EDBURGA: I am Edburga, and the daughter of Ulf.
My mother was a slave. For she was sold,
And given in her youth unto Svanfleda,
Sister of Ulf, -- a just and holy woman;
Who bought and set her free, for Ulf to wed,--
And had it written in the gospel-book,--
When that his heart clave to her. That, O monk,
Thou canst but hear, not heed! And I was grown,
When Ulf came to be made an ealdorman.
And Bertric would have taken me to wife,
Save that I came before the eyes of Ælfric
The King; and so...
--What are you, men and monks,
That you may give us unto such an one
To bind your lands together? Or to bring
The sum of twenty spears or more, to follow
You, at the man-hunt? Women bring you forth,
As Darkness cherishes the doomful light
Of the Sun, that being grown, shakes his bright locks
And puts all to the sword! I'll not be given
To Bertric, would that Bertric have me now:--
I, a free-woman, and gladlier free,
That being yet unborn, I was a slave!
I am a creature rooted in the dark,
But born to sunlight and the noble air.
I will to give; and I will not be given.
I fear not right nor left, nor east, nor west;
Nor thee! For that I have is all mine own
To give or keep. And I am all I have.
And I am Ælfric's, -- for a kingly gift.