Before there was the novel, there were the stories...

by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shannon in Norway: Inklings, Part I

That night Drivvid waited until everyone had climbed into their respective
bed closets, seeing that Falni also was delaying. Ranigg gave them both a
speculative look, wished Drivvid a good night, and climbed in and shut the
double doors after himself.

Falni saw this and came over to Drivvid. "Will you sleep with me tonight,
Drivvid?" she asked hopefully.

Drivvid looked down and wrung his hands. "I.. I need to talk to you about
that. I don't know whether I am married.. I don't want to hurt you. What
if I remember and have to leave to go find my wife and maybe even children?
It would not be fair to you..."

Falni put her fingertips to his lips to silence him. "Drivvid, all we are
going to do is hold each other and sleep. And I will take that gladly even
if for only a short time. I want you with me. We will let the gods sort
the rest out."

He gazed at her, considering her words. "Are you sure, Falni?"

She asked, "And what of you? Will it be too hard for you to leave if we
have been together?"

Drivvid shrugged. "It will be whether I sleep with you or not. It might be
more difficult if I do.. but I want to so much. Can we both live with that,
I wonder?"

Falni smiled and took his hand. "Let's find out." She led him to the doors
of her bed set in the wall of the longhouse. She opened them and climbed
in. He climbed in after her, with her help. He pulled the door shut after

Falni reached and started to take off his clothes. He noticed with
disappointment that even this did not cause an erection. But it felt so
good anyway. He reached to pull her own clothing off her.

When they were both naked and in complete darkness, they lay down and
covered themselves with the blankets and furs. He held Falni in his arms.
"May I touch you?"

"Aye.. but if anything is .. well, if I become afraid.. oh you know what I
mean.. I will tell you." Falni stumbled over her own words.

Drivvid murmured, "I will go slow." He let his hands touch her body. He
had his left hand with its missing fingers holding her not wanting to make
her shy away from that hand's touch. He was so afraid something about him
would repel her. He stopped his caresses at her navel, not wanting to touch
any place that had been hurt on her. For all the fact that they did not
have intercourse, the two made such delicate love to each other that it was
as tender a wedding night as any ever had.

As he woke in the morning, still in complete dark because of the doors, he
felt her body against his and sighed. A word sprang to his mind. Heather.
Why had he thought of heather? He pictured the swaths of color on a
mountainside. Perhaps he just felt peaceful and happy with Falni in his
arms, just as that time of year in Ireland had always made him feel.

He started. Ireland? Had he been there? Was he from Ireland?

Falni felt him jerk and woke. "Oh Drivvid, it was not a dream.. you are
here with me." She sensed tension. "What is wrong? Please tell me." Her
fear that his memory would come back and take him from her surfaced sharply.

"I just remembered something." He felt her body tense with fear. "Not
much, just that I have been in Ireland. Nothing more.. and that I like to
see heather in bloom."

Falni got up on one elbow to face him, although she could see nothing. "You
have been in Ireland? Or you are from Ireland? If your language sounded
like Scots, maybe it was Irish. But then why were you in the North Sea?"

Drivvid chuckled in the darkness. "Maybe I float really well."

They continued to share Falni's bed closet every night. Their lovemaking
progressed to more touching and kissing. They were becoming more
comfortable with each other. Still Drivvid was cautious, sensitive not to
press her too far too fast.

One sunny day in late July the horn announcing the arrival of a boat or ship
sounded in the early afternoon. This was not an unusual occurrence.. but
whenever someone sailed into Jarlsfjord everyone and their dog came to see
who it was. Sometimes it was kin. Sometimes it was trade. Sometimes it
was just a chance arrival. In any case, it was a break in the routine.

This day it was a small fishing boat, smaller than Sif's Pride. Nobody
recognized it, nor did they recognize the three man crew sailing it. The
people crowded about the waterside waiting to find out who they were and
where they were from.

For their part the crew smiled at the welcoming and curious faces greeting
them from the shore. They had sailed for days trying to find cooler water
and fish runs closer to the surface. They had gone too far north and
realized their freshwater provision was low. They had worried about putting
to land in case their arrival was not welcome. Seeing the simple country
people craning their necks to see them was a great relief.

The captain of the boat, a short fair haired man named Alkin, turned to his
two sons, his crew. "Tom, you speak Norse, do you not?"

The younger man with brown hair plaited down his back nodded, "A little."
The two had spoken Saxon. On the shore the red headed man heard and
understood. He stood still, wondering what it meant. Falni looked at him
and saw the expression on his face. She wondered.

In halting Norse, Tom called out for someone to grab a rope he was about to
toss. Drivvid stepped forward, calling back in his brogue-laced Saxon, "I
have it then." The three men on the boat all looked up at him curiously.
Falni did as well, along with others who heard the exchange.

Ranigg stepped forward to help Drivvid with the rope. They tied it to a
post set in the ground for the purpose. The villagers surged forward,
peppering the men on the boat with questions. Alkin laughed and waved his
hands. "One at a time!" he laughed. "Let us get ashore, won't you?"

The crowd reluctantly parted as the three strangers grabbed sacks with their
gear and jumped off their deck into the shallow waves. They walked straight
up to Drivvid. Alkin smiled and reached for his hand in greeting. "You
speak Saxon? That is lucky for us."

Alkin looked puzzled at the man's response, "Sure and 'tis news to me, but
apparently, that I can."

Ranigg and Falni had come up beside him. He asked the crew's names and
introduced them. "This is Falni Jarlsdottir, the captain of that fine
fishing boat moored over yonder. This is her mate and brother, Ranigg
Jarlssen. Me name is Drivvid." Turning to Falni he finished, "This is
Alkin and his sons, Tom and Will."

The newcomers were ushered with the crowd moving with them to the fire built
outside the longhouse where Falni, Ranigg and Drivvid lived. Falni sent for
mead and food and bade their visitors sit, which Drivvid translated for her.

"Where are you from?" he asked.

Alkin replied with the Anglian name for York, "Eoforwic in Northumbria. We
are fishermen. We were trying to find the schools but had no luck.. and
ventured too far north."

When Drivvid had translated, Falni smiled. She said in Norse, "Oh, Jorvik..
a fine place to sell fish. But they will have to go much farther north or
out west into the Great Ocean to find any fish now."

Alkin exchanged looks with his sons when he heard the Saxon version of what
the woman had said. The father nodded. "'Tis been such a warm summer. I
suppose I should have known."

Drivvid smiled. "She has a special gift for it.. she may be the only one
who can really understand it." Falni looked hard at him and he gave her the
gist of the conversation.

Will, who seemed to be the younger son, asked Drivvid, "You speak Saxon but
not with a Norse sound to it.. you sound like you are Irish. How did you
come to be here?"

Falni had caught the sound of the word "Irish" and remembered the
conversation she and Drivvid had had the morning after they first slept
together. Her expression combined interest with wariness.

Drivvid grinned foolishly. "Och, to tell ye the truth, I dinnae quite k
now. These good people brought me here after fishing me out of the sea... I
cannae remember much of anything. I do recognize Eoforwic.. they call it
Jorvik here.. And Northumbria.. that certainly sounds familiar. But I
cannae tell ye more."

"But you remember your name?" Tom asked.

Drivvid laughed. "Nay, they named me Drivvid.. it means Driftwood."

The three men laughed.

Falni was getting an idea of the conversation's meaning from Drivvid's face.
She knew he had just explained his name. She smiled. "Drivvid," she spoke
to him. "Do you think you are from Northumbria?"

He shook his head. "That does not sound right to me. It's familiar but
it's not.. well.. home. But they say I sound Irish.. so I probably am."

Ranigg did not catch the look from his sister as he asked, "Can they tell
where you are from last? From your speech?" Falni felt this was all going
too fast. She felt like grabbing Drivvid and taking him and hiding him away
somewhere. She bowed her head but listened attentively as Drivvid spoke to
the men in their language.

The three consulted each other. Alkin spoke the consensus, "Well, not quite
Northumbrian.. maybe Mercian.. or Christenlande.."

The last name struck Drivvid hard.. "Christenlande?" he asked excitedly.
Falni's heart fell.

As the conversation went on, frequently stopped so Drivvid could translate,
he began to be certain that he had lived in Christenlande. It still did not
come concrete for him. He asked the men to talk about Christenlande. They
knew little other than the fishing ports. Will offered, "Well there is the
King and Queen in Lawrencium..."

Drivvid came to sharper attention. "Lawrencium? Aye. What are their
names, this King and Queen?"

Tom answered, "Well the King is Lawrence.. and the Queen is Josephine.."

Everyone was startled by Falni's gasp. "Jo-sa-veen?!" she breathed. The
look on her face was stricken "Drivvid, who is that?"

He explained it was the Queen's name, but his own voice was faraway.. he was
remembering a beautiful golden woman and then a flash of his first sight of
Falni and how he had thought in his delirium that she was that woman. He
came to himself and saw her distress. "Nay, Falni, do not worry.. she is
the Queen.. she can't be my wife, if I even have one."

Falni was not much comforted.

The rest of the conversation fell to fishing. The one person who could have
said the most and with the best authority was too distracted by fear and
panic to share in the discussion. At one point she stood up abruptly, made
mumbled apologies, and dashed into the longhouse. She emerged soon after
with her gear and headed straight to Sif's Pride, barking orders for her
crew to join her.

Drivvid and Ranigg exchanged looks. The Northumbrian men did too. Drivvid
explained, "I am sorry, this must seem sudden, me friends. When the captain
says we set sail, well then, sure and we set sail. These other fine people
will look after ye." He stood.

Alkin cried, "But you are the only one who can speak Saxon!"

Drivvid was torn. He did not want Falni to leave without him. He ran the
fingers he had left on his left hand through his tousled mop of red hair and
came to a decision. "I am that sorry, fellows. I have to go." He went in
and got his gear and followed Ranigg as he also strode off in the direction
his sister had gone, leaving the man and his sons to take care of their own

Next: Inklings, Part II

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About the author

Nan Hawthorne now writes under the name Christopher Hawthorne Moss. You can contact Christopher at .