And when Spray the smith, who sat listening, with the other men in the hall below the high place, heard of that escape from the Danes, he said, without ceremony:
“Master, well I knew that you would never be cast into prison.”
“That was a saying of yours, Spray,” said I. “May the luck last.”
Then Uldra would tell the story of our journey in her way, and my name came pretty often into her tale. So, looking about the hall while she spoke, my eyes lit on Eldred, and it seemed that he was ill at ease, and displeased with somewhat. I thought that he would rather be sitting nearer Sexberga, maybe, and troubled nought about him, though I did think that he showed his ill temper over plainly in his face.
Now, in all this story telling there was one thing about which I said nothing, and that was my search for Hertha. It seemed to me that there was no need for doing so, and moreover, I would tell the lady thereof in private at some time. And I was glad that Sexberga asked me nought about it. I do not think that she had forgotten it, but she had her own reasons for saying nought of the matter, which were foolish enough when I found them out. The lady, her mother, waited for me to say what I would in my own way when I thought right.
That generous foe of mine, Egil—if indeed I should not call him my friend, as he named me once—had set two months as the time in which I must bide in peace, and I will not say that this space seemed likely to go over-heavily for me. We could hear little news except from such ships as put in from along the coast, and the first news that came was when Godwine returned from Bosham.
The Danes had taken the queen to Winchester in high honour, and there she was living in some sort of state, which pleased her well enough, until word came from Cnut concerning her. It was thought that he would let her go back to Normandy, keeping the athelings as hostages. So concerning her and them my mind was at rest.
Now Cnut was besieging London. But before he had left Wessex, there had been a great council of bishops and clergy at Salisbury, and at that gathering he had been chosen as king in succession to Ethelred, whose house was not loved. There, too, he was present, and swore to be their faithful king and to protect Holy Church in all things.
Then into Wessex went Eadmund, ravaging and laying waste there. One might know what hatred of him would come from that, and my heart sank at hearing this folly.
Two days after Godwine came, we saw the sails of a great fleet going westward, and we thought that Cnut had been beaten off from London. But a ship that had sprung a leak in some way put into Wulfnoth’s haven at Shoreham from this fleet, and from thence we learnt that the Danes had halved their forces, and that Cnut and Ulf the jarl were going again into the Severn to withstand Eadmund in Wessex, and if possible to hem him in between two forces in the old way of the days of Alfred. London was beset straitly, but not taken yet.