Hiccup, trapped inside, wants to look in Stoick’s Chests of Good Stuff incomplete
|The deluge was on its third day. Everyone remained inside, and the desire to get out ran throughout the Hooligan tribe. Barring the inability to see, the mudslides, sinkholes, and inevitable downed trees brought too much risk to leave home.
His five-year-old son was taking the confinement well, a fact that surprised and pleased his father. Hiccup read books, and built with his shape blocks; when he tired of those activities, he spoke with Stoick, detailing his reasoning on why he designed the structures.
”You can use the triangles to make a square, Dad, and make the bottom that way.”
“Aye. Good thinking, son.” Hiccup’s smile was blinding, and Stoick resolved to praise him again.
Stoick looked around, searching for Hiccup. He wasn’t behind the central fire pit, or under the sturdy oak table across from it, or hiding beneath the long Chieftain’s cape. Hiccup’s room was empty; when Stoick located his son, he held back a chuckle.
Hiccup sat, legs crossed, on the floor of Stoick’s sleeping chamber, his eyes fixed on the three items before him—the chests.
Those chests fascinated Hiccup. They contained items and oddments from Stoick’s life, many of them personal. His first training sword was in there, and a belt his sister made him for his tenth birthday. It contained books he never returned to the tribal archives, the letters from his parents, and his father’s pipe. Hiccup was not permitted to open or look inside them without permission.
His son scooted forward, and Stoick said “Hiccup.” There was no admonishment in his voice, but when Hiccup faced his father, his guilt was written on his face. “Which chest did you plan to open?”
“Do not tell me you were not planning on opening one. That is a lie, and lying...”
“Is not permitted. Haddocks do not lie.” Hiccup slumped. “I know, it’s just your chests...they want to be opened. They have stuff that needs to come out. Just because I can’t leave the house doesn’t mean they have to stay in the trunk.” Hiccup used an earnest tone. “They’re lonely.”
“I see. I suspect they are also bored.” Hiccup nodded. “So, which one do you think is the loneliest?”
Hiccup pointed to the leftmost trunk, and Stoick asked, “I can open it if you want to see inside. You may ask to remove one item, but I must approve it first. Deal?”
Stoick knelt before the wooden chest. The hasp no longer aligned properly, and he pushed the lid sideways to open it. He slipped his fingers underneath the lid, and froze.
“Are you certain you want this, son? I can close it again.” Stoick gave a teasing smile, and Hiccup looked betrayed. “I was funning with you, son. Here we are.” Stoick flipped the lid, and they peered inside.
Stoick had not opened this one in years, and the contents surprised him. There was no order to the hodgepodge. Stoick saw his father’s pipe and his pouch for tobacco, half the rock he split with his head, a stick-and-dice game Stoick won from Mogadon, and a number of items he was too sentimental to discard. Stoick had kept his first training weapon, tiny compared to his current sword, but the greatest treasure he had possessed for roughly three years. The scattershot record of Stoick’s childhood entranced Hiccup, who stared at the contents with reverence.
“Aye. Your dad was a boy once, as you are.” He pulled the training sword from the chest. “Grandpapa presented this to me when I was four, younger than you are now. It was custom made, and I did not have to share it with Uncle Flint or Aunt Brenna. It was the first treasure I owned.” He handed it to his son, who looked back and forth between the weapon and his dad, unable to accept Stoick had ever been that small.
“You were four? This thing is old, Dad.” Hiccup’s tiny body squeezed between his dad and the trunk, and he pointed at another object. “What’s this?” Stoick replaced the sword, and identified the next artifact. They continued like that for some time, Stoick explaining an item, Hiccup handling it, and Stoick returning it to the box. Hiccup spotted something under the flotsam, and lifted it out.
It was a book, well used, though clearly tended for. Stoick took it from Hiccup, and felt it shift in his hand. The plain cloth cover held two volumes, the second one thinner than the first. Combined, they were a thumbslength high.
“What’s inside?” Hiccup leaned forward, intent, but Stoick could not tell Hiccup—he did not recognize it.
“I do not know. We must look inside and puzzle it out. Lift the cover, son.” Hiccup opened the book, and Stoick spotted a childish scrawl. This book belongs to Ragweed Snorrison.
He understood what he held in his hands. Stoick had no use for this, but could not part with it. It was a vital link to his past, and an irreplaceable part of his family’s history. It would never be entered in any clan record, but it was a genuine item, and more important than any training sword.
This was Ragna’s kitchen book.
“This, Hiccup, is a special thing, and a treasure for our family. Have you heard of kitchen books?”
“No.” Hiccup tilted his head. “Are they important? I mean, you’re the Chief, and everything you do is a big deal. If it’s Chief stuff, I ought to learn about it.” His son wanted the book
“This is not about being the Chief,” he saw Hiccup’s face fall, “but it is as important as my job, maybe moreso. This is Grandma Ragna’s kitchen book.”
“Uncle Spite’s mom? Snotlout told me about her. She was really beautiful, and wore fancy dresses all the time, and everyone wanted to be like her. She was better than Grandmama, he said, but I don’t believe that. Grandmama was special.”
“They both were.” Fancy dresses—his nephew had a good imagination. Those boys argued over everything. “Grandma Ragna received this book when she was seven. Girls get their first women’s tools then, and every girl gets her kitchen book, and uses it lifelong.”
Hiccup ran his finger under the inscription. “Her writing is messy. Her real name was Ragweed, and she was a Snorrison, not a Jorgenson.” Hiccup spoke largely to himself, forcing the facts into his memory.
“Ragweed was her childhood name, but she changed it after she was grown. She became a Jorgenson when she married Uncle Spitelout’s father. I can tell you more later, but let us discuss the book now.
“Everything you need to know about food is in here. You can find instructions for washing dishes, cutting up apples, and carrying full plates. There are recipes, but it tells a woman many other things, such as what types of wild foods are safe to eat, and how to butcher livestock. There are drink recipes, directions on beekeeping, and advice on what to plant in your garden.“ Hiccup’s eyes grew bigger as Stoick listed what could be found in the book. “It teaches how to make mead and ale and cider. There are instructions to make medicines and poultices.“
“Wow. Girls are tough, even without a weapon. Can I see it, please? I’ll be careful, I promise.”
“Yes, you may.” Stoick shut the chest, and nudged it into place.
“Thanks, Dad. I think I’m gonna like this book.”