A Tearful Farewell
It was a sunny spring day in Viborg, Denmark. Despite Sunna's shining rays of warmth, that reached out and touched her face like comforting hands, Hildigunnr felt cold and empty inside. Her husband, Oddbjorn, had just finished the spring planting, and now he was being recalled by King Horik II to once again attack deep into Norway. This time they would be raiding in the region known as Graenafylki.
Two years ago Oddbjorn had gone Viking into the Rygjafylki region of Norway with the king. He had come back a hero, and as a prominent warrior in King Horik's army. For his great deeds in battle Oddbjorn had been awarded, by the king, several Norwegian slaves who he had helped to capture. The male Norwegians helped in the fields, while Mabil assisted his wife with her household chores.
As Hildigunnr stood next to the newly planted fields she remembered how, when her husband left two years ago, she had been very apprehensive about her husband leaving to go to war. Now, however, she was with child, and although she tried not to show her true feelings, she was terrified that her husband would not return, and that she would be left to her own means. Hildigunnr had good reason to worry. Both her father and her uncle had been killed in battle, and she had seen and experienced the pain and the loss of loved ones first hand.
As they spoke in the early spring sunshine, Oddbjorn assured his wife that everything would be fine while he was away.
" There are men to work the fields, gold and silver coins in your pouch, and young Mabil is here to act as your caretaker and midwife. " he explained to his wife aa he gently stroked her hand with his large fingers.
Then Oddbjorn, with a shrug of his shoulders, added :
" What more could my wife want ? " he asked.
Hildigunnr could not help but answer Oddbjorn bitterly.
" I would have liked for my husband to have been here when his first child was born. " she replied.
Oddbjorn smiled at his wife before kissing her on the forehead.
" It was my duty to give you a child, not to bring that child into the world. My being here, or away, at the time of our child's
birth will make little difference to the outcome. " he told his wife.
Oddbjorn regretted his words immediately ! Hildigunnr, already emotional from the changes taking place inside her body, turned and walked away from her husband. Oddbjorn placed his hands upon his hips, and took a long breath, before running after his wife. When he came close enough he gently reached out and grabbed her arm. With a slight tug he spun her around and hugged her, being careful of course not to press too hard up against her enormous stomach.
" I am sorry ! You know that I want to be here when our child is born ! But what can I do ? King Horik has ben very good to us. This farmland, our house, our slaves, and the coins in our pouches, all came from his generosity towards me for fighting with him in Norway. If we are once again successful in the lands to our north I will return with greater riches, and the king will grant me even more land ! " he explained to his emotional wife.
Hildigunnr looked up at her husband, who was a full head taller than she, and asked nervously :
" And if you do not return ? Then what will I have ? "
Oddbjorn laughed !
" I am Oddbjorn ! The greatest warrior in all of King Horik's army ! Nothing will happen to me ! " he assured his wife in a blustery tone.
Hildigunnr held on tightly to her husband. She had nothing more to say to Oddbjorn. This was their last day together before he left, and she did not want them to part on a sour note. Hildigunnr put on a happy face and tried to bury her fears deep within her. Every time her baby kicked, however, she could not help but feel a moment of panic over her uncertain future.
The next morning, Hildigunnr, helped by her maid - servant Mabil, along with all the other warrior's wives, accompanied their husbands down to the fjord to watch them as they sailed away to glory. After the warriors stowed their weapons, and other gear on the long ships, they came back to their wives, and lovers, for one last farewell kiss. The couples who had been through this before handled their emotions better than those who were separating for the first time. Despite Hildigunnr having already experienced this two years earlier, she acted badly and cried like a child. While other women remained strong, she clung onto her husband as though he were a piece of driftwood keeping her from drowning in deep waters.
Finally, Oddbjorn, realizing that many of the other warriors had already boarded, kissed Hildigunnr hard on the mouth and then pushed her away.
" I will return to you ! " he told his wife as he backed away.
Hildigunnr, who was shaking like a leaf in a chilly autumn breeze, managed only three words :
" You had better ! " she told him.
As the ships were rowed away from the shore the wives waved white handkerchiefs at their husbands. The bravest women held back their tears, but many succumbed to their emotions when the sails disappeared over the horizon. Hildigunnr stayed longer than most. She stood for a long while staring out into the fjord, and although there was nothing left to see on the ocean, this was the last place she had seen her husband, and remaining here made her feel closer to Oddbjorn despite him now being miles away. It was not until Mabil reminded her that the cool breeze coming off of the water might give her a chill that Hildigunnr decided, for the baby's sake, to head back home.
- End Chapter 1
- Next : Chapter 2 : A Difficult Birth
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.