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.

Then in the silence came my mother’s voice from where she stood on the balcony of the living house across the garth {i}.  I mind that she neither wept nor shrieked as did the women round her, and her voice was clear and strong over the roaring of the flames.  I mind, too, the flash of helms and armour as every man turned to look on her who spoke.

“Coward and nidring art thou, Rognvald, who dared not meet Vemund, my husband, in open field, but must slay him thus.  Ill may all things go with thee, till thou knowest what a burning hall is like for thyself.  I rede thee to the open hillside ever, rather than come beneath a roof; for as thou hast wrought this night, so shall others do to thee.”

Then rose a growl of wrath from Rognvald’s men, but the great Jarl bade them cease, and harm none in all the place.  So he went down to his ships with no more words and men said that he was ill at ease and little content, for he had lost as many men as he had slain, so stoutly fought my father and our courtmen, and had earned a curse, moreover, which would make his nights uneasy for long enough.

Then as he went my mother bade me look well at him, that in days to come I might know on whom to avenge my father’s death.  After that she went to her own lands in the south, for she was a jarl’s daughter, and very rich.

Not long thereafter Harald Fairhair won all the land, and then began the trouble of ruling it; and men began to leave Norway because of the new laws, which seemed hard on them, though they were good enough.

Now two of Jarl Rognvald’s sons had been good friends of my father before these troubles began, and one, Sigurd, had been lord over the Orkney Islands, and had died there.  The other, Jarl Einar, fell out with Rognvald, his father, and we heard that he would take to the viking path, and go to the Orkneys, to win back the jarldom that Sigurd’s death had left as a prey to masterless men and pirates of all sorts.  So my mother took me to him, and asked him for the sake of old friendship to give me a place in his ship; for I was fourteen now, and well able to handle weapons, being strong and tall for my age, as were many of the sons of the old kingly stocks.

So Einar took me, having had no part in his father’s doings towards us, and hating them moreover.  He promised to do all that he might towards making a good warrior and seaman of me; and he was ever thereafter as a foster father to me, for my own had died in the hall with Vemund.  It was his wish to make amends thus, if he could, for the loss his folk had caused me.

Of the next five years I need speak little, for in them I learned the viking’s craft well.  We won the Orkneys from those who held them, and my first fight was in Einar’s ship, against two of the viking’s vessels.  After that we dwelt in Sigurd’s great house in Kirkwall, and made many raids on the Sutherland and Caithness shores.  I saw some hard fighting there, for the Scots are no babes at weapon play.

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