The Well at the World's End Volume II
by William Morris

Synopsis

This synopsis will contain spoilers!

Book Three. The Road to the Well at the World's End. Redhead is waiting for Ralph with horses just as they had agreed. However, Redhead confesses that he was put up to this by Agatha. He takes her to Agatha, who was originally planning on brining Ralph to the Queen of Utterbol. Upon seeing Ralph, though, she falls in love and decides to free him. Soon after, he runs into Ursula (who in Volume I he dreamed was named Dorothea). She had escaped from Utterbol, but would not tell Ralph of her time there because it was so unpleasant.

They ride together towards the mountains, and soon come across the Sage of Swevenham. The Sage spends several days telling teaching them what they need to know on the way to the well. Ralph has great love for Ursula, but she is slightly aloof. Riders from Utterbol find them in the night, but the Sage makes the riders see a skeleton and a rock. They flee in horror. Next, they come across the Sea of Molten Rocks - the remnants of once active lava flows. They clear these and come to the Gate of the Mountains, where the Sage leaves them until they are able to return from the Well.

Shortly after they arrive at the Vale of Sweet Chestnuts where they will spend the winter months. While there, Ursula is attacked by a bear while bathing. Ralph saves her, but then vows to marry her before anything else bad can happen to her. She agrees, but says they must wait until there are others to witness the union. That day, the Messengers of the Innocent Folk arrive, and the next day they are married. They leave with the Messengers and soon arrive at the Land of the Innocent Folk. They then guide them to the house of the Sorceress where the Lady of Abundance first lived, prior to drinking from the Well.

They leave from the house of the Sorceress by themselves, and make their way to the Thirsty Desert. Along the way they see many dead bodies, up until they come to the Dry Tree. Here, the tree is surrounded by countless bodies. Ralph is about to drink, but Ursula stops him, and they see a crow drink, and then immediately die. They continue on and soon escape the desert entirely. Finally, the arrive at the Ocean Sea (which surrounds the entire world) and the next day, during low-tide, they descend to the ocean floor and drink of the Well at the World's End. Joyously, they begin making their way back from the Well.

Book Four. The Road Home. Their trip from the Well all the way back through the Mountain pass is uneventful. Once through the Mountains, they meet up with the Sage again, who tells them how Utterbol's Lord has been killed and replaced. Things are much happier in Utterbol now with the new Lord. They spend the winter with the Sage and then head to Vale Turris, where they learn that the new Lord of Utterbol is Bull Nosey. He had become a travelling minstrel, and when he came before the former Lord, he killed him. Everyone was so happy the tyrant was dead they installed him as the new Lord.

They meet up with Readhead who leads them from Vale Turris. He helped Agatha escape and was hoping to marry her. They fight a small skirmish in the Waste just before Goldburg. When they return to Goldburg, they learn that the Queen fled after Ralph had left for love of him. In Cheaping Knowe, Ralph confronts the King to get help and passage to the mountains. The king lets him pass, but Michael of Swevenham tells them that the King plans to kill him outside the city. Michael leads them around the attack, but just before the mountains the King has set up an ambush. They fight, and with the help of Bull Nosey's kinsman (who had been told of their coming) they are victorious.

They return next to Whitwall, where they part ways with Michael and meet up with Richard - who helped Ralph's brother find fortune in Whitwall. Next, they come to the cave where the Lady of Abundance was killed. They are suddenly attacked by a wild-man, but Ralph fends him off. He comes to his senses, and they discover it is the tall man Ralph first met outside the church, who served the Lady. He dies from his wounds. Next, they pass the castle of Abundance, where Ralph promises to return as Lord with Ursula.

In the surrounding woods they come across Roger, who hates Ursula for her taking the place of the Lady. Roger reveals that the Wheat-weavers have taken over the Burg, and driven out all its men. The group joins up with the Champions of the Dry Tree, for Ralph now fears something is amiss in Upmeads. The journey continues, and they begin to learn that the escaped Burgers are headed to Upmeads. Ralph and Ursula are made Lord and Lady of Scaur and of those of the Dry Tree. They join up with a group of shepherds as well.

In Wulstead Ralph sees his father and mother again (they have fled Upmeads for fear of attack), and they are introduced to Ursula. Ralph speaks with Katherine, his gossip, who reveals that she was tasked with giving a young man the beads by the same woman who taught the Lady of Abundance the way to the Well.

They go down to Upmeads and battle the Burgers. They succeed - for the Burgers fled in terror at the very sight of Ralph, Friend of the Well. Ralph brings his mother and father back, then Ursula. Ralph and Ursula are installed as King and Queen of Upmeads

Ralph and Ursula have a long, happy life together. They clear out the thieves from the woods nearby and see Bully Nosey and others many times over their lives, as well as all their other friends. They remained youthful and lovely until they died, both on the same day together.

Reviews

The Well at the World's End Volume II - Paperback

First of all, it's worth getting out of the way that I absolutely loved reading the rest of Ralph's adventures in this, volume II. It's unfortunate that ...

- June 19, 2010

Quotes

"'Alas!' she said, 'and had I lain in thine arms an hundred times, or an hundred times an hundred, should not the world be barren to me, wert thou gone from it, and that could never more be?'"

William Morris in The Well at the World's End Volume II

"Now was the night worn to the time appointed, for it was two hours after midnight, so he stepped out of his tent clad in all his war gear, and went straight to the doddered oak, and found Redhead there with but one horse, wherby Ralph knew that he held to his purpose of going his ways to Utterbol: so he took him by the shoulders and embraced him, rough carle as he was, and Redhead kneeled to him one moment of time and then arose and went off into the night."

William Morris the First Line of The Well at the World's End Volume II

"AND HERE ENDS THE TALE OF THE WELL AT THE WORLD'S END."

William Morris the Last Line of in The Well at the World's End Volume II

Originally Published Jan. 1, 1896

Paperback edition:

242 pages - Jan. 1, 1972

Book Keywords

Related Books