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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 220 pages of information about Alfgar the Dane or the Second Chronicle of Aescendune.

November 2d.—­

This morning we said the office and mass for the dead, as usual on All Souls’ Day.  My brother Elfwyn and his children were, of course, present.  That boy, Bertric, with all his boyish spirit and brightness, is very pious.  It was a sight which I thought might gladden their guardian angels to see him and his sister kneeling with clasped hands at their uncle Elfric’s tomb, and when service was over, they made me tell them the old old story about the first Elfric, the brother of my father, and how my father rescued him when the old castle was burnt {iii}.

When I had told them the story, I saw my brother was anxious to say a few words to me.

“Cuthbert,” he said, “have you seen the young Dane, Alfgar, lately?”

“Not very long since,” I replied; “he was at mass yesterday.”

“Because I believe the lad longs to be a Christian, but does not dare speak to any one.”

“He fears his stern father.”

“Yes, Anlaf might slay him if he was to be baptized; yet baptized I am sure he will be, sooner or later.”

“Does the boy love his father, I wonder?” said I, musingly.

“Doubtless; it would be unnatural did he not; but perhaps he loves the memory of his mother yet more.  We both knew her, Cuthbert.”

“Yes, when she was a bright-hearted merry village maiden.  Poor Kyneswith!”

“For her sake, then, let us both try to do something for the boy.”

“With all my heart.  I will seek an opportunity of speaking to him, perhaps he may unburden his mind.”

“Have you seen Edric the sheriff?” asked Elfwyn.

“Not lately.  Has he been here?”

“He has, and there was something in connection with his visit which troubled me.  He had been telling me for a long time about the cruelties and insolence of the Danes, when he added, in a marked manner, that they might go too far, for hundreds of their countrymen, like Anlaf here, were living unprotected amongst us.”

“What could he mean?”

“I understood him to hint that we might revenge ourselves upon them, and replied that whatever their countrymen might be guilty of, our neighbours would, of course, always be safe amongst Christians.”

“What did he reply?”

“He changed the subject.”

Elfwyn said no more, but bade me goodbye and returned to the castle; still I saw that he was a little discomposed by the sheriff’s words.  I don’t like that sheriff; he is a cruel and a crafty man; but I daresay his words were only the expression of a passing thought.

CHAPTER II.  “ALFGAR, SON OF ANLAF.”

Sunday, November 6th.—­

Today I noticed Alfgar, the son of Anlaf, at the high mass, and felt a little discomposed at the relaxation of discipline, which, contrary to the canons of the church, permits the unbaptized, as well as persons who ought rightly to be deemed excommunicate, or at least penitents, to be present at the holy mysteries.

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