King Olaf's Kinsman eBook

Charles Whistler
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about King Olaf's Kinsman.

Now one day the thane and I rode together with hawk and hound eastward from Penhurst along the spur of a hill that runs thence for many a long mile, falling southward on one side towards the sea and lower hills between, and northward looking inland over forest-covered hill and valley.  And we went onward until we came to the village that men call Senlac, where the long hill ridge ends and sinks sharply into the valley of the little river Asten, and there we thought that a heron or mallard would lie in the reedy meadows below the place.

But up the course of the stream came another party, and when we neared it, we saw that it was the earl himself with but a few followers, and he too was riding with hawk on wrist, and hounds in leash behind him, though it did not seem as if he had loosed either.

“Ho, Relf, good morrow.  What sport?” he said.

“Little enough, lord earl, as yet,” the thane said.

“Do you and friend Redwald come with me, and I will show you somewhat before you go home,” the earl answered.

So we must go with him, willingly enough, for he was a great hunter, and very skilful in woodcraft.

Now we went back through the village and up the hill again on the same track by which we had just come, and when we were almost at the top of the rise, the earl bade the men wait while we three rode on.  So they stayed, and we followed him, not at all knowing what he would do.

Then we came to a track leading to the right as we rode, and he took that way.  It led to a place of which I had heard, for it had no good name among the people, but I thought that he would not go thither.  Nevertheless he held straight on, and came to the place in the hillside that was feared.  And it was very beautiful, for thence one looks out over the valley to the hills beyond, with the long line of the sea away to the right, and to the left the valleys that slope down to the inlet where Winchelsea stands, far off to the eastward.  There is a well which they say is haunted, though by what I know not, save that men speak of ghostly hands that seize them as they pass, if pass they must, at night.  Hardly was there a track to the place, though the water that comes from the rocky spring is so wondrously pure and cold that they call the place Caldbec {9} Hill.  And there by the side of the spring was a little turf-built hut, hardly to be known from the shelving bank against which it leant, and to that the earl led us.

“Now,” he said, “tie the horses somewhere, and we will go and speak with the Wise Woman.”

At that Relf was not pleased, as it seemed, for he did not dismount.

“Come not if you fear her,” said Wulfnoth; “bide with the horses if you will, while I and Olaf’s cousin go in.  Maybe there will be a message that he must take to his kinsman.”

“I have nought to seek from the old dame,” said Relf, “nor is there aught that I fear from her.  I give her venison betimes, as is fitting.  I will bide with the horses.”

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King Olaf's Kinsman from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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