'Oh--is that Eirik?'

“Oh – is that Eirik?” Sigrid gasped.

“Damn,” Brede swore to himself. “I was afraid he would be here. Who else would it be?” he snapped at his sister. “He’s the only blond behemoth we have.”

“I think you’re being a bit silly.”

“Well, now that you’ve seen his nightmarish face, perhaps you won’t be so interested in him any longer?”

'Well, now that you've seen his nightmarish face, perhaps you won't be so interested in him any longer?'

“He seems rather handsome from here,” she smiled.

“Handsome? Wait until you’ve seen the jaw on him,” he grumbled. “It looks as if it was especially made for the purpose of biting the heads off of kittens.”

“Oh, Brede!” she laughed. “Now I know you are exaggerating.”

“Synne, quit waving at Malcolm,” Brede snapped.

“Why?” Synne whined.


“Because he has already seen you, and if you continue waving, he will think you some sort of bold hussy.”

“Brede!” Sigrid scolded.

“What am I to do with the two of you? When I left you were playing with dolls, and now all either of you thinks about is boys, boys, boys.”

“I’m certain all you think about is girls, girls, girls,” Sigrid said.

'I'm certain all you think about is girls, girls, girls.'

“I wish I had the liberty! God! Where’s Selwyn already?”

“He went to play with Caedwulf,” Synne said.

“Better him than Brit, I suppose. At least he still has his mind on other things. But I did want him to go up to wish Emma a happy birthday first.”

“He will,” Synne assured him.

“Won’t you introduce us, Brede?” Sigrid asked.

'Won't you introduce us, Brede?'

“Introduce you to whom? You mean Eirik?”


“Oh, no! Are you mad? I introduce you to Eirik? I might as well hand him the key to your bedroom while I am at it.”


“Brede!” Sigrid gasped.

“You don’t know what he’s like. I told you once, and I shall remind you now, but God help you if you make me tell you a third time: stay well away from Eirik. Is that clear? He means you no good.”

'Is that clear?'

“He doesn’t even know me! He doesn’t even know what I look like yet.”

“You’re far too pretty to be safe with him, in any event. And even if you had the face of a newt on the neck of a toad, he would find you pretty enough for his purposes: namely, to injure me.”

“What did you ever do to Estrid?” she asked suspiciously.

'What did you ever do to Estrid?'

“Nothing! God! Anyway, it’s not your affair what I ever did with his sister. But you are my sister, and I have ordered you once, twice, and now three times to have nothing to do with him.”

“Don’t look, Sigi – he’s looking at you!” Synne squealed.

'Don't look, Sigi--he's looking at you!'

“He is?” Sigrid gasped.

Brede turned and glared at his nemesis, who brazenly winked at him.

Eirik brazenly winked at him.

“Impudent churl,” he growled. “I shall give him something to look at. Forget about him, Sigrid!” he warned. “It’s the last time I say it.”

“You say that every time,” she sniffed. “I’m certain he’s quite nice to everyone except you.”

“Will you defy me?”

“Who are you to be giving me orders?”

“Your older brother, and your guardian now.”

'Your older brother, and your guardian now.'

“Oh, no, you aren’t!” Synne said. “Uncle Aelfden is.”

“Only until he has gone back to Lund. And besides,” he laughed. “Is that what you want, Sigi? Shall I ask Uncle Aelfden to introduce you to Eirik? I’m certain he would be delighted to help the two of you become acquainted.”

“No,” Sigrid grumbled.

“That’s right. Neither of us trusts him with you – nor you with him, now that I’ve seen what occupies your minds lately.”

'Neither of us trust him with you.'

Someone must introduce us,” Sigrid said. “We are cousins, after all. It would be impolite otherwise.”

“Perhaps Uncle Aelfden is the best man for it after all,” Brede mused.

“Oh, no, Brede! No! Anyone else, please!”

“I’m certain Sigefrith will, or young Sigefrith,” he sighed. “But come on now. We’re going up to wish Emmie a happy birthday before anyone is introduced to anyone.”

'We're going up to wish Emmie a happy birthday before anyone is introduced to anyone.'