A Slave's Tale
Publication Year: 2013
A Slave’s Tale, the sequel to Hakon of Rogen’s Saga, is told from the point of view of a slave girl, Helga, who stows away on the longship when Hakon, the young Viking chieftain, sets sail for France on a voyage to return Rark, a freed slave, to his homeland. The voyagers’ journey is perilous—they narrowly escape capture by an invading fleet, and their ship is severely damaged by a storm. Upon reaching France—where the Vikings are now hated, not feared—only tragedy ensues.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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...for us, the rest we must compose ourselves. If we had only our own song to sing and no one else could understand it, we should be lonely and have no books. Our sorrows and our joys are mirrored in those of others; and therefore, we read. No man has only fair winds; and only the fool does not know that in laughter, tears are hidden. That time of...
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...have poets who are willing to sing their praises and tell the sagas of their lives. When the eagle turns in the air and swims on the wind into the sun, man stops his work to watch with envy the ruler of the sky. Who notices the sparrow? Yet cannot the sparrow's heart be noble, though the bird lacks the eagle's wings and the eagle's claws? Will no one ever listen to the sparrow's song, and learn from...
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...looked at my bare feet and thought, "They are not a slave's feet." I heard Hakon say something, but I was not listening. I felt that the world for a moment had stopped breathing and that I was alone. A voice cried from far away, "Hakon! Hakon!" I recognized that it was Harold the Bowbender, and the thought came to me: "He will think...
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...rocks far beneath you, when you stand at the edge of a cliff, makes you aware of your own aliveness. Life, not golden armbands or titles, is your real treasure. When a ship is sighted during a storm, everyone will leave the warm hall to stand with wind-whipped face, staring at death. The heart beats: "I am alive!" And..
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...killed Sven." It was Harold the Bowbender, talking with Rark and Hakon at the end of the big table in the hall, two weeks after Sven's death. I was sitting in the shadows by the wall, trying to sew a pair of shoes. "With his hands tied? That does not speak well of the people of Rogen." Though Rark's voice seemed calm, I could hear that he was suppressing anger. "Ragnvald Harelip is a fool," Harold...
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...not to sail the following spring. Too much work remained to be done on Rogen for so many of the men to leave the island for so long a time. Erp the Traveler, who was famed as a steersman, said that few had been lucky enough to travel so far and return during one summer. Rark was very disappointed, for he had hoped to see his home that summer. So were...
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...snow running off the roof. It was late in the evening, but only the children were asleep. The men were restless and sat in groups talking to each other. I pulled the cover up over my ears, but I could still hear the dripping from the roof. It was as if each drop said, "Spring . . . spring . . . spring . . ." I threw...
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...All morning Magnus the Fair and I had been working alone on the longship. I placed the tar-filled oakum along the seams, and with his mallet, Magnus drove it in between the boards. Magnus now looked with disgust at his broken mallet. His face appeared to me so funny that I could not help laughing. For a moment I feared that he would throw the mallet at...
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...could not see Hakon, only hear his voice. It was the day of the departure. The morning was beautiful. The wind blew steadily from the mainland, and the sun shone clear in a cloudless sky. It was early, and as I moved my head to try to get a better view, the dew from the branches fell on my face. All the people of Rogen were collected...
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...In them the past is as real as the present. To some people, life is all dreams — all past — and on these, time has closed its door. Such a person was Freya the Old. It was she who had prophesied to me that our ship would never come home. When I was a child, she had been the cause of many of my nightmares...
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...hoisted. The course had been altered. Some of the pots and pans that had not been stored carefully enough slid, with a great clatter, the width of the ship as Munm, being under sail, heeled to starboard. The waves, which the ship before had stamped against, now splashed her side. A group of the crew seated themselves above my hiding place. I listened to their talk. It was gay and filled with good-natured jokes about each other...
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...and we arrived at the opening of the fjord that leads to Tronhjem four days after we had left Rogen. On an island in the mouth of the fjord, we camped for the night. The men were glad to stretch their legs again, and the younger ones started to run races on the beach. The island was deserted by man, but not by the birds of the sea. Screaming, they flew...
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...came out of their dwellings to see us. According to the standards of Rogen we were richly dressed. But someone said as we passed, "They look like a group of farmers, from mountains where the grazing is so poor that a man counts himself rich if he owns a cow." The awareness of our poverty made us...
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...Hakon had approached offered to show us the way to Magnus Thorsen's hall. He told us that it was called Hjalte Gudbrandson's hall now, for Magnus had died the winter after he had sent Rolf Blackbeard and Ulv Erikson to invade Rogen. His grandson...
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...outside; and we stood still for a long moment, while our eyes became accustomed to it. From one of the huts, close to the main hall, a slave was staring at us with the eyes of a dog who fears strangers. "Sven!" We all became like stone when we heard that name; and it was a while before any of us turned to see who the caller had been. In the door of the hall stood Gudrun, Hjalte's grandmother. She looked past...
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...when he and the others went to Earl Hakon's hall; but both he and Rark had been too frightened of the Earl to let me remain behind. "But I am afraid of the Earl and his slave," I had stammered. "On the goodwill of the Earl depend not only our chances of buying a new sail and stores for our ship, but also our lives," Hakon had explained. "Earl Hakon's title is only Earl, but he is the..
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...treated us kindly. The Earl sold Hakon a good sail, at a price even a miser would have called cheap. Mumn's old sail would never have lasted a storm. Since few ships had come to Tronhjem the winter before, skins were plentiful and not expensive. On the fourth day after our visit to the Earl's hall, it was rumored that the Earl...
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...entrance to the fjord; for the wind had been westerly, and we had had to row all the way. We anchored for the first night in the lee of a small island, where we collected driftwood and cooked our supper. The following day, the wind shifted to the north. We set sail. Our course was close to the mainland...
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...soil of Norway; and many days would go by before we again would taste warm food. The last sight of our homeland was a barren peninsula called Stad. Here in a cove we built a fire and Hakon ordered a double portion of mead to be given to everyone. But most of us were thinking of Rogen..
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...course, on the morning of the fifth day — that is, sixteen days after we had set sail from Tronhjem — we saw land. We were overjoyed and wanted to head the ship for the shore at once. But Erp said it was the coast of England and we would find no friends there. Yet the wish of the crew for feeling...
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...sails and oars; and yet I do not believe that I have described our sea journey well. Once sail is hoisted and land is out of sight, man is dwarfed by his own courage that has removed him from the hearth of his home. Cold and wet is the sailor, lonely amidst his comrades, for the waves beat not only on the...
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...Malo, as it had been with us in Tronhjem and when we met King Olaf Trygveson's ships. But summer does not stay, fall will come; and surely luck cannot last forever. What had been told on the Island of Saint Michel was true: Rark's uncle was, indeed, high priest of the church at Saint Malo. He...
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...they are well armed, do not make an army. True, in the old tales no hero needed more than his sword to slay the giants. But the songs of old are told at night, when dreams are near and the flickering light of the fire has painted the walls. On the first part of our expedition the summer sun shone, and left but few..
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...But the memory of the size of that town, and the fact that we no longer had the sea to look upon, made us uneasy. Even the young men did not laugh as readily as they had before. In this part of Frankland, the country is covered by forests; we hunted...
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...Saint Malo, but no town surrounded it. There were only a few buildings, all close to the church: three that housed the priests and their servants, and two stables for their animals. In Saint Meen lived many priests: thirteen or fourteen, at least; perhaps there were more, for it was hard to tell the difference between the poorer priests and the servants...
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...Magnus the Fair, Ketil Ragnvaldson, and Nils Haroldson returned. They looked very tired. Quickly I told them of my conversation with the priest. When I finished, Rark sighed. "I came here to find my life; and all that Saint Meen seems to have to offer me is a grave . . . And for my friends, the same." Rark looked towards the forest, in the direction of his home...
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...us to ride in pairs. Rark and Father Christopher rode at the head of the group. Hakon, riding beside a priest with a pale face and an eagle's nose, followed. Then came Erp the Traveler, who rode a little ahead of the priest who accompanied him. I was last and had as companion the youngest of the...
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...horses carry us back from Hugues' feast. We did not stop before the forest fell away, and we saw the Church of Saint Meen, the fields, and our camp. Then, as if we had made a spoken agreement, we all reined back our horses. They were wet with sweat and foaming at the mouth. The landscape was completely still. The winds were asleep, as if time had deserted...
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...the horses a rest, and wipe their sweat-covered coats. Even when we rested, we dared not let the horses stand still, so we walked them slowly along the road. By morning we were near Dinan. At a very small farm, Hakon bought bread and milk. Hakon had believed, to the very last, that he could buy Hugues with gold. This was our good fortune, for he had taken with him all of the gold...
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...The slave's tale is over; now begins another story, which there is no need to tell, for sorrow fits our tongues, and happy tales make us move uncomfortably on the bench. Maybe some day, tales of love and adventure need not end unhappily to tell our hearts that they are true. We traveled over an autumn sea, resting one night on that Frank island where we had camped when we were so many, and our memories were so young...
About the Author
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...The illustrations of Leo (1933-2012) and Diane Dillon have appeared in countless books during the past forty years. Their many honors include two Caldecott Medals, the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book Award...
Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013