The Marriage Proposal
A Narrow Escape
It was a beautifully moonlit night when they reached the waters off of Skúvoy. Tróndur decided to keep his ships well off shore, and out of sight of land. It was his feeling that if he was spotted at sea Sigmundur would bring his men down to the beach and contest their landing. But he thought that if he came ashore just before daybreak he might be able to catch Sigmundur and his folk by surprise, and possibly capture the chieftain with little or no struggle.
As the first hint of daybreak lightened the eastern sky Tróndur ordered his ships to head for shore. As they approached land he kept up his sails to let the surf bring his vessels near the beach. Using the oars might have been quicker and safer, but they also would have made quite a bit of noise which could have warned the chieftain of their presence. As the sun peered over the rim of the ocean Tróndur's men jumped out of their ships and splashed ashore through the rough surf to the beach. Before moving inland his warriors pulled hard on thick ropes to bring the ships up onto the beach where they would be safe from the next high tide.
Sigmundur's son Steingrimur, who liked to get up early in the morning to go fishing, was on his way to the beach when he spotted warriors coming up the hill in the distance. They were not hard to spot in the morning gloom because many were carrying lit torches. Steingrimur dropped his fishing gear, and his bait, and quickly ran back to the house to warn the others.
Sigmundur was only half awake when the door of his hut flew open, and his son ran over to his bed.
" Father ! There are many warriors coming up the hill,.... and they armed to the teeth !! " he told his father frantically.
Sigmundur jumped out of bed, dressed as quickly as possible, and strapped on his sword. As he prepared himself for battle he woke up Turið and Tóra.
" Arm yourselves ! We are under attack ! I am going to warn the others,.... be ready when I return ! " he told them in a stern tone.
Laf caught up to the impatient Tróndur í Gøtu before they reached the top of the hill and spun him around.
" We are in agreement, are we not ?! " he asked harshly.
Before Tróndur could answer he added :
" We will not harm Turið Torkilsdóttir, Tóra, or the other children ?! " Laf half asked and half demanded.
Tróndur í Gøtu, who had already built himself up into warrior mode, did not take kindly to being grabbed. When he saw that it was his foster - son, however, his demeanor softened slightly.
" My friend,... son,... we will not harm your future wife, her mother, or her brothers,.... but we will kill everyone else ! " he explained to the concerned warrior.
Sigmundur, his adult family, and twelve warriors waited at the top of the hill to try and fend off the invaders. When they crested the hill, however, it became immediately clear to them that they could not defeat what amounted to a small army with so few warriors. Turið turned to her husband, and with a look of fear and sorrow begged Sigmundur to flee.
" Tróndur is here to kill you my love. Go down to the other side of the island and make your escape in your boat ! " she implored her husband.
Sigmundur hesitated only a moment before realizing that he could not hope to fend off so many warriors. And if he stayed and fought it might mean the death of his whole family.
" I will return with an army of my own as quickly as I can my love ! " he told his wife before kissing her goodbye.
At the request of Turið, Sigmundur was quickly joined by Einar and Thore as he ran down the backside of the hill. Tróndur í Gøtu, who witnessed it all, was incensed by the fact that Sigmundur was fleeing. After ordering Laf to stay and torch the houses,Tróndur, along with twenty of his men, chased after the three cowards who were trying to get away.
Sigmundur had two choices. He and his two comrades could try to reach his boat, turn it over, and carry it down to the water before Tróndur caught up to them, or they could head for the rocks which were much closer, and try to swim to safety. As the Chieftain of Skúvoy turned to see how close his pursuers were he quickly realized that they could not possibly make their getaway in the boat, and changed direction heading for the rocks. To his dismay Sigmundur also had caught a glimpse of his houses burning in the distance.
As they ran Sigmundur, Einar, and Thore dropped their swords, and took off anything that might weigh them down in the water. His friends were not as familiar with these waters as he was, but Sigmundur knew that the currents would not allow them to swim to Stóra Dímun or Litla Dímun which were the closest islands. They would have to swim all the way to Sandvik on Suðuroy, ten miles away to seek safety. Sigmundur looked at his comrades and wondered if they would be strong enough to make the journey. He knew, of course, that they had no choice but to try.
The three men stood on the rocks that lined the shore for a moment before they jumped into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Luckily for them a strong current pulled them quickly out to sea, because when Tróndur and his warriors reached the rocks they shot a few volleys of arrows at them before realizing that they were out of range.
As Tróndur stood on the shore watching his enemies escape he had two choices. He could either race back to his ships, on the other side of the island, and sail back to try and find the three swimmers, or he could wait here on these rocks to make sure that Sigmundur did not try to double back and try to return to Skúvoy. Tróndur í Gøtu chose the latter. If they somehow made it to land he and his warriors would kill them at a later date, but Tróndur was fairly certain that they would not reach land before they drowned.
" If the cold sea does not get them then cramps or exhaustion will ! " he told his men as he sat down on a smooth rock to watch the three men who were splashing around out in the middle of the vast ocean.
- End Chapter 11
- Next : Chapter 12 : Olav's Curse
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.