“Marcus,” Vilgerthr said, almost hesitantly, “do you mind if I tell you a story while you work? It will help pass the time.”
Intending to quickly glance up, Marcus' eyes were captured by her's. His hands, cradling a mass of glass and wire, clenched and there was a faint 'ping' as something snapped. Marcus blushed, mumbled "not at all" and hastily turned his attention back to his work.
“Oh, good!” She almost clapped her hands with excitement. “I’ll tell you the story of Hunter of Bees.” Settling herself properly, with hands folded in her lap, and back straight, Vilgerthr began: “Once, long ago, a boy was born to the Farming People. He was a marvel to behold, with skin as white as bone, hair as black as night, and eyes the color of the sky. As a mere babe, his bawled in hunger and his mother lifted him to her breast to suck. But he refused the offered nipple, and spoke.
“‘Give me mead,’ he cried. But the People knew not of mead. So he rose from his crib and went to the entrance of his parent’s hut. ‘I shall go into the forest,’ he said, ‘and find the secret of mead. And when I return, I will teach it to you.’
“So the babe went into the forest. He walked far and wide, until he found a nest of bees. Ignoring their stings, he dipped one hand into the hive and pulled forth a mass of honeycomb. ‘There,’ he said, ‘now I have the secret of mead.’ He returned to his village and displayed his golden treasure, and showed the People how to mix it with water, and how to make it into mead. And for this deed, he was named ‘Hunter of Bees’.
“Satisfied, Hunter of Bees sat down and demanded food, for he was hungry after his travels in the forest. Again he refused his mother’s breast. ‘Bring me meat,’ he cried, ‘and dark bread, and rich cheese, and leafy greens, and bowls of mead.
“The People brought him all he asked for, and as he ate, he grew into full manhood. Tall and strong he was, and well-shaped and comely, despite his strange coloration.
“After he had eaten his fill, Hunter of Bees went out from his parent’s hut and looked at his people. He saw them dressed in rags and living in huts of mud and straw. The People knew not of how to work metal, or how to sow grain, or how to shape wood. This was not right, he decided, and as he had taught them the secret of mead, he knew it was his duty to teach the People the secrets of other things.
“So Hunter of Bees stood and dressed himself in ragged skins and ill-made furs, took up a bone knife and a fire-hardened spear, and spoke: ‘I shall go forth into the world and learn all there is to learn. And when I return, I will teach you all I know.’ And thus Hunter of Bees went forth into the world. He walked far and wide, as far as his legs would take him.
“From the Hunting People Hunter of Bees took a wife. She taught him the ways of the hunt. Hunter of Bees learned to track prey, how to climb a tree, how to conceal himself, and how to properly skin what he caught. She also taught him how to tan and work with leather, so he may properly clothe himself. And the Hunting People taught him the ways of the bow, the knife, and the spear.
“From the Leaping People Hunter of Bees took a wife. She taught him the ways of the earth. Hunter of Bees learned to sow crops, how to tend them, and how to harvest what they gave him. She also taught him how to work with cloth, so he may properly clothe himself. And the Leaping People taught him the ways of the loom, and the needle, and the plow.
“From the Burrowing People Hunter of Bees took a wife. She taught him the ways of metal. How to find it, how to mine it, how to smelt it, and how to forge it into tools. She helped him make his new knife and spear, as well as an axe so he could work wood, and went with him back out into the world.
“When Hunter of Bees returned from the Burrowing People he visited his other wives and showed them all he had learned. The Hunting People learned of cloth and metal and wood. The Leaping People learned of leather and metal and hunting. The Farming People learned of hunting and metal and cloth and grain and wood, and in return taught Hunter of Bees’ wives the secret of mead. And so, as Hunter of Bee’s wives taught each other all they had learned, the secret of trade was discovered.
“And now Hunter of Bees looked to his People and found they grew crops, and hunted in the forest, and made tools of metal, and homes of wood. And he took from the Farming People a wife, a woman with skin as black as night, hair as white as bone, and eyes the color of the sky. And with his wives at his side, he spoke to the Farming People: ‘I shall go forth into the world and learn all there is to learn. And when I return, I will teach you all I know.’ And thus Hunter of Bees went forth into the world, with his four wives at his side, to find the other peoples of the world and learn what they had to learn, so that all of the Peoples of the world would prosper.”
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