MEETING AT THE MARKET VII
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’s family has a stall at the market, selling grain and textiles, and they are doing brisk work. Business has been good, and Beornræd encountered a young girl who is still in his thoughts. The family has also encountered a Norseman, who buys fabric to trade, but when a thievery is discovered several booths away, the Norseman disappears. When the victim of the thievery, Rædwulf the smith, learns that the Norseman is near, he sends out a manhunt to find him. Afterwards, as they search, Beornræd goes to visit the minster and runs into the girl, who is hiding, and Rædwulf’s knife falls at her feet…
Surprised, Beornræd stared at the knife in his hand. Then he looked at the girl he still held onto and said, “Wh-what…”
“Do not tell anyone,” she pleaded. “I was going to sell it for food…I will…”
“An innocent man stands accused,” said Beornræd. He stared at the girl.
She teared and looked down. “I am an orphan.” the girl cried, “with no money, with no home, with…”
“Become a nun,” he said. “If they will take you.” And he was immediately sorrowful that he had been so smitten with her. “Now…come with me!”
He pressed his way through the crowds, dragging her behind him. “Make way! Make way!” he cried as he pulled her toward Rædwulf’s stall. People got out of the way, and the curious followed. And at the smith’s stall, he hesitated. There he say the red-faced Rædwulf standing with Eadmund, and armed men held spears at the throats of disarmed and bound Ármóðr, Fróði and two other Norsemen. They looked solemn and angry.
Rædwulf was crying, “…and the Danes who are attacking our shores to the south will be given a distinc5t warning tha…”
“Hold!” cried Beornræd ass he walked up to them. He pulled the girl around and flung her to the ground in front of Rædwulf.
“What is this…?”
Beornræd cast the seax into the dirt at Rædwulf’s feet. “Here is who stole your seax,” he said. “The Norsemen are innocent!”
Rædwulf paused and stooped to pick up the knife. Then he stared at the girl. “Did you steal this?” She said nothing, but she nodded sadly. The fur left Rædwulf’s face, and he turned to Ármóðr. “My apologies…my apologies to you.” He waved his arms. “Let them go!”
Ármóðr said nothing but reached out to grasp Beornræd’s shoulder. Then he nodded his head and led his mates and Beornræd off without a backwards glance.
Wærburh stared as the procession approached. “What is going on here?” she asked.
“He is innocent,” said Beornræd. “The girl stole the seax…”
“His testimony freed us,” said Ármóðr. He paused, looked at Beornræd and said, “Know this, that you are now under my protection. You have done me a good turn, and you will find me always willing to give you a good turn.”
Beornhelm smiled at his son. “You did a good thing.”
And Ármóðr said, “We will secure you lodging for the night. You need not travel in the dark and face those robbers who might come forth on darkened roads.”
Beornræd glanced at his mother and father, and they smiled. He said, “My thanks…”
“And we will visit the pubs and listen to storytellers sing of your actions.” He paused and smiled. “And if they do not…then I will compose a song for you myself!”