But she was more than satisfied with our news; and when she saw that Havelok was silent, she made some curious draught of herbs for him, which he swallowed, protesting, and after that he slept peacefully.
I went out to the marketplace and found a man whom I knew—one of those who carried our fish at times; and him I sent, with promise of two silver pennies presently, to Arngeir for my arms, telling him that all was well.
CHAPTER IX. CURAN THE PORTER.
There is no need for me to say how my arms came to me from Grimsby, and how I went to Eglaf as I had promised. I will only say that the life was pleasant enough, if idle, as a housecarl, and that I saw Havelok every day at one time or another, which was all that I could wish.
But as I had to wait a day or two while the messenger went and the arms came from home, I saw Havelok meet the steward on the next day: and a quaint meeting enough it was, for Berthun hardly knew how he should behave to this man, whom he had made up his mind was a wandering prince.
There was the crowd who waited for the call for porters, as ever; hut the steward would have none of them, until he saw his new man towering over the rest, and then he half made a motion to unbonnet, which he checked and turned into a beckoning wave of the hand, whereon the idlers made their rush for him, and Havelok walked through and over them, more or less, as they would not make way for him. But so good-naturedly was this done, that even those whom he lifted from his path and dropped on one side laughed when they saw who had cleared a way for himself, and stood gaping to see what came next.
“Ho—why, yes—Curan—that was the name certainly. I have been looking for you, as we said,” stammered the steward.
“Here am I, therefore,” answered Havelok, “and where is the load?”
“Truth to tell, I have bought but this at present,” said the steward, pointing to a small basket of green stuff on the stall at which he stood.
“Well, I suppose there is more to come,” Havelok said, taking it up; “it will be a beginning.”
“I will not ask you to carry more than that,” Berthun began.
“Why, man, this is foolishness. If you have a porter, make him carry all he can, else he will not earn his keep.”
“As you will,” answered the steward, shrugging his shoulders as one who cannot account for some folk’s whims, and going on to the next booth.
Now, I suppose that the idlers looked to see Havelok walk away with this light load gladly, as any one of them would have done, and that then their turn would have come; but this was not what they expected. Maybe they would have liked to see the strong man sweep up all the palace marketing and carry it, as a show, but it might interfere with their own gains. So there was a murmur or two among them, and this grew when Havelok took the next burden in like manner.