Edrich of Haluken

Chapter Ten

A few days after we returned I went in search of Aksel to see how he was doing. I knew roughly where he lived so I walked in that direction and asked the first boy I saw if he knew where Aksel Gothart could be found. He directed me to a stone house with a red tiled roof that was a few streets away.

I thanked him and continued.

When I reached the street there were older boys milling around talking. They weren’t scruffy and I recognized at least three of them from school. I greeted them and they turned out to be friendly. They invited me to join them swimming but I let them know I had come to see Aksel.

“Are you looking forward to the new term?” Ursu inquired.

“Yes actually, I replied. I hope to get the literature or history teachers to teach the Sagas. They are part of our heritage and birthright,” I told them.

“I never thought about asking a teacher to teach about something I was interested in. That’s a very good idea. Perhaps you could start a new practice of teaching what the students want to learn in addition to what we must learn,” Ursu agreed.

“I rang Aksel’s bell and his maid answered the door. She invited me in and went to find Aksel.

When he found me waiting he gave me an enthusiastic hug and took me to his rooms.

“This is my lair, since I am the only boy I occupy these rooms while my sisters live in the other wing a floor down. What are your rooms like?”” Aksel inquired.

“Not like this, I share with five other boys. It’s more like a barracks but we get along really well. It’s certainly better than my little hut in the woods. We do everything together there. We bathe, sleep and toilet together. Father is from the cavalry and our lives are regimented to a degree. But only so much as to instill a feeling of trust and familiarity. When we are older we will have our own rooms. But we are very close and we love each other,” I told him.

That sounds very nice. I get tired of being the only boy in the house. My sisters are all older than me and they get their monthly visit at the same time. I just hide in here when they’re like that,” Aksel grinned.

“Have you ever read any of the sagas?” I asked.

“No, but my uncle read them to me when I was small and he was nearby. Now he is in Oslo and I don’t see him much. Why do you ask?”

“I want to see if they can be added to the curriculum, the more boys who ask about them the better the chance we have that they’ll do it,” I told him.

“It can’t hurt anything to ask. And if it displaces some of that boring Greek drivel so much the better,” Aksel agreed.

“I just spoke to Ursu about it and he thinks it’s a good idea too,” I shared.

“Ursu eh, he’s very popular with the teachers. He was the right one to talk to. But I’ll take it to them as well as I suppose you will?” Aksel questioned.

“Of course, I just thought if enough of us asked we might get somewhere with it. I think the Regent will speak to the headmaster since they see each other often,” I speculated.

“I hope it’s as interesting as it seems, with the Regent’s endorsement it’s likely to become an accepted idea,” Aksel agreed.  Um….what is the Regent like?”

“He’s a fine man. He isn’t wrapped up in his title. He only wants to bring our country forward and make things better for us all. He and my father are longtime friends and his reputation is for a life of service to the people. He’s a Dane but he knows that we are the same people. Our language is interchangeable and our cultures are very much alike. If you spoke to him you would like him because he doesn’t conceal things. He will tell you what he thinks unvarnished by prose,” I rambled.

“And his daughter?”

“Valla is a sweet girl, she has never been anything but kind and welcoming,” I said carefully.

“She is a very pretty girl, I suspect she will have suitors by the score. Not much of a chance there for us common as clay boys eh?”

“I couldn’t say, I don’t know her mind,” I hedged.

Aksel and I spoke for quite a while and we discussed an overnight excursion into the hills. It would never happen though. The next day Aksel was practicing flipping off the garden wall when his foot got caught and he hurt his ankle badly. It was a few days before I heard the news and I went for a visit. The maid let me in and I made my way to his rooms.

“Ah, you’re just in time to help me to my toilet. The healer was supposed to be here some time ago but she may have had a sicker patient,” Aksel related.

I helped him stand and steadied him while he got a crutch under his arm. I helped him to the toilet and aimed for him. We made our way back to his bed and I asked how his ankle was coming along.

“It heals slowly but it is healing. It’s beginning to hurt again. It can become very unpleasant,” Aksel grimaced.

I took his foot in my lap and removed the bandage, noting how tight it was wrapped. I washed and massaged his foot and ankle. He winced a few times but the effect was comforting over all. I opened my satchel and looked through my salves. The one I wanted was wild lettuce, belladonna and nettles in a paste of a few other things.

“I’ve got to be careful with this, because it is poison if taken by mouth. It is only to be rubbed on a wound that has no open cuts. Do you know what belladonna is?” I asked.

“It’s a poisonous plant isn’t it?” Aksel replied.

“Yes, it’s poison when eaten but it can relieve pain when rubbed on sore joints and sprains. I will apply some to your ankle and you should notice the pain fading.

Once the ointment was applied I wrapped his ankle again and covered him up. We were discussing the possibility of some stress relief when the healer entered after a sharp knock.

“Oh, hello. I didn’t know you had a visitor. I’m sorry to be so late but there was a fire and I had to treat a boy with burns. I’m glad to say they were not severe. He’s such a brave boy. He saw a child on the top floor of the burning house and broke down the door and went in for him. He was burned climbing the stairs because they were afire. He reached the child and made a rope out of sheets and blankets, then lowered the child to people below. he climbed down after and a few moments later the whole top floor collapsed into the bottom. As I said his burns weren’t severe and the men from the city watch bore him home on a stretcher,” The woman babbled as she prepared her things.

“I’ve already treated his ankle with a salve that the Regent’s midwife showed me how to mix. Would you check the wrap to make sure I did it right please,” I requested.

“You know Asla then. If she is teaching you, you must be a promising student,” Perda babbled on.

“Yes, I knew some of the healing from being forest clan and she’s been helping me learn more. I like being able to help people. This is the salve I used. It has belladonna in it so be mindful of cuts in your hands,” I cautioned.

“Thank you young man, what is your name?”

“I am Peng, but my true name is Edrich,” I told her.

I took my leave from Aksel so that Perda could bathe him. I promised to return in a day or so.

“I had an uneasy feeling as I walked back to our home. I didn’t know why but something was bothering me. I could smell the smoke from the fire and I walked past the burnt out rubble of the house.

As I neared our house I saw two of the city watch  officers walking toward me. I ducked around them and ran inside. There was no one in the front of the house, I didn’t pause or call out, I ran straight up the stairs and found Olaf surrounded by my brothers and mother. Samilla was there along with Kristen. Only Father and Edvard were missing.

Olaf’s back was an angry red but there were only small blisters and no charring.

“I sent for Asla, is there anything you can do?” Mother asked.

Yes, let me get my bag, we’ll bathe his back in vinegar and then with clean water. It would be better with less people. Perhaps you could stay Mother?”

The rest filtered out except for Bolly who wouldn’t leave his brother’s side. I had no intention of asking him to.

Do you feel well enough to stand in the tub Olaf?” I asked.

“Yes, I can do that,” Olaf responded.

Mother steadied him while I treated his back . I asked Bolly to find Samilla and ask for a warm moist towel. Bolly was off  like a hare and I worried that he would fall on the stairs. But he was nimble as a mountain goat and returned soon.

I coated Olaf’s back with a balm of mint and menthol from various plants. The green paste does a wonderful job with kitchen burns. I laid part of an old linen sheet over the balm and put the warm moist towel over that. The relief was quick in coming and Olaf was asleep in minutes.

Bolly went to his trunk and retrieved his medal of valor, pinning it to Olaf’s pillow. I would be trading beds with Rilla so I could sleep next to Olaf that night.

A knock at the door announced Father and Asla. Father listened while mother described the events as she heard them.

I told Asla what I had treated Olaf with and she agreed it was a good choice since the boy was asleep.

“I think Perda used sulfur on the burns. It was not terribly useful,” I said.

“No, it wouldn’t be, Asla remarked. Perda means well but she lacks knowledge,” Asla confirmed.

“She was willing to help Olaf so there’s something to be said for that,” I commented.

“I suspect that Olaf will be up moving around tomorrow and fully healed in a few days, Asla put in.

“Yes, the sleep will help, I’m sure,” I replied.

Father noticed the medal pinned to Olaf’s pillow and picked up Bolly for a hug and a kiss.

Since Bolly received his medal, eight others had received one too.

Mother and Father went back down and Asla and I pulled up chairs close to Olaf’s sleeping form.

“You boys from the clans are people to be reckoned with,” Asla observed.

“I think it’s our sense of community. In the Forest or above the tree line, you have to be able to depend on each other. Here in the city there are so many people that everyone thinks someone else will step in. Here we have the Watch and the Guard, in the forests and rivers it's just us against whatever threat arises.

All of my brothers have demonstrated a valorous spirit so I have no worries about them, save them getting hurt giving aid. But that is a risk of getting involved,” I told Asla.

“Yes, the wild lands are dangerous but it makes for good people. The weak don’t survive, nor the dim. You boys are brave but not foolhardy, You will all grow to be great men and you will influence others,” Asla portended.

Asla took her leave and I remained with Olaf. After a few hours he stirred and groaned a bit.

I helped him stand and walked him to the toilet. While he saw to that I filled the tub with lukewarm water in preparation for removing the cloth and balm from his back. He would need to soak for a while before we tried.

“You did well today Olaf,” I told him.

“I just did what I thought was right. I couldn’t leave him to burn without trying to get him out,” Olaf said softly.

“That’s what I mean, and now you understand what Bolly and the rest of us have done when the need arises. There are people who can watch as a child dies but you aren’t one of them,” I praised.

“Neither are you, what’s so different about us?” Olaf inquired.

Part of it is being clan born, the deeply held belief that we are all family and are responsible for one another. The rest is our personal make up. It’s the reason Father chose us to help him instead of some grown man of unknown value. Rilla charged an armed man to protect Leif after a man had just held a knife to his throat. Kiva made a great shot against a human target for the first time in his life. He hit the mark and Leif was spared.

“Father said you were two hundred running paces away when you shot those men. I know it doesn’t give you pleasure to kill but that was a tremendous feat of marksmanship,” Olaf pointed out.

“I’ve had a bow in my hands since I could walk. It’s a necessary skill in the forest. Mostly for game but sometimes for defense. It is our legacy from the men with axes, long boats and long swords. I was just talking to Aksel about getting the teachers to instruct from the Sagas,” He liked the idea. The Regent liked it too, he suggested it. I will mention that when I speak with our teachers,” I told him.

I like the idea of learning about our forebears and hearing the stories of our people,” Olaf agreed.

I carefully removed the gooey linen from Olaf’s back and the skin loss was negligible.

“It’s no worse than if you had too much sun at the river,” I told him. “Is it tender?”

“I don’t know, touch my back and see, if it is you’ll hear me,” Olaf chuckled.

I tested carefully but he seemed to be okay. I found a couple tender spots  but otherwise he was in fighting shape. I had him stand and dried him. I followed him back to his bed and took him into my mouth. It didn’t take long and I was swallowing his seed, I covered him and watched him drift away to sleep.


“Whatever you put on my ankle really helped. I barely need my crutch now. My ankle is half the size it was yesterday and it hurts a lot less,” Aksel enthused when I entered his rooms.

“I’m glad I was able to help. Can I help with anything else?” I asked.

“You said something about stress and then Perda came in,” Aksel grinned.

“Oh yes, stress and anxiety can interfere with healing. Relieving it can speed up the process,” I smiled back.

Once Aksel had a relaxed smile on his lips I examined his ankle. It had indeed shrunk from the swollen mass it had been the day before. I treated and rebandaged it again and left Aksel to dream of adventure.

I went to the house that had burned and found a few people trying to sort through the mess for anything salvageable.

“Did any of you live here?” I asked.

“It was my sister’s house. But it didn’t belong to her. She rented it from someone else. We are just trying to see if anything survived the fire. She didn’t have a lot. The watch captain came and told us that the cause was a chimney fire. That caused the hearth to collapse and set the place off like a torch,” a teenage boy told me.

“She should file a claim with the magistrate’s court. Chimney maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord. She might receive compensation for what she lost,” I suggested.

“And just who are you boy?” and old man grumbled at me.

“I am the brother of the boy who got the child out of the house,” I said firmly.

“Oh, is he well?” The man’s tone softened.

“He is doing well and his burns were minor. We’ll have to keep him out of the sun for a few days but he is well,” I told them.

“We are all glad to hear that, he is a heroic boy and we are grateful for his actions. We have told our ombudsman that he should receive a medal for his actions,” The old man said.

I was about to leave when the Regent’s coach arrived. He and his secretary dismounted and surveyed the ruins.

“Greetings My Lord, what brings you to this sad place?” The old man inquired.

“I like to see these things for myself. I read a report from the watch about the cause of this fire. At least the damage was limited to one house. You should claim damages from the landlord. Chimneys have to be cleaned annually by law,” The Regent told them.

“That’s what this young man was telling us, and I will tell my niece about your words,” The man said.

“Oh, hello nephew, how is Olaf?” The Regent asked.

“His burns were minor, he will need to keep his back covered but otherwise he is quite well,” I reported.

“Emil is getting nervous Lord, too many people have been drawn by the presence of your coach,” I observed.

“Yes, the risk is low but I don’t want others harmed in an attempt to get at me,” Halkar told me. “Come along with me and we will go see your father and discuss a few things.


“Yes, I have made progress regarding the mine,” Father said in answer to Halkar’s question. “I have contracted a mining engineer to meet up with Leif and they will complete the plat and decide how to start. Then it is a matter of hiring men to do the actual mining. I will insist on offering jobs to the local men first.”

“Excellent, and now I must prepare you for a shock. The King intends to confer a knighthood on young Edrich, he also wants to invest him with a title. His favorite so far is Viscount of Haluken. He also wants to change my title as well. But he dithers between Viceroy and Governor General. I will of course serve under any title he chooses. They are his to command. In any case, King Christian will arrive next week. “We’ll need to give some instruction to Peng and his brothers. Now there are a few more details. As you know I am still a Prince of Denmark but now I will be Prince Halkar Duke of Norway. “You, Lord Marshall shall become Earl of Halla. We will be carving out Baronets for your younger sons, Olaf, Kiva, Rilla and Bolindor,” Halkar told us.

“What about Ivy?” I asked.

“He will inherit his father’s Baronet,” Father told me. “That’s why we couldn’t adopt him.”

“I see, you did mention that he had to retain his last name because he would inherit,”

My head reeled. It was unbelievable and I wondered what Valla would say.

“My Lord, when will this become public knowledge?” I asked.

“On the day the King arrives. He will be traveling from Bergen to Halla and they will not stop until they reach Halla. We will provide changes of horses for both carriage and cavalry. We will make preparations to accommodate a hundred King’s Guard. Campaign tents will be erected and a cookhouse and sauna as well. Now shall we summon your other boys?” Halkar asked.

My brothers were glassy eyed after they were informed that they would join the peerage.  They would also receive commissions as I had in the Guard. Each of us would receive medals and badges of office. We would be expected to wear our uniforms at our investiture. The tailors would need to work fast because I was the only one that had a uniform.

Halkar approached me and whispered in my ear, “would you like to break the news to Valla?”

I took my brothers aside and told them that the utmost secrecy was required. We could not tell even our best friend unless they were directly involved. Some of the staff at the palace would know as would Kristen, Samilla and Edvard. Vendors would only know that a large ball or party would be taking place soon. Most of the court would be ignorant of the coming events until the day before.

After Halkar finished his business with us he went back to the palace with Emil in tow. I changed to visiting clothes, fixed my pin in place, mounted my Roan and rode to the palace. I was admitted and shown to a sitting room while a page went in search of Valla.

Valla greeted me and invited me to the garden so we could speak privately. Many stodgy looking members of court stood around awaiting an audience with Halkar.

“How long have you known about this, Valla squealed.

“Less than an hour, your Father asked if I wanted to tell you and I would take any opportunity to see you. You know what this means don’t you?”

“It means we can marry doesn’t it?” Valla smiled broadly.

“It does,” I assured her. “I have other news but that’s enough for now. I wanted you to hear about it from me and not some court windbag accidentally.”

“Thank you my love. I guess this means we’ll be watched more closely than ever,” Valla speculated.

“Possibly, but I will speak to your father before I go if he’s available,” I told her.

Valla went with me to the appointment secretaries desk and bade me write a quick note to her Father. I wrote  “A moment of your time My Lord,” Peng.

Valla snatched it from my hand and walked into the throng of supplicants. Valla handed him the card and Halkar spoke to Emil.

Emil came out as Halkar retreated to his private chamber.

“Please follow me young man,” Emil requested.

I followed him and he opened the door to Halkar’s private chamber.

I stood ramrod straight and said. “My Lord Regent, I want you to know from my lips that I am in love with your daughter. She has given me assurances that she loves me too. I wanted you to know that so there is no subterfuge or sneakiness between you and I. I understand that telling you this may result in closer scrutiny but we are willing to bear it because we love each other and when the time is right, we would like to marry,” I concluded.

“Did you think I did not know my daughter loved you or that you loved her, I do know and I trust you to remain within the limits of proper behavior. You are both young, things can happen. I don’t think anything could part the two of you and that includes me. Just comport yourselves responsibly. I know you would never do anything to disgrace my daughter. We can discuss this further in a more casual setting. But for now know that I love and care for you both. Now get out of here so I can get some work done,” He grinned. Valla pulled me out the door after kissing her father and Emil stopped me for a moment.

“Thank you young man for alerting the Regent to the inherent danger of our situation earlier. There was probably no threat but you made my work easier and I am most grateful,” Emil told me.

It was the longest I had ever heard him speak and I thanked him for keeping an eye on His Lordship.

“What was that about?” Valla asked as we swerved around members of court.

“Nothing much, I just noticed Emil looking anxious and fingering the crossbow under his cloak. So I suggested we move on to your father. He was exposed while he spoke to the people around that burned out house,” I told her.

She pulled me into a recess and kissed me.

“I recommend you let your father tell your mother about my news and about us. I’m sure she knows about us but now I am a marriageable peer. Her attitude might change. Probably not, but let your father tell her in the right way,” I suggested.

“You’re right, Mother is wary of my nonsense but if Father tells her he trusts you, well there won’t be much she can say. I’m glad you’re more levelheaded than me. I would be carrying your child now if we had done things my way,” Valla smiled.

A snooty old courtier was staring at us and Valla made a face at her. She harumphed and fanned herself as she walked briskly away.

“And where are you two going?” Lady Iris inquired.

“I’m just walking him to the door, he’s going home,” Valla said.

“Good afternoon Lady Iris, it’s good to see you,” I said as I kissed her hand.

“You two are up to something but I will let you keep your secrets for now. Just comport yourself as a lady while members of the court are present please. No matter how disapprovingly they look at you,” Iris chuckled.

I kissed her cheek then Valla’s and went  to reclaim my horse. I rode sedately on my way home. My mind was full of possibilities.

I walked in to an inquest.

“What did Valla say when you told her? “ “Did she kiss you? When will you marry her?

“She’s really pretty Bolly sighed.

“Well to answer your questions in order, she was overjoyed and yes she kissed me and I kissed her. Marriage is a long way off. We all have schooling to complete. Father hasn’t taught me half of what it will take to be a proper engineer. And yes Bolly, she is very beautiful and she sends her love.

“Boys, please join your mother and I in my chamber,” Father requested.

Dutifully we followed and took seats. Mother glowed and smiled serenely.

“Very well, tomorrow we will go to the palace early so that Olaf can receive his medal and Edrich can receive the medal of valor for intervening in an assassination attempt.

Then we will take the four of you to the tailor for your fitting. They may need you there a while,” He told Kiva, Rilla, Olaf and Bolly.

“Peng, make sure your uniform is brushed and your sword is polished. Wear your medals and badges.”

“Olaf your medal will be pinned to a ribbon and it will be worn around your neck until you have a uniform to pin it to.”

“Now then, Kiva, Rilla and Peng, you will be awarded medals for action against foreign invaders for your performance against the raiders. Peng you will be addressed as Fenrick and the rest as Dragoons. I know it’s a lot to take in but I have written it all down so you can study it. We will discuss investitures after we have dealt with tomorrows ceremonies.

Next is a business matter. I have discussed this with Peng and the Regent, the mining venture to the east of Haluken will be shared. Each member of this family will receive a share of the profits. A percentage will go to the treasury of Norway and the King and Regent’s portion will come from that. If estimates are correct there are several thousand tons of gold in that mine. It is only incumbent on us to get it out safely. I’ve made it clear to our managing director that we will hire local labor first and safety will be a prime concern. I don’t want to be like the Belgians or Swedes and work people to death or see them buried in a cave in. Every coin we pay in wages is an investment in the people of Norway. You are each entitled to seats on the board of this company but I will hold them until you reach legal age which is currently sixteen. There will be a lot more for you to learn but I wanted you to know that you should be financially secure all your lives if you are prudent . We can discuss that a bit later. Money hates fools and will get away from them as fast as it can.

There was one more surprise in store that afternoon. Jørgen arrived and greeted Father.

“I hope you have your uniform with you, things are a foot. Come to my chamber and I will tell you,” Father said and excused the two of them.


“My Lord Viscount, may a humble soldier join you to partake of the summer air?” Jørgen chuckled.

“Hello Jørgen, it’s nice to see you again. I won’t be a Viscount or anything else until I reach my sixteenth year. For now, I am just Peng. How was your trip, did your visits go well?”

“It was very nice. Such family as I have were happy to see me and the area between here and Haluken is very pretty. I have been invited to your ceremony tomorrow. Your Father is very proud of you,” Jørgen said.

“I’m glad you will be there. It seems strange to me that one group of boys should be singled out for honors but we seem to meet situations that require some sort of action. For me, turning tail is not an option and I can say the same for my brothers. It’s rubbing off on little Ivy too. He stood up to a boy half again his size and the boy backed down. It wasn’t even something that Ivy was doing. One of his friends had taken a seat on the swinging plank and the larger boy pulled him off. Ivy jumped up and intervened and the larger boy backed away. In our case it might be because we are Clan boys. There is a sense of unity between us and it was there before we became brothers under Father’s roof.

“Some of the best men I ever served with were from the clans. They all had heightened senses just as you do. They could literally smell an ambush. They read the terrain better than any troop who grew up in a town,” Jørgen recalled.

“I know it sets us apart from others, I just hope they don’t regard us as show offs or something worse,” I said.

“That is doubtful, from what I’ve seen, your mettle is genuine and so is that of your brothers. You aren’t the sort of boys that flinch when something unpleasant comes along. Instead you meet it head on and deal with it. That is to your credit and it’s what sets you apart from your city friends. They may develop those qualities at some point but you boys possess them now. It’s a rare thing in our time,” Jørgen said.

We spoke for a bit longer and my brother’s joined us. I introduced Olaf and Bolly, then Bolly tugged Ivy forward to greet Jørgen.

Father joined us and we boys listened while the two of them regaled us with stories from their days in the saddle in service of the King. We all went to the tailors for the second fitting of my brother’s uniforms. Jørgen brought his along for a few repairs. His insignia were different since he had served the King alone. But the uniform had the same overall appearance.

We returned home and polished our leather and I polished my sabre.

In the morning we dressed after eating breakfast. Aside from our activities there was little taking place at the palace that was not hinged to the royal visit. Emil stood on a balcony and observed people rushing back and forth. He noted people who moved with less energy than was appropriate. In his eyes they were potential security risks.

One of the service staff collared a man and asked his business. A guard appeared and inquired the same.

“He’s not one of mine, you should find out if he is even to be above the works,” The staff member asserted.

“I was supposed to see the second butler, I usually work in the bakery below stairs but I was told they were short of hands here and sent to help,” The man told us.

“I will bring him over and we’ll verify this man’s assignment,” the staff man nodded.

A man in butler’s livery approached with the staff man and removed a notebook from his pocket. “Are you Browlund?” the Butler inquired.

“Yes sir, I would have been here sooner but I had to change from my whites or I would have covered everything with flour,” the man said.

The guard released his grip and the staff man nodded curtly and strode away.

Browlund gathered his wits and asked what he was needed to do. It was clear that senior staff had been briefed on security, probably by Emil. Nothing was being left to chance.

It wasn’t much later that a blustery member of court tried to barge past the guards at the entrance and then snuck past while the guards were busy with someone else.

I stopped him in the entrance hall and asked his business.

“How dare you speak to me like that boy, do you know who I am?!” the man growled.

“No idea what so ever sir, but these men will soon know and they will inform me later. I handed him off to two guardsmen who were drawn by his bloviation. I dismissed him from my mind and waited to be summoned.

Emil walked up and smiled graciously at me. It was a skill I wasn’t aware that he possessed.

“Thank you for helping the guard with that self-important fool. He will regret his actions today. The regent, your father and another cavalry officer are ready for you and your brothers,” Emil said smoothly.

We found ourselves in the Regent’s private chamber yet again and in a quick ceremony we each received medals for our actions.

“Emil told me you were of some help with security details today,” Halkar grinned.

“I suppose Uncle, the first man was meant to be there he just didn’t know what the second butler looked like. The second was my least favorite type of person. I intercepted him when he bypassed the guards at the door. He should never have been allowed in the forecourt,” I asserted.

“He’s one of those people who thinks he’s indispensable in any situation but brings little skill or knowledge along with him. You will have to deal with his sort later on. But by then you will have learned how to deal with them. I can’t simply bar him from the palace because he is marginally useful in some regards. But that has inflated his sense of self-worth. The men and women I value most from court are those I seldom see. They only arrive when they have actual business, not to remind me that they have been helpful in the past. Some people visit court in their finest just so they can be seen leaving by the public. Then there are the petitioners that won’t follow the procedure. Yes, you have a lot to learn but your solution today was perfect,” Halkar smiled.

“We took our leave and left the palace. I didn’t get a chance to see Valla but she was having a fitting for a gown to wear in honor of the King.

We returned home and relaxed for a while. We dressed in work clothes and went to see what needed doing. Even Ivy pitched in and helped whenever he could.

Jørgen joined us since he was a guest in our home. He would take his leave in the morning to ride to his new appointment. We had a great dinner in his honor and he thanked us for our kind hospitality.

Father and I were the only ones awake when Jørgen left, we sent him off and went for more tea.