Now, as I have said, none but Withelm thought twice about these things; but in the end the love of the marsh folk was a thing that was needed, and that Withelm had learned somewhat of their faith was the greatest help that could be, as will be seen.
True are the words of the Havamal, the song of the wisdom of Odin, which say, “One may know and no other, but all men know if three know.”
Therefore for all these years my father told none of us the secret of Havelok’s birth; and when Arngeir married my sister Solva he made him take oath that he would not tell what he knew to her, while she, being but a child at the time of the flight, had forgotten how this well-loved brother of hers came to us. But it happened once that Grim was sick, and it seemed likely that he would die, so that this secret weighed on him, and he did not rightly know what to do for the best, Havelok at the time being but seventeen, and the time that he should think of his own place not being yet come. At that time he told Arngeir all that he foresaw, and set things in order, that we three should not be backward when need was.
He called us to him, Havelok not being present, and spoke to us.
“Sons,” he said, “well have you all obeyed me all these years, and I think that you will listen to me now, for I must speak to you of Havelok, who came to us as you know. Out of his saving from his foes came our flight here; and I will not find fault with any of the things that happened, for they have turned out well, save that it seems that I may never see the land of my birth again, and at times I weary for it. For me Denmark seems to lie within the four square of the ancient stones; but if you will do my bidding, you and Havelok shall see her again, though how I cannot tell.”
Then I could hardly speak for trouble, but Withelm said softly, “As we have been wont to do, father, so it shall be.”
“Well shall my word be kept, therefore,” Grim said, smiling on us. “Listen, therefore. In the days to come, when time is ripe, Arngeir shall tell you more of Havelok your foster-brother, and there will be signs enough by which he shall know that it is time to speak. And then Havelok will need all the help that you can give him; and as your lord shall you serve him, with both hands, and with life itself if need be. And I seem to see that each of you has his place beside him—Radbard as his strong helper, and Raven as his watchful comrade, and Withelm as his counsellor. For ‘Bare is back without brother behind it,’ son Radbard and ‘Ere one goes out, give heed to the doorways,’ son Raven; and ‘Wisdom is wanted by him who fares widely’ son Withelm. So say the old proverbs, and they are true. No quarreller is Havelok; but if he must fight, that will be no playground. Careful is he; but he has met with no guile as yet, and he trusts all men. Slow to think, if sure, are so mighty frames as his becomes, even when quick wit is needed.”