Will Gatti & Daniel Finn


The sword she found

The sword she found

Lake sword

There was a story in the papers, back in the summer, about a girl finding a Viking sword in a lake. I can’t remember where… Sweden, I think. 

It was a sword, though it didn’t look like it could even slice a loaf of bread it was so blobby with mud and rust. But here was the hilt and the stumpy guard… She’d known what it was the moment she’d tugged it free from the muddy bottom of  the pool at the bend of the river where the boys had challenged her to swim.

Snow drifted down, dusting the bare branches of the trees that crowded the bank where the boys stood, collars up, faces pinched, hands in pockets, ready to jeer, hardly believing she’d taken the dare.

She held it up for them to see, her hands shaking with the cold, but she didn’t care about that, she didn’t care that the river wanted to bury its icy teeth into her bones. She had the sword itself and these boys knew nothing of that, nothing of the time she was from.

Jinker was the only one to call out. Mean as a streak of spit, he was. Typical. He’d never give credit to anyone who dared do something he wouldn’t do.

‘What’s that, you got, eh? Bit of old rubbish, is it? ’

In truth, they’d all been ready to jeer and sneer but not now, the river water dripping down her face, the snow drifting into the pool, and her holding up what she’d found for them all to see.

‘What is it, Gwen?’

‘You coming out or what?’

‘She’s mad.’

No, she wasn’t. Most of them didn’t know anything about old stories, legends and that, but one of them, Jessop’s boy, the one they called Dart, he did.  She was right up there, he thought, a proper legend, like someone from an old story. He wondered if she might be a legend herself, her hair the exact same blood red as a hawthorne berry, and her eyes, greener than Meggie’s cat and she’d more guts in her than any of them. ‘I reckon that’s an old sword,’ he said.

‘Then by rights,’ Jinker said, ‘it’s mine, isn’ it?’

What was he on about? Just because the river cut through his dad’s land, he thought he was the lord of the bloody manor and there wasn’t even a manor, not anymore.

‘Shut it, Jinks. You got nothing.’

Dart shrugged off his coat and held it out for her. ‘You can have this if you want. You got to come out.’

She didn’t seem him to hear him, or any of them. She held the sword in both hands gazing down at the rust eaten blade as if she were reading something written along the blade. After a moment she looked up at the bank where they all stood. ‘Mine,’ she said in her strange voice. She lifted it higher. ‘Mine!’

They nodded. Fair play to her. It was hers alright. No one else’s.