"Hold your disrespectful tongue," whispered the chief, warningly, "or I'll discipline you so you'll remember it till your dying day."
"Ho, ho!" laughed the rebel, jeeringly; "big words and fat pork don't stick in the throat. Wait till I get you alone and we shall see who'll be disciplined."
Erling had risen and was about to emerge from his hiding-place, when suddenly hoof-beats were heard, and a horse was seen approaching, carrying on its back a stalwart peasant lass, in whose lap a pretty little girl of twelve or thirteen was sitting.
The former was clad in scarlet bodice, a black embroidered skirt, and a snowy-white kerchief was tied about her head. Her blonde hair hung in golden profusion down over her back and shoulders. The little girl was city-clad, and had a sweet and appealing face. She was chattering guilelessly with her companion, asking more questions than she could possibly expect to have answered. Nearer and nearer they came to the great stone heaps, dreaming of no harm.
"And, Gunbjor," the Skull-Splitter heard the little girl say, "you don't really believe that there are trolds and fairies in the mountains, do you?"
"Them as are wiser than I am have believed that," was Gunbjor's answer; "but we don't hear so much about the trolds nowadays as they did when my granny was young. Then they took young girls into the mountain and----"
Here came a wild, piercing yell, as the Sons of the Vikings rushed forward from behind the rocks, and with a terrible war-whoop swooped down upon the road. Wolf-in-the-Temple, who led the band, seized the horse by the bridle, and flourishing his sword threateningly, addressed the frightened peasant lass.
"Is this, perchance, the Princess Kunigunde, the heir to the throne of my good friend, King Bjorn the Victorious?" he asked, with a magnificent air, seizing the trembling little girl by the wrist.