Sigefrith left her at the gate.

Sigefrith left her at the gate, and the guard witnessed nothing more than a King bowing low to kiss his fair cousin’s hand – which he held in both of his own.

Eadgith was grateful for this, for as she climbed the stairs to enter the house, she thought she saw her mother’s head dart away from the window of her bedroom.

She found her brother strolling around the small sitting room at the entry, his baby son Sigefrith sleeping on his shoulder.

She found her brother strolling around the small sitting room at the entry.

She wondered whether he had been waiting for her or whether he had merely come out to walk little Sigefrith to sleep without waking Hilda.

But when he turned and she saw his anxious eyes, she knew that he had been waiting to speak with her.

She gave him a dazed smile, and he returned it, seeming relieved.

“Did he speak?” he whispered.

'Did he speak?'

“Yes,” she said, too overwrought to say more.

“You look happy. I knew you would be. Let’s go to your room,” he said with a glance at the door to their mother’s room, behind her.

“I’m happy for you, Eadie,” he said once they had come in and she had lit the lamp. “He’s a very fine man.”

'I'm happy for you, Eadie.'

“What will our father say?”

“I don’t know. You know him far better than I. But listen, Eadie – if he says you may not marry Sigefrith, don’t worry. We shall find a way. Because I shan’t allow him to make you unhappy only to further his own interests. He has done that long enough already.”

“What do you mean?”

“Mother believes that he has plans for you already. If he has already chosen a man, he hasn’t said so to her, but she thinks he might have.”

'Mother believes that he has plans for you already.'

“Oh dear!”

“Don’t worry, Eadie. He shan’t force you. Besides – Sigefrith is not just any man. He is also our lord. Father’s too. You mayn’t marry without his permission.”

“That’s true…”

'That's true...'

“You’re safe with us. Isn’t she, Siggy? Oh, there’s one request I should like to make of you, Eadie, in exchange for my protection until such time as the elder Sigefrith may take charge of you.”

“What is it?”

“If you two have a son, please don’t name him Sigefrith. We have enough of those already.”

'If you two have a son, please don't name him Sigefrith.'