Theobald cornered his wife in the kitchen.

Late in the evening, after his father had begun snoring in the big bed with Brinstan curled up next to him, Theobald cornered his wife in the kitchen.

“Githa, could you spare me a moment? I would like to talk with you.”

“Of course,” she smiled. “I thought you might, sooner or later.”

“Darling, first I must give you sad news: Earl Morcar has lost at Ely and been taken prisoner. Father doesn’t know what happened to Sigefrith, Alred, and our men, but it doesn’t seem likely they escaped, or survived.”

'Oh, Theobald.'

“Oh, Theobald,” she sighed, shaking her head. “Their poor babies. And the dear Queen…”

“Githa, listen to me for a moment. This is sad news, but we must decide what we are to do.”


“Father is asking us to come home.”

'Is this not our home?'

“Is this not our home?”

“You know he means go back to Thorhold. Mother is offering me her lands.”

Githa pondered this. “But we are so happy here.”

“Githa, it isn’t safe.”

“It never was. We all knew that.”

'It never was.'

“Githa,” he sighed. “You need to understand that things have changed. Sigefrith and Cenwulf and Alred fought alongside King Harold at Hastings, it is true. But many others who did were able to escape harm and in some cases regain their lands by swearing loyalty to William. They might still have been pardoned, even after having been in hiding for five years. But now they have taken up arms against William, five years after Hastings, alongside Morcar. There will be no pardons for them – they are outlaws now if they were not before.”

“What did the Earl say?”

“I don’t know – I mean, I didn’t tell him.”

“Didn’t tell him?” Githa cried.

'Didn't tell him?'

“Hush, dearest, don’t wake Father.”

“Didn’t tell him?” she repeated in a hoarse whisper. “You know what happened to the King and you didn’t tell him?”

“We don’t know what happened to Sigefrith, remember. And I wanted to talk to you first.”

“Me first? Is he not your lord? If he says, ‘We shall stay,’ shall we not stay? If he says, ‘We shall go,’ shall we not follow?”

“Githa, we have done nothing that would oblige us to follow Cenwulf into exile.”

“You have sworn allegiance to him, have you not?”

Theobald looked away.

'I know you are an honorable man.'

“I know you are an honorable man,” she said. “You will tell the Earl what you know, and you will let him guide you.”

“So I would, if I were alone. But I have to think of you and the children.”

“So could Sigefrith and Alred have done. But they went and fought.”

“They had more to lose by not fighting.”

“Do you think they would have traded their families for their titles?”

“You seem to think that I am a rather unworthy man, Githa.”

“Not at all, dearest. You are forced to choose between what seems best for your family and what you are bound to do by honor: a difficult decision. That is why you wisely chose to consult with your clever wife.”

'That is why you wisely chose to consult with your clever wife.'

Theobald laughed in spite of himself. “Father said you would trust me to decide.”

“I shall,” she assured him. “But first you should talk to the Earl. It is your duty to him as your lord and as your friend – and together you may know better what is to be done. Now, will you help me get the blankets out of the chest? You and I are going to sleep on the floor before the fire, as we did when we were first married.”

“I shall tell father to visit us more often.”

'You and I are going to sleep on the floor before the fire.'