"Let little Cappen go," they
shouted. "Maybe he can sing
the trolls to sleep--"
The wind came from the north with sleet on its back. Raw shuddering
gusts whipped the sea till the ship lurched and men felt driven
spindrift stinging their faces. Beyond the rail there was winter night,
a moving blackness where the waves rushed and clamored; straining into
the great dark, men sensed only the bitter salt of sea-scud, the nettle
of sleet and the lash of wind.
Cappen lost his footing as the ship heaved beneath him, his hands were
yanked from the icy rail and he went stumbling to the deck. The bilge
water was new coldness on his drenched clothes. He struggled back to his
feet, leaning on a rower's bench and wishing miserably that his quaking
stomach had more to lose. But he had already chucked his share of
stockfish and hardtack, to the laughter of Svearek's men, when the gale
Numb fingers groped anxiously for the harp on his back. It still seemed
intact in its leather case. He didn't care about the sodden wadmal
breeks and tunic that hung around his skin. The sooner they rotted off
him, the better. The thought of the silks and linens of Croy was a sigh
Why had he come to Norren?
A gigantic form, vague in the whistling dark, loomed beside him and gave
him a steadying hand. He could barely hear the blond giant's bull tones:
"Ha, easy there, lad. Methinks the sea horse road is too rough for yer