Now, coming from bright sunshine into the cool shadow of the place, I was dazzled at first; but Kolgrim’s eyes were quick, and we had hardly crossed the threshold, if I might call it so, when he plucked at my cloak.
“Master,” he whispered, “let me bide with the men; this is no place for me.”
“Hush,” I whispered; “the king is yonder.”
“Ay, master—let me go—the king is Godred whom I jested with.”
Harek was smiling, and he pulled Kolgrim forward.
“Have no fear,” he said; “those who play bowls expect rubs.”
Then the king came down from his throne and towards us. He had on gilded armour beneath his long, ermine-trimmed blue cloak, and that pleased me. He had sword and seax, but no helm, though that was on a table by the throne—for he wore a crown.
Then I too saw that Godred, as he called himself, was, as the scald had guessed rightly, the king, and I was a little angry that he had tricked me thus. But he was laughing at Kolgrim as he came, and my anger passed at once. King or thane, here was a pleasant greeting enough.
He held out his hand to Odda first and then to me. The Saxon kissed it, bending one knee, which was doubtless right for him, as owning allegiance thereto. But I shook hands in our own way, saying:
“Skoal to Alfred the king.”
Which seemed to please him, for he answered:
“Welcome to King Ranald. I am glad my letter brought you. My counsellor, Godred, feared you might not care to come.”
“The letter turned the scale, lord king,” I said. “Yet I would have you remember what I said yesterday about my kingship.”
“Ay, cousin, I mind it,” he answered, laughing. “Also I mind that a king’s son is a king’s son, whatever else he may be called.”
Then he shook hands with Harek, and after that turned to Kolgrim, holding out his hand also to him.
“Concerning sails,” he said gravely, “I have many questions to ask you. Is it to the starboard hand that the bolt rope goes, or to the other board?”
“I pray you to forget my foolishness, lord king,” cried Kolgrim, growing very red and shame faced.
“That I shall not,” the king answered, laughing. “I owe you thanks for such a jest as I have not played on a man for many a long day. Truly I have been more light hearted for my laugh ever since.”
“Ay, lord, you had the laugh of me,” Kolgrim said, grinning uneasily.
Then the king nodded gaily to him and asked who Thord was.
“This is my master in sea craft,” said Odda. “Verily I fear him as I have feared no man since I was at school. But he cured the seasickness of me.”
“Maybe I forgot the sickness when I sent landsmen to sea in all haste,” said the king. “Nevertheless, Thord, how fought they when blows were going?”
“Well enough, king. And I will say that what I tried to teach them they tried to learn,” answered Thord.