King Olaf's Kinsman eBook

Charles Whistler
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 289 pages of information about King Olaf's Kinsman.

Earl Wulfnoth grasped the bridle of the pack horse, and the man Spray lashed it, shouting aloud to us to hasten.  And Olaf turned in his saddle and saw me, and reined up until I grasped his stirrup leather, and ran on beside him.  And our men broke and ran, some following us, and some going back to the hill whence we came.  And all the while the great white billow was thundering nearer, and my head reeled with its noise and terror till I knew not what I was doing, and let go my hold of Olaf’s stirrup.

Then it broke over bridge and causeway, and through its roar I heard yells, and the crash of broken timber, before I lost all knowledge of aught but that I was lost in that mighty wave, and was being whirled like a straw before it, where it would take me.

I struck out wildly as if to swim—­but of what avail was that against the weight of rushing water?  I seemed to be rolled over and against broken timber and reeds and stones—­and once my hand touched a man, for I felt it grate over the scales of armour—­and my ears were full of roarings and strange sounds, and I thought that I was surely lost.

Then a strong grip was on me, and the water flew past me, and hurled things at me, for I no longer went with it.  My feet touched ground, and other hands held me, and then I was ashore, and spent almost nigh to death.  Well for me it was that in the old days by the Stour river I had loved to swim and dive in the deep pool behind the island, for I had learned to save my breath.  Had I not done so, the choking of the great wave had surely ended my days.

It was Olaf who had saved me.  Almost had we won to the high ground when I had let go his stirrup leather, and then the shoreward edge of the wave had caught me.  But he had faced its fury as he saw me borne away, and had snatched me from it as it tossed me near the bank again.  Now he bent over me, trying to catch the sound of my voice through the roar of the storm and the rush of the flood below us.  But I could not speak to him though I would, and it was not all drowning that ailed me, for the blow which had felled me in the fight was even now beginning to do its work.  Else had I clung to him all along, and had been safe as he was.  For he won to shore ten yards beyond its reach as the wave came.

Now I know that Olaf and our men carried me into a place under the lee of a hill, and bided there till the gale blew over.  There was a sharp pain as of a piercing weapon in my side as they did so, and after that I knew not much of being carried on to the house of Relf, the Thane of Penhurst, along a forest road where travelling was no easier for the fallen trees that lay across it.  And after I was there I knew nothing.  The blow I had had took its effect on me, and I had several ribs broken by some timber that smote me amid the tossing of the great wave of the flood.

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King Olaf's Kinsman from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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