THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 21: THE PILGRIMS
"How is trade?" I asked.
"Ye will note that I have but these four left; yet were they sixteen
whenas I got me from Camelot."
"Why, you have certainly done nobly, Sir Ozana. Where have you
been foraging of late?"
"I am but now come from the Valley of Holiness, please you sir."
"I am pointed for that place myself. Is there anything stirring
in the monkery, more than common?"
"By the mass ye may not question it!.... Give him good feed,
boy, and stint it not, an thou valuest thy crown; so get ye lightly
to the stable and do even as I bid.... Sir, it is parlous news
I bring, and--be these pilgrims? Then ye may not do better, good
folk, than gather and hear the tale I have to tell, sith it
concerneth you, forasmuch as ye go to find that ye will not find,
and seek that ye will seek in vain, my life being hostage for my
word, and my word and message being these, namely: That a hap
has happened whereof the like has not been seen no more but once
this two hundred years, which was the first and last time that
that said misfortune strake the holy valley in that form by
commandment of the Most High whereto by reasons just and causes
thereunto contributing, wherein the matter--"
"The miraculous fount hath ceased to flow!" This shout burst from
twenty pilgrim mouths at once.
"Ye say well, good people. I was verging to it, even when ye spake."
"Has somebody been washing again?"
"Nay, it is suspected, but none believe it. It is thought to be
some other sin, but none wit what."
"How are they feeling about the calamity?"