K ING HALFDAN lived in Norway long ago. One morning his queen said to him:
"I had a strange dream last night. I thought that I stood in the grass before my bower. I pulled a thorn from my dress. As I held it in my fingers, it grew into a tall tree. The trunk was thick and red as blood, but the lower limbs were fair and green, and the highest ones were white. I thought that the branches of this great tree spread so far that they covered all Norway and even more."
"A strange dream," said King Halfdan. "Dreams are the messengers of the gods. I wonder what they would tell us," and he stroked his beard in thought.
Some time after that a serving-woman came into the feast hall where King Halfdan was. She carried a little white bundle in her arms.
"My lord," she said, "a little son is just born to you."
"Ha!" cried the king, and he jumped up from the high seat and hastened forward until he stood before the woman.
"Show him to me!" he shouted, and there was joy in his voice.
The serving-woman put down her bundle on the ground and turned back the cloth. There was a little naked baby. The king looked at it carefully.
"It is a goodly youngster," he said, and smiled. "Bring Ivar and Thorstein."
They were captains of the king's soldiers. Soon they came.
"Stand as witnesses," Halfdan said.
Then he lifted the baby in his arms, while the old serving-woman brought a silver bowl of water. The king dipped his hand into it and sprinkled the baby, saying:
"I own this baby for my son. He shall be called Harald. My naming gift to him is ten pounds of gold."
"I own this baby for my son. He shall be called Harald."
Then the woman carried the baby back to the queen's room.
"My lord owns him for his son," she said. "And no wonder! He is perfect in every limb."
The queen looked at him and smiled and remembered her dream and thought:
"That great tree! Can it be this little baby of mine?"