Ingrid Hofferson meets Gobber to discuss Hiccup’s discipline, and managing Stoick. WIP
|The air was clear and sharp, and Ingrid Hofferson felt the wind bite when she stepped outside. Her marketing basket was on her arm, the plaza was only a few minutes from her home, and she expected news from Gobber. As the chief’s best friend, Gobber agreed to speak to Stoick about her—well, their concerns. She considered her chieftain as she walked.
Stoick the Vast was a Haddock, the family line of Berk’s chieftains. Berk had fared well under Stoick’s leadership. He possessed a keen mind and an awareness of what was required and how to get it. The fishing fleet never lacked for boats, and more crops were being grown. The regular dragon raids drove Stoick to keep Berk fed, with some success. Food shortages were fewer. The desire to rid them of dragon attacks underlay Stoick’s purpose as chieftain; Berk’s defenses were formidable, and its people well trained to fight the menacing beasts. Truly, Stoick was not just trained, but formed by the gods to rule the tribe.
As Stoick trained to be Chief as a youth, so did Ingrid learn domestic arts: sewing, cooking, washing, child minding, and all the other tasks women attended to daily. Ingrid recognized the responsibility in running a home and tending a family. Her life turned on this axis. She and the other women understood much men never would. Few disputed Stoick’s impressive ability as Chief, but Ingrid knew he was dismal at fathering.
Granted, many men failed to understand their children. Stoick was no different. But most men were not Chieftain widowers with an active toddler, either. With no wife to watch over their son, or smooth the path between boy and man, Stoick would have an unruly child to manage. Valka’s death dealt a blow not just to Stoick—Hiccup was too small to remember her—but to the foundation of his family. No woman in the House meant no proper anchor for everyone else there. Stoick could not run a tribe, manage a household, and raise a child. It defied belief that he thought he could accomplish that more than any other man could. That ignorance was dangerous; problems in the chief’s home meant trouble for the villagers. Ingrid refused to let Stoick’s shortcomings as a father damage the tribe.
She reached the plaza, striding toward the smithy to intercept Gobber. This discussion would take as long as they needed to formulate a plan for the Haddocks, man and boy. Openly, they desired a discipline plan for Stoicks’s son, and Gobber broached the subject last evening. The unspoken plan meant managing Stoick himself. Gobber suspected this scheme, and genially agreed to help.
Ah, there he was. Good.
§ § §
“Good mornin,’ Ingrid. How’s the day for ya?” Gobber grinned at her. The smith expected her early; impatience radiated from her most days, but when she expected results, Gobber tolerated it.
Ingrid spared Gobber a smile. “Good morning to you, Gobber. I trust you passed a good evening?”
“A’ course I did. Shared some mead with Stoick, and told him ye all wanted a plan for Hiccup.” Gobber looked directly at her. “He wasn't pleased to think about it, either. He fears anyone hurting Hiccup, even with the message you sent him.”
“Gobber, the boy needs discipline.” Aggrieved, Ingrid continued, “Does he think we’d...”
Gobber cut her tirade short. “Ingrid, I didn’t finish. Stoick asked for a meeting here this afternoon. He trusts you, but wants to know exactly what will happen. He’s willing to be Hiccup’s father for that, but Stoick never stops being Chief, and you’re getting both.” Gobber was blunt. “He’s no fool, Ingrid, and knows the womenfolk are looking to manage him. He won’t tolerate that, good intentions or not. It’s disrespectful. Stick to agreeing over Hiccup, then, and set aside any other schemes you have for Stoick the Vast. To be honest,” Gobber added, “Close as Stoick and I are, I never forget he’s the Chief. Nor should you.”
“I don’t forget, Gobber. None of us do. We want to help Stoick and Hiccup, before Hiccup starts getting into trouble. That family needs us.”
“Get that idea out of yer head, Ingrid. To make progress, remember he is Chief, Hiccup is his Heir, and you are assisting the man who runs the tribe. Not Stoick, and Hiccup, and their family. “
Ingrid looked as if she’d swallowed vinegar. “What do you suggest, Gobber?”
Alright, he’d given her the hatchet; now for the honey. “You’re a smart woman, Ingrid. I know you care and so does Stoick. That counts for a lot. But you might not have a lot of chances to convince the man. Address him as Chief. Tell him what the problem is, what will happen with Hiccup if he doesn’t have rules to follow. Don’t have one plan set in place. Give him ideas of what might happen. Ask if he wants Hiccup to sit still, or not talk, or do something dull. Explain to him what you all do to school them. Offer lots of choices. Let him know why you do these things.”
“Will this work, Gobber?”
“Aye, it should. Make sure to offer him time to think about it; Stoick’s not one to rush decisions.Stoick will do that anyway. He kept the thought to himself.
Now to get Ingrid Hofferson’s full attention. This next part only seemed to occur to Gobber, and it needed to be brought up.
“Are the men aware of yer plans for Hiccup? The husbands and fathers and brothers?”
“The men?” Ingrid considered the question. “ I don’t know—I haven’t kept it a secret.”
“Have all the women in the tribe told their menfolk?”
“No, I’m sure some haven’t said anything.” Ingrid’s bewilderment showed in her voice.
“Now listen to me. If the women are offering to care for Hiccup, only they can do anything to discipline him. No man may step in, or lay a hand on the boy. Guarantee this to Stoick, and he’ll know for certain Hiccup’s safe with you.”
With new comprehension, Ingrid Hofferson nodded. “I’ll need to speak to rest about this. Men don’t always leave punishment to us, not even of small children. I don’t think there’s a risk, but having the men know only we correct the boy is best.”
The Hairy Hooligan tribe harbored a number of harsh and unforgiving men, those who thought blows and strappings suitable discipline. Gobber knew some raised with beatings became men who beat their own sons. He marked Ingrid’s shiver; Stoick’s boy was three now, and some considered that old enough for a boy to receive criticism, humiliation, even being struck. Then there was Hiccup, who crumpled at a simple scolding. No, Hiccup’s protection was crucial; neither Gobber nor Ingrid would agree to anything until resolving this with the other mothers.
“Take the time you need to speak to everyone. Meeting Stoick today isn’t crucial. When everyone asks, tell them you're all wanting Stoick to write it out and sign it. A piece of paper signed by Stoick the Vast, some of the women, and whoever else you need.” Gobber thought a moment. “Have a witness there. Gothi’s a good pick, or Afi Ingerman. No one’s foolish enough to fight something signed by them.”
Ingrid but her lip. “That might work. Let me think on this, Gobber. I want the best for Hiccup—and for Stoick,—, but I need to consider this.”
Gobber’s snorted. Ingrid Hofferson was as subtle as a yak stampede.Hiccup and Stoick mattered more than her stubborn thinking. Ingrid was blinded by her attitude. Men resented the superiority Ingrid displayed, and their wives waited for her comeuppance. A fever of quiet anticipation ran through the village, and a few placed bets on the outcome of Ingrid taking on their Chief. No one bested Stoick. Gobber hoped Ingrid would get past her ignorance, but it seemed unlikely to occur before she met with Stoick.
She had no idea that men were a tribe within the tribe. Even now, after he’d explained how to talk to Stoick and made her realize Hiccup’s safety wasn’t guaranteed, she
Here she stood, bothered by this conversation. Gobber knew he’d shaken her, and had to force her to pay attention.
He guaranteed he would confront Stoick about keeping Hiccup...contained. But he lacked understanding of small children, including Hiccup.
The air was clear and sharp, and Ingrid Hofferson felt the bite of it when she stepped outside. The plaza was only a few minutes from her home, and she wanted to talk to Gobber. He guaranteed he would confront Stoick about keeping Hiccup...contained. Stoick was the Chief, and Ingrid respected him.
The boy was winsome, and Stoick loved him deeply. Hiccup was also active, intelligent, and hard of listening.
Gobber snorted. Ingrid Hofferson was as subtle as a yak stampede. Hiccup and Stoick mattered more than her stubborn thinking. Ingrid was blinded by her attitude. Men resented the superiority Ingrid displayed, and their wives waited for her comeuppance. A fever of quiet anticipation ran through the village, and a few placed bets on the outcome of Ingrid taking on their Chief. No one bested Stoick. Gobber hoped Ingrid would get past her ignorance, but it seemed unlikely to occur before she met with Stoick.
She had no idea that men were a tribe within the tribe. Gobber just explained how to talk to Stoick and made her realize Hiccup’s safety wasn’t guaranteed. But she asked him no more questions. Ingrid thought she could apply her own thinking to every situation, but never anyone else’s insight. She had no idea Stoick had studied the tribesfolk from a young age. The Haddock family raised their children to observe, reason, and learn. Hel, it was Stoick’s grandfather that began letting girls learn runes.
Ingrid’s blind ambition was a weakness. Women chose sides carefully, and Ingrid was a side by herself.