Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  William Morris  Index  Previous  Next 

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


On the morrow it was sweet times betwixt those twain, and what was hard and fierce of their love they seemed to have put behind them.  A dear joy it was to Birdalone that day to busy herself about the housekeeping, and to provide whatsoever seemed now, or had seemed to her in her early days, to be dainties of their meadow and woodland husbandry, as cream and junkets and wood-fruit and honey, and fine bread made for that very occasion.

Withal she was careful as a mother with a child that he should not over-weary himself with the sun of the early summer, but rather to follow the brook up into the wood and lie adown in the flecked shadow and rest him wholly, as if there were nought for him to do but to take in rest all that was done for his service, both by the earth and by the hands and nimble feet of Birdalone.  And as she was wilful in other ways of her cherishing, so also in this, that for nought in that daylight would she go anywise disarrayed, nay not so much as to go barefoot, though he prayed her thereof sorely, and told her that fairer and sweeter she was in her smock alone than in any other raiment.  For in the morning she went in her woodland green let down to her heels, and when the day wore towards evening, and the wind came cool from over the Great Water, then she did on her wonder- raiment which the wood-wife had given her, and led Arthur over the meadows here and there, and went gleaming by the side of the black- clad man along the water's lip.  And they looked forth on to Green Eyot and Rock Eyot, and stood by the shallow bight where she had bathed those times; and they went along to the dismal creek where the Sending Boat was wont to lie, and where yet lay the scattered staves of it; and then along the meadow-land they went from end to end, resting oft on the flowery grass, till the dews began to fall and the moon cast shadows on the greensward.  Then home they fared to the house; and again on the way must Birdalone feign for their disport that the witch was come back again, and was awaiting her to play the tyrant with her; and Arthur fell in with her game, and kissed her and clipped her, and then drew his sword and said:  By All-hallows I shall smite off her head if she but lay a finger on thee.

So they played like two happy children till they came to the door of the house, and Birdalone shoved it open, and they two looked in together and saw nought worse therein save the strange shadows that the moon cast from the settle on to the floor.  Then Birdalone drew in her love, and went about lighting the candles and quickening a little cooking fire on the hearth, till the yellow light chased the moon away from the bed of their desire.

Next: Chapter XXIX. Those Twain Will Seek the Wisdom of the Wood-Wife