William Morris Archive


But on the morrow the first man who came to the King was the man-at-arms aforesaid; and he told that he had done the King's errand, and ridden a five miles on the road to Oakenham before he had left the horse with his felon load, and that he had found nought stirring all that way when he had passed through their own out-guards, where folk knew him and let him go freely. "And," quoth he, "it is like enough that this gift to Oakenham, Lord King, has by now come to the gate thereof." Then the King gave that man the gold which he had promised, and he kissed the King's hand and went his ways a happy man.

Thereafter sent Christopher for Jack of the Tofts, and told him in few words what had betid, and that Rolf the traitor was dead. Then spake Jack: "King and fosterling, never hath so mighty a warrior as thou waged so easy a war for so goodly a kingdom as thou hast done; for surely thy war was ended last night, wherefore will we straight to Oakenham, if so thou wilt. But if it be thy pleasure I will send a chosen band of riders to wend on the spur thereto, and bid them get ready thy kingly house, and give word to the Barons and the Prelates, and the chiefs of the Knighthood, and the Mayor and the Aldermen, and the Masters of the Crafts, to show themselves of what mind they be towards thee. But I doubt it not that they will deem of thee as thy father come back again and grown young once more."

Now was Christopher eager well nigh unto weeping to behold his people that he should live amongst, and gladly he yea-said the word of Jack of the Tofts. So were those riders sent forward; and the host was ordered, and Christopher rode amidst it with Goldilind by his side; and the sun was not yet gone down when they came within sight of the gate of Oakenham, and there before the gate and in the fields on either side of it was gathered a very great and goodly throng, and there went forth from it to meet the King the Bishop of Oakenham, and the Abbot of St. Mary's and the Priors of the other houses of religion, all fairly clad in broidered copes, with the clerks and the monks dight full solemnly; and they came singing to meet him, and the Bishop blessed him and gave him the hallowed bread, and the King greeted him and craved his prayers. Then came the Burgreve of Oakenham, and with him the Barons and the Knights, and they knelt before him, and named him to king, and the Burgreve gave him the keys of the city. Thereafter came the Mayor and the Aldermen, and the Masters of the Crafts, and they craved his favour, and warding of his mighty sword; and all these he greeted kindly and meekly, rather as a friend than as a great lord.

Thereafter were the gates opened, and King Christopher entered, and there was no gainsaying, and none spake a word of the Traitor Rolf.

But the bells of the minster and of all the churches rang merrily, and songs were sung sweetly by fair women gloriously clad; and whereas King Christopher and Queen Goldilind had lighted down from their horses and went afoot through the street, roses and all kinds of sweet flowers were cast down before the feet of them all the way from the city gate to the King's High House of Oakenham.

There then in the great hall of his father's house stood Christopher the King on the dais, and Goldilind beside him. And Jack of the Tofts and the chiefest of the Captains, and the Bishop, and the greatest lords of the Barons, and the doughtiest of the Knights, and the Mayor and the Aldermen, and the Masters of the Crafts, sat at the banquet with the King and his mate; they brake bread together and drank cups of renown, till the voidee cup was borne in. Then at last were the King & the Queen brought to their chamber with string-play and songs and all kinds of triumph; and that first night since he lay in his mother's womb did Child Christopher fall asleep in the house which the fathers had builded for him.