We were having some book time earlier today. When you tired of reading, you asked if I would read to you from Junie B., First Grader: Boss of Lunch. I enjoy the Junie B. series a lot, but I was also enjoying my book. So I said “no, but I will read my book out loud if you want.” Which is how I came to be reading to you from The Vikings by Else Roesdahl.
You climbed onto the couch with me and listened for a surprisingly long time until we got to this passage on royal power:
It is true that the function of a king was primarily that of a military and probably a religious leader, but he also exercised a monopoly of power: he gave protection within the kingdom. In addition, he was the official head of state in relations with other countries. In principle, important decisions — apart from levying armies in response to foreign aggression — were made by free men at the Thing.
When I came to that last word, I hit the dental fricative hard and rounded off the vowel a bit. I wasn’t sure you were even listening, and I wanted this unexpected use of the word “thing” to slip by you unnoticed, if possible. No dice.
“The THING!?” you interrobanged. “They had a thing to make decisions? What the heck kind of thing are you talking about?” This made me chuckle. And since you were more or less propped up on top of me, my chuckle made you giggle. I had to snigger, which led to more chortling from you. Pretty soon we were convulsed with the howling guffaws. I think we laughed that way for about a full minute, which was pretty awesome. Then your other front tooth fell out.