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Viking Boys By Jessie Margaret Edmondston Saxby Characters: 9663

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

When the sun was well up next morning, which meant about three o'clock, Yaspard came downstairs, carrying his armour, and treading softly, as he did not wish to disturb anybody. Pirate was dozing in the porch, but when the lad appeared he got up and followed him to the quay. Signy's eyes too followed-for she had heard her brother leave his room-and again her heart was troubled when she saw the weapons of warfare. All unconscious of her gaze, he proceeded to stow these into his boat, where Pirate had stepped gravely, and Signy's soul was comforted as she returned to her bed murmuring, "Any way, he has Pirate with him, and Pirate is more than a match for anything!"

Yaspard was soon across the voe, and he soon had the Harrisons out of their beds. When they reached the beach Lowrie pulled out of a fish-chest two neatly made wooden swords, two slings, two bows, and a sheaf of arrows. As he handed some to his brother he said to Yaspard, "We made the swords last night, and most of the arrows. I think they are a great improvement on the last."

"Yes, certain!" was the ready answer; but Yaspard's eyes gleamed as he pointed to his ancestral old iron, and said, "What think you of mine?"

"Oh, grand! splendid!" they cried.

"You are going to have a share-a loan of them, I mean." And then he rapidly explained what he purposed doing, and what he wished them to do. As the boat slipped rapidly along, the lads rigged themselves for action. Playing at "Robinson Crusoe" and "Hawk eye" had been favourite games, therefore they were provided with all sorts of belts and pouches for holding every conceivable kind of weapon; and queer figures they looked when their war toilet was complete, and they sat down to talk over their scheme and project a great many more.

Once outside of Boden voe, it did not take long to reach Havnholme. The Laulie was lying along the crags safely moored there, and her crew were asleep in the old shed, where they had spent many a night before. They had had a long day of exciting sport, and were wrapped in sleep more profound than usual.

But when the Osprey came within hailing distance, Yaspard ran up a black flag and raised a shout of "A Viking! a Viking!" His companions took up the cry, and Pirate, setting his fore-paws on the bow, barked and howled like mad. Such a hullaballoo was enough to waken anybody, and the Lunda boys-half-awake-rushed out of the shed, and stood staring in dumb-foundered amazement at the foe!

The Harrisons burst out laughing at the ludicrous spectacle of four lads rubbing their eyes, scratching their heads, shaking themselves straight in their clothes, and looking as if there never had been half an idea in one of their minds. But Yaspard shouted in grandiloquent style-

"You, lads of Lunda there, listen! We are Vikinger in search of glory and spoil, and all the rest of it. But we do not take our enemy unawares. We would not assail slumberers. We are nineteenth century enough to fight fair. So now, look to yourselves!"

During these few minutes the Osprey had reached the crags, and was alongside of the Laulie. As he finished speaking the young marauder, leaning over to the other boat, undid her painter, and hitching it to his own boat, shouted to his companions to row off again. They pulled out from the shore, and the Laulie was captured before her crew had waked up enough to comprehend what was going on.

"It's Yaspard Adiesen masquerading like an ass," said Harry Mitchell at last.

"It will only be a bit of fun," Gloy Winwick ventured to say, for by that time he had recognised Lowrie and Gibbie. They were his cousins, and he had often met them, and heard of the curious games which young Adiesen invented for their amusement and his own. "There will be nae harm in it. It's just his way. He's queer."

The last half of his remarks was given in an aside to Tom Holtum, but Tom only growled, "Bother the fellow! What does he mean by such preposterous impudence?"

Tom's temper was easily roused; and, followed by the others, he ran to the crag and shouted, "Give us none of your humbug! Bring back the boat, or it will be the worse for you!"

A mocking laugh was all the answer he got; and this so exasperated Tom that he was about to fling a volley of abuse to the enemy, but Harry checked him. Harry was always the first to look at a thing from more points than one, and now he said in an undertone, "I expect it is only some nonsensical make-believe. Yaspard is a baby in some ways, I am told; and he never exchanges a word with gentlemen's sons-lives horribly alone, you know. Let's humour him a bit, and see what it will come to."

Tom grunted, but Bill and Gloy seconded Harry, so Harry called out, "I say, you might as well come on shore first and tell us what's up, and then let us start fair all ro


"I'd like to," burst from Yaspard in his natural and impulsive manner, "but I mustn't. Uncle Brüs has forbidden me to be friends with any of you Lunda fellows, because of the family feud, you know. But I'm tired of having no chums, and living as I do, so I'm resolved to be a Viking; and as you are all my enemies, I shall, of course, try to harass you in every way I can, to fight you, and carry off your property, and conquer you, and-and-have some good fun!"

Tom and Harry instantly got the right kind of inspiration about the matter, and replied, "All right, we're your men! strongest fend off!" but Gloy exclaimed, "I think he must be going off his head," and Bill called out furiously, "Conquer us! come and try, if you dare."

"I'll dare another day, youngster," answered the Viking loftily; "but listen now" (addressing the others): "I've got your boat, and you must agree to what I ask before I will let you have her again."

"Impudence!" shouted Tom.

"Tuts, man, let him haver," said Harry; then to Yaspard, "Well, go on."

"Are you captain of that crew?" Yaspard asked.

"In the absence of my elders and betters, yes!"

"Well, I want you to take a letter (it is really two letters, one inside the other) to the young Laird of Lunda. He is captain, chief, yarl, and all the rest of it, over you and your island."

"If it's a proper letter I'll take it," Harry answered promptly.

"One of the letters is quite proper; but, proper or no proper, uncle's note must also reach Mr. Garson, and you must promise to give it faithfully before I give you the Laulie. She's a splendid little craft. She would make a glorious Viking's bark! I am tempted to keep my spoil."

While they were talking Bill said to Gloy very loudly, "Never mind the jabber, boy. Come for a swim before breakfast! I'm off." They stripped and went in, and as they did so they whispered together and winked knowingly, then began to race and splash in the water as if they had no thought in their heads but the enjoyment of the moment, while the rival captains continued the engrossing debate.

Harry was not unwilling to carry the letter, but he did not like to be threatened into doing it.

"Suppose I refuse?" he said.

"Then I go off with your boat, and you remain prisoned on Havnholme."

"You could be severely punished if you did so."

"If you are mean enough to tell, and bring grown people and lawyers into the business," retorted Yaspard.

"I see no harm in taking the letter to Fred," said Tom then.

Tom strongly objected to telling tales. He also scented some rare shindies in the game Yaspard was playing, and Harry, seeing that the situation was an awkward one, agreed.

"Is that all?" he asked. But before the enemy could reply there came a shout from Tom, a howl from Yaspard, a screech from the Harrisons, and loud laughter from Gloy in the water.

Gloy and Bill had taken advantage of the attention of the others being chiefly directed to those on shore, and had, as if by accident, swam nearer to the boats. Then Gloy had held the Harrisons in talk while Bill quietly contrived to swim to that side of the Laulie which was farthest from the other boat. No one was aware of his movements until he had swiftly crawled into the Laulie. Leaning over the side, he slipped the painter from the thole-pin round which it hung, and then shoving with all his might, he sent the skiffs a good way apart at once.

"After him, boys!" Yaspard cried; but the boys were not ready. Gloy had come alongside and had caught hold of Gibbie, Lowrie was laughing like to split his sides at the sight of Bill, nude and dripping, gaping like a fresh caught cod, rowing for his life. The Laulie was safe back at her favourite crag in a minute more, and Yaspard could only comfort himself for being so outwitted by making a captive of Gloy.

"He isn't worth much without his clothes," Harry told all who cared to hear.

"We'll paint him," retorted Yaspard, and Gloy began to think that his position was awkward, to say the least of it; but Tom, whose good-humour had been completely restored by Bill's clever manoeuvre, said-

"You might just as well come along and have some breakfast with us, and then we can arrange the campaign, and settle about ransom for the captive."

There was no resisting such a suggestion, especially as it did not hint at compromise of the "position."

The Osprey came to land, and Gloy was permitted to go and resume his garments, after giving his word of honour to respect the parole.

A white handkerchief was tied to a fishing-rod, which was planted in the ske? wall, and under that flag of truce the rival parties made merry in lighting a fire, boiling water, and feasting heartily on the good things which the Manse boys never failed to find in their ferdimet basket.

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