The Angel Wore Fangs - Sandra Hill
Imported grape wine from Francia (while supply lasts)
Weight Watchers, where art thou? . . .
Cnut Sigurdsson was a big man. A really big man! He was taller than the average man, of course, being a Viking, but more than that, he was . . . well . . . truth to tell . . . fat.
Obesity was a highly unusual condition for Men of the North, Cnut had to admit, because Norsemen were normally vain of appearance, sometimes to a ridiculous extent. Long hair, combed to a high sheen. Braided beards. Clean teeth. Gold and silver arm rings to show off muscles. Tight braies delineating buttocks and ballocks.
But not him.
Cnut did not care.
Even now, when three of his six brothers, who’d come (uninvited, by the by) to his Frigg’s-day feast here at Hoggstead in the Norselands, were having great fun making jests about just that. They were half-brothers, actually, all with different mothers, but that was neither here nor there.
Cnut cared not one whit what the lackwits said.
Not even when Trond made oinking noises, as if Cnut’s estate were named for a porcine animal when he knew good and well it was the name of the original owner decades ago, Bjorn Hoggson. Besides, Trond had no room to make mock of others when he was known to be the laziest Viking to ever ride a longship. Some said he did not even have the energy to lift his cock for pissing, that he sat like a wench on the privy hole. That was probably not true, but it made a good story.
Nor did Cnut bother to rise and clout his eldest brother, Vikar, when he asked the skald to make a rhyme of Cnut’s name:
Cnut is a brute
And a glutton, of some repute.
He is so fat that, when he goes a-Viking for loot,
He can scarce lift a bow with an arrow to shoot.
But when it comes to woman-pursuit,
None can refute
That Cnut can “salute” with the best of them.
Thus and therefore, let it be known
And this is a truth absolute,
“Ha, ha, ha!” Cnut commented, while everyone in the great hall howled with laughter, and Vikar was bent over, gasping with mirth.
Cnut did not care, especially since Vikar was known to be such a prideful man he fair reeked of self-love. At least the skald had not told the poem about how, if Cnut spelled his name with a slight exchange of letters, he would be a vulgar woman part. That was one joke Cnut did not appreciate.
But mockery was a game to Norsemen. And, alas and alack, Cnut was often the butt of the jests.
He. Did. Not. Care.
Yea, some said he resembled a walking tree with a massive trunk, limbs like hairy battering rams, and fingers so chubby he could scarce make a fist. Even his face was bloated, surrounded by a mass of wild, tangled hair on head and beard, which was dark blond, though its color was indiscernible most times since it was usually greasy and teeming with lice. Unlike most Vikings, he rarely bathed. In his defense, what tub would hold him? And the water chute into the steam hut was often clogged. And the water in the fjords was frigid except for summer months. What man in his right mind wanted to turn his cock into an icicle?
A disgrace to the ideal of handsome, virile Vikinghood, he overheard some fellow jarls say about him on more than one occasion.
And as for his brother Harek, who considered himself smarter than the average Viking, Cnut glared his way and spoke loud enough for all to hear, “Methinks your first wife, Dagne, has put on a bit of blubber herself in recent years. Last time I saw her in Kaupang, she was as wide as she was tall. And she farted as she walked, rather waddled. Phhhttt, phhhttt, phhhttt! Now, there is something to make mock of!”
“You got me there,” Harek agreed with a smile, raising his horn of mead high in salute.
One of the good things about Vikings was that they could laugh at themselves. The sagas were great evidence of that fact.
At least Cnut was smart enough not to take on any wives of his own, despite his twenty and eight years. Concubines and the odd wench here and there served him well. Truly, as long as Cnut’s voracious hunger for all bodily appetites—food, drink, sex—was being met, he cared little what others thought of him.
When his brothers were departing two days later (he thought they’d never