Friday, 3 June 2016
Rain, Wind And Saxon Galleys
"'The Romans took us unawares...
"'Suddenly, there they were, two Saxon galleys...
"'It was butchery...
"'...most died and we lost everything, all we had won in two years of work.'"
-Poul and Karen Anderson, The Dog And The Wolf, Chapter XVI, section 2, p. 317.
Do not feel any sympathy. Two years of work means two years of plunder. All that they lost was what others had lost to them. After such a speech, we expect some response from nature and are not disappointed. Right on cue:
"Cold and darkness gnawed..." (ibid.)
We find this appropriate and therefore are surprised by the opening phrase of the following sentence:
"It was wrong weather..."
- but the sentence concludes:
"...for this festival time." (ibid.)
It is nevertheless right for the bearing of bad news. To add insult to injury, the two Saxon galleys are recognized as the very two that were recently captured from Niall himself when he raided the site of Ys and was ambushed there. It is suggested that whoever captured the ships might have sold them to someone else but Niall replies:
"'They would not'...a gust of wind keened at the words." (p. 318)
The wind that has seemed to comment before does so again. It is like a Greek chorus in the Andersons' text. Niall knows that Grallon, the King of Ys, is behind it. Niall has destroyed Ys and it still haunts him.
Shortly afterwards, Niall reflects:
"...time slips through our fingers till at last we hold no more of it." (p. 320)
His druid companion replies to this unspoken thought:
"'A name can abide...'" (ibid.)
- and we remember:
"Kine die, kinfolk die...
"This I know that never dies:
"How dead men's deeds are deemed."