Then came my mother and set her hand on his shoulder and spoke softly to him with wise words.
“Husband, but a little while ago it would have been wonderful if there were one of us left alive, or one plank of the ship on another. And now we are all safe and unhurt, and the loss of the ship is the least of ills that might have been.”
“Nay, wife,” he said; “you cannot understand.”
“Then it is woe for the—for the one who is with us. But how had it been if you had seen Hodulf and his men round our house, and all the children slain that one might not escape, while on the roof crowed the red cock, and naught was left to us? We have lost less than if we had stayed for that, and we have gained what we sought, even safety. See, to the shore have come the ancient holy things of our house, and that not by your guidance. Surely here shall be the place for us that is best.”
“Ay, wife; you are right in all these things, but it is not for them.”
Then she laughed a little, forcing herself to do so, as it seemed.
“Why, then, it is for the ship that I was ever jealous of, for she took you away from me. Now I think that I should be glad that she can do so no more. But I am not, for well I know what the trouble must be, and I would have you think no more of it. The good ship has saved us all, and so her work is done, and well done. Never, if she sailed many a long sea mile with you, would anything be worth telling of her besides this. And the burden of common things would surely be all unmeet for her after what she has borne hither.”
“It is well said, Leva, my wife,” my father answered.
From that time he was cheerful, and told us how it was certain that we had been brought here for good, seeing that the Norns must have led the stones to the haven, so that this must be the place that we sought.
Easily we went ashore when the tide fell, across the spits of sand that ran between the mud banks, and we climbed the low sandhill range that hid the land from us, and saw the place where we should bide. And it might have been worse; for all the level country between us and the hills was fat, green meadow and marsh, on which were many cattle and sheep feeding. Here and there were groves of great trees, hemmed in with the quickset fences that are as good as stockades for defence round the farmsteads of the English folk, and on other patches of rising ground were the huts of thralls or herdsmen, and across the wide meadows glittered and flashed streams and meres, above which the wildfowl that the storm had driven inland wheeled in clouds. All the lower hills seemed to be wooded thickly, and the alder copses that would shelter boar and deer and maybe wolves stretched in some places thence across the marsh. Pleasant and homely seemed all this after long looking at the restless sea.