The Viking (Chapter III, page 1 of 7)

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Kannak needed a husband.

She did not want one and was not at all convinced she would know what to do with one, but now that her father neglected to return, life promised to be extremely difficult for a mother and daughter trying to survive alone. Marriage was Kannak's idea and her mother flatly refused to consider it, but in the end Kannak could think of no other answer.

There were stipulations of course, for the two had talked of the man she would marry. "See that he has the strength of an ox, does not take to strong drink and has good teeth," her mother instructed. As she mounted her horse, Kannak wondered just how she could ask a man to show his teeth before she married him. But she decided she would puzzle that out later.

They were members of Clan Macoran and lived in a cottage on the north side of the river that separated clan Macoran from Clan Limond. Clan Macoran's land lay in a wide "L" shape at the foot of the gradual slope of a high hill. Small farms dotted the longer part of the bend that bordered the river while the other end stretched north along the eastern coast of Scotland. Clan Limond owned the flatter land to the south of the river.

For the most part, the two clans were peaceful, although there were disputes from time to time over livestock, fishing and women. Mostly they fought over the salmon in the river but sometimes over women, of which there never seemed to be enough. Women died in childbirth and men died in battle, but when there were as few wars as there had been lately, the men outlived two and sometimes three wives.

Kannak wore her long, auburn hair in a loose braid down the middle of her back and for this occasion, she looked as best she could in her woolen, ankle-length, unbelted frock. It was a pale gray with wide sleeves and since it was such a special occasion, she also wore a long under shirt of soft linen. The under garment was a gift from her uncle who lived in the far north. Her shoes were clean, her face scrubbed and she guessed that would have to be enough to attract a husband.

She considered herself to be exceptionally strong of heart and mind, but as she turned her horse and rode away, a sickness stirred in her stomach. She was, after all, but thirteen years of age and had not considered taking a husband so soon. Her mother's description of how children were conceived served to increase her anxiety and that too she wanted desperately to consider later.

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