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Miranda, from the Tempest, by John William Waterhouse [1916] (Public Domain Image)

The Water of the Wondrous Isles

by William Morris


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This fantasy novel by William Morris is one of the first to have a central female character. The heroine, Birdalone, abducted and raised by a witch in the wood of Evilshaw, escapes her captivity with the assistance of a good witch. Habundia. Birdalone encounters three maidens held prisoner by another witch, and the quest to unite the maidens with their knightly lovers rounds out the tale.

Title Page

The First Part: Of The House Of Captivity

Chapter I. Catch At Utterhay
Chapter II. Now Shall Be Told of the House by the Water-Side
Chapter III. Of Skin-Changing
Chapter IV. Of the Waxing of the Stolen Child
Chapter V. Of Birdalone, and How She is Grown Into Maidenhood
Chapter VI. Herein Is Told of Birdalone's Raiment
Chapter VII. Birdalone Hath an Adventure in the Wood
Chapter VIII. Of Birdalone and the Witch-Wife
Chapter IX. Of Birdalone's Swimming
Chapter X. Birdalone Comes on New Tidings
Chapter XI. Of Birdalone's Guilt and the Chastisement Thereof
Chapter XII. The Words of the Witch-Wife to Birdalone
Chapter XIII. Birdalone Meeteth the Wood-Woman Again
Chapter XIV. Of Birdalone's Fishing
Chapter XV. Birdalone Weareth Her Serpent-Ring
Chapter XVI. Birdalone Meeteth Habundia Again; and Learneth Her First Wisdom of Her
Chapter XVII. The Passing of the Year into Winter
Chapter XVIII. Of Spring-Tide and the Mind of Birdalone
Chapter XIX. They Bid Farewell, Birdalone and the Wood-Mother
Chapter XX. Of Birdalone and the Sending Boat

The Second Part: Of the Wondrous Isles

Chapter I. The First Isle
Chapter II. Birdalone Falleth in with New Friends
Chapter III. Birdalone is Brought Before the Witch-Wife's Sister
Chapter IV. Of The Witch's Prison in the Wailing-Tower
Chapter V. They Feast in the Witch's Prison
Chapter VI. Atra Tells of How They Three Came Unto the Isle of Increase Unsought
Chapter VII. The Three Damsels Take Birdalone out of the Witch's Prison
Chapter VIII. In What Wise Birdalone Was Clad, and How She Went Her Ways From the Isle of Increase Unsought
Chapter IX. How Birdalone Came to the Isle of the Young and the Old
Chapter X. Birdalone Comes to the Isle of the Queens
Chapter XI. And Now She Comes to the Isle of the Kings
Chapter XII. Of Birdalone, How She Came Unto the Isle of Nothing

The Third Part: Of the Castle of the Quest

Chapter I. Birdalone Comes to the Castle of the Quest
Chapter II. Of Birdalone, and How She Rested the Night Through in a Bower Without the Castle of the Quest
Chapter III. How Birdalone Dight Her For Meeting the Champions of the Quest
Chapter IV. And Now She Meets the Champions
Chapter V. Birdalone Has True Tokens From the Champions of the Quest
Chapter VI. How The Champions Would Do Birdalone to be Clad Anew in the Castle of the Quest
Chapter VII. Of Birdalone, How She Told the Champions All Her Tale
Chapter VIII. In The Meanwhile of the Departing of the Champions, They Would Pleasure Birdalone With Feats of Arms and Games of Prowess
Chapter IX. Birdalone Cometh Before the Champions In Her New Array
Chapter X. The Champions Go Their Ways in the Sending Boat

The Fourth Part: Of the Days of Abiding

Chapter I. Of Birdalone's Grief; and of Leonard the Chaplain
Chapter II. Birdalone Learneth Lore of the Priest. Ten Days of Waiting Wear
Chapter III. Now Would Birdalone Ride Abroad
Chapter IV. Of Birdalone's Faring Abroad
Chapter V. Sir Aymeris Showeth Birdalone the Mountains Afar Off
Chapter VI. Birdalone Heareth Tell Tales of the Black Valley of the Greywethers
Chapter VII. Birdalone Beguileth the Priest to Help Her to Outgoing
Chapter VIII. Birdalone Fares On Her Adventure
Chapter IX. Birdalone Comes to the Black Valley
Chapter X. How Birdalone Fell In With a Man in the Black Valley of the Greywethers
Chapter XI. Birdalone is Led Up the Black Valley
Chapter XII. How Those Twain Get Them From out of the Black Valley of the Greywethers
Chapter XIII. Now They Rest For the Night in the Strait Pass
Chapter XIV. The Black Knight Tells the Truth of Himself
Chapter XV. The Black Knight Brings Birdalone to the Bower in the Dale
Chapter XVI. Yet a Day and a Night They Tarry in the Dale

The Fifth Part: The Tale of the Quest's Ending

Chapter I. Of Sir Leonard's Trouble and the Coming of the Quest
Chapter II. Now Ask They of Birdalone, and Sir Leonard Speaks
Chapter III. How They Follow the Slot of Birdalone and the Black Knight
Chapter IV. Of The Slaying of Friend and Foe
Chapter V. They Come Home to the Castle of the Quest
Chapter VI. Of The Talk Betwixt Birdalone and Viridis
Chapter VII. Birdalone Telleth The tale of Her Wandering Up the Valley of the Greywethers
Chapter VIII. Atra and Birdalone Talk Together While the Lords Sit at the Murder-Council
Chapter IX. Hugh Tells The Story of the Quest's Ending.
Chapter X. How It Fared With the Three Ladies After the Escape of Birdalone
Chapter XI. Birdalone and the Black Squire Talk Together in the Hall of the Castle.
Chapter XII. The Knights and Their Fellows Betake Them to the Assaulting of the Red Hold
Chapter XIII. Birdalone Bethinks Her to Fulfil the Promise Made Unto Atra
Chapter XIV. Birdalone Leaves the Castle of the Quest

The Sixth Part: The Days of Absence

Chapter I. Birdalone Rides to Greenford and There Takes Leave of Arnold and His Men
Chapter II. Of Birdalone and Her Fellowship, Their Faring Over the Downland
Chapter III. They Come to the City of the Five Crafts, and Birdalone Meets With the Poor-Wife
Chapter IV. Of The Love of Gerard's Sons and of Jacobus for Birdalone
Chapter V. Of The Death of Audrey, Mother To Birdalone. She is Warned in a Dream to Seek the Black Squire, and is Minded to Depart the City of the Five Crafts, and Seek Again the Castle of the Quest
Chapter VI. Of The Sundering of Birdalone From Gerard and his Sons
Chapter VII. Birdalone Cometh to Greenford, and Hears of the Wasting of the Castle of the Quest
Chapter VIII. Birdalone Cometh to the Castle of the Quest, Heareth the Tale Thereof From Leonard, and Departeth Thence by the Sending Boat
Chapter IX. Birdalone Findeth the Isle of Nothing Greatly Bettered, and is Kindly Entreated There
Chapter X. Of Birdalone's Flitting From the Isle of Nothing
Chapter XI. Coming to the Isle of Kings Birdalone Findeth There A Score and Two of Fair Damsels Who Would Fain Have Her Company
Chapter XII. Birdalone Cometh Again to the Isle of Queens, and Findeth a Perilous Adventure Therein
Chapter XIII. Coming to the Isle of the Young and the Old, Birdalone Findeth It Peopled With Children
Chapter XIV. The Sending Boat Disappeareth From the Isle of Increase Unsought, and Birdalone Seeketh to Escape Thence By Swimming
Chapter XV. Birdalone Lacketh Little of Drowning, but Cometh Latterly to the Green Eyot
Chapter XVI. Birdalone Findeth Her Witch-Mistress Dead
Chapter XVII. Birdalone Layeth to Earth the Body of the Witch, and Findeth the Sending Boat Broken Up
Chapter XVIII. The Wood-Mother Cometh to Birdalone and Heareth Her Story
Chapter XIX. Habundia Hideth Birdalone's Nakedness With Faery Raiment
Chapter XX. Birdalone Telleth Habundia of Her Love For Arthur, and Getteth From Her Promise of Help Therein
Chapter XXI. How The Wood-Wife Entered the Cot, and a Wonder That Befell Thereon
Chapter XXII. Birdalone Wendeth the Wildwood in Fellowship With Habundia
Chapter XXIII. The Wood-Wife Bringeth Birdalone to the Sight of Arthur in the Wildwood
Chapter XXIV. The Wood-Mother Changeth Her Form to That of a Woman Stricken in Years
Chapter XXV. The Wood-Wife Healeth and Tendeth the Black Squire
Chapter XXVI. The Black Squire Telleth the Wood-Wife of His Doings Since Birdalone Went From the Castle of the Quest
Chapter XXVII. Sir Arthur Cometh to the House Under the Wood
Chapter XXVIII. Fair Days in the House of Love
Chapter XXIX. Those Twain Will Seek the Wisdom of the Wood-Wife
Chapter XXX. They Have Speech With Habundia Concerning the Green Knight and his Fellows
Chapter XXXI. Habundia Cometh with Tidings of Those Dear Friends
Chapter XXXII. Of The Fight in the Forest and the Rescue of Those Friends From the Men of the Red Company
Chapter XXXIII. Viridis Telleth the Tale of Their Seeking

The Seventh Part: The Days of Returning

Chapter I. Sir Hugh Asketh Birdalone Where She Would Have the Abode of Their Fellowship to Be
Chapter II. Birdalone Taketh Counsel With Her Wood-Mother Concerning the Matter of Sir Hugh
Chapter III. Of The Journeying Through the Forest of Evilshaw Unto the Town of Utterhay
Chapter IV. Of the Abiding in Utterhay in Love and Contentment