Flemish Legend Sir Halewyn by Charles de Coster Chapter 33

Of the feast in the castle of Heurne, and of the head upon the table

Schimmel trotted quickly, and soon Magtelt reached her father’s castle and there sounded the horn.

Josse van Ryhove, who was gate-keeper that night, was filled with amazement at the sight of her. Then he cried out: “Thanks be to God, ’tis our damosel come home again.”

And all the household ran to the gate crying out likewise with great noise and much shouting: “Our damosel is come home.”

Magtelt, going into the great hall, went to Sir Roel and knelt before him:

“My lord father,” she said, “here is the head of Siewert Halewyn.”

Sir Roel, taking the head in his hands and looking at it well, was so overcome with joy that he wept for the first time since the eyes were in his head.

And the Silent, rising up, came to Magtelt, kissed her right hand wherewith she had held the sword, and wept likewise, saying: “Thanks be to thee who hast brought about the reckoning.”

The lady Gonde was like a woman drunk with joy, and could not find her tongue. At last, bursting into sobs, melting into tears, and embracing Magtelt eagerly:

“Ah, ah,” she cried out, “kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, little one! She has slain the Miserable, the sweet maid; the nightingale has vanquished the falcon! My child is come home again, home again my child. No?l! Thanks be to God who loves aged mothers and will not have them robbed of their children. No?l! See, Magtelt the beautiful, Magtelt the singing-bird, Magtelt the joyous, Magtelt the bright of heart, Magtelt the glorious, Magtelt the victorious, Magtelt my daughter, my child, my all, No?l!”

And Magtelt smiled at her, caressing her and stroking her hands gently.

And the lady Gonde, weeping freely, let her do, without speaking.

“Ah,” said Sir Roel, “I never saw my wife before in such festival mood.” Then suddenly he cried out:

“Festival,” quoth he, “this should be a day of festival, the great feast of the house of Heurne!”

And he threw open the door to call his pages, grooms, men-at-arms, and all the household.

But they all held back, not daring to enter.

“Ho!” cried he, in his great joyous voice, “where are cooks and kitchen-maids? Where are cauldrons, pots, and frying-pans? Where are barrels, kegs, flagons and bottles, tankards, mugs, and goblets? Where is clauwaert simple and double? Where is old wine and new wine? Where are hams and sausages, whales’ tongues, and loins of beef, meat of the air, meat of the waters, and meat of the fields? Bring in everything there is and set it on the table, for this must be a feast-day in this house, feast for an emperor, a king, a prince; for” – and so saying he held up the Miserable’s head by the hair – “our beloved maid has slain with her own hand the lord Siewert Halewyn.”

Hearing this they all cried out with a roar like thunder:

“Praise be to God! No?l to our damosel!”

“Go then,” said Sir Roel, “and do as I have bid.”

And when the great feast was served the head was put in the middle of the table.

On the morrow there was let cry war in the seigneury of Heurne. And Sir Roel went with a goodly force of men to attack by arms the castle of the Miserable, whereof all the relatives, friends, and followers were either hanged or slain.

And My Lord the Count gave to the family of Heurne, the goods, titles and territories of Halewyn, excepting only the ugly shield, and theirs they remain to this day.