Idea #1 for the serial story poll:
Norway, 1846 – “It began on a night much like this one.”
Two young children, brother and sister, leaned forward expectantly, their eyes wide with anticipation. Ivar Pedersen hesitated, his blue eyes darting between them. Perhaps it was too soon for them to hear this story…
“Yet unlike tonight, an early snow fell gently and there was no wind, not even a whisper. That night, young Rolf Svendsen decided it was time for us to confront the instigators of injustice in our tiny village for the final time.”
He paused, looking around the room. The other patrons had fallen silent when he started talking and instead of the eagerness shown on the children’s faces, they showed sympathy and dejection.
“We made it up to the cave they’d been using to hide,” he said. “Our initial plan to persuade them to stop came to an end almost as soon as we got there.” He sighed. “They knew we were coming. They started an attack which cost us several men.”
“What does that mean?” the boy asked.
“It means they were killed, Hans-Peter.”
At the new voice, all attention was directed to Aleksander Haugen. He was standing in the doorway, looking none too pleased to find the children at the inn.
Ivar’s voice hardened. “Why are you here?”
“Sigrid sent me to get the children,” Aleksander replied, coming inside.
They glanced between him and Ivar. “But, we want to hear the rest of the story,” Mette said, gray eyes pleading.
“There’s not much left to tell,” Aleksander said. “Rolf Svendsen died. The end. Now say goodbye and come with me.”
Reluctantly, they stood and said goodnight to Ivar and the others as they followed Aleksander to the door.
“You forgot something,” Ivar called.
“Which was?” Aleksander said, turning around.
Ivar glanced between him and the children. “Your part in it,” he said. Aleksander walked back to him.
“Be careful with what you say, Ivar,” he said in a low voice. “I’ve known you since I was a boy and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“They need to know the truth.”
“And you know Sigrid doesn’t want them to know anything about Rolf.” Aleksander walked back to the children. “Come on.”
“Did Rolf really die?” Hans-Peter asked when they were halfway home.
“Yes,” Aleksander replied.
“How?” Mette said.
“He was stubborn and wouldn’t stop meddling with others’ business,” Aleksander said. Stubborn just like Sigrid.
Mette and Hans-Peter were silent the rest of the way back to their home. When they arrived, they greeted their mother and then went off to get ready for bed.
After they left the room, Sigrid asked, “You found them at the inn, didn’t you?”
“Yes. Ivar was…telling them about Rolf.”
Sigrid stiffened for a split second halfway through folding a blanket. “I should have known,” she said as she finished folding. She folded her arms. “I suppose it’s time to stop giving the children so much freedom to roam about the village.”
“And to keep them away from Ivar,” Aleksander muttered under his breath.
“What was that?” Sigrid asked.
“Nothing. Nothing at all.” Aleksander walked back to the door and opened it. “I’m still taking Hans-Peter to learn ice harvesting tomorrow, correct?”
As he turned to go, Sigrid said, “Thank you for bringing them home.”
He smiled at her and left.
Long after their mother had said goodnight and gone to bed herself, the twins were still awake, having been unable to fall asleep after tonight’s events.
“What do you suppose his part in it was?” Hans-Peter asked after Mette brought up what Ivar had told Aleksander. “Do you think he could have…killed someone?”
“We could ask Mama tomorrow,” Mette said.
“Do you think she’ll know?”
“Of course. Mama knows everything.”
© H.S. Killian 2018