Then I said, with a great pity on me for this lady whom I had known so proud and careless:
“Lady, I do forgive with all my heart. I do not think that you could have stood aloof from your father, and I do not think that you are so much to blame in all the trouble as you would seem to make me believe. In all truth I do forgive.”
She looked searchingly at me while I spoke, and what she saw in my face was enough to tell her that she had all she needed, and with one word of thanks she went back to the ladies, and one of them took her from the room.
“She goes into my new nunnery at Glastonbury tomorrow, Oswald,” the queen said, “and now she will rest content. It was a good chance that brought you here today, my Thane, for she had begged me to send for you, and that I could hardly do, seeing that one knows not where to find you from day to day. I could tell her truly that I knew I could win your forgiveness: but that would not have been enough for her, I think.”
So Mara passed into the nunnery, and unless she has been one of the veiled sisters whom one sees in their places at the time of mass, I do not know that I have ever set eyes on her again. I do not think that it was the saddest end for her.
All that winter, and through the spring, men toiled at the great fortress, but Ina went back presently to Glastonbury, or to others of his houses, after his wont, now and then riding even from far to us to see how all went. And I was fully busy in the new province, for we made a roll of those who owned land there, that all might be known to the king, and that matter was set in my hand for those reasons which had made me useful already in quieting the country. Moreover, the years at Malmesbury had made me able to write well, and now I was glad that I had learnt, though indeed it went sorely against the grain with me to do so at the time. Truly, I had to go on this errand of the king’s with sword in one hand and pen in the other, but I daresay I did better, and fared less roughly, than would one who could not speak to the British freemen in their own tongue. At least, if a man was sullen when I came to him, he was, as a rule, pretty friendly when I left, for he knew that no harm was meant him, and that to be on this roll meant that on his lands he was to bide in peace.
And I may not forget that Evan helped me greatly in the matter, for he knew almost all of the best freemen.
When the walls were strong, in the midst of the new fortress they built a good house for Ina, and we thought that he meant to live here at times, for he had it fully furnished, even to the rushes on the floor, after Easter. By that time I had leisure to spend the holy season with the court at Glastonbury, for there was peace everywhere. And there I had a visit from Thorgils, who brought good news from across the sea. He had made his first voyage of the year, and had seen Owen, who was himself again, if yet weak.