(Lars) #1

“Imagine you are out on Big Water.”
Bjorn gestured across the horizon. “It is a day
such as this, and there is no sun. How do we
find our way?”
I looked blank.
“What can you hear? What can you
smell?” Bjorn asked.
“I can hear waves breaking. I can smell
pine trees. So I would know I was near land!”
I called out triumphantly.


“Good.” Bjorn nodded, bent over, cupped his
hand in the water, and gave me some to drink.
“Not very salty,” I noted, “so we must be
near fresh water flowing from the land into
the sea.”
Bjorn smiled, showing a rare glimpse of
his striped teeth, filed into grooves many years
ago when he was a great warrior.
Suddenly he grabbed my arm. “What can
you hear?”
At first, I thought it was just another test.
“Sea gulls?” I guessed.
But then I saw his face—grim with glaring
eyes. Bjorn’s old body seemed to have jerked
upright and become young again. “Listen!” he
hissed.
“Swords clanking!” I whispered, and my
whole body shook. “People walking through
the woods. Wooden shields knocking against
the sides of trees.”
“You must get back to the village!” Bjorn
said. “Run to warn them that men are coming
to attack and loot our land!”
“Me?”
“Yes!” Bjorn spoke urgently. “Even with
your limp, you are faster than I. You must
ask Odin to move your leg like a deer or wolf
now. Take the women and children out on the
water for safety. I will shelter here.”
I hesitated, but Bjorn gave me a mighty
shove, and I started running. At first, my
leg dragged behind. But then Odin gave
me strength to move it forward. My limbs
burned with pain as I ran along the shore
toward our houses. Tripping over the stony
ground, I felt each jolt through my body like