King Alfred's Viking eBook

Charles Whistler
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about King Alfred's Viking.

“Back to the hill; we are on the brink of the old mine shaft!  Back, and stay not!”

Nor did we wait, but we won back to the higher ground before we drew rein.

“We have met with Odin himself,” Osmund said when we stopped and the thunder let him speak.

“Ay, and have driven him hellwards by the might of the holy sign,” said Harek.  “Nearly had he lured us to death, unbaptized as we are, in that place.”

“Come,” said Osmund; “I know where we are now.  We are well-nigh under the great fort, and there is a farm near at hand.”

We found that soon and the rain came, and the storm spent its fury and passed as we sat under cover in the stables waiting.  Then came the moonlight and calm, and the sweetness of rain-soaked earth and flowers refreshed, and we went on our way wondering, and came to the thane’s with the first daylight.  And I thought that our faces were pale and marked with the terror of the things through which we had gone, and maybe also with a new light of victory {xvii}.

Chapter XIV.  King Alfred’s Will.

When we came back to Aller, the first thing that I did was to tell Neot of our meeting with Odin while his wild hunt went on through the tempest, telling him how that I had feared unwisely, and also of Harek’s brave withstanding of the danger.

“It is said that our forefathers met Odin in like wise in the days of the first christening of our race,” he said.  “I do not know what to make thereof, seeing that I hold Odin as nought; but I think this, that in some way Satan tried to destroy you before you were baptized.  Wherefore, whether Odin or mortal man drew you to that place, I have no doubt what power saved you.”

But Sigehelm thought that we had met with Satan himself in the shape of the old god, and so also thought Guerir the hermit, who told strange tales of like appearings among the Welsh hills where he was born.

As for Alfred the king, he marvelled, and said even as Neot.  But he added this: 

“I know the mine shaft well, and it is in my mind that some day Odin’s bones will be found at the bottom thereof.  Nevertheless there is more than mortal in what has happened to you by way of trial.”

Now came the time when Guthrum and his thirty comrades should seek the king, and I have no words to tell of that time when in the peaceful church we heathen stood white-robed and unarmed altogether at the font, while Sigehelm, with a wonderful gathering of priests, enlisted us as warriors of the Cross.  It was, as all men think, the most mighty victory that Alfred had ever gained.

At that time he chose Guthrum as his own son in the faith, and named him Athelstan {xviii}, as the first and most noble stone of the new building up of the church among the Danes.  Neot would not have our names changed, for he said we had wronged the faith in them not at all.  Odda stood for Osmund, as Neot for us.

Project Gutenberg
King Alfred's Viking from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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