The White Wolf and Other Fireside Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 366 pages of information about The White Wolf and Other Fireside Tales.

And now in the clear sunshine he saw that the storm had been more violent than any had supposed; since the wall of ice, which before had been solid, was now burst and riven in many places, and in particular to the eastward, where a broad path of water lay before them almost like a canal, but winding here and there.  Towards this Snorri steered, and entered it with a fair breeze.

They had come, he said, but to the second bend of this waterway, when a seaman, who had climbed the mast on the chance of spying an outlet, called out in surprise that there was a ship ahead of them, but two miles off, and running down the channel before the wind, even as they.  At first he found no credit for this tale, and even when those on deck spied her mast and yard overtopping a gap between two bergs, they could only set it down for a mirage or cheat of eyesight in the clear weather.

But by and by, said Snorri, they could not doubt they were in chase of a ship, and, further, that they were fast overtaking her.  For she steered with no method, and shook with every slant of wind, and anon went off before it like a helpless thing, until in the end she was fetched up by the jutting foot of a berg, and there shook her sail, flapping with such noise that Snorri’s men heard it, though yet a mile away.

They bore down upon her, and now took note that this sail of hers was ragged and frozen, so that it flapped like a jointed board, and that her rigging hung in all ways and untended, but stiff with rime; and drawing yet nearer, they saw an ice-line about her hull, so deep that her timbers seemed bitten through, and a great pile of frozen snow upon her poop, banked even above her tiller; but no helmsman, and no living soul upon her.

Then Snorri let lower his boat, and was rowed towards her; and, coming alongside, gave a hail, which was unanswered.  But from the frozen pile by the tiller there stuck out a man’s arm, ghastly to see.  Snorri climbed on board by the waist, where her sides were low and a well reached aft from the mast to the poop.  There was a cabin beneath the poop, and another and larger room under the deck forward, between the step of the mast and the bows.  Into each of these he broke with axes and bars, and in the one found nothing but some cooking-pots and bedding; but in the other—­that is, the after-cabin—­the door, as he burst it in, almost fell against a young man seated by a bed.  So life-like was he that Snorri called aloud in the doorway, but anon, peering into the gloomy place, perceived the body to be frozen upright and stiff, and that on the bed lay another body, of a lady slight and young, and very fair.  She, too, was dead and frozen; yet her cheeks, albeit white as the pillow against which they rested, had not lost their roundness.  Snorri took note also of her dress and of the coverlet reaching from the bed’s foot to her waist, that they were of silk for the most part, and richly embroidered, and her shift and the bed-sheets about her of fine linen.  The man’s dress was poor and coarse by comparison; yet he carried a sword, and was plainly of gentle nurture.  The sword Snorri drew from its sheath and brought away; also he took a small box of jewels; but little else could he find on the ship, and no food of any kind.

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The White Wolf and Other Fireside Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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