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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 53

[Pg 86] said nothing to explain the mystery, and Goldborough that night lay awake bewailing her fate as a thrall’s bride, even though he was the fairest man in England.

The Revelation and Return to Denmark

As Goldborough lay sleepless and unhappy she became aware of a brilliant light shining around Havelok and streaming from his mouth; and while she feared and wondered an angelic voice cried to her:

“Fair Princess, cease this grief and heavy moan!
For Havelok, thy newly wedded spouse,
Is son and heir to famous kings: the sign
Thou findest in the cross of ruddy gold
That shineth on his shoulder. He shall be
Monarch and ruler of two mighty realms;
Denmark and England shall obey his rule,
And he shall sway them with a sure command.
This shalt thou see with thine own eyes, and be
Lady and Queen, with Havelok, o’er these lands.”

This angelic message so gladdened Goldborough that she kissed, for the first time, her unconscious husband, who started up from his sleep, saying, “Dear love, sleepest thou? I have had a wondrous dream. I thought I sat on a lofty hill, and saw all Denmark before me. As I stretched out my arms I embraced it all, and the people clung to my arms, and the castles fell at my feet; then I flew over the salt sea with the Danish people clinging to me, and I closed all fair England in my hand, and gave it to thee, dear love! Now what can this mean?”

Goldborough answered joyfully: “It means, dear heart, that thou shalt be King of Denmark and of England too: all these realms shall fall into thy power, and thou shalt be ruler in Denmark within one year. Now do thou follow my advice, and let us go to Denmark, taking with us Grim’s three sons, who will accompany [Pg 87] thee for love and loyalty; and have no fear, for I know thou wilt succeed.”

The next morning Havelok went to church early, and prayed humbly and heartily for success in his enterprise and retribution on the false traitor Godard; then, laying his offering on the altar before the Cross, he went away glad in heart. Grim’s three sons, Robert the Red, William Wendut, and Hugh the Raven, joyfully consented to go with Havelok to Denmark, to attack with all their power the false Jarl Godard and to win the kingdom for the rightful heir. Their wives and families stayed in England, but Goldborough would not leave her husband, and after a short voyage the party landed safely on the shores of Denmark, in the lands of Jarl Ubbe, an old friend of King Birkabeyn, who lived far from the court now that a usurper held sway in Denmark.

Havelok and Ubbe

Havelok dared not reveal himself and his errand until he knew more of the state of parties in the country, and he therefore only begged permission to live and trade there, giving Ubbe, as a token of goodwill and a tribute to his power, a valuable ring, which the jarl prized greatly. Ubbe, gazing at the so-called merchant’s great stature and beauty, lamented that he was not of noble birth, and planned to persuade him to take up the profession of arms. At first, however, he simply granted Havelok permission to trade, and invited him and Goldborough to a feast, promising them safety and honour under his protection. Havelok dreaded lest his wife’s beauty might place them in jeopardy, but he dared not refuse the invitation, which was pointedly given to both; accordingly, when they went to Ubbe’s hall, Goldborough was escorted by Robert the Red and William Wendut.

[Pg 88] Ubbe received them with all honour, and all men marvelled at Goldborough’s beauty, and Ubbe’s wife loved Goldborough at first sight as her husband did Havelok, so that the feast passed off with all joy and mirth, and none dared raise a hand or lift his voice against the wandering merchant whom Ubbe so strangely favoured. But Ubbe knew that when once Havelok and his wife were away from his protection there would be little safety for them, since the rough Danish nobles would think nothing of stealing a trader’s fair wife, and many a man had cast longing eyes on Goldborough’s loveliness. Therefore when the feast was over, and Havelok took his leave, Ubbe sent with him a body of ten knights and sixty men-at-arms, and recommended them to the magistrate of the town, Bernard Brown, a true and upright man, bidding him, as he prized his life, keep the strangers in safety and honour. Well it was that Ubbe and Bernard Brown took these precautions, for late at night a riotous crowd came to Bernard’s house clamouring for admittance. Bernard withstood the angry mob, armed with a great axe, but they burst the door in by hurling a huge stone; and then Havelok joined in the defence. He drew out the great beam which barred the door, and crying, “Come quickly to me, and you shall stay here! Curses on him who flees!” began to lay about him with the big beam, so that three fell dead at once. A terrible fight followed, in which Havelok, armed only with the beam, slew twenty men in armour, and was then sore beset by the rest of the troop, aiming darts and arrows at his unarmoured breast. It was going hardly with him, when Hugh the Raven, hearing and understanding the cries of the assailants, called his brothers to their lord’s aid, and they all joined the fight so furiously that, long ere day, of the sixty men who had attacked the inn not one remained alive.

[Pg 89] In the morning news was brought to Jarl Ubbe that his stranger guest had slain sixty of the best of his soldiery.

“What can this mean?” said Ubbe. “I had better go and see to it myself, for any messenger would surely treat Havelok discourteously, and I should be full loath to do that.” He rode away to the house of Bernard Brown, and asked the meaning of its damaged and battered appearance.

“My lord,” answered Bernard Brown, “last night at moonrise there came a band of sixty thieves who would have plundered my house and bound me hand and foot. When Havelok and his companions saw it they came to my aid, with sticks and stones, and drove out the robbers like dogs from a mill. Havelok himself slew three at one blow. Never have I seen a warrior so good! He is worth a thousand in a fray. But alas! he is grievously wounded, with three deadly gashes in side and arm and thigh, and at least twenty smaller wounds. I am scarcely harmed at all, but I fear he will die full soon.”

Ubbe could scarcely believe so strange a tale, but all the bystanders swore that Bernard told nothing but the bare truth, and that the whole gang of thieves, with their leader, Griffin the Welshman, had been slain by the hero and his small party. Then Ubbe bade them bring Havelok, that he might call a leech to heal his wounds, for if the stranger merchant should live Jarl Ubbe would without fail dub him knight; and when the leech had seen the wounds he said the patient would make a good and quick recovery. Then Ubbe offered Havelok and his wife a dwelling in his own castle, under his own protection, till Havelok’s grievous wounds were healed. There, too, fair Goldborough would be under the care of Ubbe’s wife, who would [Pg 90] cherish her as her own daughter. This kind offer was accepted gladly, and they all went to the castle, where a room was given them next to Ubbe’s own.

At midnight Ubbe woke, aroused by a bright light in Havelok’s room, which was only separated from his own by a slight wooden partition. He was vexed suspecting his guest of midnight wassailing, and went to inquire what villainy might be hatching. To his surprise, both husband and wife were sound asleep, but the light shone from Havelok’s mouth, and made a glory round his head. Utterly amazed at the marvel, Ubbe went away silently, and returned with all the garrison of his castle to the room where his guests still lay sleeping. As they gazed on the light Havelok turned in his sleep, and they saw on his shoulder the golden cross, shining like the sun, which all men knew to be the token of royal birth. Then Ubbe exclaimed: “Now I know who this is, and why I loved him so dearly at first sight: this is the son of our dead King Birkabeyn. Never was man so like another as this man is to the dead king: he is his very image and his true heir.” With great joy they fell on their knees and kissed him eagerly, and Havelok awoke and began to scowl furiously, for he thought it was some treacherous attack; but Ubbe soon undeceived him.


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