He was silent for a while, and I thought that he had no more to say, and I knew that he had spoken rightly of what each was best fitted for, but he went on once more.
“This is my will, therefore, that to you shall Havelok be as the eldest brother from this time forward, that these places shall not have to come suddenly to you hereafter. Then will you know that I have spoken rightly, though maybe it seems hard to Radbard and Raven now, they being so much older.”
Then I said truly that already Havelok was first in our hearts. And that was true, for he was as a king among us—a king who was served by all with loving readiness, and yet one who served all. Maybe that is just what makes a good king when all is said and done.
Then my father bade us carry him out of the house and down to the shore where there was a lonely place in the sandhills, covered with the sweet, short grass that the sheep love; and, while Raven and I bore him, Withelm went and brought Havelok.
“This is well, father,” he said gladly. “I had not thought you strong enough to come thus far.”
“Maybe it is the last time that I come living out of the house,” Grim said; “but there is one thing yet to be done, and it must be done here. See, son Havelok, these are your brothers in all but blood, and they must be that also in the old Danish way.”
“Nothing more is needed, father,” Havelok said, wondering. “I have no brothers but these of mine, and they could be no more so.”
Thereat my father smiled, as well content, but he said that the ancient way must he kept.
“But I am sorely weak,” he added. “Fetch hither Arngeir.”
It was because of this illness that none of us were at the fishing on that day, and Arngeir was not long in coming. And while we waited for that little while my father was silent, looking ever northward to the land that he had given up for Havelok; and I think that foster-son of his knew it, for he knelt beside him and set his strong arm round him, saying nothing. So Arngeir came with Raven, who went for him, and my father told him what he needed to be done; and Arngeir said that it was well thought of, and went to work with his seax on the smooth turf.
He cut a long strip where it seemed to be toughest, leaving the ends yet fast, and carefully he raised it and stretched it until it would make an arch some three spans high, and so propped it at either end with more turf that it stayed in that position.
Then my father said, “This is the old custom, that they who are of different family should be brothers indeed. Out of one earth should they be made afresh, as it were, that on the face of earth they shall be one. Pass therefore under the arch, beginning with Havelok.”
Then, while my father spoke strange and ancient runes, Havelok did as he was bidden, kneeling down and creeping under the uplifted turf; and as I came after him he gave me his hand and raised me, and so with each of the other two. And then, unbidden, Arngeir followed, for he too loved Havelok, and would fain be his brother indeed.