So Havelok smiled, and lifted his voice, and spoke.
“Stand by me, friends, as steadfastly as you have fought against me, and I shall be well content. And see, here is the queen for whom you will fight also. There is not one of you but will play the man under her eyes.”
Not many words or crafty, but men saw his face, and heard that which was in the voice, and they needed no word of reward to come, but shouted as we had shouted when the bride came home to Grimsby, and I thought that with the shout the throne of Hodulf was rocking.
CHAPTER XX. THE OWNING OF THE HEIR.
Worn out we were with that long fight, and we all had some small wounds —not much worth speaking of; and when these were seen to, we slept. Only my brother Raven waked, and he sat through all the rest of the short night on the high place, with his sword across his knees, watching, for he blamed himself, overmuch as we all thought, for the happenings of the attack.
“Trouble not, brother, for we were in the keeping of Biorn, and he could not have dreamt that foes could follow us over seas. It was not for you to be on guard.”
These were Withelm’s words, but for once Raven did not heed them.
“Would Grim, our father, have slept with a lee shore under him, leaving a stranger to keep watch? That is not how he taught me my duty; and I have been careless, and I know it. I should have thought of Griffin when I saw the ship come in.”
So he had his way, and the last that I saw ere my eyes closed was his stern form guarding us; and when I woke he was yet there, motionless, with far-off eyes that noted the little movement that I made, and glanced at me to see that all was well.
In the grey of the morning the first of the chiefs to whom the arrow had sped began to come in; but the jarl would not have Havelok waked, for he was greatly troubled at the little wounds that had befallen this long-waited guest. So the chiefs gathered very silently in the great hall, and sat waiting while the light broadened and shone, gleam by gleam, on their bright arms and anxious faces. It was not possible for those who had not yet seen Havelok to be all so sure that it was indeed he. They longed to see him, and to know him for the very son of Gunnar for themselves.
Presently there were maybe twenty chiefs in the hall—men who had fought beside Kirkeban, and men who had been boys with Havelok, and some who had known his grandfather—and the jarl thought that it was time that they had the surety that they needed, for time went on, and there was certainty that Hodulf must hear of all this morning. One could not expect that no man would earn reward by warning him.
So Sigurd went softly to the place where Havelok lay in the little guest chamber that opened out of the inner room that was the jarl’s own, and he slid the boards that closed it apart gently and looked in to wake him. But instead of doing that, he came back to the hall and beckoned the chiefs, and they rose and followed him silently. And when they went Raven went also, without a word, that he might be near his charge while these many strangers spoke with him.