|John Bauer Agneta and the Sea King|
Her name is Old Norse for "day" and "secret lore". If I can call my characters' names "Dickensian", I've definitely done that. Their names ARE who they are.
The Haraldson's sad little place, smaller than it should be for two children, a husband and a pregnant wife, was deep in the woods surrounded by enough stumps that everyone from the village could've sat on one apiece, and they'd still have some left over.
Right in their front yard were two trestles, tall as a man and sturdy enough for one to stand on. Across the two, was always a log being ripped, or waiting to be ripped, into wide planks. She'd seen Bjern and his father working a couple of times, with his father standing on the log and Bjern below in a pile of sweet sawdust, a long rip saw between them, his ten-year-old arms barely able to keep up. Mr. Haraldson was usually yelling at Bjern to keep the cut straight, though she'd asked Bjern about it once, and he said it was the job of the top sawyer to keep the line straight. That didn't matter. If a board was crooked, Bjern was the one who paid for it.
Today he straddled a log, taking off long slivers of bark with a drawing knife. When he saw the two of them, he rose from the mean work and dropped to his knees, fussing over Gunnar.
Bjern's mother was at the door, long white apron being nudged by the breeze. Aslaug Haraldson was a diminutive woman, pale and sorrowful, with a huge belly. She was forever stooping and wringing her hands. today was the same. Her hands only came apart long enough to raise one in greeting.
"Hello, Mrs. Haraldson. How are you, today?"
"These babies will come any day, I suppose."
"Babies? Two, Mrs. Haraldson?"
"I'd bet my last coffee bean on it."
They were both quiet for a moment when a breeze picked up, swirling through the sawdust, toppling a precarious-looking pile of skinny fence posts. Dagrun shook herself, remembering one of the other reasons she was here, "Oh, Mamma sent the woad yarn in exchange for the fence posts."
"Ayuh. I hope they'll keep your goats in this time." Mrs. Haraldson put on hand on her expanding belly, and squinted out at her children: shy little Inga was taking a break from her white lace embroidery, her ruddy-cheeked older brother threw sticks for Gunnar.
"I hope so too, but the younger ones are smarter every year, Mrs."
"They aren't smarter. They just carry on from the old ones...learning from their mistakes...until they find a way out," Aslaug's voice softened as she went on. Dagrun wondered if they were still talking about goats.