The Marriage Proposal
Man - Made Hazards !
Eirik's son Leif was the first in his family to spot the approaching vessels.
" Father ! Father ! Come Quickly ! Two ships are sailing into the bay !! " the enthusiastic youth shouted.
After a very short moment the door of the turf hut flew open, and a huge man with flaming red hair, and a beard to match, came strutting out of the structure. He was quickly followed by his wife Thjodhild. When they reached Leif they stopped and peered out into the bay. Eirik's wife was the first to spot the ships, that Leif had already seen, and pointed them out to her husband. Eirik acknowledged that he too had seen them by nodding to his wife.
" It is a good thing that Sigmundur's contestants are arriving early. For we cannot return to Haukadale, and will soon have to leave Iceland altogether ! " he told his wife.
Thjodhild could not hide her displeasure.
" Did you really have to kill Eyjolf, and Hrafn ?! " she asked as if it were the first time she had brought up the subject.
Eirik took a deep breath before answering.
" They killed my slaves ! It was my duty to avenge their deaths and restore my honor ! " he told his wife.
Leif looked up at his parents.
" Where will we go father ? " he asked.
Eirik pointed westward out to sea.
" I have heard tell of a land that lies to the west. When this marriage contest is ended I will sail there and make a homestead for us in that place. " he explained to Leif.
Eirik then motioned down to the beach, where his other son Thorvald was already standing.
" For now let us join your brother down on the shoreline and greet our guests. " he told Leif with a pat on the shoulder.
The vessels beached themselves moments apart, and two men jumped out of their respective ships and ran up the beach towards the man who, judging by his appearance, could only be Eirik the Red. Their hurry so shocked Thjodhild that she pulled her sons close to her and placed herself behind her husband. Seeing his wife's concern Eirik drew his sword to protect his family until he could determine if these men were from the contest, or if they had other intentions.
" What is this nonsense ?! " Eirik asked at the point of his sword.
" Are you not competing for Sigmundur's daughter's hand ? " " he then added quickly.
Eyvindr Einarrson, who was in the lead stopped dead in his tracks, as did Laf Ossursson a moment later when he saw the sword pointing in his direction. Eyvindr caught his breath and gave a slight bow before addressing the huge red headed man who threatened them.
" I am Eyvindr Einarrson, and I have come from Skúvoy in the Faroe Islands to collect my gold coin. We are in a race against one another, as you should already know, which is the reason for our hurry. " he explained.
Laf moved forward and stood next to Eyvindr before introducing himself.
" And I am Laf Ossursson, and I wish to receive my coin also so that I may quickly be on my way ! " he told the startled man whose family hid behind him.
Eirik put his sword back in it's scabbard and laughed !
" Nonsense ! I am Eirik,... some call me " The Red ",.... and no one is going anywhere until we have all sat down to a large meal and ale, and of course some good conversation. " he told the anxious men.
Eyvindr and Laf gave each other looks of sheer disbelief. Laf then quickly turned back to Eirik and asked the obvious question.
" But,... what about the contest ? "
As Thjodhild moved out from behind her husband Eirik laughed again and patted the confused man on the shoulder.
" You came together,... and you will leave together,...tomorrow at daybreak. Now secure your vessels, and when you are ready come up to my house. " he told the men before turning with his wife and boys to leave.
Eyvindr and Laf did as they were told, and after leaving a contingent of men to guard their now safely beached ships, they trekked up the hill to the house where the smoke that billowed out of the roof smelled like heaven to the men who had been at sea risking their lives.
Eirik the Red could be as mean as a snake, or he could be as friendly as a pet dog. The man loved to talk as much as he enjoyed to drink, and all night the conversation flowed as freely as did the ale. Eirik was especially interested in Eyvindr Einarrson, who had much news to tell about his former homeland of Norway. And when Eirik imparted to Eyvindr that he knew the Jarl of East Agder very well, and that he just happened to despise the Jarl of West Agder, the Norwegian did not leave his side the rest of the night. Laf, who was left out of much of the conversation, went to bed early.
The next morning Laf Ossursson awoke early and asked Eirik the Red for his coin. Eirik went to a chest that lay under his bed and pulled out two coins. He gave one to Laf and then walked over to Eyvindr who had awakened when he heard Laf speaking to Eirik. Laf quickly said his farewells to Eirik, his wife, and his boys, but Eyvindr pocketed the coin, and asked Eirik if he could stay and talk a bit longer. Eirik, who wanted to hear more about Norway, was more than happy to agree.
Before Laf left the turf hut he walked over to Eyvindr who had begun to dress. He could not help but be curious as to why the Norwegian was staying, instead of continuing in the contest. Eyvindr's reply surprised Laf.
" It is because I would rather be a Jarl in Norway than the son-in-law of a minor chieftain here in the Faroe Islands ! " he explained.
Eyvindr was still staying with Eirik several days later when Dirk IV of Frisia limped into Oxney to repair his mast, and he was still there when Heinrekr the Saxon came and went. By the time Sigvatr Bergulfrsson struggled into Eirik's Bay Eyvindr had already decided to return to Norway and see the Jarl of East Agder to gain his assistance in deposing the Jarl of West Agder.
After a night of feasting Sigvatr left with his tired crew of eighteen oarsmen to begin the return trip to Skúvoy in the Faroe Islands. A day later, with his repairs completed, Dirk IV set sail from Breidafjord as well. The Frisian quickly caught up to Sigvatr's small and rather slow craft, and what he saw as he approached horrified him !
Sigvatr and his small band of sailors were fighting for their lives against Valbrandr's warriors when the much larger Frisian vessel pulled up alongside. Many would have continued on with the contest and turned a blind eye to what was happening to one of their competitors, but Dirk was the son of a count and felt honor bound to help the outnumbered and outmatched crew of Sigvatr.
The battle lasted for several bloody hours, but when Dirk IV was able to lash his ship to Valbrandr's vessel, the battle turned in the Frisians favor. It was not long before a badly injured Valbrandr and his warriors surrendered to the superior might of the Frisians. Afterwards, Dirk IV surveyed the mess that lay all over the two warring vessels, and quickly ordered that the dead warriors who had attacked Sigvatr's vessel be thrown overboard. He showed much more compassion for Sigvatr's fallen sailors. They were wrapped in blankets for the return trip home.
After the Frisian commander interrogated the badly wounded Valbrandr, and found out that he was Sigmundur's paid assassin, he threw both the coin the Chieftain of Skúvoy had secretly given him, and the coin Eirik the Red gave him into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
" I can live with a little cheating, but I will not be part of cold blooded murder ! " he told Valbrandr angrily.
Sigvatr, who also no longer wished to participate in the contest, took command of Valbrandr's ship, and towed his own vessel, which carried his dead, behind him. Living up to his honorable ways, Dirk IV decided to stay with Sigvatr to protect his ships on the return trip to the Faroe islands, just in case Sigmundur Brestisson had any more unpleasant surprises for them on their journey home.
Sigvatr and Dirk IV were greatly disappointed when Valbrandr died from his wounds on the third day. They had hoped to bring him in chains to Sigmundr, but they both realized that there were plenty of Valbrandr's men left to testify against the Chieftain of Skúvoy once they got back. Sigvatr could not help but grin as he helped throw Valbrandr's body over the side of his own ship.
" Those who do evil deeds have no memorials raised in their honor. As your body disappears below the waves, so too shall you vanish from history. It will be as if you never lived ! " Sigvatr whispered to the rolling waves.
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : A Triumphant Return
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.