Now the laughter grew very loud, for even the Court officers could no longer restrain themselves, and the ladies hid their faces in their hands and tittered.
“Away with that fool!” shouted the president of the Court, and the poor fellow was hustled out. What became of him afterwards I do not know, though I can guess.
Now appeared witness after witness who told of the fray which I have described already, though for the most part they tried to put another colour on the matter. Of many of these men I asked no questions. Indeed, growing weary of their tales, I said at length to the judges,
“Sirs, what need is there for all this evidence, seeing that among you I perceive three gallant officers whom I saw running before the Northmen that night, when with some four hundred swords we routed about two thousand of you? You yourselves, therefore, are the best witnesses of what befell. Moreover, I acknowledge that, being moved by the sight of war, in the end I led the charge against you, before which charge some died and many fled, you among them.”
Now these captains glowered at me and the president said,
“The prisoner is right. What need is there of more evidence?”
“I think much, sir,” I answered, “since but one side of the story has been heard. Now I will call witnesses, of whom the first should be the Augusta, if she is willing to appear and tell you what happened within the circle of the Northmen on that night.”
“Call the Augusta!” gasped the president. “Perchance, prisoner Michael, you will wish next to call God Himself on your behalf?”
“That, sir,” I answered, “I have already done and do. Moreover,” I added slowly, “of this I am sure, that in a time to come, although it be not to-morrow or the next day, you and everyone who has to do with this case will find that I have not called Him in vain.”
At these words for a few moments a solemn silence fell upon the Court. It was as though they had gone home to the heart of everyone who was present there. Also I saw the curtains that draped a gallery high up in the wall shake a little. It came into my mind that Irene herself was hidden behind those curtains, as afterwards I learned was the case, and that she had made some movement which caused them to tremble.
“Well,” said the president, after this pause, “as God does not appear to be your witness, and as you have no other, seeing that you cannot give evidence yourself under the law, we will now proceed to judgment.”
“Who says that the General Olaf, Olaf Red-Sword, has no witness?” exclaimed a deep voice at the end of the hall. “I am here to be his witness.”
“Who speaks?” asked the president. “Let him come forward.”
There was a disturbance at the end of the hall, and through the crowd that he seemed to throw before him to right and left appeared the mighty form of Jodd. He was clad in full armour and bore his famous battle-axe in his hand.