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


Now April was gone, and May was come with the thorn a-blossoming, and there was Birdalone waxing still in loveliness.  And now the witch had left all girding at her even, and spake to her but little, save when she needs must.  But to Birdalone it seemed that she watched her exceeding closely.

Birdalone went oft to the wood, and learned yet more of lore:  but of the matter of the Departure, how it was to be gone about they spake no more, and great was the love betwixt them.

At last when May was worn nigh to June came Birdalone to the Oak of Tryst, and found the wood-mother there; and when they had talked a while, but ever from the teeth out, spake Habundia:  Though thou be now the wiser of us two maybe, yet have I wisdom to wot that this is the hour of our sundering, and that to-morrow thou wilt try the adventure of the Sending Boat:  is it not so?  Yea, mother, said Birdalone; I bid thee farewell now:  woe is me therefor!  Said Habundia:  And thou wilt deliver thyself into the hands of the witch, wilt thou, as thou saidst that other day?  Quoth Birdalone:  Is it not wisdom, dear mother, if I trust in my goodhap?  Alas, said the mother, it may be so when all is said.  But O my sad heart! and how I fear for thee!

My mother, my mother! said Birdalone, that I should make the days grievous unto thee! and thou who hast made my days so joyous!  But now canst thou not say of thy wisdom that we shall meet again?

The wood-woman sat down, and let her head fall over her knees, and was silent a long while; then she rose up and stood before Birdalone, and said:  Yea, we shall meet again, howsoever it may be.  Let us depart with that sweet word in the air between us.  Yet first thou shalt give me a tress of thine hair, as I did to thee when first we met; for by means of it may I know to-morrow how thou hast sped.

Even so did Birdalone, and this was the end of their talk, save broken words of lamentation as they said farewell.  And therewith for that while they sundered.


Next: Chapter XX. Of Birdalone and the Sending Boat