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Charles Whistler
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 289 pages of information about King Olaf's Kinsman.

Chapter 12:  Among Friends.

When I woke it was daylight again.  A fire burnt on the hearth in the middle of the hall, and someone had spread a wolf-skin rug over me.  I had not moved from sunset to sunrise, and I was refreshed and broad awake at once, wondering at first where I was, and who had laughed and woke me.

There was a youth sitting on a table’s edge by the wall over against where I lay, and a big broad-shouldered man leant on it with folded arms beside him, and at first I stared at them till my thoughts came back, and they laughed at me again, and then I knew Godwine and Relf the thane, who had but just come up from their ship to find me.

“On my word,” said Godwine, “here is a man who could teach one how to sleep!  We have sat here and talked about you for ten minutes or more.”

“Redwald sleeps as though he had lost time to make up,” said Relf.  “Welcome back to us, anyway.”

“Aye—­welcome you are,” said Godwine warmly, “but how did you come here?”

I got up and took their hands, rejoicing to see them.  It was good to be among friends again after the long watching and many dangers.  Then came the steward followed by his men with a mighty breakfast, and as he set the tables on the high place, Godwine’s men trooped in.  They had had to wait for the morning tide into the haven, and the ship was just berthed.

“Food first,” Relf advised.  “Then shall Redwald tell us all he knows.”

So by and by we sat in the morning sunlight in the courtyard, and I told them all that had happened from beginning to end.  They knew no more than that Ethelred was dead, and that Cnut was besieging London.

“We tried to chase those Danes because they had got our man’s ship,” said Godwine.  “When we got near enough, for they came down wind and passed us before long, we found that Bertric was contented enough, running up his own flag, and the Danes did not stay to fight.  So we came home, only losing our tide by the delay.”

“What would you have done had you known that the queen was on board, and a prisoner?” I asked.

“Why, nothing more than we have done,” Godwine said.  “My father hates Emma the cat as bitterly as he does Streone the fox, which is saying a good deal.  The cat’s claws are clipped now, maybe.”

Well, I knew this, and said nothing.  One could expect no more from Earl Wulfnoth’s son.  Nor do I think that any loved Emma the queen much.  One may know how a person is thought of by the way in which folk name them often enough, and though our king would have had his young wife called by her English name, Elfgiva, none ever did so.  Her Norman, foreign name was all we used.  If she had been loved, we should have rejoiced to name her in our own way.

Then Godwine said: 

“You have had an ill time with Emma, as I think, if she is all that my father says.”

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