All his men the Count collects, And from Slesvig marched away;Never such as host was seen Or before or since that day.
Into Denmark marched the Count, Followed by so fair a band;Banners twenty-four they bore, Power like theirs might none withstand.
Gert the Count to Randers rode, To bad counsel lending ear;For from old it stood foretold, He should end there his career.
He would not the place avoid, But seemed bent to tempt his fate;Of the rural lords and thanes He the quarters up will beat.
Knights and freeborn men apart, There trooped eighteen thousand bows;Forty thousand made they all, Who could such a host oppose?
To Niels Ebbesen the Count Word to appear before him sent;And safe convoy him he gave, Which should doubt and fear prevent.
Gert the Count met Ebbesen North of Randers by the sea:“Welcome be, Niels Ebbesen! Say how matters stand with thee.”
To Niels stretched the Count his hand, And to parleying straight they go;There was little then of jest, And of dallying less, I trow.
“Sir Niels Ebbesen, thou art Welcome as the flowers in spring;How stand minds in North Jutland, Thence what tidings dost thou bring?
“Say how all thy wealthy friends And thy heart’s loved lady are;Which dost wish for at my hands, Smiling peace, or bloody war?”
“Well stand minds in North Jutland, Each man’s courage there’s erect;Say, dost come as friend or foe? What from thee may we expect?
“I have kindred in the North, Men of wealth and noble race;Shouldst thou it require of them They’ll be ready for thy Grace.”
“Wise art thou, Niels Ebbesen, And thy prudence none can doubt;When thou canst not straightway hit Widely then thou ridst about.
“Hear thou, Sir Niels Ebbesen, Thou must on mine errand ride;Say, how many men thou hast Brought, on whom thou mayst confide?”
“Kindred, Sir, I have, and friends, ’Mongst the hardy Jutlanders;Willingly they follow me To the stormy strife of spears.
“I have brought, such as they are, With me thirty mounted men;Be they fewer, or be they more, Dear are they to Ebbesen.”
“Hast thou with thee thirty lads? That seems but a scanty force;Yester e’en at Sir Bugge’s Gate Stood’st thou with a hundred horse.”
Backward Ebbesen recoiled, And with high flushed cheek replied:“He nor knight nor gentleman Is, who me hath thus belied.
“Be it man or woman who To my face dares that to say,Till I’ve answered suitably, Ne’er from him I’ll flinch away.”
“Hear thou, dear Niels Ebbesen, We thereof will talk no more;To thy friend Sir Bugge ride, Him to serve me true win o’er.”
“If your errand I shall do, And to Bugge bold repair,From thy part what I’m to say First to me thou must declare.”
“Bugge bold has me defied, Young Poul Glob has done the same;Anders Frost makes one of them, Him your Chief ’tis said ye name.
“And e’en thou, Niels Ebbesen, Certain courtiers hast with thee,Who have eaten of my bread, And have basely quitted me.
“First there is young Eske Frost, And his stalwart brothers two;Without leave of mine obtained, From my service they withdrew.
“More there are whom I’ve obliged, And who pay me now no heed;If to Bugge’s rede you list Soon ye’ll see how you will speed.”
“Nought of Bugge’s rede I know, What he’ll do or leave undone;Eske thy true servant was, Cast no blame that knight upon....