The ring crosses the sea
1. Bjorn lived in a little village in Norway. He lived with his mother and little brothers and sisters. Bjorn’s father Olaf was always away at sea. Olaf was a real Viking: handsome, strong and merciless. Bjorn loved his father but he didn’t miss him. Viking men didn’t spend much time with their families; they went to sea and raided other countries. They always came home with a lot of gold and silver. Vikings were the kings of the sea; their ships were big and fast.
Bjorn was eleven but he was big for his age and helped his mother with everything. He hated cooking, cleaning and washing, but fishing was all right.
This morning his mother wanted some fish so Bjorn was checking his nets in the sea when he suddenly saw a dragon's head and then a huge colourful sail on the horizon. Then he saw more dragon’s heads and more sails. Bjorn jumped with joy. They were Viking ships. His father and the fathers of all his friends were coming back home from sea.
“They are coming! They are coming!” Bjorn shouted and ran to the village.
2. And soon the men left their ships and came to the village. Everybody was happy. But Bjorn noticed something. This time the Vikings came home very quickly and didn’t bring much gold or silver with them. That was strange, but Bjorn couldn’t ask anybody about it.
Next evening Bjorn was playing in a tree when he saw his father and mother. They were talking. Bjorn heard every word.
“Look, Olga, I have a present for you. We burnt a monastery in the land of Piets and Scots, killed the people and I got this ring,” his father said.
“I don't need the stupid ring!” his mother shouted, “Give it to Bjorn, he’ll like it. I need gold for the family. Do you remember you have a family here, Olaf?”
“Yes, I do,” Bjorn’s father said. “I'm doing my best.”
“No, you aren’t. Why did you come back so early? Where is the gold? Why did you go to the poor land of the Scots. Why didn’t you go to Englaland?”
“Don’t be angry, Olga. Everything is different this time. Alfred, the new king of Englaland, is strong and wise. He can read and write and he can THINK. He built a lot of ships and they are not worse than the Viking ships. He beat us at sea. What a shame! And then he gave us some gold, but we had to promise something.”
“What did you promise?”
“We promised to leave Englaland forever and never raid and kill there.”
“You, idiot! Do you remember your promises to me? These were your words:
‘We’ll leave this cold, dark country, Olga. We’ll move to Englaland. It’s nice and warm, and there is a lot of good land’. My sister lives there, your aunt lives there with her family. They raid the English and take everything from them because the English are weak.”
“We can always go to Englaland and live there, but now it’s different: We cannot kill the English and take their gold. We must be good neighbours - not enemies.
We have promised!”
“I don’t want to know. I am tired of this country. There is no land, no food and in winter we don’t see the sun for three months! But I don't want to starve in Englaland, because you have made your stupid promise. You must go back to Englaland and beat King Alfred.”
That evening his father came to Bjorn and gave him a present — a ring. Bjorn liked the ring - it was big and beautiful and had snakes on. The ring became his favourite thing. “This is my lucky ring,” Bjorn said to the boys in the village.
3. Five months later the Vikings were getting on their ships again. They had broken their promise to King Alfred. This time Bjorn and all his family were on the ship with his father. They were going to Englaland.
Bjorn saw the English land on a gloomy spring morning in 873. The land didn’t look nice and friendly. Suddenly Bjorn heard the voices “Be careful! Be careful!” He looked at the sea and saw the ships. They weren’t Viking ships, but they were also good and fast, and there were four of them. The Vikings attacked. Bjorn was very excited: it was a real battle. The Vikings burnt the first ship, and the second and the third. Now there was only one English ship left. Bjorn looked at his family. They were dancing with joy.
At that moment his favourite ring fell off his finger. Bjorn ran along the ship. He didn’t want to lose his treasure. He picked it up and raised his head. He saw a horrible thing: the soldiers from the last English ship had killed all his family.
4. In an hour everything was over. The Vikings had burnt the last English ship and had come to the English shore.
When they left the ship, Bjorn sat down and cried. Tie was in Englaland, but it didn’t make him happy. It was the worst day of his life. A huge Viking, his father’s friend, came up to him. “Why are you crying boy?” he asked. “People always die in battles. It isn’t important.”
‘And what is important?” Bjorn shouted.
“It is important to win and we won,” the man answered.
“Now you can live in Englaland with us or with your aunt or with your father’s aunt. You can choose.”
Bjorn thought about the idea and suddenly he understood “I can’t stay here." he said quietly. “This is not my land. This is the land of the English. They will protect it and one day they will beat you. I want to live in my country, in Norway" At that moment Bjorn looked at the ring on his finger. The ring had saved his life.
‘And this ring didn’t bring me any luck. It belongs to Englaland. Let it stay here!” With these words Bjorn threw the ring to the ground and went back to the ships. He was going home.