VikingsDawn

Vikings Dawn (Smashwords Edition) [電子書籍版]
Ernest Marlin

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“In the end each clan on the outlying coasts beyond the whale-road had to yield to him and begin to pay tribute.” Beowulf 10

The whale-road, sail road, whale’s way, swan-road, the kennings, Viking words for the sea.

A man known as Tommy Atkins, born not long after the second world war in a 1920s-built north London council house was born into a world of poverty, ignorance, an absent father, violence and fear. By the time he reached his teens, he was a restless rebel without a cause.

“What was for him? He had no idea. It was the question that dominated his thoughts whilst he washed bottles at the farm dairy where he earned a few shillings working an indeterminate number of hours on a Sunday afternoon.”

At any other time and in any other place he might have been seen as an ideal convert to a great and noble cause, but no cause ever came knocking. Instead he worked two jobs until his childhood friend, Ronald Wilkins, finds himself incarcerated in a Brixton prison.

“Tommy was deeply impressed by the worldliness and the self-assurance of Ron and looked at him admiringly as he stood there leaning on his shovel whilst rolling himself a cigarette.”

Fate deals Tommy Atkins a hand he did not expect, instead of going back to work for his two dead end jobs, he becomes Ronald Wilkins, a firemen on ships that shovels the coal and a trimmer to supply the firemen on a ship with coal.

“When he caught sight of it, forlorn and alone, tied-up alongside the dock, he nearly turned around and went home again. It was not only that the boat seemed so isolated, but that it was because it looked so decrepit that he couldn’t understand how the Monarch of Bermuda, as she was called, still floated. It was about 300 to 400 feet long and resembled an old tin can daubed from one end to the other with orange rust.”

As a ‘black-gang’ member Tommy, now Ronald, is free, leaving behind his old life in search of a new one, a modern day Viking sailing down the whale-road away from his native English homeland to the fresh fields of America and from there to the exotic land of Vietnam, not as a fireman or trimmer, but as a substitute soldier in the place of a rich man’s son.

But life on board a ship is as dangerous, if not more so, than Ron’s old life, especially with men like Connolly looking for an opportunity to take advantage of Ron when he least expects it.

“He dreamed about him and schemed about how he might get inside his trousers. He longed to have him so much that it was almost unbearable.”

Though Connolly is the least of his worries, with a Captain like Dimitri Kritikos who is more interested in his profits, avoiding the authorities and keeping his boat afloat than the welfare of his crew, his life is cheap and the moment he becomes more trouble than he is worth, Kritikos would not hesitate to dispose of him. The sail-road is not an easy one to travel, a road that forges young boys into men and those that thought themselves men into heroes and legends. If Ron can survive the trials of the path he now walks he will not be the same man that once had never travelled anywhere more exotic than Ramsgate

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