Epilogue:

A Skald's Gladness

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    "...and that," Thiodolf said, "is the reason why every sea-going knarr is called Freyja's Gift." He fell silent and bowed his head. The fires had burned low and the tables had been cleared and the people of Nyvik sat in enraptured silence.

    Young Sturla accepted a filled drinking horn from his father and offered it to the skald.

    "We are grateful to you, Master of Speech," he said, "for filling our hearts with such sweet wisdom."

    Thiodolf accepted the horn and took a sip.

    "You bless me twice, Sturla Fridtjofsen," he said. "Your thirst for Edda gladdens my heart, as does your gratitude. Drink as much as you wish and I shall be happy to keep your drinking horn filled."

    Sturla bowed, thanked the skald again, and then turned to help with the task of carrying sleepy children to the longhouses to put them to bed. The other villagers offered words of thanks and appreciation to the skald before walking down the hill to their homes. Finally Thiodolf was alone with only the wind sighing in the trees and the soft sound of people talking together as they walked down the hill.

    He stood up, took a draught from the horn, and raised the horn in salute.

    "Honored ancestors," he said, "I have poured out my words as a libation. I hope that you found them pleasing." Then he, too, set his feet onto the path down the hill.

    He had gone only a few paces when he paused and turned to gaze again upon the stone ship. A stillness had come over the hilltop and a deep silence. No wind fluttered the festoons and banners on the new mast. He gained the impression that he was seeing faint shadows and hearing quiet whisperings. He stood and listened until a soft breeze kissed his face and broke the spell. He raised the horn again in salute and then, with a bow to the past, he turned and set his feet firmly on the path to the future.

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Forward to Preamble to the Appendices