"I hate to eat fish all the time, for breakfast, at noon, in the evening. Freshwater fish tastes muddy! Carp, bream, eel! I hate that taste!" Squinting disgusted Aegir spit into the gurgling current, "We have been on this river for more than a week and nothing but fish, fish, fish!
"You were born on an island in midst of the boiling sea, you must like fish!"
"Sure, I like fish, but saltwater fish! Buri! have you ever tasted saltwater fish, you landlubber? It's so delicious; you can't imagine how delicious saltwater fish tastes! Smoked, cooked or even raw! I gladly would give the shirt off my back for a little piece of smoked herring."
Buri sitting at the prow turned to Aegir and feigning to throw up, "I probably would have to puke if I had to eat raw fish! Yuck! Raw and salty fish!"
"The meat of saltwater fishes is not salty at all! You must try it! Wait till we are crossing the blue sea in the south that your father has told you about!"
Hailing interrupted their bantering! "Hey you! Strangers! Hi, you over there! Where are you going to?"
Buri was the first to grab the situation, "Look over! The fishermen at the traps! They ask us over! Two men and a boy in a fishing boat! They are catching fish caught in the nets."
"Let's bring about the boat. The two men are about our age! They don't look too strong! We should be able to cope with them if they attack us. No danger! Let's go!"
Studying the approaching dugout, the kid lost balance out of surprise and fell overboard with a big splash. The young men also looked stunned.
"Hey boy! Stop staring at us and start breathing!" Aegir fished the boy out of the cold water and teased him, ruffling his hair. "Have you never seen a Red-head? Look, boy my hair is not on fire!" Then he pointed at Buri, "Have you never met a black man? That is my friend Buri, the man with the most beautiful black skin all over the world."
Arriving at the fishing boat Buri grinned wickedly, because he was used to causing surprise. Teasing the three he asked, "My skin is black. Do you think I am full of mud? I am not! I wash myself every morning!" As they didn't stop gazing, he challenged them, "Come over and convince yourself!" and he fished the shivering boy out of the icy water.
While the fishermen still considered the proposal, the boy took his chance and touched Buri´s arm with his forefinger. "You are really black, black as coal" and sniffing his fingertip, "You don´t smell like mud. I like your smell!" and he licked his fingertip.
"Come back! Come back immediately you cheeky brat! Maybe.....!" The sturdier of the fishermen called out to the boy. But the boy just poked his tongue and made fun of the young fishermen. "Scaredy cat! Scaredy cat!" he shouted back, "Don't piss yourself big brother!" rubbing with his wet forefinger Buri's cheek, he taunted, "Ver, big brother, his skin is really black. I can't brush the black colour away! He is warm like you and me! Believe me, he isn't sick"
Then he turned to Aegir and ruffled his hair, "Stranger, that hair of yours is really stunning red. It looks like fire but doesn't burn my fingers! I like it!"
Ver, the younger one of the fishermen lost his temper, "Come back you scoundrel or shall I get you and drown you in the cold water?"
"Please not!" Aegir intervened, "Is this your brother?" putting his arm around the boy's shoulder, "I was a daredevil also when I was in his age! Nobody is sick, neither I nor my friend Buri! Come over Ver and convince yourself."
Now the other fisherman, the older one, tried to calm down the situation, "Where are you from? What are your names? I have never seen you around here and I know everyone for miles and miles around." After a moment he asked, "Are you coming to visit the spring celebration tomorrow or are you just passing through? You are welcome! Entertaining strangers to the spring celebration brings good luck!"
"Hi! Fisherman! Thanks for the invitation! How lucky we are to meet you and your friends! Tomorrow? Is it really the equinox already? Does Sol, the heavenly sun, herald the beginning of springtime tomorrow?"
Buri joined in, "My name is Buri! My thanks also! I am from the cave-people. That's Aegir; he is from a big island at the rim of the earth, where the sun doesn't rise in the winter!"
"Yes, you are invited too. I am Kester, the chieftain's son" pointing to the other fisherman, "That's Ver, my best friend and as you already know that scoundrel is Cantu, his brother. If he bothers you just throw him overboard."
Cantu was an excellent guide. Snuggling up to Buri he took over the navigation of the dugout and directed it to his home village in a tributary of the Bredd-ström. After a while, he asked, "Can I undress. My clothes are wet, and I am cold and I don´t want you to get wet also!"
"Buri doesn't mind! He likes snuggling with cute boys!" Aegir answered instead of his friend, "Especially little whities!"
Buri just grinned, "Getting green-eyed?" he asked back, wrapped Cantu up in his warm coat and used the opportunity to feel up the boy.
Cantu didn't mind at all. Snuggled closer and whispered to Buri "I like this!" while he tried to feel for Buri's wood beneath the loin-cloth.
"Cool, that's big!" he burst out fingering it. "I never touched something like this before!
"By God, your fingers are so skilled." Buri started purring like a cat "You have to feel up Aegir also."
Cantu didn't get a chance to try his luck with Aegir, because in next to no time they arrived at the landing stage. While they waited for Kester and Ver to arrive, village kids gathered at the shore watching the strangers with curious eyes. Shortly afterwards Kester and Ver arrived. They were out of breath because they had to punt the heavy loaded longboat along the waterfront and couldn't use the fast current mid-rivers Aegir had taken with the dugout.
The village, which was on top of the bluff bank, was small. Just a dozen longhouses were built in a half-circle around an old lime tree on the plateau just above the spring thaw high water mark of the river. Several small sheds surrounded by fences lay scattered in the open field between the settlement and a nearby beech forest.
The low houses built of wattle and daub walls were pretty long but rather narrow. They were surrounded by a ditch to collect the runoff from the reed-roof. The main entrance was to the lime tree. It was sheltered by the projecting roof. This projection sheltered the working area and it was also the playground for the small children. The sidewalls of the houses were without windows. The only opening was a small door close to the end of the sidewall. There was no door in the back mainly to keep out the cold wind or uninvited persons like thieves.
The house of Kester's father, the chieftain, was the biggest in the village. It housed his big family of seven including Kester and Kester's young wife. The house of Ver's father was a little shorter and had to accommodate only six people including Ver's young wife.
Kester and Ver looked very different. Kester was tall and lean, while Ver was short but strongly-built. They were of different temper also, but as bosom-friends, they had adopted the same habits. They both liked to sleep long, preferred fishing to working in the fields or the forest, would have sold their own sister for a honeycomb. Last year at a big dance at the summer solstice they both had decided to marry. It was a joint decision and the decision was to marry twin-sisters. This decision didn't surprise the other villagers at all.
Kester and Ver had to sweep the whole county to find twins. When they finally met them at the big market in the fall they knew from the first moment these two girls were the ones to marry. Ailis and Molis were indeed lovely twins, maybe a little too chubby, but twins and for a long time neither Kester nor Ver knew which of the two he liked more. Therefore, they decided to throw dice to choose. After the die was cast Kester and Ver pledged each other to swap their wives, but only if these would go along with this agreement. On the first date, Kester and Ver told Ailis and Molis about their pledge. At first, they were reluctant and told the friend, "Let's give it a try!" The twins liked this arrangement after the first trial and never regretted their approval. They even got a kick out of it and often even changed their partners in public without anyone noticing it.
Kester married Ailis and Ver married Molis and just about three months later both young women began to feel funny. Both developed strange appetites as the first indication of pregnancy. "We need our own house!" Ailis told Kester one evening and Molis joined, "Yes we need our own house too, Ver! Guess why!" And the two young men winked at each other and replied unison, "Sure!" remembering their nightly efforts and fun!
"Why should we build two houses? We just should build one house, one house for two big families, a very spacious house?" Kester proposed and Ver nodded his consent.
Molis laughed out happily, "Well, you are right! Ailis and I agree, because neither I nor she knows exactly whose child she is carrying."
"I like this idea!" Ailis answered, "Thus my twin-sister and I can share everything even our husbands."
Now the two young families were building a big homestead with enough room for two big families. The foundation pit was situated just a stone's throw away from their parent's houses, but it was still in progress.
I would like to express my special thanks to my friend Anthony for improving my writing.
Comments, reviews, questions, and complaints are welcomed. Please send them to Ruwen Rouhs
Last, but not least I would like to add thanks for reading.