"I would suggest that we get upon our legs first, and take the steps afterward," remarked the flippant Ironbeard, with a sly wink at Thore the Hound.
The chief held it to be beneath his dignity to notice this interruption, and after having gazed for a while in silence at the blood-red mountain peaks, he continued, more at his ease:
"I propose, comrades, that we go on a bear hunt. Then, when we return with a bear-skin or two, our honor will be all right; no one will dare laugh at us. The brave boy-hunters will be the admiration and pride of the whole valley."
"But Brummle-Knute," observed the Skull-Splitter; "do you think he will allow us to go bear-hunting?"
"What do we care whether he allows us or not?" cried Wolf-in-the-Temple, scornfully; "he sleeps like a log; and I propose that we tie his hands and feet before we start."
This suggestion met with enthusiastic approval, and all the boys laughed heartily at the idea of Brumle-Knute waking up and finding himself tied with ropes, like a calf that is carried to market.
"Now, comrades," commanded the chief, with a flourish of his sword, "get to bed quickly. I'll call you at four o'clock; we'll then start to chase the monarch of the mountains."
The Sons of the Vikings scrambled into their bunks with great despatch; and though their beds consisted of pine twigs, covered with a coarse sheet, and a bat, of straw for a pillow, they fell asleep without rocking, and slept more soundly than if they had rested on silken bolsters filled with eiderdown. Wolf-in-the-Temple was as good as his word, and waked them promptly at four o'clock; and their first task, after having filled their knapsacks with provisions, was to tie Brumle-Knute's hands and feet with the most cunning slip-knots, which would tighten more, the more he struggled to unloose them. Ironbeard, who had served a year before the mast, was the contriver of this daring enterprise; and he did it so cleverly that Brumle-Knute never suspected that his liberty was being interfered with. He snorted a little and rubbed imaginary cobwebs from his face; but soon lapsed again into a deep, snoring unconsciousness.