Edrich of Haluken

Chapter Nineteen

Our return to Halla was wonderful. Valla greeted me warmly as did Iris and Halkar. I listened carefully as Halkar and Emil told us what they had learned from Tummas and his companion Rolf. While Rolf was a Swede he had only met Tummas on the road by chance. He knew nothing of the man’s activities and Emil was convinced of that. Tummas gloated that though they had recaptured him, his men would ravage the southern road and villages. He didn’t know that most of his men were in custody or dead. The Stillesoldt had been very effective. In any case Tummas was awaiting execution at the magistrates court house. He would be hanged without ceremony which was the norm for escaped prisoners.

Once we were released from our briefing Knut and I went our separate ways but we would be meeting again soon for more training. I was noting more of the national police force or Politi on the streets. Fewer guardsmen patrolled except near government buildings and the palace.

I was pleased to be home and also to find Jørgen in the parlor. I had questions for him.

I kissed Mother and Father and all of my brothers. The babies seemed bigger and louder.

After spending a bit of time Father, Jørgen and I went to his office and discussed what I had learned on our trip.

I explained about Tummas at length and then what Jens had told me about the state of the border. I told Jørgen about the conversion of the Haluken city watch into the Stat Politi.

“They are the same men, with a few new officers to train the men in policy and operation. It seems to be going well. Haluken is growing rapidly. A second mill has been built and a granary. It will be a city within the year. The council is working well and the people seem happy with less interference from the monastery. The monks are still present but now they serve the community and help the people. The monks are discussing whether to convert the abbey to Lutheran service. The monks seem to be in favor of wholesale conversion to Lutheran doctrine. It’s more in line with their current role in the community,” I reported.

“That’s all well and good but have you stopped to see Valla?” Father asked.

“Yes Father, we stopped at the palace to speak to the governor. Valla and I had a few moments alone but I will return when I can shed the road dust and dress more appropriately. The business with Tummas was urgent so we stopped there first,” I told him.

“And how did you and Knut get on?” Father asked.

“Quite well. I learned a lot from him and asked if he would consider taking a position with me similar to Emil’s. He seemed inclined to accept but he must speak with his wife first,” I explained.

“As it should be,” Father smiled.

I explained the production at the mine and the plan to open two new shafts. I had cautioned Gunnar not to stretch the miners too thin. We don’t want accidents. He may hold off on the expansion until he gets more men to do the labor. It’s hard dangerous work but I want it done safely as possible. They’ve also encountered coal but I don’t know if it’s of a sufficient quality or amount to feed the smelter. I’ve given Gunnar a free hand within reason. He knows my concerns and knows that the workers have my ear. I believe we share the same goal. We are already outproducing expectations. Other ores are being found and they may prove profitable as well,” I reported further.

“We’re going to have to slow Gunnar down. We are already stockpiling gold so we don’t flood the market. It has to be released slowly so that the market doesn’t fall out. The price of gold is directly linked to finance. It has dropped to a fair rate and we will try to keep it there. It means that there is money available for new enterprise like steam and more sophisticated looms, machines like your tamper and other inventions can get the capital they need to begin production. We are paying down foreign debt and so is Denmark. Benefits to the community are rising. New roads and new villages are being built. Largely due in part to you Edrich,” Father pointed out.

“I can’t begin to answer that, I haven’t the words. But if it makes our nation and people stronger and happier, I am proud to have a part in it,” I replied.

“I marvel at how much he resembles you in character old friend. If the country is going to progress, we will need many more like him to lead the way,” Jørgen told Father.

“I agree, his kind are rare and his circumstances contributed greatly to his view of things. His life has not been an easy one. It has become more comfortable but it will never be easy because of his character. He will always stand up for what is right,” Father extolled.

“At heart, I’m just a clan boy. I’ve had opportunities that some have not. I feel the need to honor that somehow. I can only do that by making things better for everyone, where I can,” I explained.

I was released to spend some time with my brothers and bathe. I desperately needed a bath and there was no shortage of company.

I hugged and cuddled all my brothers. Olaf was quite present and seemed to be quite alert.

“I’ve been thinking about the water driven pump. It uses a water wheel to drive a beam operated piston to move water. Why couldn’t the operation be reversed but using steam to drive the piston and the beam could work a pump or some other machine. I’m convinced that steam is the coming thing. My pump is already moving water at the mine and perhaps others will find more uses for it. It fills our cisterns too. The donkey always looked so sad on the treadmill to raise the water for our baths,” Olaf sighed. “Was my pump still working well at the mine?

“Yes, it does work quite well. They have a beam pump on standby just in case but water is not currently a big problem. As they go deeper it may become more significant,” I assured him. “How long do you think the valves will hold out?”

“That depends on use, I designed it with a year’s heavy use in mind just to test the design. If it fails sooner I have sent a replacement to be installed. It will mount up the same as the existing pump. It’s probably not a long term solution, but a steam operated piston pump would really solve the problem permanently. Lots of people are working on the concept full time. It has great commercial value. But there a lot of problems to be solved. It will have to be steel. Brass won’t stand up to the pressure. I’m afraid we’re stuck with water wheels for motive power for now. But I’ll keep working on it,” Olaf answered at length. I’m lucky I have Kiva to talk to about the problems and he is so good at documenting experiments.”

Kiva and Olaf had become research partners. Kiva checked Olaf’s calculations and documented every test of every prototype. He was excellent at record keeping, quantifying successes and analyzing failures. He and Olaf had complimentary personalities. When the time came it would be Kiva who would take an invention to be marketed. That invention turned out to be a five row corn planter. It was licensed to the same man who built the tamper. I turned the two of them loose on my saw design and they found several things to improve.

Rilla snuggled up to me in the bath while Bollie and Ivy joined the other two. The four of them finished up first and I sat and talked with Rilla. There was something different about him.

“I’ve found a girl who really likes me. She kissed me properly and let me hold her close. She even felt my kuck through my trousers. Her name is Trina and she comes from Oslo. Her father works for the crown office of finance. I haven’t really told her much about our family. I want to make sure that she likes me and not our titles and such. Is it wrong to question her motives?” Rilla asked.

“No, I’d say not. But don’t be too secretive. How did you meet?” I asked. “But first, what happened to Astrid?”

“Her family moved to Bergen, there was nothing we could do,” Rilla sighed.

“I met Trina at the river by our swimming area. A couple of boys were trying to run her off. So I asked her if she was new and she said yes. So I told her what goes on as far as the swimming and she blushed. I was going to swim but I took her on a walk and showed her around. We ended up at the head of the path to the girls swim area and I handed her off to a pair of girls and they took her with them. We had agreed to meet at the big square later on. She showed up and I bought her a tea and we talked for a long time. I think I might love her. I’m having trouble thinking of anything else. I feel a bit silly about it sometimes. But then I think about you and Valla and I wonder if she’s the girl that will marry me and give me children. I want children to raise. I want to show them the wonders of our world. Am I being silly?” Rilla asked.

“I don’t think so, I get so addled by my love of Valla I can’t walk straight. Just go slow and be careful what you tell her. Don’t keep her in the dark but she doesn’t need to know about the mine or other private things. You can tell her who Father is and who your brothers are. When you think the time is right show her your medals and badge of office. I think the best thing is to see how it goes and tell her what she needs to know. As she makes friends with local girls, they will tell her more about you than you may want her to know. You are a Baron although it’s three and a half years away. You have preparations to make. You will need to build a home in your territory. I know someone who can get you the lumber,” I giggled.

 Rilla splashed me and grabbed my kuck. I responded by grabbing his and it was very stiff.

“Stand up and feed me that,” I commanded cheerfully.

Rilla complied and I relieved the tension he was feeling twice.

“Can I do the same for you?” Rilla asked.

Perhaps this evening, Valla will want the first taste. You know you are the only one that knows what we do don’t you?” I asked.

“Yes, and thank you for listening to me babble, but you’re the only one who would really understand. And thanks for the sucking, it was wonderful. Why don’t we get you dried and dressed so Valla can have her fun,” Rilla suggested.

Rilla didn’t know I had been inside Valla but he didn’t need to. I had only told him that we satisfied each other with our mouths.

Lady Iris was away when I arrived and Halkar was busy with governing the country. The Reichsparliament was keeping him quite busy. They didn’t like the idea of a permanent representative from Svalbard. It skewed their numbers and they hadn’t determined how the man might vote on matters not pertaining to Svalbard. Halkar liked that and was enjoying the torment of the stuffed shirts in the assembly.

I opted not to disturb him but asked to be announced to Lady Valla. She was already aware of my presence from some unknown means of communication. I was told she was dressing to greet me and that I should wait in her studio.

I wandered around and inspected the ever changing art works on the walls. There were double rows now and they were much more expert than her works I had viewed before. I thumbed through a sketch book and came upon a series of intimate drawings. The first was Valla’s view of me tonguing her and then a side view of my tongue engaging her quim. The drawings progressed to a profile of Valla sucking my kuck. Then a view that I had seen many times. I was looking down watching Valla swallow my kuck as her eyes danced. Other unfinished drawings showed us in various positions of love making. Had she left the sketch pad out to wind me up? I would have my answer soon.

“Hello my Darling, even a few days away and I am beside myself with want and loneliness,” Valla greeted me.

“She nearly crushed me with an embrace and we kissed for a very long time.

“This is a very interesting sketch pad,” I grinned.

“Oh that, I was working on my perspective and things got a little out of hand. Your stand-in performed admirably. I sucked him in front of two mirrors and it worked quite well. Do you like the view of me with your Kuck in my mouth?”

“Yes, and I also liked the view of my tongue in your quim. Shall we go upstairs?”

“Absolutely, and bring the sketch book, I usually hide it up there. It wouldn’t do to have mother find it,” Valla giggled.

I opened the panel and we climbed the stairs. Valla stripped me immediately and sucked me in. She was ravenous and I was ready. I can’t say I lasted very long and I must have come close to drowning her but she swallowed valiantly except for a few squirts that she took on her face. She seemed to love that. She cleaned me thoroughly and I pressed her back on the bed. I found waxy and began to ravage her with my lips and tongue. When I introduced waxy she crushed my head and screamed into her pillow. She writhed, thrashed and mewled as I brought her to her climax.

“Pull waxy out and replace him with yours, I am close to another explosion, I examined myself for residue and obliged. I slid in slowly and ground against her womb. I sucked my thumb and rubbed her button with it. She exploded again, squeezing and trembling and I nearly forgot to pull out. I just managed and shot my seed all over her belly and breasts. I licked her breasts and wiped her belly clean. She had a basin and ewer to wash properly later on. She handed me the jar of slippery goo and I knew what she wanted. I prepared her and then pressed my kuck inside her. I had already shot off twice but I was so wound up I did it again quickly but didn’t stop. I continued thrusting until she squealed as another tremor struck her body and she collapsed in pleasure. I could feel waxy in her quim and it made me push harder until the moment I exploded inside her again. It came without warning and my throbs caused her to die the little death once again. I lay there impaled inside her for a few minutes and then withdrew my wilting kuck. I helped her up and steered her to the small commode. She passed my seed and lay down again. I withdrew waxy and wiped him down. I probed her lips with waxy and watched her suck and tongue the wax phallus. She sat up and lay waxy on the small table. She washed me gently and allowed me to pee. She leant forward and sucked me in again. I asked if I could lick her at the same time but she was too sensitive.  I allowed her to have her way and I gave her the last of my seed, it was a lot but I was exhausted. I wondered if Rilla would even get a taste.

“I suppose I should get dressed,  I have another gentleman caller arriving soon,” Valla informed me.

“Oh?” I replied.

“Yes, he is quite handsome too. He is your rival for my affections. But alas he is only seven and I will be painting his portrait. He’s really adorable and you must meet him. I’m paying him to sit for me and his mother is going to be there. I spotted him on the street and he has the most expressive eyes and his face is so sweet I could just eat him.

I carried the commode down the steps and took it to rinse out while I relieved my bladder again.

When I returned I placed it on the third stair as usual and shut the wall panel. We summoned her maid and asked for tea and biscuits. Her model was due soon and she wished to make him comfortable.

“Shall I stay and watch, I wouldn’t want you corrupting an innocent boy now,” I chuckled.

“I’m sure you have better things to do. I will start with my palette. I need to match his skin tone and the colors of his clothing. Just that process will take most of my time today. I will begin his sketch though and you can meet him.

Kaleb was every bit as adorable as Valla described. I helped him to the stool where he would sit for the next hour.

“Are you just here to steal my love away from me?” I asked Kaleb.

He just giggled. I kissed his forehead and said my goodbyes.  I ambled down the stairs and strolled to my office. My rarely seen assistant had sorted my mail, prepared checks for mailing and put my important mail in my top box. The less urgent mail was in the second box. He rarely made a mistake and if he did, it was because he didn’t recognize the significance of the missive. I had an agent that split his time between Freyanhjem and Haluken where he accepted and forwarded applications to me. They were really beginning to come in regularly. Summer was a good time to get things done in a new place. Getting a shelter built even a hut was tantamount to imperative. A proper house could be built out of the timber from clearing the land. Although a house would come with each grant of land. It wouldn’t be grand but it would be sturdy and survive winter. Next came the well or if you had enough help they could be done simultaneously. The next after that was a proper bog and outhouse they were usually dug a set distance from the house and far away from the well. Animal pens and plowing came next unless the fields wanted clearing. In some cases a communal farm would build one large living structure and a cook house. With the increased labor they had an advantage of getting the land ready for fall planting or silage whichever type of farming might be done. Winter wheat plants in the fall while corn plants in spring. The applications articulated the new tenants plan for the acreage and most were well thought out. Some were from men who had been farming twenty years and just wanted better soil for their crops. Those men usually bought or requested to buy adjacent plots up to eighty hectares. Fathers and sons often set up across the road from one another. It was clear that it was a family concern but there were no rules against it. The valley was huge and it would be decades before it was full of farms. We were building dynasties in the valley of Freyanhjem. Healthy farms meant a healthy nation, lower food prices and more plentiful beef, pork and lamb. I would be watchful to make sure no one tried to fix the price of any commodity. I could often spot the intention in an application. My inspectors would monitor not only practices but prices. It was within my authority to set a limit on how much a bushel of wheat should cost. It was the sort of thing that would keep me busy.

I signed the bank checks and the applications. I reviewed the other mail and replied to any thank you letters from new farmers. I wished them luck and success. I would forward those to my agent and he would deliver them. He told me the farmers were always surprised and honored that I replied to them. I looked at some plans I had for my assistant’s home and approved them for construction and siting. The house would be on my home site but well away so that my assistant would have their privacy. I truly hoped that Knut would accept my offer.

At home I enjoyed my family. Ivy was able to get some attention as well as Bolly. My youngest brothers were sound asleep in the nursery. I checked in on them and chatted quietly with the nanny about their progress.

“Neither of them are ready to ride a horse but they are strong and growing stronger. I believe they will do everything early. They are already far stronger than other infants I have cared for,” Birgit told me.

I met Father in the hall and he wanted to discuss a few things with me.

“I think it’s time we split you boys up a bit. I’m thinking in terms of two man rooms for  the six of you. I presume you and Rilla will want to share. I suspect it will be hardest on Bolly and Ivy. But they can visit you and you can comfort them as needed. The room you boys occupy now will become your common room. We’ll add desks and chairs  and another table. You boys can entertain there or play games. We can even add work benches for small projects. We’ll keep anything messy or smelly in the workshop but small projects, leatherwork and crafts will be suitable for the space. The baths will remain as they are.” Father shared.

“Why are you doing this now?” I asked.

“Because you are all older. Your personalities have become more set and you need privacy. You are becoming young men. It will be good for the younger ones too. They can remain little boys a bit longer and you can become who you will be. None of you will be locked in and your brothers can visit. I think you will see the benefits quite quickly. Your studies will become more intense and concentration will be very important. It’s difficult to do that in a barracks. It has served its purpose and I believe you boys are bonded forever,” Father explained.

Bolly and Ivy were quite upset by the news but they relaxed when they were told we would only be down the hall. They could come and see us anytime they needed.

Our new rooms were comfy and spacious. The new beds were larger and they were sturdy as well. The old ones had been getting looser and noisier as they aged along with us. We each had a desk and there was a table for spreading out books or research. The four of us older boys often sat around one or the other after the younger ones had gone to bed. We reviewed and quizzed each other or exchanged ideas over hot tea or cocoa. Occasionally Bolly or Ivy would come seeking solace from a bad dream but they liked the idea of being mostly big boys. Father had known how to present it to them. Both Bolly and Ivy had become very involved in caring for our youngest brothers. Birgit didn’t have to work nearly as hard as some nannies.

Winter arrived in October and came with a vengeance.

“This weather is as ill-tempered as Magda was,” Kiva chuckled after coming in from the stables.

It is certainly off to a ragged start, Papa rejoined. I still needed to walk the short distance to my office and look at plans, reply to mail and sign documents. I never got there. The snow was quite harsh and windblown. It was actually a blizzard that would shut down the city for three days. I was half way to my office when I saw a dark shape partially covered by snow. I walked as quickly as I dared. Even in good boots traction was limited. The object was a small child, no bigger than Ivy was when he joined us. I checked its breathing and it whimpered. I picked up the child and cast about for anything that had been dropped. I walked carefully back to the house and bellowed for help just inside the front door. Father and my brothers all came out on the landing and I carried my little package up the stairs.

“Bolly, Ivy, strip off and climb into my bed. This child needs your warmth. I will prepare a tepid bath and take him in with me. What he needs this moment is body warmth,” I instructed.

I placed the now naked little boy between Bolly and Ivy and examined the little one’s feet. You could barely tell it was a boy. Everything had shrunk back from the cold and was difficult to see initially. His toes were red but not too bad. He had tucked his hands under his arms so they were spared the worst of the cold. His bottom had some frostbite but it was not severe. I massaged his legs while father saw to his arms. It was painful and he whimpered a bit. He wasn’t quite conscious but he was coming around. There wasn’t much to do but wait. Too much warmth too soon could be painful and cause damage to sensitive skin.

I ran a bath and added enough hot water to make it tepid. I stripped and went back to my room. The child was almost awake. I picked him up and carried him to the bath. I settled in the water which seemed cool to me but it would be warm to the boy.

“Rilla, please bring me a jug in case he needs to pee,” I requested.

“He was freezing to death wasn’t he?” Kiva asked.

“Yes, but he was in the early stages. I think we reached him in time,” I said hopefully.

“How old do you think he is Father?” Rilla asked.

“Not much more than four years I’d say. He’s quite small. I wonder where he lives,” Father replied.

The water began to do the trick and he was shivering. I asked for Rilla to add more hot water. The shivering was a good sign. When people start to freeze to death they stop shivering. I had helped a healer with a girl who fallen through the ice and she was near death. My warmth and warm damp cloth brought her back. We had no tub to immerse her in. She began shivering just before she woke up. I hoped the same would be true for this boy. The tub warmed and I soaked a flannel and put it on his chest. I asked for a towel and Olaf handed one to me. I soaked it and wrapped the boy’s shoulders and chest. His color improved and he woke coughing.

“Who are you, where am I?” He asked.

“I’m Peng and you are at our home. I found you in the snow and brought you here to warm you up. Do you feel better?” I asked.

“I feel warmer, I need to pee really badly,” the boy whispered.

Rilla steadied the jug and I held the boy up so he could aim. When he was done I put him back between my legs and asked for more hot water. He was nearly up to normal body temperature.

“What is your name?” I asked him.

“Ranulf” the boy said.

“Where are your parents, they must be worried about you?” I asked.

“They died, now Mikka is gone and some man kicked me out of our place. Then it started snowing. I was looking for a warm place but I got tired, that’s all I remember,” Ranulf shared.

“You are safe here Ranulf. We will look after you. This place you were thrown out of, where was it?” Father asked.

“It was just a wooden crate in the alley behind the brewery. It had a steam vent that made it warm and it didn’t smell too bad. Mikka and I stayed there until he didn’t come back,” Ranulf shared.

“Was he your father?” Papa asked.

“No, he was just a nice man who fed me and kept me safe after Momma and Poppa died. They got real sick and they never woke up again. I think the water they were drinking was bad. When I feel better I can show you where we lived,” Ranulf said cheerfully. His body temperature was normal so I asked for a towel and handed him to Papa. I toweled myself off and put on my robe. Father handed Ranulf to me and I wrapped him up in my robe. We all walked back to my bed and I tucked him in.

“Are you hungry Ranulf?” I asked.

“Yes, I had barley mush yesterday but nothing today,” He replied.

“How about some warm stew, it has beef and carrots and turnips. It’s very good stew,” I suggested.

He grinned broadly which I took as a yes.

Ivy brought him a thick flannel nightshirt and socks for  his tiny feet. I had Ranulf walk around the room a bit and I was pleased with the results. He had no lasting damage from the frostbite.

“This stew is very good!” Ranulf told Samilla.

“I’m glad you think so, would you like a bit more?” she asked.

Ranulf nodded eagerly and his bowl was refilled. He ate two large bowls of stew and four thick slices of Samilla’s wonderful bread with butter.

He looked quite happy. I walked him up the stairs to give him a proper bath and find out what I could. This time I scrubbed him and asked questions. It had been a while since he had bathed in the river. He often washed his face and hands with the water from the steam pipes near his crate. I would see to that with the aid of a couple of Father’s Politi.

The water was quite murky by the time he was scrubbed so we filled another tub to rinse off in. Rilla was kind enough to help. Mother had finished nursing the babies and a few other things. She walked in to see Ranulf and I drying off.

It made no difference. She smiled at Ranulf and introduced herself.

“You’re very pretty,” Ranulf said.

“Thank you dear. Do you have everything you need?” Mother asked.

I wrapped him in a towel and handed him to her. They followed me to our room and I put on a fresh dry nightshirt.

I redressed Ranulf in the nightshirt Ivy had brought. It was a bit large on him but not too loose. I Picked him up and cradled him. It was then that I realized he looked very much like Edgar. My eyes filled with tears but I choked them back. Mother asked if something was wrong.

“Did Father tell you about Edgar in Haluken?” I asked.

“Yes, it was a terrible tragedy,” Mother acknowledged.

“Ranulf looks very much like Edgar.  I’ll be okay in a bit,” I explained.

She rose and kissed my cheek and then led Ivy out of the room.

“Can we keep him?” Rilla asked.

“Well, he’s not a stray kitten, but I wouldn’t mind. I will make sure he has safety even if he can’t stay here. He will be fed, warm and educated and he will have affection,” I declared.

I looked down at the sleeping child and my heart melted again. I sobbed and Rilla held me. I saw it as a second chance to help little Edgar. I thanked Freija and placed the boy in my bed.

“Is he sleeping?” Father asked.

“Yes, did Mother talk to you?”

“Yes, it is uncanny how much he looks like Edgar. You’ve fallen in love with him haven’t you?”

“Yes Father, I have. I know we have to see if he has any family but if he doesn’t, I want him to stay here. When we marry, Valla and I can adopt him and he will be safe. I believe Freija guided me to him to ease both of our suffering. I will do all I can for him,” I told Father.

He hugged me tight and told me I was a fine young man.

In the morning we put together some of Ivy’s old clothes and joined two of Father’s Politi to see where Ranulf had been living. I carried Ranulf while the men drug the man out by his heels. His head whacked painfully on the side of the crate’s opening. It was enough to rouse him from his stupor. He was a drunk and he had cast a child into the snow so he could sleep off his binge. He was arrested for encompassing the death of a child. He would spend at least a year in jail if not more. I put Ranulf down so that he could look inside.

“Is there anything in there you want to bring with you?” I asked.

“You mean I can’t stay here?” Ranulf asked.

“Wouldn’t you rather come with us? It’s warm and there’s lots of food. Did you enjoy breakfast?” Father asked.

“I can live with you?” Ranulf rasped.

“I would certainly like it if you would. We can try to find any family you might have. Perhaps someone is looking for you,” I posited.

“Yes please, I would like to stay with you until I can find my family. I don’t know if I have any,” Ranulf requested.

“You are very welcome in our home,” Father said.

The second Politi officer walked with us to Ranulf’s former home. He knocked on the door and then pulled it open. It was a one room hovel. It had a small stove and a narrow bed. Next to the bed was a clear jug. In the bed were two corpses and they had been there at least six months. The officer brought the jug out and asked Ranulf if the jug was the one his parents were drinking from.

“I think so, but it was half full when I left here,” The boy answered.

“Back alley aquavit, you see this white sediment in the bottom and on the sides. The liquor evaporated and left all this behind. It’s arsenic, I can tell by the tinny smell. We find these jugs next to bodies all the time, there’s a bootlegger making the stuff with a lead condensor or coils. When we find him, he’ll hang,” The officer growled.

“Have we tried putting a man in shabby clothing and had him look for cheap aquavit?”

“No sir, it was suggested but not approved,” Bjori replied.

“Well, perhaps if I suggest it to The head of the Politi he will encourage the appropriate response from whoever failed to approve the action,” Father steamed a bit.

“These people aren’t society’s elite but they don’t deserve a death like this. Leaving a child on his own to fend for himself. I want this man caught and anyone working with him,” Father grumbled in agreement with Bjori.

Ranulf had dropped off and was sleeping peacefully in my arms.

“Is there a bible in there, It might have birth or family information in the back,” I asked.

The officer walked back in and found the bible. He came out and handed it to me.

We sent a young man to the station to summon more officers and the undertaker.

At home I went through the bible and found the family history and a couple of prayer cards. The only names in the history that didn’t have a death date next to them were the parents and Ranulf. He was in with Bolly and Ivy. They were playing as little boys do. I would take Ranulf down the next day and buy clothes and boots plus a warm cape and coat.