'By Christ's bleeding wounds!'

“By Christ’s bleeding wounds! By God’s sagging, pus-​​filled nutsack! Jove and Jupiter and hellfire and damnation! God blind me! For the sake of Christ’s bloody nails! Holy cock-​​sucking mother of a misbegotten, shit-​​eating, goat-​​fondling god!”

“That last one was Matilda’s!” Leofric cried gleefully.

“Damned right!” Sigefrith howled.

“What in God’s holy name did I do, runt?”

'What in God's holy name did I do, runt?'

“I forgot that one! By God’s holy name!”

“Son of a serpent!” Leofric suggested.

“That too! Son of a serpent!”

'That too!  Son of a serpent!'

“Been saving that up for a while, have you?” Leofric chuckled, having satisfied himself meanwhile that he had recently done nothing worthy of such execration.

“Damned right!” Sigefrith stomped his foot and then laughed.

“Need a drink?”

“That’s only the start of it! I need your help, Leof. I need to spew forth every blasphemy that I’ve swallowed for the past six months, and I need to get drunk enough to piss myself, and I need to get into a sloppy, staggering fistfight and beat some poor soul’s face into a mess of bruises.”

'I need to get into a sloppy, staggering fistfight and beat some poor soul's face into a mess of bruises.'

“Britmar’s here.”

“He’ll do nicely!”

“What else can we do?” Leofric asked eagerly. If he hadn’t done anything worthy of such invective recently, he thought, then he was long overdue for some misbehavior.

“Well, it isn’t Sunday, but it’s Ascension Thursday,” Sigefrith announced and jumped on the couch. “That’s a great feast.”

'That's a great feast.'


“We could go hunting!” he bounced.

“Hunting!” Leofric said eagerly. “But what shall we hunt in May?”

“Let’s see… roebuck or hare!” he cried as he jumped down onto the floor again.

“But – it’s already late afternoon!”

'But--it's already late afternoon!'

“Then we don’t have much time!”

“That’s right!” Leofric agreed. “And we can get drunk afterwards, and howl like hounds until the ladies cry!”

“Afterwards!” Sigefrith scoffed. “We get drunk first, and howl with the hounds as we hunt, to get us in tune!”

“Ah… Is that wise?” Leofric hesitated. Even he was usually careful not to drink and ride.

“Wise? No! Then I want to do it! Is it responsible? No! Then I want to do it! Is it a sin? Yes! Then I want to do it!”

'Then I want to do it!'

Leofric laughed. “Your Majesty’s every sinful desire is my command!”

“What about Brit? Is he up for it?”

“We shall ask him, but I think he will be. Every time I spend a few hours with Judith, I am reminded that Eadgith is not such a bad little woman.”

“Well, perhaps I shall take a dose of Judith tomorrow so I won’t mind going home to my wife afterwards.”



“You try spending a few hours with Saint Eadgith and see what you don’t want to do! Your upstairs maids are safe – she still lets me into her bed – but I don’t know what else I can do that’s fun these days. And if I so much as pick my nose on a holy day, I get threatened with eternal damnation.”

“What is it with you and religious women, runt?”

“I don’t know. Eadie wasn’t always that way, so I must assume my inherent depravity has some effect on them.”

'I must assume my inherent depravity has some effect on them.'

“Why don’t you pitch that God-​​damned yammering Welshman out the window one of these afternoons?”

“I don’t think he’s the problem, although I admit I am tempted. I am also sorely tempted to pitch a certain holy finger into the fire.”

“I wouldn’t do that, runt,” Leofric said uneasily.

“No, I suppose even I am not that depraved,” Sigefrith sighed. “But – God damn! She was a lot sweeter when her prayers weren’t being answered. Sometimes I almost wish that baby back where he came from!”

'Sometimes I almost wish that baby back where he came from!'

“I think that would hurt a little, at this point,” Leofric said gravely.

Sigefrith laughed. “God bless you! And God damn you!”

“Likewise,” Leofric grinned.