The following is a chapter of Frithjof, the Viking of Norway, by Zénaïde Alexeïevna Ragozin.
“To the Ting! To the Ting!” With the call, the herald goes from farm to farm, from home to home. King Ring is dead. Deep in the mound, in the spacious stone-lined chamber, he sits in state, the sword at his side, the shield on his arm, and his favorite charger faithfully waits to take him, fleet as ever, through spiritland. And now a king must be chosen anew.
Each bonder takes his sword from the wall, carefully tries the edge, and rubs the blade, while eager boys look on, then attempt to lift the weapon: two will do it: ’tis too much for one. The daughter meanwhile cleans and polishes the helmet and blushes as she sees her own fair face reflected in the steel. Last comes the shield — and ready stands, for deeds of peace or war, the true-hearted bonder, the free-born Norseman! ‘Tis in the breast of such as he that the nation’s honor is safely housed. In peace he is his country’s wise adviser, in war her stalwart champion ever.
In an open field, under the blue canopy, the men assemble with crash of shields and clash of arms. Frithjof stands straight and tall upon the judgment stone, and close to him the little gold-haired lad, the old king’s only son.
A murmur goes through the circle of men:
“Too young! No judge of men is he, nor fit to lead in war.”
But Frithjof raises the child upon his shield:
“Behold your king! The country’s blooming hope! Beauteous and noble of bearing as an infant Odin! See how light and well at ease he stands, poised on the unsteady shield! My sword shall guard his kingdom’s honor and his own, and on his brow my hand shall place someday his father’s crown. Forsete, Balder’s son, keeper divine of justice and of men’s faith — hear thou my oath, and, if I break it, let my life pay the forfeit!”
Standing on the shield held high by the hero’s outstretched arms, the child looks up with eye so bold as on the sun looks the young eagle. But soon he tires of the novel game and, with fearlessness right royal, leaps down upon the ground. With a roar of delight, the Ting greets the daring feat, and the men cry out as one:
“We choose thee king! Be as thy father great and good! And let Frithjof in thy place rule until thou growest strong in mind and body! Earl Frithjof, hail! And take the mother for thy bride!”
But Frithjof spoke out loud and stern:
“This is election day, not wedding day that I know. Nor shall any man choose a bride for me. But I must now haste me to Balder’s grove. My fate has waited there for me this many a day. Unreconciled as yet is the god of the golden locks. He took my bride from me, and he alone can give her back.”
He kisses the little king’s brow in homage and greeting, and forthwith, alone and silent, they see him stride across the heath as one in haste.