Happy Weekend, all!
I was looking through the story for good passages and realized that I haven’t posted anything yet that featured Gerhard, the third participant in the fertility ritual at the heart of the tale.
Gerhard is also the hero of Dinah of Seneca, so it seemed a good idea to give him some screen time today. He and Ragnor are definitely not friends.
“Gunnhilda spoke to me of a ritual,” Gerhard said.
Ragnor nodded. “What of it?”
Speak, Gerhard. Tell me why you think you are deserving of my wife’s touch. Or the touch of the goddess.
“I told Gunnhilda that she was mad.”
“I told Sif the same.”
Gerhard sat on the far side of the rock. Ragnor still did not look at him. Gerhard sighed. “Gunnhilda pointed out the signs of the goddess. The spring. The cat who—”
“Saved my life.” Ragnor finally lifted his head. Gerhard seemed honestly reluctant. Why? Wouldn’t any man want to get hands on Sif? And then perhaps seize leadership?
“The cougar also saved the lives of several in that hunting party,” Gerhard said. “We feasted, instead of mourning.” Gerhard tapped his foot against the ground, over and over. “I grow sick of mourning.”
“We all do.”
Gerhard stood and walked in front of Ragnor to face him. Ragnor stared, trying to read the man’s face. Gerhard had always kept his own counsel, save for his late wife. A fine woman, if a bit too quiet and too thin for Ragnor’s taste.
“You are considering this?” Gerhard said.
Freya damn him, he was. Sif was right. The fight between Torger and Mykle would not be the last. The next one could end in death. And Ragnor kept flashing back to how the great cat had watched him. Judged him.
“Yes.” Ragnor stared past Gerhard. “I am chief. That means my life belongs to the tribe. As does Sif’s life. I consider it.”