PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL
Every person seems to be holding his breath.
Soon, the cargo hatch is flung open and starlight streams over us. I squint at the ugly little man who trots down the stairs and calls, “On your feet, thralls! We’re bringing you up on deck. One at a time! And no shoving or hurting each other or you’ll get the club.”
Few people can stand without help. It takes time before we can drag one another up and begin crowding for the stairs, climbing up and out into the fresh air.
As I emerge I gulp a lungful of the clean breeze; then a man grabs my bound hands and drags me over to the line of slaves that extends down the deck. He chains me beside Frigga. As each new thrall climbs up out of the hold he or she is shackled to the line.
“Best make yourselves presentable!” the man shouts. “Some of you will be getting off here. Your new master is on the way to take a good look at you. I don’t have to tell you what will happen if he doesn’t like what he sees…”