There was reason enough for such a fear.
But thanks be to Heaven that fear is gone;
And now no longer I stand alone;
My spirit now is as light and free
As a child’s at play ’neath the greenwood tree.
[With a sudden start of fear.
Ah, where are my wits fled! How could I forget—?
Ye saints, I need sorely your succor yet!
An outlaw, you said—?
Nay, now I’m at home;
Hither the King’s men scarce dare come.
Your fall has been sudden. I pray you, tell
How you lost the King’s favour.
’Twas thus it befell.
You know how I journeyed to France of late,
When the Chancellor, Audun of Hegranes,
Fared thither from Bergen, in royal state,
To lead home the King’s bride, the fair Princess,
With her squires, and maidens, and ducats bright.
Sir Audun’s a fair and stately knight,
The Princess shone with a beauty rare—
Her eyes seemed full of a burning prayer.
They would oft talk alone and in whispers, the two—
Of what? That nobody guessed or knew.
There came a night when I leant at ease
Against the galley’s railing;
My thought flew onward to Norway’s leas,
With the milk-white seagulls sailing.
Two voices whispered behind my back;—
I turned—it was he and she;
I knew them well, though the night was black,
But they—they saw not me.
She gazed upon him with sorrowful eyes
And whispered: “Ah, if to southern skies
We could turn the vessel’s prow,
And we were alone in the bark, we twain,
My heart, methinks, would find peace again,
Nor would fever burn my brow.”
Sir Audun answers; and straight she replies,
In words so fierce, so bold;
Like glittering stars I can see her eyes;
She begged him—
My blood ran cold.
I arose, and they vanished apace;
All was silent, fore and aft:—
[Producing a small phial.
But this I found by their resting place.
GUDMUND. [Lowering his voice.]
Holds a secret draught.
A drop of this in your enemy’s cup
And his life will sicken and wither up.
No leechcraft helps ’gainst the deadly thing.
That draught was meant for the King.