For the fair princess had won her own, and there was naught but gladness.
CHAPTER XXIV. PEACE, AND FAREWELL.
Now there was feasting enough, and somewhere they found at a thane’s house a great tent, and they set that up, so that Havelok and Goldberga might have their own court round them, as it were. Gladly did Berthun rid himself of war gear and take to his old trade again. I suppose that the little Tetford valley had never heard the like sounds of rejoicing before.
Near midnight a man came to me and said that a message had come to me from the other side, and I rose from the board and went out, to find Eglaf waiting for me in the moonlight. He was armed, and his face was wan and tired.
“Come apart, friend,” he said; “I have a message from the king.”
“No, to Havelok. But you must hear it first, and then tell him as you will.”
We walked away from the tent and across the hillside for some way, and then he said without more words, “This is the message that Alsi sends to Havelok, whose name was Curan. ’Forgive the things that are past, for many there are that need forgiving. I have no heir, and it is for myself that I have schemed amiss. In Lincoln town lies a great treasure, of which Eglaf and I alone know. Give it, I pray you, to your Danes, that they may harm the land not at all, and so shall I ward off some of the evil that might come through me even yet. I think that, after me, you shall be king.’”
“That is wise of Alsi; but is there no word for Goldberga?”
“Ay, but not by my mouth. I fetched David the priest two hours ago, and he bears those messages.”
“Is there yet more to say?” I asked, for it seemed to me that there was.
“There is,” he answered. “Alsi is dead.”
So there was an end of all his schemings, and I will say no more of them. It was Eglaf’s thought that it was not so much his hurts that had killed the king, but a broken heart because of this failure. For the second time now I knew that it is true that “old sin makes new shame.”
Now how we told Havelok this, and how Goldberga was somewhat comforted by the words that David the priest brought her from her uncle, there is no need to say. But when the news was known in all the host of Lindsey, there was a great gathering of all in the wide meadow, and we sat in the camp and wondered what end should be to the talk. Ragnar had come; but his host was now no great one, for we had sent word to him of the peace, and there was a great welcome for him and his men.
The Lindsey thanes did not talk long, and presently some half dozen of the best of them came to us, and said that with one accord the gathering would ask that Havelok and Goldberga should reign over them.
“We will answer for all in the land,” they said. “If there are other thanes who should have had a word in the matter, they are not here because, knowing more than we, they would not fight for Alsi in this quarrel. If there is any other man to be thought of, he cannot go against the word of the host.”