Transcribed from the 1913 Longmans, Green, and Co. edition by DavidPrice, email firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WOOD BEYOND THE WORLD
BY WILLIAM MORRIS
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDONNEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA1913
CHAPTER I: OF GOLDEN WALTER AND HIS FATHER
Awhile ago there was a young man dwelling in a great and goodly city bythe sea which had to name Langton on Holm. He was but of five andtwenty winters, a fair-faced man, yellow-haired, tall and strong; ratherwiser than foolisher than young men are mostly wont; a valiant youth, anda kind; not of many words but courteous of speech; no roisterer, noughtmasterful, but peaceable and knowing how to forbear: in a fray a perilousfoe, and a trusty war-fellow. His father, with whom he was dwellingwhen this tale begins, was a great merchant, richer than a baron of theland, a head-man of the greatest of the Lineages of Langton, and acaptain of the Porte; he was of the Lineage of the Goldings, thereforewas he called Bartholomew Golden, and his son Golden Walter.
Now ye may well deem that such a youngling as this was looked upon by allas a lucky man without a lack; but there was this flaw in his lot,whereas he had fallen into the toils of love of a woman exceeding fair,and had taken her to wife, she nought unwilling as it seemed. But whenthey had been wedded some six months he found by manifest tokens, thathis fairness was not so much to her but that she must seek to thefoulness of one worser than he in all ways; wherefore his rest departedfrom him, whereas he hated her for her untruth and her hatred of him; yetwould the sound of her voice, as she came and went in the house, make hisheart beat; and the sight of her stirred desire within him, so that helonged for her to be sweet and kind with him, and deemed that, might itbe so, he should forget all the evil gone by. But it was not so; forever when she saw him, her face changed, and her hatred of him becamemanifest, and howsoever she were sweet with others, with him she was hardand sour.
So this went on a while till the chambers of his father's house, yea thevery streets of the city, became loathsome to him; and yet he called tomind that the world was wide and he but a young man. So on a day as hesat with his father alone, he spake to him and said: "Father, I was onthe quays even now, and I looked on the ships that were nigh boun, andthy sign I saw on a tall ship that seemed to me nighest boun. Will itbe long ere she sail?"
"Nay," said his father, "that ship, which hight the Katherine, will theywarp out of the haven in two days' time. But why askest thou of her?"
"The shortest word is best, father," said Walter, "and this it is, that Iwould depart in the said ship and see other lands."
"Yea and whither, son?" said the merchant.
"Whither she goeth," said Walter, "for I am ill at ease at home, as thouwottest, father."
The merchant held his peace awhile, and looked hard on his son, for therewas strong love between them; but at last he said: "Well, son, maybe itwere best for thee; but maybe also we shall not meet again."
"Yet if we do meet, father, then shalt thou see a new man in me."
"Well," said Bartholomew, "at least I know on whom to lay the loss ofthee, and when thou art gone, for thou shalt have thine own way herein,she shall no longer abide in my house. Nay, but it were for the strifethat should arise thenceforth betwixt her kindred and ours, it should gosomewhat worse with her than that."
Said Walter: "I pray thee shame her not more than needs must be, lest, sodoing, thou shame both me and thyself also."
Bartholomew held his peace again for a while; then he said: "Goeth shewith child, my son?"
Walter reddened, and said: "I wot not; nor of whom the child may be."Then they both sat silent, till Bartholomew spake, saying: "The end of itis, son, that this is Monday, and that thou shalt go aboard in the smallhours of Wednesday; and meanwhile I shall look to it that thou go notaway empty-handed; the skipper of the Katherine is a good man and true,and knows the seas well; and my servant Robert the Low, who is clerk ofthe lading, is trustworthy and wise, and as myself in all matters thatlook towards chaffer. The Katherine is new and stout-builded, andshould be lucky, whereas she is under the ward of her who is the saintcalled upon in the church where thou wert christened, and myself beforethee; and thy mother, and my father and mother all lie under the chancelthereof, as thou wottest."
Therewith the elder rose up and went his ways about his business, andthere was no more said betwixt him and his son on this matter.