MEETING AT THE MARKET II
At the 2015 Market at the Square in Urbana, Illinois, Micel Folcland manned a table once a month. We released a new installment every month, at our appearance at the Market, in this continuing serial set in the Danelaw of the early eleventh century. We tried to keep the installments as related to common everyday life in the Anglo-Scandinavian culture of the, and we tried to deal with matters of history and culture that were largely unknown and that would provoke question and thought. We were glad to answer any questions that might be posed, and we still are!
WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE—Sixteen-year-old Beornræd and his family are traveling to a nearby market and have just arrived and are ready to set up their stall, selling grain and textiles.
The oxen were guided to where the family’s booth would be set up, and th father reined in the oxen. He carefully guided the waggon to where it would sit, and he turned to Beornræd.”Unhitch them and stake them yonder,” he said to Beornræd. “Give the man a coin so they could get fed, and then hasten back here, and we will set up the stall.”
Beornræd ran to do what his father said, as his father and Brunstan began to pull out the poles that would hold up the fly. The oxen were placed with other animals a distance from the market area, and he talked to the old man who oversaw the animals so that they would be fed and protected. And ran back to where his father and brother were hard at work. All around him, people were setting up, ready to sell. At some he smiled and waved, and they greeted him as he ran past. When he arrived, panting, where the Father and brother were working, his father snapped, “Help us with the frame. Wærburh, fetch out the cloth for the awning.”
It is a good day,” she said innocently. “There is little likelihood of rain.”
Beornhelm took an acid glance at her and said, “The clouds may blow away, and we will need shade from the sun,” he smiled, but Wærburh was already pulling out the fabric that would be stretched over the frame.
As they worked on it, securing the frame and stretching forth the fabric, a plump man in a deep green tunic walked up. “Good day, Beornhelm,” he said when he stopped before the stall..
Beornhelm turned and smiled. “Stay at work or you get the back on my hand,” he said to his sons. Then he walked over to the burgess and shook his hand. “What is the toll, Æthelberht?”
“It is as much as it always is,” said the burgess, “Sometimes I think you are merely trying to have me impose a lesser toll, so often do you ask that. But I am not so old that I would forget and do that.”
“Indeed,” agreed Beornhelm. He pulled his pouch about his neck from beneath his tunic and carefully pulled out a coin, hading it to Æthelberht. The burgess smiled and slid the coin into his own pouch. “So much do I trusty you, I will not even check on its purity,” Æthelberht smiled. “And besides, if you have tried to cheat me, I know where to find you!” He clapped Beornhelm on the back and went on to the next booth.
Beornhelm returned to where his sons had the fly mostly up, and he nodded begrudging approval, noting, “Hurry now. Customers are already filling the market, and I want to be ready for them. Now, put that frame leg there, and stretch the wool. Good…good.” He smiled and turned back to the wagon, pulling out a plank which Beornræd ran to help slide it between the frame to make a table. As soon as they had set out wares, folk began to stop by, taking glances, examining the wares. Some Beornhelm knew and greeted by name. Others. He did not. By the time they had been set up for an hour, trade had been brisk and quick, and Beornhelm was smiling. It will be a good day,” he said.
Then a young girl, dressed in fine blue, her hair unbound and blonde came up. Beornræd smiled and said to his father, “I can take care of her.”
His father, glancing at Beornræd’s mother with a knowing grin, said, “I am certain you think you could…”
—to be continued
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