Not a Slave
A few days later, all the Irish had been sold. Riley had been sold to a cranky old lady named Freyda. In Freyda’s house, Riley did all the chores, errands, and had to sleep on the floor, chained to the wall. Faithful Madigan followed her through rain, snow and sleet to make sure she made it back safely from her errands. Even though she always did, Maddy preferred the harsh weather to Freyda’s harsh ways of dealing with him. One day both Riley and Freyda were in particularly bad moods. Riley was more stubborn than ever, and Freyda was more mean (if that was even possible). Freyda was having company over and wanted Riley to cook a very difficult dish to impress her guests. Riley stared; open mouthed at the recipe card Freyda had just given her.
“I can’t do that, it’s way to hard! I’m a decent cook, but not THAT good!” Freyda folded her arms,
“You’ll do it ‘cause you’re my slave and I told you to!” she sneered. Riley tipped her chin stubbornly,
“NO!” she declared. Freyda promptly gave her a slap that sent her reeling into the wall.
“FOOL GIRL! YOU’LL ALWAYS BE A SLAVE!” Freyda shrieked.
Riley stared back at Freyda.
“You’ll never make me a slave! Never as long as I live!” After that Riley was sent to Freyda’s bedroom to scour it ‘till it shone, while Freyda made the fancy dish herself. While the company was over, Riley listened while scrubbing the floor silently. Sounds of happy chatter came from outside the door.
“Oh, Freyda, have you heard what your twin did?” Riley stiffened. Freyda had a twin?
“No I didn’t. What did Freeda do now?” Freyda sighed. Riley heard a little bit of arguing as they tried to decide who would tell her.
“Well, you know how the sacrifices are this month? She refused to bring any to our gods!” A gasp rippled through the room.
“Why?” one of the women asked. “Freeda says that she’s found a new god.” Another replied, “She says his name is…” She paused thoughtfully. “Jesus!” the woman declared. She watched the others for a reaction. Another gasp filled the room. Riley squinted thoughtfully,
“Jesus,” she thought. “He sounds nice enough. Now where have I heard that name before?” Her hand with the scrub brush moved idly across the already clean floor. “That’s it!” she exclaimed to herself quietly. “The day before the raid! Some strangers came to the village and said something about a god named Jesus!” She felt proud for remembering, but then her face fell. “I was going to ask them about him the day I was captured.” She set her jaw, “Freeda’s house is going to be my first stop when I escape!” she decided. “I’ll disguise myself as a Viking and get in there somehow!” “But Freyda chains me to the wall at night! How will I escape in the first place? As soon as I get out the door in the morning there are Vikings everywhere and they watch me like hawks. So I can’t escape then.”
Riley was trying hard to stay awake and plan her escape, but she was getting tired. Riley’s brush moved slowly across the floor and gradually came to a stop as she yawned, slumped over on the floor and fell into an exhausted sleep. She slept soundly and dreamed of freedom
Madigan, meanwhile, had been sent outside during the party. He watched patiently as the mist appeared in the village. He gave a small puppy yawn. How long until he would be able to go back to Riley?
The moon rose and the women talked on. He sneaked around back and started digging. About ten minutes later, Madigan wiggled through the small hole under the wall and sleepily plodded across the floor to Riley. He nosed under Riley’s arm, gave a contented sigh and fell asleep.
Riley woke the next morning to a prodding boot in her side. She sat up with her eyes still squinted shut, stretched her arms in the air and yawned. When she opened her eyes she was looking straight into the disapproving face of Freyda.
“Oh… sorry for falling asleep on your floor,” mumbled Riley.
“That’s better.” Freyda smirked. “Now hurry up and get ready! I have a lot of errands for you to run!” She dismissed Riley with a wave of her hand.
“Yes, ma’am,” she answered sleepily. Riley was happy that morning, because she had figured out how she would escape. She pulled her hood over her head and ate her gruel quickly. That morning she didn’t mind the watery oats as much.
“Soon I’ll be catching my own fish and eating berries in the woods!” she thought excitedly. Riley ran out into the village with Madigan at her heels. This morning she didn’t care about all the Vikings watching her; she just saw the beauty of the village that she would soon leave if all went well.
The rays of the rising sun broke through the morning mist. She laughed as she ran through the village; it felt fun to have the mist swirl around her. She finished some of her errands in the village and ran along the shoreline to deliver eggs to Freyda’s friend’s house. Riley took a seat on a rock to catch her breath. She looked out over the water and whispered to Madigan,
“Look at it Maddy! The mist rising off the sea, the waves lapping onto the rocky shore and the forest coast off to the left. Almost looks like home!” She pointed out the beauty to her dog, who sat listening attentively. “It’s so pretty!” She sighed, wishing that she could stay longer. “I may be a Viking captive, Maddy, but I’m not a slave,” she whispered.
That night, Riley lay restlessly awake. She listened carefully to Freyda’s breathing. Finally, she heard a deep sigh and then the breathing was even.
“Come on, Madigan!” Riley whispered urgently. Madigan’s ears perked up – he knew that Riley only used his full name if she needed him badly and right away. He scurried over and obediently sat next to Riley. “There is a key for this chain around my ankle, beside Freyda’s bed on a stool.” She instructed quietly. “I need you to go get the key so I can get free.”
Madigan understood immediately and scampered away from her and into Freyda’s room. Moonlight gleamed through the open window and across the bed. There lay Freyda, snoring loudly. Madigan slowed his pace and padded softly across the floor. He stood up and plopped his soft paws up on the stool. There, glittering in the moonlight, was the key. Madigan reached over and put a soft paw on top of the key. He pulled the key slowly towards himself.
“SCKKR!” the key grated across the wood. Maddy stopped, scared. Freyda snorted, yawned then rolled back over and resumed snoring. Madigan relaxed. He took his paw off the glittering key and took it slowly in his mouth. Watching Freyda for any kind of movement he pulled his paws off the stool and padded out of the room. Riley waited anxiously for Maddy to return, then finally, he pranced triumphantly back with part of the key sticking out of his mouth.
“Good boy, Maddy!” Riley whispered, delighted. She took the key from Madigan, not caring about the dog drool. The key grated in the lock and soon the chain clattered to the floor. Riley stiffened; she heard a few noises of disturbed sleep from Freyda’s room, but soon the only sound was Freyda’s snoring.
“We’re lucky she’s a heavy sleeper, Maddy!” Riley commented, relieved. She silently stood up, slipped on her boots and cloak, and then went to the fire pit to get a piece of charcoal. Riley grabbed a leaf from off the floor and scratched out a note. This is what it said:
I told you that you’d
Never make me a slave
“Run, run, run…” Riley’s feet seemed to pound out the words as she ran farther and farther away from Freyda’s house. The sun was starting to cast a crimson glow over the mountains. She entered the forest, then sat down on a rock to rest. Riley caught her breath and then ran on. The forest was still shrouded in mist. Every blade of grass seemed to hang heavy with dew. A blanket of damp leaves covered the forest floor, muffling her footsteps. “We’re free Maddy! Finally free!” It felt like her chest was going to burst with excitement; She felt like jumping all over the forest she was so happy. Then suddenly, a deer leaped out in front of her. Riley stumbled back as the deer ran on. “A hunter must be chasing it!” she thought. She started on her sprint across the forest again, only to be knocked to the ground by a sudden sharp pain in her side. “Oww!” she moaned rolling in the grass. Then a voice echoed across the forest. “Missed again Bjorn! Why can’t you ever hit anything?” Riley guided her hand to her side and, sure enough, it was an arrow. “What a way to start, right after I escape!” she grumbled. As soon as she was sure that the hunters where gone, she struggled to her feet. The ground seemed to rock underneath her. Riley teetered, then leaned on the tree next to her for support. Maddy whimpered up at Riley. “What’s the matter?” he seemed to say. Riley barely noticed her dog’s worry. She reached over to her side and grasped the arrow, then gave it a hard yank. As the arrow jerked away from her side, Riley cried out and slumped against the tree. “Maddy…” she whispered as her eyelids drooped, “don’t let them…find me…”
Madigan licked Riley’s hand for the tenth time. When would she wake up? The sun was getting higher in the sky and Maddy was getting hungrier by the minute. A rustling in the bushes made him forget his hunger. The rustling grew louder. Hairs stood up on the back of Madigan’s neck and a low growl rose in his throat as he moved towards the noise. A big dog emerged from the bushes. He was big enough to carry a small person, had bushy eyebrows that nearly hid his eyes and was white with tan splotches all over him. The two dogs started an exchange of barks, yips and growls. If the dogs could have been able to talk, their argument would have sounded something like this:
Madigan: “You stay away from my person!”
Other dog: “Okay, okay! But I just want to help!”
Madigan: “Oh SURE you do! You just want to take her back and have her be a slave to your Viking masters! Well, let me tell you something Buster Brown! She ain’t goin’ nowhere!”
Other dog: “My master’s not like that! Honest! She says that slavery is wrong. Can I PU-LEEZE take her back to my master’s house?”
Other dog: “Please, oh, please?”
Other dog: “Pretty please with a big juicy bone on top?”
Madigan: “Not gonna happen.”
By this time Maddy was even hungrier than before, just then, his tummy growled. The other dog jumped on the opportunity.
Other dog: “Your hungry aren’t you? If you and your person come with me you’ll both get food! And besides if you stay here much longer, more hunters will be here. It’s your choice. My master, or the hunters.”
Madigan: “Aw, darn! ‘Guess I’ll have to come with you.”
Other dog: (wiggling Riley onto his back) “Great! Now let’s go!”
Madigan: “By golly, I’d better not regret this!”
Other dog: “You won’t. By the way, my name’s Magnus.”
When Riley woke up she was in a nice, clean bed and the searing pain in her side had subsided to a dull throbbing. She opened her eyes wider and looked around the room. It had wood slats covering the floor and what looked like a kitchen in the next room. The bed that Riley was in was a soft, cloth covered straw mattress lying in a clean, well-lit corner under a window. Next to her on a small cot, Maddy was sleeping peacefully next to a bigger dog that she’d never seen before. Both of Madigan’s small paws where placed protectively over a tiny bone. Riley smiled and shook her head, then yawned, gingerly touched her side and winced. “I wouldn’t touch that to much if I were you.” The voice made Riley jump. She whirled around to find out who had spoken, and nearly fell out of bed. “Freyda?!” Riley wanted to turn and run. The old lady looked confused for a moment, then she broke into a wide smile. “No, no, lass! I’m her twin, Freeda! I don’t suppose you’ve heard of me.” Riley relaxed, realizing now that the old woman had a small red birthmark on her left cheek. This lady was certainly not Freyda. “Actually, I have! I…well…I listened in on a conversation that your sister was having with her friends and they were talking about you.” Freeda looked surprised. “So you’re her slave! Fancy that! My sister’s slave landed here of all places!” Riley tipped her chin “I’m not her slave anymore! I ran away. This was the first place I planned to stop, and don’t you dare give me back!!” She sat bolt upright in bed, then the pain made her fall back with a groan. Then she whispered through clenched teeth. “I wanted you to tell me about Jesus.” Freeda smiled. “I’ll be glad to!” Freeda told Riley all about how Jesus loved her and even died a very painful death so she could be free from sin. “Riley,” said Freeda quietly “You don’t have any parents here on this earth, but Jesus will adopt you and be your heavenly father. Do you want him to do that?” Riley nodded. “Yes!” she burst out eagerly. Freeda smiled again. “Then repeat after me: ‘Jesus I believe that you died for my sins and I want you to be my savior. Amen’”
Riley obediently repeated the simple prayer and then raised her eyes to look up at Freeda. “Now do I go to heaven when I die?” Freeda nodded. “Now you’re saved!” She declared joyfully, and then she reached over and gave Riley a hug. Riley hugged right back. “Thank you.” She whispered.