Flemish Legend Sir Halewyn by Charles de Coster Chapter 19

How Magtelt sang to Sir Roel the lied of the Lion, and the song of the Four Witches

While Sir Roel and the lady Gonde were talking together,

The snow had fallen in great quantity,

And had quite covered Magtelt and Anne-Mie, who were coming back from having taken an eagle-stone to the wife of Josse, for her to bind to her left thigh and so get ease in her lying-in.

And the girls came into the great hall, where Sir Roel was sitting with his good wife.

Magtelt, drawing close to her father, knelt to him in salutation.

And Sir Roel, having raised her up, kissed her on the brow.

But Anne-Mie stayed quietly in a corner, as became a private servant.

And it was a good sight to see these two maids wholly covered with snow.

“Jesus-Maria,” said the lady Gonde, “see these two sillies, what have they been doing to get themselves clothed in snow in this fashion? To the fire quickly, children; draw to the fire and dry yourselves.”

“Silence, wife,” said Sir Roel, “you make youth faint-heart. In my young days I went through cold, snow, hail, thunder, and tempest without a thought. And so do I still, when there is need to, and I will have Magtelt do the same. Thanks be to God! ’tis not from a fire of logs that a daughter of ours must get warmth, but from the natural fire which burns in the bodies of the children of old Roel.”

But Magtelt, seeing him about to grow angry, went and knelt at his feet.

“Lord father,” said she, “we are not cold at all, for we have been leaping, dancing and frolicking so heartily, thumping and drubbing each other, that we turned winter into spring; furthermore we sang some fine songs, which I beg you will give me leave to sing over again to you.”

“So I will, little one,” said Sir Roel. So Magtelt sang him the lied, of Roeland de Heurne the Lion, who came back from the Holy Land, and brought thence a great sword; and also the song of the Four Witches, wherein you may hear mewling of cats, bleating of goats, and the noise which they make with their tails in rainy weather.

And Sir Roel forgot his anger.

When Magtelt had done singing he caused supper to be served and the cross lit up, which threw over them a bright light from the four lamps burning at the end of each arm.

And he made his daughter sit at his side.

Anne-Mie came likewise to sit at table, beside the lady Gonde, who said: “Young company warms old folk.”

And there were served to them that evening fine white bread, beef salted and smoked in the chimney among the sweet smoke of fir-cones, Ghent sausage, which was invented, they say, by Boudwin the Glutton, bastard of Flanders, and old clauwaert.

Supper finished, and a prayer spoken, Magtelt and Anne-Mie went off to bed, in the same room, for Magtelt loved Anne-Mie like a sister and would have her by her side at all times.