapp}' day ; for hither have come to us Guests, men 
of the kindred of the Gods, and they are even those of whom 
Face-of-god my son hath told you. And they are friends of 
our friends and foes of our foes. These men are now in my 
House, as is but right ; but when they come forth I look to you 
to cherish them in the best way ye know, and make much of them, 
as of those who ma}' help us and who may by us be holpen.' 

Therewith he went in again and into the Hall, and bade show 
the New-comers to the dais; and wine of the best, and meat such 
as was to hand, was set before them. He bade men also get ready 
high feast as great as might be against the evening ; and they 
did his bidding straightway. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. THE ALDERMAN GIVES GIFTS TO 
THEM OF SHADOWY VALE. 

IN the Hall of the Face Folk-might sat on the dais at the right 
hand of the Alderman, and the Sun-beam on his left hand. But 
Iron-face also liad beheld the Bride how her face chano-cd, and 
he knew the cause, and was grieved and angry and ashamed there- 
of: also he bethought him how this stranger was sitting in the very 
place where the Bride used to sit, and of all the love, as of a 
very daughter, that he had had for her ; howbcit he constrained 
himself to talk courteously and kindly both to Folk-might and 

251 



The Alder- 
man is for the 
treasury. 



the Sun-beam, as behoved the Chief of the House and the Alder- 
man of the Dale. Moreover, he was not a little moved by the 
goodliness and wisdom of the Sun-beam and the manliness of 
Folk-might, who was the most chieftain-like of men. 

But while they sat there Face-of-god went from man to man 
of the Guests, and made much of each, but especially of Wood- 
father and his sons and Bow-may, and they loved him, and praised 
him, and deemed him the best of hall-mates. Nor might the 
Sun-beam altogether refrain her from looking lovingly on him, and 
it could be seen of her that she deemed he was doing well, and 
like a wise leader and chieftain. 

So wore away a while, and men were fulfilled of meat and drink ; 
so then the Alderman arose and spake, and said : 

* Is it not so, Guests, that j'e would now gladly behold our 
market, and the goodly wares which the chapmen have brought 
us from the Cities ? ' 

Then most men cried out ' Yea, yea ! ' and Iron-face said : 
* Then shall ye go, nor be holden by me from your pleasure. 
And ye kinsmen who are the most guest-fain and the wisest, go j'e 
with our friends, and make all things easy and happy for them. 
But first of all, Guests, I were well pleased if ye would take 
some small matters out of our abundance ; for it were well that 
ye see them ere ye stand before the chapmen's booths, lest ye 
chaffer with them for what ye have already.' 

They all praised his bount}' and thanked him for his goodwill : 
so he arose to go to his treasury, and bade certain of his folk 
go along with him to bear in the gifts. But ere he had taken 
three steps down the hall, Face-of-god prevented him and said : 

'Kinsman, if thou hast anywhere a hauberk somewhat better 
than folk are wont to bear, such as thine own hand fashioneth, 
and a sword of the like stuff^> I would have thee give them, the 
sword to my brother-in-arms Wood-wise here, and the war-coat 
to my sister Bow-may, who shooteth so well in the bow that none 
may shoot closer, and very few as close ; and her shaft it was 

252 



Iti 



that delivered me when my skull was amongst the axes ot the Gifts given. 
Dusky Men : else had I not been here.' 

Thereat Bow-ma}- reddened and looked down, like a scholar 
who hath been over-praised for his learning and diligence ; but 
the Alderman smiled on her and said : 

* I thank thee, son, that thou hast let me know what these our 
two friends may be fain of: and as for this damsel-at-arms, it is 
a little thincT that thou askest for her, and we might have found 
her something more worthy of her goodliness ; yet forsooth, since 
we are all bound for the place where shafts and staves shall be 
good cheap, a greater treasure might be of less avail to her.' 

Thereat men laughed, and the Alderman went down the Hall 
with those bearers of gifts, and was away for a space while they 
drank and made merry : but presently back they came from 
the treasury bearing loads of goodly things which were laid on 
one of the endlong boards. Then began the gift-giving : and 
first he gave unto Folk-might six golden cups marvellously 
fashioned, the work of four generations of wrights in the Dale, 
and he himself had wrought the last two thereof. To Sun-beam 
he gave a girdle of gold, fashioned with great mastery, whereon 
were images of the Gods and the Fathers, and warriors, and beasts 
of the field and fowls of the air ; and as he girt it about her loins, 
he said in a soft voice so that few heard : 

' Sun-beam, thou fair woman, time has been when thou wert to 
us as the edge of the poisonous sword or the midnight torch of the 
murderer ; but now I know not how it will be, or if the grief which 
thou hast given me will ever wear out or not. And now that I 
have beheld thee, I have little to do to blame my son ; for indeed 
when I look on thee I cannot deem that there is any evil in thee. 
Yea, however it may be, take thou this gift as the reward of 
thine exceeding beauty.' 

She looked on him with kind e3'es, and said meekly : 
* Indeed, if 1 have hurt thee unwittingly, I grieve to have hurt 
so good a man. Hereafter belike we may talk more of this, but 

253 



Bow-may now I will but say, that whereas at first I needed but to wni thy 

getteth the son's goodwill, SO that our Folk might come to life and thriving 

hauberk. again, now it is come to this, that he holdeth my heart in his 

hand and may do what he will with it ; therefore I pray thee 

withhold not thy love either from him or from me.' 

He looked on her wondering, and said : ' Thou art such an 
one as might make the old man young, and the boy grow into 
manhood suddenly ; and thy voice is as sweet as the voice of the 
song-birds singing in the dawn of early summer soundeth to him 
who hath been sick unto death, but who hath escaped it and is 
mending. And yet I fear thee.' 

Therewith he kissed her hand and turned unto the others, and 
he gave unto Bow-may a hauberk of ring-mail of his own fashion- 
ino", a sure defence and a wonderful work, and the collar thereof 
was done with gold and gems. 

But he said to her : ' Fair damsel-at-arms, faithful is thy 
face, and the fashion of thee is goodly : now art thou become 
one of the best of our friends, and this is little enough to give 
thee ; yet would we fain ward thy body against the foeman ; so 
grieve us not by gainsaying us.' 

And Bow-may was exceeding glad, and scarce knew how to 
cease handling that marvel of ring-mail. 

Then to Wood-wise Iron-face gave a most goodly sword, the 
blade all marked with dark lines like the stream of an eddying 
river, the hilts of steel and gold marvellously wrought; and all 
the work of a smith who had dwelt in the house of his father's 
father, and was a great warrior. 

Unto Wood-father he gave a very goodly helm parcel-gilded ; 
and to his sons and the other folk fair gifts of weapons and jewels 
and girdles and cups and other good things ; so that their hearts 
were full of joy, and they all praised his open hand. 

Then some of the best and merriest of the kinsmen of the 
Face, and Face-of-god with them, brought the Guests out into 
the street and among the booths. There Face-of-god beheld 

254 



the Bride again ; and she was standing by the booth of a chap- Face-of-god 
m:in and dealing with him for a piece of goodly silken cloth to cometh in to 
b*.' a gown for one of her guests, and she was talking and smiling *"^ Council. 
as she chaffered with him, as her wont was ; for she was ever 
\ cry friendly of demeanour with all men. Hut he noted that she 
was yet exceeding pale, and he was right sorry thereof, for he 
loved her friendly ; yet now had he no shame for all that had 
befallen, when he bethought him of the Sun-beam and the love 
she had for him. And also he had a deemino; that the Bride 
would better of her grief. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. THE CHIEFTAINS TAKE COUNSEL IN 
THE HALL OF THE FACE. 

THEN turned Face-of-god back into the Hall, and saw 
where Iron-face sat at the dais, and with him Folk- 
might and Stone-face and the Elder of the Dale-wardens, 
and Sun-beam withal ; so he went soberly up to the board, and 
sat himself down thereat beside Stone-face, over against Folk- 
might and his father, beside whom sat the Sun-beam ; and Folk- 
might looked on him gravely, as a man powerful and trustworthy', 
3'et was his look somewhat sour. 

Then the Alderman said : * My son, I said not to thee come 
back prescntl}-, because I wotted that thou wouldst surely do so, 
knowing that we have much to speak of. For, whatever these 
thy friends may have done, or whatsoever thou hast done with 
them to grieve us, all that must be set aside at this present time, 
since the matter in hand is to save the Dale and its folk. What 
sayest thou hereon ? Since, young as thou mavst be, thou art 
our War-leader, and doubtless shalt so be after the Folk-mote 
hath been holden.' 

Face-of-god answered not hastily : indeed, as he sat thinking 
for a minute or two, the fair spring day seemed to darken about 

255 



They talk them or to glare into the light of" flames amidst the night-tide ; 
of what IS and the joyous clamour without doors seemed to grow hoarse and 
toward. fearful as the sound of wailing and shrieking. But he spake 

firmly and simply in a clear voice, and said : 

' There can be no two words concerning what we have to aim 
at ; these Dusky Men we must slay everyone, though we be 
fewer than they be.' 

Folk-might smiled and nodded his head ; but the others sat 
staring down the hall or into the hangings. 

Then spake Folk-might : ' Thou wert a boy methought when 
I cast my spear at thee last autumn, Face-of-god, but now hast 
thou grown into a man. Now tell me, what deemest thou we 
must do to slay them all ? ' 

Said Face-of-god : * Once again it is clear that we must fall 
upon them at home in Rose-dale and Silver-dale.' 

Again Folk-might nodded : but Iron-face said : 

' Needeth this ? May we not ward the Dale and send many 
bands into the wood to fall upon them when we meet them? Yea, 
and so doing these our guests have already slain many, as this 
valiant man hath told me e'en now. Will ye not slay so many 
at last, that they shall learn to fear us, and abide at home and 
leave us at peace ? ' 

But Face-of-god said : ' Meseemeth, father, that this is not 
thy rede, and that thou sayest this but to try me : and perchance 
ye have been talking about me when I was without in the street 
e'en now. Even if it might be that we should thus cow these 
felons into abiding at home and tormenting their own thralls at 
their ease, yet how then are our friends of the Wolf holpen to 
their own again ? And I shall tell thee that I have promised to 
this man and this woman that I will give them no less than a 
man's help in this matter. Moreover, I have spoken in every 
house of the Dale, and to the Shepherds and the Woodlanders, 
and there is no man amonast them but will follow me in the 
quarrel. Furthermore, they have heard of the thralldom that is 

256 



done on men no great way from their own houses ; yea, they have The intent of 
seen it ; and they remember the old saw, " Grief in thy neigh- the Dusky 
hour's hall is grief in thy garth," and sure it is, father, that whether ' 

thou or I gainsay them, go they will to deliver the thralls of the 
Dusky Men, and will leave us alone in the Dale.' 

' I'his is no less than sooth,' said the Dale-warden, ' never 
have men gone forth more J030usly to a merry-making than all 
men of us shall wend to this war.' 

' But,' said Face-of-god, * of one thing ye may be sure, that 
these men will not abide our pleasure till we cut them all off' in 
scattered bands, nor will they sit deedless at home. Nor indeed 
ma^ahey; for we have heard from their thralls that they look to 
have fresh tribes of them come to hand to eat their meat and 
waste their servants, and these and they must find new abodes 
and new thralls ; and they are now warned by the overthrows 
and slayings that the}- have had at our hands that we are astir, 
and they will not delay long, but will fall upon us with all their 
host ; it might even be to-day or to-morrow.' 

Said Folk-might : ' In all this thou sayest sooth, brother of 
the Dale ; and to cut this matter short, I will tell you all, that 
yesterday we had with us a runaway from Silver-dale (it is over- 
long to tell how we fell in with her; for it was a woman). But 
she told us that this very moon is a new tribe come into the Dale, 
six long hundreds in number, and twice as many more are looked 
for in two eights of days, and that ere this moon hath waned, that 
is, in twenty-four days, they will wend their ways straight for Burg- 
dale, for they know the ways thereto. So I say that Face-of-god 
is right in all wise. But tell me, brother, hast thou thought of 
how we shall come upon these men ? ' 

* How many men wilt thou lead into battle?' said Face-of-god, 
Folk-might reddened, and said : ' A few, a few ; maybe two 
hundreds all told.' 

' Yea,' said Face-of-god, 'but some special gain wilt thou be 
to us.' 

257 L L 



Foemen. 



They talk of ' So I deem at least,' said Folk-might. 

the two Dales Said Face-of-god : 'Good is that. Now have we held oar 
of the Weapon-show in the Dale, and we find that we together with 

3'ou be sixteen long hundreds of men ; and the tale of the toemen 
that be now in Silver-dale, new-comers and all, shall be three 
thousands or thereabout, and in Rose-dale hard on a thousand.' 

' Scarce so many,' said Folk-might ; * some of the felons have 
died ; we told over our silver arm-rings yesterday, and the tale was 
three hundred and eighty and six. Besides, they were never so 
many as thou deemest.' 

' Well,' said Face-of-god, ' yet at least they shall outnumber 
us sorely. We may scarce leave the Dale unguarded when our 
host is gone ; therefore I deem that we shall have but one thousand 
of men for our onslaught on Silver-dale.' 

* How come ye to that?' said Stone-face. 

Said Face-of-god: 'Abide a while, fosterer! Though the odds 
between us be great, it is not to be hidden that I wot how ye of 
the Wolf know of privy passes into Silver-dale ; yea, into the heart 
thereof; and this is the special gain ye have to give us. There- 
fore we, the thousand men, falling on the foe unawares, shall make 
a great slaughter of them ; and if the murder be but grim enough, 
those thralls of theirs shall fear us and not them, as already they 
hate them and not us, so that we may look to them for rooting out 
these sorry weeds after the overthrow. And what with one thing, 
what with another, we may cherish a good hope of clearing Silver- 
dale at one stroke with the said thousand men. 

' There remaineth Rose-dale, which will be easier to deal with, 
because the Dusky Men therein are fewer and the thralls as many : 
that also would I fall on at the same time as we fall on Silver-dale 
with the men that are left over from the Silver-dale onslaught. 
Wherefore my rede is, that we gather all those unmeet for battle 
in the field into this Burg, with ten tens of men to strengthen them ; 
which shall be enough for them, along v/ith the old men, and lads, 
and sturdy women, to defend themselves till help comes, if aught 

258 



of evil befall, or to flee into the mountains, or at the worst to die They hold 
valiantly. Then let the other five hundreds fare up to Rose-dale, rede con- 
and fall on the Dusky Men therein about the same time, but not ^""'"g *''^ 
before our onslaught on Silver-dale : thus shall hand help foot, so j^ose-dale 
that stumbling be not falling ; and \vc may well hope that our rede 
shall thrive.' 

Then was he silent, and the Sun-beam looked upon him with 
gleaming eyes and parted lips, waiting eagerly to hear what Folk- 
might would say. He held his peace a while, drumming on the 
board with his fingers, and none else spake a word. At last 
he said : 

'War-leader of Burgdale, all that thou hast spoken likes me 
well, and even so must it be done, saving that parting of our host 
and sending one part to fall upon Rose-dale. I say, nay; let us 
put all our might into that one stroke on Silver-dale, and then we 
are undone indeed if we fail ; but so shall we be if we fail any- 
wise ; but if we win Silver-dale, then shall Rose-dale lie open 
before us.' 

' My brother,' said Face-of-god, ' thou art a tried warrior, and 
I but a lad : but dost thou not see this, that whatever we do, we 
shall not at one onslaught slaj- all the Dusky Men of Silver-dale, 
and those that flee before us shall betake them to Rose-dale, and 
tell all the tale, and what shall hinder them then from falling on 
Burgdale (since they are no great way from it) after they have 
murdered what they willof the unhapp}' people under their hands?' 

Said Folk-might : ' I say not but that there is a risk thereof, 
but in war we must needs run such risks, and all should be risked 
rather than that our blow on Silver-dale be light. For we be the 
fewer; and if the foemen have time to call that to mind, then are 
we all lost.' 

Said Stone-face : 'Meseemeth, War-leader, that there is nought 
so much to dread in leaving Rose-dale to itself for a while ; for 
not only may we follow hard on the fleers if they flee to Rose-dale, 
and be there no long time after them, before they have time to stir 

259 



Divers redes, their host ; but also after the overthrow we shall be free to send 
men back to Burgdale by way of Shadowy Vale. I deem that 
herein Folk-might hath the right of it.' 

' Even so say I,' said the Alderman ; 'besides, we might then 
leave more folk behind us for the warding of the Dale. So, son, 
the risk whereof thou speakest groweth the lesser the longer it is 
looked on.' 

Then spake the Dale-warden : ' Yet saving your wisdom, 
Alderman, the risk is there yet. For if these felons come into the 
Dale at all, even if the folk left behind hold the Burg and keep 
themselves unmurdered, yet may they not hinder the foe from spoil- 
ing our homesteads ; so that our folk coming back in triumph shall 
find ruin at home, and spend weary days in hunting their foemen, 
who shall, many of them, escape into the Wild- wood.' 

* Yea,' said the Sun-beam, 'sooth is that; and Face-of-god is 
wise to think of it and of other matters. Yet one thing we must bear 
in mind, that all may not go smoothly in our day's work in Silver- 
dale ; so we must have force there to fall back on, in case we miss 
our stroke at first. Therefore, I say, send we no man to Rose-dale, 
and leave we no able man-at-arms behind in the Burg,) so that we 
have with us every blade that may be gathered.' 

Iron-face smiled and said: 'Thou art wise, damsel; and I 
marvel that so fair-fashioned a thing as thou can think so hardly 
of the meeting of the fallow blades. But hearken ! will not the 
Dusky Men hear that we have stripped the Dale of fighting-men, 
and may they not then give our host the go-by and send folk to 
ruin us ? ' 

There was silence while Face-of-god looked down on the board; 
but presently he lifted up his face and said : 

' Folk-might was right when he said that all must be risked. 
Let us leave Rose-dale till we have overcome them of Silver-dale. 
Moreover, my father, thou must not deem of these felons as if they 
were of like wits to us, to forecast the deeds to come, and weigh 
the chances nicely, and unravel tangled clews. Rather they move 

260 



like to the stares in autumn, or the winter wild-geese, and will all Face-of-god's 

be thrust forward by some sting that entereth into their imagina- '"'1 mind. 

tions. Therefore, if they have appointed one moon to wear before 

they fall upon us, they will not stir till then, and we have time 

enough to do what must be done. Wherefore am I now of one 

mind with the rest of you. Now meseemeth it were well that 

these things which we have spoken here, and shall speak, should 

not be noised abroad openl)'; nay, at the Folk-mote it would be 

well that nought be said about the day or the way of our onslaught 

on Silver-dale, lest the foe take warning and be on their guard. 

Though, sooth tosa}', did I deem that if they had word of our intent 

they of Rose-dale would join themselves to them of Silver-dale, 

and that we should thus have all our foes in one net, then were 

I tain if the word would reach them. For my soul loathes the 

hunting that shall befall up and down the wood for the slaying of 

a man here, and two or three there, and the wearing of the days 

in wandering up and down with weapons in the hand, and the 

spinning out of hatred and delaying of peace.' 

Then Iron-face reached his hand across the board and took his 
son's hand, and said : 

' Hail to thee, son, for th}- word! Herein thou speakest as if 
from my very soul, and fain am I of such a War-leader.' 

And desire drew the eyes of the Sun-beam to Face-of-god, and 
she beheld him proudly. But he said : 

' All hath been spoken that the others of us may speak ; and 
now it falleth to the part of Folk-might to order our goings for 
the tryst for the onslaught, and the trysting-place shall be in 
Shadowy \'ale. How sayest thou. Chief of the Wolf?' 

Said Folk-might : ' I have little to say ; and it is for the War- 
leaderto see to this closely and piecemeal. I deem, as we all deem, 
that there should be no delay; jet were it best to wend not all to- 
gether to Shadowy \'ale, but in divers bands, as soon as ye may 
after the Folk-mote, by the sure and nigli ways that we shall show 
you. And when we are gathered there, short is the rede, for all 

261 



The Roll of is ready there to wend by the passes which we know throughly^ 
the Weapon and whereby it is but two days' journey to the head of Silver- 
^ °"'- dale, nigh to the caves of the silver, where the felons dwell the 

thickest.' 

He set his teeth, and his colour came and went : for as con- 
stantly as the onslaught had been in his mind, yet whenever he 
spake of the great day of battle, hope and joy and anger wrought 
a tumult in his soul ; and now that it was so nigh withal, he 
could not refrain his joy. 

But he spake again : ' Now therefore. War-leader, it is for thee 
to order the goings of thy folk. But I will tell thee that they 
shall not need to take aught with them save their weapons and 
victual for the way, that is, for thirty hours ; because all is ready 
for them in Shadowy Vale, though it be but a poor place as to 
victual. Canst thou tell us, therefore, what thou wilt do ? ' 

Face-of-god had knit his brows and become gloomy of coun- 
tenance; but now his face cleared, and he set his hand to his 
pouch, and drew forth a written parchment, and said : 

* This is the order whereof I have bethought me. Before the 
Folk-mote I and the Wardens shall speak to the leaders of hun- 
dreds, who be mostly here at the Fair, and give them the day and 
the hour whereon they shall, each hundred, take their weapons 
and wend to Shadowy Vale, and also the place where they shall 
meet the men of yours who shall lead them across the Waste. 
These hundred-leaders shall then go straightway and give the 
word to the captains of scores, and the captains of scores to the 
captains of tens ; and if, as is scarce doubtful, the Folk-mote yea- 
says the onslaught and the fellowship with you of the Wolf, then 
shall those leaders of tens bring their men to the trysting-place, 
and so go their ways to Shadowy Vale. Now here I have the 
roll of our Weapon-show, and I will look to it that none shall be 
passed over ; and if ye ask me in what order they had best get 
on the way, my rede is that a two hundred should depart on the 
very evening of the day of the Folk-mote, and these to be of our 

262 



folk of the Upper Dale ; and on the morning of the morrow of The order of 

the Folk-mote another two hundreds from the Dale ; and in the ^^^ Hosting. 

evening of the same day the folk of the Shepherds, throe hundreds 

or more, and that will be easy to them ; again on the next day 

two more bands of the Lower Dale, one in the morning, one in the 

evening. Lastly, in the earliest dawn of the third day from the 

Folk-mote shall the Woodlanders wend their ways. But one 

hundred of men let us leave behind for the warding of the Burg, 

even as we agreed before. As for the place of tryst for the faring 

over the Waste, let it be the end of the knolls just by the jaws of 

the pass yonder, where the Weltering Water comes into the Dale 

from the East. How say ye ? ' 

They all said, and Folk-might especiall}-, that it was right well 
devised, and that thus it should be done. 

Then turned Face-of-god to the Dale-warden, and said : 

' It were good, brother, that we saw the other wardens as 
soon as may be, to do them to wit of this order, and what they 
have to do.' 

Therewith he arose and took the Elder of the Dale-wardens 
away with him, and the twain set about their business straight- 
way. Neither did the others abide long in the Hall, but went 
out into the Burg to see the chapmen and their wares. There 
the Alderman bought what he needed of iron and steel and other 
matters ; and Folk-might cheapened him a dagger curiously 
wrought, and a web of gold and silk for the Sun-beam, for which 
wares he paid in silver arm-rings, new-wrought and of strange 
fashion. 

But amidst of the chaffer was now a great ring oi^ men ; and 
in the midst of the ring stood Redesman, fiddle and bow in hand, 
and with him were four damsels wondrously arrayed ; for the first 
was clad in a smock so craftily wrought with threads of green and 
many colours, that it seemed like a piece of the green field beset 
with primroses and cowslips and harebells and windfiowers, rather 
than a garment woven and sewn ; and in her hand she bore a 

263 



A play naked sword, with golden hilts and gleaming blade. But the 

amidst the second bore on her roses done in like manner, both blossoms and 
market. green leaves, wherewith her body was covered decently, which 

else had been naked. The third was clad as though she were 
wading the wheat-field to the waist, and above was wrapped in 
the leaves and bunches of the wine-tree\ And the fourth was 
clad in a scarlet gown flecked with white wool to set forth 
the winter's snow, and broidered over with the burning brands 
of the Holy Hearth ; and she bore on her head a garland of 
mistletoe. And these four damsels were clearly seen to image 
the four seasons of the year — Spring, Summer, Autumn, and 
Winter. But amidst them stood a fountain or conduit of gilded 
work cunningly wrought, and full of the best wine of the Dale, 
and gilded cups and beakers hung about it. 

So now Redesman fell to caressing his fiddle with the bow till 
it began to make sweet music, and therewith the hearts of all 
danced with it ; and presently words come into his mouth, and he 
fell to singing ; and the damsels answered him : 

Earth-wielders, that fashion the Dale-dwellers' treasure. 
Soft are ye by seeming, yet hardy of heart ! 

No warrior amongst us withstandeth your pleasure ; 
No man from his meadow may thrust you apart. 

Fresh and fair are j'our bodies, but far bejond telling 
Are the years of your lives, and the craft ye have stored. 

Come give us a word, then, concerning our dwelling, 
And the days to befall us, the fruit of the sword. 

JVinter saith : 
When last in the feast-hall the Yule-fire flickered, 

The foot of no foeman fared over the snow. 
And nought but the wind with the ash-branches bickered : 
Next Yule ye ma}' deem it a long time ago. 
264 



Autumyi sait/i : A man taketh 

Loud laughed ye last year in the wheat-field a-smitino- ; the sword. 

And ye laughed as your backs drave the beam of the press. 
When the edge of the war-sword the acres are lighting 

Look up to the Banner and laugh ye no less. 

Summer saith : 
Ye called and I came, and how good was the greeting, 

When ye wrapped me in roses both bosom and side ! 
Here yet shall I long, and be fain of our meeting, 

As hidden from battle your coming I bide. 

Spring saith : 
I am here for your comfort, and lo ! what I carry ; 

The blade with the bright edges bared to the sun. 
To the field, to the work then, that e'en I may tarry 

For the end of the tale in my first days begun I 

Therewith the throng opened, and a young man stepped livThtly 
into the ring, clad in very fair armour, with a gilded helm on his 
head ; and he took the sword from the hand of the Maiden of 
Spring, and waved it in the air till the westering sun Hashed 
back from it. Then each of the four damsels went up to the 
swain and kissed his mouth ; and Rcdesman drew the bow across 
the strings, and the four damsels sang together, standing round 
about the young warrior : 

It was but a while since for earth's sake we trembled. 

Lest the increase our life-days had won for the Dale, 
All the wealth that the moons and the vcars had assembled, 

Should be but a mock for the days of your bale. 

But now we behold the sun smite on the token 

In the hand of the Champion, the heart of a man ; 

265 M M 



Men take We look down the long years and see them unbroken ; 

drink at the Forth fareth the Folk by the ways it began. 

damsels' 

hands, g^ \y[^ yg jh^se chapmen in autumn returning, 

To bring iron for ploughshares and steel for the scythe, 
And the over-sea oil that hath felt the sun's burning, 
And fair webs for your women soft-spoken and blithe ; 

And pledge ye your word in the market to meet them, 

As many a man and as many a maid, 
As eager as ever, as guest-fain to greet them. 

And bide till the booth from the waggon is made. 

Come, guests of our lovers! for we, the year-wielders, 
Bid each man and all to come hither and take 

A cup from our hands midst the peace of our shielders, 
And drink to the days of the Dale that we make. 

Then went the damsels to that wine-fountain, and drew thence 
cups of the best and brightest wine of the Dale, and went round 
about the ring, and gave drink to whomsoever would, both of the 
chapmen and the others ; while the weaponed 3'^outh stood in the 
midst bearing aloft his sword and shield like an image in a holy 
place, and Redesman's bow still went up and down the strings, 
and drew forth a sweet and merry tune. 

Great game it was now to see the stark Burgdale carles drag- 
ging the Men of the Plain, little loth, up to the front of the 
ring, that they might stretch out their hands for a cup, and how 
many a one, as he took it, took as much as he might of the dam- 
sel's hand withal. As for the damsels, they played the Holy Play 
very daintil}', neither reddening nor laughing, but faring so 
solemnly, and withal so sweetly and bright-faced, that it might well 
have been deemed that they were in very sooth Maidens of the God 
of Earth sentfrom the ever-enduring Hall tocheertheheartsofmen. 

So simply and blithely did the Men of Burgdale disport them 

266 



after the manner of their fathers, trusting in their valour and be- Night in 
holding the good days to be. t*ic Burg. 

So wore the evening, and when night was come, men feasted 
throughout the Burg from house to house, and every hall was full. 
But the Guests from Shadowy Vale feasted in the Hall of the 
Face in all glee and goodwill ; and with them were the chief of the 
chapmen and two others ; but the rest of them had been laid hold 
of by goodmen oi' the Burg, and dragged into their feast-halls, 
for they were fain of those guests and their talcs. One of the 
chapmen in the House of the Face knew Folk-might, and hailed 
him by the name he had borne in the Cities, Regulus to wit ; 
indeed, the chief chapman knew him, and even somewhat over- 
well, for he had been held to ransom by Folk-might in those past 
days, and even yet feared him, because he, the chapman, had 
played somewhat of a dastard's part to him. But the other was 
an open-hearted and merry fellow, and no weakling ; and Folk- 
might was fain of his talk concerning times bygone, and the fields 
they had foughten in, and other adventures that had befallen 
them, both good and evil. 

As for Face-of-god, he went about the Hall soberly, and spake 
no more than behoved him, so as not to seem a mar-feast ; for 
the image of the slaughter to be yet abode with him, and his 
heart foreboded the after-grief of the battle. He had no speech 
with the Sun-beam till men were sundering after the feast, and 
then he came close to her amidst of the turmoil, and said : 

' Time presses on me these days ; but if thou wouldest speak 
with me to-morrow as I would with thee, then mightest thou go 
on the Bridge oi" the Burg about sunrise, and 1 will be there, 
and we two onl}-.' 

Her face, which had been somewhat sad that evening (for she 
had been watching his), brightened at that word, and she took 
his hand as folk came thronging round about them, and said : 
' Yea, friend, I shall be there, and fain of thee.' And therewithal 
they sundered for that night. 

267 



Morning in And all men went to sleep throughout the Burg : howbeit they 

the meadows, set a watch at the Burg-Gate ; and Hall-face, when he was coming 
back from the woodland ward about sunset, fell in with Red- 
coat of Waterless and four score men on the Portway coming to 
meet him and take his place. All which was clean contrary to 
the wont of the Burgdalers, who at most whiles held no watch 
and ward, not even in Fair-time. 



CHAPTER XXXV. FACE-OF-GOD TALKETH WITH THE 
SUN-BEAM. 

^ACE-OF-GOD was at the Bridge on the morrow before 
sun-rising, and as he turned about at the Bridge-foot he 
saw the Sun-beam coming down the street ; and his heart 
rose to his mouth at the sight of her, and he went to meet her 
and took her by the hand ; and there were no words between 
them till they had kissed and caressed each other, for there was 
no one stirring about them. So they went over the Bridge into 
the meadows, and eastward of the beaten path thereover. 

The grass was growing thick and strong, and it was full of 
flowers, as the cowslip and the oxlip, and the chequered daffodil, 
and the wild tulip: the black-thorn was well-nigh done bloom- 
ing, but the hawthorn was in bud, and in some places growing 
white. It was a fair morning, warm and cloudless, but the night 
had been misty, and the haze still hung about the meadows of 
the Dale where they were wettest, and the grass and its flowers 
were heavy with dew, so that the Sun-beam went barefoot in 
the meadow. She had a dark cloak cast over her kirtle, and 
had left her glittering gown behind her in the House. 

They went along hand in hand exceeding fain of each other, 
and the sun rose as they went, and the long beams of gold shone 
through the tops of the tall trees across the grass they trod, and 
a light wind rose up in the north, as Face-of-god stayed a mo- 

268 



mcnt and turned toward the Face of the Sun and pra3-cd to Him, They fall to 
while the Sun-beam's hand left the War-loader's hand and stole 'speech in the 
up to his p;oldcn locks and lay amono;st them. lawthoni 

Presently they went on, and the feet of Face-of-god led him 
unwitting toward the chestnut grove by the old dyke where he 
had met the Bride such a little while ago, till he bethought 
whither he was going and stopped short and reddened ; and the 
Sun-beam noted it, but spake not ; but he said : ' Hereby is a 
fair place for us to sit and talk till the day's work beginneth.' 

So then he turned aside, and soon they came to a hawthorn 
brake out of which arose a great tall-stemmed oak, showing no 
green as yet save a little on its lower twigs ; and anigh it, yet 
with room for its boughs to grow frceh', was a great bird-cherry 
tree, all covered now with sweet-smelling white blossoms. There 
they sat down on the trunk of a tree felled last year, and she 
cast off her cloak, and took his face between her two hands and 
kissed him long and fondl}', and for a while their joy had no 
word. But when speech came to them, it was she that spake 
first and said : 

' Gold-mane, my dear, sorely I wonder at thee and at mc, how 
we are changed since that day last autumn when I first saw 
thee. Whiles I think, didst thou not laugh when thou wert by 
th3'self that da}', and mock at me privily, that I must needs take 
such wisdom on myself, and lesson thcc standing like a stripling 
before me. Dost thou not call it all to mind and make merry 
over it, now that thou art become a great chieftain and a wise 
warrior, and I am yet what I always was, a 3'oung maiden of the 
kindred ; save that now I abide no longer for my love ? ' 

Her face was exceeding bright and rippled with joyous smiles, 
and he looked at her and deemed that her heart was overflowing 
with happiness, and he wondered at her indeed that she was so 
glad of him, and he said : 

' Yea, indeed, oft do I see that morning in the woodland hall 
and thee and mc therein, as one looketh on a picture ; yea verih-, 

269 



They talk of and I laugh, yet is it for very bliss ; neither do I mock at all. 

the change Did I not deem thee a God then ? and am I not most happy now 

oi days. when I can call it thus to mind ? And as to thee, thou wert wise 

then, and yet art thou wise now. Yea, I thought thee a God ; 

and if we are changed, is it not rather that thou hast lifted me 

up to thee, and not come down to me ? ' 

Yet therewithal he knit his brows somewhat and said : 

' Yet thou hast not to tell me that all thy love for thy Folk, 
and thy yearning hope for its recoverance, was but a painted 
show. Else wh}' shouldst thou love me the better now that I 
am become a chieftain, and therefore am more meet to under- 
stand thy hope and thy sorrow ? Did I not behold thee as we 
stood before the Wolf of the Hall of Shadowy Vale, how the 
tears stood in thine eyes as thou beheldest him, and thine hand 
in mine quivered and clung to me, and thou wert all changed in 
a moment of time ? Was all this then but a seeming and a 
beguilement ? ' 

' O young man,' she said, ' hast thou not said it, that we stood 
there close together, and my hand in thine and desire growing up 
in me ? Dost thou not know how this also quickeneth the story 
of our Folk, and our goodwill towards the living, and remem- 
brance of the dead ? Shall they have lived and desired, and we 
deny desire and life ? Or tell me : what was it made thee so 
chieftain-like in the Hall yesterday, so that thou wert the master 
of all our wills, for as self-willed as some of us were ? Was it 
not that I, whom thou deemest lovely, was thereby watching thee 
and rejoicing in thee? Did not the sweetness of thy love quicken 
thee ? Yet because of that was thy warrior's wisdom and thy 
foresight an empty show ? Heedest thou nought the Folk of the 
Dale ? Wouldest thou sunder from the children of the Fathers, 
and dwell amongst strangers ? ' 

He kissed her and smiled on her and said : * Did I not say of 
thee that thou wert wiser than the daughters of men ? See how 
wise thou hast made me ! ' 

270 



She spake again : ' Nay, nay, there was no feignini;; in my Fare-of-god 
love for my people. How couldest thou think it, when the made wise 
Fathers and the kindred have made this body that thou lovest, ^ ^^^• 
and the voice of their songs is in the speech thou decmest sweet? ' 

He said : * Sweet friend, I deemed not that there was feigning 
in thee : I was but wondering what I am and how I was fashioned, 
that I should make thee so glad that thou couldst for a while 
forget thy hope of the days before we met.' 

She said : * O how glad, how glad ! Yet was I nought hap- 
less. In despite of all trouble 1 had no down-weighing grief, and 
I had the hope of my people before me. Good were my days ; but 
I knew not till now how glad a child of man may be.' 

Their words were hushed for a while amidst their caresses. 
Then she said : 

' Gold-mane, my friend, I mocked not my past self because I deem 
that I was a fool then, but because I see now that all that my 
wisdom could do, would have come about without my wisdom ; 
and that thou, deeming thyself something less than wise, didst 
accomplish the thing I craved, and that which thou didst crave 
also ; and withal wisdom embraced thee, along with love.' 

Therewith she cast her arms about him and said : 

* O friend, I mock myself of this : that erst thoudeemedst me 
a God and fearedst me, but now thou seemest to me to be a God, 
and I fear thee. Yea, though I have longed so sore to be with 
thee since the day of Shadowy Vale, and though 1 have wearied 
o( the slow wearing of the days, and it hath tormented me ; yet 
now that I am with thee, I bless the torment of my longing; for 
it is but my longing that compelleth me to cast away my fear 
of thee and caress thee, because 1 have learned how sweet it is to 
love thee thus.' 

H e wound his arm^about her, and sweeter was their longing than 
mere joy ; and though their love was beyond measure, yet was 
therein no shame to aught, not even to the lovely Dale and that fair 
season of spring, so goodly they were among the children of men. 

271 



On the way In a while they arose and turned homeward, and went over the 

back. open meadow, and it was j^et early, and the dew was as heavy on 

the grass as before, though the wide sunlight was now upon it, 

glittering on the wet blades, and shining through the bells of the 

chequered daffodils till they looked like gouts of blood. 

' Look,' said Sun-beam, as they went along by the same Vt^ay 
whereas they came, ' deemest thou not that other speech-friends 
besides us have been abroad to talk together apart on this morning 
of the eve of battle. It is nought unwonted, that we do, even 
though we forget the trouble of the people to think of our own 
joy for a while.' 

The smile died out of her face as she spoke, and she said : 
' O friend, this much may I say for myself in all sooth, that 
indeed I would die for the kindred and its good daj'S, nor falter 
therein ; but if I am to die, might I but die in thine arms I ' 

He looked very lovingly on her, and put his arm about her 
and kissed her and said : ' What ails us to stand in the doom- 
ring and bear witness against ourselves before the kindred ? Now 
I will say, that whatsoever the kindred may or can call upon me 
to do, that will I do, nor grudge the deed : I am sackless before 
them. But that is true which I spake to thee when we came 
together up out of Shadowy Vale, to wit, that I am no strifeful 
man, but a peaceful ; and I look to it to win through this war, 
and find on the other side either death, or life amongst a happy 
folk ; and I deem that this is mostly the mind of our people.' 

She said : ' Thou shalt not die, thou shalt not die ! ' 

* Mayhappen not,' he said ; ' yet yesterday I could not but 
look into the slaughter to come, and it seemed to me a grim 
thing, and darkened the day for me ; and I grew acold as a man 
walking with the dead. But tell me: thou sa^-est I shall not 
die ; dost thou say this only because I am become dear to thee, 
or dost thou speak it out of thy foresight of things to come?' 

She stopped and looked silently a while over the meadows 
towards the houses of the Thorp : they were standing now on 

272 



the border of a shallow brook that ran down toward the Wei- Footprints In 
tering Water; it had a little strand of fine sand like the sea- the sand, 
shore, driven close together, and all moist, because that brook was 
used to flood the meadow for the feeding of the grass ; and the 
last evening the hatches which held up the water had been drawn, 
so that much had ebbed away and left the strand aforesaid. 

After a while the Sun-beam turned to Face-of-god, and she 
was become somewhat pale ; she said : 

* Nay, I have striven to see, and can see nought save the pic- 
ture of hope and fear that I make for myself. So it oft befalleth 
foreseeing women, that the love of a man cloudeth their vision. 
Be content, dear friend ; it is for life or death ; but whichso it 
be, the same for me and thee together ? ' 

* Yea,' he said, ' and well content I am ; so now let each of 
us trust in the other to be both good and dear, even as I trusted 
in thee the first hour that I looked on thee.' 

' It is well,' she said ; ' it is well. How fair thou art ; and how 
fair is the morn, and this our Dale in the goodly season ; and all 
this abidcth us when the battle is over.' 

Once more her voice became sweet and wheedling, and the 
smile lit up her face again, and she pointed down to the sand with 
her finger, and said : 

' See thou ! Here indeed have other lovers passed b}- across 
the brook. Shall we wish them good luck ? ' 

He laughed and looked down on the sand, and said : 

' Thou art in haste to make a story up. Indeed I see that 
these first footprints are of a woman, for no carle of the Dale 
has a foot as sm.all ; for we be tall fellows ; and these others withal 
are a man's footprints ; and if they showed that they had been 
walking side by side, simple had been th}- tale ; but so it is not. 
I cannot say that these two pairs of feet went over the brook 
within five minutes of each other ; but sure it is that they could 
not have been faring side by side. Well, belike they were 
lovers bickering, and we may wish them luck out of that. Trul}- 

273 N N 



They come 
back, to the 
House. 



it is well seen that Bow-may hath done thine hunting for thee, 
dear friend ; or else wouldest thou have lacked venison ; for thoa 
hast no hunter's ej'e.' 

' Well,' she said, * but wish them luck, and give me thine hand 
upon it.' 

He took her hand, and fondled it, and said : ' By this hand 
of my speech-friend, I wish these twain all luck, in love and in 
leisure, in faring and fighting, in sowing and samming, in getting 
and giving. Is it well enough wished ? If so it be, then come 
thy ways, dear friend; for the day's work is at hand.' 

' It is well wished,' she said. ' Now hearken : by the valiant 
hand of the War-leader, by the hand that shall unloose my girdle, 
I wish these twain to be as happy as we be.' 

He made as if to draw her away, but she hung aback to set 
the print of her foot beside the woman's foot, and then they went 
on too^ether, and soon crossed the Brido-e, and came home to the 
House of the Face. 

When they had broken their fast, Face-of-god would straight 
get to his business of ordering matters for the warfare, and was 
wishful to speak with Folk-might ; but found him not, either in 
the House or the street. But a man said : 

' I saw the tall Guest come abroad from the House and go 
toward the Bridge very early in the morning.' 

The Sun-beam, who was anigh when that was spoken, heard 
it and smiled, and said : ' Gold-mane, deemcst thou that it was 
my brother whom we blessed ? ' 

* I wot not,' he said ; ' but I would he were here, for this gear 
must speedily be looked to.' 

Nevertheless it was nigh an hour before Folk-might came home 
to the House. He strode in lightly and gaily, and shaking the 
crest of his war-helm as he went. He looked friendly on Face- 
of-god, and said to him : 

' Thou hast been seeking me. War-leader ; but grudge it not 
that I have caused thee to tarry. For as things have gone, I am 

274 



twice the man for thine helping that I was yester-eve ; and thou Folk-miglit 
art so ready and deft, that all will be done in due time.' abroad bc- 

He looked as if he would have had Face-of-god ask of him ^"""* 
what made him so fain, but Face-of-god said only : 

' I am glad of thy gladness ; but now let us dally no longer, 
for I have many folk to see to-day and much to set a-going.' 

So therewith they spake together a while, and then went their 
ways together toward Carlstead and the Woodlanders. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. FOLK-MIGHT SPEAKETH WITH THE 
BRIDE, 

IT must be told that those footprints which Face-of-god and 
the Sun-beam had blessed betwixt jest and earnest had more 
to do with them than they wotted of. For Folk-might, who 
had had many thoughts and longings since he had seen the Bride 
again, rose up early about sunrise, and went out-a-doors, and 
wandered about the Burg, letting his eyes stray over the goodly 
stone houses and their trim gardens, yet noting them little, since 
the Bride was not there. 

At last he came to where there was an open place, straight- 
sided, longer than it was wide, with a wall on each side of it, 
over which showed the blossomed boughs of pear and cherry and 
plum-trees : on either hand before the wall was a row of great 
lindens, now showing their first tender green, especially on their 
lower twigs, where they were sheltered by the wall. At the nether 
end of this place Folk-might saw a grey stone house, and he 
went towards it betwixt the lindens, for it seemed right great, 
and presently was but a score of paces from its door, and as yet 
there was no man, carle or queen, stirring about it. 

It was a long low house with a very steep roof; but belike 
the hall was built over some undercroft, for many steps went up 
to the door on either hand ; and the doorway was low, with a 

275 



The House of straight lintel under its arch. This house, like the House of the 
the Steer. Face, seemed ancient and somewhat strange, and Folk-might 

could not choose but take note of it. The front was all of 
good ashlar work, but it was carven all over, without heed being 
paid to the joints of the stones, into one picture of a flowery 
meadow, with tall trees and bushes in it, and fowl perched in 
the trees and running through the grass, and sheep and kine and 
oxen and horses feeding down the meadow ; and over the door 
at the top of the stair was wrought a great steer bigger than all 
the other neat, whose head was turned toward the sun-rising and 
uplifted with open mouth, as though he were lowing aloud. 
Exceeding fair seemed that house to Folk-might, and as though 
it were the dwelling of some great kindred. 

But he had scarce gone over it with his eyes, and was just 
about to draw nigher yet to it, when the door at the top of those 
steps opened, and a woman came out of the house clad in a green 
kirtle and a gown of brazil, with a golden-hilted sword girt to 
her side. Folk-might saw at once that it was the Bride, and 
drew aback behind one of the trees so that she might not see 
him, if she had not already seen him, as it seemed not that she 
had ; for she stayed but for a moment on the top of the stair, 
looking out down the tree-rows, and then came down the stair 
and went soberly along the road, passing so close to Folk-might 
that he could see the fashion of her beauty closely, as one looks 
into the work of some deftest artificer. Then it came suddenly 
into his head that he would follow her and see whither she was 
wending. * At least,' said he to himself, ' if I come not to speech 
with her, I shall be nigh unto her, and shall see somewhat of 
her beauty.' 

So he came out quietly from behind the tree, and followed her 
softly ; and he was clad in no garment save his kirtle, and bare 
no weapons to clash and jingle, though he had his helm on his 
head for lack of a softer hat. He kept her well in sight, and she 
went straight onward and looked not back. She went by the way 

276 



whereas he had come, till they were in the main street, wherein FoUc-miRht 
as yet was no one afoot ; she made her way to the Bridge, and tolloweth the 
passed over it into the meadows ; but when she had gone but a "'""^^• 
few steps, she stayed a little and looked on the ground, and as she 
didsoturned a little toward Folk-might, who had drawn back into 
the last of the refuges over the up-stream buttresses. He saw that 
there was a half-smile on her face, but he could not tell whether 
she were glad or sorry. A light wind was beginning to blow, that 
stirred her raiment and raised a lock of hair that had strayed from 
the golden fillet round about her head, and she looked most mar- 
vellous fair. 

Now she looked along the grass that glittered under the beams 
of the newly-risen sun, and noted belike how heavy the dew lay 
on it ; and the grass was high already, for the spring had been 
hot, and haysel would be early in the Dale. So she put off her 
shoes, thatwere of deerskin and broidercdwith golden threads, and 
turned somewhat from the way, and hung them up amidst the new 
green leaves of a hawthorn bush that stood nearby, and so went 
thwart the meadow somewhat eastward straight from that bush, 
and her feet shone out like pearls amidst the deep green grass. 

Folk-might followed presently, and she stayed not again, nor 
turned, nor beheld him ; he recked not if she had, for then would 
he have come up with her and hailed her, and he knew that she 
was no foolish maiden to start at the sight of a man who was the 
friend of her Folk. 

So they went their ways till she came to the strand of the 
water-meadow brook aforesaid, and she went through the little 
ripples of the shallow without staying, and on through the tali 
deep grass of the meadow beyond, to where they met the brook 
again; for it swept round the meadow in a wide curve, and turned 
back toward itself; so it was some half furlong over from water 
to water. 

She stood a while on the brink of the brook here, which was 
brim-full and nigh running into the grass, because there was a dam 

277 



He seeth her just below the place ; and Folk-might drew ni'gher to her under 
weeping. cover of the thorn-bushes, and looked at the place about her and 

beyond her. The meadow beyond stream was very fair and 
flowery, but not right great ; for it was bounded by a grove of 
ancient chestnut trees, that went on and on toward the southern 
cliffs of the Dale : in front of the chestnut wood stood a broken row 
of black-thorn bushes, now growing green and losing their blos- 
som, and he could see betwixt them that there was a grassy bank 
running along, as if there had once been a turf-wall and ditch 
round about the chestnut trees. — For indeed this was the old place 
of tryst between Gold-mane and the Bride, whereof the tale hath 
told before. 

The Bride stayed scarce longer than gave him time to note all 
this ; but he deemed that she was weeping, though he could not 
rightly see her face ; for her shoulders heaved, and she hung her 
face adown and put up her hands to it. But now she went a 
little higher up the stream, where the water was shallower, and 
waded the stream and went up over the meadow, still weeping, 
as he deemed, and went between the black-thorn bushes, and sat 
her down on the grassy bank with her back to the chestnut trees. 
Folk-might was ashamed to have seen her weeping, and was 
half-minded to turn him back again at once ; but love constrained 
him, and he said to himself, * Where shall I see her again privily 
if I pass by this time and place ? ' So he waited a little till he 
deemed she might have mastered the passion of tears, and then 
came forth from his bush, and went down to the water and crossed 
it, and went quietly over the meadow straight towards her. 
But he was not half-way across, when she lifted up her face from 
between her hands and beheld the man coming. She neither started 
nor rose up ; but straightened herself as she sat, and looked right 
into Folk-might's eyes as he drew near, though the tears were not 
dry on her cheeks. 

Now he stood before her, and said : * Hail to the Daughter of 
a mighty House ! Mayst thou live happy ! ' 

278 



She answered : ' Hail to thee also, Guest of our Folk ! Hast She greeteth 
thou been wandering about our meadows, and happened on me 'i'"i friendly, 
perchance ? ' 

* Nay,' he said ; * I saw thee come forth from the House of the 
Steer, and I followed thee hither.' 

She reddened a little, and knit her brow, and said : 

' Thou wilt have something to say to me ? ' 

' I have much to sa}' to thee,' he said ; ' yet it was sweet to 
me to behold thee, even if I might not speak with thee.' 

She looked on him with her deep simple eyes, and neither red- 
dened again, nor seem.ed wroth ; then she said : 

' Speak what thou hast in thine heart, and I will hearken with- 
out anger whatsoever it may be ; even if thou hast but to tell me 
of the passing folly of a mighty man, w^hich in a month or two 
he will not remember for sorrow or for joy. Sit here beside me, 
and tell me thy thought.' 

So he sat him adown and said : ' Yea, I have much to say to 
thee, but it is hard to me to say it. But this I will say : to-day and 
yesterday make the third time I have seen thee. The first time 
thou wert happy and calm, and no shadow of trouble was on thee; 
the second time thine happy days were waning, though thou scarce 
knewcst it ; but to-day and yesterday thou art constrained b}' the 
bonds of grief, and wouldest loosen them if thou mightcst.' 

She said : ' What meanest thou ? How knowest thou this ? 
How may a stranger partake in my joy and my sorrow? ' 

He said: 'As for yesterday, all the people might see thy 
grief and know it. But when I beheld thee the first time, I saw thee 
that thou wert more fair and lovely than all other women ; and 
when I was awav from thee, the thought of thee and thine image 
were with me, and I might not put them away ; and oft at such 
and such a time I wondered and said to myself, what is she doing 
now ? though god wot I was dealing with tangles and troubles 
and rough deeds enough. But the second time I beheld thee, when 
I had looked to have great joy in the sight of thee, my heart was 

279 



He telleth her smitten with a pang of grief ; for I saw thee hanging on the words 
of herself. and the looks of another man, who was light-minded toward 
thee, and that thou wert troubled with the anguish of doubt and 
fear. And he knew it not, nor saw it, though I saw it.' 

Her face grew troubled, and the tearful passion stirred within her. 
But she held it aback, and said, as anyone might have said it : 

' How wert thou in the Dale, mighty man ? We saw thee not.' 

He said : * I came hither hidden in other semblance than mine 
own. But meddle not therewith ; it availeth nought. Let me say 
this, and do thou hearken to it. I saw thee yesterday in the street, 
and thou wert as the ghost of thine old gladness ; although be- 
like thou hast striven with sorrow ; for I see thee with a sword 
by thy side, and we have been told that thou, O fairest of women, 
hast given thyself to the Warrior to be his damsel.' 

' Yea,' she said, ' that is sooth.' 

He went on : ' But the face which thou bearedst yesterday 
against thy will, amidst all the people, that was because thou 
hadst seen my sister the Sun-beam for the first time, and Face-of- 
god with her, hand clinging to hand, lip longing for lip, desire 
unsatislied, but glad with all hope.' 

She laid hand upon hand in the lap of her gown, and looked 
down, and her voice trembled as she said : 

' Doth it avail to talk of this ? ' 

He said : ' I know not : it may avail ; for I am grieved, and 
shall be whilst thou art grieved ; and it is my wont to strive with 
my griefs till I amend them.' 

She turned to him with kind eyes and said : 

* O mighty man, canst thou clear away the tangle which be- 
setteth the soul of her whose hope hath bewrayed her ? Canst 
thou make hope grow up in her heart ? Friend, I will tell thee 
that when I wed, I shall wed for the sake of the kindred, hoping 
for no joy therein. Yea, or if by some chance the desire of man 
came again into my heart, I should strive with it to rid myself of 
it , for I should know of it that it was but a wasting folly, that 

280 



should but beguile mc, and wound mc, and depart, leaving me She dcemeth 
empty of joy and heedless of life.' "im a friend. 

He shook his head and said : ' Even so thou decmcst now ; 
but one day it shall be otherwise. Or dost thou love thy sorrow ? 
I tell thee, as it wears thee and wears thee, thou shalt hate it, 
and strive to shake it off.' 

' Na}', nay,' she said ; * I love it not ; for not only it grievcth 
me, but also it beatcth me down and belittlcth me.' 

' Good is that,' said he. ' I know how strong thine heart is. 
Now, wilt thou take mine hand, which is verily the hand of thy 
friend, and remember what I have told thee of my grief which 
cannot be sundered from thine ? Shall we not talk more concern- 
ing this? For surel}' I shall soon sec thee again, and often; since 
the Warrior, who loveth me belike, leadeth thee into fellowship 
with me. Yea, I tell thee, O friend, that in that fellowship shalt 
thou find both the seed of hope, and the sun of" desire that shall 
quicken it.' 

Therewith he arose and stood before her, and held out to her 
hi3 hand all hardened with the sword-hilt, and she took it, and 
stood up facing him, and said : 

' This much will I tell thee, O friend ; that what I have said 
to thee this hour, I thought not to have said to any man ; or to 
talk with a man of the grief that wearcth me, or to suffer him to 
sec my tears ; and marvellous I deem it of thee, for all thy might, 
that thou hast drawn this speech from out of me, and left me 
neither angry nor ashamed, in spiteof these tears; and thou whom 
I have known not, though thou knewest mc ! 

' But now it were best that thou depart, and get thee home to 
the House of the Face, where I was once so frequent ; for I wot 
that thou hast much to do ; and as thou sayest, it will be in war- 
fare that I shall sec thee. Now I thank thee for thy words and 
the thought thou hast had of me, and the pain which thou hast 
taken to heal my hurt : I thank thee, I thank thee, for as grievous 
as it is to show one's hurts even to a friend.' 

281 O O 



Men go to the He said : * O Bride, I thank thee for hearkening to my tale ; 

Folk-mote. a^d one day shall I thank thee much more. Mayest thou fare 
well in the Field and amidst the Folk ! ' 

Therewith he kissed her hand, and turned awa}'^, and went 
across the meadow and the stream, glad at heart and blithe with 
cver^'one ; for kindness grew in him as gladness grew. 



CHAPTER XXXVII. OF THE FOLK-MOTE OF THE DALES- 
MEN, THE SHEPHERD-FOLK, AND THE WOODLAND 
CARLES: THE BANNER OF THE WOLF DISPLAYED. 

NOW came the day of the Great Folk-mote, and there was 
much thronging from everywhere to the Mote-stead, but 
most from Burgstead itself, whereas few of the Dale- 
dwellers who had been at the Fair had gone back home. Albeit 
some of the Shepherds and of the Dalesmen of the westernmost 
Dale had brought light tents, and tilted themselves in in the night 
before the Mote down in the m.eadows below the Mote-stead. 
From early morning there had been a stream of folk on the Port- 
way setting westward ; and many came thus early that they 
might hold converse with friends and well-wishers ; and some 
that they might disport them in the woods. Men went in no 
ordered bands, as the Burgstead men at least had done on the day 
of the Weapon-show, save that a few of them who were arrayed 
the bravest gathered about the banners, and went with them to the 
Mote-stead; for all the banners must needs be there. 

The Folk-mote was to be hallowed-in three hours before noon, 
as all men knew ; therefore an hour before that time were all men 
of the Dale and the Shepherds assembled that might be looked 
for, save the Alderman and the chieftains with the banner of the 
Burg, and these were not like to come many minutes before the 
Hallowing. Folk were gathered on the Field in such wise, that 
the men-at-arms made a great ring round about the Doom-ring 

282 



(albeit there were man}' old men there, girt witli swords that they Here cometh 
should never heave up again in battle), so that without that ring i" the Aldtr- 
there was nought save women and children. But when all tlie '"^"• 
other Houses wore assembled, men looked around, and beheld 
the place of the Woodlanders that it was empty ; and they mar- 
velled that the}' were thus belated. For now all was ready, and 
a watcher had gone up to the Tower on the height, and had with 
him the great Horn of Warning, which could be heard past the 
ISlotc-stead and a great way down the Dale : and if he saw foes 
coming from the East he should blow one blast ; if from the South, 
two; if from the West, three; if from the North, four. 

So half an hour from the appointed time of Hallowing rose the 
rumour that the Alderman was on the road, and presently they 
of the women who were on the outside of the throng, by drawins; 
nigh to the edge of the sheer rock, could behold the Banner of 
the Burg on the Portway, and soon after could see the wain, 
done about with green boughs, wherein sat the chieftains in their 
glittering war-gear. Speedily they spread the tidings, and a con- 
fused shout went up into the air ; and in a little while the wain 
stayed on Wildlake's Way at the bottom of the steep slope that 
went up to the Mote-stead, and the banner of the Burg came on 
proudly up the hill. Soon all men beheld it, and saw that the 
tall Hall-face bore it in front of his brother Face-of-god, who 
came on gleaming in war-gear better than most men had seen; 
which was indeed of his father's fashioning, and his father's gift 
to him that morning. 

After Face-of-god came the Alderman, and with him Folk- 
might leading the Sun-beam by the hand, and then Stone-face 
and the Elder of the Dale-wardens ; and then the six Burg- 
wardens : as to the other Dale-wardens, they were in their places 
on the Field. 

So now tliosc who had been standing up turned their faces to- 
ward the Altar of the Gods, and those who had been sitting down 
sprang to their feet, and tlie confused rumour of the throng rose 

283 



landers. 



Now come into a clear shout as the chieftains went to their places, and sat 
the Wood- them down on the turf-seats amidst the Doom-ring facing the 
Speech-hill and the Altar of the Gods. Amidmost sat the Alder- 
man, on his right hand Face-of-god, and out from him Hail-face, 
and then Stone-face and three of the Wardens ; but on his left 
hand sat first the two Guests, then the Elder of the Dale-wardens, 
and then the other three Burg-wardens ; as for the Banner of the 
Burg, its staff was stuck into the earth behind them, and the 
Banner raised itself in the morning wind and flapped and rippled 
over their heads. 

There then they sat, and folk abided, and it still lacked some 
minutes of the due time, as the Alderman wotted by the shadow 
of the great standing-stone betwixt him and the Altar. There- 
withal came the sound of a great horn from out of the wood on 
the north side, and men knew it for the horn of the Woodland 
Carles, and were glad ; for they could not think why they should 
be belated; and now men stood up a-tiptoe and on other's 
shoulders to look over the heads of the women and children to 
behold their coming ; but their empty place was at the south- 
west corner of the ring of men. 

So presently men beheld them marching toward their place, 
cleaving the throng of the women and children, a great com- 
pany ; for besides that they had with them two score more of 
men under weapons than on the day of the Weapon-show, all 
their little ones and women and outworn elders were with them, 
some on foot, some riding on oxen and asses. In their forefront 
went the two signs of the Battle-shaft and the War-spear. But 
moreover, in front of all was borne a great staff with the cloth 
of a banner wrapped round about it, and tied up with a hempen 
yarn that it might not be seen. 

Stark and mighty men they looked ; tall and lean, broad- 
shouldered, dark-faced. As they came amongst the throng the 
voice of their horn died out, and for a few moments they fared 
on with no sound save the tramp of their feet ; then all at once 

284 



the man who bare the hidden banner lifted up one hand, and The Song of 
straightway they fell to singing, and with that song they came ''"^ Woit. 
to their place. And this is some of what they sang : 

O white, white Sun, what things of wonder 

Hast thou beheld from thy wall of the sky! 
All the Roofs of the Rich and the grief thereunder, 

As the fear of the Earl-folk flittcth by ! 

Thou hast seen the Flame steal forth from the Forest 

To slay the slumber o{ the lands. 
As the Dusky Lord whom thou abhorrcst 

Clomb up to thy Burg unbuilt with hands. 

Thou lookest down from thy door the golden, 

Nor batest th}' wide-shining mirth, 
As the ramparts fall, and the roof-trees olden 

Lie smouldering low on the burning earth. 

When flitteth the half-dark night of summer 

From the face of the murder great and grim, 
'Tis thou thyself and no new-comer 

Shines golden-bright on the deed undim. 

Art thou our friend, O Day-dawn's Lover ? 

Full oft thine hand hath sent aslant 
Bright beams athwart the Wood-bear's cover, 

Where the feeble folk and the nameless haunt. 

Thou hast seen us quail, thou hast seen us cower. 

Thou hast seen us crouch in the Green Abode, 
While for us wert thou slaying slow hour b}' hour. 

And smoothing down the war-rough road. 
285 



The banner Yea, the rocks of the Waste were thy Dawns upheaving, 

displayed, To let the days of the years go through ; 

And thy Noons the tangled brake were cleaving 
The slow-foot seasons' deed to do. 

Then gaze adown on this gift of our giving, 
For the WOLF comes wending frith and ford, 

And the Folk fares forth from the dead to the living, 
For the love of the Lief by the light of the Sword. 

Then ceased the song, and the whole band of the Woodlanders 
came pouring tumultuously into the space allotted them, like 
the waters pouring over a river-dam, their white swords waving 
aloft in the morning; sunlight ; and wild and strange cries rose 
up from amidst them, with sobbing and weeping of joy. But 
soon their troubled front sank back into ordered ranks, their bright 
blades stood upright in their hands before them, and folk looked on 
their company, and deemed it the very Terror of battle and Render 
of the ranks of war. Right well were they armed ; for though 
many of their weapons were ancient and somewhat worn, yet 
were they the work of good smiths of old days ; and moreover, 
if any of them lacked good war-gear of his own, that had the 
Alderman and his sons made good to them. 

But before the hedge of steel stood the two tall men who held 
in their hands the war-tokens of the Battle-shaft and the War- 
spear, and betwixt them stood one who was indeed the tallest 
man of the whole assembly, who held the great staff of the hidden 
banner. And now he reached up his hand, and plucked at the 
yarn that bound it, which of set purpose was but feeble, and tore 
it off, and then shook the staff aloft with both hands, and shouted, 
and lo ! the Banner of the Wolf with the Sun-burst behind him, 
glittering-bright, new-woven by the women of the kindred, ran 
out in the fresh wind, and flapped and rippled before His warriors 
there assembled. 

286 



Then from all over the Mote-stead arose an exceeding great High-hearted 
shout, and all men waved aloft their weapons ; but the men of -irc men. 
Shadow}- \'alc who were standing amidst the men of the Face 
knew not how to demean themselves, and some of them ran forth 
into the Field and leapt for joy, tossing their swords into the 
air, and catching them by the hilts as they fell : and amidst it 
.ill the Woodlanders now stood silent, i.nmoving, as men abiding 
the word of onset. 

As for that brother and sister : tlij Sun-beam flushed red all 
over her face, and pressed her hands to her bosom, and then the 
p.ission of tears over-mastered her, and her breast heaved, and 
the tears gushed out of her eyes, and her body was shaken with 
weeping. But Folk-might sat still, looking straight before him, 
his eyes glittering, his teeth set, his right hand clutching hard at 
the hilts of his sword, which lay naked across his knees. And the 
Hride, who stood clad in her begemmed and glittering war-array 
in the forefront of the Men of the Steer, nigh unto the seats of 
the chieftains, beheld F'olk-might, and her face flushed and 
brightened, and still she looked upon him. The Alderman's 
t.ice was as of one pleased and proud ; yet was its joy shadowed 
;is it were by a cloud of compassion. Face-of-god sat like the 
\ cry image of the War-god, and stirred not, nor looked toward 
the Sun-beam; for still the thought of the after-grief of battle, 
and the death oi friends and folk that loved him, lay heavy on 
his heart, for all that it beat wildly at the shouting of the men. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. OF THE GREAT FOLK-MOTE : 
ATONEMENTS GIVEN, AND MEN MADE SACKLESS. 

AMIDST the clamour uprose the Alderman ; for it was clear 
to all men that the Folk-mote should be holden at once, and 
the matters of the War, and the Fellowship, and the choos- 
inor of the War-leader, speedily dealt with. So the Alderman fell 

287 



The Folk- to hallowing in the Folk-mote : he went up to the Altar of the 
mote Gods, and took the Gold-ring off it, and did it on his arm ; then he 

hallowed-in. drew his sword and waved it toward the four airts, and spake ; and 
the noise and shouting fell, and there was silence but for him : 

* Herewith I hallow in this Folk-mote of the Men of the Dale 
and the Sheepcotes and the Woodland, in the name of the War- 
rior and the Earth-god and the Fathers of the kindreds. Now 
let not the peace of the Mote be broken. Let not man rise against 
man, or bear blade or hand, or stick or stone against any. If any 
man break the Peace of the Holy Mote, let him be a man accursed, 
a wild-beast in the Holy Places ; an outcast fromhome and hearth, 
from bed and board, from mead and acre ; not to be holpen with 
bread, nor flesh, nor wine ; nor flax, nor wool, nor any cloth ; nor 
with sword, nor shield, nor axe, nor plough-share ; nor with horse, 
nor ox, nor ass; with no saddle-beast nor draught-beast ; nor with 
wain, nor boat, nor way-leading ; nor with fire nor water ; nor with 
any world's wealth. Thus let him who hath cast out man be cast 
out b}'' man. Now is hallowed-in the Folk-mote of the Men of 
the Dale and the Sheepcotes and the Woodlands.' 

Therewith he waved his sword again toward the four airts, 
and went and sat down in his place. But presently he arose 
again, and said : 

' Now if man hath aught to say against man, and claimeth 
boot of any, or would lay guilt on any man's head, let him come 
forth and declare it ; and the judges shall be named, and the case 
shall be tried this afternoon or to-morrow. Yet first I shall tell 
you that I, the Alderman of the Dalesmen, doomed one Iron-face 
of the House of the Face to pay a double fine, for that he drew 
a sword at the Gate-thing of Burgstead with the intent to break 
the peace thereof. Thou, Green-sleeve, bring forth the peace- 
breaker's fine, that Iron-face may lay the same on the Altar.' 

Then came forth a man from the men of the Face bearing a 
bag, and he brought it to Iron-face, who went up to the Altar and 
poured forth weighed gold from the bag thereon, and said : 

288 



* Warden oi' the Dale, come thou and weigh it ! ' Penny-thumb 

' Nay,' quoth the Warden, ' it needcth not, no man here doubteth cometh forth. 
thee, Alderman Iron-face.' 

A murmur of yeasay went up, and none had a word to say 
against the Alderman, but they praised him rather : also men 
were eager to hear of the war, and the fellowship, and to be 
done with these petty matters. Then the Alderman rose again 
and said : 

' Hath any man a grief against an}' other of the Kindreds of 
the Dale, or the Sheepcotes, or the Woodlands ? ' 

None answered or stirred ; so after he had waited a while, 
he said : 

' Is there any who hath any guilt to lay against a Stranger, 
an Outlander, being such a man as he deems we can come at ? ' 

Thereat was a stir amongst the Men of the Fleece of the 
Shepherds, and their ranks opened, and there came forth an ill- 
favoured lean old man, long-nebbed, blear-eyed, and bent, girt 
with a rusty old sword, but not otherwise armed. And all men 
knew Penny-thumb, who had been ransacked last autumn. As 
he came forth, it seemed as if his neighbours had been trying to 
hold him back ; but a stout, broad-shouldered man, black-haired 
and red-bearded, made way for the old man, and led him out of 
the throng, and stood by him ; and this man was well armed at 
all points, and looked a doughty carle. He stood side by side with 
Penny-thumb, right in front of the men of his house, and looked 
about him at first somewhat uneasily, as though he were ashamed 
of his fellow ; but though many smiled, none laughed aloud ; 
and they forbore, partly because they knew the man to be a good 
man, partly because of the solemn tide of the Folk-mote, and 
partly in sooth because they wished all this to be over, and were 
as men who had no time for empty mirth. 

Then said the Alderman : ' What wouldestthou. Penny-thumb, 
and thou, Bristler, son of Brightling ? ' 

Then Penny-thumb began to speak in a high squeaky voice : 

289 P P 



Folk-might 'Alderman, and Lord of the Folk !' — But therewithal Bristler 

taketh the pulled him back, and said : 

guilt on aim. 4 j ^^ ^j^g j^^^j ^j^q j^^jJ^ taken this quarrel upon me, and have 
sworn upon the Holy Boar to carry this feud through; and we 
deem, Alderman, that if they who slew Rusty and ransacked 
Penny-thumb be not known now, yet they soon may be.' 

As he spake, came forth thosethreemenof the Shepherds and the 
two Dalesmen who had sworn with him on the Holy Boar. Then 
up stood Folk-might, and came forth into the field, and said : 

* Bristler, son of Brightling, and ye other good men and true, 
it is but sooth that the ransackers and the slayer may soon be 
known ; and here I declare them unto you : I it was and none 
other who slew Rusty ; and I was the leader of those who ran- 
sacked Penny-thumb, and cowed Harts-bane of Greentofts. As 
for the slaying of Rusty, I slew him because he chased me, and 
would not forbear, so that I must either slay or be slain, as hath 
befallen me erewhile, and will befall again, methinks. As for the 
ransacking of Penny-thumb, I needed the goods that I took, and he 
needed them not, since he neither used them, nor gave them away, 
and, they being gone, he hath lived no worser than aforetime. 
Now 1 say, that if ye will take the outlawry off me, which, as I 
hear, ye laid upon me, not knowing me, then will I handsel self- 
doom to thee, Bristler, if thou wilt bear thy grief to purse, and 
I will pay thee what thou wilt out of hand; or if perchance thou 
wilt call me to Holm, thither will I go, if thou and I come unslain 
out of this war. As to the ransacking and cowing of Harts-bane, 
I say that I am sackless therein, because the man is but a ruffler 
and a man of violence, and hath cowed many men of the Dale ; 
and if he gainsay me, then do I call him to the Holm after this 
war is over ; either him or any man who will take his place before 
my sword.' 

Then he held his peace, and man spake to man, and a murmur 
arose, as they said for the more part that it was a fair and manly 
offer. But Bristler called his fellows and Penny-thumb to him, 

290 



and they spake together ; and sometimes Penny-thumb's shrill Bristlcr's 
squeak was heard above the deep-voiced talk of the others ; for dooming, 
he was a man that harboured malice. But at last Bristler spake 
out and said : 

' Tall man, we know that thou art a chieftain and of good will 
to the men of the Dale and their friends, and that want drave 
thee to the ransacking, and need to the manslaying, and neither 
the living nor the dead to whom thou art guilty are to be called 
good men ; therefore will I bring the matter to purse, if thou wilt 
handsel me self-doom.' 

' Yea, even so let it be,' quoth Folk-might ; and stepped for- 
ward and took Bristler by the hand, and handselled him self-doom . 
Then said Bristler : 

' Though Rusty was no good man, and though he followed 
thee to slay thee, 3'ct was he in his right therein, since he was 
following up his goodman's gear ; therefore shalt thou pay a full 
blood-wite for him, that is to say, the worth of three hundreds in 
weed-stuff in whatso goods thou wilt. As for the ransacking of 
Penny-thumb, he shall deem himself well paid if thou give him four 
hundreds in weed-stuff for that which thou didst borrow of him.' 

Then Penny-thumb set up his squeak again, but no man hear- 
; kened to him, and each man said to his neighbour that it was 
well doomed oi^ Bristler, and neither too much nor too little. 
But Folk-might bade Wood-wont to bring thither to him that 
which he had borne to the Mote ; and he brought forth a bia sack, 
and Folk-might emptied it on the earth, and lo ! the silver rino-s of 
the slain felons, and they lay in a heap on the green field, and they 
were the best of silver. Then the Elder of the Dale-wardens 
weighed out from the heap the blood-wite for Rusty, according 
(I to the due measure of the hundred in weed-stuff, and delivered it 
unto Bristler. And Folk-might said : 

♦ Draw nigh now. Penny-thumb, and take what thou wilt o^ 
this gear, which I need not, and grudge not at me henceforward.' 

But Penny-thumb was afraid, and abode where he was ; and 

291 



Penny-thumb Bristler laughed, and said : ' Take it, goodman, take it ; spare 
taketh home not Other men's goods as thou dost thine own.' 
^''^^''- And Folk-might stood by, smiling faintly : so Penny-thumb 

plucked up a heart, and drew nigh trembling, and took what he 
durst from that heap ; and all that stood by said that he had gotten 
a full double of what had been awarded to him. But as for him, 
he went his ways straight from the Mote-stead, and made no stay 
till he had gotten him home, and laid the silver up in a strong 
coffer ; and thereafter he bewailed him sorely that he had not 
taken the double of that which he took, since none would have 
said him nay. 

When he was gone, the Alderman arose and said : 
* Now, since the fines have been paid duly and freely, according 
to the dooming of Bristler, take we off the outlawry from Folk- 
miaht and his fellows, and account them to be sackless before us.' 
Then he called for other cases ; but no man had aught more to 
bring forward against any man, either of the kindreds or the 
Strangers. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. OF THE GREAT FOLK-MOTE : MEN 
TAKE REDE OF THE "WAR-FARING, THE FELLOWSHIP, 
AND THE WAR-LEADER. FOLK-MIGHT TELLETH 
WHENCE HIS PEOPLE CAME. THE FOLK-MOTE SUN- 
DERED. 

NOW a great silence fell upon the throng, and they stood 
as men abiding some new matter. Unto them arose the 
Alderman, and said : 
* Men of the Dale, and ye Shepherds and Woodlanders ; it is 
well known to you that we have foemen in the wood and beyond 
it ; and now have we gotten sure tidings, that they will not abide 
at home or in the wood, but are minded to fall upon us at home. 
Now therefore I will not ask you whether ye will have peace 

292 



or war ; for with these foemen ye may have peace no otherwise The chiefs 
save by war. But if ye think with me, three things have ye to g'^e forth 
determine: first, whether ye will abide your foes in your own ^^eir words on 
houses, or will go meet them at theirs; next, whether ye will take ^^^ matters of 
to you as fellows in arms a valiant folk of the children of the 
Gods, who are foemen to our foemen ; and lastl}', what man ye 
will have to be your War-leader. Now, I bid all those here 
assembled, to speak hereof, an}' man of them that wili, either what 
the}' may have conceived in their own minds, or what their kin- 
dred may have put into their mouths to speak.' 

Therewith he sat down, and in a little while came forth old 
Hall-ward of the House of the Steer, and stood before the Alder- 
man, and said : 'O Alderman, all we say : Since war is awake we 
will not tarry, but will go meet our foes while it is yet time. The 
valiant men of whom thou tellest shall be our fellows, were there 
but three of them. We know no better War-leader than Face- 
of-god of the House of the Face, Let him lead us.' 

Therewith he went his ways ; and next came forth War-well, 
and said : ' The House of the Bridge would have Face-of-aod 
for War-leader, these tall men for fellows, and the shortest way 
to meet the foe.' And he went back to his place. 

Next came Fox of Upton, and said : ' Time presses, or much 
might be spoken. Thus saith the House of the Bull : Let us cro 
meet the foe, and take these valiant strangers for way-leaders, 
and Face-of-god for War-leader.' And he also went back again. 

Then came forth two men together, an old man and a youncr, 
and the old man spake as soon as he stood still : ' The Men of the 
Vine bid me say their will : They will not stay at home to have 
their houses burned over their heads, themselves slain on their 
own hearths, and their wives haled off to thralldom. They will 
take any man for their fellow in arms who will smite stark strokes 
on theJr side. They know Face-of-god, and were liefer of him 
for War-leader than any other, and they will follow him whereso- 
ever he leadeth. Thus my kindred biddeth me say, and I hight 

293 



More chiefs 
give their 
deeming of 
the war. 



Fork -beard of Lea. If I live through this war, I shall have lived 
through five.' 

Therewith he went back to his place ; but the young man lifted 
up his voice and said : ' To all this I say yea, and so am I bidden 
by the kindred of the Sickle. I am Red-beard of the Knolls, 
the son of my father.' And he went to his place again. 

Then came forth Stone-face, and said : ' The House of the 
Face saith: Lead us through the wood, O Face-of-god, thou 
War-leader, and ye warriors of the Wolf. I am Stone- face, 
as men know, and this word hath been given to me by the kin- 
dred.' And he took his place again. 

Then came forth together the three chiefs of the Shepherds, to 
wit Hound-under-Greenbury, Strongitharm, and the Hyllier ; 
and Strongitharm spake for all three, and said : 

* The Men of Greenbury, and they of the Fleece and the 
Thorn, are of one accord, and bid us say that they are well pleased 
to have Face-of-god for War-leader ; and that they will follow 
him and the warriors of the Wolf to live or die with them ; and 
that they are ready to go meet the foe at once, and will not skulk 
behind the walls of Greenbury.' 

Therewith the three went back again to their places. 

Then came forth that tall man that bare the Banner of the 
Wolf, when he had given the staff into the hands of him who 
stood next. He came and stood over against the seat of the chief- 
tains ; and for a while he could say no word, but stood struggling 
with the strong passion of his joy; but at last he lifted his hands 
aloft, and cried out in a loud voice : 

' O war, war ! O death ! O wounding and grief! O loss of 
friends and kindred ! let all this be rather than the drawing 
back of meeting hands and the sundering of yearning hearts ! ' 
and he went back hastily to his place. But from the ranks of 
the Woodlanders ran forth a young man, and cried out : 

* As is the word of Red-wolf, so is my word. Bears-bane of 
Carlstead; and this is the word which our little Folk hath put 

294 



into our mouths ; and O ! that our hands may show the mean- The War- 
ing of our mouths; for nought else can.' leader chosen: 
Then indeed went up a great shout, though many forebore to fellowship 
. c .u ♦ u J r J J yeasaid, and 
cry out; tor now were they too much moved tor words or sounds. ^[^^ the on 

And in special was Face-of-god moved ; and he scarce knew slaught on 
which way to look, lest he should break out into sobs and weep- tlie Dusky 
ing ; for of late he had been much among the Woodlanders, and ^^'^"• 
loved them much. 

Then all the noise and clamour fell, and it was to men as if 

they who had come thither a folk, had now become an host of war. 

But once again the Alderman rose up and spake : 

* Now have ye yeasaid three things : That we take Face-of- 

god of the House of the Face for our War-leader; that we fare 

under weapons at once against them who would murder us; and 

that we take the valiant Folk of the Wolf for our fellows in arms.' 

Therewith he stayed his speech, and this time the shout arose 

clear and most mighty, with the tossing up of swords and the 

clashing of weapons on shields. 

Then he said: ' Now, if any man will speak, here is the War- 
leader, and here is the chief of our new friends, to answer to whatso 
any of the kindred would have answered,' 

Thereon came forth the F^iddle from amongst the Men of the 
Sickle, and drew somewhat nigh to the Alderman, and said : 
' Alderman, we would ask of the War-leader if he hath devised 
the manner of our assembling, and the way of our war-faring, and 
the day of our hosting. More than this I will not ask of him, 
because we wot that in so great an assembly it may be that the 
^ot may have some spy of whom we wot not ; and though this 
be not likely, yet some folk may babble ; therefore it is best for 
the wise to be wise everywhere and always. Therefore my rede 
it is, that no man ask any more concerning this, but let it lie with 
the War-leader to bring us face to face with the foe as speedily 
as he may.' 

All men said that this was well counselled. But Face-of-god 

295 



Folk-might is arose and said : ' Ye Men of the Dale, ye Shepherds and Wood- 
asked con- landers, meseemeth the Fiddle hath spoken wisely. Now there- 
whencf and ^^"^^ ^ answer him and say, that I have so ordered everything 
what he is. since the Gate-thing was holden at Burgstead, that we may 
come face to face with the foemen by the shortest of roads. Every 
man shall be duly summoned to the Hosting, and if any man fail, 
let it be accounted a shame to him for ever.' 

A great shout followed on his words, and he sat down again. 
But Fox of Upton came forth and said : 

'O Alderman, we have yeasaid the fellowship of the valiant 
men who have come to us from out of the waste ; but this we 
have done, not because we have known them, otherwise than by 
what our kinsman Face-of-god hath told us concerning them, 
but because we have seen clearly that they will be of much avail 
to us in our warfare. Now, therefore, if the tall chieftain who 
sitteth beside thee were to do us to wit what he is, and whence 
he and his are come, it were well, and fain were we thereof; but 
if he listeth not to tell us, that also shall be well.' 

Then arose Folk-might in his place ; but or ever he could open 
his mouth to speak, the tall Red-wolf strode forward bearing 
with him the Banner of the Wolf and the Sun-burst, and came 
and stood beside him ; and the wind ran through the folds of 
the banner, and rippled it out above the heads of those twain. 
Then Folk-might spake and said : 

* O Men of the Dale and theSheepcotes,Iwilldoasyebid me do; 
And fain were ye of the story if every deal ye knew. 

But long, long were its telling, were I to tell it all : 

Let it bide till the Cup of Deliverance ye drink from hall to hall. 

* Like you we be of the kindreds, of the Sons of the Gods we come, 
Midst the Mid-earth's mighty Woodland of old wehadourhome; 
But of older time we abided 'neath the mountains of the Earth, 
O'er which the Sun ariseth to waken woe and mirth. 

296 



Great were we then and many ; but the long days wore us thin, Folk-might 

And war, wherein the winner hath wear}- work to win. telletk how 

And the woodland wall behind us e'en like ourselves was worn, kindred 

And the tramp of the hosts ofthcfoemenadown its glades was borne mountains. 

On the wind that bent our wheat-fields. So in the morn we rose, 

And left behind the stubble and the autumn-fruited close, 

And went our ways to the westward, nor turned aback to see 

The 2:lare of our burning houses rise over brake and tree. 

But the foe was fierce and speed}-, nor long they tarried there, 

And through the woods of battle our laden wains must fare ; 

And the Sons of the Wolf were minished, and the maids of the 

Wolf waxed few, 
As amidst the victor^-'singing we fared the wild- wood through. 

* So saith the ancient story, that w-est and west we went. 
And many a day of battle we had in brake, on bent ; 
Whilst here a while we tarried, and there we hastened on. 
And still the battle-harvest from many a folk we won. 

' Of the tale of the days who wotteth ? Oi' the years what man 

can tell, 
"W^hile the Sons of the Wolf were wandering, and knew not where 

to dwell ? 
But at last we clomb the mountains, and mickle was our toil, 
As high the spear-wood clambered of the drivers oi^ the spoil ; 
And tangled were the passes and the beacons flared behind, 
And the horns of gathering onset came up upon the wind. 
So saith the ancient story, that we stood in a mountain-cleft. 
Where the w-ays and the valleys sundered to the right hpnd and 

the left. 
There in the place of sundering all woeful was the rede ; 
We knew no land before us, and behind was heavy need. 
As the sword cleaves through the byrny, so there the mountain flank 
Cleft through the God-kin's people; and ne'er again we drank 

297 CLCL 



Now Red- The wine of war together, or feasted side by side 

wolf singeth. In the Feast-hall of the Warrior on the fruit of the battle-tide. 

For there we turned and sundered ; unto the North we went 

And up along the waters, and the clattering stony bent ; 

And unto the South and the Sheepcotes down went our sister's sons ; 

And O for the years passed over since we saw those valiant ones ! ' 

He ceased, and laid his right hand on the banner-staff a little 
below the left hand of Red- wolf ; and men were so keen to hear 
each word that he spake, that there was no cry nor sound of 
voices when he had done, only the sound of the rippling banner 
of the Wolf over the heads of those twain. The Sun-beam 
bowed her head now, and wept silently. But the Bride, she had 
drawn her sword, and held it upright in her hand before her, and 
the sun smote fire from out of it. 

Then it was but a little while before Red-wolf lifted up his 
voice, and sang : 

* Hearken a wonder, O Folk of the Field, 

How they that did sunder stand shield beside shield ! 

Lo ! the old wont and manner by fearless folk made. 
On the Bole of the Banner the brothers' hands laid. 

Lo ! here the token of what hath betid ! 

Grown whole is the broken, found that which was hid. 

Now one way we follow whate'er shall befall ; 
As seeketh the swallow his yesteryear's hall. 

Seldom folk fewer to fight-stead hath fared ; 
Ne'er have men truer the battle-reed bared. 

Grey locks now I carry, and old am I grown,^ 
Nor looked I to tarry to meet with mine own. 
298 



For we who remember the deeds of old days How the Sons 

Were nought but the ember of battle ablaze. ot the Wolf" 

cametoSilver- 

For what man might aid us ? what deed and what da}"^ '^^''^• 
Should come where Weird laid us aloof from the way ? 

What man save that other of Twain rent apart, 
Our war-friend, our Brother, the piece of our heart. 

Then hearken the wonder how shield beside shield 
The twain that did sunder wend down to the Field ! * 

Now when he had made an end, men could no longer fore- 
bear the shout ; and it went up into the heavens, and was borne 
by the west-wind down the Dale to the ears of the sta^'-at-home 
women and men unmeet to go abroad, and it quickened their 
blood and the spirits within them as they heard it, and they 
smiled and were fain ; for they knew that their kinsfolk were glad. 

But when there was quiet on the Mote-field again. Folk-might 
spake again and said ; 

* It is sooth that my Brother sayeth, and that now again we wend, 
All the Sons of the Wolf together, till the trouble hath an end. 
But as for that tale of the Ancients, it saith that we who went 
To the northward, climbed and stumbled o'er many a stony bent, 
Till we happed on that isle o( the waste-land, and the grass of 

Shadowy \'^ale. 
Where we dwelt till we throve a little, and felt our might avail. 
Then we fared abroad from the shadow and the little-lighted hold. 
And the increase fell to the valiant, and the spoil to the battle-bold, 
And never a man gainsaid us with the weapons in our hands ; 
And in Silver-dale the happ}' we gat us life and lands. 

* So wore the years o'er-wealthy ; and meseemeth that ye know 
Howwe sowed and reaped destruction, and the Dayofthe overthrow: 

299 



Offerings to How we leaned on the staff we had broken, and put our lives in 
the Gods. the hand 

Of those whom we had vanquished and the feeble of the land ; 

And these were the stone of stumbling, and the burden not to be borne, 

When the battle-blast fell on us and our day was over-worn. 

Thus then did our wealth bewray us, and left us wise and sad ; 

And to you, bold men, it falleth once more to make us glad. 

If so your hearts are bidding, and ye deem the deed of worth. 

Such were we ; what we shall be, 'tis yours to say henceforth.' 

He said furthermore : ' How great we have been I have told 
you already ; and ye shall see for yourselves how little we be now. 
Is it enough, and will ye have us for friends and brothers ? How 
say ye ? * 

They answered with shout upon shout, so that all the place 
and the wild-wood round about was full of the voice of their cry- 
ing; but when the clamour fell, then spake the Alderman and said: 

' Friend, and chieftain of the Wolf, thou mayst hear by this 
shouting of the people that we have no mind to naysay our yea- 
say. And know that it is not our use and manner to seek the 
strong for friends, and to thrust aside the weak ; but rather to 
choose for our friends them who are of like mind to us, men in 
whom we put our trust. From henceforth then there is brother- 
hood between us; we are yours, and ye are ours; and let this 
endure for ever ! ' 

Then were all men full of joy ; and now at last the battle 
seemed at hand, and the peace beyond the battle. 

Then men brought the hallowed beasts all garlanded with 
flowers into the Doom-ring, and there were they slain and offered 
up unto the Gods, to wit the Warrior, the Earth-god, and the 
Fathers ; and thereafter was solemn feast holden on the Field of the 
Folk-mote, and all men were fain and merry. Nevertheless, not 
all men abode there the feast through ; for or ever the afternoon 
was well worn, were many men wending along the Portway 



eastward toward the Upper Dale, each man in his war-gear and The Wood- 
with a scrip hung about him ; and these were they who were landers abide 
bound tor the trysting-place and the journey over the waste. the Hosting 

So the Folk-mote was sundered; and men went to their houses, 
and there abode in peace the time of their summoning ; since 
they wotted well that the Hosting was afoot. 

But as for the Woodlanders, who were at the Mote-stead with 
all their folk, women, children, and old men, they went not back 
again to Carlstcad ; but prayed the neighbours of the Middle 
Dale to suffer them to abide there awhile, which they yeasaid 
with a good will. So the Woodlanders tilted themselves in, 
the more part of them, down in the meadows below the Mote- 
stead, along either side of Wikllake's Way ; but their ancient 
folk, and some of the women and children, the neighbours would 
have into their houses, and the rest they furnished with victual 
and all that they needed without price, looking upon them as their 
very guests. For indeed they deemed that they could see that 
these men would never return to Carlstead, but would abide with 
the Men of the Wolf in Silver-dale, once it were won. And this 
they deemed but meet and right, yet were they scrry thereof ; for 
the Woodlanders were well beloved of all the Dalesmen ; and 
now that the}' had gotten to know that they were come of so noble 
a kindred, they were better beloved yet, and more looked upon. 



CHAPTER XL. OF THE HOSTING IN SHADOWY VALE. 

IT was on the evening of the fourth day after the Folk-mote 
that there came through the Waste to the rocky edge of 
Shadowy Vale a band of some fifteen scoreof men-at-arms, and 
with them a multitude of women and children and old men, some 
afoot, some riding on asses and bullocks ; and with them were sump- 
ter asses and neat laden with household goods, and a few goats 
and kine. And this was the whole folk of the Woodlanders come 

301 



The Wood- 
landers come 
to Shadowy 
Vale. 



to the Hosting in Shadowy Vale and the Home of the Children 
of the Wolf. Their leaders of the way were Wood-father and 
Wood-wont and two other carles of Shadowy Vale ; and Red- 
wolf the tall, and Bears-bane and War-grove were the captains 
and chieftains of their company. 

Thus then they entered into the narrow pass aforesaid, which 
was the ingate to the Vale from the Waste, and little by little 
its dimness swallowed up their long line. As they went by the 
place where the lowering of the rock-wall gave a glimpse of the 
valley, they looked down into it as Face-of-god had done, but 
much change was there in little time. There was the black wall 
of crags on the other side stretching down to the ghyll of the 
great Force ; there ran the deep green waters of the Shivering 
Flood ; but the grass which Face-of-god had seen naked of every- 
thing but a few kine, thereon now the tents of men stood thick. 
Their hearts swelled within them as they beheld it, but they fore- 
bore the shout and the cry till they should be well within the Vale, 
and so went down silently into the darkness. But as their eyes 
caught that dim image of the Wolf on the wall of the pass, man 
pointed it out to man, and not a few turned and kissed it hurriedly ; 
and to them it seemed that many a kiss had been laid on that 
dear token since the days of old, and that the hard stone had been 
worn away by the fervent lips of men, and that the air of the 
mirk place 3'et quivered with the vows sworn over the sword-blade. 

But down through the dark they went, and so came on to the 
stony scree at the end of the pass and into the Vale ; and the whole 
Folk save the three chieftains flowed over it and stood about it 
down on the level grass of the Vale. But those three stood 3-et 
on the top of the scree, bearing the war-signs of the Shaft and 
the Spear, and betwixt them the banner of the Wolf and the Sun- 
burst newly displayed to the winds of Shadowy Vale. 

Up and down the Vale they looked, and saw before the tents 
of men the old familiar banners of Burgdale rising and falling in 
the evening wind. But amidst of the Doom-ring was pitched a 



great banner, whereon was done the image of the Wolf with red Folk-might 
gaping jaws on a field of green ; and about him stood other ban- greetetli 
ncrs, to wit, The Silver Arm on a red field, the Red Hand on "'^'"• 
a white field, and on green fields both, the Golden Bushel and the 
Ragged Sword. 

AH about the plain shone glittering war-gear oi^ men as they 
moved hither and thither, and a stream of folk began at once to 
draw toward the scree to look on those new-comers ; and amidst 
the helmed Burgdalers and the white-coated Shepherds went the 
tall men of the Wolf, bare-headed and unarmed save for their 
swords, mingled with the fair strong women of the kindred, tread- 
ing barefoot the soft grass of their own Vale. 

Presently there was a great throng gathered round about the 
Woodlandcrs, and each man as he joined it waved hand or wea- 
pon toward them, and the joy of their welcome sent a confused 
clamour through the air. Then forth from the throng stepped 
Folk-might, unarmed save his sword, and behind him was Face- 
of-god, in his war-gear save his helm, hand in hand with the Sun- 
beam, who was clad in her goodly flowered green kirtle, her feet 
naked like her sisters of the kindred. 

Then Folk-might cried aloud : ' A full and free greeting to our 
brothers ! Well be ye, O Sons of our Ancient Fathers! And to- 
day are ye the dearer to us because we see that ye have brought 
us a gift, to wit, your wives and children, and your grandsires un- 
meet for war. By this token we see how great is your trust in 
us, and that it is your meaning never to sunder from us again. O 
well be ye ; well be ye I ' 

Then spake Red-wolf, and said : ' Ye Sons of the Wolf, who 
parted from us of old time in that cleft of the mountains, it is our 
very selves that we give unto you ; and these are a part of our- 
selves; how then should we leave them behind us? Bear wit- 
ness, O men of Burgdale and the Sheepcotes, that we have be- 
come one F'olk with the men of Shadowy \'ale, never to be sun- 
dered again ! ' 



feast. 



The Sun- Then all that multitude shouted with a loud voice ; and when 

beam biddeth the shout had died away, Folk-might spake again : 
them to the < q Warriors of the Sundering, here shall your wives and chil- 

dren abide, while we go a little journey to rejoice our hearts with 
the hard handplay, and take to us that which we have missed : 
and to-morrow morn is appointed for this same journey, unless ye 
be over foot-weary with the ways of the Waste.' 

Red-wolf smiled as he answered : 'This ye say in jest, brother; 
for ye may see that our day's journey hath not been over-much for 
our old men ; how then should it weary those who may yet bear 
sword ? We are ready for the road and eager for the handplay.' 

* This is well,' said Folk-might, * and what was to be looked 
for. Therefore, brother, do ye and your counsel-mates come 
straightway to the Hall of the Wolf; wherein, after ye have 
eaten and drunken, shall we take counsel with our brethren 
of Burgdale and the Sheepcotes, so that all may be ordered 
for battle ! ' 

Said Red-wolf : ' Good is that, if we must needs abide till to- 
morrow ; for verily we came not hither to eat and drink and rest 
our bodies ; but it must be as ye will have it.' 

Then the Sun-beam left the hand of Face-of-god and came for- 
ward, and held out both her palms to the Woodland-folk, and spake 
in a voice that was heard afar, though it were a woman's, so clear 
and sweet it was ; and she said : 

' O Warriors of the Sundering, ye who be not needed in the 
Hall, and ye our sisters with your little ones and your fathers, 
come now to us and down to the tents which we have arrayed for 
you, and there think for a little that we are all at our very home 
that we long for and have yet to win, and be ye merry with us 
and make us merry.' 

Therewith she stepped forward daintily and entered into their 
throng, and took an old man of the Woodlanders by the hand, and 
kissed his cheek and led him away, and the coming rest seemed 
sweet to him. And then came other women of the Vale, kind and 



fair and smiling, and led away, some an old mother of the Wood- The Feast in 

landers, some a young wife, some a pair of lads; and not a few Shadowy 

forsooth kissed and embraced the stark warriors, and went away ^^''^• 

with them toward the tents, which stood along the side of the 

Shivering Flood where it was at its quietest ; for there was the 

grass the softest and most abundant. There on the green grass 

were tables arrayed, and lamps were hung above them on spears, 

to be litten when the daylight should fail. And the best of the 

victual which the Vale could give was spread on the boards, along 

with wine and dainties, bought in Silver-dale, or on the edges of 

the Westland with svrord-strokes and arrow-flight. 

There then they feasted and were merry ; and the Sun-beam 
and Bow-may and the other women of the Vale served them at 
table, and were very blithe with them, caressing them with soft 
words, and with clipping and kissing, as folk who were grown ex- 
ceeding dear to them ; so that that eve of battle was softer and 
sweeter to them than any hour of their life. With these feasters 
were God-swain and Spear-fist of the delivered thralls of Silver- 
dale as glad as glad might be ; but Wolf-stone their eldest was 
gone with Dallach to the Council in the Hall. 

The men of Burgdale and the Shepherds feasted otherwhere 
in all content, nor lacked folk of the Vale to serve them. Amongst 
the men of the Face were the ten delivered thralls who had heart 
to meet their masters in arms : seven of them were of Rose-dale 
and three of Silver-dale. 

The Bride was with her kindred of the Steer, with whom were 
many men of Shadowy Vale, and she served her friends and fellows 
clad in her war-gear, save helm and hauberk, bearing herself as 
one who is serving dear guests. And men equalled her for her 
beauty to the Gods of the High Place and the Choosers of the 
Slain; and they who had not beheld her before marvelled at her, 
and her loveliness held all men's hearts in a net of desire, so that 
they forebore their meat to gaze upon her; and if perchance her 
hand touched some young man, or her cheek or sweet-breathed 

305 RR 



The Bride by mouth came nigh to his face, he became bewildered and wist not 
StafF-stone. where he was, nor what to do. Yet was she as lowly and simple 
of speech and demeanour as if she were a gooseherd of four- 
teen winters. 

In the Hall was a goodly company, and all the leaders of the 
Folk were therein, and Folk-might and the War-leader sitting 
in the midst of those stone seats on the dais. There then they 
agreed on the whole ordering of the battle and the wending of the 
host, as shall be told later on ; and this matter was long a-doing, 
and when it was done, men went to their places to sleep, for the 
night was well worn. 

But when men had departed and all was still. Folk-might, 
light-clad and without a weapon, left the Hall and walked briskly 
toward the nether end of the Vale. He passed by all the tents, 
the last whereof were of the House of the Steer, and came to a 
place where was a great rock rising straight up from the plain 
like sheaves of black staves standing close together ; and it was 
called Staff-stone, and tales of the elves had been told concerning 
it, so that Stone-face had beheld it gladly the day before. 

The moon was just shining into Shadowy Vale, and the grass 
was bright wheresoever the shadows of the high cliffs were not, 
and the face of Staff-stone shone bright grey as Folk-might came 
within sight of it, and he beheld someone sitting at the base of 
the rock, and as he drew nigher he saw that it was a woman, 
and knew her for the Bride ; for he had prayed her to abide 
him there that night, because it was nigh to the tents of the 
House of the Steer ; and his heart was glad as he drew nigh to her. 

She sat quietly on a fragment of the black rock, clad as she 
had been all day, in her glittering kirtle, but without hauberk 
or helm, a wreath of wind-flowers about her head, her feet crossed 
over each other, her hands laid palm uppermost in her lap. She 
moved not as he drew nigh, but said in a gentle voice when he 
was close to her : 

* Chief of the W^olf, great warrior, thou wouldest speak with 



me ; and good it is that friends should talk together on the eve Folk-might 
of battle, when they may never meet alive again.' asketh a boon. 

He said : ' Mj- talk shall not be long ; for thou and I both 
must sleep to-night, since there is work to hand to-morrow. Now 
since, as thou sa^'est, O fairest of women, we may never meet 
again alive, I ask thee now at this hour, when we both live and 
are near to one another, to suffer me to speak to thee of my love 
of thee and desire for thee. Surely thou, who art the sweetest 
of all things the Gods and the kindreds hav^e made, wilt not gain- 
say me this? ' 

She said very sweetl}', yet smiling : ' Brother of my father's 
sons, how can I gainsay thee thy speech ? Nay, hast thou not 
said it? What more canst thou add to it that will have fresh 
meaning to mine ears ? ' 

He said : ' Thou sayest sooth : might I then but kiss thine 
hand ? ' 

She said, no longer smiling : 'Yea surely, even so may all men 
do who can be called my friends — and thou art much my friend.' 

He took her hand and kissed it, and held it thereafter ; nor 
did she draw it away. The moon shone brightly on them ; but 
b}' its light he could not see if she reddened, but he deemed that 
her face was troubled. Then he said : ' It were better for me 
if I might kiss thy face, and take thee in mine arms.' 

Then said she : ' This only shall a man do with me when I 
Jong to do the like with him. And since thou art so much my 
friend, I will tell thee that as for this longing, I have it not. 
Bethink thee what a little while it is since the lack of another 
man's love grieved me sorely.' 

' The time is short,' said Folk-might, *if we tell up the hours 
thereof; but in that short space have a many things betid.' 

She said : ' Dost thou know, canst thou guess, how sorely 
ashamed I went amongst my people ? I durst look no man in 
the face for the aching of mine heart, which methought all might 
.see through my face.' 



He kisseth * I knew it well,' he said ; * yet of me wert thou not ashamed 

and em- but a little while ago, when thou didst tell me of thy grief.' 

braceth her. gj^^ ^^jj . i -^^ue it is ; and thou wert kind to me. Thou didst 

become a dear friend to me, methought.' 

* And wilt thou hurt a dear friend ? ' said he. 

' O no,' she said, * if I might do otherwise. Yet how if I might 
not choose ? Shall there be no forgiveness for me then ? ' 

He answered nothing; and still he held her hand that strove 
not to be gone from his, and she cast down her eyes. Then he 
spake in a while : 

* My friend, I have been thinking of thee and of me ; and now 
hearken : if thou wilt declare that thou feelest no sweetness 
embracing thine heart when I say that I desire thee sorely, as 
now I say it ; or when I kiss thine hand, as now I kiss it ; or 
when I pray thee to suffer me to cast mine arms about thee and 
kiss thy face, as now I pray it : if thou wilt say this, then will 
I take thee by the hand straightway, and lead thee to the tents 
of the House of the Steer, and say farewell to thee till the battle 
is over. Canst thou say this out of the truth of thine heart ? ' 

She said : * What then if I cannot say this word ? What 
then ? ' 

But he answered nothing ; and she sat still a little while, and 
then arose and stood before him, looking him in the eyes, and said : 

' I cannot say it.' 

Then he caught her in his arms and strained her to him, and 
then kissed her lips and her face again and again, and she strove 
not with him. But at last she said : 

* Yet after all this shalt thou lead me back to my folk straight- 
way ; and when the battle is done, if both we are living, then shall 
we speak more thereof.' 

So he took her hand and led her on toward the tents of the 
Steer, and for a while he spake nought ; for he doubted himself, 
what he should say ; but at last he spake : 

* Now is this better for me than if it had not been, whether I 

308 



live or whether I die. Yet thou hast not said that thou lovest They say 
me and dcsircst me.' turewell. 

' Wilt thou compel me ? ' she said. * To-night I may not say 
it. Who shall say what words my lips shall fashion when we 
stand together victorious in Silver-dale ; then indeed may the time 
seem long from now.' 

He said : ' Yea, true is that ; j'et once again I say that so 
measured long and long is the time since first I saw thee in Burg- 
dale before thou kncwest me. Yet now I will not bicker with 
thee, for be sure that I am glad at heart. And lo you ! our feet 
have brought us to the tents of thy people. All good go with thee I ' 

' And with thee, sweet friend,' she said. Then she lingered a 
little, turning her head toward the tents, and then turned her 
face toward him and laid her hand on his neck, and drew his 
head adown to her and kissed his check, and therewith swiftly 
and lightly departed from him. 

Now the night wore and the morning came; and Face-of-god 
was abroad very early in the morning, as his custom was ; and 
he washed the night from off him in the Carles' Bath of the Shiver- 
ing Flood, and then went round through the encampment of the 
host, and saw none stirring save here and there the last watchmen 
of the night. He spake with one or two of these, and then went 
up to the head of the \'ale, where was the pass that led to Silver- 
dale ; and there he saw the watch, and spake with them, and 
they told him that none had as yet come forth from the pass, and 
he bade them to blow the horn of warning to rouse up the Host 
as soon as the messengers came thence. For forerunners had been 
sent up the pass, and had been set to hold watch at divers places 
therein to pass on the word from place to place. 

Thence went Face-of-god back toward the Hall ; but when 
he was yet some way from it, he saw a slender glittering warrior 
come forth from the door thereof, who stood for a moment looking 
round about, and then came lightly and swiftly toward him ; 
and lo ! it was the Sun-beam, with a long hauberk over her kirtle 



The Sun- falling below her knees, a helm on her head and plated shoes on 

beam clad in her feet. She came up to him, and laid her hand to his cheek 
war-gear. ^j^^ ^l^g golden locks of his head (for he was bare-headed), and 

said to him, smiling : 

' Gold-mane ! thou badest me bear arms, and Folk-might also 
constrained me thereto. Lo thou ! ' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Folk-might is wise then, even as I am ; 
and forsooth as thou art. For bethink thee if the bow drawn at 
a venture should speed the eyeless shaft against thy breast, and 
send me forth a wanderer from my Folk! For how could I bear 
the sight of the fair Dale, and no hope to see thee again therein ? ' 

She said : ' The heart is light within me to-day. Deemest 
thou that this is strange ? Or dost thou call to mind that which 
thou spakest the other day, that it was of no avail to stand in 
the Doom-ring of the Folk and bear witness against ourselves ? 
This will I not. This is no light-mindedness that thou beholdest 
in me, but the valiancy that the Fathers have set in mine heart. 
Deem not, O Gold-mane, fear not, that we shall die before they 
dight the bride-bed for us.' 

He would have kissed her mouth, but she put him away with 
her hand, and doffed her helm and laid it on the grass, and said : 

* This is not the last time that thou shalt kiss me. Gold-mane, 
my dear ; and yet I long for it as if it were, so high as the 
Fathers have raised me up this morn above fear and sadness.' 

He said nought, but drew her to him, and wonder so moved 
him, that he looked long and closely at her face before he kissed 
her ; and forsooth he could find no blemish in it : it was as if it 
were but new come from the smithy of the Gods, and exceeding 
longing took hold of him. But even as their lips met, from the 
head oi" the Vale came the voice of the great horn ; and it was 
answered straightway by the watchers all down the tents ; and 
presently arose the shouts of men and the clash of weapons as 
folk armed themselves, and laughter therewith, for most men 
were battle-merry, and the cries of women shrilly-dear as they 



hastened about, busy over the morning meal before the departure The Host 
of the Host. But Face-of-god said softly, still caressing the Sun- gathereth for 
beam, and she him : departure. 

' Thus then we depart from this Valley of the Shadows, but 
as thou saidst when first we met therein, there shall be no sundering 
of thee and me, but thou shalt go down with me to the battle.' 

And he led her by the hand into the Hall of the Wolf, and 
there thej' ate a morsel, and thereafter Facc-of-god tarried not, 
but busied himself along with Folk-might and the other chieftains 
in arraying the Host for departure. 



CHAPTER XLI. THE HOST DEPARTETH FROM 
SHADOWY VALE : THE FIRST DAY'S JOURNEY. 

IT was about three hours before noon that the Host began to 
enter into the pass out of Shadowy Vale by the river-side ; 
and the women and children, and men unfightworthy, stood 
on the higher ground at the foot of the cliffs to see the Host 
wend on the way. Of these a many were of the Woodlanders, 
who were now one folk with them of Shadowy Vale. And all 
these had chosen to abide tidings in the Vale, deeming that there 
was little danger therein, since that last slaughter which Folk- 
might had made of the Dusky Men ; albeit Face-of-god had 
offered to send them all to Burgstead with two score and ten 
men-at-arms to guard them by the waj' and to eke out the warders 
of the Burg. 

Now the fighting-men of Shadowy Vale were two long hun- 
dreds lacking five ; of whom two score and ten were women, 
and three score and ten lads under twenty winters ; but the 
women, though you might scarce see fairer of face and body, 
were doughty in arms, all good shooters in the bow ; and the 
swains were eager and light-foot, cragsmen of the best, wont to 
scaling the difts of the \'ale in search of the nests of gerfalcons 



The order of and such-like fowl, and swimming the strong streams of the 
their faring. Shivering Flood ; tough bodies and wiry, stronger than most 
grown men, and as fearless as the best. 

The order of the Departure of the Host was this : 

The Woodlanders went first into the pass, and with them 
were two score of the ripe Warriors of the Wolf. Then came 
of the kindreds of Burgdale, the Men of the Steer, the Bridge, 
and the Bull ; then the Men of the Vine and the Sickle ; then the 
Shepherd-folk ; and lastly, the Men of the Face led by Stone- 
face and Hall-face. With these went another two score of the 
dwellers in Shadowy Vale, and the rest were scattered up and 
down the bands of the Host to guide them into the best paths 
and to make the way easier to them. Face-of-god was sundered 
from his kindred, and went along with Folk- might in the fore- 
front of the Host, while his father the Alderman went as a 
simple man-at-arms with his House in the rearward. The Sun- 
beam followed her brother and Face-of-god amidst the Warriors 
of the Wolf, and with her were Bow-may clad in the Alder- 
man's gift, and Wood-father and his children. Bow-may had 
caused her to doff her hauberk for that day, whereon they looked 
to fall in with no foeman. As for the Bride, she went with her 
kindred in all her war-gear ; and the morning sun shone in the 
gems of her apparel, and her jewelled feet fell like flowers upon 
the deep grass of the upper Vale, and shone strange and bright 
amongst the black stones of the pass. She bore a quiver at her 
back and a shining yew bow in her hand, and went amongst the 
bowmen, for she was a very deft archer. 

So fared they into the pass, leaving peace behind them, with 
all their banners displayed, and the banner of the Red-mouthed 
Wolf went with the Wolf and the Sun-burst in the forefront 
of their battle next after the two captains. 

As for their road, the grassy space between the rock-wall and 
the water was wide and smooth at first, and the cliffs rose up 
like bundles of spear-shafts high and clear from the green grass 

312 



the Sword 
Unsheathed. 



with no confused litter of fallen stones ; so that the men strode The Song of 

on briskly, their hearts high-raised and full of hope. And as 

they went, the sweetness of song stirred in their souls, and at last 

Bow-may fell to singing in a loud clear voice, and her cousin 

Wood-wise answered her, and all the warriors of the Wolf who 

were in their band fell into the song at the ending, and the sound 

of their melod}' went down the water and reached the ears of 

those that were entering the pass, and of those who were abiding 

till the way should be clear of them : and this is some of what 

they sang : 

Boiv-may s'lngeth : 

Hear ye never a voice come crying 

Out from the waste where the winds fare wide? 

' Sons of the Wolf, the days are dying. 

And where in the clefts of the rocks do ye hide ? 

* Into your hands hath the Sword been given. 

Hard are the palms with the kiss of the hilt ; 
Through the trackless waste hath the road been riven 

For the blade to seek to the heart of the guilt. 

' And yet j-e bide and yet ye tarry ; 

Dear deem ye the sleep 'twixt hearth and board. 
And sweet the maiden mouths ye marry, 

And bright the blade of the bloodless sword.' 

Jf^ood-tvise singetb : 
Yea, here we dwell in the arms of our Mother 

The Shadowy Queen, and the hope of the Waste; 
Here first we came, when never another 

Adown the rocky stair made haste. 

Far is the foe, and no sword bcholdcth 

What deed we work and whither we wend; 

313 SS 



They enter Dear are the days, and the Year enfoldeth 

into the Pass. The love of our life from end to end. 

Voice of our Fathers, why will ye move us, 
And call up the sun our swords to behold ? 

Why will ye cry on the foeman to prove us ? 
Why will ye stir up the heart of the bold ? 

Bow-may singeth : 
Purblind am I, the voice of the chiding ; 

Then tell me what is the thing ye bear ? 
What is the gift that your hands are hiding, 

The gold-adorned, the dread and dear ? 

JVood-tvhe singeth : 
Dark in the sheath lies the Anvil's Brother, 

Hid is the hammered Death of Men. 
Would ye look on the gift of the green-clad Mother ? 

How then shall ye ask for a gift again ? 

The JVa7-riors sing : 
Show we the Sunlight the Gift of the Mother, 

As foot follows foot to the foeman's den ! 
Gleam Sun, breathe Wind, on the Anvil's Brother, 

For bare is the hammered Death of Men. 

Therewith they shook their naked swords in the air, and fared 
on eagerl^r, and as swiftly as the pass would have them fare. But 
so it was, that when the rearward of the Host was entering the 
iirst of the pass, and was going on the wide smooth sward, the 
vanward was gotten to where there was but a narrow space clear 
betwixt water and cliff; for otherwhere was a litter of great 
rocks and small, hard to be threaded even by those who knew the 
passes well ; so that men had to tread along the very verge of the 
Shivering Flood, and wary must they be, for the water ran swift 



and deep betwixt banks of sheer rock Haifa fathom below their The toilsome 
very foot-soles, which had but bare space to go on the narrow and perilous 
way. So it held on for a while, and then got safer, and there was ^ ' 
more space for going betwixt cliff and flood; albeit it was toil- 
some enough, since for some way yet there was a drift of stones 
to cumber their feet, some big and some little, and some very big. 
After a while the way erew better, though here and there, where 
the clifls lowered, were wide screes of loose stones that they must 
needs climb up and down. Thereafter for a space was there an 
end of the stony cumber, but the way betwixt the river and the 
cliffs narrowed again, and the black crags grew higher, and at 
last so exceeding high, and the way so narrow, that the sky 
overhead was to them as though they were at the bottom of a 
well, and men deemed that thence they could see the stars at 
noontide. For some time withal had the way been mounting 
up and up, though the cliffs grew higher over it; till at last they 
were but going on a narrow shelf, the Shivering Flood swirling 
and rattling far below them betwixt sheer rock-walls grown ex- 
ceeding high ; and above them the cliff^s going up towards the 
heavens as black as a moonless starless night of winter. And as 
the flood thundered below, so above them roared the ceaseless 
thunder of the wind of the pass, that blew exceeding fierce down 
that strait place ; so that the skirts of their garments were 
wrapped about their knees by it, and their feet were well-nigh 
stayed at whiles as they breasted the push thereof. 

But as they mounted higher and higher yet, the noise of the 
waters swelled into a huge roar that drowned the bellowing of the 
prisoned wind, and down the pass came drifting a fine rain that 
fell not from the sk}', fcr between the clouds of that drift could 
folk see the heavens bright and blue above them. This rain 
was but the spray of the great force up to whose steps they 
were climbing. 

Now the way got rougher as they mounted ; but this toil was 
caused by their gain ; for the rock-wall, which thrust out a buttress 

3'5 



Pass. 



The Force there as if it would have gone to the very edge of the gap vvhere- 
aimdmost the through the flood ran, and so have cut the way off utterly, was 
here somewhat broken down, and its stones scattered down the 
steep bent, so that there was a passage, though a toilsome one. 

Thus then through the wind-borne drift of the great force, 
through which men could see the white waters tossing down 
below, amidst the clattering thunder of the Shivering Flood 
and the rumble of the wind of the gap, that tore through their 
garments and hair as if it would rend all to rags and bear it 
away, the banners of the Wolf won their way to the crest of the 
midmost height of the pass, and the long line of the Host came 
clambering after them ; and each band of warriors as it reached 
the top cast an unheard shout from amidst the tangled fur}' of 
wind and waters. 

A little further on and all that turmoil was behind them ; the 
sun, now grown low, smote the wavering column of spray from 
the force at their backs, till the rainbows lay bright across it; 
and the sunshine lay wide over a little valley that sloped some- 
what steeply to the west right up from the edge of the river; and 
beyond these western slopes could men see a low peak spreading 
down on all sides to the plain, till it was like to a bossed shield, 
and the name of it was Shield-broad. Dark grey was the valley 
everywhere, save that by the side of the water was a space of 
bright green-sward hedged about toward the mountain by a wall 
of rocks tossed up into wild shapes of spires and jagged points. 
The river itself was spread out wide and shallow, and went rat- 
tling about great grey rocks scattered here and there amidst it, till 
it gathered itself together to tumble headlong over three slant steps 
into the mighty gap below. 

From the height in the pass those grey slopes seemed easy to 
traverse ; but the warriors of the Wolf knew that it was far other- 
wise, for they were but the molten rock-sea that in time long past 
had flowed forth from Shield-broad and filled up the whole valley 
endlong and overthwart, cooling as it flowed, and the tumbled 

316 



hedge of rock round about the green plain by the river was where They come to 
the said rock-sea had been stayed by meeting with soft ground, t'le Dale 
and had heaped itself up round about the grecn-sward. And that """^^l" ShitUI- 
grcat rock-flood as it cooled split in divers fashions; and the rain 
and weather had been busy on it for ages, so that it was worn into a 
mazeof narrow paths, most of which, after a little, brought the way- 
farer to a dead stop, or else led him back again to the place whence 
he had started ; so that only those who knew the passes throughly 
could thread that maze without immeasurable labour. 

Now when the men of the Host looked from the high place 
whereon they stood toward the green plain b^ahe river, they saw 
on the top oi' that rock-wall a red pennon waving on a spear, and 
beside it three or four weaponed men gleaming bright in the even- 
ingsun ; and they waved their swords to the Host, and made light- 
ning of the sunbeams, and the men of the Host waved swords to 
them in turn. For these were the outguards of the Host ; and the 
place whereon the}* were was at whiles dwelt in b}' those who would 
drive the spoil in Silver-dale, and midmost of the green-sward was 
a booth builded of rough stones and turf, a refuge for a score of 
men in rough weather. 

So the men of the vanward gat them down the hill, and made 
the best of their way toward the grass}' plain through that rocky 
maze which had once been as a lake of molten glass; and as short 
as the way looked from above, it was two hours or ever they 
came out of it on to the smooth turf, and it was moonlight and 
night ere the House of the Face had gotten on to the green-sward. 

There then the Host abode for that night, and after they had 
eaten la}' down on the green grass and slept as they might. Bow- 
may would have brought the Sun-beam into the booth with some 
others of the women, but she would not enter it, because she deemed 
that otherwise the Bride would abide without ; and the Bride, 
when she came up, along with the House oi^ the Steer, beheld the 
Sun-beam, that Wood-father's children had made a lair for her 
without like a hare's form ; and forsooth many a time had she lain 



under Shield- 
broad 



They leave under the naked heaven in Shadow}' Vale and the waste about it» 
the Dale even as the Bride had in the meadows of Burgdale. So when the 

Bride was bidden thereto, she went meekly into the booth, and lay 

there with others of the damsels-at-arms. 



CHAPTER XLII. THE HOST COMETH TO THE EDGES 
OF SILVER-DALE. 

SO wore the night, and when the dawn was come were the two 
captains afoot, and they went from band to band to see that 
all was ready, and all men u-ere astir betimes, and by the 
time that the sun smote the eastern side of Shield-broad ruddy, 
they had broken their fast and were dight for departure. Then 
the horns blew up beside the banners, and rejoiced the hearts of 
men. But by the command of the captains this was the last time 
that they should sound till they blew for onset in Silver-dale, be- 
cause now would they be drawing nigher and nigher to the foe- 
men, and they wotted not but that wandering bands of them might 
be hard on the lips of the pass, and might hear the horns' voice, 
and turn to see what was toward. 

Forth then went the banners of the Wolf, and the men of the 
vanward fell to threading the rock-maze toward the north, and 
in two hours' time were clear of the Dale under Shield-broad. 
All went in the same order as j'esterday; but on this day the 
Sun-beam would bear her hauberk, and had a sword girt to her 
side, and her heart was high and her speech merry. 

When they left the Dale under Shield-broad the way was easy 
and wide for a good way, the river flowing betwixt low banks, 
and the pass being more like a string of little valleys than a mere 
gap, as it had been on the other side of the Dale. But when one 
third of the day was past, the way began to narrow on them 
again, and to rise up little by little ; and at last the rock-walls 
drewclose to the river, and when men looked toward the north they 



saw no way, and nought but a wall. For the gap of the Shiver- They turn 
ing Flood turned now to the cast, and the Flood came down ^ro'" ''^'^ 
from the east in many falls, as it were over a fearful stair, through ^'|'v^|''"g 
a gap where there was no path between the cliffs and the water, 
nought but the boiling flood and its turmoil ; so that they who 
knew not the road wondered what they should do. 

But Folk-might led the banners to where a great buttress of 
the clifis thrust itself into the way, coming well-nigh down to the 
water, just at the corner where the river turned eastward, and 
they got them about it as they might, and on the other side thereof 
lo ! another gap exceeding strait, scarce twenty foot over, wall- 
sided, rugged beyond measure, going up steeply from the great 
valley : a little water ran through it, mostly filling up the 
floor of it from side to side ; but it was but shallow. This was 
now the battle-road of the Host, and the vanward entered it at 
once, turning their backs upon the Shivering Flood. 

Full toilsome and dreary was that strait way ; often great 
stones hung above their heads, bridging the gap and hiding the 
sk}^ from them ; nor was there any path for them save the stream 
itself; so that whiles were they wading its waters to the knee 
or higher, and whiles were they striding from stone to stone 
amidst the rattle of the waters, and whiles were the}' stepping 
warily along the ledges of rock above the deeper pools, and in all 
wise labouring in overcoming the rugged road amidst the twilight 
of the gap. 

Thus they toiled till the afternoon was well worn, and so at 
last they came to where the rock-wall was somewhat broken down 
on the north side, and great rocks had fallen across the gap, and 
dammed up the waters, which fell scantily over the dam from stone 
to stone into a pool at the bottom of it. Up this breach, then, 
below the force they scrambled and struggled, for rough indeed 
was the road for them ; and so came they up out of the gap on to 
the open hill-side, a great shoulder of the heath sloping down 
from the north, and littered over with big stones, borne thither 



The waters belike by some ice-river of the earlier days ; and one great rock 
mn toward was in special as great as the hall of a wealthy goodman, and 
Silver-dale. shapen like to a hall with hipped gables, which same the men 
of the Wolf called House-stone. 

There then the noise and clatter of the vanward rose up on the 
face of the heath, and men were exceeding joyous that they had 
come so far without mishap. Therewith came weaponed men out 
from under House-stone, and they came toward the men of the 
vanward, and they were a half-score of the forerunners of the 
Wolf ; therefore Folk-might and Face-of-god fell at once into 
speech with them, and had their tidings ; and when they had 
heard them, they saw nought to hinder the host from going on 
their road to Silver-dale forthright ; and there were still three 
hours of da)"light before them. So the vanward of the host tarried 
not, and the captains left word with the men from under House- 
stone that the rest of the Host should fare on after them speedily, 
and that they should give this word to each company, as men 
came up from out the gap. Then they fared speedily up the hill- 
side, and in an hour's wearing had come to the crest thereof, and to 
where the ground fell steadily toward the north, and hereabout 
the scattered stones ceased, and on the other side of the crest 
the heath began to be soft and boggy, and at last so soft, that if 
they had not been wisely led, they had been bemired oftentimes. 
At last they came to where the flows that trickled through the 
miresdrew together intoa stream, so thatmen could see it running; 
and thereon some of the Woodlanders cried out joyously that 
the waters were running north ; and then all knew that they were 
drawing nigh to Silver-dale. 

No man they met on the road, nor did they of Shadowy Vale 
look to meet any ; because the Dusky Men were not great hunters 
for the more part, except it were of men, and especially of women; 
and, moreover, these hill-slopes of the mountain-necks led no- 
whither and were utterly waste and dreary, and there was nought 
to be seen there but snipes and bitterns and whimbrel and plover, 

320 



Silver-dale. 



and here and there a hill-fox, or the great erne hanging over the Tlie moun- 
heath on his way to the mountain. t-iins beyoml 

When sunset came, they were getting clear of the miry ground, 
and the stream which they had come across amidst of the mires 
had got clearer and greater, and rattled down between wide stony 
sides over the heath ; and here and there it deepened as it cleft its 
vva}' through little knolls that rose out of the face of the moun- 
tain-neck. As the Host climbed one of these and was come to 
its topmost (it was low enough not to turn the stream), Face-of- 
god looked and beheld dark-blue mountains rising up far off 
before him, and higher than these, but away to the east, the snowy 
peaks of the World-mountains. Then he called to mind what he 
had seen from the Burg of the Runaways, and he took Folk- 
might by the arm, and pointed toward those far-off mountains. 

' Yea,' said Folk-might, ' so it is, War-leader. Silver-dale licth 
between us and yonder blue ridges, and it is far nigher to us than 
to them.' 

But the Sun-beam came close to those twain, and took Face-of- 
god by the hand and said : ' O Gold-mane, dost thou see ? ' and 
he turned about and beheld her, and saw how her cheeks flamed 
and her eyes glittered, and he said in a low voice : ' To-morrow 
for mirth or silence, for life or death.' 

But the whole vanward as they came up stayed to behold 
the sight of the mountains on the other side of Silver-dale, and 
the banners of the P'olk hung over their heads, moving but little 
in the soft air of the evening : so went they on their ways. 

The sun sank, and dusk came on them as they followed down 
the stream, and night came, and was clear and starlit, though the 
moon was not yet risen. Now was the ground firm and the 
grass sweet and flowery, and wind-worn bushes were scattered 
round about them, as they began to go down into the ghyll that 
cleft the wall of Silver-dale, and the night-wind blew in their 
faces from the very Dale and place of the Battle to be. The 
path down was steep at first, but the ghyll was wide, and the 

321 T T 



The Host sides of it no longer straight walls, as in the gaps ot their earlier 
resteth in journey, but broken, sloping back, and (as they might see on the 
Wood-dale. morrow) partly of big stones and shaly grit, partly grown over 
with bushes and rough grass, with here and there a little stream 
trickling down their sides. As they went, the ghyll widened out, 
till at last they were in a valley going down to the plain, in places 
steep, in places flat and smooth, the stream ever rattling down 
the midst of it, and they on the west side thereof. Tlie vale 
was well grassed, and oak-trees and ash and holly and hazel grew 
here and there about it ; and at last the Host had before it a 
wood which filled the vale from side to side, not much tangled 
with undergrowth, and quite clear of it nigh to the stream-side. 
Thereinto the vanward entered, but went no long way ere the 
leaders called a halt and bade pitch the banners, for that there 
should they abide the daylight. Thus it had been determined at the 
Council of the HalloftheWolf; for Folk-might had said : 'With 
an Host as great as ours, and mostly of men come into a land of 
which they know nought at all, an onslaught by night is perilous : 
yea, and our foes should be over-much scattered, and we should 
have to wander about seeking them. Let us rather abide in the 
wood of Wood-dale till the morning, and then display our banners 
on the hill-side above Silver-dale, so that they may gather together 
to fall upon us : in no case shall they keep us out of the Dale.' 
There then they stayed, and as each company came up to the 
wood, they were marshalled into their due places, so that they 
might set the battle in array on the edge of Silver-dale. 



CHAPTER XLUI. FACE-OF-GOD LOOKETH ON SILVER- 
DALE : THE BOWMEN'S BATTLE. 

THERE then they rested, as folk wearied with the toilsome 
journey, when they had set sure watches round about their 
campment ; and they ate quietly what meat they had 
322 



with them, and so gat them to sleep in the wood on the eve of Folklieaskcp 
battle. ^''O"^ ^^^ 

But not all slept ; for the two captains went about amongst "°*^ * 
the companies, Folk-might to the cast, Face-of-god to the west, 
to look to the watches, and to see that all was ordered duly. 
Also the Sun-beam slept not, but she lay beside Bow-may at 
the foot of an oak-tree ; she watched Face-of-god as he went 
away amidst the men of the Host, and watched and waked 
abiding his returning footsteps. 

The night was well worn by then he came back to his place 
in the vanward, and on his way back he passed through the folk 
of the Steer laid along on the grass, all save those of the watch, 
and the light o^ the moon high aloft was mingled with the light 
of the earliest dawn ; and as it happed he looked down, and lo ! 
close to his feet the face of the Bride as she lay beside her grand- 
sire, her head pillowed on a bundle of bracken. She was sleeping 
soundly like a child who has been playing all day, and whose 
sleep has come to him unsought and happily. Her hands were 
laid together b}' her side ; her cheek was as fair and clear as it 
was wont to be at her best ; her face looked calm and happy, 
and a lock of her dark-red hair strayed from her uncovered head 
over her breast and la}' across her wrists, so peacefully she slept. 
Face-of-god turned his eyes from her at once, and went by 
swiftly, and came to his own compan}-. The Sun-beam saw him 
coming, and rose straightway to her feet from beside Bow-may, 
who lay fast asleep, and she held out her hands to him; and he 
took them and kissed them, and he cast his arms about her and 
kissed her mouth and her face, and she his in likewise; andshesaid: 
' O Gold-mane, if this were but the morrow of to-morrow ! 
Yet shall all be well ; shall it not ? ' 

Her voice was low, but it waked Bow-may, who sat up at 
once broad awake, after the manner of a hunter of the waste ever 
ready for the next thing to betide, and moreover the Sun-beam 
had been in her thoughts these two days, and she feared for her, 

323 



They talk in lest she should be slain or maimed. Now she smiled on the 
the dawnir.g. Sun-beam and said : 

* What is it? Does thy mind forebode evil ? That needeth not. 
I tell thee it is not so ill for us of the sword to be in Silver-dale. 
Thrice have I been there since the Overthrow, and never more 
than a half-score in company, and yet am I whole to-day.' 

* Yea, sister,' said Face-of-god, ' but in past times ye did your 
deed and then fled away ; but now we come to abide here, and 
this night is the last of lurking.' 

* Ah,' she said, * a little way from this I saw such things that 
we had good will to abide here longer, few as we were, but that 
we feared to be taken alive.' 

* What things were these ? ' said Face-of-god. 

* Nay,' she said, * I will not tell thee now ; but mayhap in the 
lighted winter feast-hall, when the kindred are so nigh us and 
about us that they seem to us as if they were all the world, I may 
tell it thee ; or mayhap I never shall.' 

Said the Sun-beam, smiling: 'Thou wilt ever be talking. 
Bow-may. Now let the War-leader depart, for he will have 
much to do.' 

And she was well at ease that she had seen Face-of-god again ; 
but he said : 

' Nay, not so much ; all is well-nigh done ; in an hour it will 
be broad day, and two hours thereafter shall the Banner be dis- 
played on the edge of Silver-dale.' 

The cheek of the Sun-beam flushed, and paled again, as she 
said : * Yea, we shall stand even as our Fathers stood on the day 
when, coming from off the waste, they beheld it, and knew it would 
be theirs. Ah me ! how have I longed for this morn. But now 
— Tell me. Gold-mane, dost thou deem that I am afraid ? And 
I whom thou hast deemed to be a God.' 

Quoth Bow-may : ' Thou shalt deem her twice a God ere noon- 
tide, brother Gold-mane. But come now ! the hour of deadly 
battle IS at hand, and we may not laugh that away ; and there- 



fore I bid thee remember, Gold-mane, how thou didst promise to They come 
kiss me once more on the verge of deadly battle.' on a man ot 

Therewith she stood up before him, and he tarried not, but U^i*-'. 
kind and smiling took her face between his two hands and kissed 
her lips, and she cast her arms about him and kissed him, and 
then sank down on the grass again, and turned from him, and laid 
her face amongst the grass and the bracken, and they could see 
that she was weeping, and her body was shaken with sobs. But 
the Sun-beam knelt down to her, and caressed her with her hand, 
and spake kind words to her softly, while Face-of-god went his 
vays to meet Folk-might. 

Now was the dawn fading into full daylight ; and between 
dawn and sunrise were all men stirring ; for the watch had waked 
the hundred-leaders, and they the leaders of scores and half-scores, 
and they the whole folk ; and they sat quietly in the wood and 
made no noise. 

In the night the watch of the Sickle had fallen in with a thrall 
who had stolen up from the Dale to set gins for hares, and now 
in the early morning they brought him to the War-leader. He 
was even such a man as those with whom Face-of-god had fallen 
in before, neither better nor worse than most of them : he was 
sore afraid at first, but by then he was come to the captains he 
understood that he had happened upon friends; but he was dull 
of comprehension and slow of speech. Albeit Folk-might gathered 
from him that the Dusky Men had some inkling of the onslaught ; 
for he said that the}- had been gathering together in the market- 
place of Silver-stead, and would do so again soon. Moreover, 
the captains deemed from his speech that those new tribes had 
come to hand sooner than was looked for, and were even now in 
the Dale. Folk-might smiled as one who is not best pleased 
when he heard these tidings ; but Face-of-god was glad to hear 
thereof; for what he loathed most was that the war should drag 
out in hunting of scattered bands of the foe. Herewith came 
Dallachtothcm as they talked (for Face-of-god had sent for him), 

325 



Evil deeds of and he fell to questioning the man further; by whose answers it 
the Dusky seemed that many men also had come into the Dale from Rose- 
• dale, so that they of the kindreds were like to have their hands 

full. Lastly Dallach drew from the thrall that it was on that 
very morning that the great Folk-mote of the Dusky Men should 
be holden in the market-place of the Stead, which was right great, 
and about it were the biggest of the houses wherein the men of 
the kindred had once dwelt. 

So when they had made an end of questioning the thrall, and 
had given him rrieat and drink, they asked him if he would taiie 
weapons in his hand and lead them on the ways into the Dale, 
bidding him look about the wood and note how great and mighty 
an host they were. And the carle yeasaid this, after staring about 
him a while, and they gave him spear and shield, and he went 
with the vanward as a way-leader. 

Again presently came a watch of the Shepherds, and they had 
found a man and a woman dead and stark naked hanging to the 
boughs of a great oak-tree deep in the wood. This men knew 
for some vengeance of the Dusky Men, for it was clear to see 
that these poor people had been sorely tormented before they were 
slain. Also the same watch had stumbled on the dead body of 
an old woman, clad in rags, lying amongst the rank grass about 
a little flow ; she was exceeding lean and hunger-starved, and 
in her hand was a frog which she had half eaten. And Dallach, 
when he heard of this, said that it was the wont of the Dusky 
Men to slay their thralls when they were past work, or to drive 
them into the wilderness to die. 

Lastly came a watch from the men of the Face, having with 
them two more thralls, lusty young men ; these they had come 
upon in company of their master, who had brought them up into 
the wood to shoot him a buck, and therefore they bare bows and 
arrows. The watch had slain the master straightway while the 
thralls stood looking on. They were much afraid of the weaponed 
men, but answered to the questioning much readier than the first 

326 



man; icr they were household thralls, and better fed and clad than Counsel bc- 
hc, who was but a toiler in the fields. They ycasaid all his talc, ^o""^ ^^^ 
and said moreover that the Folk-mote of the Dusk}^ Men should °^"'^' 
be holden in the market-place that forenoon, and that most of the 
warriors should be there, both the new-comers and the Rose-dale 
lords, and that without doubt they should be under arms. 

To these men also they gave a good sword and a helm each, 
and bade them be brisk with their bows, and they said yea to 
marching with the Host; and indeed they feared nothing so much 
as being left behind ; for if they fell into the hands of the Dusky 
Men, and their master missing, they should first be questioned 
with torments, and then slain in the evillest manner. 

Now whereas things had thus betid, and that the}' knew thus 
much of their focmen, Face-of-god called all the chieftains together, 
and they saton the green grass and held counsel amongst them, and 
to one and all it seemed good that they should suffer the Dusky 
Men to gather together before the}' meddled with them, and then 
fall upon them in such order and such time as should seem good 
to the captains watching how things went ; and this would be 
easy, whereas they were all lying in the wood in the same order 
as they would stand in battle-array if they were all drawn up 
together on the brow of the hill. Albeit Face-of-god deemed it 
good, after he had heard all that they who had been in the Stead 
could tell him thereof, that the Shepherd-Folk, who were more 
than three long hundreds, and the}- of the Steer, the Bridge, and 
the Bull, four hundreds in all, should take their places eastward 
of the Woodlanders who had led the vanward. 

Straightway the word was borne to these men, and the shift 
was made : so that presently the Woodlanders were amidmost 
of the Host, and had with them on their right hands the Men of 
the Steer, the Bridge, and the Bull, and beyond them the Shep- 
herd-Folk. But on their left hand lay the Men of the \'ine, then 
they of the Sickle, and lastly the Men of the P'ace, and these 
three kindreds were over five hundreds of warriors : as for the Men 



of the Wolf, they abode at first with those companies which they 
had led through the wastes, though this was changed afterwards. 

All this being done, Face-of-god gave out that all men should 
break their fast in peace and leisure ; and while men were at their 
meat. Folk-might spake to Face-of-god and said : ' Come, brother, 
for I would show thee a goodly thing ; and thou, Dallach, come 
with us.' 

Then he brought them by paths in the wood till Face-of-god 
saw the sky shine white between the tree-boles, and in a little 
while they were come well-nigh out of the thicket, and then they 
went warily; for before them was nought but the slopes of 
Wood-dale, going down steeply into Silver-dale, with nought to 
hinder the sight of it, save here and there bushes or scattered 
trees; and so fair and lovely it was that Face-of-god could 
scarce forbear to cry out. He saw that it was only at the upper 
or eastern end, where the mountains of the Waste went round 
about it, that the Dale was narrow; it soon widened out toward 
the west, and for the most part was encompassed by no such 
straight-sided a wall as was Burgdale, but by sloping hills and 
bents, mostly indeed somewhat higher and steeper than the pass 
wherein they were, but such as men could well climb if they had 
a mind to, and there were any end to their journey. The Dale 
went due west a good way, and then winded about to the south- 
west, and so was hidden from them thereaway by the bents that 
lay on their left hand. As it was wider, so it was not so plain a 
ground as was Burgdale, but rose in knolls and little hills here 
and there. A river greater than the Weltering Water wound 
about amongst the said mounds ; and along the side of it out 
in the open dale were man}' goodly houses and homesteads of 
stone. The knolls were mostly covered over with vines, and 
there were goodly and great trees in groves and clumps, chiefly 
oak and sweet chestnut and linden ; many were the orchards, now 
in blossom, about the homesteads ; the pastures of the neat and 
horses spread out bright green up from the water-side, and deeper 



green showed the acres of the wheat on the lower slopes of the They look 
knolls, and in wide fields awa}- from the river. ilown into 

Just below the pitch of the hill whereon they were, lay Silver- ^ i»tead. 
stead, the town of the Dale. Hitherto it had been an unfcnced 
place ; but Folk-might pointed to where on the western side a 
new white wall was rising, and on which, young as the day yet 
was, men were bus\' la3ing the stones and spreading the mortar. 
Fair seemed that town to Face-of-god : the houses were all 
builded of stone, and some of the biggest were roofed with lead, 
which also as well as silver was dug out of the mountains at the 
eastern end of the Dale. The market-place was clear to see from 
where the}' stood, though there were houses on all sides oi' it, so 
wide it w?s. From their standing-place it was but three furlongs 
to this heart of Silver-dale; and Face-of-god could see brightly- 
clad men moving about in it already. High above their heads he 
beheld two great clots of scarlet and yellow raised on poles and 
pitched in front of a great stone-built hall roofed with lead, which 
stood amidmost of the west end of the Place, and betwixt those 
poles he saw on a mound with long slopes at its sides somewhat 
of white stone, and amidmost of the whole Place a great stack of 
faggot-wood built up four-square. Those red and yellow things on 
the poles he deemed would be the banners of the murder-carle.s; 
and Folk-might told him that even so it was, and that they were 
but big bunches of strips of woollen cloth, much like to great rag- 
mops, save that the rags were larger and longer : no other token 
of war, said Folk-might, did those folk carry, save a crook- 
bladcd sword, smeared with man's blood, and bigger than any 
man might wield in battle. 

' Art thou far-seeing, War-leader?' quoth he. 'What canst 
thou see in the market-place?' 

Said Face-of-god : ' F'ar-seeing am I above most men, and I see 
in the Place a man in scarlet standing by the banner, which is pitched 
in front of the great stone hall, near to the mound with the white 
stone on it ; and mcscemeth he bearcth a great horn in his hand.' 

329 U U 



The horn of Said Folk-might : * Yea, and that stone hall was our Mote- 
the Dusky house when we were lords of the Dale, and thence it was that 
"• they who are now thralls of the Dusky Men sent to them their 

message and token of yielding. And as for that white stone, it 
is the altar of their god; for they have but one, and he is that 
same crook-bladed sword. And now that I look, I see a great 
stack of wood amidmost the market-place, and well I know what 
that betokcneth.' 

' Lo you !' said Face-of-god, ' the man with the horn is gone 
up on to the altar-mound, and meseemeth he is setting the little 
end of the horn to his mouth,' 

' Hearken then ! ' said Folk-might. And in a moment came 
the hoarse tuneless sound of the horn down the wind towards 
them; and Folk-might said: 

' I deem I should know what that blast meaneth ; and now is 
it time that the Host drew nigher to set them in array behind 
these very trees. But if ye will, War-leader, we will abide 
here and watch the ways of the foemen, and send Dallach with 
the word to the Host; also I would have thee suffer me to bid 
hither at once two score and ten of the best of the bowmen of our 
folk and the Woodlanders, and Wood-wise to lead them, for 
he knoweth well the land hereabout, and what is good to do.' 

* It is good,' said Face-of-god. ' Be speedy, Dallach ! ' 

So Dallach departed, running lightly, and the two chiefs 
abode there ; and the horn in Silver-stead blew at whiles for a 
little, and then stayed; and Folk-might said: 

* Lo you ! they come fiockmeal to the Mote-stead ; the Place 
will be filled ere long.' 

Said Face-of-god : * Will they make offerings to their god at 
the hallov.'ing in of their Folk-mote ? Where then are the 
slaughter-beasts ? ' 

* They shall not long be lacking,' said Folk-might. ' See you 
It is getting thronged about the altar and the Mote-house.' 

Now there were four ways into the Market-place of Silver-stead 



turreJ toward the four airts, and the midmost of the kindreds' The fashion 
battle looked right down the southern one, which went up to the ofthe Market- 
wood, but stopped there in a mere woodland path, and the more P^^^° ^* ^^''" 
part of the town lay north and west of this way, albeit there was 
a way from the east also. But the hill-side just below the two 
captains lay two furlongs west of this southern way ; and it went 
down softly till it was gotten quite near to the backs of the 
houses on the south side of the Market-place, and was sprinkled 
scantly with bushes and trees as aforesaid ; but at last were there 
more bushes, which well-nigh made a hedge across it, reaching 
from the side of the southern way ; and a foot or two beyond 
these bushes the ground fell by a steep and broken bent down to 
the level ofthe Market-place, and betwixt that fringe of bushes 
and the backs of the houses on the south side of the Place was 
less it maybe than a full furlong : but the southern road afore- 
said went down softly into the jvlarket-place, since it had been 
fashioned so by men. 

Now the two chiefs heard a loud blast of horns come up from 
the town, and lo ! a great crowd of men wending their ways down 
the road from the north, and they came into the market-place with 
spears and other weapons tossing in the air, and amidst of these 
men, who seemed to be all of the warriors, they saw as they drew 
nighcr some two score and ten cf men clad in long raiment of 
yellow and scarlet, with tall spiring hats of strange fashion on their 
heads, and in their hands long staves with great blades like scythes 
done on to them ; and again, in the midst of these yellow and red 
glaive-bearers, in the very heart of the throng were some score of 
naked folk, they deemed both men and women, but were not 
sure, so close was the throng ; nor could they see if they were 
utterly naked. 

' Lo you, brother ! ' quoth Folk-might, ' said I not that the beasts 
for the hewing should not tarry ? Yonder naked folk are even 
they : and ye may well deem that they are the thralls of the Dusky 
Men ; and meseemeth by the whiteness of their skins they be of 



Now come 
bowmen of 
the Wolf and 
the Wood- 
land. 



the best of them. For these felons, it is like, look to winning great 
plenty of thralls in Burgdale, and so set the less store on them they 
have, and ma}' expend them freely.' 

As he spake they heard the sound of men marching in the wood 
behind them, and they turned about and saw that there was come 
Wood-wise, and with him upwards of two score and ten of the bow- 
men of the Woodlanders and the Wolf — huntsmen, cragsmen, 
and scourers of the Waste ; men who could shoot the chaffinch on 
the twig a hundred yards aloof; who could make a hiding-place 
of the bennets of the wa^'side grass, or the stem of the slender 
birch-tree. With these must needs be Bow-may, who was the 
closest shooter of all the kindreds. 

So then Wood-wise told the War-leader that Dallach had given 
the word to the Host, and that all men were astir and would be 
there presently in their ordered companies ; and Face-of-god spake 
to Folk-might, and said: 'Chief of the Wolf, wilt thou not give 
command to these bowmen, and set them to the work ; for thou 
wottest thereof.' 

' Yea, that will I,' said Folk-might, and turned to Wood-wise, 
and said : ' Wood-wise, get ye down the slope, and loose on these 
felons, who have a murder on hand, if so be ye have a chance to 
do it wisely. But in any case come ye all back ; for all shall be 
needed yet to-day. So flee if they pursue, for ye shall have us to 
flee to. Now be ye wary, nor let the curse of the Wolf and the 
Face lie on your slothfulness.' 

Wood-wise did but nod his head and lift his hand to his fellows, 
who set off after him down the slope without more tarrying. They 
went very warily, as if they were hunting a quarry which would 
flee from them ; and they crept amongst the grass and stones from 
bush to bush like serpents, and so, unseen by the Dusky Men, who 
indeed were busied over their own matters, they came to the fringe 
of bushes above the broken ground aforesaid, and there they took 
their stand, and before them below those steep banks was but the 
space at the back of the houses. As to the houses, as aforesaid, 



they were net so high as elsewhere about the Market-place; and Gifts for the 
at the end of a long low hall there was a gap between its gable God. 
and the next house, whereby they had a clear sight of the Place 
about the god's altar and the banners, and the great hall of Silver- 
dale, with the double stair that went up to the door thereof. 

There then they made them ready, and Wood-wise set men to 
watch that none should come sidelong on them unawares ; their 
bows were b'^nt and their quivers open, and they were eager for 
the fray. 

Thus they beheld the Market-place from their cover, and saw 
that those folk who were to be hewn to the god were now standing 
facing the altar in a half- ring, and behind them in another half- 
ring the glaive-bearers who had brought them thither stood glaive 
in hand ready to hew them down when the token should be given ; 
and these were indeed the priests of the god. 

There was clear space round about these poor slaughter-thralls, 
so that the bowmen could see them well, and they told up a score 
of them, half men, half women, and the}- were all stark naked save 
for wreaths of flowers about their middles and their necks ; and 
they had shackles of lead about their wrists ; which same lead 
should be taken out of the fire wherein they should be burned, and 
from the shape it should take after it had passed through the fire 
would the priests foretell the luck of the deed to be done. 

It was clear to be seen from thence that Folk-might was right 
when he said that these slaughter-thralls were of the best of the 
house-thralls and bed-mates of the Dusky Men, and that these 
felons were open-handed to their god, and would not cheat him, or 
withhold from him the best and most delicate oi^ all they had. 

Now spake Wood-wise to those about him : * It is sure that 
Folk-might would have us give these poor thralls a chance, and 
that we must loose upon the felons who would hew them down; 
and ifwe are to come back again, wecangononighcr. Whatsayest 
thou, BuW-may ? Is it nigh enough ? Can aught be done ? ' 

* Yea, yea,' she said, ' nigh enough it is ; but let Gold-ring 

333 



^hoot. 



They make be with me and half a score of the very best, whether the}- be of 
ready to our folk or the Woodlanders, men who cannot miss such a mark ; 

and when we have loosed, then let all loose, and stay not till our 
shot be spent. Haste, now haste! time presseth; for if the Host 
showeth on the brow of the hill, these felons will hew down their 
slaughter-beasts before they turn on their foemen. Let the gre}'- 
sroose wins: speed trouble and confusion amonast them.' 

But ere she had done her words Wood-wise had got to speak- 
ing quietly with the Woodlanders ; and Bears-bane, who was 
amidst them, chose out eight of the best of his folk, men who 
doubted nothing of hitting whatever they could see in the Mar- 
ket-place; and they took their stand for shooting, and with them 
besides Bow-may were two women and four men of the Wolf, 
and Gold-ring withal, a carle of fifty winters, long, lean, and 
wiry, a fell shooter if ever anyone were. 

So all these notched their shafts and laid them on the yew, 
and each had between the two last fingers of the shaft-hand 
another shaft ready, and a half score more stuck into the ground 
before him. 

Now giveth Wood-wise the word to these sixteen as to wnich 
of the felons with the glaives they shall each one aim at; and he 
saith withal in a soft voice : * Help cometh from the Hill ; soon 
shall battle be joined in Silver-dale.' 

Thus stand they watching Bow-may and Gold-ring till they 
draw home the notches ; and amidst their waiting the glaive- 
bearing felons fall a-singing a harsh and ugly hymn to their 
crooked-sword god, and the Market-stead is thronged endlong 
and overthwart with the tribes of the Dusky Men. 

There now standeth Bow-may far-sighted and keen-eyed, her 
face as pale as a linen sleeve, an awful smile on her glittering 
eyes and close-set lips, and she feeling the twisted string of the 
red yew and the polished sides of the notch, while the yelling 
song of the Dusky priests quavers now and ends with a wild shrill 
cry, and she noteth the midmost of the priests beginning to handle 

334 



his weapon : then swift and steady she draweth home the notches, T'le speeding 
while the ^-ew bow standeth still as the oak-bole ere the summer ° '^ shafts, 
storm ariscth, and the twang of the sixteen strings makcth but 
one fell sound as the feathered bane of men gocth on its way. 

There was silence for a moment of time in the Market of 
Silver-stead, as if the bolt of the Gods had fallen there ; and then 
arose a huge wordless yell from those about the altar, and one 
oi' the priests who was left hove up his glaive two-handed to 
smite the naked slaughter-thralls ; but or ever the stroke fell. 
Bow-may's second shaft was through his throat, and he rolled 
over amidst his dead fellows; and the other fifteen had loosed 
with her, and then even as they could Wood-wise and the others 
of their company ; and all they notched and loosed without 
tarrying, and no shout, no word came from their lips, only the 
twanging strings spake for them ; for they deemed the minutes 
that hurried by were worth much joy of their lives to be. And 
few indeed were the passing minutes ere the dead men lay in 
heaps about the Altar of the Crooked Sword, and the wounded 
men wallowed amidst them. 



CHAPTER XLIV. OF THE ONSLAUGHT OF THE MEN 
OF THE STEER, THE BRIDGE, AND THE BULL. 

WILD was the turmoil and confusion in the Market-stead ; 
for the more part of the men therein knew not what 
had befallen about the altar, though some clomb up to 
the top of that stack of faggots built for the burning of the 
thralls, and when they saw what was toward fell to yelling and 
cursing; and their fellows on the plain Place could not hear their 
story for the clamour, and they also fell to howling as if a wood 
full of wild dogs was there. 

And still the shafts rained down on that throng from the Rent 
of the Bowmen, for another two score men of the Woodlanders 

335 



the bowmen. 



The Dusky had crept down the hill to them, and shafts failed them not. 

Men turn on But the Dusky Men about the altar, for all their terror, or even 
maybe because of it, now began to turn upon the scarce-seen 
foemen, and to press up wildly toward the hill-side, though as it 
were without any order or aim. Every man of them had his 
weapons, and those no mere gilded toys, but their ver}' tools of 
battle ; and some, but no great number, had their bows with them 
and a few shafts; and these began to shoot at whatsoever they 
could see on the hill-side, but at first so wildly and hurriedly that 
they did no harm. 

It must be said of them that at first only those about the altar 
fell on toward the hill ; for those about the road that led south- 
ward knew not what had betided nor whither to turn. So that 
at this beginning of the battle, of all the thousands in the great 
Place it was but a few hundreds that set on the Bent of the 
Bowmen, and at these the bowmen of the kindreds shot so close 
and so wholly together that they fell one over another in the 
narrow ways between the houses whereby they must needs go to 
gather on the plain ground betwixt the backs of the houses and 
the break of the hill-side. But little by little the archers of the 
Dusky Men gathered behind the corpses of the slain, and fell to 
shooting at what the}' could see of the men of the kindreds, 
which at that while was not much, for as bold as they were, they 
fought like wary hunters of the Wood and the Waste. 

But now at last throughout all that throng of Felons in the 
Market-place the tale began to spread of foemen come into the 
Dale and shooting from the Bents, and all they turned their 
faces to the hill, and the whole set of the throng was thither- 
ward; though they fared but slowly, so evil was the order of 
them, each man hindering his neighbour as he went. And not 
only did the Dusky Men come flockmeal toward the Bent of the 
Bowmen, but also they jostled along toward the road that led 
southward. That beheld Wood-wise from the Bent, and he 
was minded to get him and his aback, now that they had made so 



great a slaughter of the foemen; and two or three of his fellows The kindreds 

had been hurt by arrows, and Bow-may, she would have been ^^^ ^^^ battle 

slain thrice over but for the hammer-work of the Alderman. And '" ^^'^^^ f!" 
1 1 /- 1 1 1-1 ^ the wood s 

no marvel was that; tor now she stood on a little mound not ^^\„^ 

half covered by a thin thorn-bush, and notched and loosed at 
whatever was most notable, as though she were shooting at the 
mark on a summer evening in Shadowy Vale. But as Wood- 
wise was at point to give the word to depart, from behind them 
rang out the merry sound of the Burgdale horns, and he turned 
to look at the wood-side, and lo ! thereunder was the hill bright 
and dark with men-at-arms, and over them floated the Banners 
of the Wolf, and the Banners oi^ the Steer, the Bridge, and the 
Bull, Then gave forth the bowmen of the kindreds their first 
shout, and they made no stay in their shooting; but shot the 
eagerer, for they deemed that help would come without their 
turning about to draw it to them: and even so it was. For 
straightway down the bent came striding Facc-of-god betwixt 
the two Banners of the Wolf, and beside him were Red-wolf 
the tall and War-grove, and therewithal Wood-wont and Wood- 
wicked, and many other men of the Wolf; for now that the 
men of the kindreds had been brought face to face with the 
foe, and there was less need of them for way-leaders, the more 
part of them were liefer to fight under their own banner along 
with the Woodlanders; so that the company of those who went 
under the W'olves was more than three long hundreds and a 
half; and the bowmen on the edge of the bent shouted again 
and merrily, when they felt that their brothers were amongst 
them, and presently was the arrow-storm at its fiercest, and 
the twanging of bow-strings and the whistle of the shafts was 
as the wind among the clefts of the mountains ; for all the new- 
comers were bowmen of the best. 

But the kindreds of the Steer, the Bridge, and the Bull, 
they hung yet a while longer on the hills' brow, their banners 
floating over them and their horns blowing; and the Dusky 

337 XX 



A song of Felons in the Market-place beheld them, and fear and rage at 

onset of the once filled their hearts, and a fierce and dreadful yell brake out 

'w TT from them, and joyously did the Men of Burgdale answer them, 

p^lg ^^ and song arose amongst them even such as this : 

The Men of the Bridge sing: 
Why stand ye together, why bear ye the shield, 
Now the calf straineth tether at edge of the field ? 

Now the lamb bleateth stronger and waters run clear. 
And the day groweth longer and glad is the year ? 

Now the mead-flowers jostle so thick as they stand, 
And singeth the throstle all over the land ? 

The Men of the Steer sing : 
No cloud the day darkened, no thunder we heard. 
But the horns' speech we hearkened as men unafeared. 

Yea, so merry it sounded, we turned from the Dale, 
Where all wealth abounded, to wot of its tale. 

TJje Men of the Bridge sing: 
What white boles then bear ye, what wealth of the woods ? 
What chaffierers hear ye bid loud for your goods ? 

The Men of the Bull sing : 
O the bright beams we carry are stems of the steel ; 
Nor long shall we tarry across them to deal. 

Hark the men of the cheaping, how loudly they cry 
On the hook for the reaping of men doomed to die ! 

They all sing : 
Heave spear up ! fare forward, O Men of the Dale ! 
For the Warrior, our war-ward, shall hearken the tale. 

338 



Therewith they ceased a moment, and tlicn gave a great and Those kin- 
Tiearty shout all together, and all their horns blew, and they moved drcds fall on. 
•on down the hill as one man,slovvIy and with no jostling, the spear- 
men first, and then they of the axe and the sword ; and on their 
flanks the deft archers loosed on the stumbling jostling throng 
of the Dusky ISIen, who for their part came on drilling and surging 
up the road to the hill. 

But when those big spearmen of the Dale had gone a little way 
the horns' voice died out, and their great-staved spears rose up 
from their shoulders into the air, and stood so a moment, and then 
slowly fell forward, as the oars of the longship fall into the row- 
locks, and then over the shoulders of the foremost men showed the 
steel of the five ranks behind them, and their own spears cast long 
bars of shadow* on the whiteness of the sunny road. No sound came 
from them now save the rattle of their armour and the tramp of 
their steady feet ; but from the Dusky Men rose up hideous con- 
fused yelling, and those that could free themselves from the tangle 
of the throng rushed desperately against the on-rolling hedge of 
steel, and the whole throng shoved on behind them. Then met 
steel and men ; here and there an ash-stave broke ; here and there a 
Dusky Felon rolled himselfunhurt under the ash-staves, and hewed 
the knees of the Dalesmen, and a tall man came tottering down ; 
but what men or wood-wights could endure the push of spears of 
those mighty husbandmen ? The Dusky Ones shrunk back yelling, 
or turned their backs and rushed at their own folk with such fierce 
agony that they entered into the throng, till the terror of the spear 
reached to the midmost of it and swayed them back on the hinder- 
most ; for neither was there outgate for the felons on the flanks of 
the spearmen, since there the feathered death beset them, and the 
bowmen (and the Bride amongst the foremost) shot wholly to- 
gether, and no shaft flew idly. But the wise leaders of the Dales- 
men would not that they should thrust in too far amongst the howl- 
ing throng of the Dusky Men, lest they should be hemmed in by 
them ; for they were but a handful in regard to them : so there they 

339 



Dusky Men. 



The cnam- Stayed, barring the way to the Dusky Men, and the bowmen still 

pions of the loosed from the flanks of them, or aimed deftly from betwixt the 

kindreds ranks of the spearmen. 

Dnskv^Men "^"'^ ""^ ^^^ there a space of ten strides or more betwixt the 

Dalesmen and their foes, over which the spears hung terribly, nor 
durst the Dusky Men adventure there; andthereonwas noughtbut 
men dead or sorely hurt. Then suddenly a horn rang thrice shrilly 
over all the noise and clamour of the throng, and the ranks of the 
spearmen opened, and forth into that space strode two score of the 
swordsmen and axe-wielders of the Dale, their weapons raised in 
their hands, and he who led them was Iron-hand of the House oi" 
the Bull : tall he was, wide-shouldered, exceeding strong, but. 
beardless and fair-faced. He bore aloft a two-edged sword, broad- 
bladed, exceeding heavy, so that few men could wield it in battle, 
but not right long ; it was an ancient weapon, and his father before 
him had called it the Barley-scythe. With him were some of the 
best of the kindreds, as Wolf of Whitegarth, Long-hand of Oak- 
holt, Hart of HighclifF, and War-well the captain of the Bridge. 
These made no tarrying on that space of the dead, but cried aloud 
their cries : * For the Burg and the Steer ! for the Dale and the 
Bridge ! for the Dale and the Bull I ' and so fell at once on the 
Felons ; who fled not, nor had room to flee ; and also they feared not 
the edge-weapons so sorely as they feared those huge spears. So 
they turned fiercely on the swordsmen, and chiefly on Iron-hand, as 
he entered in amongst them the first of all, hewing to the right 
hand and the left, and many a man fell before the Barley-scythe ; 
for they were but little before him. Yet as one fell another took his 
place, and hewed at him with the steel axe and the crooked sword ; 
and with many strokes they clave his shield and brake his helm 
and rent his byrny, while he heeded little save smiting with the 
Barley-scythe, and the blood ran from his arm and his shoulder and 
his thigh. 

But War-well had entered in among the foe on his left hand, 
and unshielded hove up a great broad-bladed axe, that clave the 

340 



iron helms of the Dusky Men, and rent their horn-scaled byrnies. Great strokes 
He was not very tall, but his shoulders were huge and his arms 'Stricken. 
long, and nought could abide his stroke. He cleared a ring round 
Iron-hand, whose eyes were growing dim as the blood flowed from 
him, and hewed three strokes before him ; then turned and drew the 
champion out of the throng, and gave him into the arms of his fel- 
lows to stanch the blood that drained away the might of his limbs ; 
and then with a great wordless roar leaped back again on the 
Dusky Men as the Hon leapelh on the herd of swine ; and they 
shrank away before him ; and all the swordsmen shouted, * For the 
Bridge, for the Bridge ! ' and pressed on the harder, smiting down 
all before them. On his left hand now was Hart of Highcliff 
wielding a good sword hight Chip-driver, wherewith he had slain 
and hurt a many, fighting wisely with sword and shield, and 
driving the point home through the joints of the armour. But 
even therewith, as he drave a great stroke at a lord of the Dusky 
Ones, a cast-spear came flying and smote him on the breast, so 
that he staggered, and the stroke fell flatlings on the shield-boss 
of his foe, and Chip-driver brake atwain nigh the hilts; but 
Hart closed with him, and smote him on the face with the pom- 
mel, and tore his axe from his hand and clave his skull there- 
with, and slew him with his own weapon, and fought on valiantly 
beside War-well. 

Now War-well had fought so fiercely that he had rent his own 
hauberk with the might of his strokes, and as he raised his arm to 
smite a huge stroke, a deft man of the Felons thrust the spike of his 
war-axe up under his arm ; and when War-well felt the smart of 
the steel, he turned on that man, and, letting his axe fall down to 
his wrist and hang there by its loop, he caught the focman up by 
the neck and the breech, and drave him against the other Dusky 
Ones before him, so that their weapons pierced and rent their own 
friend and fellow. Then he put forth the might of his arms and 
the pith of his body, and hove up that felon and cast him on to the 
heads of his fellow murder-carles, so that he rent them and was 



The kindre.ls rent by them. Then War-well fell on again with the axe, and 

drive the all the champions of the Dale shouted and fell on with him, and 

Dusky Men. the foe shrank away ; and the Dalesmen cleared a space five fathoms' 

length before them, and the spearmen drewonwardand stood on the 

space whereon the first onslaught had been. 

Then drew those hewers of the Dale together, and forth from 
the company came the man that bare the Banner of the Bridge, 
and the champions gathered round him, and they ordered their 
ranks and strode with the Banner before them three times to and 
fro across the road athwart the front of the spearmen, and then 
with a great shout drew back within the spear-hedge. Albeit five 
of the champions of the Dale had been slain outright there, and 
the more part of them hurt more or less. 

But when all were well within the ranks, once again blew the 
horn, and all the spears sank to the rest, and the kindreds drave 
the spear-furrow, and a space was swept clear before them, and 
the cries and yells of the Dusky Men were so fierce and wild that 
the rough voices of the Dalesmen were drowned amidst them. 

Forth then came every bowman of the kindred that was there 
and loosed on the Dusky Men; and they forsooth had some 
bowmen amongst them, but cooped up and jostled as they were, 
they shot but wildly ; whereas each shaft of the Dale went 
home truly. 

But amoncTst the bowmen forth came the Bride in her glittering 
war-gear, and stepped lightly to the front of the spearmen. Her 
own yew bow had been smitten by a shaft and broken in her hand : 
so she had caught up a short horn bow and a quiver from one of 
the slain of the Dusky Men ; and now she knelt on one knee under 
the shadow of the spears nigh to her grandsire Hall-ward, and 
with a pale face and knitted brow notched and loosed, and notched 
and loosed on the throng of foemen, as if she were some daintily 
fashioned engine of war. 

So fared the battle on the road that went from the south into 
the Market-stead. Valiantly had the kindred fought there, and 

342 



no man of them had blenched, and much had they won ; but the Now pass we 
way was perilous before them, for the foe was many and many. *° Face-of- 



god and his 
folk. 



CHAPTER XLV. OF FACE-OF-GOD'S ONSLAUGHT. 

NOW the banners of the Wolf flapped and rippled over 
the heads of the Woodlanders and the Men of the Wolf; 
and the men shot all they might, nor took heed now to 
cover themselves against the shafts of the Dusk}' Men. As for 
these, for all thev were so many, their arrow-shot was no great 
matter, for they were in ver}' evil order, as has been said ; and 
moreover, their rage was so great to come to handy strokes with 
these foemen, that some of them flung away their bows to brandish 
the axe or the sword. Nevertheless were some among the kin- 
dred hurt or slain by their arrows. 

Now stood Face-of-god with the foremost ; and from where 
he stood he could see somewhat of the battle of the Dalesmen, 
and he wotted that it was thriving ; therefore he looked before 
him and close around him, and noted what was toward there. 
The space betwixt the houses and the break of the bent was 
crowded with the fury of the Dusky Men tossing their weapons 
aloft, crying to each other and at the kindred, and here and there 
loosing a bow-string on them ; but whatever was their rage they 
might not come a many together past a line within ten fathom 
of the bent's end; for three hundred of the best of bowmen were 
shooting at them so ceaselessly that no Dusky man was safe of 
any bare place of his bod}-, and they fell over one another in that 
penfold of slaughter, and for all their madness did but little. 

Yet was the heart of the War-leader troubled ; for he wotted 
that it might not last for ever, and there seemed no end to the 
throng of murder-carles; and the time would come when the arrow- 
shot would be spent, and they must needs come to handy strokes, 
and that with so many. 

343 



Now a voice spake to him as he gazed with knitted brows 
and careful heart on that turmoil of battle : 

' What now hast thou done with the Sun-beam, and where is 
her brother ? Is the Chief of the Wolf skulking when our woik 
is so heavy? And thou meseemeth art overlate on the field: the 
mowing of this meadow is no sluggard's work.' 

He turned and beheld Bow-may, and gazed on her face for a 
moment, and saw her eyes how they glittered, and how the pom- 
mels of her cheeks were burning red and her lips dry and grey; 
but before he answered he looked all round about to see what was 
to note ; and he touched Bow-may on the shoulder and pointed 
to down below where a man of the Felons had just come out of 
the court oi^ one of the houses : a man taller than most, very gaily 
arrayed, with gilded scales all over him, so that, with his dark 
face and blue eyes, he looked like some strange dragon. Bow- 
may spake not, but stamped her foot with anger. Yet if her 
heart were hot, her hand was steady; for she notched a shaft, and 
just as the Dusky Chief raised his axe and brandished it aloft, 
she loosed, and the shaft flew and smote the felon in the arm- 
pit and the default of the armour, and he fell to earth. But even 
as she loosed, Face-of-god cried out in a loud voice : 

* O lads of battle I shoot close and all together. Tarry not, 
tarry not ! for we need a little time ere sword meets sword, and 
the others of the kindreds are at work ! ' 

But Bow-may turned round to him and said : * Wilt thou not 
answer me ? Where is thy kindness gone ?' 

Even as she was speaking she had notched and loosed another 
shaft, speaking as folk do who turn from busy work at loom or 
bench. 

Then said Face-of-god : ' Shoot on, sister Bow-may ! The 
Sun-beam is gone with her brother, and he is with the Men of 
the Face.' 

He broke off here, for a man fell beside him hurt in the neck, 
and Face-of-god took his bow from his hands and shot a shaft, 

344 



f 



while one of the women who had been hurt also tended the newl}*- Facc-of-god 
wounded man. Then Face-of-god went on speaking : beholdeth the 

' She was unwilling to go, but Folk-might and I constrained her; ''^"'f '^'^'"' "• 
for we knew that this is the most perilous place of the battle — 
hah ! see those three felons, Bow-may! they are aiming hither.' 

And again he loosed and Bow-may also, but a shaft rattled on 
his helm withal, and another smote aWoodlander beside him, and 
pierced through the calf of^ his leg, as he turned and stooped to 
take fresh arrows from a sheaf that la^' there ; but the carle took 
it by the notch and the point, and brake it and drew it out, and then 
stood up and went on shooting. And Face-of-god spake again : 

' Folk-might skulketh not; nor the Men of the \'ine, and the 
Sickle, and the Face, nor the Shepherd-Folk : soon shall they 
be making our work easy to us, if we can hold our own till then. 
They are on the other roads that lead into the square. Now suffer 
me, and shoot on ! ' 

Therewith he looked round about him, and he saw on the 
left hand that all was quiet ; and before him was the confused 
throng of the Dusky Men trampling their own dead and 
wounded, and not able as yet to cross that death-line of the 
arrow so near to them. But on his right hand he saw how they 
of the kindreds held them firm on the way. Then for a moment 
of time he considered and thought, till him-secmed he could see 
the whole battle yet to be foughten ; and his face flushed, and 
he said sharply : ♦ Bow-may, abide here and shoot, and show the 
others where to shoot, while the arrows hold out; but we will 
go further for a while, and ye shall follow when we have made 
the rent great enough.' 

She turned to him and said : ' Why art thou not more joyous ? 
thou art like an host without music or banners.' 

' Nay,' said he, ' heed not me, but my bidding ! ' 

She said hastily : ' 1 think I shall die here ; since for all we 
have shot we minish them nowise. Now kiss me this once 
amidst the battle, and say farewell.' 

345 YY 



Face-of-god He said : 'Nay, nay; it shall not go thus. Abide a little while, 

falleth on to and thou shalt see all this tangle open, as the sun cleaveth the 
handystrokes. clouds on the autumn morning. Yet lo thou ! since thou wilt 
have it so.' 

And he bent forward and kissed her face, and new the tears 
ran over it, and she said smiling somewhat : ' Now is this more 
than I looked for, whatso may betide.' 

But while she was yet speaking he cried in a great voice : 
* Ye who have spent your shot, or have nigh spent it, to axe and 
sword, and follow me to clear the ground 'twixtthe bent and the 
halls. Let each help each, but throng not each other. Shoot 
wisely, ye bowmen, and keep our backs clear of the foe. On, 
on ! for the Burg and the Face, for the Burg and the Face ! ' 

Therewith he leapt down the steep of the hill, bounding like 
the hart, with Dale-warden naked in his hand ; and they that 
followed were two score and ten ; and the arrows of their bow- 
men rained over their heads on the Dusky Men, as they smote 
down the first of the foemen, and the others shrieked and shrank 
from them, or turned on them smiting wildly and desperately. 

But Face-of-god swept round the great sword and plunged 
into that sea of turmoil and noise and evil sights and savours, 
and even therewith he heard clearly a voice that said : * Gold- 
ring, I am hurt ; take my bow a while ! ' and knew it for Bow- 
may's ; but it came to his ears like the song of a bird without 
meaning ; for it was as if his life were changed at once ; and in 
a minute or two he had cut thrice with the edge and thrust twice 
with the point, eager, but clear-eyed and deft; and he saw as in 
a picture the foe before him, and the grey roofs of Silver-stead, 
and throucrh the gap in them the tops of the blue ridges far 
aloof. And now had three fallen before him, and they feared 
him, and turned on him, and smote so many together that their 
strokes crossed each other, and one warded him from the other; 
and he laughed aloud and shielded himself, and drave the point 
of Dale-warden amidst the tangle of weapons through the open 

346 



mouth of a captain of the Felons, and slashed a cheek with a They drive 
back-stroke, and swept round the edge to his riaht hand and ^^^ foemen 
smote off a blue-eyed snub-nosed head; and therewith a pole- ^ ^^ ' 
axe smote him on the left side of his helm, so that he tottered; but 
he swung himself round, and stood stark and upright, and gave 
a short hack with the edge, keeping Dale-warden well in hand, 
and a gold-clad felon, a champion oi^ them, and their tallest 
on the ground, fell aback, his throat gaping more than the mouth 
of him. 

Then Face-of-god shouted and waved Dale-warden aloft to 
the Banner of the Wolf that floated behind and above him, 
and he cried out : ' As I have promised so have I done ! ' And 
he looked about, and beheld how valiantly his fellows had been 
doing ; for before him now was a space of earth with no man 
standing on his feet thereon, like the swathe of the mowers 
of June ; and beyond that was the crowd of the Dusky Men 
wavering like the tall grass abiding the scythe. 

But a minute, and they fell to casting at Face-of-god and 
his fellows spears and knives and shields and whatsoever would 
fly ; and a spear smote him on the breast, but entered not ; and 
a bossed shield fell over his face withal, and a plummet of sling- 
lead smote his helm, and he fell to earth; but leapt up again 
straightway, and heard as he arose a great shout close to him, 
and a shrill cry, and lo ! at his left side Bow-maj', her sword in 
her hand, and the hand red with blood from a shaft-graze on her 
wrist, and a white cloth stained with blood about her neck ; and 
on his right side Wood-wise bearing the banner and crying the 
Wolf-whoop; for the whole company' was come down from the 
slope and stood around him. 

Then for a little while was there such a stillincr of the tumult 

o 

about him there, that he heard great and glad cries from the 
Road of the South of ' The Burg and the Steer ! The Dale and 
the Bridge ! The Dale and the Bull ! ' And thereafter a ter- 
rible great shrieking cry, and a huge voice that cried: * Death, 

347 



A song of the death, death to the Dusky Men! ' And thereafter again fierce 

liarvest. cries and great tumult of the battle. 

Then Face-of-god shook Dale-warden in the air, and strode 
forward fiercely, but not speedily, and the whole company went 
foot for foot along with him; and as he went, would he or 
would he not, song came into his mouth, a song of the meadows 
of the Dale, even such as this: 

The wheat is done blooming and rust 's on the sickle, 
And green are the meadows grown after the scythe. 

Come, hands for the dance ! For the toil hath been mickle, 
And 'twixt haysel and harvest 'tis time to be blithe. 

And what shall the tale be now dancing is over. 
And kind on the meadow sits maiden by man. 

And the old man bethinks him of days of the lover. 
And the warrior remembers the field that he wan ? 

Shall we tell of the dear days wherein we are dwelling, 
The best days of our Mother, the cherishing Dale, 

When all round about us the summer is telling, 
To ears that may hearken, the heart of the tale ? 

Shall we sing of these hands and these lips that caress us, 
And the limbs that sun-dappled lie light here beside, 

When still in the morning they rise but to bless us. 
And oft in the midnight our footsteps abide ? 

O nay, but to tell of the fathers were better, 

And of how we were fashioned from out of the earth; 

Of how the once lowly spurned strong at the fetter ; 
Of the days of the deeds and beginning of mirth. 

And then when the feast-tide is done in the morning, 
Shall we whet the grey sickle that bideth the wheat, 
34« 



Till wan grow the edges, and gleam forth a warning The Dusky 

Of the field and the fallow where edges shall meet. ^^f" turn on 

^ the Wood- 

And when cometh the harvest, and hook upon shoulder landers. 

We enter the red wheat from out of the road, 
We shall sing, as wc wend, of the bold and the bolder, 

And the Burg of their building, the beauteous abode. 

As smiteth the sickle amid the sun's burning 

We shall sing how the sun saw the token unfurled, 
W^hen forth fared the Folk, with no thought of returning, 

In the days when the Banner went wide in the world. 

Many saw that he was singing, but heard not the words of his 
mouth, for great was the noise and clamour. But he heard Bow- 
may, how she laughed b}' his side, and cried out : 

' Gold-manc,dear-heart, now art thou merry indeed; and glad am 
I, though theytoldmc that I am hurt. — Ah ! now beware, beware !' 

For indeed the Dusky Men, seeing the wall of steel rolling 
down on them, and cooped up by the houses, so that they scarce 
knew how to flee, turned in the face of death, the foremost of 
them, and rushed furiously on the array of the Woodlanders, and 
all those behind pressed on them like the big wave of the ebbing 
sea when the gust of the wind driveth it landward. 

The Woodlanders met them, shouting out : ' The Greenwood 
and the Wolf, the Greenwood and the Wolf! ' But not a few 
of them fell there, though they gave not back a foot; for so fierce 
now were the Dusky Nlen, that hewing and thrusting at them 
availed nought, unless the}' were slain outright or stunned; and 
even if they fell they rolled themselves up against their tall foe- 
men, heedmg not death or wounds if they might but slay or 
wound. There then fell War-grove and ten others of the Wood- 
landers, and four men of the Wolf, but none before he had slain 
his foeman; and as each man fell or was hurt grievously, another 
took his place. 

349 



Now a felon leapt up and caught Gold-ring by the neck and 
drew him down, while another strove to smite his head off; but 
the stout carle drave a wood-knife into the side of the first felon, 
and drew it out speedily and smote the other, the smiter, in the face 
with the same knife, and therewith they all three rolled together 
on the earth amongst the feet of men. Even so did another felon 
by Bow-may, and dragged her down to the ground, and smote 
her with a long knife as she tumbled down ; and this was a feat 
of theirs, for they were long-armed like apes. 

But as to this felon. Dale-warden's edge split his skull, and 
Face-of-god gathered his might together and bestrode Bow-may, 
till he had hewed a space round about him with great two-handed 
strokes ; and yet the blade brake not. Then he caught up Bow- 
may from the earth, and the felon's knife had not pierced her 
hauberk, but she was astonied, and might not stand upon her 
feet ; and Face-of-god turned aside a little with her, and half 
bore her, half thrust her through the throng to the rearward of 
his folk, and left her there with two carlines of the Wolf who 
followed the host for leechcraft's sake, and then turned back 
shouting: ' For the Face, for the Face!' and there followed him 
back to the battle, a band of those who were fresh as j'et, and 
their blades unbloodied, the young men of the Woodlands. 

The wearier fighters made way for them as they came on 
shouting, and Face-of-god was ahead of them all, and leapt at 
the foemen as a man unwearied and striking his first stroke, so 
wondrous hale he was ; and they drave a wedge amidst of the 
Dusky Men, and then turned about and stood back to back hew- 
ing at all that drifted on them. But as Face-of-god cleared a 
space about him, lo ! almost within reach of his sword-point up 
rose a grim shape from the earth, tall, grey-haired, and bloody- 
faced, who uttered the Wolf-whoop from amidst the terror of 
his visage, and turned and swung round his head an axe of the 
Dusky Men, and fell to smiting them with their own weapon. 
The Dusky Men shrieked in answer to his whoop, and all shrunk 

350 



from him and Face-of-god ; but a cry of joy went up from the Tlie Dusky 
kindred, for they knew Gold-ring, whom they deemed had been ^^en over- 
slain. So thev all pressed on together, smiting down the foe '^|"'o^'^" ^^^^"^ 
before them, and the Dusky Men, some turned their backs and 
drave those behind them, till they too turned and were strained 
through the passages and courts of the houses, and some were 
overthrown and trodden down as they strove to hold face to the 
Woodlanders, and some were hewn down where they stood; but 
the whole throno- of those that were on their feet drifted toward 
the Market-place, the Woodlanders following them ever with 
point and edge, till betwixt the bent and the houses no foeman 
stood up against them. 

Then they stood together, and raised the whoop of victory, 
and blew their horns long and loud in token of their joy, and the 
Woodland men lifted up their voices and sang : 

Now far, far aloof 

Standeth lintel and roof, 

The dwelling of days 

Of the Woodland ways : 

Now nought wendcth there 

Save the wolf and the bear, 

And the fox oi^ the waste 

Faring soft without haste. 
No carle the axe whctteth on oak-laden hill ; 
No shaft the hart Ictteth to wend at his will ; 
Noiie heedeth the thunder-clap over the glade, 
And the wind-storm thereunder makes no man afraid. 
Is it thus then that endeth man's days on Mid-earth, 
For no man there wendeth in sorrow or mirth? 

Nay, look down on the road 
From the ancient abode ! 
Betwixt acre and field 
Shineth helm, shineth shield. 



The Song of And high over the heath 

the Wood- Fares the bane in his sheath ; 

'■^"'l Wolf. Por the wise men and bold 

Go their ways o'er the wold. 
Now the Warrior hath given them heart and fair da}-, 
Unbidden, undriven, they fare to the fray. 
By the rock and the river the banners they bear. 
And their battle-staves quiver 'neath halbert and spear ; 
On the hill's brow they gather, and hang o'er the Dale 
As the clouds of the Father hang, laden with bale. 

Down shineth the sun 
On the war-deed half done ; 
All the fore-doomed to die, 
In the pale dust they He. 
There they leapt, there they fell, 
And their tale shall we tell ; 
But we, e'en in the gate 
Of the war-garth we wait, 
Till the drift of war-weather shall whistle us on. 
And we tread all together the way to be won. 
To the dear land, the dwelling for whose sake we came 
To do deeds for the telling of song-becrowned fame. 
Settle helm on the head then! Heave sword for the Dale! 
Nor be mocked of the dead men for deedless and pale. 



CHAPTER XLVI. MEN MEET IN THE MARKET OF 
SILVER-STEAD. 

lO sang they; but Face-of-god went with Red-wolf, who was 
hurt sorely, but not deadly, and led him back toward the place 
just under the break of the bent ; and there he found Bow- 
may in the hands of the women who were tending her hurts. She 



asrain. 



smiled on him from a pale face as he drew nigh, and he looked Face-of-god 
kind!}' at her, but he might not abide there, for haste was in looketh into 
his feet. He left Red-wolf to the tending of the women, and ^•'^.^'=^"1^ 
clomb the bent hastil}', and when he deemed he was high enough, 
he looked about him ; and somewhat more than half an hour 
had worn since Bow-may had sped the first shaft against the 
Dusky Men. 

He looked down into the Market-stead, and deemed he could 
see that nigh the Mote-house the Dusky Men were gathering into 
some better order ; but they were no longer drifting toward the 
southern bents, but were standing round about the altar as men 
abiding somewhat ; and he deemed that the}' had gotten more 
bowshot than before, and that most of them bare bows. Though 
so many had been slain in the battles of the southern bents, yet 
was the Market-stead full of them, so to say, for others had come 
thereto in place of those that had fallen. 

But now as he looked arose mighty clamour amongst them ; 
and a little west of the Altar was a stir and a hurrying onward 
and around as in the eddies of a swift stream. Face-of-god wotted 
not what was betiding there, but he deemed that they were now 
ware of the onfall of Folk-might and Hall-face and the men of 
Burgdale, for their faces were all turned to where that was to be 
looked for. 

So he turned and looked on the road to the east of him, where 
had been the battle of the Steer, but now it was all gone down 
toward the Market-place, and he could but hear the clamour of 
it ; but nought he saw thereof, because of the houses that hid it. 

Then he cast his eyes on the road that entered the Market- 
stead from the north, and he saw thereon many men gathered ; 
and he wotted not what they were ; for though there wore wea- 
pons amongst them, yet were they not all weaponed, as far as he 
could see. 

Now as he looked this way and that, and deemed that he must 
tarry no longer, but must enter into the courts of the houses 

353 -Z 



onset. 



They hear the before him and make his way into the Market-stead, lo ! a 
horns of change in the throng of Dusky Warriors nigh the Mote-house, 

and the ordered bands about the Altar fell to drifting toward 
the western waj' with one accord, with great noise and hurry and 
fierce cries of wrath. Then made Face-of-god no dela}^ but 
ran down the bent at once, and at the break of it came upon 
Bow-may standing upright and sword in hand ; and as he passed, 
she joined herself to him, and said : ' What new tidings now. 
Gold-mane?' 

♦Tidingsof battle! ' he cried; ' tidings of victory ! Folk-might 
hath fallen on, and the Dusky Men run hastily to meet him. 
Hark, hark ! ' 

For as he spoke came a great noise of horns, and Bow-may 
said : ' What horn is that blowing ? ' 

He staj'ed not, but shouted aloud : ' For the Face, for the 
Face ! Now will we fall upon their backs ! ' 

Therewith was he come to his company, and he cried out to 
them : ' Heard ye the horn, heard ye the horn ? Now follow me 
into the Market-place ; much is yet to do ! ' 

Even therewith came the sound of other horns, and all men were 
silent a moment, and then shouted all together, for the Wood- 
landers knew it for the horn of the Shepherds coming on by the 
eastward way. 

But Face-of-god waved his sword aloft and set on at once, and 
they followed and gat them through the courts of the houses and 
their passages into the Market-place. There they found more 
room than they looked to find ; for the foemen had drawn away 
on the left hand toward the battle of Folk-might, and on the right 
hand toward the battle of the Steer ; and great was the noise and 
cry that came thence. 

Now stood Face-of-god under the two banners of the Wolf in 
theMarket-placeof Silver-stead, and scarce had he time to be high- 
hearted, for needs must he ponder in his mind what thing were 
best to do. For on the left hand he deemed the foe was the 

354 



strongest and best ordered; but there also were the kindreds the Face-of-god 
doughtiest, and it was httle like that the felons should ovcrcomcthe pondcreth 
spcar-castcrs of the Face and the glaive-bcarcrs of the Sickle, and ^y^',w-7J^^ ''^ 
the bowmen of the \'ine : there also were the wisest leaders, as 
the stark elder Stone-face, and the tall Hall-face, and his father 
of the unshaken heart, and above all Folk-might, fierce in his 
wrath, but his anger burning steady and clear, like the oaken butt 
on the hearth of the hall. 

Then as his mind pictured him amongst the foe, it made there- 
with another picture ot the slender warrior Sun-beam caught in 
the tangle of battle, and longing for him and calling for him amidst 
the hard hand-play. And thereat his face flushed, and all his body 
waxed hot, and he was on the very point of leading the onset 
against the foe on the left. But therewith he bethought him of 
the bold men of the Steer and the Bridge and the Bull weary 
with much fighting ; and he remembered also that the Bride was 
amongst them and fiahting, it might be, amidst the foremost, and 
if she were slain how should he ever hold up his head again. He 
bethought him also that the Shepherds, who had fallen on by the 
•eastern road, valiant as they were, were scarce so well armed or 
so well led as the others. Therewithal he bethought him (and 
again it came like a picture into his mind) of falling on the foe- 
men b}' whom the southern battle was beset, and then the twain 
of them meeting the Shepherds, and lasth*, all those three com- 
panies joined together clearing the Market-place, and meeting the 
men under Folk-might in the midst thereof. 

Therefore, scant had he been pondering these things in his 
mind for a minute ere he cried out : * Blow up horns, blow up ! 
forward banners, and follow me, O valiant men ! to the helping of 
tiie Steer, the Bridge, and the Bull ; deep have the}' thrust into 
the Dusky Throng, and belike are hard pressed. Hark how the 
clamour ariseth from their bescttcrs ! On now, on I ' 

Therewith hung a star of sunlight on his sword as he raised 
'.it aloft, and the Wolf-whoop rang out terribly in the Market- 

355 



ern road. 



They fall on place, for now had the Woodlanders also learned it, and the hearts 
the besetters of the foemen sank as they heard the might and the mass thereof, 
of the south- Then the battle of the Woodlanders swept round and fell upon 
the flank of them who were besetting the kindreds, as an iron bar 
smiteth the soft fir- wood; and they of the kindreds heard their 
cry, but faintly and confusedly, so great was the turmoil of battle 
about them. 

Now once more was Bow-may by the side of Face-of-god ; 
and if she had not the might of the mightiest, yet had she the 
deftness of the deftest. And now was she calm and cool, shield- 
ing herself with a copper-bossed target, and driving home the 
point of her sharp sword ; white was her face, and her eyes 
glittered amidst it, and she seemed to men like to those on whose 
heads the Warrior hath laid the Holy Bread. 

As to Wood-wise, he had given the Banner of the red-jawed 
Wolf to Stone-wolf, a huge and dreadful warrior some forty 
winters old, who had fought in the Great Overthrow, and now 
hewed down the Dusky Men, wielding a heavy short-sword left- 
handed. But Wood-wise himself fought with a great sword^ 
giving great strokes to the right hand and the left, and was no 
more hasty than is the hewer in the winter wood. 

Face-of-god fought wisely and coldly now, and looked more 
to warding his friends than destroying his foes, and both to Bow- 
may and Wood-wise his sword was a shield ; for oft he took the 
life from the edge of the upraised axe, and stayed the point of 
the fceman in mid-air. 

Even so wisely fought the whole band of the Woodlanders 
and the Wolves, who got within smiting space of the foe ; for 
they had no will to cast away their lives when assured victory 
was so nigh to them. Sooth to say, the hand-play was not so 
hard to them as it had been betwixt the bent and the houses ; 
for the Dusky Men were intent on dealing with the men of the 
kindreds from the southern road, who stood war-wearied before 
them ; and the}' were hewing and casting at them, and baying. 



and yelling like dogs ; and though they turned about to meet the Evil tidings, 

storm of the Woodlandcrs, yet their hearts failed them withal, 

and they strove to edge away from betwixt those two fearful 

scythes of war, fiiihtinp: as men fleeina, not as men in onset. 

But still the W'oodlanders and the Wolves came on, hewing and 

thrusting, smiting down the foemen in heaps, till the Dusky 

Throng grew thin, and the staves of the Dalesmen and their 

bricrht banners in the morning sun were clear to see, and at last 

their very faces, kindly and familiar, worn and strained with the 

stress of battle, or laughing wildly, or pale with the fury of the 

hght. Then rose up to the heavens the blended shout of the 

Woodlanders and the Dalesmen, and now there was nought of 

foemen betwixt them save the dead and the wounded. 

Then Face-of-god thrust his sword into its sheath all bloody 
as it was, and strode over the dead men to where Hall-ward stood 
under the banner of the Steer, and cast his arms about the old 
carle, and kissed him for joy of the victory. But Hall-ward thrust 
him aback and looked him in the face, and his cheeks were pale 
and his lips clenched, and his eyes haggard and staring, and he 
said in a harsh voice : 

' O young man, she is dead ! I saw her fall. The Bride is 
dead, and thou hast lost thy troth-plight maiden. O death, death 
to the Dusky Men ! ' 

Then grew Face-of-god as pale as a linen sleeve, and all the 
new-comers groaned and cried out. But a bystander said : 'Naj', 
na}', it is nought so bad as that ; she is hurt, and sorely ; but she 
liveth yet.' 

Face-of-god heard him not. He forgot Dale-warden lying 
in his sheath, and he saw that the last speaker had a great wood- 
axe broad and heavy in his hand, so he cried : ' Man, man, thine 
axe!' and snatched it Irom him, and turned about to the foe 
again, and thrust through the ranks, sufiering none to stay him 
till all his friends were behind and all his foes before him. And 
as he burst forth from the ranks waving his axe aloft, bare-headed 

357 



The bale-fire now, his yellow hair flying abroad, his mouth crying out, * Deaths 
biirneth. death, death to the Dusky Men ! ' fear of him smote their hearts, 

and they howled and fled before him as they might ; for they 
said that the Dalesmen had prayed their Gods into the battle. 
But not so fast could they flee but he was presently amidst them, 
smiting down all about him, and they so terror-stricken that 
scarce might they raise a hand against him. All that blended 
host followed him mad with wrath and victory, and as the}^ pressed 
on, they heard behind them the horns and war-cries of the Shep- 
herds falling on from the east. Nought they heeded that now, 
but drave on a fearful storm of war, and terrible was the slaughter 
of the Felons. 

It was but a few minutes ere they had driven them up against 
that great stack of faggots that had been dight for the burnt- 
offering of men, and many of the felons had mounted up on to it, 
and now in their anguish of fear were shooting arrows and cast- 
ing spears on all about them, heeding little if they were friend or 
foe. Now were the men of the kindreds at point to climb this 
twigcren burg ; but by this time the fury of Face-of-god had run 
clear, and he knew where he was and what he was doing ; so he 
stayed his folk, and cried out to them : ' Forbear, climb not ! let 
the torch help the sword ! ' And therewith he looked about and 
saw the fire-pot which had been set down there for the kindling 
of the bale-fire, and the coals were yet red in it ; so he snatched 
up a dry brand and lighted it thereat, and so did divers others, 
and they thrust them among the faggots, and the fire caught 
at once, and the tongues of flame began to leap from faggot to 
fao-aot till all was in a light low ; for the wood had been laid for 
that very end, and smeared with grease and oil so that the burn- 
ing to the god might be speedy. 

But the fierceness of the kindreds heeded not the fire, nor over- 
much the men who leapt down from the stack before it, but they 
left all behind them, faring straight toward the western outgate 
from the Market-stead •, and Face-of-god still led them on ; 



though by new he was wholh' come to his right mind again, The meeting 
albeit the burden ofsorrow yet lay heavy on his heart. He had '" ^^^ 
broken his axe, and had once more drawn Dale-warden from his ^'^'■'^^^' 
sheath, and many felt his point and edge. ^ 

But now, as they chased, came a rush of men upon them again, 
as though a new onset were at hand. That saw Face-of-god and 
Hall-ward and War-well, and other wise leaders of men, and 
they bade their folk forbear the chase, and lock their ranks to meet 
the onfall of this new wave of focmcn. And they did so, and 
stood fast as a wall ; but lo ! the onrush that drave up against 
them was but a fleeing shrieking throng, and no longer an array 
of warriors, for many had cast away their weapons, and were 
rushing they knew not whither ; for they were being thrust on 
the bitter edges of Face-of-god's companies by the terror of the 
fleers from the onset of the men of the Face, the Sickle, and the 
\'ine, whom Hall-face and Stone-face were leading, along with 
Folk-might, Then once again the men o( Face-of-god gave 
forth the whoop of victory, and pressed forward again, hewing 
their way through the throng of fleers, but turning not to chase 
to the right or the left ; while at their backs came on the Shepherd- 
folk, who had swept down all that withstood them; for now indeed 
was the Market-stead getting thinner of living men. 

So led the War-leader his ordered ranks, till at last over the 
tangled crowd of runaways he saw the banners of the Burg and 
the Face flashing against the sun, and heard the roar of the kin- 
dreds as they drave the chase towards them. Then he lifted up 
his sword, and stood still, and all the host behind him stayed and 
cast a huge shout up to the heavens, and there they abode the 
coming of the other Dalesmen. 

But the War-leader sent a message to Hound-under-Grcen- 
bury, bidding him lead the Shepherds to the chase of the Dusky 
Men, who were now all fleeing toward the northern outgate of 
the Market. Howbeit he called to mind the throng he had seen 
on the northern road before they were come into the Market- 

359 



Here cometh Stead, and deemed that way also death awaited the foemen, even 

the Sun- if the men of the kindreds forbore them. 

^^'"" But presently the space betwixt the Woodlanders and the men 

of the Face was clear of all but the dead, so that friend saw the 
face of friend ; and it could be seen that the warriors of the Face 
were ruddy and smiling for joy, because the battle had been easy 
to them, and but few of them had fallen ; for the Dusky Men, 
who had left the Market-stead to fall on them, had had room for 
fleeing behind them, and had speedily turned their backs before 
the spear-casting of the men of the Face and the onrush of the 
swordsmen. 

There then stood these victorious men facing one another, and 
the banner-bearers on either side came through the throno;, and 
brought the banners together between the two hosts ; and the 
Wolf kissed the Face, and the Sickle and the Vine met the Steer 
and the Bridge and the Bull : but the Shepherds were yet chasing 
the fleers. 

There in the forefront stood Hall-face the tall, with the joy of 
battle in his eyes. And Stone-face, the wise carle in war, stood 
solemn and stark beside him; and there was the goodly body 
and the fair and kindly visage of the Alderman smiling on the 
faces of his friends. But as for Folk-might, his face was yet 
white and aweful with anger, and he looked restlessly up and 
down the front of the kindreds, though he spake no word. 

Then Face-of-god could no longer forbear, but he thrust Dale- 
warden into his sheath, and ran forward and cast his arms about 
his father's neck and kissed him ; and the blood of himself and 
of the foemen was on him, for he had been hurt in divers places, 
but not sorely, because of the good hammer-work of the Alderman. 
Then he kissed his brother and Stone-face, and he took Folk- 
might by the hand, and was on the point of speaking some word 
to him, when the ranks of the Face opened, and lo ! the Sun- 
beam in her bright war-gear, and the sword girt to her side, and 
she unhurt and unsullied. 

360 



Then was it to him as when he met her first in Shadowy Folk-might 

Vale, and he thought of Httle else than her; but she stepped hearcth how 

lightly up to him, and unashamed before the whole host she f ' " '^ 

hurt 
kissed him on the mouth, and he cast his mailed arms about her, 

and joy made him forget many things and what was next to do, 

though even at that moment came afresh a great clamour of 

shrieks and cries from the northern outgate of the Market-stead : 

and the burning pile behind them cast a great wavering Hame 

into the air, contending with the bright sun of that fair da\', now 

come hard on noontide. But ere he drew away his face from 

the Sun-beam's, came memory to him, and a sharp pang shot 

through his heart, as he heard Folk-might say : ' Where then is 

the Shield-may of Burgstead? where is the Bride ? ' 

And Face-of-god said under his breath: 'She is dead, she is 

dead ! ' And then he stared out straio-ht before him and waited 

o 

till someone else should say it aloud. But Bow-may stepped 
forward and said : ' Chief of the Wolf, be oi' g^'od cheer ; our 
kinswoman is hurt, but not deadly.' 

The Alderman's face changed, and he said : ' Hast thou seen 
her, Bow- may ? ' 

' Na}-,' she said. ' How should I leave the battle ? but others 
have told me who have seen her.' 

Folk-might stared into the ranks of men before him, but said 
nothing. Said the Alderman : ' Is she well tended ? ' 

* Yea, surely,' said Bow-may, 'since she is amongst friends, 
and there are no foemen behind us.' 

Then came a voice from Folk-might which said : 'Now were it 
best to send good men and deft in arms, and who know Silver-dale, 
from house to house, tosearch for foemen who maybe lurking there.' 

The Alderman looked kindly and sadly on him and said : 
* Kinsman Stone-face, and Hall-face my son, the brunt oi the 
battle is now over, and I am but a simple man amongst you ; 
therefore, if 3'e will give me leave, I will go see this poor kins- 
woman of ours, and comfort her.' 

361 3 A 



the Bride. 



Face-of-god They bade him go : so he sheathed his sword, and wenC(through 

^yeep^eth for the press with two men of the Steer toward the southern road; 
for the Bride had been brought into a house nigh the corner of 
the Market-place. 

But Face-of-god looked after his father as he went, and 
remembrance of past days came upon him, and such a storm of 
grief swept over him, as he thought of the Bride lying pale and 
bleeding and brought anigh to her death, that he put his hands 
to his face and wept as a child that will not be comforted ; nor 
had he any shame of all those bystanders, who in sooth were 
men good and kindly, and had no shame of his grief or marvelled 
at it, for indeed their own hearts were sore for their lovely kins- 
woman, and many of them also wept with Face-of-god. But the 
Sun-beam stood by and looked on her betrothed, and she thought 
many things of the Bride, and was sorry, albeit no tears came 
into her eyes ; then she looked askance at Folk-might and 
trembled ; but he said coldly, and in a loud voice : 

' Needs must we search the houses for the lurking felons, or 
many a man will yet be murdered. Let Wood-wicked lead a 
band of men at once from house to house.' 

Then said a man of the Wolf hight Hardgrip : ' Wood-wicked 
was slain betwixt the bent and the houses.' 

Said Folk-might : * Let it be Wood-wise then.' 

But Bow-may said : ' Wood-wise is even now hurt in the leg 
by a wounded felon, and may not go afoot.' 

Then said Folk-might : ' Is Crow the Shaft-speeder anigh ? ' 

* Yea, here am I,' quoth a tall man of fifty winters, coming 
from out the ranks where stood the Wolves. 

Said Folk-might : ' Kinsman Crow, do thou take two score 
and ten of doughty men who are not too hot-headed, and search 
every house about the Market-place ; but if ye come on any 
house that makes a stout defence, send ye word thereof to the 
Mote-house, where we will presently be, and we shall send you 
help. Slay every felon that ye fall in with ; but if ye find in the 

362 



houses any of the poor folk crouching and afraid, comfort their The stair cf 
hearts all ye maj', and tcU them that now is life come to them.' ^^^ Motc- 

So Crow fell to getting his band together, and presently de- 
parted with them on his errand. 



house. 



CHAPTER XLVII, THE KINDREDS WIN THE MOTE- 
HOUSE. 

THE din and tumult still came from the north side of the 
IVIarket-placc, so that all the air was full of noise ; and 
Face-of-god deemed that the thralls had gotten weapons 
into their hands and were slaying their masters. 

Now he lifted up his face, and put his hand on Folk-might's 
shoulder, and said in a loud voice : 

' Kinsmen, it were well if our brother were to bid the banners 
into the Mote-house of the Wolf, and let all the Host set itself in 
array before the said house, and abide till the chasers of^ the fee 
come to us thither ; for I perceive that they are now become 
many, and are more than those of our kindred.' 

Then Folk-might looked at him with kind eyes, and said : 
' Thou sayest well, brother ; even so let it be ! ' 
And he lifted up his sword, and Face-of-god cried out in a 
loud voice : ' Forward, banners ! blow up horns ! fare we forth 
with victory ! ' 

So the Host drew its ranks together in good order, and they all 
set forward, and old Stone-face took the Sun-beam by the hand 
and led on behind Folk-might and the War-leader. Rut when 
they came to the Hall, then saw they how the steps that led up 
to the door were high and double, going up from each side with- 
out any railing or fool-guard ; and crowding the stairs and the 
platform thereof was a band of the Dusky Men, as many as 
could stand thereon, who shot arrows at the host of the kindreds, 
howling like dogs, and chattering like apes; and arrows and 



Folk-might spears came from the windows of the Hall ; yea, and on the very 
would clear roof a score of these felons were riding the ridge and mocking 

"^ainsaid Now when they saw this they stayed a while, and men 

shielded them against the shafts ; but the leaders drew together 
in front of the Host, and Folk-might fell to speech ; and his face 
was very pale and stern ; for now he had had time to think of 
the case of the Bride, and fierce wrath, and grief unholpen filled 
his soul. So he said: 

' Brothers, this is mj' business to deal with ; for I see before 
me the stair that leadeth to the Mote-house of my people, and 
now would I sit there whereas my fathers sat, when peace was on 
the Dale, as once more it shall be to-morrow. Therefore up this 
stair will I go, and none shall hinder me ; and let no man of the 
host follow me till I have entered into the Hall, unless perchance 
I fall dead by the way ; but stand ye still and look on.' 

' Na}-,' said Face-of-god, ' this is partly the business of the 
War-leader. There are two stairs. Be content to take the 
southern one, and I will take the northern. We shall meet on 
the plain stone at the top.' 

But Hall-face said : ' War-leader, may I speak ? ' 

* Speak, brother,' said Face-of-god. 

Said Hall-face : ' I have done but little to-day. War-leader. I 
would stand by thee on the northern stair ; so shall Folk-might 
be content, if he doeth two men's work who are not little-hearted .' 

Said Face-of-god : ' The doom of the War-leader is that Folk- 
might shall fall on by the southern stair to slake his grief and in- 
crease his glory, and Face-of-god and Hall-face by the northern. 
Haste to the work, O brothers ! 

And he and Hall-face went to their places, while all looked 
on. But the Sun-beam, with her hand still in Stone-face's, she 
turned white to the lips, and stared with wild eyes before her, 
not knowing where she was ; for she had deemed that the battle 
was over, and Face-of-god saved from it. 

3^4 



But Folk-might tossed up his head and laughed, and cried out, Folk-might's 
♦ At last, at last !' And his sword was in his hand, the Sleep- onslaught at 
thorn to wit, a blade of ancient fame ; so now he let it fall and ^ ^^ ^'2"'- 
hancT to his wrist hv the leash, while he clapped his hands together 
and uttered the Wolf-whoop mightily, and all the men of the 
Wolf that were in the host, and the Woodlandcrs withal, uttered 
It with him. Then he put his shield over his head and stood be- 
fore the first of the steps, and the Dusk}' Men laughed to see one 
man come against them, though there was death in their hearts. 
But he laughed back at them in triumph, and set his foot on the 
step, and let Sleep-thorn's point go into the throat of a Dusky lord, 
and thrust amongst them, hewing right and left, and tumbling men 
over the edge of the stair, which was to them as the narrow path 
along the clitf-side that hangcth over the unfathomed sea. They 
hewed and thrust at him in turn ; but so close were they packed 
that their weapons crossed about him, and one shielded him from 
the other, and they swa3'ed staggering on that fearful verge, 
while the Sleep-thorn crept here and there amongst them, lulling 
their hot fur}'. For, as desperate as they were, and fighting for 
death and not for life, they had a horror of him and of the sea of 
hatred below them, and feared where to set their feet, and he 
feared nought at all, but from feet to sword-point was but an 
engine of slaughter, while the heart within him throbbed with fury 
long held back as ho thought upon the Bride and her wounding, 
and all the wrongs of his people since their Great Undoing. 

So he smote and thrust, till him-sccmed the throng of foes 
thinned before him : with his sword-pommel he smote a lord of 
the Dusk}' Ones in the face, so that he fell over the edge amongst 
the spears of the kindred ; then he thrust the point of Sleep-thorn 
towards the Hall-door through the breast oi^ another, and then it 
seemed to him that he had but one before him ; so he hove up the 
edges to cleave him down, but ere the stroke fell, close to his ears 
exceeding loud rang out the cry, * For the Burg and the Face ! for 
the Face, for the Face ! ' and he drew aback a little, and his eyes 



case. 



The Mote- cleared, and lo! it was Hall-face the tall, his long sword all red- 
liou5,e in evil dened with battle; and beside him stood Face-of-god, silent and 
panting, his face pale with the fierce anger of the fight, and the 
weariness which was now at last gaining upon him. There stood 
those three with no other living man upon the plain of the stairs. 

Then Face-of-god turned shouting to the Folk, and cried : 

* Forth now with the banners ! For now is the Wolf come 
home. On into the Hall, O Kindred of the Gods ! ' 

Then poured the Folk up over the stairs and into the Hall of 
■ the Wolf, the banners flapping over their heads ; and first went 
the War-leader and Folk-might and Hall-face, and then the 
three delivered thralls, Wolf-stone, God-swain, and Spear-fist, and 
Dallach with them, though both he and Wolf-stone had been hurt 
in the battle ; and then came blended together the Men of the Face 
along with them of the Wolf who had entered the Market-stead 
with them, and with these were Stone-face and Wood-wont and 
Bow-ma}', leading the Sun-beam betwixt them ; and now was 
she come to herself again, though her face was yet pale, and her 
eyes gleamed as she stepped across the threshold of the Hall. 

But when a many were gotten in, and the first-comers had had 
time to handle their weapons and look about them, a cry of the 
utmost wrath broke from Folk-might and those others who re- 
membered the Hall from of old. For wretched and befouled was 
that well-builded house : the hangings rent away ; the goodly 
painted walls daubed and smeared with wicked tokens of the Alien 
murderers : the floor, once bright with polished stones of the 
mountain, and strewn with sweet-smelling flowers, was now as 
foul as the den of the man-devouring troll of the heaths. From 
the fair-carven roof of oak and chestnut-beams hung ugly 
knots of rags and shapeless images of the sorcery of the Dusky 
Men. And furthermore, and above all, from the last tie-beam of 
the roof over the dais dangled four shapes of men-at-arms, whom 
the older men of the Wolf knew at once for the embalmed bodies 
of their four great chieftains, who had been slain on the day of the 



Great Undoing; and they cried out with liorror and rage as they The end of 
saw them hanging there in their weapons as they had lived. f^e Dusky 

There was the Hostage of the Harth, his shield painted with ^^'^^^' 
the green world circled with the worm of the sea. There was 
the older Folk-might, the uncle of the living man, bearing a shield 
with an oak and a lion done thereon. There was W'ealth-eker, 
on whose shield was done a golden sheaf ot wheat. There was 
he who bore a name great from of old. Folk-wolf to wit, bearing 
on his shield the axe of the hewer. There they hung, dusty, be- 
fouled, with sightless eyes and grinning mouths, in the dimmed 
sunliglit of the Hall, before the eyes of that victorious Host, stricken 
silent at the sight of them. 

Underneath them on the dais stood the last remnant of the battle 
of the Dusky Men ; and they, as men mad with coming death, 
shook their weapons, and with shrieking laughter mocked at the 
overcomers, and pointed to the long-dead chiefs, and called on 
them in the tongue of the kindreds to come down and lead their 
dear kinsmen to the high-seat ; and then they cried out to the livino- 
warriors cf the Wolf, and bade them better their deed of slaying, 
and set to work to make alive again, and cause their kinsmen to 
live merry on the earth. 

With that last mock they handled their weapons and rushed 
howlincr on the warriors to meet their death ; nor was it long denied 
them ; for the sword of the Wolf, the axe of the Woodland, and 
the spear of the Dale soon made an end of the dreadful lives of 
these destrovers of the Folks. 



CHAPTER XLVIII. MEN SING IN THE MOTE-HOUSE. 

THEN strode the Warriors of the Wolf over the bodies of 
the slain on to the dais of their own Hall ; and Folk-might 
led the Sun-beam by the hand, and now was his sword in 
its sheath, and his face was grown calm, though it was stern and 



Folk-might sad. But even as he trod the dais comes a slim swain of the 
gladdened by Wolves twisting himself through the throng, and so maketh way 
good tidings. jQ Folk-might, and saith to him : 

' Chieftain, the Alderman of Burgdale sendeth me hither to 
say a word to thee ; even this, which I am to tell to thee and 
the War-leader both : It is most true that our kinswoman the 
Bride will not die, but live. So help me, the Warrior and the 
Face ! This is the word of the Alderman.' 

When Folk-might heard this, his face changed and he hung 
his head ; and Face-of-god, who was standing close by, beheld 
him and deemed that tears were falling from his eyes on to the 
hall-floor. As for him, he grew exceeding glad, and he turned 
to the Sun-beam and met her eyes, and saw that she could scarce 
refrain her longing for him ; and he was abashed for the sweet- 
ness of his love. But she drew close up to him, and spake to 
him softly and said : 

* This is the day that maketh amends ; and yet I long for 
another day. When I saw thee coming to me that first day in 
Shadowy Vale, I thought thee so goodly a warrior that my heart 
was in my mouth. But now how goodly thou art ! For the 
battle is over, and we shall live.' 

' Yea,' said Face-of-god, ' and none shall begrudge us our love. 
Behold thy brother, the hard-heart, the warrior ; he weepeth 
because he hath heard that the Bride shall live. Be sure then 
that she shall not gainsay him. O fair shall the world be to- 
morrow ! ' 

But she said : ' O Gold-mane, I have no words. Is there no 
minstrelsy amongst us ?' 

Now by this time were many of the men of the W'olf and the 
Woodlanders gathered on the dais of the Hall ; and the Dales- 
men noting this, and wotting that these men were now in their 
own Mote-house, withdrew them as they might for the press to- 
ward the nether end thereof. That the Sun-beam noted, and 
that all those about her save the War-leader were of the kin- 

368 



dreds of the Wolf and the Woodland, and, still speaking softly. Now they 
she said to Facc-of-god : "^'"S- 

* Gold-mane, mcscemeth I am now in my wrong place ; for 
now the Wolf raiseth up his head, but I am departing from him. 
Surely I should now be standing amongst my people of the Face, 
whereto I am going ere long.' 

He said: 'Beloved, I am now become thy kindred and thine 
home, and it is meet for thee to stand beside me.' 

She cast her eyes adown and answered not ; and she fell a- 
pondering of how sorely she had desired that fair dale, and now 
she would leave it, and be content and more than content. 

But now the kindreds had sundered, the}' upon the dais ranked 
themselves together there in the House which their fathers had 
builded; and when they saw themselves so meetly ordered, theii 
hearts being full with the sweetness of hope accomplished and 
the joy of deliverance from death, song arose amongst them, and 
they fell to singing together ; and this is somewhat of their 
singing : 

Now raise we the lay 

Of the long-coming day ! 

Bright, white was the sun 

When we saw it begun : 

O'er Its noon now we live; 

It hath ceased not to give ; 

It shall give, and give more 

From the wealth of its store. 
O fair was the yesterday ! Kindly and good 
Was the wasteland our guester, and kind was the wood; 
Though below us for reaping lay under our hand 
The harvest of weeping, the grief of the land ; 
Dumb cowered the sorrow, nought daring to cry 
On the help of to-morrow, the deed drawing nigh. 

369 3B 



They sing of All increase throve 

" ^ * There the ox and the steed 

Fed down the mead ; 

The grapes hung high 

'Tvvixt earth and sky. 

And the apples fell 

Round the orchard well. 
Yet drear was the land there, and all was for nought; 
None put forth a hand there for what the year wrought, 
And raised it o'erflowing with gifts of the earth. 
For man's grief was growing beside of the mirth 
Of the springs and the summers that wasted their wealth ; 
And the birds, the new-comers, made merry by stealth. 

Yet here of old 

Abode the bold ; 

Nor had they wailed 

Though the wheat had failed, 

And the vine no more 

Gave forth her store. 

Yea, they found the waste good 

For the fearless of mood. 
Then to these, that were dwelling aloof from the Dale, 
Fared the wild-wind a-telling the worst of the tale ; 
As men bathed in the morning they saw in the poo! 
The image of scorning, the throne of the fool. 
The picture was gleaming in helm and in sword, 
And shone forth its seeming from cups of the board. 



Forth then they came 
With the battle-flame ; ^'' 

From the Wood and the Wast£ ^ 

And the Dale did they haste : 

370 



They saw the storm rise, They sing of 

And with untroubled eyes their slain. 

The war-storm they met ; 

And the rain ruddy-wet. 
O'er the Dale then was litten the Candle of Day, 
Night-sorrow was smitten, and gloom fled away. 
How the grief-shackles sunder ! How many to morn 
Shall awaken and wonder how gladness was born ! 
O wont unto sorrow, how sweet unto you 
Shall be pondering to-morrow what deed is to do ! 

Fell many a man 

'Neath the edges wan, 

In the heat of the play 

That fashioned the day. 

Praise all ye then 

The death of men, 

And the gift of the aid 

Of the unafraid ! 
O strong are the living men mighty to save. 
And good is their giving, and gifts that we have ! 
But the dead, they that gave us once, never again ; 
Long and long shall they save us sore trouble and pain. 
O Banner above us, O God of the strong. 
Love them as ye love us that bore down our wrong ! 

So they sang in the Hall ; and there was many a man wept, 
as the song ended, for those that should never see the good da^'s 
•of the Dale, and all the joy that was to be ; and men swore, by 
all that they loved, that they would never forget those that had 
fallen in the Winning of Silver-dale ; and that when each year the 
Cups of Memory went round, they should be no mere names to 
them, but the very men whom they had known and loved. 



CHAPTER XLIX. DALLACH FARETH TO ROSE-DALE : 
CROW TELLETH OF HIS ERRAND : THE KINDREDS 
EAT THEIR MEAT IN SILVER-DALE. 



Dallach IVT^^ Dallach, who had gone away for a while, came 

would follow r^ back again into the Hall ; and at his back were a half 
n^^ °" ^ score of men who bore ladders with them : they were 

stout men, clad in scanty and ragged raiment, but girt with 
swords and bearing axes, those of them who were not handling 
the ladders. Men looked on them curiously, because they saw 
them to be of the roughest of the thralls. They were sullen 
and fierce-eyed to behold, and their hands and bare arms were 
flecked with blood ; and it was easy to see that they had been 
chasing the fleers, and making them pay for their many torments 
of past days. 

But when Face-of-god beheld this he cried out : ' Ho, Dallach ! 
is it so that thou hast bethought thee to bring in hither men to 
fall to the cleansing of the Hall, and to do away the defiling 
of the Dusky Men ? ' 

* Even so, War-leader,' said Dallach; 'also ye shall know 
that all battle is over in Silver-stead ; for the thralls fell in num- 
bers not to be endured on the Dusky Men who had turned their 
backs to us, and hindered them from fleeing north. But though 
they have slain many, they have not slain all, and the remnant 
have fled by divers ways westaway, that they may gain the 
wood and the ways to Rose-dale ; and the stoutest of the thralls 
are at their heels, and ever as they go fresh men from the fields 
join in the chase with great joy. I have gathered together of 
the best of them two hundreds and a half well-armed ; and if 
thou wilt give me leave, I will get to me yet more, and follow 
hard on the fleers, and so get me home to Rose-dale ; for thither 
will these runaways to meet whatso of their kind may be left 
there. Also I would fain be there to set some order amongst the 
poor folk of mine own people, whom this day's work hath de- 

372 



livered from torment. And if thou wilt suffer a few men of the Folk-might 
Dalesmen to come along with mc, then shall all things be better would go an 
done there.' ^"^'"^■ 

' Luck go with thine hands!' said Facc-of-god. 'Takewhomso 
thou wilt of the Burgdalers that have a mind to fare with thee 
to the number of five score; and send word of thy thriving to 
Folk-might, the chieftain of the Dale ; as for us, meseemeth that 
we shall abide here no long while. How saycst thou, Folk- 
micrht, shall Dallach go ? ' 

Then Folk-might, who stood close beside him, looked up and 
reddened somewhat, as a man caught heedless when he should 
be heedful ; but he looked kindly on Face-of-god, and said : 

'War-leader, so long as thou art in the Dale which ye kindreds 
have won back for us, thou art the chieftain, and no other, and 
I bid thee do as thou wilt in this matter, and in all things ; and 
I hereby give command to all my kindred to do according to 
thy will everywhere and always, as they love me ; and indeed I 
deem that thy will shall be theirs ; since it is only fools who 
know not their well-wishers. How say ye, kinsmen ? ' 

Then those about cried out : * Hail to Face-of-god ! Hail to 
the Dalesmen ! Hail to our friends ! ' 

But Folk-might went up to Face-of-god, and threw his arms 
about him and kissed him, and he said therewithal, so that most 
men heard him : 

' Herewith I kiss not only thee, thou goodl}-^ and glorious 
warrior I but this kiss and embrace is for all the men of the kin- 
dreds of the Dale and the Shepherds ; since I deem that never 
have men more valiant dwelt upon the earth.' 

Therewith all men shouted for joy of him, and were exceeding 
glad; but Folk-might spake apart to Face-of-god and said: 
* Brother, I suppose that thou wilt deem it good to abide in this 
Hall or anigh it ; for hereabouts now is the heart of the Host. 
But as for me, I would have leave to depart for a little; since I 
have an errand, whereof thou mayest wot.' 

373 



Crow telleth Then Face-of-god smiled on him, and said : * Go, and all 
oftheclearing good go with thee; and tell my father that I would have tidings, 
of the houses, since I may not be there.' So he spake; yet in his heart was 
he glad that he might not go to behold the Bride lying sick and 
sorry. But Folk-might departed without more words ; and in 
the door of the Hall he met Crow the Shaft-speeder, who would 
have spoken to him, and given him the tidings; but Folk-might 
said to him : ' Do thine errand to the War-leader, who is within 
the Hall.' And so went on his way. 

Then came Crow up the Hall, and stood before Face-of-god 
and said : * War-leader, we have done that which was to be done, 
and have cleared all the houses about the Market-stead. More- 
over, by the rede of Dallach we have set certain men of the poor 
folk of the Dale, who are well looked to by the others, to the 
burying of the slain felons ; and they be digging trenches in 
the fields on the north side of the Market-stead, and carry the car- 
casses thither as they may. But the slain whom they find of the 
kindreds do they array out yonder before this Hall. In all wise 
are these men tame and biddable, save that they rage against 
the Dusky Men, though they fear them yet. As for us, they 
deem us Gods come down from heaven to help them. So much 
for what is good: now have I an ill word to say; to wit, that in 
the houses whereas we have found many thralls alive, yet also 
have we found many dead; for amongst these murder-carles 
were some of an evil sort, who, when they saw that the battle 
would go against them, rushed into the houses hewing down all 
before them — man, woman, and child ; so that many of the halls 
and chambers we saw running blood like to shambles. To be 
short : of them whom they were going to hew to the Gods, we 
have found thirteen living and three dead, of which latter is one 
woman ; and of the living, seven women; and allt hese, living 
and dead, with the leaden shackles yet on them wherein they 
should be burned. To all these and others whom we have 
found, we have done what of service we could in the way of 

374 



victual and clothes, so that they scarce believe that they are on The tale of 
this lower earth. Moreover, I have with me two score of them, those who fell 
who are men of some wits, and who know of the stores of victual '" ^ 

and other wares which the felons had, and these will fetch and 
carry for you as much as ye will. Is all done rightly,War-leader?' 

• Right well,' said Face-of-god, ♦ and we give thee our thanks 
therefor. And now it were well if these thy folk were to dight 
our dinner for us in some green field the nighest that may be, and 
thither shall all the Host be bidden by sound of horn. Mean- 
time, let us void this Hall till it be cleansed of the filth of the 
Dusky Ones; but hereafter shall we come again to it, and light a 
fire on the Holy Hearth, and bid the Gods and the Fathers come 
back and behold their children sitting glad in the ancient Hall.' 

Then men shouted and were exceeding jo^'ous ; but Face-of- 
god said once more : ' Bear ye a bench out into the Market- 
place over against the door of this Hall : thereon will I sit with 
other chieftains of the kindreds, that whoso will may have re- 
course to us.' 

So therewith all the men of the kindreds made their waj's out 
of the Hall and into the Market-stead, which was by this time 
much cleared of the slaughtered felons ; and the bale for the 
burnt-offering was now but smouldering, and a thin column of blue 
smoke was going up wavering amidst the light airs of the after- 
noon. Men were somewhat silent now ; for they were stiff and 
weary with the morning's battle ; and a many had been hurt 
withal ; and on many there yet rested the after-grief of battle, 
and sorrow for the loss of friends and well-wishers. 

For in the battle had fallen one long hundred and two of the 
men of the Host ; and of these were two score and five of the 
kindreds of the Steer, the Bull, and the Bridge, who had made 
such valiant onslaught by the southern road. Of the Shepherds 
died one score save three ; for though the}' scattered the foe at 
once, yet they fell on with such headlong valour, rather than 
wisely, that many were trapped in the throng of the Dusky Men. 

375 



The horns Of the Woodlanders were slain one score and nine ; for hard had 
blow to been the fight about them, and no man of them spared himself 

dinner. ^^^ ^j^jj._ qj- ^j^^ ^^^^ ^^ ^1^^ Wolf, who were but a few, fell 

sixteen men, and all save two of these in Face-of-god's battle. 
Of the Burgdale men whom Folk-might led, to wit, them of the 
Face, the Vine, and the Sickle, were but seven men slain outright. 
In this tale are told all those who died of their hurts after the da}' 
of battle. Therewithal many others were sorely hurt who mended, 
and went about afterwards hale and hearty. 

So as the folk abode in the Market-place, somewhat faint and 
weary, they heard horns blow up merrily, and Crow the Shaft- 
speeder came forth and stood on the mound of the altar, and bade 
men fare to dinner, and therewith he led the way, bearing in his 
hand the banner of the Golden Bushel, of which House he was ; 
and they followed him into a fair and great mead on the south- 
west of Silver-stead, besprinkled about with ancient trees of sweet 
chestnut. There they found the boards spread for them with 
the best of victual which the poor down-trodden folk knew how 
to dight for them ; and especially was there great plenty of good 
wine of the sun-smitten bents. 

So they fell to their meat, and the poor folk, both men and 
women, served them gladly, though they were somewhat afeard 
of these fierce sword-wielders, the Gods who had delivered them. 
The said thralls were mostly not of those who had fallen so 
bitterly on their fleeing masters, but were men and women of the 
households, not so roughly treated as the others, that is to say, 
those who had been wont to toil under the lash in the fields and 
the silver-mines, and were as wild as they durst be. 

As for these waiting-thralls, the men of the kindreds were gentle 
and blithe with them, and often as they served them would they 
stay their hands (and especially if they were women), and would 
draw down their heads to put a morsel in their mouths, or set the 
wine-cup to their lips ; and they would stroke them and caress 
them, and treat them in all wise as their dear friends. Moreover, 



when any man was full, he would arise and take hold of one of They make 
the thralls, and set him in his place, and serve him with meat ^.^^ P°°'' ^"'^ 
and drink, and talk with him kindly, so that the poor folk were '■'^''^" 
much bewildered with jo}'. And the first that arose from table 
were the Sun-beam and Bow-may and Hall-face, with many of 
the swains and the women of the Woodlanders ; and they went 
from table to table serving the others. 

The Sun-beam had done off her armour, and went about ex- 
ceeding fair and lovely in her kirtle ; but Bow-may yet bore her 
hauberk, for she loved it, and indeed it was so tine and well- 
wrought that it was no great burden. Albeit she had gone down 
with the Sun-beam and other women to a fair stream thereby, 
and there had they bathed and washed themselves ; and Bow- 
may's hurts, which were not great, had been looked to and bound 
up afresh, and she had come to table unhelmed, with a wreath 
of wind-flowers round her head. 

There then they feasted ; and their hearts were strengthened 
by the meat and drink ; and if sorrow were blended with their 
joy, yet were they high-hearted through both joy and sorrow, look- 
ing forward to the good days to be in the Dales at the Roots of the 
Mountains, and the love and fellowship of Folks and of Houses. 

But as for Face-of-god, he went not to the meadow, but abode 
sitting on the bench in the Market-place, where were none else 
now of the kindreds save the appointed warders. They had 
brought him a morsel and a cup of wine, and he had eaten and 
drunk ; and now he sat there with Dale-warden lying sheathed 
across his knees, and seeming to gaze on the thralls of Silver- 
dale busied in carrying away the bodies of the slain felons, after 
they had stripped tlicm of their raiment and weapons. Yet in- 
deed all this was before his eyes as a picture which he noted 
not. Rather he sat pondering many things ; wondering at his 
being there in Silver-dale in the hour of victory ; longing for the 
peace of Burgdale and the bride-chamber of the Sun-beam. Then 
went his thought out toward his old playmate lying hurt in Silver- 

377 3C 



dale ; and his heart was grieved because of her, yet not for long, 
though his thought still dwelt on her; since he deemed that she 
would live and presently be happy — and happy thenceforward 
for many years. So pondered Face-of-god in the Market-place 
of Silver-dale. 



CHAPTER L. FOLK-MIGHT SEETH THE BRIDE AND 
SPEAKETH WITH HER. 

NOW tells the tale of Folk-might, that he went his ways 
from the Hall to the house where the Bride lay ; and the 
swain who had brought the message went along with him, 
and he was proud of walking beside so mighty a warrior, and he 
talked to Folk-might as they went ; and the sound of his voice 
was irksome to the chieftain, but he made as though he hear- 
kened. Yet when they came to the door of the house, which was 
just out of the Place on the Southern road (for thereby had the 
Bride fallen to earth), he could withhold his grief no longer, but 
turned on the threshold and laid his head on the door-jamb, and 
sobbed and wept till the tears fell down like rain. And the boy 
stood by wondering, and wishing that Folk-might would forbear 
weeping, but durst not speak to him. 

In a while Folk-might left weeping and went in, and found a 
fair hall sore befouled by the felons, and in the corner on a bed 
covered with furs the wounded woman ; and at first sight he 
deemed her not so pale as he looked to see her, as she lay with 
her long dark-red hair strewed over the pillow, her head moving 
about wearily. A linen cloth was thrown over her body, but 
her arms lay out of it before her. Beside her sat the Alderman, 
his face sober enough, but not as one in heavy sorrow ; and anigh 
him was another chair as if someone had but just got up from it. 
There was no one else in the hall save two women of the Wood- 
landers, one of whom was cooking some potion on the hearth, and 

. 378 



another was sweeping the Hoor anigh of bran or some such stuff, The Bride 
which had been thrown down to sop up the blood. sick yet 

So Folk-might went up to the Bride, sorely dreading the image ^^^^^^ sorry. 
of death which she had grown to be, and sorely loving the woman 
she was and would be. 

He knelt down by the bedside, heeding Iron-face little, though 
he nodded friendl}' to him, and he held his face close to hers ; 
but she had her eyes shut and did not open them till he had been 
there a little while; and then they opened and fixed themselves 
on his without surprise or change. Then she lifted her right hand 
(for it was in her left shoulder and side that she had been hurt) 
and slowly laid it on his head, and drew his face to hers and 
kissed it fondly, as she both smiled and let the tears run over 
from her eyes. Then she spake in a weak voice : 

' Thou secst, chieftain and dear friend, that I may not stand 
by thy victorious side to-day. And now, though I were fain if 
thou wouldst never leave me, yet needs must thou go about thy 
work, since thou art become the Alderman of the Folk of Silver- 
dale. Yea, and even if thou wert not to go from me, yet in a 
manner should I go from thee. F'or I am grievously hurt, and I 
know b}' myself, and also the leeches have told me, that the fever 
is a-coming on me ; so that presently I shall not know thee, but 
may deem thee to be a woman, or a hound, or the very Wolf that 
is the image of the Father of thy kindred; or even, it may be, 
someone else — that I have played with time agone.' 

Her voice faltered and faded out here, and she was silent a 
while ; then she said : 

* So depart, kind friend and dear love, bearing this word with 
thee, that should I die, I call on Iron-face my kinsman to bear 
witness that I bid thee carry me to bale in Silver-dale, and lay 
mine ashes with the ashes of thy Fathers, with whom thine own 
shall mingle at the last, since I have been of the warriors who 
have helped to bring thee aback to the land of thy folk.' 

Then she smiled and shut her eyes and said : ' And if I live, 

379 



They plight as indeed I hope, and how glad and glad I shall be to live, then 
troth shalt thou bring me to thy house and thy bed, that I may not 

together. depart from thee while both our lives last.' 

And she opened her eyes and looked at him ; and he might 
not speak for a while, so ravished as he was betwixt joy and 
sorrow. But the Alderman arose and took a gold ring from off 
his arm, and spake : 

' This is the gold ring of the God of the Face, and I bear it 
on mine arm betwixt the Folk and the God in all man-motes, 
and I bore it through the battle to-day; and it is as holy a ring 
as may be ; and since ye are plighting troth, and I am the wit- 
ness thereof, it were good that ye held this ring together and called 
the God to witness, who is akin to the God of the Earth, as we all 
be. Take the ring. Folk-might, for I trust thee ; and of all women 
now alive would I have this woman happy.' 

So Folk-might took the ring and thrust his hand through it, 
and took her hand, and said : 

* Ye Fathers, thou God of the Face, thou Earth-god, thou 
Warrior, bear witness that my life and my body are plighted to 
this woman, the Bride of the House of the Steer ! ' 

His face was flushed and bright as he spoke, but as his words 
ceased he noted how feebly her hand lay in his, and his face fell, 
and he gazed on her timidly. But she lay quiet, and said softly 
and slowly : 

' O Fathers of my kindred ! O Warrior and God of the Earth ! 
bear witness that I plight my troth to this man, to lie in his grave 
if I die, and in his bed if I live.' 

And she smiled on him again, and then closed her eyes ; but 
opened them presently once more, and said : 

' Dear friend, how fared it with Gold-mane to-day ? ' 

Said Folk-might : 'So well he did, that none might have done 
better. He fared in the fight as if he had been our Father the 
Warrior : he is a great chieftain.' 

She said : ' Wilt thou give him this message from me, that in 

380 



no wise he forget the oath which he swore upon the finger-ring as Folk-might 
it lay on the sundial of the Garden of the Face ? And say, more- leaveth her. 
over, that I am sorry that we shall part, and have between us such 
breadth of wild-wood and mountain-neck.' 

* Yea, surely will I give thy message,' said Folk-might; and 
in his heart he rejoiced, because he heard her speak as if she 
were sure of life. Then she said faintly : 

* It is now thy work to depart from me, and to do as it behoveth 
a chieftain of the people and the Alderman of Silver-dale. De- 
part, lest the leeches chide me : farewell, my dear ! ' 

So he laid his face to hers and kissed her, and rose up and em- 
braced Iron-face, and went his ways without looking back. 

But just over the threshold he met old Hall-ward of the House 
of the Steer, who was at point to enter, and he greeted him kindly. 
The old man looked on him steadily, and said : * To-morrow or 
the day after I will utter a word to thee, O Chief of the Wolf.' 

' In a good hour,' said Folk-might, ' for all thy words are true.' 

Therewith he gat him away from the house, and came to Face- 
of-god, where he sat before the altar of the Crooked Sword ; 
and now were the chiefs come back from their meat, and were 
sitting with him ; there also were Wood-father and Wood-wont ; 
but Bow-may was with the Sun-beam, who was resting softly in 
the fair meadow after all the turmoil. 

So men made place for Folk-might beside the War-leader, who 
looked upon his face, and saw that it was sober and unsmiling, 
but not heavy or moody with grief. So he deemed that all was 
as well as it mis^lit be with the Bride, and with a good heart fell 
to taking counsel with the others ; and kindly and friendly were 
the redes which they held there, with no gainsaying of man b}' 
man, for the whole folk was glad at heart. 

So there they ordered all matters duly for that present time, 
and by then they had made an end, it was past sunset, and men 
were lodged in the chief houses about the ISlarket-stead. 

Albeit, though they ate their meat with all joy of heart, and 



The burial of were merry in converse one with the other, the men of the Wolf 
the dead. would by no means feast in their Hall again till it had been cleansed 

and hallowed anew. 



CHAPTER LI. THE DEAD BORNE TO BALE : THE 
MOTE-HOUSE RE-HALLOWED. 

ON the morrow they bore to bale their slain men, and there- 
withal what was left of the bodies of the four chieftains of 
the Great Undoing. They brought them into a most fair 
meadow to the west of Silver-stead, where they had piled up a 
very great bale for the burning. In that meadow was the Doom- 
ring and Thing-stead of the Folk of the Wolf, and they had hal- 
lowed it when they had first conquered Silver-dale, and it was 
deemed far holier than the Mote-house aforesaid, wherein the 
men of the kindred might hold no due court ; but rather it was 
a Feast-hall, and a house where men had converse together, 
and wherein precious things and tokens of the Fathers were 
stored up. 

The Thing-stead in the meadow was flowery and well-grassed, 
and a little stream winding about thereby nearly cast a ring around 
it ; and beyond the stream was a full fair grove of oak-trees, 
very tall and ancient. There then they burned the dead of the 
Host, wrapped about in exceeding fair raiment. And when the 
ashes were gathered, the men of Burgdale and the Shepherds left 
those of their folk for the kindred to bury there in Silver-dale ; 
for they said that they had a right to claim such guesting for them 
that had helped to win back the Dale. 

But when the Burning was done and the bale quenched, and the 
ashes gathered and buried (and that was on the morrow), then 
men bore forth the Banners of the Jaws of the Wolf, and the Red 
Hand, and the Silver Arm, and the Golden Bushel, and the Ragged 
Sword, and the Wolf of the Woodland ; and with great joy and 
. 382 



triumph they brought them into the Mote-house and hung them The song of 
up over the dais; and they kindled fire on the Holy Hearth by hold- rt^tuming. 
ing up a disk of bright glass to the sun ; and then they sang be- 
fore the banners. And this is somewhat of the song that they 
sang before them : 

Why are ye wending ? O whence and whither ? 

What shineth over the fallow swords ? 
W^hat is the joy that ye bear in hither ? 

What is the tale of j'our blended words ? 

No whither we wend, but here have we stayed us, 

Here by the ancient Holy Hearth ; 
Long have the moons and the years delayed us, 

But here are we come from the heart of the dearth. 

We are the men of joy belated ; 

We are the wanderers over the waste ; 
We are but they that sat and waited, 

Watching the empty winds make haste. 

Long, long we sat and knew no others, 

Save alien folk and the foes of the road ; 
Till late and at last we met our brothers, 

And needs must we to the old abode. 

For once on a day they prayed for guesting ; 

And how were we then their bede to do ? 
Wild was the waste for the people's resting. 

And deep the wealth of the Dale we knew. 

Here were the boards that we must spread tl-.cm 

Down in the fruitful Dale and dear ; 
Here were the halls where we would bed them : 

And how should we tarry otherwhere ? 
3«3 



Men merry in Over the waste we came together: 

Silver-dale. There was the tangle athwart the way ; 

There was the wind-storm and the weather ; 
The red rain darkened down the day. 

But that day of the days what grief should let us, 
When we saw through the clouds the dale-glad sun ? 

We tore at the tangle that beset us, 

And stood at peace when the day was done. 

Hall of the Happy, take our greeting ! 

Bid thou the Fathers come and see 
The Folk-signs on thy walls a-meeting, 

And deem to-day what men we be. 

Look on the Holy Hearth new-litten. 
How the sparks fly twinkling up aloof! 

How the wavering smoke by the sunlight smitten, 
Curls up around the beam-rich roof! 

For here once more is the Wolf abiding, 
Nor ever more from the Dale shall wend, 

And never again his head be hiding. 

Till all days be dark and the world have end. 



CHAPTER LII. OF THE NEW BEGINNING OF GOOD 
DAYS IN SILVER-DALE. 

ON the third day there was high-tide and great joy amongst 
all men from end to end of the Dale; and the delivered 
thralls were feasted and made much of by the kindreds, 
so that they scarce knew how to believe their own five senses that 
told them the good tidings. 

For none strove to grieve them and torment them ; what they 

384 



would, that did they, and they had all things plenteously; since The wealth 
for all was there enough and to spare of goods stored up for the of Silver-dale. 
Dusky Men, as corn and wine and oil and spices, and raiment 
and silver. Horses were there also, and neat and sheep and 
swine in abundance. Withal there was the good and dear land ; 
the waxing corn on the acres ; the blossoming vines on the hill- 
side ; and about the orchards and alongside the ways, the plum- 
trees and cherry-trees and pear-trees that had cast their blossom 
and were overhung with little 3'oung fruit; and the fair apple-trees 
a-blossoming, and the chestnuts spreading their boughs from their 
twisted trunks over the green grass. And there was the goodly 
pasture for the horses and the neat, and the thymy hill-grass for 
the sheep ; and beyond it all, the thicket of the great wood, with 
its unfailing store of goodly timber of ash and oak and holly and 
yoke-elm. There need no man lack unless man compelled him, 
and all was rich enough and wide enough for the waxing of a 
vcrv great folk. 

Now, therefore, men betook them to what was their own 
before the coming of the Dusky Men ; and though at first many 
of the delivered thrall-folk feasted somewhat above measure, and 
though there were some of them who were not very brisk at 
working on the earth for their livelihood; 5-et were the most 
part of them quick of wit and deft of hand, and they mostly fell 
to presently at their cunning, both of husbandry and handicraft. 
Moreover, they had great love of the kindreds, and especially of 
the W'oodlanders, and strove to do all things that might plea- 
sure them. And as for those who were dull and listless because 
of their man}' torments of the last ten years, they would at least 
fetch and carry willingly for them of the kindreds ; and these 
last grudged them not meat and raiment and house-room, even 
if they wrought but little for it, because they called to mind the 
evil days oi their thralldom, and bethought them how few are 
men's days upon the earth. 

Thus all things throve in Silver-dale, and the days wore on 
385 ' 3 R 



Hall-ward toward the summer, and the Yule-tide rest beyond I't, and the 

Cometh to years beyond and far beyond the winning: of Silver-dale. 
Folk-might. ■^ ^ J & 



CHAPTER LHI. OF THE WORD WHICH HALL-WARD 
OF THE STEER HAD FOR FOLK-MIGHT. 

BUT of the time then passing, it is to be said that the whole 
host abode in Silver-dale in great mirth and good liking, 
till they should hear tidings of Dallach and his compan}-, 
who had followed hot-foot on the fleers of the Dusk}- Men. And 
on the tenth day after the battle, Iron-face and his two sons and 
Stone-face were sitting about sunset under a great oak-tree by 
that stream-side which ran through the Mote-stead ; there also 
was Folk-might, somewhat distraught because of his love for 
the Bride, who was now mending of her hurts. As they sat 
there in all content they saw folk coming toward them, three in 
number, and as they drew nigher they saw that it was old Hall- 
ward of the Steer, and the Sun-beam and Bow-may following 
him hand in hand. 

When they came to the brook Bow-may ran up to the elder 
to help him over the stepping-stones; which she did as one who 
loved him, as the old man was stark enough to have waded the 
water waist-deep. She was no longer in her war-gear, but was 
clad after her wont of Shadowy Vale, in nought but a white 
woollen kirtle. So she stood in the stream beside the stones, 
and let the swift water ripple up over her ankles, while the elder 
leaned on her shoulder and looked down upon her kindly. The 
Sun-beam followed after them, stepping daintily from stone to 
stone, so that she was a fair sight to see ; her face was smiling 
and happy, and as she stepped forth on to the green grass the 
colour flushed up in it, but she cast her eyes adown as one some- 
what shamefaced. 

So the chieftains rose up before the leader of the Steer, and 

386 



Folk-might went up to him, and greeted him, and took his hand They talk of 
and kissed him on the check. And Hall-ward said: ''i<^ Bride, 

' Hail to the chiefs of the kindred, and my earthly friends !' 

'riicn I^'olk-might bade him sit down by him, and all the men 
sat down again; but the Sun-beam leaned her back against a 
sapling ash hard bv, her feet set close together; and Bow-may 
went to and fro in sliort turns, keeping well within ear-shot. 

Then said Hall-ward : * Folk-might, I have prayed thy kins- 
woman Bow-may to lead me to thee, that I might speak with 
thee ; and it is good that I find my kinsmen of the Face in thy 
compan}-; for I would say a word to thee that concerns them 
somewhat.' 

Said Folk-might : * Guest, and warrior of the Steer, thy 
words are ever good ; and if this time thou comest to ask aught 
of me, then shall they be better than good.' 

Said Hall-ward : ' Tell me, Folk-might, hast thou seen my 
daughter the Bride to-day?' 

' Yea,' said Folk-might, reddening. 

* What didst thou deem of her state ? ' said Hall-ward. 
Said Folk-might : ' Thou knowcst thyself that the fever hath 

left her, and that she is mending.' 

Hall-ward said : * In a few days belike we shall be wending 
home to Burgdale : when deemest thou that the Bride may travel, 
if it were but on a litter ? ' 

Folk-might was silent, and Hall-ward smiled on him and said : 
« Wouldst thou have her tarry, O chief of the Wolf?' 

* So it is,' said Folk-might, * that it might be labour lost for 
her to journey' to Burgdale at present.' 

' Thmkest thou?' said Hall-ward; 'hast thou a mind then that 
if she goeth she shall speedily come back hither? ' 

' It has been in my mind,' said Folk-might, ' that I should wed 
her. Wilt thou gainsay it? I pray thee, Iron-face my friend, and 
ye Stone-face and Hall-face, and thou, Face-of-god, my brother, 
to lay thy words to mine in this matter.' 

387 



Hall-ward Then said Hall-ward stroking his beard : * There will be a 

asketh a price seat missing in the Hall of the Steer, and a sore lack in the 
lor the Bride, j^g^j-^ of many a man in Burgdale if the Bride come back to us 
no more. We looked not to lose the maiden by her wedding; 
for it is no long way betwixt the House of the Steer and the 
House of the Face. But now, when I arise in the morning and 
miss her, I shall take my staff and walk down the street of Burg- 
stead ; for I shall say, The Maiden hath gone to see Iron-face 
my friend; she is well in the House of the Face. And then shall 
I remember how that the wood and the wastes lie between us. 
How sayest thou, Alderman ? ' 

' A sore lack it will be,' said Iron-face; * but all good go with 
her ! Though whiles shall I go hatless down Burgstead street, 
and say. Now will I go fetch my daughter the Bride from the 
House of the Steer; while many a day's journey shall lie be- 
twixt us.' 

Said Hall-ward : * I will not beat about the bush, Folk- might; 
what gift wilt thou give us for the maiden ? ' 

Said Folk-might : ' Whatever is mine shall be thine ; and 
whatsoever of the Dale the kindred and the poor folk begrudge 
thee not, that shalt thou have ; and deemest thou that they will 
begrudge thee aught ? Is it enough ? ' 

Hall-ward said : ' I wot not, chieftain ; see thou to it ! Bow- 
may, my friend, bring hither that which I would have from 
Silver-dale for the House of the Steer in payment for our 
maiden.' 

Then Bow-may came forward speedily, and went up to the 
Sun-beam, and led her by the hand in front of Folk-might and 
Hall-ward and the other chieftains. Then Folk-might started, 
and leapt up from the ground ; for, sooth to say, he had been 
thinking so wholly of the Bride, that his sister was not in his 
mind, and he had had no deeming of whither Hall-ward was 
coming, though the others guessed well enough, and now smiled 
on him merrily, when they saw how wild Folk-might stared. 
. 388 



As for the Sun-beam, slic stood there blushing like a rose in The price of 
June, but looking her brother straight in the face, as Hall- the Bride, 
ward said : 

' Folk-micrht, chief of the Wolf, since thou wouldst take our 
maiden the Bride away from us, I ask thee to make good her 
place with this maiden ; so that the House of the Steer may not 
lack, when they who are wont to wed therein come to us and pray 
us for a bedfellow for the best of their kindred.' 

Then became Folk-might smiling and mcrr\' like unto the 
others, and he said : * Chief of the Steer, this gift is thine, together 
with aught else which thou mayst desire of us.' 

Then he kissed the Sun-beam, and said : 'Sister, we looked 
for this to befall in some fashion. Yet we deemed that he that 
should lead thee away might abide with us for a moon or two. 
But now let all this be, since if thou art not to bear children to 
the kindreds of Silver-dale, yet shalt thou bear them to their 
friends and fellows. And now choose what gift thou wilt have 
of us to keep us in thy memory.' 

She said : * The memory of my people shall not fade from me ; 
3-et indeed I ask thee for a gift, to wit, Bow-may, and the two 
sons of Wood-father that are left since Wood-wicked was slain ; 
and belike the elder and his wife will be fain to go with their 
sons, and ye will not hinder them.' 

' Kvcn so shall it be done,' said Folk-might, and he was silent 
a while, pondering ; and then he said : 

' Lo you, friends', doth it not seem strange to you that peace 
sundereth as well as war ? Indeed I deem it grievous that ye 
shall have to miss your well-beloved kinswoman. And for me, 
I am now grown so used to this woman my sister, though at whiles 
she hatii been masterful with me, that I shall often turn about and 
think to speak to her, when there lie long days of wood and waste 
betwixt her voice and mine.' 

The Sun-beam laughed in his face, though the tears stood in 
her eyes, as she said : ' Keep up thine heart, brother; for at least 

389 



the way is shorter betwixt Burgdale and Silver-dale than betwixt 
life and death ; and the road we shall learn belike.' 

Said Hall-face : ' So it is that my brother is no ill woodman^ 
as ye learned last autumn.' 

Iron-face smiled, but somewhat sadly ; for he beheld Face-of- 
god, who had no eyes for anyone save the Sun-beam ; and no 
marvel was that, for never had she looked fairer. And for- 
sooth the War-leader was not utterly well-pleased ; for he was 
deeming that there would be delaying of his wedding, now that 
the Sun-beam was to become a maid of the Steer ; and in his 
mind he half deemed that it would be better if he were to take 
her by the hand and lead her home through the wild-wood, he 
and she alone ; and she looked on him shyly, as though she had 
a deeming of his thought. Albeit he knew it might not be, that 
he, the chosen War-leader, should trouble the peace of the kin- 
dred ; for he wotted that all this was done for peace' sake. 

So Hall-ward stood forth and took the Sun-beam's right hand 
in his, and said : 

* Now do I take this maiden, Sun-beam of the kindred of the 
Wolf, and lead her into the House of the Steer, to be in all ways 
one of the maidens of our House, and to wed in the blood wherein 
we have been wont to wed. Neither from henceforth let an3'one 
say that this woman is not of the blood of the Steer ; for we have 
given her our blood, and she is of us duly and truly.' 

Thereafter they talked together merrily for a little, and then 
turned toward the houses, for the sun was now down ; and as 
they went Iron-face spake to his son, and said : 

* Gold-mane, wilt thou verily keep thine oath to wed the fairest 
woman in the world ? By how much is this one fairer than my 
dear daughter who shall no more dwell in mine house ?' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Yea, father, I shall keep mine oath ; for 
the Gods, who know much, know that when I swore last Yule 
I was thinking of the fair woman going yonder beside Hall-ward, 
and of none other.' 



in Rose-dale. 



' Ah, son ! ' said Iron-face, * why didst thou beguile us ? Hadst Dallach 
thou but told us the truth then ! ' Alderman 

' Yea, Alderman,' said Face-of-god smiling, * and how thou 
vvouldcst have raged against me then, when thou hast scarce 
forgiven me now ! In sooth, father, I feared to tell you all : I 
was young; I was one against the world. Yea, yea ; and even 
that was sweet to me, so sorely as I loved her — Hast thou for- 
gotten, father? ' 

Iron-face smiled, and answered not ; and so came they to the 
!-.ouse wherein they were guested. 



CHAPTER LIV. TIDINGS OF DALLACH : A FOLK-MOTE 
IX SILVER-DALE. 

THREE days thereafter came two swift runners from Rose- 
dale with tidings of Dallach. In all wise had he thriven, 
and had slain many of the runaways, and had come hap- 
pilv to Rose-dale : therein by the mere shaking of their swords 
had ihey all their will ; for there were but a few of the Dusky 
Warriors in the Dale, since the more part had fared to the 
slaughter in Silver-stead. Now therefore had Dallach been 
made Alderman of Rose-dale ; and the Burgdalcrs who had gone 
with him should abide the coming thither of the rest oi the Burg- 
dale Host, and meantime of their coming should uphold the new 
Alderman in Rose-dale. Howbcit Dallach sent word that it was 
not to be doubted but that many of the Dusky Men had escaped 
to the woods, and should yet be the death oi many a mother's 
son, unless it were well looked to. 

And now the more part of the Burgdale men and the Shep- 
herds began to look toward home, albeit some amongst them 
had not been ill-pleased to abide there vet a while ; for life was 
exceeding soft to them there, though they helped the poor folk 
gladly in their husbandry. For especially the women of the Dale, 



of the Wood- of whom many were very goodly, hankered after the fair-faced 
landers. tall Burgdalers, and were as kind to them as might be. For- 

sooth not a few, both carles and queens, of the old thrall-foik 
prayed them of Burgdale to take them home thither, that they 
might see new things and forget their old torments once for all, 
yea, even in dreams. The Burgdalers would not gainsay them, 
and there was no one else to hinder; so that there went with the 
Burgdale men at their departure hard on five score of the Silver- 
dale folk who were not of the kindreds. 

And now was a great Folk-mote holden in Silver-dale, whereto 
the Burgdale men and the Shepherds were bidden ; and thereat 
the War-leader gave out the morrow of the morrow for the day 
of the departure of the Host. There also were the matters of 
Silver-dale duly ordered : the Men of the Wolf would have had 
the Woodlanders dwell with them in the fair-builded stead, and 
take to them of the goodly stone houses there what they would; 
but this they naysaid, choosing rather to dwell in scattered 
houses, which they built for themselves at the utmost limit of 
the tillage. 

Indeed, the most abode not even there a long while ; for they 
loved the wood and its deeds. So they went forth into the wood, 
and cleared them space to dwell in, and builded vhem halls such 
as they loved, and fell to their old woodland crafts of charcoal- 
burning and hunting, wherein they throve well. And good for 
Silver-dale was their abiding there, since they became a sure de- 
fence and stout outpost against all foemen. For the rest, where- 
soever they dwelt, they were guest-cherishing and blithe, and 
were well beloved by all people ; and they wedded with the other 
Houses of the Children of the Wolf 

As to the other matters whereof they took rede at this Folk- 
mote, they had mostly to do with the warding of the Dale, and the 
learning of the delivered thralls to handle weapons duly. For men 
deemed it most like that they would have to meet other men of the 
kindred of the Felons ; which indeed fell out as the years wore. 



Moreover, Folk-might (by the rede of Stone-face) sent mes- Folk-might 
songers to the Plain and the Cities, unto men whom he knew ^^'" g''^'^ the 
there, doina them to wit of the tidincrs of Silver-dale, and how ^"Jg'^' -*•<-''!> 
that a peaceful and guest-loving people, having good store of ^ 
wares, now dwelt therein, so that chapmen might have re- 
course thither. 

Lastly spake Folk-might and said : 

' Guests and brothers-in-arms, we have been looking about our 
new house, which was our old one, and therein we find great store 
of wares which we need not, and which we can but use if ye use 
them. Of your kindness therefore we pray you to take of those 
things what ye can easily carry. And if ye say the way is long, 
as indeed it is, since ye are bent on going through the wood to 
Rose-dale, and so on to Burgdale, yet shall we furnish you with 
beasts to bear your goods, andwith such wains asmaypass through 
the woodland ways.' 

Then rose up Fox of Upton and said : * O Folk-might, and ye 
men of the Wolf, be it known unto you, that if we have done any- 
thing for your help in the winning of Silver-dale, we have thus done 
that we might help ourselves also, so that we might live in peace 
henceforward, and that we might have your friendship and fellow- 
ship therewithal, so that here in Silver-dale might wax a mighty 
folk who joined unto us should be strong enough to face the whole 
world. Such are the redes ot wise men when they go a-warring. 
Hut we have no will to go back home again made rich with your 
wealth ; this hath been far from our thought in this matter.' 

And there went up a murmur from all the Burgdalers yea- 
saying his word. 

But Folk-might took up the word again and spake : 

* ISlen oi' Burgdale and the Sheepcotes, what ye say is both 
manly and friendly ; yet, since wc look to see a road made plain 
through the woodland betwixt Burgdale and Silver-dale, and 
that often ye shall face us in the feast-hall, and whiles stand 
beside us in the fray, we must needs pray you not to shame us 

393 3E 



Stone-face by departing empty-handed ; for how then may we look upon 
•^peaketh, your faces again ? Stone-face, my friend, thou art old and wise ; 

therefore I bid thee to help us herein, and speak for us to thy 
kindred, that they naysay us not in this matter.' 

Then stood up Stone-face and said : ' Forsooth, friends, Folk- 
might is in the right herein ; for he may look for anger from the 
wights that come and go betwixt his kindred and the Gods, if 
they see us faring back giftless through the woods. Moreover, 
now that ye have seen Silver-dale, ye may wot how rich a land it 
is of all good things, and able to bring forth enough and to spare. 
And now meseemeth the Gods love this Folk that shall dwell 
here ; and they shall become a mighty Folk, and a part of our 
very selves. Therefore let us take the gifts of our friends, and 
thank them blithely. For surely, as saith Folk-might, hence- 
forth the wood shall become a road betwixt us, and the thicket a 
halting-place for friends bearing goodwill in their hands.' 

When he had spoken, men yeasaid his words and forbore 
the gifts no longer ; and the Folk-mote sundered in all loving- 
kindness. 



CHAPTER LV. DEPARTURE FROM SILVER-DALE. 

ON the morrow of the morrow were the Burgdale men and 
they of the Shepherds gathered together in the Market- 
stead early in the morning, and they were all ready for 
departure ; and the men of the Wolf and the Woodlanders, and 
of the delivered thralls a great many, stood round about them 
grieving that they must go. There was much talk between the 
folk of the Dale and the Guests, and many promises were given 
and taken to come and go betwixt the two Dales. There also 
v/cre the men of the thrall-folk who were to wend home with the 
Burgdalers ; and they had been stuffed with good things by the 
men of the kindreds, and were as fain as might be. 
. 394 



As for the Sun-beam, she was somewhat out of herself at first, Tlie Sun- 
being eager and restless beyond her wont, and yet at whiles weep- '^eam on 

incr-ripe when she called to mind that she was now leaving: all V^ ^^^ 

or r> ucpsrturc 

those things, the gain whereof had been a dream to her both 

waking and sleeping for these 3'ears past. But at last, as she 

stood in the door of the Mote-house, and beheld all the throng 

of folk happy and friendly, it came over her that she herself had 

done her full share to bring all this about, and that all those 

pleasant places of Silver-dale now full of the goodly life of man 

would be there even as she had striven for them, and that they 

would be a part of her left behind, though she were dwelling 

otherwhere. 

Therewithal she said to herself that it was now her part to 
wield the life of men in Burgdale, and begin once more her days 
of a chieftain and a swayer of the Folk, and the life of a stirring 
woman, which the edge of the sword and the need of the hard 
hand-play had taken out of her hands for a while, making her as 
a child in the hands of the strong wielders of the blades. 

So now she became calm once more, and her face was clad again 
with the full measure of that majesty of beaut}' which had once 
overawed Face-of-god amidst his love of her ; and folk beheld 
her and marvelled at her fairness, and said : ' She hath an inward 
sorrow at leaving the fair Dale wherein her Fathers dwelt, and 
where her mother's ashes lie in earth.' Albeit now was her sorrow 
but little, and much was her hope, and her foresight of days to 
be ; though all the Dale, yea, every leaf and twig of it whereby 
her feet had ever passed, and each stone of the fair houses, 
was to her as a picture that she could look on from henceforth 
for ever. 

Of the Bride it is to be said that she was now much mended, 
and she caused men bear her on a litter out into the Market- 
place, that she might look on the departure of her folk. She had 
seen Face-of-god once and again since the Day of Battle, and 
each time had been kind and blithe with him ; and for Iron-face, 

395 



Face-of-ffocl. 



The Bride she loved him so well that she was ever loth to let him depart 
sendeth for from her, save when Folk-might was with her. 

And now was the Alderman standing beside her, and she said 
to him : ' Friend and kinsman, this is the day of departure, and 
though I must needs abide behind, and am content to abide, yet 
doth mine heart ache with the sundering; for to-morrow when I 
wake in the morning there will be no more sending of a mes- 
senger to fetch thee to me. Indeed, great hath been the love 
between me and my people, and nought hath come between us 
to mar it. Now, kinsman, I would see Gold-mane, my cousin, 
that I may bid him farewell ; for who knoweth if I shall see him 
again hereafter ? ' 

Then went Iron-face and found Face-of-god where he was 
speaking with Folk-might and the chieftains, and said to him : 
' Come quickly, for thy cousin the Bride would speak with thee.' 

Face-of-god reddened, and paled afterwards, but he went along 
with his father silently ; and his heart beat as he came and stood 
before the litter whereas the Bride lay, clad all in white and propped 
up on fair cushions of red silk. She was frail to look on, and worn 
and pale yet ; but he deemed that she was very happy. 

She smiled on him, and reached out her hand and said : 

' Welcome once more, cousin ! ' And he held her hand and 
kissed it, and was nigh weeping, so sore was he beset by a throng 
of memories concerning her and him in the days when they were 
little; and he bethought him of her loving-kindness of past days, 
beyond that of most children, beyond that of most maidens; and 
how there was nothing in his life but she had a share in it, till 
the day when he found the Hall on the Mountain. 

So he said to her : ' Kinswoman, is it well with thee ?' 

' Yea,' she said, * I am now nigh whole of my hurts.' 

He was silent a while ; then he said : 

' And otherwise art thou merry at heart ? ' 

' Yea, indeed,' said she ; * yet thou wilt not find it hard to deem 
that I am sorry of the sundering betwixt me and Burgdale.' 



Again was he silent, and said in a wliile : * Dost thou deem She biddeth 
that 1 wrought that sundering?' liim farewell. 

She smiled kindly on him and said : ' Gold-mane, my pla}'- 
mate, thou art become a mighty warrior and a great chief; but 
thou art not so mighty as that. Many things lay behind the 
sundering which were neither thou nor I.' 

' Yet,' said he, ' it was but such a little time agonc that all 
things seemed so sure ; and we — to both of us was the outlook 
happy. '^ 

' Let it be happy still,' she said, * now begrudging is gone. Be- 
like the sundering came because we were so sure, and had no dc- 
tence against the wearing of the days ; even as it fareth with a 
folk that hath no foes.' 

He smiled and said : ' Even as it hath befallen thy folk, O 
Bride, a while ago.' 

She reddened, and reached her hand to him, and he took it and 
held it, and said : ' Shall 1 see thee again as the days wear?' 

Said she : ' O chieftain of the Folk, thou shalt have much to 
do in Burgdale, and the way is long. Yet would I have thee 
sec my children. Forget not the token on my hand which thou 
boldest. But now get thee to th}' folk with no more words ; for 
after all, playmate, the sundering is grievous to me, and I would 
not spin out the time thereof. Farewell ! ' 

He said no more, but stooped down and kissed her lips, and 
then turned from her, and took his ways to the head of the Host. 
and fell to asking and answering, and bidding and arraving; and 
in a little time was his heart dancing with joy to think of the davs 
that lay before him, wherein now all seemed happy. 

So was all arrayed for departure when it lacked three hours 
of noon. As P'olk-might had promised, there were certain light 
wains drawn b}' bullocks abiding the departure of the Host, and 
of sumpter bullocks and horses no few; and all these were laden 
with fair gifts of the Dale, as silver, and raiment, and weapons. 
There were many things fair-wrought in the time oi the Sorrow, 

397 



The Host that henceforth should see but little sorrow. Moreo%'er, there was 
arrayed for plenty of provision for the way, both meal and wine, and sheep 
departuie. ^^^ neat; and all things as fair as might be, and well-arrayed. 

It was the Shepherds who were to lead the way ; and after them 
were arrayed the men of the Vine and the Sickle ; then they of 
the Steer, the Bridge, and the Bull; and lastly the House of the 
Face, with old Stone-face leading them. The Sun-beam was to 
journey along with the House of the Steer, which had taken her 
in as a maiden of their blood; and though she had so much liefer 
have fared with the House of the Face, yet she went meekly as 
she was bidden, as one who has gotten a great thing, and will 
make no stir about a small one. 

Along with her were Wood-father and Wood-mother, and 
Wood-wise, now whole of his hurt, and Wood-wont, and Bow- 
may. Save Bow-may, they were not very joyous ; for they were 
fain of Silver-dale, and it irked them to leave it ; moreover, 
they also had liefer have gone along with the House of the 
War-leader. 

Last of all went those people of the once thralls of the Dusky 
Men who had cast in their lot with the Burgdalers, and they were 
exceeding merry; and especiall}'^ the women of them, they were 
chattering like the stares in the autumn evening, when they gather 
from the fields in the tall elm-trees before they go to roost. 

Now all the men of the Dale, both of the kindreds and of the 
thrall-folk, made way for the Host and its havings, that they 
might go their ways down the Dale ; albeit the Woodlanders 
clung close to the line of their ancient friends, and with them, as 
men who were sorry for the sundering, were Wolf-stone and God- 
swain and Spear-fist. But the chiefs, they drew around Folk- 
might a little beside the way. 

Now Red-coat of Waterless, who had been hurt, and was now 
whole again, cast his arms about Folk-might and kissed him, 
and said : 

* All the way hence to Burgdale will I sow with good wishes 

398 



1 



for thee and thine, and especially for my dear friend God-swain Speech of the 
of the Silver Arm ; and I would wish and long that they might Chieftains, 
turn into spells to draw thy feet to usward ; for we love thee well.' 

In like wise spake other of the Burgdalcrs ; and Folk-might 
was kind and blithe with them, and he said : 

' Friends, forget ye not that the way is no longer from you to 
us than it is from us to you. One half of this matter it is for you 
to deal with.' 

'True is that,' said Red-beard of the Knolls, * but look j'ou, 
l-"olk-might, we he but simple husbandmen, and may not often 
srir from our meadows and acres ; even now I bethink me that 
Mav is amidst us, and I am beginning to be drawn by the thought 
oi' the haysel. Whereas thou — ' (and therewith he reddened) 
' I doubt that thou hast little to do save the work of chieftains, and 
we know that such work is but little missed if it be undone.' 

Thereat Folk-might laughed ; and when the others saw that 
he laughed, they laughed also, else had they foreborne for cour- 
tesy's sake. 

But Folk-mii;ht answered: 'Na}', chief of the Sickle, I am not 
altogether a chieftain, now we have gotten us peace; and some- 
what of a husbandman shall I be. Moreover, doubt ye not that 
I shall do my utmost to behold the fair Dale again; for it is but 
mountains that meet not.' 

Now spake Face-of-god to Folk-might, smiling and somewhat 
softly, and said : ' Is all forgiven now, since the da}' when we first 
felt each other's arms ? ' 

'Yea, all,' said F'olk-might; 'now hath befallen what I fore- 
told thee in Shadowy \'ale, that thou mightcst pay for all that had 
come and gone, if thou wouldest but look to it. Indeed thou wert 
angry with me for that sa3ing on that eve of Shadow}' Vale ; but 
see thou, in those days I was an older man than thou, and might 
admonish thee somewhat ; but now, though but few days have 
gone over thine head, yet many deeds have abided in thine hand, 
and thou art much aged. Anger hath left thee, and wisdom hath 

399 



Now they waxed in thee. As for me, I may now say this word : May the 

depart and Folk of Burgdale love the Folk of Silver-dale as well as I love 
sing withal. ji^^^ . jj^^„ 51,^11 ^u ^^ ^^,gij_. 

Then Face-of-god cast his arms about him and kissed him, and 
turned av/ay toward Stone-face and Hall-face his brother, where 
they stood at the head of the array of the Face; and even there- 
with came up the Alderman somewhat sad and sober of counte- 
nance, and he pushed by the War-leader roughly and would not 
speak with him. 

And now blew up the horns of the Shepherds, and they began 
to move on amidst the shouting of the men of Silver-dale ; yet 
were there amongst the Woodlanders those who wept when they 
saw their friends verily departing from them. 

But when they of the foremost of the Host were gotten so far 
forward that the men of the Face could begin to move, lo! there 
was Redesman with his fiddle amongst the leaders; and he had 
done a man's work in the day of battle, and all looked kindly on 
him. About him on this morn were some who had learned the 
craft of singing well together, and knew his minstrelsy, and he 
turned to these and nodded as their array moved on, and he drew 
his bow across the strings, and straightway they fell a-singing, 
even as it might be thus : 

Back again to the dear Dale where born was the kindred. 
Here wend we all living, and liveth our mirth. 

Here afoot fares our joyance, whatever men hindred, 

Through all wrath of the heavens, all storms of the earth. 

O true, we have left here a part of our treasure. 
The ashes of stout ones, the stems of the shield ; 

But the bold lives they spended have sown us new pleasure, 
Fair tales for the telling in fold and on field. 

For as oft as we sing of their edges' upheaving. 

When the yellowing windov^^s shine forth o'er the night, 
400 



the Host. 



Their names unforgottcn with song interweaving They sing of 

Shall draw forth dear drops from the depths of delight. their dead. 

They sing of 

Or when down by our feet the grey sickles are lyincr, the home- 

And behind us is curling the supper-tide smoke, coming of 

No whit shall they grudge us the joyancc undying, 
Remembrance of men that put from us the yoke. 

Wlien the huddle of ewes from the fells we have driven, 
And we sec down the Dale the grey reach of the roof, 

We shall tell of the gift in the battle-joy given. 
All the fierceness of friends that drave sorrow aloof 

Once then we lamented, and mourned them departed ; 

Once onl}-, no oftcner. Henceforth shall we fling 
Their names up aloft, when the merriest hearted 

To the Fathers unseen of our life-days we sing. 

Then was there silence in the ranks of men ; and many mur- 
mured the names of the fallen as they fared on their way from 
out the Market-place of Silver-stead. Then once more Redes- 
man and his mates took up the song : 

Come tell me, O friends, for whom bideth the maiden 

Wet-foot from the river-ford down in the Dale ? 
For whom hath the goodwife the ox-waggon laden 

With the babble of children, brown-handed and hale? 

Come tell me for what are the women abiding. 

Till each on the other aweary they lean ? 
Is it loitering of evil that thus they are chiding. 

The slow-footed bearers of sorrow unseen ? 

Nav, yet were they toiling if sorrow had worn them. 
Or hushed had they bided with lips parched and wan. 

The birds of the air other tidings have borne them — 
How glad through the wood goeth man beside man. 

401 3 F 



They sing of Then fare forth, O valiant, and loiter no longer 
the sundering Than the cry of the cuckoo when May is at hand ; 

of hiends. Late waxeth the spring-tide, and daylight grows longer. 

And nightly the star-street hangs high o'er the land. 

Many lives, many days for the Dale do ye carry ; 

When the Host breaketh out from the thicket unshorn. 
It shall be as the sun that refuseth to tarry 

On the crown of all mornings, the Midsummer morn. 

Again the song fell down till they were well on the western 
way down Silver-dale; and then Redesman handled his fiddle once 
more, and again the song rose up, and such-like were the words 
which were borne back into the Market-place of Silver-stead : 

And yet what is this, and why fare ye so slowly, 
While our echoing halls of our voices are dumb, 

And abideth unlitten the hearth-brand the holy, 
And the feet of the kind fare afield till we come? 

For not yet through the wood and its tangle 3'e wander ; 

Now skirt we no thicket, no path by the mere ; 
Far aloof for our feet leads the Dale-road out yonder ; 

Full fair is the morning, its doings all clear. 

There is nought now our feet on the highway delaying 

Save the friend's loving-kindness, the sundering of speech; 

The well-willer's word that ends words with the saying, 
The loth to depart while each looketh on each. 

Fare on then, for nought are ye laden with sorrow ; 

The love of this land do ye bear with you still. 
In two Dales of the earth for to-day and to-morrow 

Is waxing the oak-tree of peace and good-will. 

Thus then they departed from Silver-dale, even as men who 
were a portion thereof, and had not utterly left it behind. And 

402 



that night the}' lay in the wild-wood not very far from the Dale's They talk of 
end ; for they went softly, faring amongst so many friends. ^^X"* ^o come. 



CHAPTER LVI. TALK UPON THE WILD-WOOD WAY. 

ON the morrow morning when they were on their way again 
Face-of-god left his own folk to go with the House of the 
Steer a while; and amongst them he fell in with the Sun- 
beam going along with Bow-ma}-. So they greeted him kindl}', 
and Face-of-god fell into talk with the Sun-beam as they went 
side by side tlirough a great oak-wood, where for a space was 
plain green-sward bare of all underwood. 

So in their talk he said to her : * What deemest thou, my 
speech-friend, concerning our coming back to guest in Silver- 
dale one day ? ' 

' The wa}' is long,' she said. 

' That may hinder us but not stay us,' said Face-of-god. 

' That is sooth,' said the Sun-beam. 

Said Face-of-god : * What things shall stay us ? Or deemest 
thou that we shall never see Silver-dale again ? ' 

She smiled : ' Even so I think thou deemest, Gold-mane. But 
many things shall hinder us besides the long road ? ' 

Said he : ' Yea, and what things ? ' 

* Thinkest thou,' said the Sun-beam, ' that the winning of 
Silver-stead is the last battle which thou shalt see ? ' 

* Nay,' said he, ' nay.' 

* Shall thy Dale — our Dale — be free from all trouble within 
itself henceforward ? Is there a wall built round it to keep out 
for ever storm, pestilence, and famine, and the waywardness of 
its own folk ? ' 

'So it is as thou sayest,' quoth Face-of-god, 'and to meet 
such troubles and overcome them, or to die in strife with them, 
this is a great part of a man's life.' 

403 



They wend * Yea,' she said, * and hast thou forgotten that thou art now a 

on through great chieftain, and that the folk shall look to thee to use thee 
the wood. j„3ny jayj i„ ti^e year ? ' 

He laughed and said : * So it is. How many days have gone 
by since I wandered in the wood last autumn, that the world 
should have changed so much ! ' 

* Many deeds shall now be in thy days,' she said, ' and each 
deed as the corn of wheat from which cometh many corns ; and a 
man's days on the earth are not over many.' 

* Then farewell. Silver-dale ! ' said he, waving his hand toward 
the north. ' War and trouble may bring me back to thee, but it 
maybe nought else shall. Farewell ! ' 

She looked on him fondly but unsmiling, as he went beside 
her strong and warrior-like. Three paces from him went Bow- 
may, barefoot, in her white kirtle, but bearing her bow in her 
hand ; a leash of arrows was in her girdle, her quiver hung at 
her back, and she was girt with a sword. On the other side went 
Wood- wont and Wood-wise, lightly clad but weaponed. Wood- 
mother was riding in an ox-wain just behind them, and Wood- 
father went beside her bearing an axe. Scattered all about them 
were the men of the Steer, gaily clad, bearing weapons, so that 
the oak-wood was bright with them, and the glades merry with 
their talk and singing and laughter, and before them down the 
glades went the banner of the Steer, and the White Beast led 
them the nearest way to Burgdale. 



CHAPTER LVII. HOW THE HOST CAME HOME AGAIN. 

IT was fourteen days before they came to Rose-dale ; for they 
had much baggage with them, and they had no mind to 
weary themselves, and the wood was nothing loathsome to 
them, whereas the weather was fair and bright for the more part. 
They fell in with no mishap by the way. But a score and three 

404 



of runawaj-s joined themselves to the Kost, having watched The Host in 
their goings and wotting that they were not focmen. Of these, l^'J>-e-<iale. 
some had heard of the overthrow of the Dusky Men in Silver- 
dale, and others not. The Burgdalers received them all, for it 
seemed to them no great matter for a score or so oi' new-comers 
to the Dale. 

But when the Host was come to Rose-dale, they found it fair 
and lovely ; and there they met with those of their folk who had 
gone with Dallach. But Dallach welcomed the kindreds with 
great joy, and bade them abide ; for he said that they had the 
less need to hasten, since he had sent messengers into Burgdale 
to tell men there of the tidings. Albeit they were mostly loth 
to tarry ; yet when he lay hard on them not to depart as men on 
the morrow of a gild-feast, they abode there three days, and were 
as well guested as might be, and on their departure they were 
laden with gifts from the wealth of Rose-dale by Dallach and 
his folk. 

Before they went their ways Dallach spake with Face-of-god 
and the chiefs of the Dalesmen, and said : 

' Ye have given me much from the time when ye found me in 
the wood a naked wastrel ; yet now I would ask you a gift to lay 
on the top of all that ye have given me.' 

Said Face-of-god : ' Name the gift, and thou shalt have it ; 
for we deem thee our friend.' 

' I am no less,' said Dallach, ' as in time to come I may per- 
chance be able to show you. But now I am asking you to 
suffer a score or two of your men to abide here with me this 
summer, till I see how this folk new-born again is like to deal 
with me. For pleasure and a fair life have become so strange 
to them, that they scarce know what to do with them, or how 
to live ; and unless all is to go awry, I must needs command 
and forbid ; and though belike they love me, yet they fear me 
not ; so that when my commandment plcaseth them, they do 
as I bid, and when it pleaseth them not, they do contrary to my 

405 



Some of the 
young men 
tarry with 
Dallach in 
Rose-dale. 



bidding ; for it hath got into their minds that I shall in no case 
lift a hand against them, which indeed is the very sooth. But 
your folk they fear as warriors of the world, who have slain the 
Dusky Men in the Market-place of Silver-stead ; and they are 
of alien blood to them, men who will do as their friend biddeth 
(think oar folk) against them who are neither friends or foes. 
With such help I shall be well holpen.' 

In such wise spake Dallach; and Face-of-god and the chiefs 
said that so it should be, if men could be found willing to abide 
in Rose-dale for a while. And when the matter was put abroad, 
there was no lack of such men amongst the younger warriors, 
v/ho had noted that the dale was fair amongst dales and its 
women fairer yet amongst women. 

So two score and ten of the Burgdale men abode in Rose- 
dale, no one of whom was of more than twenty and five winters. 
Forsooth divers of them set up house in Rose-dale, and never 
came back to Burgdale, save as guests. For a half score were 
wedded in Rose-dale before the year's ending ; and seven more, 
who had also taken to them wives of the goodliest of the Rose- 
dale women, betook them the next spring to the Burg of the 
Runaways, and there built them a stead, and drew a garth about 
it, and dug and sowed the banks of the river, which they called 
Inglebourne. And as years passed, this same stead throve ex- 
ceedingly, and men resorted thither both from Rose-dale and 
Burgdale ; for it was a pleasant place ; and the land, when it 
was cured, was sweet and good, and the wood thereabout was full 
of deer of all kinds. So their stead was called Inglebourne after 
the stream ; and in latter days it became a very goodly habita- 
tion of men. 

Moreover, some of the once-enthralled folk of Rose-dale, when 
they knew that men of their kindred from Silver-dale were going 
home with the men of Burgdale to dwell in the Dale, prayed 
hard to go along with them ; for they looked on the Burgdalers 
as if they were new Gods of the Earth. The Burgdale chiefs 

406 



would not gainsay these men either, but took with them three The Host 
score and ten from Rose-dale, men and women, and promised cometh to 
them dwelling and livelihood in Burgdale. ''^^ ^''g^ °^ 

So now with good hearts the Host of Burgdale turned their ^^^ ^ ^' 
faces toward their well-beloved Dale ; and the}'^ made good 
diligence, so that in three days' time they were come anigh the 
edge of the woodland wilderness. Thither in the even-tide, as 
they were making ready for their last supper and bed in the 
wood, came three men and two women of their folk, who had 
been abiding their coming ever since they had had the tidings of 
Silver-da!e and the battles from Dallach. Great was the joy of 
these messengers as they went from company to company of the 
warriors, and saw the familiar faces of their friends, and heard 
their wonted voices telling all the story of battle and slaughter. 
And for their part the men of the Host feasted these stay-at- 
homes, and made much of them. But one of them, a man of the 
House of the Face, left the Host a little after nightfall, and bore 
back to Burgstead at once the tidings of the coming home of the 
Host. Albeit since Dallach's tidings of victory had come to the 
Dale, the dwellers in the steads of the country-side had left 
Burgstead and gone home to their own houses ; so that there 
was no great multitude abiding in the Thorp. 

So early on the morrow was the Host astir ; but ere they 
came to Wildlake's Way, the Shepherd-folk turned aside west- 
ward to go home, after they had hidden farewell to their friends 
and fellows of the Dale ; for their souls longed for the sheep- 
cotes in the winding valleys under the long grey downs ; and the 
garths where the last year's ricks shouldered up against the old 
stone gables, and where the daws were busy in the tall unfre- 
quent ash-trees ; and the green flowery meadows adown along 
the bright streams, where the crowfoot and the paigles were 
blooming now, and the harebells were in flower about the thorn- 
bushes at the down's foot, whence went the savour of their blossom 
over sheep-walk and water-meadow. 

407 



come home. 



Now hath So these went their ways with many kind words ; and two 

the Host hours afterwards all the rest of the Host stood on the level 

ground of the Portway ; but presently were the ranks of war 
disordered and broken up by the joy of the women and children, 
as they fell to drawing goodman or brother or lover out of the 
throng to the way that led speediest to their homesteads and 
halls. For the War-leader would not hold the Host together 
any longer, but suffered each man to go to his home, deeming 
that the men of Burgstead, and chiefly they of the F'ace and the 
Steer, would suffice for a company if any need were, and they 
would be easily gathered to meet any hap. 

So now the men of the Middle and Lower Dale made for their 
houses by the road and the lanes and the meadows, and the 
men of the Upper Dale and Burgstead went their ways along 
the Portway toward their halls, with the throng of women 
and children that had come out to meet them. And now men 
came home when it was yet early, and the long day lay before 
them ; and it was, as it were, made giddy and cumbered with 
the exceeding joy of return, and the thought of the day when 
the fear of death and sundering had been ever in their hearts. 
For these new hours were full of the kissing and embracing of 
lovers, and the sweetness of renewed delight in beholding the fair 
bodies so sorely desired, and hearkening the soft wheedling of 
longed-for voices. There were the cups of friends beneath the 
chestnut trees, and the talk of the deeds of the fighting-men, and 
of the heavy days of the home-abiders; many a tale told oft and 
o'er again. There was the singing of old songs and of new, 
and the beholding the well-loved nook of the pleasant places, 
which death might well have made nought for them ; and they 
were sweet with the fear of that which was past, and in their 
pleasantness was fresh promise for the days to come. 

So amid their joyance came evening and nightfall ; and though 
folk were weary with the fulness of delight, yet now for many 
their weariness led them to the chamber oi' love before the rest of 

408 



deep night came to them to make them strong for the happy life Folk look to 
to be be'gun again on the morrow. ^^^ Maiden 

House by house they leasted, and few were the lovers that ^^"• 
sat not together that even. But Face-of-god and the Sun-beam 
parted at the door of the House of the Face ; for needs must 
she c-o with her new folk to the House of the Steer, and needs 
must Facc-of-god be amongst his own folk in that hour of high- 
tide, and sit beside his father beneath the image of the God with 
the rav-begirt head. 



CHAPTER LVIII. HOW THE MAIDEN WARD WAS HELD 
IN BURGDALE. 

NOW May was well worn when the Host came home to 
Burgdale ; and on the very morrow of men's home-coming 
they began to talk eagerly of the Midsummer Weddings, 
and how the I^laiden Ward would be the greatest and fairest 
of all yet seen, whereas battle and the deliverance from battle 
stir up the longing and love both of men and maidens ; much 
also men spake of the weddmg of Face-of-god and the Sun- 
beam ; and needs must their wedding abide to the time of the 
Maiden Ward at Midsummer, and needs also must the Sun- 
beam go on the Ward with the other Brides of the Folk. So 
then must Face-of-god keep his soul in patience till those few 
days were over, doing what work came to hand ; and he held 
his head high among the people, and was well looked to oi' 
every man. 

In all matters the Sun-beam helped him, both in doing and 
in forbearing ; and now so wonderful and rare was her beauty, 
that folk looked on her with somewhat of fear, as though she 
came from the very folk of the Gods. 

Indeed she seemed somewhat changed from what she had been 

o 

of late ; she was sober of demeanour during these last days of 

409 3 G 



Brides. 



The gather- her maidenhood, and sat amongst the kindred as one communing 
ing ot the with herself : of few words she was and little laughter ; but her 
face clear, not overcast by any gloom or shaken by passion : soft 
and kind was she in converse with others, and sweet were the 
smiles that came into her face if others' faces seemed to crave for 
them. For it must be said that as some folk eat out their 
hearts with fear of the coming evils, even so was she feeding her 
soul with the joy of the days to be, whatever trouble might fall 
upon them, whereof belike she foreboded some. 

So wore the days toward Midsummer, when the wheat was 
getting past the blossoming, and the grass in the mown fields 
was growing deep green again after the shearing of the scythe; 
when the leaves were most and biggest ; when the roses were 
beginning to fall; when the apples were reddening, and the skins 
of the grape-berries gathering bloom. High aloft floated the light 
clouds over the Dale ; deep blue showed the distant fells below 
the ice-mountains ; the waters dwindled ; all things sought the 
shadov/ by daytime, and the twilight of even and the twilight of 
dawn were but sundered by three hours of half-dark night. 

So in the bright forenoon were seventeen brides assembled in 
the Gate of Burgstead (but of the rest of the Dale were twenty 
and three looked for), and with these was the Sun-beam, her face 
as calm as the mountain lake under a summer sunset, while of 
the others many were restless, and babbling like April throstles ; 
and not a few talked to her eagerly, and in their restless love of 
her dragged her about hither and thither. 

No men were to be seen that morning ; for such was the cus- 
tom, that the carles either departed to the fields and the acres, 
or abode within doors on the morn of the day of the Maiden 
Ward ; but there was a throno; of women about the Gate and 
down the street of Burgstead, and it may well be deemed that 
they kept not silence that hour. 

So fared the Brides of Burgstead to the place of the Maiden 
Ward on the causeway, .whereto were come already the other 

410 



brides from steads up and down the Dale, or were even then close The array of 
at hand on the way ; and among them were Long-coat and her 'lie Brides. 
two fellows, with whom Face-of-god had held converse on that 
morning whereon he had followed his fate to the Mountain. 

There then were they gathered under the cliff-wall of the 
Portway ; and bv the road-side had their grooms built them up 
bowers of green boughs to shelter them from the sun's burning, 
which were thatched with bulrushes, and decked with garlands 
of the fairest flowers of the meadows and the gardens. 

Forsooth they were a lovely sight to look on, for no fairer 
women might be seen in the world; and the eldest of them wasscant 
oi^ five and twenty winters. Every maiden was clad in as goodly 
raiment as she might compass; their sleeves and gown-hems and 
girdles, yea, their very shoes and sandals were embroidered so fairl}' 
and closely, that as they shifted in the sun they changed colour like 
the king-fisher shooting from shadow to sunshine. According to 
due custom every maiden bore some weapon. A few had bows in 
their hands and quivers at their backs ; some had nought but a 
sword girt to their sides ; some bore slender-shafted spears, so as 
not to overburden their shapely hands ; but to some it seemed a 
merry game to carry long and heavy thrust-spears, or to bear 
great war-axes over their shoulders. Most had their flowing hair 
coifed with bright helms ; some had burdened their arms with 
shields; some bore steel hauberks over their linen smocks: al- 
most all had some piece of war-gear on their bodies; and one, 
to wit. Steed-linden of the Sickle, a tall and fair damsel, was 
so arrayed that no garment could be seen on her but bright steel 
war-gear. 

As for the Sun-beam, she was clad in a white kirtle embroidered 
from throat to hem with work of green boughs and flowers of the 
goodliest fashion, and a garland of roses on her head. Dale- 
warden himself was girt to her side by a girdle fair-wrought of 
goldenwire.and she bore no otherweaponor war-gear; and she let 
him lie quiet in his scabbard, nor touched the hilts once ; whereas 

411 



They bar the some of the Other damsels would be ever drawing their swords 
toad to new- out and thrusting them back. But all noted that goodly weapon, 
comers. j.j^g yoke-fellow of SO many great deeds. 

There then on the Portway, between the water and the rock- 
wall, rose up plenteous and gleeful talk of clear voices shrill and 
soft ; and whiles the maidens sang, and whiles they told tales of 
old days, and whiles they joined hands and danced together on 
the sweet summer dust of the highway. Then they mostly grew 
aweary, and sat down on the banks of the road or under their 
leafy bowers. 

Noon came, and therewithal goodwives of the neighbouring 
Dale, who brought them meat and drink, and fruit and fresh 
flowers from the teeming gardens ; and thereafter for a while 
they nursed their joy in their bosoms, and spake but little and 
softly while the day was at its hottest in the early afternoon. 

Then came out of Burgstead men making semblance of chap- 
men with a wain bearing wares, and they made as though they 
were wending down the Portway westward to go out of the 
Dale. Then arose the weaponed maidens and barred the way 
to them, and turned them back amidst fresh-springing merriment. 
Again in a while, when the sun was westering and the shadows 
growing long, came herdsmen from down the Dale driving neat, 
and making as though they would pass by into Burgstead, but 
to them also did the maidens gainsay the road, so that needs 
must they turn back amidst laughter and mockery, they them- 
selves also laughing and mocking. 

And so at last, when the maidens had been all alone a while, 
and it was now hard on sunset, they drew together and stood in 
a ring, and fell to singing ; and one Gold-may of the House of the 
Bridge, a most sweet singer, stood amidst their ring and led them. 
And this is somewhat of the meaning of their words : 

The sun will not tarry ; now changeth the light. 
Fail the colours that marry the Day to the Night. 
412 



Amid the sun's burning bright weapons we bore, The Brides 

For this eve of our earning comes once and no more sing toqetht-i 

For to-day hath no brother in yesterday's tide, 
And to-morrow no other alike it doth hide. 

This day is the token of oath and behest 

That ne'er shall be broken through ill days and best. 

Here the troth hath been given, the oath hath been done, 
To the Folk that hath thriven well under the sun. 

And the gifts oi^ its giving our troth-day shall win 
Are the Dale for our living and dear days therein. 

O Sun, now thou wanest ! yet come back and see 
Amidst all that thou gaincst how gainful are we. 

O witness of sorrow wide over the earth, 
Rise up on the morrow to look on our mirth ! 

Thy blooms art thou bringing back ever for men, 
And thy birds are a-singing each summer again. 

But to men little-hearted what winter is worse 

Than thy summers departed that bore them the curse ? 

And e'en such art thou knowing where thrivcth the year. 
And good is all growing save thralldom and fear. 

Nought such be our lovers' hearts drawing anigh. 
While yet th}' light hovers aloft in the sky. 

Lo the seeker, the finder of Death in the Blade ! 
What lips shall be kinder on lips of mine laid? 

Lo he that hath driven back tribes of the South ! 
Sweet-breathed is thine even, but sweeter his mouth. 

413 



Here come Come back from the sea then, O sun ! come aback, 

the Grooms, Look adown, look on me then, and ask what I lack ! 

Come many a morrow to gaze on the Dale, 
And if e'er thou seest sorrow remember its tale ! 

For 'twill be of a story to tell how men died 
In the garnering of glory that no man may hide. 

O sun sinking under ! O fragrance of earth ! 

O heart ! O the wonder whence longing has birth ! 

So they sang, and the sun sank indeed ; and amidst their 
singing the eve was still about them, though there came a happy 
murmur from the face of the meadows and the houses of the 
Thorp aloof. But as their song fell they heard the sound of 
footsteps a many on the road ; so they turned and stood with 
beating hearts in such order as when a band of the valiant draw 
together to meet many foes coming on them from all sides, and 
they stand back to back to face all comers. And even there- 
with, their raiment gleaming amidst the gathering dusk, came 
on them the young men of the Dale newly delivered from the 
grief of war. 

Then in very deed the fierce mouths of the raisers of the war- 
shout were kind on the faces of tender maidens. Then went 
spear and axe and helm and shield clattering to the earth, as 
the arms of the new-comers went round about the bodies of the 
Brides, weary with the long day of sunshine, and glee and loving 
speech, and the maidens suffered the young men to lead them 
whither they would, and twilight began to draw round about 
them as the Maiden Band was sundered. 

Some, they were led away westward down the Portway to 
the homesteads thereabout ; and for divers of these the way was 
long to their halls, and they would have to wend over long 
stretches of dewy meadows, and hear the night-wind whisper in 

414 



many a tree, and see the cast begin to lighten with the dawn Gold-mane 
before they came to the lighted feast that awaited them. But '-^^^ the Sen- 
some turned up the Portway straight towards Burgstead ; and ^^'^'^^ 
short was their road to the halls where even now the lights were 
being kindled for their greeting. 

As for the Sun-beam, she had been very quiet the daj- long, 
speaking as little as she might do, laughmg not at all, and 
smiling for kindness' sake rather than for merriment ; and when 
the grooms came seeking their maidens, she withdrew herself 
from the band, and stood alone amidst the road nigher to 
Burgstead than they ; and her heart beat hard, and her breath 
came short and quick, as though fear had caught her in its grip ; 
and indeed for one moment of time she feared that he was not 
coming to her. For he had gone with the other grooms to that 
gathered band, and had passed from one to the other, not find- 
ing her, till he had got him through the whole company', and 
beheld her awaiting him. Then indeed he bounded toward her, 
and caught her by the hands, and then by the shoulders, and 
drew her to him, and she nothing loth ; and in that while he 
said to her : 

' Come then, m}- friend ; lo thou ! the}' go each their own way 
toward the halls of their houses ; and for thee have I chosen a 
way — a way over the foot-bridge yonder, and over the dewy 
meadows on this best even of the year.' 

' Na}', nay,' she said, ' it may not be. Surely the Burgstead 
grooms look to thee to lead them to the gate ; and surely in the 
House of the Face they look to see thee before an\- other. Nay, 
Gold-mane, m}' dear, we must needs go by the Portway.' 

He said : ' We shall be home but a very little while after 
the first, for the way I tell of is as short as the Portwa}-. But 
hearken, my sweet ! When we are in the meadows we shall sit 
down for a minute on a bank under the chestnut trees, and 
thence watch the moon coming up over the southern clifis. And 
I shall behold thee in the summer night, and deem that I see 

415 



the Wedding. 



He telleth of all thy beauty ; which yet shall make me dumb with wonder 
the Path ot when I see it indeed in the house amongst the candles.' 

' O nay,' she said, ' by the Portway shall we go ; the torch- 
bearers shall be abiding thee at the gate.' 

Spake Face-of-god : ' Then shall we rise up and wend first 
through a wide treeless meadow, wherein amidst the night we 
shall behold the kine moving about like odorous shadows ; and 
through the greyness of the moonlight thou shalt deem that 
thou seest the pink colour of the eglantine blossoms, so fragrant 
they are.' 

* O nay,' she said, * but it is meet that we go by the Portway.' 
But he said : ' Then from the wide meadow come we into 

a close of corn, and then into an orchard-close beyond it. There 
in the ancient walnut-tree the owl sitteth breathing hard in the 
night-time ; but thou shalt not hear him for the joy of the 
nightingales singing from the apple-trees of the close. Then 
from out of the shadowed orchard shall we come into the open 
town-meadow, and over its daisies shall the moonlight be lying 
in a grey flood of brightness. 

* Short is the way across it to the brim of theWelteringWater, 
and across the water lieth the fair garden of the Face ; and I have 
dight for thee there a little boat to waft us across the night-dark 
waters, that shall be like wavering flames of white fire where 
the moon smites them, and like the void of all things where the 
shadows hang over them. There then shall we be in the garden, 
beholding how the hall-windows are yellow, and hearkening 
the sound of the hall-glee borne across the flowers and blending 
with the voice of the nightingales in the trees. There then shall 
we go along the grass paths whereby the pinks and the cloves 
and the lavender are sending forth their fragrance, to cheer us, 
who faint at the scent of the over-worn roses, and the honey- 
sweetness of the lilies. 

' All this is for thee, and for nought but for thee this even ; 
and many a blossom whereof thou knowest nought shall grieve ii' 

416 



thy foot tread not thereby to-night ; if the path of thy wedding They wend 
which I have made, be void of thee, on the even of the Chamber f he Wtd- 
of Love. *''"& P^'l^ 

*But lo ! at last at the garden's end is the yew-walk arched "^^ ^'' 
over for thee, and thou canst not see whereby to enter it ; but I, 
I know it, and I lead thee into and along the dark tunnel through 
the moonlight, and thine hand is not weary of mine as we go. 
But at the end shall we come to a wicket, which shall brincr us 
out by the gable-end of the Hall of the Face. Turn we about its 
corner then, and there are we blinking on the torches of the torch- 
bearers, and the candles through the open door, and the hall 
ablaze with light and full of joyous clamour, like the bale-fire in 
the dark night kindled on a ness above the sea by lisher-folk 
remembering the Gods.' 

o 

•O nay,' she said, * but by the Portway must we go; the 
straightest way to the Gate of Burgstead.' 

In vain she spake, and knew not what she said ; for even as 
he was speaking he led her away, and her feet went as her will 
went, rather than her words; and even as she said that last word 
she set her foot on the first board of the foot-bridge ; and she 
turned aback one moment, and saw the long line of the rock- 
wall 3'et glowing with the last of the sunset of midsummer, while 
as she turned again, lo ! before her the moon just beginning to 
lift himself above the edge of the southern cliffs, and betwixt her 
and him all Burgdale, and Face-of-god moreover. 

Thus then they crossed the bridge into the green meadows, 
and through the closes and into the garden of the Face and unto 
the Hall-door ; and other brides and grooms were there before 
them (for six grooms had bsought home brides to the House 
of the Face) ; but none deemed it amiss in the War-leader of 
the folk and the love that had led him. And old Stone-face 
said : ' Too many are the rows of bee-skeps in the gardens of 
the Dale that we should begrudge wayward lovers an hour's 
waste of candle-light.* 

417 3" 



The oath So at last those twain went up the sun-bright Hall hand in 

accomplished, hand in all their loveliness, and up on to the dais, and stood 

together by the middle seat ; and the tumult of the joy of the 

kindred was hushed for a while as they saw that there was 

speech in the mouth of the War-leader. 

Then he spread his hands abroad before them all and cried 
out : ' How then have 1 kept mine oath, whereas I swore on the 
Holy Boar to wed the fairest woman of the world ? ' 

A mighty shout went rattling about the timbers of the roof in 
answer to his word ; and they that looked up to the gable of the 
Hall said that they saw the ray-ringed image of the God smile 
with jo}^ over the gathered folk. 

But spake Iron-face unheard amidst the clamour of the Hall : 
* How fares it now with my darling and my daughter, who 
dwelleth amono-st strangers in tlie land beyond the wild-wood ? ' 



CHAPTER LIX. THE BEHEST OF FACE-OF-GOD TO 
THE BRIDE ACCOMPLISHED : A MOTE-STEAD AP- 
POINTED FOR THE THREE FOLKS, TO WIT, THE 
MEN OF BURGDALE, THE SHEPHERDS, AND THE 
CHILDREN OF THE WOLF. 

THREE j-ears and two months thereafter, three hours after 
noon in the days of early autumn, came a wain tilted over 
with precious webs of cloth, and drawn by eight white 
oxen, into the Market-place of Silver-stead : two score and ten 
of spearmen of the tallest, clad in goodly war-gear, went beside it, 
and much people of Silver-dale thronged about them. The wain 
stayed at the foot of the stair that led up to the door of the Mote- 
house, and there lighted down therefrom a woman goodly of 
fashion, with wide grey e3'es, and face and hands brown with the 
sun's burning. She had a helm on her head and a sword girt to 
her side, and in her arms she bore a yearling child. 

418 



house ot 
Silver-dale. 



And there was come Bow-may with the second man-child born Bow-may in 
to Face-of-god, [he Mote- 

She stayed not amidst the wondering folk, but hastened up 
the stair, which she had once seen running with the blood of 
men : the door was open, and she went in and walked straight- 
way, with the babe in her arms, up the great Hall to the dais. 

There were men on the dais : amidmost sat Folk-might, little 
changed since the last day she had seen him, 3ct fairer, she 
deemed, than of old time ; and her heart went forth to meet the 
Chieftain of her Folk, and the glad tears started in her eyes and 
ran down her cheeks as she drew near to him. 

Bj' his side sat the Bride, and her also Bow-may deemed to 
have waxed goodlier. Both she and Folk-might knew Bow- 
may ere she had gone half the length of the hall ; and the Bride 
rose up in her place and cried out Bow-may's name joyously-. 

With these were sitting the elders of the Wolf and the 
\\'oodlanders, the more part of whom Bow-may knew well. 

On the dais also stood aside a score of men weaponed, and 
looking as if they were awaiting the word which should send 
them forth on some errand. 

Now stood up Folk-might and said : * Fair greeting and love 
to my friend and the daughter of my Folk ! How farest thou, 
Bow-may, best of all friendly women ? How fareth my sister, 
and Face-of-god my brother ? and how is it with our friends and 
helpers in the goodly Dale ? ' 

Said Bow-may: 'Itis well both with all those and with me; and 
my heart laughs to see thee, Folk-might, and to look on the elders 
of the valiant, and our lovely sister the Bride. But I have a mes- 
sage for thee from Face-of-god : wilt thou that I deliver it here ? ' 

' Yea surely,' said Folk-might, and came forth and took her 
hand, and kissed her cheeks and her mouth. The Bride also 
came forth and cast her arms about her, and kissed her ; and they 
led her between them to a seat on the dais beside Folk-might. 

But all men looked on the child in her arms and wondered 

419 



The Bride 
taketh Gold- 
mane's babe. 
A message to 
Folk-might. 



what it was. But Bow-may took the babe, which was both fair 
and great, and set it on the knees of the Bride, and said : 

* Thus saith Face-of-god : *' Friend and kinswoman, well- 
beloved playmate, the gift which thou badest of me in sorrow do 
thou now take in joy, and do all the good thou wouldest to the 
son of thy friend. The ring which I gave thee once in the garden 
of the Face, give thou to Bow-may, my trusty and well-beloved, 
in token of the fulfilment of my behest." ' 

Then the Bride kissed Bow-may again, and fell to fondling of 
the child, which was loth to leave Bow-may. 

But she spake again : ' To thee also, Folk-might, I have a 
message from Face-of-god, who saith : " Mighty warrior, friend 
and fellow, all things thrive with us, and we are happy. Yet is 
there a hollow place in our hearts which grieveth us, and only 
thou and thine may amend it. Though w^hiles we hear tell of 
thee, yet we see thee not, and fain were we, might we see thee, 
and wot if the said tales be true. Wilt thou help us somewhat 
herein, or wilt thou leave us all the labour ? For sure we be that 
thou wilt not say that thou rememberest us no more, and that thy 
love for us is departed." This is his message, Folk-might, and 
he would have an answer from thee.' 

Then laughed Folk-might and said : * Sister Bow-may, seest 
thou these weaponed men hereby ? ' 

* Yea,' she said. 

Said he : ' These men bear a message with them to Face-of- 
god my brother. Crow the Shaft-speeder, stand forth and tell 
thy friend Bow-may the message I have set in thy mouth, every 
word of it.' 

Then Crow stood forth and greeted Bow-may friendly, and 
said : * Friend Bow-ma}', this is the message of our Alderman : 
" Friend and helper, in the Dale which thou hast given to us do 
all things thrive ; neither are we grown old in three years' wear- 
ing, nor are our memories worsened. We long sore to see you 
and give yo\i guesting in Silver-dale, and one day that shall 

420 



befall. Meanwhile, know this : that we of the Wolf and the A message to 

Woodland, mindful of the earth that bore us, and the pit whence Face-of-god. 

we were digged, have a mind to go see Shadow}' \'ale once in 

every three years, and there to hold high-tide in the ancient Hall 

of the Wolf, and sit in the Doom-ring of our Fathers. But since 

ye have joined yourselves to us in battle, and have given us this 

Dale, our health and wealth, without price and without reward, 

we deem you our very brethren, and small shall be our hall-glee, 

and barren shall our Doom-ring seem to us, unless ye sit there 

beside us. Come then, that we may rejoice each other by the 

sight of face and sound of voice ; that we may speak together 

of matters that concern our welfare ; so that we three Kindreds 

may become one Folk. And if this seem good to you, know 

that we shall be in Shadowy Vale in a half-month's wearing. 

Grieve us not by forbearing to come." Lo, Bow-may, this is the 

message, and I have learned it well, for well it pleaseth me to 

bear it.' 

Then said Folk-might : ' What say'st thou to the message. 
Bow-may ? ' 

' It is good in all ways,' said she, ' but is it timely ? May our 
folk have the message and get to Shadowy \a\c, so as to meet 
you there ? ' 

'Yea surely,' said Folk-might, * for our kinsmen here shall 
take the road through Shadowy Vale, and in four days' time they 
shall be in Burgdalc, and as thou wottest, it is scant a two days' 
journey thence to Shadowy Vale.' 

Therewith he turned to those men again, and said : * Kinsman 
Crow, depart now, and use all diligence with thy message.' 

So the messengers began to stir ; but Bow-may cried out : 
* Ho I Folk-might, my friend, I perceive thou art little changed 
from tlie man I knew in Shadow}- \'ale, who would have his 
dinner before the fowl were plucked. For shall I not go back 
with these thy messengers, so that I also may get all ready to 
wend to the ISlotc-house of Shadowy Vale ? ' 

421 



But the Bride looked kindly on her, and laughed and said : 
* Sister Bow-may, his meaning is that thou shouldest abide here 
in Silver-dale till we depart for the Folk-thing, and then go 
thither with us ; and this I also pray thee to do, that thou mayst 
rejoice the hearts of thine old friends ; and also that thou mayst 
teach me all that I should know concerning this fair child of my 
brother and my sister.' 

And she looked on her so kindly as she caressed the babe, 
that Bow-may's heart melted, and she cried out : 

' Would that I might never depart from the house wherein 
thou dwellest, O Bride of my Kinsman ! And this that thou bid- 
dest me is easy and pleasant for me to do. But afterwards I 
must get me back to Burgdale ; for I seem to have left much 
there that calleth for me.' 

'Yea,' said Folk-might, * and art thou wedded, Bow-may? 
Shalt thou never bend the yew in battle again ? ' 

Said Bow-may soberly : ' Who knoweth, chieftain ? Yea, 
I am wedded now these two years ; and nought I looked for 
less when I followed those twain through the wild-wood to 
Burgdale.' 

She sighed therewith, and said : * In all the Dale there is no 
better man of his hands than my man, nor any goodlier to look 
on, and he is even that Hart of Highcliff whom thou knowest 
well, O Bride ! ' 

Said the Bride : ' Thou sayest sooth, there is no better man in 
the Dale.' 

Said Bow-may : 'Sun-beam bade me wed him when he pressed 
hard upon me.' She stayed awhile, and then said : 'Face-of-god 
also deemed I should not naysay the man ; and now my son by 
him is of like age to this little one.' 

' Good is thy story,' said Folk-might; * or deemest thou. Bow- 
may, that such strong and goodly women as thou, and women so 
kind and friendl}', should forbear the wedding and the bringing 
forth of children ? Yea, and we who may even yet have to gather 

422 



V 



ale. 



to another field before we die, and fight for life and the goods They meet in 
O^ life.' Shadowy 

' Thou sayest well,' she said ; ' all that hath befallen me is 
good since the day whereon I loosed shaft from the break of the 
bent over 3'onder.' 

Therewith she fell a-musino;, and made as though she were 
hearkening to the soft voice of the Bride caressing the new-come 
baby ; but in sooth neither heard nor saw what was going on 
about her, for her thoughts were in bygone da3's. Hovvbeit 
presently she came to herself again, and fell to asking many 
questions concerning Silver-dale and the kindred, and those 
who had once been thralls of the Dusky Men ; and thc}' answered 
all duly, and told her the whole story of the Dale since the Day 
of the Victory. 

So Bow-may and the carles who had come with her abode for 
that half-month in Silver-dale, guested in all love by the folk 
thereof, both the kindreds and the poor folk. And Bow-may 
deemed that the Bride loved Face-of-god's child little less than 
her own, whereof she had two, a man and a woman ; and thereat 
was she full of jo}', since she knew that Face-of-god and the 
Sun-beam would be fain thereof. 

Thereafter, when the time was come, fared Folk-might and 
the Bride, and many of the elders and warriors of the Wolf and 
the Woodland, to Shadow^' Vale ; and Dallach and the best oi' 
Rose-dale went with them, being so bidden ; and Bow-may and 
her following, according to theword of the Bride. And in Shadowy 
\'ale they met Face-of-god and Alderman Iron-face, and the 
chiefs of Burgdale and the Shepherds, and many others ; and 
great joy there was at the meeting. And the Sun-beam re- 
membered the word which she spoke to Face-of-god when first 
he came to Shadowy \'ale, that she would be wishful to see 
again the dwelling wherein she had passed through so much joy 
and sorrow of her younger days. But if anyone were fain of 
this meeting, the Alderman was glad above all, when he took the 

423 



Those kin- Bride once more in his arms, and caressed her whom he had 

dreds grow deemed should be a very daughter of his House, 

into one Folk. ^^^ ^^jj^^j^ ^^^ ^^j^ ^f ^jj ^j^^^^ kindreds, to wit, the Men of 

Burgdale and the Sheepcotes ; and the Children of the Wolf, and 
the Woodlanders, and the Men of Rose-dale, that they were 
friends henceforth, and became as one Folk, for better or worse, 
in peace and in war, in waning and waxing ; and that whatso- 
ever befell them, they ever held Shadowy Vale a holy place, and 
for long and long after they met there in mid-autumn, and held 
converse and counsel together. 

no more as now telleth the tale of these 
Kindreds and Folks, but iMaketh an ending. 



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