I promised to wait for you forever, but I fear I will not be allowed to. My father says you will never return, and he has chosen another man to be my husband. Though I pleaded with him, he has already set the marriage date.
I will love you always.
Your faithful Thale
Arild Ugerup, son of a noble Danish family, sat on his cot, reading the letter by the dim light of his prison cell. How cruel the tricks played by war, he thought, his eyes filling with tears.
Though Arild and his family were nobles of Denmark, they had long lived peaceably in Sweden. When King Erik of Sweden was crowned, Arild had been one of his honored guests. But then Denmark and Sweden declared war on each other, and Arild was drafted into the Danish navy. He was captured in battle and imprisoned by King Erik.
Arild’s childhood sweetheart, Thale Thott, had promised to marry him when he came back from the war. Now it seemed he would lose Thale as well as his freedom.
Arild sat thinking for many hours, the letter lying loose in his hand. At last he crossed to a small table. Dipping his pen in an inkwell, he began to write.
Your Royal Majesty,
Though I am now your prisoner, you once counted me as a friend. Grant me one favor. Let me go home to marry the woman I love. Then allow me to stay only long enough to plant a crop and harvest it.
On my word of honor, I will return to your prison as soon as the harvest is gathered.
Arild signed and sealed the letter, then called the jailer.
The reply came the next day. King Erik had agreed! Arild was free—at least until the harvest.
Arild returned home, where Thale met him joyfully. Her father was not happy to have his plans changed, but in the end the two were married.
Now it was spring, the time for planting. And, in only a few months, Arild would have to harvest his crop and return to King Erik’s prison.
Arild thought long and hard about what he would plant. At last he went to the fields and...