Thursday, April 14, 2011

Of Wyrms and Women pt. 5

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3][part 4]

Wealhtheow waited, as wives wait for warriors gone to war. Daily she walked to the shore, scanned the sea for ships. This was the third summer of their marriage. The third season of watching the waves. Waiting.

Her husband led the war band. His father, called Halfdane, was growing old. When he died his son would lead the Shieldings Wealhtheow’s husband Hrothgar, would rule the Shield-Danes Shieldings. His song will be sung through centuries.

Wealhtheow turned and walked homewards.

Halfdane’s hall, though full, was small. A new one was needed. The Danes had been at war, winning for three generations. Their tribe had earned great renown. Her father knew of the rise of the Shieldings. He was a shrewd man; many of the other chieftains did not consider them a threat. The home of the Shieldings, after all, was far from their halls. Wealhtheow’s father was smarter. He knew war could be waged across water, and the ships of the Shieldings were strong. So he wedded his daughter to their prince, and she would weave peace between the tribes. If she could. Wealhtheow remembered the lament of the exiled wife.

The wife was far from her own people, living with her husband’s tribe. Her husband’s kinsmen did not approve of their marriage. They drew her husband into a feud, and he was provoked into committing a crime. He acted against his lord, wielding his weapon within the mead hall. So he was outcast, banished over the sea. His wife too suffered for his brash behaviour. She was bound to live apart from the tribe, alone in a forest. Forever separated from her husband. Her family too far to uphold her honour. Wealhtheow wondered how long the wife survived the sundering.

To live in the forest without support was surely a certain doom.

Fate had been kind to Wealhtheow so far. She thanked the Norns for that. Her husband, still young, was earning his reputation as a ring-giver. He was as generous to Wealhtheow as he was to his warriors. He adorned her in gold. Like his warriors, she gave him loyalty. She served him as a wife should. Wealhtheow’s mother had told her that she must bind herself strongly to her husband’s people. Earn their trust and love. If she wanted to survive.

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