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The Water of the Wondrous Isles, by William Morris, [1897], at


Next morning Birdalone tarried about the house as little a while as she might, and then went hastening up to the wood; and when she came within sight of the Trysting Tree, lo! there was Habundia before her, and the hands of her busy turning over goodly raiment, so that it was well-nigh as if the days had gone back to the time of the Captivity, and the sitter under the oak was Birdalone herself dealing with her half-finished gown.

Joyously they met and embraced each other, and then spake the wood- wife:  Now, thou darling of the world, I have been no worse than my word, and if thou durst wear web of the Faery thou shalt presently be clad as goodly as ever thou wert down there amongst the knighthood; and then thy tale, my dear, and, if it may be, the wisdom of the barren wood-wife set thereto.

And therewith she laid on Birdalone's outstretched arms the raiment she had brought with her, and it was as if the sunbeam had thrust through the close leafage of the oak, and made its shadow nought a space about Birdalone, so gleamed and glowed in shifty brightness the broidery of the gown; and Birdalone let it fall to earth, and passed over her hands and arms the fine smock sewed in yellow and white silk, so that the web thereof seemed of mingled cream and curd; and she looked on the shoon that lay beside the gown, that were done so nicely and finely that the work was as the feather-robe of a beauteous bird, whereof one scarce can say whether it be bright or grey, thousand-hued or all simple of colour.  Birdalone quivered for joy of the fair things, and crowed in her speech as she knelt before Habundia to thank her:  then in a twinkling had she done off her beggar's raiment, and then the smock clung about her darling nakedness, and next the gown was shimmering all over her, and the golden girdle embraced her loins as though it loved them worthily; and Birdalone looked to the wood round about her and laughed, while Habundia lay in her place and smiled upon her with gentle loving- kindness.

But in a little while was Birdalone sobered; for the thought of how fair she should look to the eyes of her beloved when she was shown unto him on the day of days, thrust her light and eager pleasure aside; and she took up her shoes from the ground (for she had not done them on), and sat down beside the wood-wife and fell a-toying with the marvel of them; and thus without more ado began her tale again, whereas she had left it last even, when she had told of how the Sending Boat was speeding her over the waters toward the Isle of the Young and the Old.


Next: Chapter XX. Birdalone Telleth Habundia of Her Love For Arthur, and Getteth From Her Promise of Help Therein