“My nephews, he was so pleased, and here I have the brief sealed with the royal signet, commanding that in his name and my own I should give you the accolade publicly in the church of the Priory at Stangate at such season as may be convenient. Therefore, Godwin, the squire, haste you to get well that you may become Sir Godwin the knight; for you, Wulf, save for the hurt to your leg, are well enough already.”
Now Godwin’s white face went red with pride, and Wulf dropped his bold eyes and looked modest as a girl.
“Speak you,” he said to his brother, “for my tongue is blunt and awkward.”
“Sir,” said Godwin in a weak voice, “we do not know how to thank you for so great an honour, that we never thought to win till we had done more famous deeds than the beating off of a band of robbers. Sir, we have no more to say, save that while we live we will strive to be worthy of our name and of you.”
“Well spoken,” said his uncle, adding as though to himself, “this man is courtly as he is brave.”
Wulf looked up, a flash of merriment upon his open face.
“I, my uncle, whose speech is, I fear me, not courtly, thank you also. I will add that I think our lady cousin here should be knighted too, if such a thing were possible for a woman, seeing that to swim a horse across Death Creek was a greater deed than to fight some rascals on its quay.”
“Rosamund?” answered the old man in the same dreamy voice. “Her rank is high enough—too high, far too high for safety.” And turning, he left the little chamber.
“Well, cousin,” said Wulf, “if you cannot be a knight, at least you can lessen all this dangerous rank of yours by becoming a knight’s wife.” Whereat Rosamund looked at him with indignation which struggled with a smile in her dark eyes, and murmuring that she must see to the making of Godwin’s broth, followed her father from the place.
“It would have been kinder had she told us that she was glad,” said Wulf when she was gone.
“Perhaps she would,” answered his brother, “had it not been for your rough jests, Wulf, which might have a meaning in them.”
“Nay, I had no meaning. Why should she not become a knight’s wife?”
“Ay, but what knight’s? Would it please either of us, brother, if, as may well chance, he should be some stranger?”
Now Wulf swore a great oath, then flushed to the roots of his fair hair, and was silent.
“Ah!” said Godwin; “you do not think before you speak, which it is always well to do.”
“She swore upon the quay yonder”—broke in Wulf.
“Forget what she swore. Words uttered in such an hour should not be remembered against a maid.”
“God’s truth, brother, you are right, as ever! My tongue runs away with me, but still I can’t put those words out of my mind, though which of us—”
“I mean to say that we are in Fortune’s path to-day, Godwin. Oh, that was a lucky ride! Such fighting as I have never seen or dreamed of. We won it too! And now both of us are alive, and a knighthood for each!”