After many failures, nine-year-old Hiccup had a good idea.
|Hiccup dodged a hailstone the size of his fist and stumbled into the smithy, slamming the final bucket on the floor. He had broken several buckets in the last few months, and didn’t want any others list to Berk’s rotten weather.|
Hiccup’s dad said he was a magnet for trouble. Gobber, the master blacksmith, said he needed to focus and try harder. He did, but when an amazing thought came to him, he experimented with it. Sure, the flaming hammer trial was a mistake, and the half spoon, half knife combination sliced a thumbslength from Gobber’s moustache, but the ideas were good.
This time, Hiccup prepared. He had a solid reason to create something useful. His argument relied on facts, and building it was safe. He took a deep breath and approached Gobber.
“Hey, i mean, hi, Gobber. How are you doing?”
Gobber set down a seax. “Alright, out with it. Are you hurt or did you break something? I’m going through a lot of bandages, so I hope you’re not bleeding.”
“Neither one. I’m not that bad, you know. The shields weren’t damaged,” at Gobber’s expression, he added, “too much, and no one got hurt except for Mildew’s sheep.”
“You’ve another cockamamie notion to try. This better not be about the spinning spear tosser; I couldn’t explain that to your dad until he signed your new contract. I want my apprentice for another two years, even if you screw up.” He leaned against the wall. “I’m listening.”
“Okay. So, Mead Hall has tables and benches, right? Dad has the only chair, and benches are to small for him.” Everything was too small for Stoick; he stood seven feet tall and was thee times wider than Hiccup.
“Every Chief has a throne. You’ll use one someday, thought it will be a lot smaller.”
Hiccup ignored the runt joke and plowed ahead. “If Dad was ordinary, he’d use a bench. That never works, Gobber. He drags it way out to fit, and nobody sitting on that side could reach the table.”
“True enough. What’s that to do with your idea?”
“Mead Hall needs more chairs.” Gobber shifted the weight off his peg leg, but didn’t interrupt. “Ruff and Tuff’s mom is huge in front. She sticks out to here,” Hiccup measured a cubit’s worth of distance, “and the baby’s not due for months. The twins say her back aches all the time, but she has to stand or sit alone. It’s not right, Gobber, not when her back hurts.”
“You want to smith Gerda Thorston a chair? The notion’s sound, I’ll grant you that. She’s likely carrying another set of twins, and worn out as well as sore. You know most of our metal goes for weapons, and I can’t spare enough for an entire chair. You’re only two years into your apprenticeship, and don’t have the skills to build a chair. Sorry, lad, the answer’s no.”
“The carpenters can make ones that come apart. The pieces can sit in a storeroom until we need them. They won’t get in the way, and ladies who are expecting can sit with everyone else.”
“Huh. It’s possible. If we stack the pieces, they won’t use much space.” Gobber stroked his chin. “Give me another reason for making chairs.”
“Um, I think it shows” Hiccup scrambled for an answer, “Berk cares about the tribe. Sick people get medicine, and when a home burn down, we rebuild it.
If someone needs a better place to sit, and chairs help them. We’re Hooligans, and our tribe looks after all the members.”
“After the mistakes you’ve made, doing something right appeals to you. You did well for thinking of Gerda and a better seat. The thing is,” he continued, “deserve it or not, you won’t get the credit.”
“It’s my idea. I came up with reasons, and practiced explaining them. I picked a good time to ask you, and you said it was a worthy plan, and Magnus Iverson agreed to make a small one I can see.”
“That’s called a prototype, lad. Building furniture is carpentry, and the carpenters will get the credit, along with whoever this tribe decided came up with the notion.”
“That stinks, Gobber. I’m not too young to think, why can’t they believe that?”
“Now, I’ve listened to you, Hiccup, you need to pay attention to me.” Hiccup nodded, sullen. “You’ve some choices. If you don’t follow through, Magnus will make them anyway. He likes your idea, and won’t let it go to waste. You can grumble or sulk. You can be angry and pretend it wasn’t your plan.”
“You can work to make this happen. I’ll know, and your dad, and Magnus. Probably some of the other carpenters. But Gerda Thorston, who’s carrying another set of twins, can sit and be with others.”
Hiccup was torn. After the criticisms he still heard from folks, he wanted credit. He earned it, and deserved it.
Gerda Thorston deserved to be comfortable.
“Can you tell Mrs. Thorston she’s the reason we have chairs?”
“I’ll make sure she knows.” He checked on the hailstorm. “Looks like the weather’s passing. We best get back to work.” He looked at Hiccup. “You sit and cogitate on this plan. Think up everything that can go wrong and find solutions. Look at what Magnus has and discuss the design. Ask him questions about changing it. Draw it.”
“You need a better explanation, and solid reasons the tribe needs this. Make a list. You’ll be presenting your plan to Berk’s council and your father.”
“I will? Why?”
“This is a big enough change that the council and Chief need it explained in a meeting.”
Council meetings were public, and people always showed up. The council needed to vote on this, and Gothi would back him. She was a healer, and nobody messed with her.
“Don’t say anything to your dad, and we can surprise him in the meeting.”
Oh, gods. Gobber was going to prank Stoick the Vast during a meeting. Hiccup giggled. “I won’t.”
“Good. And Hiccup? You’re doing a fine thing, and I’m proud of ye.”
Hiccup felt the warmth of approval spread throughout him. He wanted others to look past his blunders and think well of him. He got that, but not in the way he expected. Maybe the regard of a few people he respected mattered more than receiving some from folk he didn’t care about. He’d think about it later.
For now, he had a list to write.