The Viking (Chapter VII, page 2 of 9)


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At the edge of the village, two boys nearing the age of ten were fascinated with a campfire left unattended. First the twins spit on the fire to hear it sizzle, and then they tried to entice a cat to come to them hoping to throw it in the fire. To their chagrin the cat got away. They looked around for other things to throw in the fire, and found little more than sticks and the widow Sarah's favorite marketing basket. Searc, the eldest by only minutes, tossed the basket in and ran. Quickly followed by his brother, Sionn, the two hid behind a cottage and peeked around the corner. No one came and they were not caught. They watched until the basket was consumed, and then exchanged shrugs. Not much excitement in that.

At last Searc had a grand idea. He found a long stick, wrapped a cloth around one end of it, set the cloth on fire and then carried it toward a horse tied to the branch of a tree. He hoped to set the horse's tail on fire, but the terrified horse danced frantically until it managed to pull the reins free and then bolted toward the center of the village.

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In front of the keep, Macoran and his wife sat in chairs on a raised landing with five steps on either end leading down to the courtyard. From there, he could see everything that was going on and the members of his clan could all see him. Their laird nodded his approval each time a woman brought a taste of this or that for his pleasure, glancing often at Jirvel who seemed intent on examining each of the baskets the other women had made. She was quite good at ignoring him - too good.

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