A SCANDINAVIAN FAIRY TALE FOR YOU: AASA'S BOAT
Once upon a time, long, long, ago, in Frozen Kingdom, far, far, away, lived a little girl named Aasa.
The land was so far away it took longer than one year to get there. First a boat must be built from rough, hand hewn logs. Later, huge sails to catch the wind were sewn from the thick skins of seals and whales.
One long year. That is a long, long, journey, but it is true, according to an ancient Viking saga. I know I saw it somewhere. No matter. Let's get on with it.
Aasa was the only child of the proud, ancient Viking Chieftain, Dirk.
Long before she was born, when Aasa’s father was just a small child himself, he traveled far and wide helping the crew on the Longboats of his own father, Aasa’s grandfather, Gudleifr. Gudleifr means the Divine Heir.
The Vikings sailed the seas, invaded fertile lands of wealthy kings and queens, looted their crops and foodstuffs, as well as their riches of gold, jewels, and splendid animals. The Viking warriors were exceedingly wicked men in those days.
Aasa's father, Dirk, was not as warlike as his father Gufleifr, and eventually influenced The Divine Heir to cease his raiding and looting.
To protect his family and all of his people, Gudleifr, Aasa’s grandfather, settled them in Frozen Kingdom, far, far, away, beyond the farthest place to the north. He did this to protect and hide them from his many enemies. In that same place, Aasa’s father, Dirk, grew to be a strong Viking warrior. When he was still a young man Dirk took Gudliefr's position as senior chieftain and Gudliefr retired to rest after his many years of fierce warring.
Dirk became the most Senior Chieftain of Frozen Kingdom and ruled well.
This place, far far away where Aasa lived, was called Frozen Kingdom because the land remained frozen for almost the whole year. But the land was so beautiful that everyone fell in love with it and vowed never to leave for warmer places. Aasa would never see another place in this world in all of her life. But Aasa did not care. She loved her land dearly.
Sadly, though, it was terribly difficult to grow trees and food in Frozen Kingdom. During the long winters, the citizens planted vegetable seeds in a special warm room inside each small cottage. As soon as spring thaw came they quickly planted their precious plants outdoors on large plots of land, combining it all together as a community. The growing place had been prepared for the shortest of growing seasons. Thick blankets were placed over the plants at night to keep what little warmth, captured from the short day, to remain trapped close to the ground, inside.
Trees grew so slowly that to conserve them, the people were allowed to build only the very smallest of cottages. Even Aasa’s father and grandfather followed this essential rule.
The cottages were made mostly of rock, of course, but logs were necessary for the rafters, around the windows and for strong doors. This took much more wood than could be grown. In years to come there would be no more wood to be had.
Now you shall hear how the saga of Frozen Kingdom came about because of the kindness of tenderhearted women.
Many, many, years ago, when Chief Dirk, Aasa’s father, was just a small boy, his own father, Gudleifr, The Divine Heir, took him along on a terrible raid to a beautiful place called Warmland.
Warmland was lush and green. It overflowed with beautifully colored and fragrant flowers, nutritious grains, large, healthy vegetables, and various species of trees. Many healthy animals grazed in the fields. They were brought in to rest at dusk by intelligent, well- trained dogs, and herded into roomy wood fence enclosures situated close to Warmland's citizen's large stone cottages. The animals were fed ample rations of cultivated grasses and rich grains.
You will understand, of course, that with plenty of nutritious food to eat, the citizens of Warmland grew to be strong and healthy. Nobody there had a quarrel with anyone, so they passed their happy days farming the fertile soil, playing with their children, and going to sleep early at night so they could rise early to enjoy a new sunshiny day.
But during fierce Viking raids many of the citizens living in Warmland ran into the hills to hide, to avoid injury, or worse, death.
The most recent raid in Warmland was led by The Divine Heir, Gudleifr, a fierce, savage, and unforgiving invader. During this raid, many of the young Viking boys were taken along with the aim of beginning their preparation for when they, too, would be required to conduct raids.
Sometimes, during the fiercest fighting, some of the youngest boys were placed in rock caves for their safety.
Aasa’s father, being only a small boy himself at the time, was one of those boys. He was secured safely in a cave with thick rock walls, somewhere in between the lush, green, rolling hills, along with other very young sons of the raiding Viking warriors.
During the most vicious, cruelest, part of the battle, a stray arrow glanced off the entrance of the cave where the children were hidden. It bounced off the rock wall and struck young Dirk squarely in the back. The arrow continued to be driven all the way through Dirk's body and out his chest by the force of its speed, barely missing his heart. The boy was injured badly.
The other boys ran away to a safer place, and Dirk was left behind to fend for himself.
Infection developed in the wound. The small boy was close to death when it happened that kind women, attempting to return to their homes from their hiding places in the hills, discovered the young Viking boy in the cave.
The kind women carried Dirk to a nearby cottage and nursed him through the night and far into the next day.
When they were certain the little boy would survive, the women attempted to attract the attention of the Viking raiders. They drew Dirk's father to his injured boy by hanging a large white cloth outside the cottage door signaling surrender.
Gudleifr had been weeping bitterly, even as he valiantly fought the Warmland warriors. The cave where he had left his son was abandoned when he went to check on it early that morning. He thought that his little son was killed and his body had been taken away after discovering a large pool of blood on the floor of the cave.
As the leader of his Viking warriors, it was required that Dirk's father enter the cottage first in case a trap had been set for a careless marauder. Once he was inside the cottage, Gudleifr saw his seriously wounded boy. He was bandaged in soft, clean linen, and lay on a cot close to the fire.
When he realized that his son was alive and had been well cared for, Dirk's father was so grateful for the kindness of the women that he immediately called off the raid and vowed that he would never invade Warmland again.
The Royal Monarch of Warmland, King Sigmund, displayed his gratitude to Dirk's father and his Viking warriors for ending the terrible raid, and promised his first born grandson as husband to the first daughter of the Viking chieftain’s own son, Dirk, who was healing rapidly but still being cared for on the cot by the fire in the cottage, if, at that time, they both would be willing.
In a beautiful ceremony, when he was healed, the boy was given the name, Dirk, Honorable Champion Peacemaker from Frozen Kingdom.
Much later, when he had grown to manhood, Viking Prince Dirk married a beautiful princess from his own Frozen Kingdom and became King. In due time, they became the happy parents of a lovely daughter, the Viking Princess, Aasa.
Not too long before Aasa was born, in Warmland, a boy child had been born to the son of King Sigmund of Warmland. King Sigmund’s grandson was named Prince Oskar.
Prince Oskar was told from the time he was a small child that when he reached manhood there would be a beautiful bride waiting for him in Frozen Kingdom. He would be allowed to take her as his wife. If they both would be willing. But first, to establish friendship and allegiance, there must be gifts from Prince Oskar to help the people of that very poor Frozen Kingdom.
Frozen Kingdom would require many new tree seedlings, and much lumber to build fences, barns and public buildings if it were to survive forever.
When he was still a young boy, because he was an dutiful son who knew his responsibilities as a future royal monarch, Prince Oskar began to make plans for the survival of Frozen Kingdom.
First he planted tree seedlings to stock a huge forest for the people of Frozen Kingdom. Soon afterward Prince Oskar's men began building a large fleet of beautiful fishing boats to provide Frozen Kingdom with a way to catch fish to feed her citizens so there would be food enough to feed all of her people.
One boat was special. It was to be Aasa’s boat and it would be given to her as Prince Oskar’s wedding gift upon the day of their wedding. If they both would be willing.
Aasa’s boat was outfitted with lovely chambers and beautiful places to sleep and relax. There was a library filled with ancient manuscripts to read. And there were comfortable velvet chairs upon which to sit while weaving silk tapestries. For enjoying afternoon tea, small tables carved from exotic woods were set here and there, firmly secured to the fine teakwood floor.
There were seven opulent bed chambers. They were built inside Aasa's boat, far away from the noise caused by deckhands at topside.
The decks were built wide and sturdy to make strolling safe and pleasant.
A special map room was built for Prince Oskar. It was outfitted with many brightly colored maps to study, making it easier for him to lead his fleet across the seas of the world.
When Prince Oskar and his boat builders finished Aasa's boat, he was pleased. It was the most beautiful boat that had ever been built.
At last Prince Oskar was ready to set sail to Frozen Kingdom. He filled some of his wonderful boats with tree seedlings for new forests. Others were heavily loaded with curved lengths of thinly cut lumber for building fishing boats to supply Frozen Kingdom's boat builders. Yet others were laden with seed grain for growing crops, carpentry tools, and other things required for building a true kingdom, as well ample stuffs. There were a large number of young animals, from various breeds to produce milk enough to make into fragrant cheeses, more than enough milk for the children to drink, as well as rich meat to give the citizens a change of diet from fish.
There would be time now for Aasa’s people to grow trees, build larger, more roomy cottages, and to build more boats to search the seas for fish to feed all of her citizens.
The day came that he had been waiting for all of his life, and Prince Oskar set off for Frozen Kingdom, far, far away to the north.
It was a very long journey. As Prince Oskar's magnificent fleet traveled through the cold, cold, seas and at last into the farthest Northland, ice was often spotted along the shores. Huge chunks of thick ice broken from the edges of unending icebergs threatened to damage some of the boats, but Prince Oskar's men worked day and night to push the thick ice chunks away with long poles keep the boats safe from certain destruction.
After many months at sea, in the deep winter of the year, Prince Oskar’s boats neared Frozen Kingdom. Everything behind them, in front of them, and all around them was white with snow frozen in layers of ice except the path through the sea that Prince Dirk's boats sailed upon.
In the dead of that winter's night, when Prince Oskar's fleet drew near to Frozen Kingdom, it appeared as if the entire country was alight. It was because of the glittering layers of ice that coated everything and of the Northern Lights blazing upon the landscape with all the hues of natures color spectrum. Indeed, it appeared as if millions, and millions of diamonds of all colors filled the whole land. They seemed to shine on the frozen shore, throughout the hills, filled the few remaining snow-covered trees with blazing canopies bending their slim, brittle branches, all the way to the ground.
It was so intensely bright that, even in that Season of Darkness across Aasa’s land, it was truly brighter than the day. Reflections of stars in the clear night sky sparkled on the snow, adding doubly to the brightness. It was as if the land was, indeed, much overfilled with glittering diamonds.
They were not true diamonds, of course. Remember, I told you that this was a land of very poor people. It was only the ice that shimmered over all the land that lit the night so brightly.
Prince Oskar and his men steered his beautiful boats into the brilliantly sparkling harbor. They drew the boats up alongside the long wharf.
There, waiting to receive them, (because the fleet had been spotted hours earlier), were hundreds of colorfully clad citizens of Frozen Kingdom. Their clothing was radiant. It shimmered red and blue, yellow, green and purple, orange and gold, from reflections caused by the ice.
Prince Oskar was at first confused when he saw the beautifully clad citizens. He wondered if Frozen Kingdom was, after all, a very fertile land, and he had been mistaken in his understanding of what he had been told.
However, when Prince Oskar noticed that there were no other boats in the harbor he understood that the citizens colorful clothing worn that night was sewn at great sacrifice from their meagre supplies of cloth, just to honor him, and that they were, indeed, a very poor people as he had been told.
When Prince Oskar welcomed Aasa’s father, King Dirk, on board,the Viking was so happy to be told about the lumber and seedlings to be gifted his people, that he laughed in boundless joy and began a frantic swirling dance upon the deck of Prince Oskar's flagship.
The citizens of Frozen Kingdom joined in the celebration with the Prince and his crew, and danced all the night through. It was a most wonderful party.
That very next day Prince Oskar was married to Princess Aasa, whom he had not met until the very moment he stepped from his flagship the night before. He fell instantly in love with her and she with him. And they both were willing.
Pince Oskar was soon made King Oskar and continues to command the large fishing fleet his men built for Frozen Kingdom to this very day. Everyone in Frozen Kingdom still lives happily ever after in that beautiful country rescued by the boy who was saved by kind women, and now the happy couple spends the wonderful long days of their lives caring for their animals, growing flowers, vegetables and tree seedlings in huge buildings made from stone and timber, and tending to their very own sweet babies.
The moral of the story: Wonderful things can happen in the hearts of men because of the kindness of women.