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   Chapter 6 NOW EACH GOES HIS WAY.

Viking Boys By Jessie Margaret Edmondston Saxby Characters: 9691

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Some hours later Mr. Adiesen appeared at his own door laden with blocks of serpentine, fragments of lichen, moss, seaweed, and shells. Yaspard followed him into a little room which was doing duty as a study until the Den was restored to order, and as the scientist put down his treasures the lad said-in a trembling voice, be it confessed-"I want to tell you about something, uncle; something I've been doing."

"Well, go on," said Mr. Adiesen, not looking up, and in a very grim tone.

"I-I-there used to be-I've heard you say-that our ancestors were Vikings; and I-I thought I'd be-a Viking."

Yaspard got so far, and stuck. It was hard to go on telling of his romantic fancy and wild escapade with that grave face before him.

"You thought you'd be a Viking," Mr. Adiesen repeated calmly, then paused, and asked in ice-cold tones, "Well, what else do you wish to say?"

"I think it right to tell you-I feel I ought-even about what-I mean-in fun;-but, uncle," and again poor Yaspard came to a deadlock, and might never have made a satisfactory confession if help had not come to him in the form of Signy.

She had been hovering about the door in much trepidation, and, fearing that her brother's courage might fail him, she stole to his side, put her hand in his, looked fearlessly at Uncle Brüs, and said-

"He has not done anything to be ashamed of, uncle; only we thought you ought to know, because it came out of the feud partly."

The Laird's brows came together in a frown, but he was very fond of Signy. She was his one "weakness," Aunt Osla said, and said truly.

"Let Yaspard speak for himself, my dear," her uncle answered gently, while his grim feature relaxed as he looked at her; and the boy, braced by the touch of the little hand in his, blurted out-

"I wanted to know the lads of Lunda, and have some fun, as they have and most boys have; and I couldn't be friends with them because you had forbidden that, so I took up the feud in a sort of way on my own account, and determined to make raids upon them, and have fights (sham-fights) and do as the Vikings did-in a kind of play, of course. They are the enemy; and we could make-believe to slaughter and capture each other, and--"

Mortal man could stand no more than that. Mr. Adiesen, drawing his brows together savagely to hide his strong inclination to burst into laughter, called his nephew by some not complimentary names, and dismissed him abruptly, saying, "Go along with you, and take your fun any way you please. Only remember-no friendships with Lunda folk. Play with them under the black flag, if that gives you amusement; and see that your Viking-craze keeps within the bounds of civilised laws."

Yaspard escaped, rejoicing; but Signy lingered to ask, "Would you object to taking prisoners, uncle?"

"Child, let him prison every man and boy in Lunda if he likes-if he can catch them."

Signy flew to tell her brother of this further concession, and Mr. Adiesen shut the door upon himself. If the young folks had listened outside that door they would have heard a curious noise; but whether it meant that the old man was growling to himself or suppressing laughter, we, who do not know Mr. Adiesen's moods very well, cannot tell.

Yaspard was only too glad to get off so easily, and paused for nothing, but, racing off to his boat with Signy, was soon sailing up the voe-not across, as before, for his destination was not Noostigard.

Boden voe is very beautiful It curves between steep shores, and at one place narrows so much that you could almost touch either shore with a sillack-rod from a boat passing through. When it is ebb-tide you can walk dry-shod across this passage (called the Hoobes). Here the voe terminates in a lovely little basin, almost land-locked, and placid as a mountain tarn.

Where the voe ends there is only a mere neck of land. It rises abruptly from both sides, and is crowned by a peak known as the Heogne.

Under shelter of the Heogne, and commanding a magnificent view of islands and ocean-wastes, stands the old dwelling of Trullyabister. Mr. Neeven was the cousin of Mr. Adiesen: he left Shetland in his early youth, and no one heard whether he was alive or dead for thirty years. Then he returned to his native land, a gloomy, disappointed man, hard to be recognised as the light-hearted lad who had gone away to make a fortune in California, and be happy ever afterwards. It seemed that he had made the fortune, but the happiness had eluded him. He would give no account of his life, and seldom cared to converse with any one except Brüs Adiesen, from whom he asked and readily obtained the half-ruined home of their fathers. Two or three rooms were made habitable; the half-witted brother of James Harrison was hired as attendant; cart-loads of books were brought from the South (by which va

gue term the Shetlanders mean Great Britain); and Gaun Neeven settled himself in that wild, lone spot, purposing to end his days there. He was there when Yaspard was very small, therefore the boy always associated his hermit-relative with the "haunted" house of Boden; and as he grew older, and the romantic side of his character developed rapidly, he was greatly attracted to Trullyabister and its queer occupants-fule-Tammy being, in his way, as mysterious a recluse as his master.

Yaspard found a great many excuses for going to Trullyabister, although he very rarely was permitted to enter Mr. Neeven's rooms, and was never allowed near the "haunted" portion of the dwelling. But Tammy was usually pleased enough to see him, and would entertain the boy with many strange legends of the old house; for Tammy was shrewd and imaginative; his "want" exhibited itself in no outrageous manner, but rather in a kind of low cunning and feebleness of will. It was Tammy's talent for story-telling, and his skill as a player of the violin, which drew Yaspard to him. Also the lad felt a kind of pity for the creature, and tried, in his plain boy-fashion, to instruct him, and make him "a little more like other folk."

Signy did not like fule-Tammy: she did not like his sidelong, leering expression; and she always avoided him, notwithstanding her brother's oft-repeated declaration that the man "wasn't so bad as he looked." Therefore, when Yaspard moored the Osprey at the head of the voe, and announced his intention of running up the hill to have a word with Tammy, Signy said-

"I'll stay on the beach, brodhor. There are lovely shells about, and I can gather a heap while you are away."

"All right," said he, and up the hill he bounded, while Signy set herself to picking up shells. She was soon so interested in her occupation that she forgot how time slips past, and was not aware that Yaspard had been absent a whole hour when he returned looking very much annoyed.

"Bother that fellow!" he said, as he helped Signy into the boat and took his place at the oars.

"You mean fule-Tammy?" she asked.

"Of course. The impudence of him, to say I mayn't have any tumble-down bit of Trullyabister for a play-place! I had it all so nicely planned-to hide Gloy there, and bring our armour and our spoil there. It was just the very place. It is an old Viking's place-at least one bit of it is said to be. But I'll circumvent fule-Tammy yet."

"Why not ask permission from Mr. Neeven?" Signy ventured to suggest; but Yaspard shook his head.

"He would not hear of such a thing. Besides, that would take all the secrecy and dark plotting and fun out of it all. But, never mind, I'll have my prisoner in Trullyabister in spite of everything."

No cloud rested for many minutes on Yaspard's smooth brow, and very soon he was laughing merrily as he pulled his boat along.

As they neared Moolapund, Loki came slowly sailing homewards, and, feeling heavy and lazy after a long day's fishing, gravely dropped into the boat, and looked at Yaspard as much as to say, "Your oars are better able than my wings at present."

"Just look at the Parson! What a cool customer he is!" laughed Yaspard. He had given Loki the nickname of "Parson" because of his white choker and dignified visage.

Just then another pair of dark-hued wings hove near, and Thor, the majestic raven which was Mr. Adiesen's particular pet, alighted on the bow with a croak so hoarse and solemn that Signy cried out, "Oh dear, how very eerie this is! How terribly grave Thor and Loki are! They make me feel creepy."

"I shall take them with me on some of my Viking raids," Yaspard exclaimed. "Just as the Vikinger did, you know. They always carried a raven with them; and as for Loki-he can be an imp, or a Valkyrur. It sounds quite fine, doesn't it?"

Chatting gaily they reached the shore, and as soon as the boat touched, Thor and Loki flew off in stately flight to the house. Signy followed on foot, wishing she had wings; and Yaspard, shoving off again, went across to Noostigard.

He had a hearty tea with the Harrisons. He was a great favourite in the factor's house, and was always allowed to be there as much as he pleased, for Mrs. Harrison was a religious as well as judicious woman, and exercised a very wholesome influence over the somewhat spoilt and wayward boy.

Her sons had told her all about the expedition to Havnholme, and she was delighted when Yaspard informed them that Uncle Brüs had not disapproved.

"Ye mun bring puir Gloy here before ye pit him in prison," she laughingly called out, when twilight came and the three boys set off for the geo.

When they were out of hearing the factor remarked with a thoughtful smile, "It's a strange way the young anes hae o' turning trouble intae fun, and makin' guid come oot o' ill."

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