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Margaret of Wessex
Laurel A. Rockefeller
Margaret and Edgar slipped through the city streets quietly, walking discretely towards the Ouse River which twisted and wound through the central part of the city like a serpent. Shops selling anything and everything the Viking world could procure from every corner of Europe bustled noisily. Disguising their intentions by casually shopping and sampling different wares, they steadily worked their way towards King’s Staith Street where several Danish merchant ships moored. A young man carried a tightly woven wicker chest up a ramp onto a medium-sized merchant ship. An ornately dressed young woman in Danish-style dress walked with him, the richness of her gown, veil, and wimple contrasting greatly with the simplicity of the man’s tunic, trousers, and woollen brat cloak.
Margaret adjusted her veil and wimple, suddenly self-conscious of her very Saxon-looking clothes, “God morgen!”
Reaching the ship and putting down his load, the man turned back towards them, “God morgen!”
“Nice day!” added Margaret.
“It rains all the time here, even here in Jorvik,” observed the man. “So I suppose since it is not raining at the moment, it is a nice day.”
“Might I ask—where is this ship sailing to once you depart?” inquired Margaret.
“Where in Alba?”
“Normally Leith, but we have a special cargo designated for Dunfermline to deliver first.”
“Any chance there is room for passengers headed in the same direction?”
The lady studied Margaret and Edgar carefully, “I know you! Or at least of you. You, Sir, are the Ætheling!"
“I am,” confirmed Edgar confidently. “We want no trouble, only passage out of the city and to King Malcolm’s court for the two of us plus our mother and sister. We prefer to not attract any Norman attention in this matter—if you understand my meaning.”
“Perfectly,” affirmed the Danish lady. “Defying King William has its price—but you know that otherwise you would not be seeking escape now. If it were you alone, Ætheling, I would deny you. If there is trouble about, it is precisely because you and your earls have started it.”
“You cannot possibly consent to this Norman conqueror’s rule over England!” debated Edgar. “William is a blood thirsty thug who rules by terror and by the sword instead of following Jesus’ example and pursuing a policy of justice and mercy!”
“I don’t consent to the conqueror, Ætheling. But to stir up the people’s feelings about the king and then slip away from danger on the eve of real opposition from your enemy—this to me is cowardice!” countered the Danish lady boldly. “If your request did not include the women of your family, I would deny it. But for their sake I will consent to bringing you aboard—at a rate of one pound per person.”
“Highway robbery in most instances,” balked Edgar, knowing anyone else would pay no more than a schilling for the same journey north.
“But a fair price compared to what the Normans would pay us to deliver you to their hands,” countered the lady.
“Four pounds it is,” agreed Margaret, overriding her brother and handing them a mix of coins equalling four pounds. “When do you depart?”
“We will return within two hours,” promised Margaret.
“Done!” agreed the Danish lady.
“Done,” confirmed Edgar.
|Laurel A. Rockefeller, Author|