The Story of Gunnar Ericsson – told by Gretta Vollan

Many years ago, when I was a girl, my father had a friend who had fought with him in many battles. His name was Gunnar Erickson, and he had been a great warrior. Unfortunately, he had come down with the “Shaking Disease” and was no longer fit to fight. The young men did not want to train with him because they did not want to take the time to understand his faltering voice.

My father was not a “progressive” man. He thought women should make a good home for their families. If they were to hold a position of power, it would be as a strong woman supporting the throne of her husband. In addition to the usual training women in our village received, my sister Aesa and I were also trained to be negotiators, both in trading and politics.

I’m much more hot-headed than my sister, and soon chafed at the restrictions. Since we were also caregivers for the older, wounded warriors, I got to know Gunnar well. He did not want to be useless. I convinced him to train me as a shield maiden. We worked in secret for many long hours, until his health became too bad. He passed away in his sleep one night, and the next day I left to pursue my dream of being a shield maiden, using the name of Helga. My first born son was named after Gunnar Erickson.