So I put the arm back, for when once the trick is learned there is not, as a rule, much trouble. But Griffin never thanked me. He left that to his seconds, who did so well enough.
Then Ragnar came forward and said gravely, “I was wrong when I called you ‘nidring,’ and I take back the word and ask you to forget it. No man who is that will face the Danish axe as you have faced it, and I will say that the British sword is a thing to be feared.”
But Griffin made no answer, and when Ragnar held out his hand he would not see it.
“Maybe I have not yet made amends,” Ragnar went on. “I will add, therefore, as I know that my words will go no farther, that I am sure that the thing concerning which we quarrelled yesterday was done by you at the orders of another. It was not your own doing, and no thought of cowardice is in my mind now.”
But Griffin never answered; and now he turned his back on the earl, who was plainly grieved, and said no more to him, but turned to us and the two Welshmen.
“I do not think that I can say more. If there is aught that is needed, tell me. We have fought a fair fight, and I have taken back the words that caused it.”
Then said Cadwal, “No more is needed. I did not think that we had met with so generous a foe. If Griffin will say naught, we say this for him. He has no cause for enmity left. And I say also that he has to thank this thane for his life as well as the earl.”
“No thane am I,” said Havelok, “but only Havelok Grimsson of Grimsby. And even that name is set aside for a while, so that I must ask you to forget it. I have seen a good fight, if a short one, and one could not smite a wounded man who forgot himself for a moment.”
There was nothing more to be had from Griffin, for we waited a minute or two in silence to see if he would speak, and then we saluted and left the wood.
The last thing that I saw seemed to be a matter of high words between Griffin and his seconds; and, indeed, if they were telling him what they thought, it is likely that he wished he had been more courteous. It is easy enough for a man who wants a quarrel to have done with one and then start another.
We went quietly back to the town, and there was only one thing that I wished, and that was that Havelok had not had to tell his name twice. Ragnar was full of thanks to us for our help, and said that he would that we would come to Norfolk with him.
“We have a man who knows you also,” he said, “but he has been with our princess for a long time now. He is called Mord, and is her chamberlain. He has often told me how he came by his wry-neck at the time of your shipwreck.”
So he said, and looked at Havelok. But this was a thing that he had not seen, as he was so sick at the time. I said that I remembered Mord well, and would seek him some time in the day.