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CHAPTER 5 They Come on the Sage of Swevenham
 Night was at hand before they came to the stream that they sought. They found it cleaving the pine-wood, which held on till the very bank of it, and was thick again on the further side in a few yards' space. The stream was high-banked and ran deep and strong. Said Ursula as they came up to it: "We may not cross it, but it matters not; and it is to-morrow that we must ride up along it."  
So they abode there, and made a fire by the waterside, and watched there, turn and turn about, till it was broad day. Naught befell to tell of, save that twice in the night Ralph deemed that he heard a lion roar.
They got to horse speedily when they were both awake, and rode up the stream, and began to go up hill, and by noon were come into a rough and shaggy upland, whence from time to time they could see the huge wall of the mountains, which yet seemed to Ralph scarce nigher, if at all, than when he had beheld it ere he had come to Vale Turris. The way was rough day-long, and now and again they found it hard to keep the stream in sight, as especially when it cleft a hill, and ran between sheer cliffs with no low shore on either side.
They made way but slowly, so that at last Ralph lost patience somewhat, and said that he had but little hope of falling in with the Sage that day or any day. But Ursula was of good cheer, and mocked him merrily but sweetly, till his heart was lightened again. Withal she bade him seek some venison, since they were drawing out the time, and she knew not how long it would be ere they came to the Sage's dwelling. Therefore he betook him to the Turk bow, and shot a leash of heath-fowl, and they supped on the meat merrily in the wilderness.
But if they were merry, they were soon weary; for they journeyed on after sunset that night, since the moon was up, and there was no thick wood to turn dusk into dark for them. Their resting-place was a smooth piece of greensward betwixt the water and a half circle of steep bent that well nigh locked it about.
There then they abode, and in the stillness of the night heard a thundering sound coming down the wind to them, which they deemed was the roaring of distant waters; and when they went to the lip of the river they saw flocks of foam floating by, wherefore they thought themselves to be near some great mountain-neck whereover the water was falling from some high place. But with no to-do they lay down upon the greensward this second night of their fellowship, and waked later than on the day before; for so weary had they been, that they had kept but ill watch in the dark night, and none at all after dawn began to glimmer.
Now Ralph sat up and saw Ursula still sleeping; then he rose to his feet and looked about him, and saw their two horses cropping the grass under the bent, and beside them a man, tall and white bearded, leaning on his staff. Ralph caught up his sword and went toward the man, and the sun gleamed from the blade just as the hoary-one turned to him; he lifted up his staff as if in greeting to Ralph, and came toward him, and even therewith Ursula awoke and arose, and saw the greybeard at once; and she cried out: "Take heed to thy sword, fellow-farer, for, praised be the saints, this is the Sage of Swevenham!"
So they stood there together till the Sage came up to them and kissed them both, and said: "I am glad that ye are come at last; for I looked for you no later than this. So now mount your horses and come with me straightway; because life is short to them who have not yet drunk of the Well at the World's End. Moreover if ye chance to come on the riders of Utterbol, it shall go hard with you unless I be at hand."
Ralph saw of him that though he was an old hoar man to look on, yet he was strong and sturdy, tall, and of goodly presence, with ruddy cheeks, and red lips and bright eyes, and that the skin of his face and hands was nowise wrinkled: but about his neck was a pair of beads like unto his own gossip's gift.
So now they mounted at once, and with no more words he led them about the bent, and they came in a little while into the wood again, but this time it was of beech, with here and there an open place sprinkled about with hollies and thorns; and they rode down the wide slope of a long hill, and up again on the other side.
Thus they went for an hour, and the elder spake not again, though it might have been deemed by his eyes that he was eager and fain. They also held their peace; for the hope and fear of their hearts kept them from words.
They came to the hill-top, and found a plain land, though the close wood still held on a while; but soon they rode into a clearing of some twelve acres, where were fenced crofts with goats therein, and three garths of tillage, wherein the wheat-shocks were yet standing, and there were coleworts and other pot-herbs also. But at the further end, whereas the wood closed in again, was a little house builded of timber, strong and goodly, and thatched with wheat-straw; and beside it was a bubbling spring which ran in a brook athwart the said clearing; over the house-door was a carven rood, and a bow and short spear were leaned against the wall of the porch.
Ralph looked at all closely, and wondered whether this were perchance the cot wherein the Lady of Abundance had dwelt with the evil witch. But the elder looked on him, and said: "I know thy thought, and it is not so; that house is far away hence; yet shalt thou come thereto. Now, children, welcome t............
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