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Harold : the Last of the Saxon Kings — Volume 05 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
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cover, or hole in the roof. And in that large house there were no
less than three "covers," or rooms, wherein fires could be lit in the
centre of the floor; and the rafters above were blackened with the
smoke; and in those good old days, ere chimneys, if existing, were
much in use, "poses, and rheumatisms, and catarrhs," were unknown, so
wholesome and healthful was the smoke. Earl Godwin's favourite hound,
old, like himself, lay at his feet, dreaming, for it whined and was
restless. And the Earl's old hawk, with its feathers all stiff and
sparse, perched on the dossal of the Earl's chair and the floor was
pranked with rushes and sweet herbs--the first of the spring; and
Githa's feet were on her stool, and she leaned her proud face on the
small hand which proved her descent from the Dane, and rocked herself
to and fro, and thought of her son Wolnoth in the court of the Norman.

"Githa," at last said the Earl, "thou hast been to me a good wife and
a true, and thou hast borne me tall and bold sons, some of whom have
caused us sorrow, and some joy; and in sorrow and in joy we have but
drawn closer to each other. Yet when we wed thou wert in thy first
youth, and the best part of my years was fled; and thou wert a Dane
and I a Saxon; and thou a king's niece, and now a king's sister, and I
but tracing two descents to thegn's rank."

Moved and marvelling at this touch of sentiment in the calm earl, in
whom indeed such sentiment was rare, Githa roused herself from her
musings, and said, simply and anxiously:

"I fear my lord is not well, that he speaks thus to Githa!"

The Earl smiled faintly.