“Well,” said Eglaf, “this is about what I expected when your brother came. Good it has been to have you here; and I think that I shall see you as a housecarl for good yet. When do you go?”
“The first time that I do not turn up on guard I am gone, not till then.”
“Come and drink a farewell cup first.”
“I shall be in a great hurry if I do not do that,” I answered, laughing.
But it was my thought that maybe when once my back was turned on the town, I should not have time to think of going near King Alsi’s guard.
Then I went to find Ragnar the earl, for we thought it well that he should know what was on hand. But when I came to the house of the thane with whom he was quartered, they told me that he had gone hastily with all his men, for word had come of some rising in his land that must be seen to at once. That was bad; and as one must find a reason for everything, I thought that the going of Griffin had much to do with the outbreak. There I was wrong, as I found later. But then, too, I knew that the craft of Alsi was at work in this message. He had his own reasons for wishing the earl out of the way.
Long spoke Withelm and the priest David together, until it was time for them to seek the palace; and when they came there, they spoke to Mord also. Then David thought it was well to say naught to Havelok until more was learned from Goldberga herself, for he would soon see how things stood with her. Then he would see Withelm again, and they would plan together for the best. So Withelm waited for the return of the priest, whom Mord took to his mistress. Alsi and his men were supping in the hall, but Goldberga was waiting in her own chamber.
Now the princess thought that, after her message to the king, she would hear no more of the kitchen knave, and so was happier. But all the while she pondered over her dream the thought of Havelok must needs come into it, and that was troublesome. Nevertheless, it was not to be helped, seeing that there was no doubt at all that he and the man of the vision were like to each other as ever were twins. Wherefore if the thought of one must be pleasant so at last must be that of the other. And then came the nurse with tales of what Berthun thought of this man of his—how that he was surely a wandering prince, with a vow of service on him, like Gareth of the Round Table in the days of Arthur.
So presently it seemed to the princess that the churl was gone, as it were, and in his place was a wandering atheling, at least, who was not a terror at all. Then at length the slow time wore away until Mord came with David the priest.
No priestly garb had the old man on, for that had made his danger certain; but though he was clad in a thrall’s rough dress, he was not to be mistaken for aught but a most reverend man.