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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 50

“Havelok again overthrew the porters”

Havelok and Goldborough

At the great fair of Lincoln, sports of all kinds were indulged in, and in these Havelok took his part, for the cook, proud of his mighty scullion, urged him to compete in all the games and races. As Earl Godrich had summoned his Parliament to meet that year at Lincoln, there was a great concourse of spectators, and even the powerful Earl Regent himself sometimes watched the sports and cheered the champions. The first contest was “putting the stone,” and the stone chosen was so weighty that none but the most stalwart could lift it above the knee—none could raise it to his breast. This sport was new to Havelok, who had never seen it before, but when the cook bade him try his strength he lifted the stone easily and threw it more than twelve feet. This mighty deed caused his fame to be spread, not only among the poor servants [Pg 84] with whom Havelok was classed, but also among the barons, their masters, and Havelok’s Stone became a landmark in Lincoln. Thus Godrich heard of a youth who stood head and shoulders taller than other men and was stronger, more handsome—and yet a mere common scullion. The news brought him a flash of inspiration: “Here is the highest, strongest, best man in all England, and him shall Goldborough wed. I shall keep my vow to the letter, and England must fall to me, for Goldborough’s royal blood will be lost by her marriage with a thrall, the people will refuse her obedience, and England will cast her out.”

Godrich therefore brought Goldborough to Lincoln, received her with bell-ringing and seemly rejoicing, and bade her prepare for her wedding. This the princess refused to do until she knew who was her destined husband, for she said she would wed no man who was not of royal birth. Her firmness drove Earl Godrich to fierce wrath, and he burst out: “Wilt thou be queen and mistress over me? Thy pride shall be brought down: thou shalt have no royal spouse: a vagabond and scullion shalt thou wed, and that no later than to-morrow! Curses on him who speaks thee fair!” In vain the princess wept and bemoaned herself: the wedding was fixed for the morrow morn.

The next day at dawn Earl Godrich sent for Havelok, the mighty cook’s boy, and asked him: “Wilt thou take a wife?”

“Nay,” quoth Havelok, “that will I not. I cannot feed her, much less clothe and lodge her. My very garments are not my own, but belong to the cook, my master.” Godrich fell upon Havelok and beat him furiously, saying, “Unless thou wilt take the wench I give thee for wife I will hang or blind thee”; and so, in great fear, Havelok agreed to the wedding. At [Pg 85] once Goldborough was brought, and forced into an immediate marriage, under penalty of banishment or burning as a witch if she refused. And thus the unwilling couple were united by the Archbishop of York, who had come to attend the Parliament.


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