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Viking Boys By Jessie Margaret Edmondston Saxby Characters: 10850

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Garth Halsen and his father were strolling over the hill that day. The old Yarl of Broch was always restless during a storm, and never cared to sit in the house when the elements were at war, "for there is sorrow on the sea," he would say at such times; "and I cannot rest when I think some poor souls are fighting for life on the water." As the father and son walked on they saw Pirate, and he saw them, and made at once for them, whining in the most distressful manner.

"What dog is that? Why, I've--"

"It's Yaspard's dog," Garth exclaimed; "and he wants us to go with him. Something has happened, I fear."

They hurried in the direction which Pirate so intelligently indicated, and he soon led them to where our Viking-boy lay.

By that time Yaspard had revived a little, and was sitting up looking around in a dazed state, but the cheery voice of old Halsen soon restored his wits, and he could give an account of what had happened.

"No time to lose, lads," said the Yarl, with all the fire of strong manhood eager to help the forlorn and weak. "We'll carry you over the hill between us, boy, and get out the boats."

They swung Yaspard up on their arms and went over the hill at a good pace, considering the Yarl's age, until they reached a cottage fortunately not far distant. There our hero was left in the care of kindly women, while Mr. Halsen and Garth hastened to the nearest fishing-station and gathered a stout crew.

When Yaspard was reviving under the influence of warm food and a cozy bed, a sixaern with Mr. Halsen as skipper was speeding round the North Ness, and appeared before the longing eyes on Swarta Stack like an angel of deliverance.

"He has done it!" Harry exclaimed. "Yaspard has not met his great-grand-uncle's fate!"

"How do you know?" Lowrie asked. "It may hae been the dog. It's a senseful beast."

"Don't you see they are coming straight as an arrow for the Stack?" answered reflecting Harry. "No doubt in their minds as to where we are. Now Pirate's arrival and demonstrations could only indicate that we were in a strait somewhere among the holmes, but only Yaspard's tongue could tell the identical place where we are."

"Ye're awfully wise!" Lowrie exclaimed with much admiration, which became qualified when Bill remarked, "Some one may have seen our fire, or the sail."

"I don't think so," Harry answered. "I have had my eyes on the hillside over there all the morning, and I'd have seen any person who came there-unless they were by the creek, which is hidden from us by the curves of the North Ness."

"Any person there would not see us," said Bill, "so you must be right. But if Yaspard landed, how is it we did not see him?"

"He would land at the creek, most likely; and the little daal which leads over the hill from the shore dips under the level of the Ness hill, so we could not possibly see him. But we shall know all about it very soon now."

"I'd rather die on Swarta Stack than ken he is in the sea," blubbered Lowrie, whose fears on Yaspard's account had quite unnerved him.

But what a cheer those boys sent up when the sixaern came close, and Harry called out "Is Yaspard safe?" and received for answer a joyous "Yes, yes! he's all right by now."

They shouted and sobbed together, until Tom was recalled from his half-unconscious state to a knowledge that rescue had come, and murmured, "I am so glad for their sakes, poor boys!"

The Yarl had not omitted to bring such nourishment as could be most quickly procured, and as soon as the boat was moored the castaways were quaffing draughts of milk and devouring oatcakes and butter. Nothing had ever tasted so sweet to Tom's lips as that milk, and the gentle voice of Garth Halsen, his cool soft touch, were as good as medicine.

He was carefully conveyed to the boat; the Osprey was safely beached, high and dry, and loaded with stones to prevent her being buffeted by the winds again, until such time as she could be removed; and the boys, with lightened hearts, scrambled into the haaf-boat, carrying with them all their campaigning effects.

"If Yaspard were here," said Harry, "he would wish to stay by his boat until he had made her fit to float us off the Stack again. I don't half like leaving her all by herself, poor old Osprey."

"You and your Viking can return and finish up your voyage of discovery another time," quoth Garth; "but at present you must submit to being taken to Broch in a commonplace manner."

But the Yarl had been watching Tom, as he lay among coats spread on grass in the bottom of the boat, and the kind old man's face had grown more sad and serious every moment.

"I think we must not make for Burra Wick after all," he said. "Much as I'd like to have you at Broch, I believe we ought to take another course. This lad should be in his father's hands with as little delay as possible. So it's Collaster where we will bring up."

And to Collaster they went, after landing Lowrie on the nearest point of Burra Isle, to carry tidings of them to Yaspard, as well as to Gerta Brace, who would certainly be alarmed if her uncle did not put in an appearance that day.

We can imagine the sensation created at the Doctor's house when Tom was carried there, and the story of his misadventure was told. Harry did not tell that it was Tom's own fault which brought about the accident, and it was many a long day before Tom was able to give t

he full account of it himself. But we must leave him in the care of his loving mother and skilful father, content to know that he recovered eventually, and lived to take a front place in many a wild adventure with his old antipathy Harry, and his new one Yaspard Adiesen.

Bill carried the news to Wester-voe and Fred Garson, while Gloy took his cousin Gibbie to Lunda; and Harry asked to return with the Yarl and Garth to Burra Isle. He wanted above all things to be with Yaspard, and in his company finish up the adventurous expedition after a more satisfactory manner than that of being taken home with the wounded. But Harry did not say a word beyond expressing his eager desire to return and stand by the Viking-boy.

Next morning the haaf-boat returned to Burra Isle, and at the same time Fred despatched messengers (Gibbie being one of them) to Boden to report Yaspard at Broch, "Not much the worse of a ducking, and returning home as soon as possible."

Fred had got the whole story from Bill, and he rightly conjectured that the return of the raven would have raised some anxiety, seeing that Yaspard had told his sister that Thor should bring a message, and Thor should precede the Osprey by only a few hours. Thor bearing no message, and followed by no boat, was indeed an ill omen. Moreover, he had reached home ravenously hungry, and in a very sulky, savage mood, which added to Signy's fears regarding her brother, although Uncle Brüs pooh-poohed the little girl's presentiment of evil.

But the arrival of Fred's messenger and Gibbie made a commotion in Boden, we may be sure, and nothing would satisfy either Mr. Adiesen or James Harrison but they must start off and bring home their boys. You may imagine their surprise and disgust to hear, on arriving at Broch, that Yaspard-restored to all his wonted spirit and energy by a good night's rest-had borrowed a boat, and accompanied by Harry and Lowrie, and a clever seaman who knew well how to clamp the broken ribs of a boat, had gone to Swarta Stack to repair and bring home the Osprey.

"The boy is stark mad!" exclaimed Uncle Brüs; but the Yarl, whose soul throbbed in sympathy with that of our Viking-boy, made answer, "His head is as straight on his shoulders as need be. That lad is made of the right stuff, and will be heard of in the world some day. You need not be afraid for him."

"I suppose we ought to go and help him?" the scientist said; but Halsen shook his head. "Even I," he said, "felt it would be best, kindest, to let the lads take their own way. They were bent upon bringing back their boat triumphantly, and they'll do it. Let us leave them all the satisfaction and glory that they can get out of their adventures."

And I tell you Yaspard's heart glowed with a good deal of satisfaction when he sailed the Osprey up Burra Wick that afternoon, her flag flaunting from the mast-head as gaily as when she sailed away on her voyage of discovery and peril.

Right heartily the good old Yarl and his guests and son cheered the gallant boy and his comrades, as the boat, a little lob-sided, and considerably scratched and battered, ran along the crags, and came to below Broch. Hearty indeed was the welcome they received, and neither Mr. Adiesen nor Harrison let the boys know that they were there for the purpose of looking after "those roving madcaps."

In truth Uncle Brüs was not a little proud of his nephew, and made him repeat the story of his swim with Pirate, which Yaspard did, entirely unconscious of the heroism he had displayed.

"What did you think most about when you were in the water?" Mr. Adiesen asked after a time-his scientific instincts rising above emotion, and prompting him to discover what are the sensations a human being experiences in such exceptional circumstances.

"I thought of Mam Kirsty's old song, 'My cradle and my grave,' chiefly. I had committed my life to God's hand when I started. Just before I landed I thought I saw Signy holding out her hands, as she did when she went adrift. That's about all."

"Well, my dear, I think you must feel that you have had enough of Vikinging for the rest of your life," said the scientist with a smile; but he was not ill-pleased when his nephew answered, "It has only made me long for more! I want now to do real good Viking work. I want to go out and explore the world-the stars, if that were possible-and to fight all the foes of the Red Cross, and to bury all feuds, and win name and fame like a right noble and right valiant Viking."

"You have done so, if you but knew it," quoth Garth; and Harry Mitchell said, "You will do all that, I don't doubt; and I'll follow where your flag leads, old man! I never could stand by the side of a better comrade, and I don't believe I could ever find a finer leader-so there!"

"Thank you, Harry," Yaspard answered simply.

I need not tell you of the home-coming to Moolapund, of Aunt Osla's tears and tea, of Signy's joy, of Thor's profound reflections, finished up with a sage "Just so!"-of all the talk and enjoyment in fighting their battles o'er again.

We can leave our Viking-boy at this happy stage of his career, assured (like the Yarl of Broch) that he was heard of in the world in later days.

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Transcriber's note:

This e-book contains the words "Boden" and "brodhor". In the original book, the "o" in "Boden" and the first "o" in "brodhor" were o-macron.

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