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- The Wanderer's Necklace - 53/53 -

I asked the boon. From the lot of an Empress to that of a spinning- wife is a great change, and one which I find it heard to bear. Still, I have my peace to make with God, and towards that peace I strive. Yet will you not take me with you, Olaf? I should like to found a nunnery in that cold North of yours."

"No, Augusta. I have done my best by you, and now you must guard yourself. We part for ever. I go hence to finish where I began. My birthplace calls me."

"For ever is a long word, Olaf. Are you sure that we part for ever? Perchance we shall meet again in death or in other lives. Such, at least, was the belief of some of the wisest of my people before we became Christian, and mayhap the Christians do not know everything, since the world had learnt much before they came. I hope that it may be so, Olaf, for I owe you a great debt and would repay it to you full measure, pressed down and running over. Farewell. Take with you the blessing of a sinful and a broken heart," and, rising, she kissed me on the brow.

Here ends the story of this life of mine as Olaf Red-Sword, since of it I can recover no more. The darkness drops. Of what befell me and the others after my parting with Irene I know nothing or very little. Doubtless we sailed away north, and, I think, came safely to Aar, since I have faint visions of Iduna the Fair grown old, but still unwed, for the stain of Steinar's blood, as it were, still marked her brow in all men's eyes; and even of Freydisa, white-haired and noble- looking. How did we meet and how did we separate at last, I wonder? And what were the fates of Heliodore and of our children; of Martina and of Jodd? Also, was the prophecy of Odin, spoken through the lips of Freydisa in the temple at Aar, that he and his fellow gods, or demons, would prevail against my flesh and that of those who clung to me, fulfilled at last in the fires of martyrdom for the Faith, as his promise of my happiness was fulfilled?

I cannot tell. I cannot tell. Darkness entombs us all and history is dumb.

At Aar there are many graves! Standing among them, not so long ago, much of this history came back to me.

The Wanderer's Necklace - 53/53

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