Our Little Saxon Cousin of Long Ago - Julia D. Cowles

A Royal Saxon Wedding

It was several days later when Wulstan and Gyneth returned from the wedding feast.

Prince Alfred had sought out Wulstan at the castle and told him of the accident to Turgar, taking upon himself even more than his share of the blame, but reassuring him as to any serious injury to the lad. Wulstan had therefore had several days in which to let his indignation at the conduct of his men cool, and it is probably well for them that he had.

When, upon their return, he and Gyneth questioned Turgar, the latter exclaimed, "Oh, I was so glad it happened, because if it had not, I would not have seen my Prince." And so, with a laugh, Wulstan let the matter drop.

"Mother," said Turgar the next day, "please tell me all about the wedding. Is Elswitha nice?"

"She seems pike a sweet, sensible girl," answered Gyneth, "and I am sure she is very fond of your Prince."

"Please tell me all about it," repeated Turgar, stretching himself upon the rug before the fire, and looking up into his mother's face. "You see," he added, "I do not know how people are wedded at all, or what they do."

"Well," replied Gyneth with a smile, "I will describe the wedding to you as well as I can. In the first place, Alfred and a company of his friends rode away many miles to the home of Elswitha. He and his company were dressed in their most splendid armor, and they made an imposing company. The old Saxon custom required that they go armed, because in those remote days brides were sometimes carried away from their homes by force, and often there would be a battle with the followers of some other suitor. Those days have passed, but in our own times it is equally necessary for the men to go armed on account of the presence of the Danes in our land; for no one knows when there may be an attack from them.

"But nothing of this kind occurred to Prince Alfred, and he and his company had returned the day before we reached the castle. They brought with them Elswitha and her father, two of her brothers, and a group of young maidens who were to act as her attendants.

"The wedding occurred the day after we arrived, in the church which belongs to the castle. Alfred and Elswitha were dressed in royal garments, heavy with gold embroidery and sparkling with jewels. Each wore a crown of flowers, and the church was decorated with blossoms of many sorts.

"As they stood before the altar, Alfred promised to care for Elswitha as his dearest treasure as long as he lived, and then Elswitha's father gave his consent to their being made man and wife. Then the priest read the wedding service of the church, and gave them his blessing."

"Was that all?" asked Turgar.

"That was all of the wedding ceremony," replied Gyneth, "but after that came the wedding feast, and that lasted very much longer.

"We all went from the church to the castle, and there we took part in a great banquet, where every imaginable kind of food was served. There were singers and harpists and minstrels to entertain us. They sang the old ballads of kings and conquests, and then they sang a group of songs which had been newly written in honor of Alfred's brave deeds and noble courage. And they sang, too, of Elswitha's high birth and gentle courtesy.

"The feasting and song lasted all night and far into the next day, and then Alfred and his bride rode away to their own home."

"Did they have many gifts?" asked Turgar, as his mother finished, for he had been greatly interested in the work of his mother and the goldsmith in the days preceding the wedding.

"Wagon loads of them," answered Gyneth. "When they started away it looked like a triumphal procession. We all stood in the castle grounds and waved our scarfs and banners till they were out of sight."

"What sort of presents were there?" persisted Turgar, for no detail of this wonderful wedding was to be overlooked.

"There were beautiful chains and clasps and rings, made from gold and silver and precious stones," replied Gyneth. "There were dishes of gold and of silver, cups with jeweled edges, tapestries and hangings of the richest embroidery, and furniture with wonderful carving upon it. I am sure all the most skilled workmen of the land must have been busy for many months to produce the wonderful things that were given."

"Oh, I am glad!" exclaimed Turgar. wish I knew some of the songs that the minstrels sang—the new songs that told about the Prince."

"Perhaps Withgar will remember them," Gyneth replied. "He sings well, and would be apt to remember the words. I am sure he will be glad to teach them to you when he returns."

"But when will Withgar come back?" asked Turgar.

"He went with the singers and musicians and friends who accompanied Alfred and Elswitha to their home."

"Oh, then when he comes he will be sure to know the new songs," cried Turgar happily, and he ran out to the yard, where he found Acca feeding the dogs.

"Oh, Acca," he cried, "Mother has just been telling me all about the wedding and the feasting, and the presents. It must have been a wonderful time, and I can shut my eyes and imagine it all, for now, you see, I know just how the Prince looks."

Poor Acca's face flushed deeply, as it did every time he was reminded of the accident to Turgar, but the lad was too intent to notice. "Oh," Turgar added, "I would not have missed seeing him for anything! I don't believe I would have minded if the fall had broken my leg."

"Bless you!" said Acca fervently. "It is some comfort to hear you say that."