Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  William Morris  Index  Previous 

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


Now when seven days were worn, the mayor made a great feast at his house, and thither were bidden all the men of the porte and other worthies, and great merchants who had come into their town; and the said feast was given in honour of these new-comers, and that day they sat on the dais, and all the guests worshipped them and wondered at their beauty; and nought was spoken of for many days save the glory and hope that there was in this lovely folk.

But the next day after the feast were they brought to their house in all triumph; and it was as fair as might be thought of, and there they dwelt a while in rest and peace, and great recourse there was there of Gerard and his sons.

But ere the winter was over, were Hugh and Arthur and Gerard and his sons taken to the freedom of Utterhay; and thereafter spake the chief men of the porte and the masters of the crafts unto the two knights by the mouth of the mayor; and he told them, what already they partly knew, that the good town had of late gotten many enemies, whereas it was wealthy and not very strong, and that now two such warriors having come amongst them, they were minded to strengthen themselves, if only they two would of their gentleness and meekness become their war-dukes to lead them against the foemen.  But the two friends answered that it was well their will to dwell there neighbourly, and do them all the help they might, and that they would not gainsay the worship they offered them nor the work that should go with it.

With that answer were all men well content and more:  and then the mayor said that the mind of the porte it was to strengthen the walls and the gates, and to build a good and fair castle, meet for any earl, joining on to the wall by the face that looked west, that is to say, on to Evilshaw; and that liked the war-dukes well.

So when spring came it was set about, but it was five years adoing, and before it was all finished the war-dukes entered into it, and dwelt there with their wives and their friends in all honour.  And a little thereafter, whether they would or no, the men of Utterhay had to handle weapons and fare afield to meet the foe with the valiant men of the crafts, and what of waged men they might get.  And well and valiantly were they led by their dukes, and they came to their above, and gained both wealth and honour thereby; and from that time forward began the increase of Utterhay under those two captains, who were unto them as in old time the consuls had been unto the Roman folk, save that they changed them not year by year as the Romans were wont.

So wore the days, and all those friends dwelt together in harmony and joy; though the wearing of time wrought changes amongst them.  For Robert Gerardson began in no long while to look on Aurea with eyes of love; and at last he came to Birdalone and craved her leave to woo the said lady, and she granted it with a good will, and was fain thereof, whereas she saw that Aurea sorely lacked a mate; and scarce might she have a better than was Robert; so in process of time they two were wedded and dwelt together happily.

Forsooth Birdalone had been fainer yet might she have seen Giles Gerardson and Atra drawn together.  But though they were dear friends and there was much converse betwixt them, this betid not, so far as we have heard.

The old Gerard dwelt happily amongst them all for fifteen years after they had come to Utterhay, and then fell asleep, a very old man.

As to the wood of Evilshaw, it was not once a year only that Birdalone and Arthur sought thither and met the wood-mother, but a half-score of times or more, might be, in the year's circle; and ever was she kind and loving with them, and they with her.

But of all those fellows it was Atra that had longest dealings with the wood-wife; for whiles would she leave Utterhay and her friends and fare lonesome up into Evilshaw, and find Habundia and abide with her in all kindness holden for a month or more.  And ever a little before these departures betid would she fall moody and few-spoken, but she came back ever from the wood calm and kind and well-liking. Amidst all these comings and goings somewhat wore off the terror of Evilshaw; yet never was it accounted other than a daring deed to enter it alone without fellowship; and most had liefer that some man of religion were of their company therein, or they would bear about them something holy or blessed to hold the evil things.

Now when all this hath been said, we have no more to tell about this company of friends, the most of whom had once haunted the lands about the Water of the Wondrous Isles, save that their love never sundered, and that they lived without shame and died without fear.  So here is an end.