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CHAPTER 13 Of Ursula and the Bear
 It befell on a fair sunny morning of spring, that Ralph sat alone on the toft by the rock-house, for Ursula had gone down the meadow to disport her and to bathe in the river. Ralph was fitting the blade of a dagger to a long ashen shaft, to make him a strong spear; for with the waxing spring the bears were often in the meadows again; and the day before they had come across a family of the beasts in the sandy bight under the mountains; to wit a carle, and a quean with her cubs; the beasts had seen them but afar off, and whereas the men were two and the sun shone back from their weapons, they had forborne them; although they were fierce and proud in those wastes, and could not away with creatures that were not of their kind. So because of this Ralph had bidden Ursula not to fare abroad without her sword, which was sharp and strong, and she no weakling withal. He bethought him of this just as he had made an end of his spear-shaping, so therewith he looked aside and saw the said sword hanging to a bough of a little quicken-tree, which grew hard by the door. Fear came into his heart therewith, so he arose and strode down over the meadow hastily bearing his new spear, and girt with his sword. Now there was a grove of chestnuts betwixt him and the river, but on the other side of them naught but the green grass down to the water's edge.  
Sure enough as he came under the trees he heard a shrill cry, and knew that it could be naught save Ursula; so he ran thitherward whence came the cry, shouting as he ran, and was scarce come out of the trees ere he saw Ursula indeed, mother-naked, held in chase by a huge bear as big as a bullock: he shouted again and ran the faster; but even therewith, whether she heard and saw him, and hoped for timely help, or whether she felt her legs failing her, she turned on the bear, and Ralph saw that she had a little axe in her hand wherewith she smote hardily at the beast; but he, after the fashion of his kind, having risen to his hind legs, fenced with his great paws like a boxer, and smote the axe out of her hand, and she cried out bitterly and swerved from him and fell a running again; but the bear tarried not, and would have caught her in a few turns; but even therewith was Ralph come up, who thrust the beast into the side with his long-headed spear, and not waiting to pull it out again, drew sword in a twinkling, and smote a fore-paw off him and then drave the sword in over the shoulder so happily that it reached his heart, and he fell over dead with a mighty thump.
Then Ralph looked around for Ursula; but she had already run back to the river-side and was casting her raiment on her; so he awaited her beside the slain bear, but with drawn sword, lest the other bear should come upon them; for this was the he-bear. Howbeit he saw naught save presently Ursula all clad and coming towards him speedily; so he turned toward her, and when they met he cast himself upon her without a word, and kissed her greedily; and she forbore not at all, but kissed and caressed him as if she could never be satisfied.
So at last they drew apart a little, and walked quietly toward the rock-house hand in hand. And on the way she told him that even as she came up on to the bank from the water she saw the bear coming down on her as fast as he could drive, and so she but caught up her axe, and ran for it: "Yet I had little hope, dear friend," she said, "but that thou shouldst be left alone in the wilderness." And therewith she turned on him and cast her arms about him again, all weeping for joy of their two lives.
Thus slowly they came before the door of their rock-house and Ralph said: "Let us sit down here on the grass, and if thou art not over wearied with the flight and the battle, I will ask thee a question." She laid herself down on the grass with a sigh, yet it was as of one who sighs for pleasure and rest, and said, as he sat down beside her: "I am fain to rest my limbs and my body, but my heart is at rest; so ask on, dear friend."
The song of birds was all around them, and the scent of many blossoms went past on the wings of the west wind, and Ralph was silent a little as he looked at the loveliness of his friend; then he said: "This is the question; of what kind are thy kisses this morning, are they the kisses of a friend or a lover? Wilt thou not called me beloved and not friend? Shall not we two lie on the bridal bed this same night?"
She looked on him steadily, smiling, but for love and sweetness, not for shame and folly; then she said: "O, dear friend and dearest lover, three questions are these and not one; but I will answer all three as my heart biddeth me. And first, I will tell thee that my kisses are as thine; and if thine are aught but the kisses of love, then am I befooled. And next, I say that if thou wilt be my friend indeed, I will not spare to call thee beloved, or to be all thy friend. But as to thy third questio............
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