The Missing King
Long ago, the country of Den- mark was ruled by a wise and just king. He had two daughters and a son.
When the children were not very old, their mother died. A few years later, their father died, too, but the little prince was too young to rule the kingdom, so Earl Godard, the most important of the nobles, became regent and ruled the country for him.
Earl Godard was a wicked man and a powerful one. He took the children and shut them away; nobody knew where. None of the nobles dared to ask where they had gone, for they feared the powerful earl.
One of Earl Godard’s tenants was a man named Grim. He was a stern and silent” man but a trustworthy one. He earned himself a poor living by fishing, but there was never any money to spare.
One day, Earl Godard sent for Grim. “You know, Grim, that you are my vassal,” they said the earl. “I can do with you what I will. I can turn you, your wife and children out. that poor cottage. You have if you do not obey my commands, is that not so?”
“It is my duty as a vassal to obey your commands, my lord,” replied Grim, and Earl Godard smiled, for he was pleased with the answer.
He took Grim to an old castle and led him up a winding However, the time came when the fishing was terrible, and Grim had hardly enough money to feed his family.
“You have worked for me long enough,” Edmund told his foster father. “It is time I worked to keep you in return.”
It saddened Grim to think of his rightful king working to keep him, but at last, Edmund had his way. He went off to Lincoln and found a job as a scullion, the lowliest servant in the kitchens of the great Earl Havelock.
Earl Havelock was the most powerful earl in England, and he was also the Regent of England. He ruled the kingdom for the young princess until she came of age and could rule herself.
Soon after Edmund arrived in Lincoln, a great fair was held. There were many trials of strength, and Bertram, the earl’s cook, made his new scullion enter for them all.
Edmund was so tall and strong that he had no difficulty winning them all. He was a great favourite with all the other servants for his great strength and good humour, and they were so delighted that it soon reached the ears of Earl Havelock.
The earl went to watch the merriment and the trials of strength, and as he saw Edmund win again and again, he looked very thoughtful.
When he returned to his castle, he immediately sent a messenger to Dover to fetch the princess.
“I promised your father on his deathbed that I would marry you to the best, strongest and most handsome man in the realm,” the earl told her. “I have just found him, and you shall be married at once.”
In vain, the princess pleaded that she did not wish to be married, and she wept even more loudly when the earl led in a tall, untidy youth whose tunic was spotted with grease and kitchen stains and whose hands were dirty.
“You are to be married at once to this girl, scullion,” cried the earl. Edmund protested that he could hardly earn enough to keep himself, let alone a wife, but the earl would have no argument, and the two were married, the bride weeping all the time bitterly.
“Now take your wife and go,” ordered the wicked earl. “She will never wear the crown of England now, for the mighty barons would never consent to be ruled by the wife of a scullion. I shall continue to be the ruler of England.”
Edmund took his new wife, Princess Elfrida, back to Grim’s home.
That night, as darkness fell, the princess saw a bright light shining above her new husband’s head. She looked at him in wonder, and as she did so, she noticed a mark like a cross on his shoulder.
“Who are you?” she asked. “I am Edmund, the rightful heir to the throne of Denmark,” he replied and told the princess how he, too, had been driven from his kingdom by the wicked Regent, Earl Godard.
“If that is so, rouse yourself,” said the princess. “Return to your kingdom and claim what is rightfully yours. Surely there are still some loyal subjects who will fight for you. When you have won back your throne, return and win back mine for me.”
Edmund was ashamed now that he had not returned to Denmark to claim his throne. He swore to make Elfrida Queen of both Den- mark and England.
He set sail for Denmark, disguised as a trader, and when he arrived, he found that the cruel regent, Earl Godard, was hated by all. The news spread quickly that Edmund was alive and had returned, and the people flocked to fight for him. His army was soon big enough to defeat the earl, and he could return triumphantly to England at the head of a large army.
There, he won the throne of England for his wife with ease.
The two traitor earls were executed while Edmund and his princess were crowned King and Queen of Denmark and England and ruled wisely and well to the end of their lives.