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The Water of the Wondrous Isles
by William Morris
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The witch-wife took Birdalone from her mother when she was young, and raised the girl-child well enough, if not altogether happily. And perhaps there was a reason for all those things: as Birdalone matured, she took counsel from Habundia, a woman of the wood where the witch-wife feared to follow. She warns Birdalone that the only hope of escape is by water . . . and soon enough, Birdalone will escape from the witch-wife. And the act of that escape will begin a quest by sea . . .
Hah, thrall! said the lady, thou art bold; thou art over-bold, thou naked wretch, to bandy words with me. What heed I thy tale now thou art under my hand? Her voice was cold rather than fierce, yet was there the poison of malice therein. But Birdalone spake: If I be bold, lady, it is because I see that I have come into the House of Death. The dying may well be bold.
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