Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 54

“With great joy they fell on their knees”

“‘Dear lord,’ quoth he, ‘be thou in naught dismayed,
For in thine eyes methinks I see thy thought—
Dear son, great joy is mine to live this day!
My homage, lord, I freely offer thee:
Thy loyal men and vassals are we all,
For thou art son of mighty Birkabeyn,
And soon shalt conquer all thy father’s land,
Though thou art young and almost friendless here.
To-morrow will we swear our fealty due,
And dub thee knight, for prowess unexcelled.’”

Now Havelok knew that his worst danger was over, [Pg 91] and he thanked God for the friend He had sent him, and left to the good Jarl Ubbe the management of his cause. Ubbe gathered an assembly of as many mighty men of the realm, and barons, and good citizens, as he could summon; and when they were all assembled, pondering what was the cause of this imperative summons, Ubbe arose and said:

“Gentles, bear with me if I tell you first things well known to you. Ye know that King Birkabeyn ruled this land until his death-day, and that he left three children—one son, Havelok, and two daughters—to the guardianship of Jarl Godard: ye all heard him swear to keep them loyally and treat them well. But ye do not know how he kept his oath! The false traitor slew both the maidens, and would have slain the boy, but for pity he would not kill the child with his own hands. He bade a fisherman drown him in the sea; but when the good man knew that it was the rightful heir, he saved the boy’s life and fled with him to England, where Havelok has been brought up for many years. And now, behold! here he stands. In all the world he has no peer, and ye may well rejoice in the beauty and manliness of your king. Come now and pay homage to Havelok, and I myself will be your leader!”

Jarl Ubbe turned to Havelok, where he stood with Goldborough beside him, and knelt before him to do homage, an example which was followed by all present. At a second and still larger assembly held a fortnight later a similar oath of fealty was sworn by all, Havelok was dubbed knight by the noble Ubbe, and a great festival was celebrated, with sports and amusements for the populace. A council of war and vengeance was held with the great nobles.

[Pg 92]