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CHAPTER 2 They Hear New Tidings of Utterbol
 It was on a fair evening of later autumn-tide that they won their way out of the Gates of the Mountains, and came under the rock of the Fighting Man. There they kissed and comforted each other in memory of the terror and loneliness wherewith they had entered the Mountains that other time; though, sooth to say, it was to them now like the reading of sorrow in a book.  
But when they came out with joyful hearts into the green plain betwixt the mountains and the River of Lava, they looked westward, and beheld no great way off a little bower or cot, builded of boughs and rushes by a blackthorn copse; and as they rode toward it they saw a man come forth therefrom, and presently saw that he was hoary, a man with a long white beard. Then Ralph gave a glad cry, and set spurs to his horse and galloped over the plain; for he deemed that it could be none other than the Sage of Swevenham; and Ursula came pricking after him laughing for joy. The old man abode their coming, and Ralph leapt off his horse at once, and kissed and embraced him; but the Sage said: "There is no need to ask thee of tidings; for thine eyes and thine whole body tell me that thou hast drunk of the Well at the World's End. And that shall be better for thee belike than it has been for me; though for me also the world has not gone ill after my fashion since I drank of that water."
Then was Ursula come up, and she also lighted down and made much of the Sage. But he said: "Hail, daughter! It is sweet to see thee so, and to wot that thou art in the hands of a mighty man: for I know that Ralph thy man is minded for his Father's House, and the deeds that abide him there; and I think we may journey a little way together; for as for me, I would go back to Swevenham to end my days there, whether they be long or short."
But Ralph said: "As for that, thou mayst go further than Swevenham, and as far as Upmeads, where there will be as many to love and cherish thee as at Swevenham."
The old man laughed a little, and reddened withal, but answered nothing.
Then they untrussed their sumpter-beast, and took meat and drink from his burden, and they ate and drank together, sitting on the green grass there; and the twain made great joy of the Sage, and told him the whole tale; and he told them that he had been abiding there since the spring-tide, lest they might have turned back without accomplishing their quest, and then may-happen he should have been at hand to comfort them, or the one of them left, if so it had befallen. "But," quoth he, "since ye have verily drunk of the Well at the World's End, ye have come back no later than I looked for you."
That night they slept in the bower there, and on the morrow betimes, the Sage drove together three or four milch goats that he pastured there, and went their ways over the plain, and so in due time entered into the lava-sea. But the first night that they lay there, though it was moonless and somewhat cloudy, they saw no glare of the distant earth-fires which they had looked for; and when on the morrow they questioned the Sage thereof, he said: "The Earth-fires ceased about the end of last year, as I have heard tell. But sooth it is that the foreboding of the Giant's Candle was............
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