For the White Christ

Autor: Robert Bennet

Wydawnictwo: Perennial Press

Early of an April morning of the year 778, a broad-beamed Frisian trade-ship was drifting with the ebb-tide down the Seine estuary. Wrapped about by the morning vapors, the deeply laden little craft floated on the stream like a dreamship. The mists shut out all view of sky and land and sea. From the quarter-deck, the two men beside the steer-oar could scarcely see across the open cargo-heaped waist to where, gathered silently about the mast, a dozen or so drowsy sailors stood waiting for the morning breeze.The remainder of the crew lay sprawled upon the casks and bales of merchandise, side by side with a score of Frankish warriors. All alike were heavy with drunken slumber. The shipmaster, a squat red-haired man of great girth, regarded the overcome wassailers with an indifferent eye; but the tall warrior beside him appeared far from pleased by the sight."Is it so you rule your ship, Frisian?" he demanded. "You should have stopped the wassail by midnight. Here we swim on the treacherous sea, while our men lie in drunken stupor.""We are yet in the stream, lord count," replied the shipmaster. "As to my Frisians, a dash of salt water will soon rouse them. If your landsmen are farther gone, what odds? Drunk or sober, they 'll be alike useless when we strike rough seas."The Frank's face lit with a smile as quick as its frown...
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