The question now was to elude Brumle-Knute's vigilance; for the Sons of the Vikings had good reasons for fearing that he might interfere with their enterprise. They therefore waited until Brumle-knute was invited by the dairymaid to sit down to dinner. No sooner had the door closed upon his stooping figure, than they stole out through a hole in the fence, crept on all-fours among the tangled dwarf-birches and the big gray boulders, and following close in the track of their leader, reached the ford between the lakes. There they observed two enormous heaps of stones known as the Parson and the Deacon; for it had been the custom from immemorial times for every traveller to fling a big stone as a "sacrifice" for good luck upon the Parson's heap and a small stone upon the Deacon's. Behind these piles of stone the boys hid themselves, keeping a watchful eye on the road and waiting for their chief's signal to pounce upon unwary travellers. They lay for about fifteen minutes in expectant silence, and were on the point of losing their patience.
"Look here, Wolf-in-the-Temple," cried Erling the Lop-Sided, "you may think this is fun, but I don't. Let us take the raft there and go fishing. The tarn is simply crowded with perch and bass."
"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----"