Githa was relieved to see a smile on Theobald's face.

Githa was relieved to see a smile on Theobald’s face as he turned to her. He was in a good mood. Lately he had been dreading the arrival of letters from Lothere, but perhaps he would take it well today. And perhaps there was no bad news within – although she still didn’t know what kind of bad news had been in the previous letters, other than the illness of Colburga and her children.

“Aren’t you supposed to be resting?” he scolded gently, laying a hand on her belly.

'Aren't you supposed to be resting?'

“It would be easier for me to rest if he would. He only sleeps when I’m walking around.”

“I see I have more nights of floor-​​walking before me,” he sighed happily.

“It’s only fair,” she smiled. Oh, he was in a good mood today! “Theobald, dear, I have a letter from the King for you.”

His face fell.

“I hope there’s no bad news about dear Colburga,” she said softly.

He held out his hand for the letter and took it over to the candle on his table.

“How are you today, Godwulf?” she asked of Theobald’s valet, who stood by. She would not watch him read.

She would not watch him read.

She chatted with Godwulf until she heard a moan behind her.


He was praying.

Theobald was murmuring something to himself – it sounded like Latin. But she realized after a moment he was not reading aloud: he was praying, and rocked his body like a terrified child.

“Theobald, what is it?”

Theobald turned away from his desk and stumbled across the floor, his head in his hand.

Theobald turned away from his desk and stumbled across the floor, his head in his hand.

“Theobald, what is it?” she begged. “Is it Colburga? What has happened?” She sent a pleading glance at Godwulf, but he looked as confused and frightened as she felt.

Githa looked at the letter and saw Sigefrith’s hand and Sigefrith’s signature. Sigefrith lived. What else could have happened? “Are we attacked?” she asked.

“Oh, Githa!” Theobald moaned. “I must go. I must tell him.”

'I must go.  I must tell him.'

“Tell him what, dear?” she asked, laying an arm over his shoulder.

“I should have told him before. Now it’s too late. It’s too late!”

“What’s too late, dear? What has happened?” She could feel him tremble.

He stared a moment at her belly, and then he took a breath and said, “Nothing to trouble you, darling. I haven’t been – I haven’t been honest with Sigefrith about something. And now it’s caught up with me.”

“Then you should go tell him the truth. I’m sure he will forgive you,” she soothed. “And then you will feel better.”

“That’s right,” he said, but his voice trembled still. “You’re right. Whenever I don’t know what to do, I should just ask myself, ‘What would Githa do?’”

“Or you can simply ask Githa,” she said. “What’s the use of having a clever wife if you don’t tell her your troubles?” she scolded.

'Or you can simply ask Githa.'

He smiled weakly at her, and for a moment it seemed as if he would have told her something. Instead he turned to his valet and said, “Godwulf, have my horse saddled and get me my sword.”

“Theobald! You can’t leave now! It will be after midnight by the time you arrive!”

“I wouldn’t sleep tonight, anyway, dear,” he said. “I must go at once. I shall not feel better, as you say, until I do.”

'I must go at once.'