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A Black Arrow resource The Sagas of the Icelanders

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The sagas of the

Icelanders The Laxdale Saga p3 Egil’s Saga p58 The Story of Hrafnkell, Frey’s Priest p122 The Story of Burnt Njal p132 Grettir’s Saga p245

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The Laxdale Saga Chapter 1 - Of Ketill Flatnose and his Descendants, 9th Century A.D. Ketill Flatnose was the name of a man. He was the son of Bjorn the Ungartered. Ketill was a mighty and high-born chieftain (hersir) in Norway. He abode in Raumsdale, within the folkland of the Raumsdale people, which lies between Southmere and Northmere. Ketill Flatnose had for wife Yngvild, daughter of Ketill Wether, who was a man of exceeding great worth. They had five children; one was named Bjorn the Eastman, and another Helgi Bjolan. Thorunn the Horned was the name of one of Ketill’s daughters, who was the wife of Helgi the Lean, son of Eyvind Eastman, and Rafarta, daughter of Kjarval, the Irish king. Unn “the Deepminded” was another of Ketill’s daughters, and was the wife of Olaf the White, son of Ingjald, who was son of Frodi the Valiant, who was slain by the Svertlings. Jorunn, “Men’s Wit-breaker,” was the name of yet another of Ketill’s daughters. She was the mother of Ketill the Finn, who settled on land at Kirkby. His son was Asbjorn, father of Thorstein, father of Surt, the father of Sighat the Speaker-at-Law.

Chapter 2 - Ketill and his Sons prepare to leave Norway In the latter days of Ketill arose the power of King Harald the Fairhaired, in such a way that no folkland king or other great men could thrive in the land unless he alone ruled what title should be theirs. When Ketill heard that King Harald was minded to put to him the same choice The Sagas of the Icelanders

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as to other men of might - namely, not only to put up with his kinsmen being left unatoned, but to be made himself a hireling to boot - he calls together a meeting of his kinsmen, and began his speech in this wise: “You all know what dealings there have been between me and King Harald, the which there is no need of setting forth; for a greater need besets us, to wit, to take counsel as to the troubles that now are in store for us. I have true news of King Harald’s enmity towards us, and to me it seems that we may abide no trust from that quarter. It seems to me that there are two choices left us, either to fly the land or to be slaughtered each in his own seat. Now, as for me, my will is rather to abide the same death that my kinsmen suffer, but I would not lead you by my wilfulness into so great a trouble, for I know the temper of my kinsmen and friends, that ye would not desert me, even though it would be some trial of manhood to follow me.” Bjorn, the son of Ketill, answered: “I will make known my wishes at once. I will follow the example of noble men, and fly this land. For I deem myself no greater a man by abiding at home the thralls of King Harald, that they may chase me away from my own possessions, or that else I may have to come by utter death at their hands.” At this there was made a good cheer, and they all thought it was spoken bravely. This counsel then was settled, that they should leave the country, for the sons of Ketill urged it much, and no one spoke against it. Bjorn and Helgi wished to go to Iceland, for they said they had heard many pleasing news thereof. They had been told that there was good land to be had there, and no need to pay money for it; they said there was plenty of whale and salmon and other fishing all the year round there. But Ketill said, “Into that fishing place I shall never come in my old age.” So Ketill then told his mind, saying his desire was rather to go west over the sea, for there was a chance of getting a good livelihood. He knew lands there wide about, for there he had harried far and wide.

Chapter 3 - Ketill’s Sons go to Iceland After that Ketill made a great feast, and at it he married his daughter Thorunn the Horned to Helgi the Lean, as has been said before. After that Ketill arrayed 

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his journey west over the sea. Unn, his daughter, and many others of his relations went with him. That same summer Ketill’s sons went to Iceland with Helgi, their brother-in-law. Bjorn, Ketill’s son, brought his ship to the west coast of Iceland, to Broadfirth, and sailed up the firth along the southern shore, till he came to where a bay cuts into the land, and a high mountain stood on the ness on the inner side of the bay, but an island lay a little way off the land. Bjorn said that they should stay there for a while. Bjorn then went on land with a few men, and wandered along the coast, and but a narrow strip of land was there between fell and foreshore. This spot he thought suitable for habitation. Bjorn found the pillars of his temple washed up in a certain creek, and he thought that showed where he ought to build his house. Afterwards Bjorn took for himself all the land between Staff-river and Lavafirth, and abode in the place that ever after was called Bjornhaven. He was called Bjorn the Eastman. His wife, Gjaflaug, was the daughter of Kjallak the Old. Their sons were Ottar and Kjallak, whose son was Thorgrim, the father of Fight-Styr and Vemund, but the daughter of Kjallak was named Helga, who was the wife of Vestar of Eyr, son of Thorolf “Bladder-skull,” who settled Eyr. Their son was Thorlak, father of Steinthor of Eyr. Helgi Bjolan brought his ship to the south of the land, and took all Keelness, between Kollafirth and Whalefirth, and lived at Esjuberg to old age. Helgi the Lean brought his ship to the north of the land, and took Islefirth, all along between Mastness and Rowanness, and lived at Kristness. From Helgi and Thornunn all the Islefirthers are sprung.

for wife Thurid, daughter of Eyvind, and sister of Helgi the Lean. The Scotch did not keep the peace long, but treacherously murdered him.Ari, Thorgil’s son, the Wise, writing of his death, says that he fell in Caithness. Unn the Deep-minded was in Caithness when her son Thorstein fell. When she heard that Thorstein was dead, and her father had breathed his last, she deemed she would have no prospering in store there. So she had a ship built secretly in a wood, and when it was ready built she arrayed it, and had great wealth withal; and she took with her all her kinsfolk who were left alive; and men deem that scarce may an example be found that any one, a woman only, has ever got out of such a state of war with so much wealth and so great a following. From this it may be seen how peerless among women she was. Unn had with her many men of great worth and high birth. A man named Koll was one of the worthiest amongst her followers, chiefly owing to his descent, he being by title a “Hersir.” There was also in the journey with Unn a man named Hord, and he too was also a man of high birth and of great worth. When she was ready, Unn took her ship to the Orkneys; there she stayed a little while, and there she married off Gro, the daughter of Thorstein the Red. She was the mother of Greilad, who married Earl Thorfinn, the son of Earl Turf-Einar, son of Rognvald Mere-Earl. Their son was Hlodvir, the father of Earl Sigurd, the father of Earl Thorfinn, and from them come all the kin of the Orkney Earls. After that Unn steered her ship to the Faroe Isles, and stayed there for some time. There she married off another daughter of Thorstein,named Olof, and from her sprung the noblest race of that land, who are called the Gate-Beards.

Chapter 4 - Ketill goes to Scotland, A.D. 890

Chapter 5 - Unn goes to Iceland, A.D. 895

Ketill Flatnose brought his ship to Scotland, and was well received by the great men there; for he was a renowned man, and of high birth. They offered him there such station as he would like to take, and Ketill and his company of kinsfolk settled down there - all except Thorstein, his daughter’s son, who forthwith betook himself to warring, and harried Scotland far and wide, and was always victorious. Later on he made peace with the Scotch, and got for his own one-half of Scotland. He had

Unn now got ready to go away from the Faroe Isles, and made it known to her shipmates that she was going to Iceland. She had with her Olaf “Feilan,” the son of Thorstein, and those of his sisters who were unmarried. After that she put to sea, and, the weather being favourable, she came with her ship to the south of Iceland to Pumice-Course (Vikrarskeid). There they had their ship broken into splinters, but all the men and goods were saved. After that she went to find Helgi,

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her brother, followed by twenty men; and when she came there he went out to meet her, and bade her come stay with him with ten of her folk. She answered in anger, and said she had not known that he was such a churl; and she went away, being minded to find Bjorn, her brother in Broadfirth, and when he heard she was coming, he went to meet her with many followers, and greeted her warmly, and invited her and all her followers to stay with him, for he knew his sister’s high-mindedness. She liked that right well, and thanked him for his lordly behaviour. She stayed there all the winter, and was entertained in the grandest manner, for there was no lack of means, and money was not spared. In the spring she went across Broadfirth, and came to a certain ness, where they ate their mid-day meal, and since that it has been called Daymealness, from whence Middlefellstrand stretches (eastward). Then she steered her ship up Hvammsfirth and came to a certain ness, and stayed there a little while. There Unn lost her comb, so it was afterwards called Combness. Then she went about all the BroadfirthDales, and took to her lands as wide as she wanted. After that Unn steered her ship to the head of the bay, and there her high-seat pillars were washed ashore, and then she deemed it was easy to know where she was to take up her abode. She had a house built there: it was afterwards called Hvamm, and she lived there. The same spring as Unn set up household at Hvamm, Koll married Thorgerd, daughter of Thorstein the Red. Unn gave, at her own cost, the bridal-feast, and let Thorgerd have for her dowry all Salmonriver-Dale; and Koll set up a household there on the south side of the Salmon-river. Koll was a man of the greatest mettle: their son was named Hoskuld.

Chapter 6 - Unn Divides her Land After that Unn gave to more men parts of her land-take. To Hord she gave all Hord-Dale as far as Skramuhlaups River. He lived at Hordabolstad (Hord-LairStead), and was a man of the greatest mark, and blessed with noble offspring. His son was Asbjorn the Wealthy, who lived in Ornolfsdale, at Asbjornstead, and had to wife Thorbjorg, daughter of Midfirth-Skeggi. Their daughter was Ingibjorg, who married Illugi the Black, and their sons were Hermund A Black Arrow resource

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and Gunnlaug Worm-tongue. They are called the Gilsbecking-race. Unn spoke to her men and said: “Now you shall be rewarded for all your work, for now I do not lack means with which to pay each one of you for your toil and good-will. You all know that I have given the man named Erp, son of Earl Meldun, his freedom, for far away was it from my wish that so high-born a man should bear the name of thrall.” Afterwards Unn gave him the lands of Sheepfell, between Tongue River and Mid River. His children were Orm and Asgeir, Gunbjorn, and Halldis, whom Alf o’ Dales had for wife. To Sokkolf Unn gave Sokkolfsdale, where he abode to old age. Hundi was the name of one of her freedmen. He was of Scottish kin. To him she gave Hundidale. Osk was the name of the fourth daughter of Thorstein the Red. She was the mother of Thorstein Swart, the Wise, who found the “Summer eeke.” Thorhild was the name of a fifth daughter of Thorstein. She was the mother of Alf o’ Dales, and many great men trace back their line of descent to him. His daughter was Thorgerd, wife of Ari Marson of Reekness, the son of Atli, the son ofUlf the Squinter and Bjorg, Eyvond’s daughter, the sister of Helgi the Lean. From them come all the Reeknessings. Vigdis was the name of the sixth daughter of Thorstein the Red. From her come the men of Headland of Islefirth.

Chapter 7 - Of the Wedding of Olaf “Feilan,” A.D. 920 Olaf “Feilan” was the youngest of Thorstein’s children. He was a tall man and strong, goodly to look at, and a man of the greatest mettle. Unn loved him above all men, and made it known to people that she was minded to settle on Olaf all her belongings at Hvamm after her day. Unn now became very weary with old age, and she called Olaf “Feilan” to her and said: “It is on my mind, kinsman, that you should settle down and marry.” Olaf took this well, and said he would lean on her foresight in that matter. Unn said: “It is chiefly in my mind that your wedding-feast should be held at the end of the summer, for that is the easiest time to get in all the means needed, for to me it seems a near guess that our friends will come hither in great numbers, and I have made up my mind that this shall be the last bridal feast The Sagas of the Icelanders

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arrayed by me.” Olaf answered: “That is well spoken; but such a woman alone I mean to take to wife who shall rob thee neither of wealth nor rule (over thine own).” That same summer Olaf “Feilan” marriedAlfdis. Their wedding was at Hvamm. Unn spent much money on this feast, for she let be bidden thereto men of high degree wide about from other parts. She invited Bjorn and Helgi “Bjolan,” her brothers, and they came with many followers. There came Koll o’ Dales, her kinsman-in-law, and Hord of Hord-Dale, and many other great men. The wedding feast was very crowded; yet there did not come nearly so many as Unn had asked, because the Islefirth people had such a long way to come. Old age fell now fast upon Unn, so that she did not get up till mid-day, and went early to bed. No one did she allow to come to her for advice between the time she went to sleep at night and the time she was aroused, and she was very angry if any one asked how it fared with her strength. On this day Unn slept somewhat late; yet she was on foot when the guests came, and went to meet them and greeted her kinsfolk and friends with great courtesy, and said they had shown their affection to her in “coming hither from so far, and I specially name for this Bjorn and Helgi, but I wish to thank you all who are here assembled.” After that Unn went into the hall and a great company with her, and when all seats were taken in the hall, every one was much struck by the lordliness of the feast. Then Unn said: “Bjorn and Helgi, my brothers, and all my other kindred and friends, I call witnesses to this, that this dwelling with all its belongings that you now see before you, I give into the hands of mykinsman, Olaf, to own and to manage.” After that Unn stood up and said she would go to the bower where she was wont to sleep, but bade every one have for pastime whatever was most to his mind, and that ale should be the cheer of the common folk. So the tale goes, that Unn was a woman both tall and portly. She walked at a quick step out along the hall, and people could not help saying to each other how stately the lady was yet. They feasted that evening till they thought it time to go to bed. But the day after Olaf went to the sleeping bower of Unn, his grandmother, and when he came into the chamber there was Unn sitting up against her pillow, and she was dead. Olaf went into the hall

after that and told these tidings. Every one thought it a wonderful thing, how Unn had upheld her dignity to the day of her death. So they now drank together Olaf’s wedding and Unn’s funeral honours, and the last day of the feast Unn was carried to the howe (burial mound) that was made for her. She was laid in a ship in the cairn, and much treasure with her, and after that the cairn was closed up. Then Olaf “Feilan” took over the household of Hvamm and all charge of the wealth there, by the advice of his kinsmen who were there. When the feast came to an end Olaf gave lordly gifts to the men most held in honour before they went away. Olaf became a mighty man and a great chieftain. He lived at Hvamm to old age. The children of Olaf and Alfdis were Thord Yeller, whomarried Hrodny, daughter of Midfirth Skeggi; and their sons were, Eyjolf the Grey, Thorarin Fylsenni, and Thorkell Kuggi. One daughter of Olaf Feilan was Thora, whom Thorstein Cod-biter, son of Thorolf MostBeard, had for wife; their sons were Bork the Stout, and Thorgrim, father of Snori the Priest. Helga was another daughter of Olaf; she was the wife of Gunnar Hlifarson; their daughter was Jofrid, whom Thorodd, son of Tongue-Odd, had for wife, and afterwards Thorstein, Egil’s son. Thorunn was the name of yet one of his daughters. She was the wife of Herstein, son of Thorkell Blund-Ketill’s son. Thordis was the name of a third daughter of Olaf: she was the wife of Thorarin, the Speaker-at-Law, brother of Ragi. At that time, when Olaf was living at Hvamm, Koll o’ Dales, his brother-inlaw, fell ill and died. Hoskuld, the son of Koll, was young at the time of his father’s death: he was fulfilled of wits before the tale of his years. Hoskuld was a hopeful man, and well made of body. He took over his father’s goods and household. The homestead where Koll lived was named after him, being afterwards called Hoskuldstead. Hoskuld was soon in his householding blessed with friends, for that many supports stood thereunder, both kinsmen and friends whom Koll had gathered round him. Thorgerd, Thorstein’s daughter, the mother of Hoskuld, was still a young woman and most goodly; she did not care for Iceland after the death of Koll. She told Hoskuld her son that she wished to goabroad, and take with her that share of goods which fell to her lot. 

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Hoskuld said he took it much to heart that they should part, but he would not go against her in this any more than in anything else. After that Hoskuld bought the half-part in a ship that was standing beached off Daymealness, on behalf of his mother. Thorgerd betook herself on board there, taking with her a great deal of goods. After that Thorgerd put to sea and had a very good voyage, and arrived in Norway. Thorgerd had much kindred and many noble kinsmen there. They greeted her warmly, and gave her the choice of whatever she liked to take at their hands. Thorgerd was pleased at this, and said it was her wish to settle down in that land. She had not been a widow long before a man came forward to woo her. His name was Herjolf; he was a “landed man” as to title, rich, and of much account. Herjolf was a tall and strong man, but he was not fair of feature; yet the most high-mettled of men, and was of all men the best skilled at arms. Now as they sat taking counsel on this matter, it was Thorgerd’s place to reply to it herself, as she was a widow; and, with the advice of her relations, she said she would not refuse the offer. So Thorgerd married Herjolf, and went with him to his home, and they loved each other dearly. Thorgerd soon showed by her ways that she was a woman of the greatest mettle, and Herjolf’s manner of life was deemed much better and more highly to be honoured now that he had got such an one as she was for his wife.

Chapter 8 - The Birth of Hrut and Thorgerd’s Second Widowhood, A.D. 923 Herjolf and Thorgerd had not long been together before they had a son. The boy was sprinkled with water, and was given the name of Hrut. He was at an early age both big and strong as he grew up; and as to growth of body, he was goodlier than any man, tall and broad-shouldered, slender of waist, with fine limbs and well-made hands and feet. Hrut was of all men the fairest of feature, and like what Thorstein, his mother’s father, had been, or like Ketill Flatnose. And all things taken together, he was a man of the greatest mettle. Herjolf now fell ill and died, and men deemed that a great loss. After that Thorgerd wished to go to Iceland to visit Hoskuld her son, for she still loved him best of all men, and 

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Hrut was left behind well placed with his relations. Thorgerd arrayed her journey to Iceland, and went to find Hoskuld in his home in Salmonriver-Dale. He received his mother with honour. She was possessed of great wealth, and remained with Hoskuld to the day of her death. A few winters after Thorgerd came to Iceland she fell sick and died. Hoskuld took to himself all her money, but Hrut his brother owned one-half thereof.

Chapter 9 - Hoskuld’s Marriage, A.D. 935 At this time Norway was ruled by Hakon, Athelstan’s fosterling. Hoskuld was one of his bodyguard, and stayed each year, turn and turn about, at Hakon’s court, or at his own home, and was a very renowned man both in Norway and in Iceland. Bjorn was the name of a man who lived at Bjornfirth, where he had taken land, the firth being named after him. This firth cuts into the land north from Steingrim’s firth, and a neck of land runs out between them. Bjorn was a man of high birth, with a great deal of money: Ljufa was the name of his wife. Their daughter was Jorunn: she was a most beautiful woman, and very proud and extremely clever, and so was thought the best match in all the firths of the West. Of this woman Hoskuld had heard, and he had heard besides that Bjorn was the wealthiest yeoman throughout all the Strands. Hoskuld rode from home with ten men, and went to Bjorn’s house at Bjornfirth. He was well received, for to Bjorn his ways were well known. Then Hoskuld made his proposal, and Bjorn said he was pleased, for his daughter could not be better married, yet turned the matter over to her decision. And when the proposal was set before Jorunn, she answered in this way: “From all the reports I have heard of you, Hoskuld, I cannot but answer yourproposal well, for I think that the woman would be well cared for who should marry you; yet my father must have most to say in this matter, and I will agree in this with his wishes.” And the long and short of it was, that Jorunn was promised to Hoskuld with much money, and the wedding was to be at Hoskuldstead. Hoskuld now went away with matters thus settled, and home to his abode, and stays now at home until this wedding feast was to be held. Bjorn came from the north for

the wedding with a brave company of followers. Hoskuld had also asked many guests, both friends and relations, and the feast was of the grandest. Now, when the feast was over each one returned to his home in good friendship and with seemly gifts. Jorunn Bjorn’s daughter sits behind at Hoskuldstead, and takes over the care of the household with Hoskuld. It was very soon seen that she was wise and well up in things, and of manifold knowledge, though rather high-tempered at most times. Hoskuld and she loved each other well, though in their daily ways they made no show thereof. Hoskuld became a great chieftain; he was mighty and pushing, and had no lack of money, and was thought to be nowise less of his ways than his father, Koll. Hoskuld and Jorunn had not been married long before they came to have children. A son of theirs was named Thorliek. He was the eldest of their children. Bard was another son of theirs. One of their daughters was called Hallgerd, afterwards surnamed “Long-Breeks.”Another daughter was called Thurid. All their children were most hopeful. Thorliek was a very tall man, strong and handsome, though silent and rough; and men thought that such was the turn of his temper, as that he would be no man of fair dealings, and Hoskuld often would say, that he would take very much after the race of the men of the Strands. Bard, Hoskuld’s son, was most manly to look at, and of goodly strength, and from his appearance it was easy to see that he would take more after his father’s people. Bard was of quiet ways while he was growing up, and a man lucky in friends, and Hoskuld loved him best of all his children. The house of Hoskuld now stood in great honour and renown. About this time Hoskuld gave his sister Groa in marriage to Velief the Old, and their son was “Holmgang”-Bersi.

Chapter 10 - Of Viga Hrapp Hrapp was the name of a man who lived in Salmon-river-Dale, on the north bank of the river on the opposite side to Hoskuldstead, at the place that was called later on Hrappstead, where there is now waste land. Hrapp was the son of Sumarlid, and was called Fight-Hrapp. He was Scotch on his father’s side, and his mother’s kin came from Sodor, where he was brought up. He was a very big,strong A Black Arrow resource

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man, and one not willing to give in even in face of some odds; and for the reason that was most overbearing, and would never make good what he had misdone, he had had to fly from West-over-thesea, and had bought the land on which he afterwards lived. His wife was named Vigdis, and was Hallstein’s daughter; and their son was named Sumarlid. Her brother was named Thorstein Surt; he lived at Thorsness, as has been written before. Sumarlid was brought up there, and was a most promising young man. Thorstein had been married, but by this time his wife was dead. He had two daughters, one named Gudrid, and the other Osk. Thorkell trefill married Gudrid, and they lived in Svignaskard. He was a great chieftain, and a sage of wits; he was the son of Raudabjorn. Osk, Thorstein’s daughter, was given in marriage to a man of Broadfirth named Thorarin. He was a valiant man, and very popular, and lived with Thorstein, his father-in-law, who was sunk in age and much in need of their care. Hrapp was disliked by most people, being overbearing to his neighbours; and at times he would hint to them that theirs would be a heavy lot as neighbours, if they held any other man for better than himself. All the goodmen took one counsel, and went to Hoskuld and told him their trouble. Hoskuld bade them tell him if Hrapp did any one any harm, “For he shall not plunder me of men or money.”

Chapter 11 - About Thord Goddi and Thorbjorn Skrjup Thord Goddi was the name of a man who lived in Salmon-river-Dale on the northern side of the river, and his house was Vigdis called Goddistead. He was a very wealthy man; he had no children, and had bought the land he lived on. He was a neighbour of Hrapp’s, and was very often badly treated by him. Hoskuld looked after him, so that he kept his dwelling in peace. Vigdis was the name of his wife. She was daughter of Ingjald, son of Olaf Feilan, and brother’s daughter of Thord Yeller, and sister’s daughter of Thorolf Rednose of Sheepfell. This Thorolf was a great hero, and in a very good position, and his kinsmen often went to him for protection. Vigdis had married more for money than high station. Thord had a thrall who had come to Iceland with him, named Asgaut. He was a big man, and The Sagas of the Icelanders

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shapely of body; and though he was called a thrall, yet few could be found his equal amongst those called freemen, and he knew well how to serve his master. Thord had many other thralls, though this one is the only one mentioned here. Thorbjorn was the name of a man. He lived in Salmon-river-Dale, next to Thord, up valley away from his homestead, and was called Skrjup. He was very rich in chattels, mostly in gold and silver. He was an huge man and of great strength. No squanderer of money on common folk was he. Hoskuld, Dalakoll’s son, deemed it a drawback to his state that his house was worse built than he wished it should be; so he bought a ship from a Shetland man. The ship lay up in the mouth of the river Blanda. That ship he gets ready, and makes it known that he is going abroad, leaving Jorunn to take care of house and children. They now put out to sea, and all went well with them; and they hove somewhat southwardly into Norway, making Hordaland, where the market-town called Biorgvin was afterwards built. Hoskuld put up his ship, and had there great strength of kinsmen, though here they be not named. Hakon, the king, had then his seat in the Wick. Hoskuld did not go to the king, as his kinsfolk welcomed him with open arms. That winter all was quiet (in Norway).

Chapter 12 - Hoskuld Buys a Slave Woman There were tidings at the beginning of the summer that the king went with his fleet eastward to a tryst in Brenn-isles, to settle peace for his land, even as the law laid down should be done every third summer. This meeting was held between rulers with a view to settling such matters as kings had toadjudge - matters of international policy between Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. It was deemed a pleasure trip to go to this meeting, for thither came men from well-nigh all such lands as we know of. Hoskuld ran out his ship, being desirous also to go to the meeting; moreover, he had not been to see the king all the winter through. There was also a fair to be made for. At the meeting there were great crowds of people, and much amusement to be got - drinking, and games, and all sorts of entertainment. Nought, however, of great interest

happened there. Hoskuld met many of his kinsfolk there who were come from Denmark. Now, one day as Hoskuld went out to disport himself with some other men, he saw a stately tent far away from the other booths. Hoskuld went thither, and into the tent, and there sat a man before him in costly raiment, and a Russian hat on his head. Hoskuld asked him his name. He said he was called Gilli: “But many call to mind the man if they hear my nickname - I am called Gilli the Russian.” Hoskuld said he had often heard talk of him, and that he held him to be the richest of men that had ever belonged to the guild of merchants. Still Hoskuld spoke: “You must have things to sell such as we should wish to buy.” Gilli asked what he and his companions wished to buy. Hoskuld said he should like to buy some bonds-woman, “if you have one to sell.” Gilli answers: “There, you mean to give me trouble by this, in asking for things you don’texpect me to have in stock; but it is not sure that follows.” Hoskuld then saw that right across the booth there was drawn a curtain; and Gilli then lifted the curtain, and Hoskuld saw that there were twelve women seated behind the curtain. So Gilli said that Hoskuld should come on and have a look, if he would care to buy any of these women. Hoskuld did so. They sat all together across the booth. Hoskuld looks carefully at these women. He saw a woman sitting out by the skirt of the tent, and she was very ill-clad. Hoskuld thought, as far as he could see, this woman was fair to look upon. Then said Hoskuld, “What is the price of that woman if I should wish to buy her?” Gilli replied, “Three silver pieces is what you must weigh me out for her.” “It seems to me,” said Hoskuld, “that you charge very highly for this bonds-woman, for that is the price of three (such).” Then Gilli said, “You speak truly, that I value her worth more than the others. Choose any of the other eleven, and pay one mark of silver for her, this one being left in my possession.” Hoskuld said, “I must first see how much silver there is in the purse I have on my belt,” and he asked Gilli to take the scales while he searched the purse. Gilli then said, “On my side there shall be no guile in this matter; for, as to the ways of this woman, there is a great drawback which I wish, Hoskuld, that you know before we strike this bargain.” Hoskuld asked what it was. Gilli replied, “The woman 

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is dumb. I have triedin many ways to get her to talk, but have never got a word out of her, and I feel quite sure that this woman knows not how to speak.” Then, said Hoskuld, “Bring out the scales, and let us see how much the purse I have got here may weigh.” Gilli did so, and now they weigh the silver, and there were just three marks weighed. Then said Hoskuld, “Now the matter stands so that we can close our bargain. You take the money for yourself, and I will take the woman. I take it that you have behaved honestly in this affair, for, to be sure, you had no mind to deceive me herein.” Hoskuld then went home to his booth. That same night Hoskuld went into bed with her. The next morning when men got dressed, spake Hoskuld, “The clothes Gilli the Rich gave you do not appear to be very grand, though it is true that to him it is more of a task to dress twelve women than it is to me to dress only one.” After that Hoskuld opened a chest, and took out some fine women’s clothes and gave them to her; and it was the saying of every one that she looked very well when she was dressed. But when the rulers had there talked matters over according as the law provided, this meeting was broken up. Then Hoskuld went to see King Hakon, and greeted him worthily, according to custom. The king cast a side glance at him, and said, “We should have taken well your greeting, Hoskuld, even if you had saluted us sooner; but so shall it be even now.”

Chapter 13 - Hoskuld Returns to Iceland, A.D. 948 After that the king received Hoskuld most graciously, and bade him come on board his own ship, and “be with us so long as you care to remain in Norway.” Hoskuld answered: “Thank you for your offer; but now, this summer, I have much to be busy about, and that is mostly the reason I was so long before I came to see you, for I wanted to get for myself house-timber.” The king bade him bring his ship in to the Wick, and Hoskuld tarried with the king for a while. The king got house-timber for him, and had his ship laden for him. Then the king said to Hoskuld, “You shall not be delayed here longer than you like, though we shall find it difficult to find a man to take your place.” After that the king saw Hoskuld off to his ship, and 

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said: “I have found you an honourable man, and now my mind misgives me that you are sailing for the last time from Norway, whilst I am lord over that land.” The king drew a gold ring off his arm that weighed a mark, and gave it to Hoskuld; and he gave him for another gift a sword on which there was half a mark of gold. Hoskuld thanked the king for his gifts, and for all the honour he had donehim. After that Hoskuld went on board his ship, and put to sea. They had a fair wind, and hove in to the south of Iceland; and after that sailed west by Reekness, and so by Snowfellness in to Broadfirth. Hoskuld landed at Salmon-river-Mouth. He had the cargo taken out of his ship, which he took into the river and beached, having a shed built for it. A ruin is to be seen now where he built the shed. There he set up his booths, and that place is called Booths’-Dale. After that Hoskuld had the timber taken home, which was very easy, as it was not far off. Hoskuld rode home after that with a few men, and was warmly greeted, as was to be looked for. He found that all his belongings had been kept well since he left. Jorunn asked, “What woman that was who journeyed with him?” Hoskuld answered, “You will think I am giving you a mocking answer when I tell you that I do not know her name.” Jorunn said, “One of two things there must be: either the talk is a lie that has come to my ears, or you must have spoken to her so much as to have asked her her name.” Hoskuld said he could not gainsay that, and so told her the truth, and bade that the woman should be kindly treated, and said it was his wish she should stay in service with them. Jorunn said, “I am not going to wrangle with the mistress you have brought out of Norway, should she find living near me no pleasure; least of all should I think of it if she is both deaf and dumb.” Hoskuld slept with his wife every night after he camehome, and had very little to say to the mistress. Every one clearly saw that there was something betokening high birth in the way she bore herself, and that she was no fool. Towards the end of the winter Hoskuld’s mistress gave birth to a male child. Hoskuld was called, and was shown the child, and he thought, as others did, that he had never seen a goodlier or a more noble-looking child. Hoskuld was asked what the boy should be called. He said it should be named Olaf, for Olaf Feilan

had died a little time before, who was his mother’s brother. Olaf was far before other children, and Hoskuld bestowed great love on the boy. The next summer Jorunn said, “That the woman must do some work or other, or else go away.” Hoskuld said she should wait on him and his wife, and take care of her boy besides. When the boy was two years old he had got full speech, and ran about like children of four years old. Early one morning, as Hoskuld had gone out to look about his manor, the weather being fine, and the sun, as yet little risen in the sky, shining brightly, it happened that he heard some voices of people talking; so he went down to where a little brook ran past the homefield slope, and he saw two people there whom he recognised as his son Olaf and his mother, and he discovered she was not speechless, for she was talking a great deal to the boy. Then Hoskuld went to her and asked her her name, and said it was useless for her to hide it any longer. She said so it should be, and they satdown on the brink of the field. Then she said, “If you want to know my name, I am called Melkorka.” Hoskuld bade her tell him more of her kindred. She answered, “Myr Kjartan is the name of my father, and he is a king in Ireland; and I was taken a prisoner of war from there when I was fifteen winters old.” Hoskuld said she had kept silence far too long about so noble a descent. After that Hoskuld went on, and told Jorunn what he had just found out during his walk. Jorunn said that she “could not tell if this were true,” and said she had no fondness for any manner of wizards; and so the matter dropped. Jorunn was no kinder to her than before, but Hoskuld had somewhat more to say to her. A little while after this, when Jorunn was going to bed, Melkorka was undressing her, and put her shoes on the floor, when Jorunn took the stockings and smote her with them about the head. Melkorka got angry, and struck Jorunn on the nose with her fist, so that the blood flowed. Hoskuld came in and parted them. After that he let Melkorka go away, and got a dwelling ready for her up in Salmon-river-Dale, at the place that was afterwards called Melkorkastad, which is now waste land on the south of the Salmon river. Melkorka now set up household there, and Hoskuld had everything brought there that she needed; and Olaf, their son, went with her. It was A Black Arrow resource

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soon seen that Olaf, as he grew up, was far superior to other men, both on account of his beauty and courtesy.

Chapter 14 - The Murder of Hall, Ingjald’s Brother Ingjald was the name of a man. He lived in Sheepisles, that lie out in Broadfirth. He was called Sheepisles’ Priest. He was rich, and a mighty man of his hand. Hall was the name of his brother. He was big, and had the makings of a man in him; he was, however, a man of small means, and looked upon by most people as an unprofitable sort of man. The brothers did not usually agree very well together. Ingjald thought Hall did not shape himself after the fashion of doughty men, and Hall thought Ingjald was but little minded to lend furtherance to his affairs. There is a fishing place in Broadfirth called Bjorn isles. These islands lie many together, and were profitable in many ways. At that time men went there a great deal for the fishing, and at all seasons there were a great many men there. Wise men set great store by people in outlying fishing-stations living peacefully together, and said that it would be unlucky for the fishing if there was any quarrelling; and most men gave good heed to this. It is told how one summer Hall, the brother of Ingjald, the Sheepisles’ Priest, came to Bjorn isles for fishing. He took ship as one of the crew with a man called Thorolf. Hewas a Broadfirth man, and was well-nigh a penniless vagrant, and yet a brisk sort of a man. Hall was there for some time, and palmed himself off as being much above other men. It happened one evening when they were come to land, Hall and Thorolf, and began to divide the catch, that Hall wished both to choose and to divide, for he thought himself the greater man of the two. Thorolf would not give in, and there were some high words, and sharp things were said on both sides, as each stuck to his own way of thinking. So Hall seized up a chopper that lay by him, and was about to heave it at Thorolf’s head, but men leapt between them and stopped Hall; but he was of the maddest, and yet unable to have his way as at this time. The catch of fish remained undivided. Thorolf betook himself away that evening, and Hall took possession of the catch that belonged to them both, for then the odds of might carried the day. Hall now got The Sagas of the Icelanders

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another man in Thorolf’s place in the boat, and went on fishing as before. Thorolf was ill-contented with his lot, for he felt he had come to shame in their dealings together; yet he remained in the islands with the determination to set straight the humble plight to which he had been made to bow against his will. Hall, in the meantime, did not fear any danger, and thought that no one would dare to try to get even with him in his own country. So one fair-weather day it happened that Hall rowed out, and there were three of them together in the boat. The fish bit wellthrough the day, and as they rowed home in the evening they were very merry. Thorolf kept spying about Hall’s doings during the day, and is standing in the landing-place when Hall came to land. Hall rowed in the forehold of the boat, and leapt overboard, intending to steady the boat; and as he jumped to land Thorolf happens to be standing near, and forthwith hews at him, and the blow caught him on his neck against the shoulder, and off flew his head. Thorolf fled away after that, and Hall’s followers were all in a flurried bustle about him. The story of Hall’s murder was told all over the islands, and every one thought it was indeed great news; for the man was of high birth, although he had had little good luck. Thorolf now fled from the islands, for he knew no man there who would shelter him after such a deed, and he had no kinsmen he could expect help from; while in the neighbourhood were men from whom it might be surely looked for that they would beset his life, being moreover men of much power, such as was Ingjald, the Sheepisles’ Priest, the brother of Hall. Thorolf got himself ferried across to the mainland. He went with great secrecy. Nothing is told of his journey, until one evening he came to Goddistead. Vigdis, the wife of Thord Goddi, was some sort of relation to Thorolf, and on that account he turned towards that house. Thorolf had also heard before how matters stood there, and how Vigdis was endowed with a good deal more courage than Thord, her husband. And forthwith the same evening that Thorolf came to Goddistead he went to Vigdis to tell her his trouble, and to beg her help. Vigdis answered his pleading in this way: “I do not deny our relationship, and in this way alone I can look upon the deed you have done, that I deem you in no way the worser man for it. Yet this I see, that those who shelter

you will thereby have at stake their lives and means, seeing what great men they are who will be taking up the blood-suit. And Thord,” she said, “my husband, is not much of a warrior; but the counsels of us women are mostly guided by little foresight if anything is wanted. Yet I am loath to keep aloof from you altogether, seeing that, though I am but a woman, you have set your heart on finding some shelter here.” After that Vigdis led him to an outhouse, and told him to wait for her there, and put a lock on the door. Then she went to Thord, and said, “A man has come here as a guest, named Thorolf. He is some sort of relation of mine, and I think he will need to dwell here some long time if you will allow it.” Thord said he could not away with men coming to put up at his house, but bade him rest there over the next day if he had no trouble on hand, but otherwise he should be off at his swiftest. Vigdis answered, “I have offered him already to stay on, and I cannot take back my word, though he be not in even friendship with all men.” Afterthat she told Thord of the slaying of Hall, and that Thorolf who was come there was the man who had killed him. Thord was very cross-grained at this, and said he well knew how that Ingjald would take a great deal of money from him for the sheltering that had been given him already, seeing that doors here have been locked after this man. Vigdis answered, “Ingjald shall take none of your money for giving one night’s shelter to Thorolf, and he shall remain here all this winter through.” Thord said, “In this manner you can checkmate me most thoroughly, but it is against my wish that a man of such evil luck should stay here.” Still Thorolf stayed there all the winter. Ingjald, who had to take up the blood-suit for his brother, heard this, and so arrayed him for a journey into the Dales at the end of the winter, and ran out a ferry of his whereon they went twelve together. They sailed from the west with a sharp northwest wind, and landed in Salmon-riverMouth in the evening. They put up their ferry-boat, and came to Goddistead in the evening, arriving there not unawares, and were cheerfully welcomed. Ingjald took Thord aside for a talk with him, and told him his errand, and said he had heard of Thorolf, the slayer of his brother, being there. Thord said there was no truth in that. Ingjald bade him not to deny it. “Let us rather come to a bargain together: you 

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give up the man, and put me to no toil in the matter of getting at him. I have three marks of silver that you shall have, and I will overlook the offences you have broughton your hands for the shelter given to Thorolf.” Thord thought the money fair, and had now a promise of acquittal of the offences for which he had hitherto most dreaded and for which he would have to abide sore loss of money. So he said, “I shall no doubt hear people speak ill of me for this, none the less this will have to be our bargain.” They slept until it wore towards the latter end of the night, when it lacked an hour of day.

Chapter 15 - Thorolf’s Escape with Asgaut the Thrall Ingjald and his men got up and dressed. Vigdis asked Thord what his talk with Ingjald had been about the evening before. Thord said they had talked about many things, amongst others how the place was to be ransacked, and how they should be clear of the case if Thorolf was not found there. “So I let Asgaut, my thrall, take the man away.” Vigdis said she had no fondness for lies, and said she should be very loath to have Ingjald sniffing about her house, but bade him, however, do as he liked. After that Ingjald ransacked the place, and did not hit upon the man there. At that moment Asgaut came back, and Vigdis asked him where he had parted with Thorolf. Asgaut replied, “I took him to our sheephouses asThord told me to.” Vigdis replied, “Can anything be more exactly in Ingjald’s way as he returns to his ship? nor shall any risk be run, lest they should have made this plan up between them last night. I wish you to go at once, and take him away as soon as possible. You shall take him to Sheepfell to Thorolf; and if you do as I tell you, you shall get something for it. I will give you your freedom and money, that you may go where you will.” Asgaut agreed to this, and went to the sheephouse to find Thorolf, and bade him get ready to go at once. At this time Ingjald rode out of Goddistead, for he was now anxious to get his money’s worth. As he was come down from the farmstead (into the plain) he saw two men coming to meet him; they were Thorolf and Asgaut. This was early in the morning, and there was yet but little daylight. Asgaut and Thorolf now found themselves in a hole, for Ingjald 10

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was on one side of them and the Salmon River on the other. The river was terribly swollen, and there were great masses of ice on either bank, while in the middle it had burst open, and it was an ill-looking river to try to ford. Thorolf said to Asgaut, “It seems to me we have two choices before us. One is to remain here and fight as well as valour and manhood will serve us, and yet the thing most likely is that Ingjald and his men will take our lives without delay; and the other is to tackle the river, and yet that, I think, is still a somewhat dangerous one.” Asgaut said that Thorolf should have his way, and hewould not desert him, “whatever plan you are minded to follow in this matter.” Thorolf said, “We will make for the river, then,” and so they did, and arrayed themselves as light as possible. After this they got over the main ice, and plunged into the water. And because the men were brave, and Fate had ordained them longer lives, they got across the river and upon the ice on the other side. Directly after they had got across, Ingjald with his followers came to the spot opposite to them on the other side of the river. Ingjald spoke out, and said to his companions, “What plan shall we follow now? Shall we tackle the river or not?” They said he should choose, and they would rely on his foresight, though they thought the river looked impassable. Ingjald said that so it was, and “we will turn away from the river;” and when Thorolf and Asgaut saw that Ingjald had made up his mind not to cross the river, they first wring their clothes and then make ready to go on. They went on all that day, and came in the evening to Sheepfell. They were well received there, for it was an open house for all guests; and forthwith that same evening Asgaut went to see Thorolf Rednose, and told him all the matters concerning their errand, “how Vigdis, his kinswoman, had sent him this man to keep in safety.” Asgaut also told him all that had happened between Ingjald and Thord Goddi; therewithal he took forth the tokens Vigdis had sent. Thorolf replied thus, “I cannot doubt these tokens. I shall indeed take this man in ather request. I think, too, that Vigdis has dealt most bravely with this matter and it is a great pity that such a woman should have so feeble a husband. And you, Asgaut, shall dwell here as long as you like.” Asgaut said he would tarry there for no length of time. Thorolf now takes

unto him his namesake, and made him one of his followers; and Asgaut and they parted good friends, and he went on his homeward journey. And now to tell of Ingjald. He turned back to Goddistead when he and Thorolf parted. By that time men had come there from the nearest farmsteads at the summons of Vigdis, and no fewer than twenty men had gathered there already. But when Ingjald and his men came to the place, he called Thord to him, “You have dealt in a most cowardly way with me, Thord,” says he, “for I take it to be the truth that you have got the man off.” Thord said this had not happened with his knowledge; and now all the plotting that had been between Ingjald and Thord came out. Ingjald now claimed to have back his money that he had given to Thord. Vigdis was standing near during this talk, and said it had fared with them as was meet, and prayed Thord by no means to hold back this money, “For you, Thord,” she said, “have got this money in a most cowardly way.” Thord said she must needs have her will herein. After that Vigdis went inside, and to a chest that belonged to Thord, and found at the bottom a large purse. She took out the purse, and went outside withit up to where Ingjald was, and bade him take the money. Ingjald’s brow cleared at that, and he stretched out his hand to take the purse. Vigdis raised the purse, and struck him on the nose with it, so that forthwith blood fell on the earth. Therewith she overwhelmed him with mocking words, ending by telling him that henceforth he should never have the money, and bidding him go his way. Ingjald saw that his best choice was to be off, and the sooner the better, which indeed he did, nor stopped in his journey until he got home, and was mightily ill at ease over his travel.

Chapter 16 - Thord becomes Olaf’s Foster Father, A.D. 950 About this time Asgaut came home. Vigdis greeted him, and asked him what sort of reception they had had at Sheepfell. He gave a good account of it, and told her the words wherewith Thorolf had spoken out his mind. She was very pleased at that. “And you, Asgaut,” she said, “have done your part well and faithfully, and you shall now know speedily what wages you have worked for. I give you your freedom, so that from A Black Arrow resource

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this day forth you shall bear the title of a freeman. Therewith you shall take the money that Thord took as the price for the head of Thorolf, mykinsman, and now that money will be better bestowed.” Asgaut thanked her for her gift with fair words. The next summer Asgaut took a berth in Day-Meal-Ness, and the ship put to sea, and they came in for heavy gales, but not a long sea-voyage, and made Norway. After that Asgaut went to Denmark and settled there, and was thought a valiant and true man. And herewith comes to an end the tale of him. But after the plot Thord Goddi had made up with Ingjald, the Sheepisles priest, when they made up their minds to compass the death of Thorolf, Vigdis’ kinsman, she returned that deed with hatred, and divorced herself from Thord Goddi, and went to her kinsfolk and told them the tale. Thord Yeller was not pleased at this; yet matters went off quietly. Vigdis did not take away with her from Goddistead any more goods than her own heirlooms. The men of Hvamm let it out that they meant to have for themselves one-half of the wealth that Thord was possessed of. And on hearing this he becomes exceeding faint-hearted, and rides forthwith to see Hoskuld to tell him of his troubles. Hoskuld said, “Times have been that you have been terrorstruck, through not having with such overwhelming odds to deal.” Then Thord offered Hoskuld money for his help, and said he would not look at the matter with a niggard’s eye. Hoskuld said, “This is clear, that you will not by peaceful consent allow any man to have the enjoyment of your wealth.” Answers Thord, “No, not quite that though; for I fain would that you shouldtake over all my goods. That being settled, I will ask to foster your son Olaf, and leave him all my wealth after my days are done; for I have no heir here in this land, and I think my means would be better bestowed then, than that the kinsmen of Vigdis should grab it.” To this Hoskuld agreed, and had it bound by witnesses. This Melkorka took heavily, deeming the fostering too low. Hoskuld said she ought not to think that, “for Thord is an old man, and childless, and I wish Olaf to have all his money after his day, but you can always go to see him at any time you like.” Thereupon Thord took Olaf to him, seven years old, and loved him very dearly. Hearing this, the men who had on hand the case against Thord The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Goddi thought that now it would be even more difficult than before to lay claim to the money. Hoskuld sent some handsome presents to Thord Yeller, and bade him not be angry over this, seeing that in law they had no claim on Thord’s money, inasmuch as Vigdis had brought no true charges against Thord, or any such as justified desertion by her. “Moreover, Thord was no worse a man for casting about for counsel to rid himself of a man that had been thrust upon his means, and was as beset with guilt as a juniper bush is with prickles.” But when these words came to Thord from Hoskuld, and with them large gifts of money, then Thord allowed himself to be pacified, and said he thought the money was well placed that Hoskuld looked after, and tookthe gifts; and all was quiet after that, but their friendship was rather less warm than formerly. Olaf grew up with Thord, and became a great man and strong. He was so handsome that his equal was not to be found, and when he was twelve years old he rode to the Thing meeting, and men in other countrysides looked upon it as a great errand to go, and to wonder at the splendid way he was made. In keeping herewith was the manner of Olaf’s war-gear and raiment, and therefore he was easily distinguished from all other men. Thord got on much better after Olaf came to live with him. Hoskuld gave Olaf a nickname, and called him Peacock, and the name stuck to him.

And as evil as he had been to deal with in his life, just so he was by a great deal more when he was dead, for he walked again a great deal after he was dead. People said that he killed most of his servants in his ghostly appearances. He caused a great deal of trouble to those who lived near, and the house of Hrappstead became deserted. Vigdis, Hrapp’s wife, betook herself west to Thorstein Swart, her brother. He took her and her goods in. And now things went as before, in that men went to find Hoskuld, and told him all the troubles that Hrapp was doing to them, and asked him to do something to put an end to this. Hoskuld said this should be done, and he went with some men to Hrappstead, and has Hrapp dug up, and taken away to a place near to which cattle were least likely to roam or men to go about. After that Hrapp’s walkings-again abated somewhat. Sumarlid, Hrapp’s son, inherited all Hrapp’s wealth, which was both great and goodly. Sumarlid set up household at Hrappstead the next spring; but after he had kept house there for a little time he was seized of frenzy, and died shortly afterwards. Now it was the turn of his mother, Vigdis, totake there alone all this wealth; but as she would not go to the estate of Hrappstead, Thorstein Swart took all the wealth to himself to take care of. Thorstein was by then rather old, though still one of the most healthy and hearty of men.

Chapter 17 - About Viga Hrapp’s Ghost, A.D. 950

Chapter 18 - Of the Drowning of Thorstein Swart

The tale is told of Hrapp that he became most violent in his behaviour, and did his neighbours such harm that they could hardly hold their own against him. But from the time that Olaf grew up Hrapp got no hold of Thord. Hrapp had the same temper, but his powers waned, in that old age was fast coming upon him, so that he had to lie in bed. Hrapp called Vigdis, his wife, to him, and said, “I have never been of ailing health in life,” said he, “and it is therefore most likely that this illness willput an end to our life together. Now, when I am dead, I wish my grave to be dug in the doorway of my fire hall, and that I be put: thereinto, standing there in the doorway; then I shall be able to keep a more searching eye on my dwelling.” After that Hrapp died, and all was done as he said, for Vigdis did not dare do otherwise.

At that time there rose to honour among men in Thorness, the kinsmen of Thorstein, named Bork the Stout and his brother, Thorgrim. It was soon found out how these brothers would fain be the greatest men there, and were most highly accounted of. And when Thorstein found that out, he would not elbow them aside, and so made it known to people that he wished to change his abode, and take his household to Hrappstead, in Salmonriver-Dale. Thorstein Swart got ready to start after the spring Thing, but his cattle were driven round along the shore. Thorstein got on board a ferry-boat, and took twelve men with him; and Thorarin, his brother-in-law, and Osk, Thorstein’s daughter, and Hild, her daughter, who was three years old, went with them too. Thorstein fell in with a high south11

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westerly gale, and they sailed up towards the roosts, and into that roost which is called Coal-chest-Roost,which is the biggest of the currents in Broadfirth. They made little way sailing, chiefly because the tide was ebbing, and the wind was not favourable, the weather being squally, with high wind when the squalls broke over, but with little wind between whiles. Thorstein steered, and had the braces of the sail round his shoulders, because the boat was blocked up with goods, chiefly piled-up chests, and the cargo was heaped up very high; but land was near about, while on the boat there was but little way, because of the raging current against them. Then they sailed on to a hidden rock, but were not wrecked. Thorstein bade them let down the sail as quickly as possible, and take punt poles to push off the ship. This shift was tried to no avail, because on either board the sea was so deep that the poles struck no bottom; so they were obliged to wait for the incoming tide, and now the water ebbs away under the ship. Throughout the day they saw a seal in the current larger by much than any others, and through the day it would be swimming round about the ship, with flappers none of the shortest, and to all of them it seemed that in him there were human eyes. Thorstein bade them shoot the seal, and they tried, but it came to nought. Now the tide rose; and just as the ship was getting afloat there broke upon them a violent squall, and the boat heeled over, and every one on board the boat was drowned, save one man, named Gudmund, who drifted ashore with some timber. The place where he was washedup was afterwards called Gudmund’s Isles. Gudrid, whom Thorkell Trefill had for wife, was entitled to the inheritance left by Thorstein, her father. These tidings spread far and near of the drowning of Thorstein Swart, and the men who were lost there. Thorkell sent straightway for the man Gudmund, who had been washed ashore, and when he came and met Thorkell, he (Thorkell) struck a bargain with him, to the end that he should tell the story of the loss of lives even as he (Thorkell) was going to dictate it to him. Gudmund agreed. Thorkell now asked him to tell the story of this mishap in the hearing of a good many people. Then Gudmund spake on this wise: “Thorstein was drowned first, and then his son-inlaw, Thorarin” - so that then it was the turn of Hild to come in for the money, as 12

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she was the daughter of Thorarin. Then he said the maiden was drowned, because the next in inheritance to her was Osk, her mother, and she lost her life the last of them, so that all the money thus came to Thorkell Trefill, in that his wife Gudrid must take inheritance after her sister. Now this tale is spread abroad by Thorkell and his men; but Gudmund ere this had told the tale in somewhat another way. Now the kinsmen of Thorarin misdoubted this tale somewhat, and said they would not believe it unproved, and claimed onehalf of the heritage against Thorkell; but Thorkell maintained it belonged to him alone, and bade that ordeal should be taken on the matter, according to their custom. This was the ordealat that time, that men had had to pass under “earth-chain,” which was a slip of sward cut loose from the soil, but both ends thereof were left adhering to the earth, and the man who should go through with the ordeal should walk thereunder. Thorkell Trefill now had some misgivings himself as to whether the deaths of the people had indeed taken place as he and Gudmund had said the second time. Heathen men deemed that on them rested no less responsibility when ceremonies of this kind had to be gone through than Christian men do when ordeals are decreed. He who passed under “earth-chain” cleared himself if the sward-slip did not fall down upon him. Thorkell made an arrangement with two men that they should feign quarrelling over something or another, and be close to the spot when the ordeal was being gone through with, and touch the sward-slip so unmistakably that all men might see that it was they who knocked it down. After this comes forward he who was to go through with the ordeal, and at the nick of time when he had got under the “earth-chain,” these men who had been put up to it fall on each other with weapons, meeting close to the arch of the sward-slip, and lie there fallen, and down tumbles the “earth-chain”, as was likely enough. Then men rush up between them and part them, which was easy enough, for they fought with no mind to do any harm. Thorkell Trefill then asked people as to what they thought about the ordeal, and all his men now said that it would have turned out allright if no one had spoilt it. Then Thorkell took all the chattels to himself, but the land at Hrapstead was left to lie fallow.

Chapter 19 - Hrut Comes to Iceland Now of Hoskuld it is to be told that his state is one of great honour, and that he is a great chieftain. He had in his keep a great deal of money that belonged to his (half) brother, Hrut, Herjolf’s son. Many men would have it that Hoskuld’s means would be heavily cut into if he should be made to pay to the full the heritage of his (Hrut’s) mother. Hrut was of the bodyguard of King Harald, Gunnhild’s son, and was much honoured by him, chiefly for the reason that he approved himself the best man in all deeds of manly trials, while, on the other hand, Gunnhild, the Queen, loved him so much that she held there was not his equal within the guard, either in talking or in anything else. Even when men were compared, and noblemen therein were pointed to, all men easily saw that Gunnhild thought that at the bottom there must be sheer thoughtlessness, or else envy, if any man was said to be Hrut’s equal. Now, inasmuch as Hrut had in Iceland much money to look after, and many noble kinsfolk to go and see, he desired to go there, and now arrays his journey for Iceland. The king gave him a ship at parting, and said he had proved a brave man and true. Gunnhild saw Hrut off to his ship, and said, “Not in a hushed voice shall this be spoken, that I have proved you to be a most noble man, in that you have prowess equal to the best man here in this land, but are in wits a long way before them”. Then she gave him a gold ring and bade him farewell. Whereupon she drew her mantle over her head and went swiftly home. Hrut went on board his ship, and put to sea. He had a good breeze, and came to Broadfirth. He sailed up the bay, up to the island, and, steering in through Broadsound, he landed at Combness, where he put his gangways to land. The news of the coming of this ship spread about, as also that Hrut, Herjolf’s son, was the captain. Hoskuld gave no good cheer to these tidings, and did not go to meet Hrut. Hrut put up his ship, and made her snug. He built himself a dwelling, which since has been called Combness. Then he rode to see Hoskuld, to get his share of his mother’s inheritance. Hoskuld said he had no money to pay him, and said his mother had not gone without means out of Iceland when she A Black Arrow resource

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met with Herjolf. Hrut liked this very ill, but rode away, and there the matter rested. All Hrut’s kinsfolk, excepting Hoskuld, did honour to Hrut. Hrut now lived three winters at Combness, and was always demanding the money from Hoskuld at the Thing meetings and other law gatherings, and he spoke well on the matter. And most men held that Hrut had right on his side. Hoskuld said thatThorgerd had not married Herjolf by his counsel, and that he was her lawful guardian, and there the matter dropped. That same autumn Hoskuld went to a feast at Thord Goddi’s, and hearing that, Hrut rode with twelve men to Hoskuldstead and took away twenty oxen, leaving as many behind. Then he sent some men to Hoskuld, telling them where he might search for the cattle. Hoskuld’s house-carles sprang forthwith up, and seized their weapons, and words were sent to the nearest neighbours for help, so that they were a party of fifteen together, and they rode each one as fast as they possibly could. Hrut and his followers did not see the pursuit till they were a little way from the enclosure at Combness. And forthwith he and his men jumped off their horses, and tied them up, and went forward unto a certain sandhill. Hrut said that there they would make a stand, and added that though the money claim against Hoskuld sped slowly, never should that be said that he had run away before his thralls. Hrut’s followers said that they had odds to deal with. Hrut said he would never heed that; said they should fare all the worse the more they were in number. The men of Salmonriver-Dale now jumped off their horses, and got ready to fight. Hrut bade his men not trouble themselves about the odds, and goes for them at a rush. Hrut had a helmet on his head, a drawn sword in one hand and a shield in the other. He was of all men the most skilled at arms. Hrut was then so wild that few could keep up with him. Bothsides fought briskly for a while; but the men of Salmon-river-Dale very soon found that in Hrut they had to deal with one for whom they were no match, for now he slew two men at every onslaught. After that the men of Salmonriver-Dale begged for peace. Hrut replied that they should surely have peace. All the house-carles of Hoskuld who were yet alive were wounded, and four were killed. Hrut then went home, being somewhat The Sagas of the Icelanders

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wounded himself; but his followers only slightly or not at all, for he had been the foremost in the fight. The place has since been called Fight-Dale where they fought. After that Hrut had the cattle killed. Now it must be told how Hoskuld got men together in a hurry when he heard of the robbery and rode home. Much at the same time as he arrived his house-carles came home too, and told how their journey had gone anything but smoothly. Hoskuld was wild with wrath at this, and said he meant to take at Hrut’s hand no robbery or loss of lives again, and gathered to him men all that day. Then Jorunn, his wife, went and talked to him, and asked him what he had made his mind up to. He said, “It is but little I have made up my mind to, but I fain would that men should oftener talk of something else than the slaying of my house-carles”. Jorunn answered, “You are after a fearful deed if you mean to kill such a man as your brother, seeing that some men will have it that it would not have been without cause if Hrut had seized these goods even before this; and now he has shown that, taking after the race he comes from, he means no longer to be an outcast, kept from what is his own. Now, surely he cannot have made up his mind to try his strength with you till he knew that he might hope for some backing-up from the more powerful among men; for, indeed, I am told that messages have been passing in quiet between Hrut and Thord Yeller. And to me, at least, such matters seem worthy of heed being paid to them. No doubt Thord will be glad to back up matters of this kind, seeing how clear are the bearings of the case. Moreover you know, Hoskuld, that since the quarrel between Thord Goddi and Vigdis, there has not been the same fond friendship between you and Thord Yeller as before, although by means of gifts you staved off the enmity of him and his kinsmen in the beginning. I also think, Hoskuld,” she said, “that in that matter, much to the trial of their temper, they feel they have come off worst at the hands of yourself and your son, Olaf. Now this seems to me the wiser counsel: to make your brother an honourable offer, for there a hard grip from greedy wolf may be looked for. I am sure that Hrut will take that matter in good part, for I am told he is a wise man, and he will see that that would be an honour to both of you.” Hoskuld quieted down greatly at Jorunn’s speech, and thought

this was likely to be true. Then men went between them who were friends of both sides, bearing words of peace from Hoskuld to Hrut. Hrut received them well, and said he would indeed make friends with Hoskuld, and added that he had long been ready for their coming to terms as behoved kinsmen, if but Hoskuld had been willing to grant him his right. Hrut also said he was ready to do honour to Hoskuld for what he on his side had misdone. So now these matters were shaped and settled between the brothers, who now take to living together in good brotherhood from this time forth. Hrut now looks after his homestead, and became mighty man of his ways. He did not mix himself up in general things, but in whatever matter he took a part he would have his own way. Hrut now moved his dwelling, and abode to old age at a place which now is called Hrutstead. He made a temple in his home-field, of which the remains are still to be seen. It is called Trolls’ walk now, and there is the high road. Hrut married a woman named Unn, daughter of Mord Fiddle. Unn left him, and thence sprang the quarrels between the men of Salmon-river-Dale and the men of Fleetlithe. Hrut’s second wife was named Thorbjorg. She was Armod’s daughter. Hrut married a third wife, but her we do not name. Hrut had sixteen sons and ten daughters by these two wives. And men say that one summer Hrut rode to the Thing meeting, and fourteen of his sons were with him. Of this mention is made, because it was thought a sign of greatness and might. All his sons were right goodly men.

Chapter 20 - Melkorka’s Marriage and Olaf the Peacock’s Journey, A.D. 955 Hoskuld now remained quietly at home, and began now to sink into old age, and his sons were now all grown up. Thorliek sets up household of his own at a place called Combness, and Hoskuld handed over to him his portion. After that he married a woman named Gjaflaug, daughter of Arnbjorn, son of Sleitu Bjorn, and Thordaug, the daughter of Thord of Headland. It was a noble match, Gjaflaug being a very beautiful and high-minded woman. Thorliek was not an easy man to get on with, but was most warlike. There was not much friendship between 13

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the kinsmen Hrut and Thorliek. Bard Hoskuld’s son stayed at home with his father, looked after the household affairs no less than Hoskuld himself. The daughters of Hoskuld do not have much to do with this story, yet men are known who are descended from them. Olaf, Hoskuld’s son, was now grown up, and was the handsomest of all men that people ever set eyes on. He arrayed himself always well, both as to clothes and weapons. Melkorka, Olaf’s mother, lived at Melkorkastead, as has been told before. Hoskuld looked less after Melkorka’s household ways than he used to do, saying that that matter concerned Olaf, her son. Olaf said he would give her such help as he had to offer her. Melkorka thought Hoskuld had done shamefullyby her, and makes up her mind to do something to him at which he should not be over pleased. Thorbjorn Skrjup had chiefly had on hand the care of Melkorka’s household affairs. He had made her an offer of marriage, after she had been an householder for but a little while, but Melkorka refused him flatly. There was a ship up by Board-Ere in Ramfirth, and Orn was the name of the captain. He was one of the bodyguard of King Harald, Gunnhild’s son. Melkorka spoke to Olaf, her son, and said that she wished he should journey abroad to find his noble relations, “For I have told the truth that Myrkjartan is really my father, and he is king of the Irish and it would be easy for you betake you on board the ship that is now at Board-Ere.” Olaf said, “I have spoken about it to my father, but he seemed to want to have but little to do with it; and as to the manner of my foster-father’s money affairs, it so happens that his wealth is more in land or cattle than in stores of islandic market goods.” Melkorka said, “I cannot bear your being called the son of a slave-woman any longer; and if it stands in the way of the journey, that you think you have not enough money, then I would rather go to the length even of marrying Thorbjorn, if then you should be more willing than before to betake yourself to the journey. For I think he will be willing to hand out to you as much wares as you think you may need, if I give my consent to his marrying me. Above all I look to this, that then Hoskuld will like two things mightily ill when hecomes to hear of them, namely, that you have gone out of the land, and that I am married.” Olaf bade 14

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his mother follow her own counsel. After that Olaf talked to Thorbjorn as to how he wished to borrow wares of him, and a great deal thereof. Thorbjorn answered, “I will do it on one condition, and that is that I shall marry Melkorka for them; it seems to me, you will be as welcome to my money as to that which you have in your keep.” Olaf said that this should then be settled; whereupon they talked between them of such matters as seemed needful, but all these things they agreed should be kept quiet. Hoskuld wished Olaf to ride with him to the Thing. Olaf said he could not do that on account of household affairs, as he also wanted to fence off a grazing paddock for lambs by Salmon River. Hoskuld was very pleased that he should busy himself with the homestead. Then Hoskuld rode to the Thing; but at Lambstead a wedding feast was arrayed, and Olaf settled the agreement alone. Olaf took out of the undivided estate thirty hundred ells’ worth of wares, and should pay no money for them. Bard, Hoskuld’s son, was at the wedding, and was a party with them to all these doings. When the feast was ended Olaf rode off to the ship, and found Orn the captain, and took berth with him. Before Olaf and Melkorka parted she gave him a great gold fingerring, and said, “This gift my father gave me for a teething gift, and I know he will recognise it when he sees it.” She also put into his hands a knife and a belt, and bade him give them to her nurse: “I am sure she will not doubt these tokens.” And still further Melkorka spake, “I have fitted you out from home as best I know how, and taught you to speak Irish, so that it will make no difference to you where you are brought to shore in Ireland.” After that they parted. There arose forthwith a fair wind, when Olaf got on board, and they sailed straightway out to sea.

Chapter 21 - Olaf the Peacock goes to Ireland, A.D. 955 Now Hoskuld came back from the Thing and heard these tidings, and was very much displeased. But seeing that his near akin were concerned in the matter, he quieted down and let things alone. Olaf and his companions had a good voyage, and came to Norway. Orn urges Olaf to go to the court of King Harald, who, he said, bestowed goodly honour on men of no better breeding than Olaf was. Olaf

said he thought he would take that counsel. Olaf and Orn now went to the court, and were well received. The king at once recognised Olaf for the sake of his kindred, and forthwith bade him stay with him. Gunnhild paid great heed to Olaf when sheknew he was Hrut’s brother’s son; but some men would have it, that she took pleasure in talking to Olaf without his needing other people’s aid to introduce him. As the winter wore on, Olaf grew sadder of mood. Orn asked him what was the matter of his sorrow? Olaf answered, “I have on hand a journey to go west over the sea; and I set much store by it and that you should lend me your help, so that it may be undertaken in the course of next summer.” Orn bade Olaf not set his heart on going, and said he did not know of any ships going west over the sea. Gunnhild joined in their talk, and said, “Now I hear you talk together in a manner that has not happened before, in that each of you wants to have his own way!” Olaf greeted Gunnhild well, without letting drop their talk. After that Orn went away, but Gunnhild and Olaf kept conversing together. Olaf told her of his wish, and how much store he set by carrying it out, saying he knew for certain that Myrkjartan, the king, was his mother’s father. Then Gunnhild said, “I will lend you help for this voyage, so that you may go on it as richly furnished as you please.” Olaf thanked her for her promise. Then Gunnhild had a ship prepared and a crew got together, and bade Olaf say how many men he would have to go west over the sea with him. Olaf fixed the number at sixty; but said that it was a matter of much concern to him, that such a company should be more like warriors than merchants. She said that so it should be; and Orn is the only man mentioned by name in company with Olaf on this journey. The company were well fitted out. King Harald and Gunnhild led Olaf to his ship, and they said they wished to bestow on him their good-luck over and above other friendship they had bestowed on him already. King Harald said that was an easy matter; for they must say that no goodlier a man had in their days come out of Iceland. Then Harald the king asked how old a man he was. Olaf answered, “I am now eighteen winters.” The king replied, “Of exceeding worth, indeed, are such men as you are, for as yet you have left the age of child but a short way behind; and be sure A Black Arrow resource

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to come and see us when you come back again.” Then the king and Gunnhild bade Olaf farewell. Then Olaf and his men got on board, and sailed out to sea. They came in for unfavourable weather through the summer, had fogs plentiful, and little wind, and what there was was unfavourable; and wide about the main they drifted, and on most on board fell “sea-bewilderment.” But at last the fog lifted over-head; and the wind rose, and they put up sail. Then they began to discuss in which direction Ireland was to be sought; and they did not agree on that. Orn said one thing, and most of the men went against him, and said that Orn was all bewildered: they should rule who were the greater in number. Then Olaf was asked to decide. He said, “I think we should follow the counsel of the wisest; for the counsels of foolish men I think will be of all the worseservice for us in the greater number they gather together.” And now they deemed the matter settled, since Olaf spake in this manner; and Orn took the steering from that time. They sailed for days and nights, but always with very little wind. One night the watchmen leapt up, and bade every one wake at once, and said they saw land so near that they had almost struck on it. The sail was up, but there was but little wind. Every one got up, and Orn bade them clear away from the land, if they could. Olaf said, “That is not the way out of our plight, for I see reefs all about astern; so let down the sail at once, and we will take our counsel when there is daylight, and we know what land this is.” Then they cast anchors, and they caught bottom at once. There was much talk during the night as to where they could be come to; and when daylight was up they recognised that it was Ireland. Orn said, “I don’t think we have come to a good place, for this is far away from the harbours or market-towns, whose strangers enjoy peace; and we are now left high and dry, like sticklebacks, and near enough, I think, I come to the laws of the Irish in saying that they will lay claim to the goods we have on board as their lawful prize, for as flotsam they put down ships even when sea has ebbed out shorter from the stern (than here).” Olaf said no harm would happen, “But I have seen that to-day there is a gathering of men up inland; so the Irish think, no doubt, the arrival of this ship a great thing.During the ebb-tide today I noticed that there was a dip, and The Sagas of the Icelanders

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that out of the dip the sea fell without emptying it out; and if our ship has not been damaged, we can put out our boat and tow the ship into it.” There was a bottom of loam where they had been riding at anchor, so that not a plank of the ship was damaged. So Olaf and his men tow their boat to the dip, cast anchor there. Now, as day drew on, crowds drifted down to the shore. At last two men rowed a boat out to the ship. They asked what men they were who had charge of that ship, and Olaf answered, speaking in Irish, to their inquiries. When the Irish knew they were Norwegians they pleaded their law, and bade them give up their goods; and if they did so, they would do them no harm till the king had sat in judgment on their case. Olaf said the law only held good when merchants had no interpreter with them. “But I can say with truth these are peaceful men, and we will not give ourselves up untried.” The Irish then raised a great war-cry, and waded out into the sea, and wished to drag the ship, with them on board, to the shore, the water being no deeper than reaching up to their armpits, or to the belts of the tallest. But the pool was so deep where the ship was floating that they could not touch the bottom. Olaf bade the crew fetch out their weapons, and range in line of battle from stem to stern on the ship; and so thick they stood, that shield overlapped shield all round the ship, and a spear-point stood out at the lower end of every shield.Olaf walked fore to the prow, and was thus arrayed: he had a coat of mail, and a goldreddened helmet on his head; girt with a sword with gold-inlaid hilt, and in his hand a barbed spear chased and well engraved. A red shield he had before him, on which was drawn a lion in gold. When the Irish saw this array fear shot through their hearts, and they thought it would not be so easy a matter as they had thought to master the booty. So now the Irish break their journey, and run all together to a village near. Then there arose great murmur in the crowd, as they deemed that, sure enough, this must be a warship, and that they must expect many others; so they sent speedily word to the king, which was easy, as he was at that time a short way off, feasting. Straightway he rides with a company of men to where the ship was. Between the land and the place where the ship lay afloat the space was no greater than that one might well hear men talking

together. Now Olaf stood forth in the same arrayal whereof is written before, and men marvelled much how noble was the appearance of the man who was the captain of the ship. But when the shipmates of Olaf see how a large company of knights rides towards them, looking a company of the bravest, they grow hushed, for they deemed here were great odds to deal with. But when Olaf heard the murmur which went round among his followers, he bade them take heart, “For now our affairs are in a fair way; the Irish are now greeting Myrkjartan, their king.” Then they rodeso near to the ship, that each could hear what the other said. The king asked who was the master of the ship. Olaf told his name, and asked who was the valiant-looking knight with whom he then was talking. He answered, “I am called Myrkjartan.” Olaf asked, “Are you then a king of the Irish?” He said he was. Then the king asked Olaf for news commonly talked of, and Olaf gave good answers as to all news he was asked about. Then the king asked whence they had put to sea, and whose men they were. And still the king asked, more searchingly than before, about Olaf’s kindred, for the king found that this man was of haughty bearing, and would not answer any further than the king asked. Olaf said, “Let it be known to you that we ran our ship afloat from the coast of Norway, and these are of the bodyguard of King Harald, the son of Gunnhild, who are here on board. And as for my race, I have, sire, to tell you this, that my father lives in Iceland, and is named Hoskuld, a man of high birth; but of my mother’s kindred, I think you must have seen many more than I have. For my mother is called Melkorka, and it has been told me as a truth that she is your daughter, king. Now, this has driven me upon this long journey, and to me it is a matter most weighty what answer you give in my case.” The king then grew silent, and had a converse with his men. The wise men asked the king what might be the real truth of the story that this man was telling. The king answered,”This is clearly seen in this Olaf, that he is high-born man, whether he be a kinsman of mine or not, as well as this, that of all men he speaks the best of Irish.” After that the king stood up, and said, “Now I will give answer to your speech, in so far as we grant to you and all your shipmates peace; but on the kinship you claim with us, we must talk more 15

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before I give answer to that.” After that they put out their gangways to the shore, and Olaf and his followers went on land from the ship; and the Irish now marvel much how warrior-like these men are. Olaf greeted the king well, taking off his helmet and bowing to the king, who welcomes Olaf with all fondness. Thereupon they fall to talking together, Olaf pleading his case again in a speech long and frank; and at the end of his speech he said he had a ring on his hand that Melkorka had given him at parting in Iceland, saying “that you, king, gave it her as a tooth gift.” The king took and looked at the ring, and his face grew wondrous red to look at; and then the king said, “True enough are the tokens, and become by no means less notable thereby that you have so many of your mother’s family features, and that even by them you might be easily recognised; and because of these things I will in sooth acknowledge your kinship, Olaf, by the witnessing of these men that here are near and hear my speech. And this shall also follow that I will ask you to my court, with all your suite, but the honour of you all will depend thereon of what worth as a man I find you to be when I try you more.” After that the king orders riding-horses to be given to them, and appoints men to look after their ship, and to guard the goods belonging to them. The King now rode to Dublin, and men thought this great tidings, that with the king should be journeying the son of his daughter, who had been carried off in war long ago when she was only fifteen winters old. But most startled of all at these tidings was the foster-mother of Melkorka, who was then bed-ridden, both from heavy sickness and old age; yet she walked with no staff even to support her, to meet Olaf. The king said to Olaf, “Here is come Melkorka’s foster-mother, and she will wish to hear all the tidings you can tell about Melkorka’s life.” Olaf took her with open arms, and set the old woman on his knee, and said her foster-daughter was well settled and in a good position in Iceland. Then Olaf put in her hands the knife and the belt, and the old woman recognised the gifts, and wept for joy, and said it was easy to see that Melkorka’s son was one of high mettle, and no wonder, seeing what stock he comes of. The old woman was strong and well, and in good spirits all that winter. The king was seldom at rest, for at that time the lands in the west were at all times raided by war-bands. 16

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The king drove from his land that winter both Vikings and raiders. Olaf was with his suite in the king’s ship, and those who came against them thought his was indeed a grim company to deal with. The king talked over with Olaf and his followers all matters needing counsel,for Olaf proved himself to the king both wise and eagerminded in all deeds of prowess. But towards the latter end of the winter the king summoned a Thing, and great numbers came. The king stood up and spoke. He began his speech thus: “You all know that last autumn there came hither a man who is the son of my daughter, and high-born also on his father’s side; and it seems to me that Olaf is a man of such prowess and courage that here such men are not to be found. Now I offer him my kingdom after my day is done, for Olaf is much more suitable for a ruler than my own sons.” Olaf thanked him for this offer with many graceful and fair words, and said he would not run the risk as to how his sons might behave when Myrkjartan was no more; said it was better to gain swift honour than lasting shame; and added that he wished to go to Norway when ships could safely journey from land to land, and that his mother would have little delight in life if he did not return to her. The king bade Olaf do as he thought best. Then the Thing was broken up. When Olaf’s ship was ready, the king saw him off on board; and gave him a spear chased with gold, and a gold-bedecked sword, and much money besides. Olaf begged that he might take Melkorka’s foster-mother with him; but the king said there was no necessity for that, so she did not go. Then Olaf got on board his ship, and he and the king parted with the greatest friendship. Then Olaf sailed out to sea. They had a good voyage, and made landin Norway; and Olaf’s journey became very famous. They set up their ship; and Olaf got horses for himself, and went, together with his followers, to find King Harald.

Chapter 22 - Olaf the Peacock comes Home to Iceland, A.D. 957 Olaf Hoskuldson then went to the court of King Harald. The king gave him a good welcome, but Gunnhild a much better. With many fair words they begged him to stay with them, and Olaf agreed to it, and both he and Orn entered the king’s

court. King Harald and Gunnhild set so great a store by Olaf that no foreigner had ever been held in such honour by them. Olaf gave to the king and Gunnhild many rare gifts, which he had got west in Ireland. King Harald gave Olaf at Yule a set of clothes made out of scarlet stuff. So now Olaf stayed there quietly all the winter. In the spring, as it was wearing on, Olaf and the king had a conversation together, and Olaf begged the king’s leave to go to Iceland in the summer, “For I have noble kinsfolk there I want to go and see.” The king answered, “It would be more to my mind that you should settle down with us, and take whatever position in our service you like best yourself.” Olafthanked the king for all the honour he was offering him, but said he wished very much to go to Iceland, if that was not against the king’s will. The king answered, “Nothing shall be done in this in an unfriendly manner to you, Olaf. You shall go out to Iceland in the summer, for I see you have set your heart on it; but neither trouble nor toil shall you have over your preparations, for I will see after all that,” and thereupon they part talking. King Harald had a ship launched in the spring; it was a merchant ship, both great and good. This ship the king ordered to be laden with wood, and fitted out with full rigging. When the ship was ready the king had Olaf called to him, and said, “This ship shall be your own, Olaf, for I should not like you to start from Norway this summer as a passenger in any one else’s ship.” Olaf thanked the king in fair words for his generosity. After that Olaf got ready for his journey; and when he was ready and a fair wind arose, Olaf sailed out to sea, and King Harald and he parted with the greatest affection. That summer Olaf had a good voyage. He brought his ship into Ramfirth, to Board-Ere. The arrival of the ship was soon heard of, and also who the captain was. Hoskuld heard of the arrival of Olaf, his son, and was very much pleased, and rode forthwith north to Hrutafjord with some men, and there was a joyful meeting between the father and son. Hoskuld invited Olaf to come to him, and Olaf said he would agree to that; so he set up his ship, but his goods were brought (on horseback)from the north. And when this business was over Olaf himself rode with twelve men home to Hoskuldstead, and Hoskuld greeted his son joyfully, and his A Black Arrow resource

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brothers also received him fondly, as well as all his kinsfolk; but between Olaf and Bard was love the fondest. Olaf became very renowned for this journey; and now was proclaimed the descent of Olaf, that he was the daughter’s son of Myrkjartan, king of Ireland. The news of this spread over the land, as well as of the honour that mighty men, whom he had gone to see, had bestowed on him. Melkorka came soon to see Olaf, her son, and Olaf greeted her with great joy. She asked about many things in Ireland, first of her father and then of her other relations. Olaf replied to everything she asked. Then she asked if her foster-mother still lived. Olaf said she was still alive. Melkorka asked why he had not tried to give her the pleasure of bringing her over to Iceland. Olaf replied, “They would not allow me to bring your foster-mother out of Ireland, mother.” “That may be so,” she replied, and it could be seen that this she took much to heart. Melkorka and Thorbjorn had one son, who was named Lambi. He was a tall man and strong, like his father in looks as well as in temper. When Olaf had been in Iceland a month, and spring came on, father and son took counsel together. “I will, Olaf,” said Hoskuld, “that a match should be sought for you, and that then you should take over the house of your foster-father at Goddistead, where still there aregreat means stored up, and that then you should look after the affairs of that household under my guidance.” Olaf answered, “Little have I set my mind on that sort of thing hitherto; besides, I do not know where that woman lives whom to marry would mean any great good luck to me. You must know I shall look high for a wife. But I see clearly that you would not have broached this matter till you had made up your mind as to where it was to end.” Hoskuld said, “You guess that right. There is a man named Egil. He is Skallagrim’s son. He lives at Borg, in Borgarfjord. This Egil has a daughter who is called Thorgerd, and she is the woman I have made up my mind to woo on your behalf, for she is the very best match in all Borgarfjord, and even if one went further afield. Moreover, it is to be looked for, that an alliance with the Mere-men would mean more power to you.” Olaf answered, “Herein I shall trust to your foresight, for if this match were to come off it would be altogether to my liking. But this you must bear in The Sagas of the Icelanders

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mind, father, that should this matter be set forth, and not come off, I should take it very ill.” Hoskuld answered, “I think I shall venture to bring the matter about.” Olaf bade him do as he liked. Now time wears on towards the Thing. Hoskuld prepares his journey from home with a crowded company, and Olaf, his son, also accompanies him on the journey. They set up their booth. A great many people were there. Egil Skallagrim’s son was at the Thing. Every one who saw Olaf remarkedwhat a handsome man he was, and how noble his bearing, well arrayed as he was as to weapons and clothes.

Chapter 23 - The Marriage of Olaf Peacock and Thorgerd, the Daughter of Egil, A.D. 959 It is told how one day the father and son, Hoskuld and Olaf, went forth from their booth to find Egil. Egil greeted them well, for he and Hoskuld knew each other very well by word of mouth. Hoskuld now broaches the wooing on behalf of Olaf, and asks for the hand of Thorgerd. She was also at the Thing. Egil took the matter well, and said he had always heard both father and son well spoken of, “and I also know, Hoskuld,” said Egil, “that you are a high-born man and of great worth, and Olaf is much renowned on account of his journey, and it is no wonder that such men should look high for a match, for he lacks neither family nor good looks; but yet this must be talked over with Thorgerd, for it is no man’s task to get Thorgerd for wife against her will.” Hoskuld said, “I wish, Egil, that you would talk this over with your daughter.” Egil said that that should be done. Egil now went away to find his daughter, and they talked together. Egil said, “There is here a mannamed Olaf, who is Hoskuld’s son, and he is now one of the most renowned of men. Hoskuld, his father, has broached a wooing on behalf of Olaf, and has sued for your hand; and I have left that matter mostly for you to deal with. Now I want to know your answer. But it seems to me that it behoves you to give a good answer to such a matter, for this match is a noble one.” Thorgerd answered, “I have often heard you say that you love me best of all your children, but now it seems to me you make that a falsehood if you wish me to marry the son of a bonds-woman, however goodly and great a dandy he may be.” Egil said, “In

this matter you are not so well up, as in others. Have you not heard that he is the son of the daughter of Myrkjartan, king of Ireland? so that he is much higher born on his mother’s side than on his father’s, which, however, would be quite good enough for us.” Thorgerd would not see this; and so they dropped the talk, each being somewhat of a different mind. The next day Egil went to Hoskuld’s booth. Hoskuld gave him a good welcome, and so they fell a-talking together. Hoskuld asked how this wooing matter had sped. Egil held out but little hope, and told him all that had come to pass. Hoskuld said it looked like a closed matter, “Yet I think you have behaved well.” Olaf did not hear this talk of theirs. After that Egil went away. Olaf now asks, “How speeds the wooing?” Hoskuld said, “It pointed to slow speed on her side.” Olaf said, “It is now as I told you,father, that I should take it very ill if in answer (to the wooing) I should have to take shaming words, seeing that the broaching of the wooing gives undue right to the wooed. And now I shall have my way so far, that this shall not drop here. For true is the saw, that ‘others’ errands eat the wolves’; and now I shall go straightway to Egil’s booth.” Hoskuld bade him have his own way. Olaf now dressed himself in this way, that he had on the scarlet clothes King Harald had given him, and a golden helmet on his head, and the gold-adorned sword in his hand that King Myrkjartan had given him. Then Hoskuld and Olaf went to Egil’s booth. Hoskuld went first, and Olaf followed close on his heels. Egil greeted him well, and Hoskuld sat down by him, but Olaf stood up and looked about him. He saw a woman sitting on the dais in the booth, she was goodly and had the looks of one of high degree, and very well dressed. He thought to himself this must be Thorgerd, Egil’s daughter. Olaf went up to the dais and sat down by her. Thorgerd greeted the man, and asked who he was. Olaf told his own and his father’s name, and “You must think it very bold that the son of a slave should dare to sit down by you and presume to talk to you!” She said, “You cannot but mean that you must be thinking you have done deeds of greater daring than that of talking to women.” Then they began to talk together, and they talked all day. But nobody heard their conversation. And before they parted Egil and Hoskuld were called to them; and the 17

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matter of Olaf’s wooing was now talked over again, and Thorgerd came round to her father’s wish. Now the affair was all easily settled and the betrothal took place. The honour was conceded to the Salmonriver-Dale men that the bride should be brought home to them, for by law the bride-groom should have gone to the bride’s home to be married. The wedding was to take place at Hoskuldstead when seven weeks summer had passed. After that Egil and Hoskuld separated. The father and son rode home to Hoskuldstead, and all was quiet the rest of the summer. After that things were got ready for the wedding at Hoskuldstead, and nothing was spared, for means were plentiful. The guests came at the time settled, and the Burgfirthmen mustered in a great company. Egil was there, and Thorstein, his son. The bride was in the journey too, and with her a chosen company out of all the countryside. Hoskuld had also a great company awaiting them. The feast was a brave one, and the guests were seen off with good gifts on leaving. Olaf gave to Egil the sword, Myrkjartan’s gift, and Egil’s brow brightened greatly at the gift. Nothing in the way of tidings befell, and every one went home.

Chapter 24 - The Building of Herdholt, A. D. 960 Olaf and Thorgerd lived at Hoskuldstead and loved each other very dearly; it was easily seen by every one that she was a woman of very high mettle, though she meddled little with every-day things, but whatever Thorgerd put her hand to must be carried through as she wished. Olaf and Thorgerd spent that winter turn and turn about at Hoskuldstead, or with Olaf’s foster-father. In the spring Olaf took over the household business at Goddistead. The following summer Thord fell ill, and the illness ended in his death. Olaf had a cairn raised over him on the ness that runs out into the Salmonriver and is called Drafn-ness, with a wall round which is called Howes-garth. After that liegemen crowded to Olaf and he became a great chieftain. Hoskuld was not envious of this, for he always wished that Olaf should be consulted in all great matters. The place Olaf owned was the stateliest in Salmon-river-Dale. There were two brothers with Olaf, both 18

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named An. One was called An the White and the other An the Black. They had a third brother who was named Beiner the Strong. These were Olaf’s smiths, and very valiant men. Thorgerd and Olaf had a daughter who was named Thurid. The land that Hrapp had owned all lay waste, as has been told before. Olaf thought that it laywell and set before his father his wishes on the matter; how they should send down to Trefill with this errand, that Olaf wished to buy the land and other things thereto belonging at Hrappstead. It was soon arranged and the bargain settled, for Trefill saw that better was one crow in the hand than two in the wood. The bargain arranged was that Olaf should give three marks of silver for the land; yet that was not fair price, for the lands were wide and fair and very rich in useful produce, such as good salmon fishing and seal catching. There were wide woods too, a little further up than Hoskuldstead, north of the Salmon-river, in which was a space cleared, and it was well-nigh a matter of certainty that the flocks of Olaf would gather together there whether the weather was hard or mild. One autumn it befell that on that same hill Olaf had built a dwelling of the timber that was cut out of the forest, though some he got together from drift-wood strands. This was a very lofty dwelling. The buildings stood empty through the winter. The next spring Olaf went thither and first gathered together all his flocks which had grown to be a great multitude; for, indeed, no man was richer in live stock in all Broadfirth. Olaf now sent word to his father that he should be standing out of doors and have a look at his train as he was moving to his new home, and should give him his good wishes. Hoskuld said so it should be. Olaf now arranged how it should be done. He ordered that all the shiest of his cattle should be driven first and then the milking live stock, then came the dry cattle, and the pack horses came in the last place; and men were ranged with the animals to keep them from straying out of straight line. When the van of the train had got to the new homestead, Olaf was just riding out of Goddistead and there was nowhere a gap breaking the line. Hoskuld stood outside his door together with those of his household. Then Hoskuld spake, bidding Olaf his son welcome and abide all honour to this new dwelling of his, “And somehow my mind

forebodes me that this will follow, that for a long time his name will be remembered.” Jorunn his wife said, “Wealth enough the slave’s son has got for his name to be long remembered.” At the moment that the house-carles had unloaded the pack horses Olaf rode into the place. Then he said, “Now you shall have your curiosity satisfied with regard to what you have been talking about all the winter, as to what this place shall be called; it shall be called Herdholt.” Every one thought this a very happy name, in view of what used to happen there. Olaf now sets up his household at Herdholt, and a stately one it soon became, and nothing was lacking there. And now the honour of Olaf greatly increased, there being many causes to bring it about: Olaf was the most beloved of men, for whatever he had to do with affairs of men, he did so that all were well contented with their lot. His father backed him up very much towards being a widely honoured man, and Olaf gained much in power from his alliance with the Mere-men. Olaf was considered the noblest of all Hoskuld’s sons. The first winter that Olaf kept house at Herdholt, he had many servants and workmen, and work was divided amongst the housecarles; one looked after the dry cattle and another after the cows. The fold was out in the wood, some way from the homestead. One evening the man who looked after the dry cattle came to Olaf and asked him to make some other man look after the neat and “set apart for me some other work.” Olaf answered, “I wish you to go on with this same work of yours.” The man said he would sooner go away. “Then you think there is something wrong,” said Olaf. “I will go this evening with you when you do up the cattle, and if I think there is any excuse for you in this I will say nothing about it, but otherwise you will find that your lot will take some turn for the worse.” Olaf took his gold-set spear, the king’s gift, in his hand, and left home, and with him the house-carle. There was some snow on the ground. They came to the fold, which was open, and Olaf bade the house-carle go in. “I will drive up the cattle and you tie them up as they come in.” The house-carle went to the fold-door. And all unawares Olaf finds him leaping into his open arms. Olaf asked why he went on so terrified? He replied, “Hrapp stands in the doorway of the fold, and felt after me, but I have had A Black Arrow resource

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my fill of wrestling with him.” Olaf went to the folddoor and struck at him with his spear. Hrapp took the socket of the spear in both hands and wrenched it aside, so that forthwith the spear shaft broke. Olaf was about to run at Hrapp but he disappeared there where he stood, and there they parted, Olaf having the shaft and Hrapp the spear-head. After that Olaf and the house-carle tied up the cattle and went home. Olaf saw the house-carle was not to blame for his grumbling. The next morning Olaf went to where Hrapp was buried and had him dug up. Hrapp was found undecayed, and there Olaf also found his spear-head. After that he had a pyre made and had Hrapp burnt on it, and his ashes were flung out to sea. After that no one had any more trouble with Hrapp’s ghost.

Chapter 25 - About Hoskuld’s Sons Now Hoskuld’s sons shall be told about. Thorliek, Hoskuld’s son, had been a great seafarer, and taken service with men in lordly station when he was on his merchant voyages before he settled down as a householder, and a man of mark he was thought to be. He had also been on Viking raids, and given good account of himself by reason of his courage. Bard, Hoskuld’s son, had also been a seafarer, and waswell accounted of wherever he went, for he was the best of brave men and true, and a man of moderation in all things. Bard married a Broadfirth woman, named Astrid, who came of a good stock. Bard’s son was named Thorarin, and his daughter Gudney, who married Hall, the son of Fight Styr, and from them are descended many great families. Hrut, Herjolf’s son, gave a thrall of his, named Hrolf, his freedom, and with it a certain amount of money, and a dwelling-place where his land joined with Hoskuld’s. And it lay so near the landmark that Hrut’s people had made a mistake in the matter, and settled the freedman down on the land belonging to Hoskuld. He soon gained there much wealth. Hoskuld took it very much to heart that Hrut should have placed his freedman right up against his ear, and bade the freedman pay him money for the lands he lived on “for it is mine own.” The freedman went to Hrut and told him all they had spoken together. Hrut bade him give no heed, The Sagas of the Icelanders

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and pay no money to Hoskuld. “For I do not know,” he said, “to which of us the land belonged.” So the freedman went home, and goes on with his household just as before. A little later, Thorliek, Hoskuld’s son, went at the advice of his father to the dwelling of the freedman and took him and killed him, and Thorliek claimed as his and his father’s own all the money the freedman had made. Hrut heard this, and he and his sons liked it very ill. They were most of them grown up, and the band of kinsmen was deemeda most forbidding one to grapple with. Hrut fell back on the law as to how this ought to turn out, and when the matter was searched into by lawyers, Hrut and his son stood at but little advantage, for it was held a matter of great weight that Hrut had set the freedman down without leave on Hoskuld’s land, where he had made money, Thorliek having slain the man within his and his father’s own lands. Hrut took his lot very much to heart; but things remained quiet. After that Thorliek had a homestead built on the boundary of Hrut and Hoskuld’s lands, and it was called Combness. There Thorliek lived for a while, as has been told before. Thorliek begat a son of his wife. The boy was sprinkled with water and called Bolli. He was at an early age a very promising man.

Chapter 26 - The Death of Hoskuld, A.D. 985 Hoskuld, Koll o’ Dales’ son, fell ill in his old age, and he sent for his sons and other kinsfolk, and when they were come Hoskuld spoke to the brothers Bard and Thorliek, and said, “I have taken some sickness, and as I have not been much in the way of falling ill before, I think this may bring me to death; and now, as you know, you are both begotten inwedlock, and are entitled to all inheritance left by me. But there is a third son of mine, one who is not born in wedlock, and I will ask you brothers to allow him, Olaf to wit, to be adopted, so that he take of my means one-third with you.” Bard answered first, and said that he would do as his father wished, “for I look for honour from Olaf in every way, the more so the wealthier he becomes.” Then Thorliek said, “It is far from my wish that Olaf be adopted; he has plenty of money already; and you, father, have for a long time given him a great deal, and for a very long time dealt

unevenly with us. I will not freely give up the honour to which I am born.” Hoskuld said, “Surely you will not rob me of the law that allows me to give twelve ounces to my son, seeing how high-born Olaf is on his mother’s side.” To this Thorliek now agreed. Then Hoskuld took the gold ring, Hakon’s gift, that weighed a mark, and the sword, King’s gift whereon was half a mark of gold, and gave them to Olaf, his son, and therewith his good luck and that of the family, saying he did not speak in this way because he did not know well enough that the luck had already come to him. Olaf took his gifts, and said he would risk how Thorliek would like it. Thorliek liked it very ill, and thought that Hoskuld had behaved in a very underhand way to him. Olaf said, “I shall not give up the gifts, Thorliek, for you agreed to the gift in the face of witnesses; and I shall run the risk to keep it.” Bard said he would obey his father’s wishes. After that Hoskuld died, and his death was very much grieved for, in the first place by his sons, and next by all his relations and friends. His sons had a worthy cairn made for him; but little money was put into it with him. And when this was over, the brothers began to talk over the matter of preparing an “arvale” (burial feast) after their father, for at that time such was the custom. Olaf said, “It seems to me that we should not be in a hurry about preparing this feast, if it is to be as noble as we should think right; now the autumn is very far worn, and the ingathering of means for it is no longer easy; most people who have to come a long way would find that a hard matter in the autumn days; so that it is certain that many would not come of the men we most should like to see. So I will now make the offer, next summer at the Thing, to bid men to the feast, and I will bear one-third of the cost of the wassail.” The brothers agreed to that, and Olaf now went home. Thorliek and Bard now share the goods between them. Bard had the estate and lands, which was what most men held to, as he was the most popular; but Thorliek got for his share more of the chattels. Olaf and Bard got on well together, but Olaf and Thorliek rather snappishly. Now the next winter passed, and summer comes, and time wears on towards the Thing. The sons of Hoskuld got ready to go to the Thing. It was soon seen clearly enough how Olaf took the 19

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lead of the brothers. When they got to the Thing theyset up three booths, and make themselves comfortable in a handsome manner.

Chapter 27 - The Funeral Feast for Hoskuld It is told how one day when people went to the law rock Olaf stood up and asked for a hearing, and told them first of the death of his father, “and there are now here many men, kinsmen and friends of his. It is the will of my brothers that I ask you to a funeral feast in memory of Hoskuld our father. All you chieftains, for most of the mightier men are such, as were bound by alliances to him, I let it be known that no one of the greater men shall go away giftless. And herewith I bid all the farmers and any who will accept - rich or poor - to a half month’s feast at Hoskuldstead ten weeks before the winter.” And when Olaf finished his speech good cheer was made thereto, and his bidding was looked upon as a right lordly one. And when Olaf came home to the booth he told his brothers what he had settled to do. The brothers were not much pleased, and thought that this was going in for far too much state. After the Thing the brothers rode home and the summer now wears on. Then the brothers got ready for the feast, and Olaf put forward unstintedly his third part, and the feast wasfurnished with the best of provisions. Great stores were laid in for this feast, for it was expected many folk would come. And when the time came it is said that most of the chief men came that were asked. There were so many that most men say that there could not be far short of nine hundred (1080). This is the most crowded burial feast that has been in Iceland, second to that which the sons of Hialti gave at the funeral of their father, at which time there were 1440 guests. But this feast was of the bravest in every way, and the brothers got great honour therefrom, Olaf being at the head of the affair throughout. Olaf took even share with his brothers in the gifts; and gifts were bestowed on all the chiefs. When most of the men had gone away Olaf went to have a talk with Thorliek his brother, and said, “So it is, kinsman, as you know, that no love has been lost between us; now I would beg for a better understanding in our brotherhood. I 20

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know you did not like when I took the heirlooms my father gave me on his dying day. Now if you think yourself wronged in this, I will do as much for gaining back your whole good-will as to give fostering to your son. For it is said that ever he is the lesser man who fosters another’s child.” Thorliek took this in good part, and said, as was true, that this was honourably offered. And now Olaf took home Bolli, the son of Thorliek, who at this time was three winters old. They parted now with the utmost affection, and Bolli went home to Herdholt withOlaf. Thorgerd received him well, and Bolli grew up there and was loved no less than their own children.

Chapter 28 - The Birth of Kjartan, Olaf’s Son, A.D. 978 Olaf and Thorgerd had a son, and the boy was sprinkled with water and a name was given him, Olaf letting him be called Kjartan after Myrkjartan his mother’s father. Bolli and Kjartan were much of an age. Olaf and Thorgerd had still more children; three sons were called Steinthor and Halldor and Helgi, and Hoskuld was the name of the youngest of Olaf’s sons. The daughters of Olaf and his wife were named Bergthora, Thorgerd, and Thorbjorg. All their children were of goodly promise as they grew up. At that time Holmgang Bersi lived in Saurby at an abode called Tongue. He comes to see Olaf and asked for Halldor his son to foster. Olaf agreed to this and Halldor went home with him, being then one winter old. That summer Bersi fell ill, and lay in bed for a great part of the summer. It is told how one day, when all the men were out haymaking at Tongue and only they two, Bersi and Halldor, were left in the house, Halldor lay in his cradle and the cradle fell over under the boyand he fell out of it on to the floor, and Bersi could not get to him. Then Bersi said this ditty: Here we both lie In helpless plight, Halldor and I, Have no power left us; Old age afflicts me, Youth afflicts you, You will get better But I shall get worse. Later on people came in and picked Halldor up off the floor, and Bersi got better. Halldor was brought up there, and was a tall man and doughty looking. Kjartan, Olaf’s son, grew up at home at

Herdholt. He was of all men the goodliest of those who have been born in Iceland. He was striking of countenance and fair of feature, he had the finest eyes of any man, and was light of hue. He had a great deal of hair as fair as silk, falling in curls; he was a big man, and strong, taking after his mother’s father Egil, or his uncle Thorolf. Kjartan was better proportioned than any man, so that all wondered who saw him. He was better skilled at arms than most men; he was a deft craftsman, and the best swimmer of all men. In all deeds of strength he was far before others, more gentle than any other man, and so engaging that every child loved him; he was light of heart, and free with his money. Olaf loved Kjartan best of all his children. Bolli, his foster-brother, was a great man, he came next to Kjartan in all deeds of strength and prowess; he was strong, and fair of face and courteous, and most warrior-like, and a great dandy. The foster-brothers were very fond of each other. Olaf now remained quietly in his home, and for a good many years.

Chapter 29 - Olaf’s Second Journey to Norway, A.D. 975 It is told how one spring Olaf broke the news to Thorgerd that he wished to go out voyaging “And I wish you to look after our household and children.” Thorgerd said she did not much care about doing that; but Olaf said he would have his way. He bought a ship that stood up in the West, at Vadill. Olaf started during the summer, and brought his ship to Hordaland. There, a short way inland, lived a man whose name was Giermund Roar, a mighty man and wealthy, and a great Viking; he was an evil man to deal with, but had now settled down in quiet at home, and was of the bodyguard of Earl Hakon. The mighty Giermund went down to his ship and soon recognised Olaf, for he had heard him spoken of before. Giermund bade Olaf come and stay with him, with as many of his men as he liked to bring. Olaf accepted his invitation, and went there with seven men. The crew of Olaf went into lodgings about Hordaland. Giermund entertained Olaf well. His house was a lofty one, and there were many men there, and plenty of amusement all the winter. And towards the end of the winter Olaf told Giermund the reason A Black Arrow resource

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of his voyage, which was that he wished to get for himself some house-timber, and said he set great store by obtaining timber of a choice kind. Giermund said, “Earl Hakon has the best of woods, and I know quite well if you went to see him you would be made welcome to them, for the Earl receives well, men who are not half so well-bred as you, Olaf, when they go to see him.” In the spring Olaf got ready to go and find Hakon Earl; and the Earl gave him exceeding good welcome, and bade Olaf stay with him as long as he liked. Olaf told the Earl the reason of his journey, “And I beg this of you, sir, that you give us permission to cut wood for house-building from your forests.” The Earl answered, “You are welcome to load your ship with timber, and I will give it you. For I think it no every-day occurrence when such men as you come from Iceland to visit me.” At parting the Earl gave him a gold-inlaid axe, and the best of keepsakes it was; and therewith they parted in the greatest friendship. Giermund in the meantime set stewards over his estates secretly, and made up his mind to go to Iceland in the summer in Olaf’s ship. He kept this secret from every one. Olaf knewnothing about it till Giermund brought his money to Olaf’s ship, and very great wealth it was. Olaf said, “You should not have gone in my ship if I had known of this before-hand, for I think there are those in Iceland for whom it would be better never to have seen you. But since you have come with so much goods, I cannot drive you out like a straying cur.” Giermund said, “I shall not return for all your high words, for I mean to be your passenger.” Olaf and his got on board, and put out to sea. They had a good voyage and made Broadfirth, and they put out their gangways and landed at Salmon-river-Mouth. Olaf had the wood taken out of his ship, and the ship put up in the shed his father had made. Olaf then asked Giermund to come and stay with him. That summer Olaf had a fire-hall built at Herdholt, a greater and better than had ever been seen before. Noble legends were painted on its wainscoting and in the roof, and this was so well done that the hall was thought even more beautiful when the hangings were not up. Giermund did not meddle with every-day matters, but was uncouth to most people. He was usually dressed in this way - he wore a scarlet The Sagas of the Icelanders

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kirtle below and a grey cloak outside, and a bearskin cap on his head, and a sword in his hand. This was a great weapon and good, with a hilt of walrus tooth, with no silver on it; the brand was sharp, and no rust would stay thereon. This sword he called Footbiter, and he never let it out of hishands. Giermund had not been there long before he fell in love with Thured, Olaf’s daughter, and proposed to Olaf for her hand; but he gave him a straight refusal. Then Giermund gave some money to Thorgerd with a view to gaining the match. She took the money, for it was offered unstintedly. Then Thorgerd broached the matter to Olaf, and said she thought their daughter could not be better married, “for he is a very brave man, wealthy and high-mettled.” Then Olaf answered, “I will not go against you in this any more than in other things, though I would sooner marry Thured to some one else.” Thorgerd went away and thought her business had sped well, and now told Giermund the upshot of it. He thanked her for her help and her determination, and Giermund broached the wooing a second time to Olaf, and now won the day easily. After that Giermund and Thured were betrothed, and the wedding was to be held at the end of the winter at Herdholt. The wedding feast was a very crowded one, for the new hall was finished. Ulf Uggason was of the bidden guests, and he had made a poem on Olaf Hoskuldson and of the legends that were painted round the hall, and he gave it forth at the feast. This poem is called the “House Song,” and is well made. Olaf rewarded him well for the poem. Olaf gave great gifts to all the chief men who came. Olaf was considered to have gained in renown by this feast.

Chapter 30 - About Giermund and Thured, A.D. 978 Giermund and Thured did not get on very well together, and little love was lost between them on either side. When Giermund had stayed with Olaf three winters he wished to go away, and gave out that Thured and his daughter Groa should remain behind. This little maid was by then a year old, and Giermund would not leave behind any money for them. This the mother and daughter liked very ill, and told Olaf so. Olaf said, “What is the matter now, Thorgerd? is the Eastman

now not so bounteous as he was that autumn when he asked for the alliance?” They could get Olaf to do nothing, for he was an easygoing man, and said the girl should remain until she wished to go, or knew how in some way to shift for herself. At parting Olaf gave Giermund the merchant ship all fitted out. Giermund thanked him well therefor, and said it was a noble gift. Then he got on board his ship, and sailed out of the Salmon-riverMouth by a north-east breeze, which dropped as they came out to the islands. He now lies by Oxe-isle half a month without a fair wind rising for a start. At that time Olaf had to leave home to look after his foreshore drifts. Then Thured, his daughter, called to his house-carles, and bade them come with her. She had the maid Groa with her, and they were a party of ten together. She lets run out into the water a ferry-boat that belonged to Olaf, and Thured bade them sail and row down along Hvamfirth, and when they came out to the islands she bade them put out the cock-boat that was in the ferry. Thured got into the boat with two men, and bade the others take care of the ship she left behind until she returned. She took the little maid in her arms, and bade the men row across the current until they should reach the ship (of Giermund). She took a gimlet out of the boat’s locker, and gave it to one of her companions, and bade him go to the cockle-boat belonging to the merchant ship and bore a hole in it so as to disable it if they needed it in a hurry. Then she had herself put ashore with the little maid still in her arms. This was at the hour of sunrise. She went across the gangway into the ship, where all men were asleep. She went to the hammock where Giermund slept. His sword Footbiter hung on a peg pole. Thured now sets the little maid in the hammock, and snatched off Footbiter and took it with her. Then she left the ship and rejoined her companions. Now the little maid began to cry, and with that Giermund woke up and recognised the child, and thought he knew who must be at the bottom of this. He springs up wanting to seize his sword, and misses it, as was to be expected, and then went to the gunwale, and saw that they were rowing away from the ship. Giermund called to his men, and bade them leap into the cockle-boatand row after them. They did so, but when they got a little way they found how the coal21

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blue sea poured into them, so they went back to the ship. Then Giermund called Thured and bade her come back and give him his sword Footbiter, “and take your little maid, and with her as much money as you like.” Thured answered, “Would you rather than not have the sword back?” Giermund answered, “I would give a great deal of money before I should care to let my sword go.” Thured answered, “Then you shall never have it again, for you have in many ways behaved cowardly towards me, and here we shall part for good.” Then Giermund said, “Little luck will you get with the sword.” Thured said she would take the risk of that. “Then I lay thereon this spell,” said Giermund, “That this sword shall do to death the man in your family in who would be the greatest loss, and in a manner most ill-fated.” After that Thured went home to Herdholt. Olaf had then come home, and showed his displeasure at her deed, yet all was quiet. Thured gave Bolli, her cousin, the sword Footbiter, for she loved him in no way less than her brothers. Bolli bore that sword for a long time after. After this Giermund got a favourable wind, and sailed out to sea, and came to Norway in the autumn. They sailed one night on to some hidden rocks before Stade, and then Giermund and all his crew perished. And that is the end of all there is to tell about Giermund.

Chapter 31 - Thured’s Second Marriage, A.D. 980 Olaf Hoskuldson now stayed at home in much honour, as has been told before. There was a man named Gudmund, who was the son of Solmund, and lived at Asbjornness north in Willowdale. He wooed Thured, and got her and a great deal of wealth with her. Thured was a wise woman, high-tempered and most stirring. Their sons were called Hall and Bard and Stein and Steingrim. Gudrun and Olof were their daughters. Thorbjorg, Olaf’s daughter, was of women the most beautiful and stout of build. She was called Thorbjorg the Stout, and was married west in Waterfirth to Asgier, the son of Knott. He was a noble man. Their son was Kjartan, father of Thorvald, the father of Thord, the father of Snorri, the father of Thorvald, from whom is sprung the Waterfirth race. Afterwards, Vermund, the son of Thorgrim, had Thorbjorg for 22

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wife. Their daughter was Thorfinna, whom Thorstein Kuggason had for wife. Bergthora, Olaf’s daughter, was married west in Deepfirth to Thorhall the Priest. Their son was Kjartan, father of SmithSturla, the foster son of Thord Gilson. Olaf Peacock had many costly cattle. He had one very good ox named Harri; it was dapple-grey of coat, and bigger than any other of his cattle. It had four horns,two great and fair ones, the third stood straight up, and a fourth stood out of its forehead, stretching down below its eyes. It was with this that he opened the ice in winter to get water. He scraped snow away to get at pasture like a horse. One very hard winter he went from Herdholt into the Broadfirth-Dales to a place that is now called Harristead. There he roamed through the winter with sixteen other cattle, and got grazing for them all. In the spring he returned to the home pastures, to the place now called Harris’-Lair in Herdholt land. When Harri was eighteen winters old his ice-breaking horn fell off, and that same autumn Olaf had him killed. The next night Olaf dreamed that a woman came to him, and she was great and wrathful to look at. She spoke and said, “Are you asleep?” He said he was awake. The woman said, “You are asleep, though it comes to the same thing as if you were awake. You have had my son slain, and let him come to my hand in a shapeless plight, and for this deed you shall see your son, blood-stained all over through my doing, and him I shall choose thereto whom I know you would like to lose least of all.” After that she disappeared, and Olaf woke up and still thought he saw the features of the woman. Olaf took the dream very much to heart, and told it to his friends, but no one could read it to his liking. He thought those spoke best about this matter who said that what had appeared to him was only a dream or fancy.

Chapter 32 - Of Osvif Helgeson Osvif was the name of a man. He was the son of Helgi, who was the son of Ottar, the son of Bjorn the Eastman, who was the son of Ketill Flatnose, the son of Bjorn Buna. The mother of Osvif was named Nidbiorg. Her mother was Kadlin, the daughter of Ganging-Hrolf, the son of Ox-Thorir, who was a most renowned “Hersir” (war-lord) east in Wick. Why he was so called, was that

he owned three islands with eighty oxen on each. He gave one island and its oxen to Hakon the King, and his gift was much talked about. Osvif was a great sage. He lived at Laugar in Salingsdale. The homestead of Laugar stands on the northern side of Salingsdale-river, over against Tongue. The name of his wife was Thordis, daughter of Thjodolf the Low. Ospak was the name of one of their sons. Another was named Helgi, and a third Vandrad, and a fourth Jorrad, and a fifth Thorolf. They were all doughty men for fighting. Gudrun was the name of their daughter. She was the goodliest of women who grew up in Iceland, both as to looks and wits. Gudrun was such a woman of state that at that time whatever other women wore in the way of finery of dress was looked upon as children’s gewgaws beside hers. She was the most cunning and the fairest spoken of all women, and an open-handedwoman withal. There was a woman living with Osvif who was named Thorhalla, and was called the Chatterer. She was some sort of relation to Osvif. She had two sons, one named Odd and the other Stein. They were muscular men, and in a great measure the hardest toilers for Osvif’s household. They were talkative like their mother, but ill liked by people; yet were upheld greatly by the sons of Osvif. At Tongue there lived a man named Thorarin, son of Thorir Sæling (the Voluptuous). He was a well-off yeoman, a big man and strong. He had very good land, but less of live stock. Osvif wished to buy some of his land from him, for he had lack of land but a multitude of live stock. So this then came about that Osvif bought of the land of Thorarin all the tract from Gnupaskard along both sides of the valley to Stack-gill, and very good and fattening land it was. He had on it an out-dairy. Osvif had at all times a great many servants, and his way of living was most noble. West in Saurby is a place called Hol, there lived three kinsmen-in-law - Thorkell the Whelp and Knut, who were brothers, they were very well-born men, and their brother-in-law, who shared their household with them, who was named Thord. He was, after his mother, called Ingun’s-son. The father of Thord was Glum Gierison. Thord was a handsome and valiant man, well knit, and a great man of law-suits. Thord had for wife the sister of Thorkell and Knut, who was called Aud, neither a goodly A Black Arrow resource

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nor a bucksome woman. Thord loved her little, ashe had chiefly married her for her money, for there a great wealth was stored together, and the household flourished from the time that Thord came to have hand in it with them.

Chapter 33 - Of Gest Oddleifson and Gudrun’s Dreams Gest Oddleifson lived west at Bardastrand, at Hagi. He was a great chieftain and a sage; was fore-seeing in many things and in good friendship with all the great men, and many came to him for counsel. He rode every summer to the Thing, and always would put up at Hol. One time it so happened once more that Gest rode to the Thing and was a guest at Hol. He got ready to leave early in the morning, for the journey was a long one and he meant to get to Thickshaw in the evening to Armod, his brother-in-law’s, who had for wife Thorunn, a sister of Gest’s. Their sons were Ornolf and Haldor. Gest rode all that day from Saurby and came to the Sælingsdale spring, and tarried there for a while. Gudrun came to the spring and greeted her relative, Gest, warmly. Gest gave her a good welcome, and they began to talk together, both being wise and of ready speech. And as the day was wearing on, Gudrun said, “I wish, cousin, you would ride home with us with all your followers, for itis the wish of my father, though he gave me the honour of bearing the message, and told me to say that he would wish you to come and stay with us every time you rode to or from the west.” Gest received the message well, and thought it a very manly offer, but said he must ride on now as he had purposed. Gudrun said, “I have dreamt many dreams this winter; but four of the dreams do trouble my mind much, and no man has been able to explain them as I like, and yet I ask not for any favourable interpretation of them.” Gest said, “Tell me your dreams, it may be that I can make something of them.” Gudrun said, “I thought I stood out of doors by a certain brook, and I had a crooked coif on my head, and I thought it misfitted me, and I wished to alter the coif, and many people told me I should not do so, but I did not listen to them, and I tore the hood from my head, and cast it into the brook, and that was the end of that dream.” Then Gudrun said again, “This is the next dream. I thought I stood near some water, The Sagas of the Icelanders

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and I thought there was a silver ring on my arm. I thought it was my own, and that it fitted me exceeding well. I thought it was a most precious thing, and long I wished to keep it. But when I was least aware of it, the ring slipped off my arm and into the water, and nothing more did I see of it afterwards. I felt this loss much more than it was likely I should ever feel the loss of a mere keepsake. Then I awoke.” Gest answered this alone: “No lesser a dream is that one.”Gudrun still spoke: “This is the third dream, I thought I had a gold ring on my hand, which I thought belonged to me, and I thought my loss was now made good again. And the thought entered my mind that I would keep this ring longer than the first; but it did not seem to me that this keepsake suited me better than the former at anything like the rate that gold is more precious than silver. Then I thought I fell, and tried to steady myself with my hand, but then the gold ring struck on a certain stone and broke in two, and the two pieces bled. What I had to bear after this felt more like grief than regret for a loss. And it struck me now that there must have been some flaw in the ring, and when I looked at the pieces I thought I saw sundry more flaws in them; yet I had a feeling that if I had taken better care of it, it might still have been whole; and this dream was no longer.” Gest said, “The dreams are not waning.” Then said Gudrun, “This is my fourth dream. I thought I had a helm of gold upon my head, set with many precious stones. And I thought this precious thing belonged to me, but what I chiefly found fault with was that it was rather too heavy, and I could scarcely bear it, so that I carried my head on one side; yet I did not blame the helm for this, nor had I any mind to part with it. Yet the helm tumbled from my head out into Hvammfirth, and after that I awoke. Now I have told you all my dreams.” Gest answered, “I clearly see what these dreams betoken; but you will find my unravelling savouring much of sameness, for I must read them all nearly in the same way. You will have four husbands, and it misdoubts me when you are married to the first it will be no love match. Inasmuch as you thought you had a great coif on your head and thought it ill-fitting, that shows you will love him but little. And whereas you took it off your head and cast it into the water, that shows that you will leave him. For that, men say, is ‘cast on to the sea,’ when a man loses what is his

own, and gets nothing in return for it.” And still Gest spake: “Your second dream was that you thought you had a silver ring on your arm, and that shows you will marry a nobleman whom you will love much, but enjoy him for but a short time, and I should not wonder if you lose him by drowning. That is all I have to tell of that dream. And in the third dream you thought you had a gold ring on your hand; that shows you will have a third husband; he will not excel the former at the rate that you deemed this metal more rare and precious than silver; but my mind forebodes me that by that time a change of faith will have come about, and your husband will have taken the faith which we are minded to think is the more exalted. And whereas you thought the ring broke in two through some misheed of yours, and blood came from the two pieces, that shows that this husband of yours will be slain, and then you will think you see for the first time clearly all the flaws of that match.” Still Gest went on to say: “This is your fourth dream, that you thought you had a helm on your head, of gold set with precious stones, and that it was a heavy one for you to bear. This shows you will have a fourth husband who will be the greatest nobleman (of the four), and will bear somewhat a helm of awe over you. And whereas you thought it tumbled out into Hvammfirth, it shows that that same firth will be in his way on the last day of his life. And now I go no further with this dream.” Gudrun sat with her cheeks blood red whilst the dreams were unravelled, but said not a word till Gest came to the end of his speech. Then said Gudrun, “You would have fairer prophecies in this matter if my delivery of it into your hands had warranted; have my thanks all the same for unravelling the dreams. But it is a fearful thing to think of, if all this is to come to pass as you say.” Gudrun then begged Gest would stay there the day out, and said that he and Osvif would have many wise things to say between them. He answered, “I must ride on now as I have made up my mind. But bring your father my greeting and tell him also these my words, that the day will come when there will be a shorter distance between Osvif’s and my dwellings, and then we may talk at ease, if then we are allowed to converse together.” Then Gudrun went home and Gest rode away. Gest met a servant of Olaf’s by the home-field fence, who invited 23

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Gest to Herdholt, at the bidding of Olaf. Gest said he would go and see Olaf during the day, but would stay (the night) at Thickshaw. The servant returned home and told Olaf so. Olaf had his horse brought and rode with several men out to meet Gest. He and Gest met up at Leariver. Olaf greeted him well and asked him in with all his followers. Gest thanked him for the invitation, and said he would ride up to the homestead and have a look and see how he was housed, but he must stay with Armod. Gest tarried but a little while, yet he saw over the homestead and admired it and said, “No money has been spared for this place.” Olaf rode away with Gest to the Salmon-river. The fosterbrothers had been swimming there during the day, and at this sport the sons of Olaf mostly took the lead. There were many other young men from the other houses swimming too. Kjartan and Bolli leapt out of the water as the company rode down and were nearly dressed when Olaf and Gest came up to them. Gest looked at these young men for a while, and told Olaf where Kjartan was sitting as well as Bolli, and then Gest pointed his spear shaft to each one of Olaf’s sons and named by name all of them that were there. But there were many other handsome young men there who had just left off swimming and sat on the river-bank with Kjartan and Bolli. Gest said he did not discover the family features of Olaf in any of these young men. Then said Olaf: “Never is there too much said about your wits, Gest,knowing, as you do, men you have never seen before. Now I wish you to tell me which of those young men will be the mightiest man.” Gest replied, “That will fall out much in keeping with your own love, for Kjartan will be the most highly accounted of so long as he lives.” Then Gest smote his horse and rode away. A little while after Thord the Low rode up to his side, and said, “What has now come to pass, father, that you are shedding tears?” Gest answered, “It is needless to tell it, yet I am loath to keep silence on matters that will happen in your own days. To me it will not come unawares if Bolli one day should have at his feet the head of Kjartan slain, and should by the deed bring about his own death, and this is an ill thing to know of such sterling men.” Then they rode on to the Thing, and it was an uneventful meeting. 24

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Chapter 34 - Gudrun’s First Marriage, A.D. 989 Thorvald was the name of a man, son of Haldor Garpdale’s Priest. He lived at Garpsdale in Gilsfirth, a wealthy man, but not much of a hero. At the Thing he wooed Gudrun, Osvif’s daughter, when she was fifteen years old. The matter was not taken up in a very adverse manner, yet Osvif said that againstthe match it would tell, that he and Gudrun were not of equal standing. Thorvald spoke gently, and said he was wooing a wife, not money. After that Gudrun was betrothed to Thorvald, and Osvif settled alone the marriage contract, whereby it was provided that Gudrun should alone manage their money affairs straightway when they came into one bed, and be entitled to one-half thereof as her own, whether their married life were long or short. He should also buy her jewels, so that no woman of equal wealth should have better to show. Yet he should retain his farm-stock unimpaired by such purchases. And now men ride home from the Thing. Gudrun was not asked about it, and took it much to heart; yet things went on quietly. The wedding was at Garpsdale, in Twinmonth (latter part of August to the latter part of September). Gudrun loved Thorvald but little, and was extravagant in buying finery. There was no jewel so costly in all the West-firths that Gudrun did not deem it fitting that it should be hers, and rewarded Thorvald with anger if he did not buy it for her, however dear it might be. Thord, Ingun’s son, made himself very friendly with Thorvald and Gudrun, and stayed with them for long times together, and there was much talk of the love of Thord and Gudrun for each other. Once upon a time Gudrun bade Thorvald buy a gift for her, and Thorvald said she showed no moderation in her demands, and gave her a box on the ear. Then said Gudrun, “Now you have given me that which we women set great store by having to perfection - a fine colour in the cheeks - and thereby have also taught me how to leave off importuning you.” That same evening Thord came there. Gudrun told him about the shameful mishandling, and asked him how she should repay it. Thord smiled, and said: “I know a very good counsel for this: make him a shirt with such a large neck-hole that you may have a good excuse for separating from

him, because he has a low neck like a woman.” Gudrun said nothing against this, and they dropped their talk. That same spring Gudrun separated herself from Thorvald, and she went home to Laugar. After that the money was divided between Gudrun and Thorvald, and she had half of all the wealth, which now was even greater than before (her marriage). They had lived two winters together. That same spring Ingun sold her land in Crookfirth, the estate which was afterwards called Ingunstead, and went west to Skalmness. Glum Gierison had formerly had her for wife, as has been before written. At that time Hallstein the Priest lived at Hallsteinness, on the west side of Codfirth. He was a mighty man, but middling well off as regards friends.

Chapter 35 - Gudrun’s Second Marriage, A.D. 991 Kotkell was the name of a man who had only come to Iceland a short time before, Grima was the name of his wife. Their sons were Hallbjorn Whetstone-eye, and Stigandi. These people were natives of Sodor. They were all wizards and the greatest of enchanters. Hallstein Godi took them in and settled them down at Urdir in Skalm-firth, and their dwelling there was none of the best liked. That summer Gest went to the Thing and went in a ship to Saurby as he was wont. He stayed as guest at Hol in Saurby. The brothers-in-law found him in horses as was their former wont. Thord Ingunson was amongst the followers of Gest on this journey and came to Laugar in Salingsdale. Gudrun Osvif’s daughter rode to the Thing, and Thord Ingunson rode with her. It happened one day as they were riding over Blueshaw-heath, the weather being fine, that Gudrun said, “Is it true, Thord, that your wife Aud always goes about in breeches with gores in the seat, winding swathings round her legs almost to her feet?” Thord said, “He had not noticed that.” “Well, then, there must be but little in the tale,” said Gudrun, “if you have not found it out, but for what then is she called Breeches And?” Thord said, “I think she has been called so for but a short time.” Gudrunanswered, “What is of more moment to her is that she bear the name for a long time hereafter.” After that people arrived at the Thing and no tidings A Black Arrow resource

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befell there. Thord spent much time in Gest’s booth and always talked to Gudrun. One day Thord Ingunson asked Gudrun what the penalty was for a woman who went about always in breeches like men. Gudrun replied, “She deserves the same penalty as a man who is dressed in a shirt with so low a neck that his naked breast be seen - separation in either case.” Then Thord said, “Would you advise me to proclaim my separation from And here at the Thing or in the country by the counsel of many men? For I have to deal with high-tempered men who will count themselves as ill-treated in this affair.” Gudrun answered after a while, “For evening waits the idler’s suit.” Then Thord sprang up and went to the law rock and named to him witnesses, declared his separation from Aud, and gave as his reason that she made for herself gored breeches like a man. Aud’s brothers disliked this very much, but things kept quiet. Then Thord rode away from the Thing with the sons of Osvif. When Aud heard these tidings, she said, “Good! Well, that I know that I am left thus single.” Then Thord rode, to divide the money, west into Saurby and twelve men with him, and it all went off easily, for Thord made no difficulties as to how the money was divided. Thord drove from the west unto Laugar a great deal of live stock. After that he wooed Gudrun andthat matter was easily settled; Osvif and Gudrun said nothing against it. The wedding was to take place in the tenth week of the summer, and that was a right noble feast. Thord and Gudrun lived happily together. What alone withheld Thorkell Whelp and Knut from setting afoot a lawsuit against Thord Ingunson was, that they got no backing up to that end. The next summer the men of Hol had an out-dairy business in Hvammdale, and Aud stayed at the dairy. The men of Laugar had their out-dairy in Lambdale, which cuts westward into the mountains off Salingsdale. Aud asked the man who looked after the sheep how often he met the shepherd from Laugar. He said nearly always as was likely since there was only a neck of land between the two dairies. Then said Aud, “You shall meet the shepherd from Laugar to-day, and you can tell me who there are staying at the winter-dwelling or who at the dairy, and speak in a friendly way of Thord as it behoves you to do.” The boy promised to The Sagas of the Icelanders

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do as she told him. And in the evening when the shepherd came home And asked what tidings he brought. The shepherd answered, “I have heard tidings which you will think good, that now there is a broad bedroom-floor between the beds of Thord and Gudrun, for she is at the dairy and he is swinging at the rear of the hall, he and Osvif being two together alone at the winter-dwelling.” “You have espied well,”said she, “and see to have saddled two horses at the time when people are going to bed.” The shepherd did as she bade him. A little before sunset Aud mounted, and was now indeed in breeches. The shepherd rode the other horse and could hardly keep up with her, so hard did she push on riding. She rode south over Salingsdale-heath and never stopped before she got to the home-field fence at Laugar. Then she dismounted, and bade the shepherd look after the horses whilst she went to the house. And went to the door and found it open, and she went into the fire-hall to the lockedbed in the wall. Thord lay asleep, the door had fallen to, but the bolt was not on, so she walked into the bedroom. Thord lay asleep on his back. Then And woke Thord, and he turned on his side when he saw a man had come in. Then she drew a sword and thrust it at Thord and gave him great wounds, the sword striking his right arm and wounding him on both nipples. So hard did she follow up the stroke that the sword stuck in the bolster. Then Aud went away and to her horse and leapt on to its back, and thereupon rode home. Thord tried to spring up when he got the blow, but could not, because of his loss of blood. Then Osvif awoke and asked what had happened, and Thord told that he had been wounded somewhat. Osvif asked if he knew who had done the deed on him, and got up and bound up his wounds. Thord said he was minded to think that Audhad done it. Osvif offered to ride after her, and said she must have gone on this errand with few men, and her penalty was ready-made for her. Thord said that should not be done at all, for she had only done what she ought to have done. Aud got home at sunrise, and her brothers asked her where she had been to. Aud said she had been to Laugar, and told them what tidings had befallen in her journey. They were pleased at this, and said that too little was likely to have been done by her. Thord lay wounded a long

time. His chest wound healed well, but his arm grew no better for work than before (i.e. when it first was wounded). All was now quiet that winter. But in the following spring Ingun, Thord’s mother, came west from Skalmness. Thord greeted her warmly: she said she wished to place herself under his protection, and said that Kotkell and his wife and sons were giving her much trouble by stealing her goods, and through witchcraft, but had a strong support in Hallstein the Priest. Thord took this matter up swiftly, and said he should have the right of these thieves no matter how it might displease Hallstein. He got speedily ready for the journey with ten men, and Ingun went west with him. He got a ferry-boat out of Tjaldness. Then they went to Skalmness. Thord had put on board ship all the chattels his mother owned there, and the cattle were to be driven round the heads of the firths. There were twelve of them altogether in the boat, withIngun and another woman. Thord and ten men went to Kotkell’s place. The sons of Kotkell were not at home. He then summoned Kotkell and Grima and their sons for theft and witchcraft, and claimed outlawry as award. He laid the case to the Althing, and then returned to his ship. Hallbjorn and Stigandi came home when Thord had got out but a little way from land, and Kotkell told his sons what had happened there. The brothers were furious at that, and said that hitherto people had taken care not to show them in so barefaced a manner such open enmity. Then Kotkell had a great spell-working scaffold made, and they all went up on to it, and they sang hard twisted songs that were enchantments. And presently a great tempest arose. Thord, Ingun’s son, and his companions, continued out at sea as he was, soon knew that the storm was raised against him. Now the ship is driven west beyond Skalmness, and Thord showed great courage with seamanship. The men who were on land saw how he threw overboard all that made up the boat’s lading, saving the men; and the people who were on land expected Thord would come to shore, for they had passed the place that was the rockiest; but next there arose a breaker on a rock a little way from the shore that no man had ever known to break sea before, and smote the ship so that forthwith up turned keel uppermost. There Thord and all his 25

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followers were drowned, and the ship was broken to pieces, and the keel was washed up at a place now called Keelisle. Thord’s shield was washed up on an island that has since been called Shieldisle. Thord’s body and the bodies of his followers were all washed ashore, and a great howe was raised over their corpses at the place now called Howesness.

Chapter 36 - About Kotkell and Grima These tidings spread far and wide, and were very ill-spoken of; they were accounted of as men of doomed lives, who wrought such witchcraft as that which Kotkell and his had now shown. Gudrun took the death of Thord sorely to heart, for she was now a woman not hale, and coming close to her time. After that Gudrun gave birth to a boy, who was sprinkled with water and called Thord. At that time Snorri the Priest lived at Holyfell; he was a kinsman and a friend of Osvif’s, and Gudrun and her people trusted him very much. Snorri went thither (to Laugar), being asked to a feast there. Then Gudrun told her trouble to Snorri, and he said he would back up their case when it seemed good to him, but offered to Gudrun to foster her child to comfort her. This Gudrun agreed to, and said she would rely on his foresight. This Thord was surnamed the Cat, and was father of the poet Stúf. After that Gest Oddleifson went to see Hallstein, andgave him choice of two things, either that he should send away these wizards or he said that he would kill them, “and yet it comes too late.” Hallstein made his choice at once, and bade them rather be off, and put up nowhere west of Daleheath, adding that it was more justly they ought to be slain. After that Kotkell and his went away with no other goods than four stud-horses. The stallion was black; he was both great and fair and very strong, and tried in horse-fighting. Nothing is told of their journey till they came to Combeness, to Thorliek, Hoskuld’s son. He asked to buy the horses from them, for he said that they were exceeding fine beasts. Kotkell replied, “I’ll give you the choice. Take you the horses and give me some place to dwell in here in your neighbourhood.” Thorliek said, “Will the horses not be rather dear, then, for I have heard tell you are thought rather guilty in 26

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this countryside?” Kotkell answers, “In this you are hinting at the men of Laugar.” Thorliek said that was true. Then Kotkell said, “Matters point quite another way, as concerning our guilt towards Gudrun and her brothers, than you have been told; people have overwhelmed us with slander for no cause at all. Take the horses, nor let these matters stand in the way. Such tales alone are told of you, moreover, as would show that we shall not be easily tripped up by the folk of this countryside, if we have your help to fall back upon.” Thorliek now changed his mind in this matter, for the horses seemed fair to him, and Kotkell pleaded hiscase cunningly; so Thorliek took the horses, and gave them a dwelling at Ludolfstead in Salmon-river-Dale, and stocked them with farming beasts. This the men of Laugar heard, and the sons of Osvif wished to fall forthwith on Kotkell and his sons; but Osvif said, “Let us take now the counsel of Priest Snorri, and leave this business to others, for short time will pass before the neighbours of Kotkell will have brand new cases against him and his, and Thorliek, as is most fitting, will abide the greatest hurt from them. In a short while many will become his enemies from whom heretofore he has only had good will. But I shall not stop you from doing whatever hurt you please to Kotkell and his, if other men do not come forward to drive them out of the countryside or to take their lives, by the time that three winters have worn away.” Gudrun and her brothers said it should be as he said. Kotkell and his did not do much in working for their livelihood, but that winter they were in no need to buy hay or food; but an unbefriended neighbourhood was theirs, though men did not see their way to disturbing their dwelling because of Thorliek.

Chapter 37 - About Hrut and Eldgrim, A.D. 995 One summer at the Thing, as Thorliek was sitting in his booth, a very big man walked into the booth. He greeted Thorliek, who took well the greeting of this man and asked his name and whence he was. He said he was called Eldgrim, and lived in Burgfirth at a place called Eldgrimstead - but that abode lies in the valley which cuts westward into the mountains between Mull and Pigtongue, and is now called Grimsdale. Thorliek

said, “I have heard you spoken of as being no small man.” Eldgrim said, “My errand here is that I want to buy from you the stud-horses, those valuable ones that Kotkell gave you last summer.” Thorliek answered, “The horses are not for sale.” Eldgrim said, “I will offer you equally many stud-horses for them and some other things thrown in, and many would say that I offer you twice as much as the horses are worth.” Thorliek said, “I am no haggler, but these horses you will never have, not even though you offer three times their worth.” Eldgrim said, “I take it to be no lie that you are proud and selfwilled, and I should, indeed, like to see you getting a somewhat less handsome price for them than I have now offered you, and that you should have to let the horses go none the less.” Thorliek got angered at these words, and said, “You need, Eldgrim, to come to closer quarters if you mean to frighten out me the horses.” Eldgrim said, “You think it unlikely that you will be beaten by me, but this summer I shall go and see the horses, and we will see which of us will own them after that.” Thorliek said, “Do as you like, but bring up no odds against me.” Then they dropped their talk. The man who heard this said that for this sort of dealing together here were two just fitting matches for each other. After that people went home from the Thing, and nothing happened to tell tidings of. It happened one morning early that a man looked out at Hrutstead at goodman Hrut’s, Herjolf’s son’s, and when he came in Hrut asked what news he brought. He said he had no other tidings to tell save that he saw a man riding from beyond Vadlar towards where Thorliek’s horses were, and that the man got off his horse and took the horses. Hrut asked where the horses were then, and the house-carle replied, “Oh, they have stuck well to their pasture, for they stood as usual in your meadows down below the fence-wall.” Hrut replied, “Verily, Thorliek, my kinsman, is not particular as to where he grazes his beasts; and I still think it more likely that it is not by his order that the horses are driven away.” Then Hrut sprang up in his shirt and linen breeches, and cast over him a grey cloak and took in his hand his gold inlaid halberd that King Harald had given him. He went out quickly and saw where a man was riding after horses down below the wall. Hrut A Black Arrow resource

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went to meet him, and saw that it was Eldgrim driving the horses. Hrut greeted him, and Eldgrim returned his greeting, but rather slowly. Hrut asked him why he was driving the horses. Eldgrim replied, “I will not hide it from you, though I know what kinship there is between you and Thorliek; but I tell you I have come after these horses, meaning that he shall never have them again. I have also kept what I promised him at the Thing, that I have not gone after the horses with any great company.” Hrut said, “That is no deed of fame to you to take away the horses while Thorliek lies in his bed and sleeps; you would keep best what you agreed upon if you go and meet himself before you drive the horses out of the countryside.” Eldgrim said, “Go and warn Thorliek if you wish, for you may see I have prepared myself in such a manner as that I should like it well if we were to meet together, I and Thorliek,” and therewith he brandished the barbed spear he had in his hand. He had also a helmet on his head, and a sword girded on his side, and a shield on his flank, and had on a chain coat. Hrut said, “I think I must seek for something else than to go to Combeness for I am heavy of foot; but I mean not to allow Thorliek to be robbed if I have means thereto, no matter how little love there may go with our kinship.” Eldgrim said, “And do you mean to take the horses away from me?” Hrut said, “I will give you other stud-horses if you will let these alone, though they may not be quite so good as these are.” Eldgrim said, “You speak most kindly, Hrut, but since I have got hold of Thorliek’s horses you will not pluck them out of my hands either by bribes or threats.” Hrut replied, “Then I think you are making for both of us the choice that answers the worst.” Eldgrim now wanted to part, and gave the whip to his horse, and when Hrut saw that, he raised up his halberd and struck Eldgrim through the back between the shoulders so that the coat of mail was torn open and the halberd flew out through the chest, and Eldgrim fell dead off his horse, as was only natural. After that Hrut covered up his body at the place called Eldgrim’s-holt south of Combeness. Then Hrut rode over to Combeness and told Thorliek the tidings. Thorliek burst into a rage, and thought a great shame had been done him by this deed, while Hrut thought he had shown him great friendship thereby. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Thorliek said that not only had he done this for an evil purpose, but that, moreover, no good would come in return for it. Hrut said that Thorliek must do what pleased him, and so they parted in no loving kindness. Hrut was eighty years old when he killed Eldgrim, and he was considered by that deed to have added much to his fame. Thorliek thought that Hrut was none the worthier of any good from him for being more renowned for this deed, for he held it was perfectly clear he would have himself have got the better of Eldgrim if they had had a trial of arms between them, seeing how little was needed to trip Eldgrim up. Thorliek now went to see his tenants Kotkell and Grima, and bade them do something to the shame of Hrut. They took this up gladly, and said they were quite ready to do so. Thorliek now went home. A little later they, Kotkell and Grima and their sons, started on a journey from home, and that was by night. They wentto Hrut’s dwelling, and made great incantations there, and when the spell-working began, those within were at a loss to make out what could be the reason of it; but sweet indeed was that singing they heard. Hrut alone knew what these goings-on meant, and bade no man look out that night, “and let every one who may keep awake, and no harm will come to us if that counsel is followed.” But all the people fell asleep. Hrut watched longest, and at last he too slept. Kari was the name of a son of Hrut, and he was then twelve winters old. He was the most promising of all Hrut’s sons, and Hrut loved him much. Kari hardly slept at all, for to him the play was made; he did not sleep very soundly, and at last he got up and looked out, and walked in the direction of the enchantment, and fell down dead at once. Hrut awoke in the morning, as also did his household, and missed his son, who was found dead a short way from the door. This Hrut felt as the greatest bereavement, and had a cairn raised over Kari. Then he rode to Olaf Hoskuldson and told him the tidings of what had happened there. Olaf was madly wroth at this, and said it showed great lack of forethought that they had allowed such scoundrels as Kotkell and his family to live so near to him, and said that Thorliek had shaped for himself an evil lot by dealing as he had done with Hrut, but added that more must have been done than Thorliek had ever could have wished.

Olaf said too that forthwith Kotkell and his wife and sons mustbe slain, “late though it is now.” Olaf and Hrut set out with fifteen men. But when Kotkell and his family saw the company of men riding up to their dwelling, they took to their heels up to the mountain. There Hallbjorn Whetstone-eye was caught and a bag was drawn over his head, and while some men were left to guard him others went in pursuit of Kotkell, Grima, and Stigandi up on the mountain. Kotkell and Grima were laid hands on on the neck of land between Hawkdale and Salmon-riverDale, and were stoned to death and a heap of stones thrown up over them, and the remains are still to be seen, being called Scratch-beacon. Stigandi took to his heels south over the neck towards Hawkdale, and there got out of their sight. Hrut and his sons went down to the sea with Hallbjorn, and put out a boat and rowed out from land with him, and they took the bag off his head and tied a stone round his neck. Hallbjorn set gloating glances on the land, and the manner of his look was nowise of the goodliest. Then Hallbjorn said, “It was no day of bliss when we, kinsfolk, came to this Combeness and met with Thorliek. And this spell I utter,” says he, “that Thorliek shall from henceforth have but few happy days, and that all who fill his place have a troublous life there.” And this spell, men deem, has taken great effect. After that they drowned him, and rowed back to land. A little while afterwards Hrut went to find Olaf his kinsman, and told him that he wouldnot leave matters with Thorliek as they stood, and bade him furnish him with men to go and make a house-raid on Thorliek. Olaf replied, “It is not right that you two kinsmen should be laying hands on each other; on Thorliek’s behalf this has turned out a matter of most evil luck. I would sooner try and bring about peace between you, and you have often waited well and long for your good turn.” Hrut said, “It is no good casting about for this; the sores between us two will never heal up; and I should like that from henceforth we should not both live in Salmon-riverDale.” Olaf replied, “It will not be easy for you to go further against Thorliek than I am willing to allow; but if you do it, it is not unlikely that dale and hill will meet.” Hrut thought he now saw things stuck 27

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hard and fast before him; so he went home mightily ill pleased; but all was quiet or was called so. And for that year men kept quiet at home.

Chapter 38 - The Death of Stigandi. Thorliek leaves Iceland Now, to tell of Stigandi, he became an outlaw and an evil to deal with. Thord was the name of a man who lived at Hundidale; he was a rich man, but had no manly greatness. A startling thing happened that summer in Hundidale, in that the milking stock did not yield much milk, but a woman looked after the beast there. At last people found out that she grew wealthy in precious things, and that she would disappear long and often, and no one knew where she was. Thord brought pressure to bear on her for confession, and when she got frightened she said a man was wont to come and meet her, “a big one,” she said, “and in my eyes very handsome.” Thord then asked how soon the man would come again to meet her, and she said she thought it would be soon. After that Thord went to see Olaf, and told him that Stigandi must be about, not far away from there, and bade him bestir himself with his men and catch him. Olaf got ready at once and came to Hundidale, and the bonds-woman was fetched for Olaf to have talk of her. Olaf asked her where the lair of Stigandi was. She said she did not know. Olaf offered to pay her money if she would bring Stigandi within reach of him and his men; and on this they came to a bargain together. The next day she went out to herd her cattle, and Stigandi comes that day to meet her. She greeted him well, and offers to look through (the hair of) his head. He laid his head down on her knee, and soon went to sleep. Then she slunk away from under his head, and went to meet Olaf and his men, and told them what had happened. Then they went towards Stigandi, and took counsel between them as to how it should not fare with him as his brother, that he should cast his glance on many things from which evil would befall them. They take now a bag, and draw it over his head. Stigandi woke at that, and made no struggle, for now there were many men to one. The sack had a slit in it, and Stigandi could see out through it the slope on the other side; there the lay of the land was fair, and it was covered with thick grass. But suddenly something like a whirlwind 28

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came on, and turned the sward topsyturvy, so that the grass never grew there again. It is now called Brenna. Then they stoned Stigandi to death, and there he was buried under a heap of stones. Olaf kept his word to the bonds-woman, and gave her her freedom, and she went home to Herdholt. Hallbjorn Whetstone-eye was washed up by the surf a short time after he was drowned. It was called Knorstone where he was put in the earth, and his ghost walked about there a great deal. There was a man named Thorkell Skull who lived at Thickshaw on his father’s inheritance. He was a man of very dauntless heart and mighty of muscle. One evening a cow was missing at Thickshaw, and Thorkell and his house-carle went to look for it. It was after sunset, but was bright moonlight. Thorkell said they must separate in their search, and when Thorkell was alone he thought he saw the cow on a hill-rise in front of him, but when he came up to it he saw it was Whetstone-eye and no cow. They fell upon each in mighty strength. Hallbjorn kept on the defensive, and when Thorkell least expected it he crept down into the earth out of his hands. After that Thorkell went home. The housecarle had come home already, and had found the cow. No more harm befell ever again from Hallbjorn. Thorbjorn Skrjup was dead by then, and so was Melkorka, and they both lie in a cairn in Salmonriver-Dale. Lambi, their son, kept house there after them. He was very warrior-like, and had a great deal of money. Lambi was more thought of by people than his father had been, chiefly because of his mother’s relations; and between him and Olaf there was fond brotherhood. Now the winter next after the killing of Kotkell passed away. In the spring the brothers Olaf and Thorliek met, and Olaf asked if Thorliek was minded to keep on his house. Thorliek said he was. Olaf said, “Yet I would beg you, kinsman, to change your way of life, and go abroad; you will be thought an honourable man whereever you come; but as to Hrut, our kinsman, I know he feels how your dealings with him come home to him. And it is little to my mind that the risk of your sitting so near to each other should be run any longer. For Hrut has a strong run of luck to fall back upon, and his sons are but reckless bravos. On account of my kinship I feel I should be placed in a difficulty if you, my kinsman, should come to quarrel in full enmity.” Thorliek replied,

“I am not afraid of not being able to hold myself straight in the face of Hrut and his sons, and that is no reason why I should depart the country. But if you, brother, set much store by it, and feel yourself in a difficult position in this matter, then, for your words I will do this; for then I was best contented with my lot in life when I lived abroad. And I know you will not treat my son Bolli any the worse for my being nowhere near; for of all men I love him the best.” Olaf said, “You have, indeed, taken an honourable course in this matter, if you do after my prayer; but as touching Bolli, I am minded to do to him henceforth as I have done hitherto, and to be to him and hold him no worse than my own sons.” After that the brothers parted in great affection. Thorliek now sold his land, and spent his money on his journey abroad. He bought a ship that stood up in Daymealness; and when he was full ready he stepped on board ship with his wife and household. That ship made a good voyage, and they made Norway in the autumn. Thence he went south to Denmark, as he did not feel at home in Norway, his kinsmen and friends there being either dead or driven out of the land. After that Thorliek went to Gautland. It is said by most men that Thorliek had little to do with old age; yet he was held a man of great worth throughout life. And there we close the story of Thorliek.

Chapter 39 - Of Kjartan’s Friendship for Bolli At that time, as concerning the strife between Hrut and Thorliek, it was ever the greatest gossip throughout the Broadfirth-Dales how that Hrut had had to abide a heavy lot at the hands of Kotkell and his sons. Then Osvif spoke to Gudrun and her brothers, and bade them call to mind whether they thought now it would have been the best counsel aforetime then and there to have plunged into the danger of dealing with such “hell-men” (terrible people) as Kotkell and his were. Then said Gudrun, “He is not counsel-bereft, father, who has the help of thy counsel.” Olaf now abode at his manor in much honour, and all his sons are at home there, as was Bolli, their kinsman and foster-brother. Kjartan was foremost of all the sons of Olaf. Kjartan and Bolli loved each other the most, and Kjartan went nowhere that Bolli did not follow. Often Kjartan would A Black Arrow resource

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go to the Sælingdale-spring, and mostly it happened that Gudrun was at the spring too. Kjartan liked talking to Gudrun, for she was both a woman of wits and clever of speech. It was the talk of all folk that of all men who were growing up at the time Kjartan was the most even match for Gudrun. Between Olaf and Osvif there was also great friendship, and often they would invite one another, and not the less frequently so when fondness was growing up between the young folk. One day when Olaf was talking to Kjartan, he said: “I do not know why it is that I always take it to heart when you go to Laugar and talk to Gudrun. It is not because I do not consider Gudrun the foremost of all other women, for she is the one among womenkind whom I look upon as a thoroughly suitable match for you. But it is my foreboding, though I will not prophesy it, that we, my kinsmen and I, and the men of Laugar will not bring altogether good luck to bear on our dealings together.” Kjartan said he would do nothing against his father’s will where he could help himself, but he hoped things would turn out better than he made a guess to. Kjartan holds to his usual ways as to his visits (to Laugar), and Bolli always went with him, and so the next seasons passed.

Chapter 40 - Kjartan and Bolli Voyage to Norway, A.D. 996 Asgeir was the name of a man, he was called Eider-drake. He lived at Asgeir’sriver, in Willowdale; he was the son of Audun Skokul; he was the first of his kinsmen who came to Iceland; he took to himself Willowdale. Another son of Audun was named Thorgrim Hoaryhead; he was the father of Asmund, the father of Gretter. Asgeir Eider-drake had five children; one of his sons was called Audun, father of Asgeir, father of Audun, father of Egil, who had for wife Ulfeid, the daughter of Eyjolf the Lame; their son was Eyjolf, who was slain at the All Thing. Another of Asgeir’s sons was named Thorvald; his daughter was Wala, whom Bishop Isleef had for wife; their son was Gizor, the bishop. A third son of Asgeir was named Kalf. All Asgeir’s sons were hopeful men. Kalf Asgeirson was at that time out travelling, and was accounted of as the worthiest of men. One of Asgeir’s daughters was named Thured; she married Thorkell Kuggi, the son of The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Thord Yeller; their son was Thorstein. Another of Asgeir’s daughters was named Hrefna; she was the fairest woman in those northern countrysides and very winsome. Asgeir was a very mighty man. It is told how one time Kjartan Olafson went on a journey south to Burgfirth. Nothing is told of his journey before he got to Burg. There at that time lived Thorstein, Egil’s son, his mother’s brother. Bolli was with him, for the foster-brothers loved each other so dearly that neither thought he could enjoy himself if they were not together. Thorstein received Kjartan with loving kindness, and said he should be glad for his staying there a long rather than a short time. So Kjartan stayed awhile at Burg. That summer there was a ship standing up in Steam-river-Mouth,and this ship belonged to Kalf Asgeirson, who had been staying through the winter with Thorstein, Egil’s son. Kjartan told Thorstein in secret that his chief errand to the south then was, that he wished to buy the half of Kalf’s ship, “for I have set my mind on going abroad,” and he asked Thorstein what sort of a man he thought Kalf was. Thorstein said he thought he was a good man and true. “I can easily understand,” said Thorstein, “that you wish to see other men’s ways of life, and your journey will be remark-able in one way or another, and your kinsfolk will be very anxious as to how the journey may speed for you.” Kjartan said it would speed well enough. After that Kjartan, bought a half share in Kalf’s ship, and they made up half-shares partnership between them; Kjartan was to come on board when ten weeks of summer had passed. Kjartan was seen off with gifts on leaving Burg, and he and Bolli then rode home. When Olaf heard of this arrangement he said he thought Kjartan had made up his mind rather suddenly, but added that he would not foreclose the matter. A little later Kjartan rode to Laugar to tell Gudrun of his proposed journey abroad. Gudrun said, “You have decided this very suddenly, Kjartan,” and she let fall sundry words about this, from which Kjartan got to understand that Gudrun was displeased with it. Kjartan said, “Do not let this displease you. I will do something else that shall please you.” Gudrun said, “Be then a man of your word, for I shall speedily let you know what I want.” Kjartan bade her do so. Gudrun said,

“Then, I wish to go out with you this summer; if that comes off, you would have made amends to me for this hasty resolve, for I do not care for Iceland.” Kjartan said, “That cannot be, your brothers are unsettled yet, and your father is old, and they would be bereft of all care if you went out of the land; so you wait for me three winters.” Gudrun said she would promise nothing as to that matter, and each was at variance with the other, and therewith they parted. Kjartan rode home. Olaf rode to the Thing that summer, and Kjartan rode with his father from the west out of Herdholt, and they parted at North-riverDale. From thence Kjartan rode to his ship, and his kinsman Bolli went along with him. There were ten Icelanders altogether who went with Kjartan on this journey, and none would part with him for the sake of the love they bore him. So with this following Kjartan went to the ship, and Kalf Asgeirson greeted them warmly. Kjartan and Bolli took a great many goods with them abroad. They now got ready to start, and when the wind blew they sailed out along Burgfirth with a light and good breeze, and then out to sea. They had a good journey, and got to Norway to the northwards and came into Thrandhome, and fell in with men there and asked for tidings. They were told that change of lords over the land had befallen, in that Earl Hakon had fallen and King Olaf Tryggvason had come in, and all Norway had fallen under his power. King Olaf was ordering a change of faith in Norway, and the people took to it most unequally. Kjartan and his companions took their craft up to Nidaross. At that time many Icelanders had come to Norway who were men of high degree. There lay beside the landing-stage three ships, all owned by Icelanders. One of the ships belonged to Brand the Bounteous, son of Vermund Thorgrimson. And another ship belonged to Hallfred the Trouble-Bard. The third ship belonged to two brothers, one named Bjarni, and the other Thorhall; they were sons of Broadriver-Skeggi, out of Fleetlithe in the east. All these men had wanted to go west to Iceland that summer, but the king had forbidden all these ships to sail because the Icelanders would not take the new faith that he was preaching. All the Icelanders greeted Kjartan warmly, but especially Brand, as they had known each other already before. The Icelanders now 29

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took counsel together and came to an agreement among themselves that they would refuse this faith that the king preached, and all the men previously named bound themselves together to do this. Kjartan and his companions brought their ship up to the landing-stage and unloaded it and disposed of their goods. King Olaf was then in the town. He heard of the coming of the ship and that men of great account were on board. It happened one fair-weather day in the autumn that the men went out of the town to swim in the river Nid. Kjartan and his friends saw this. Then Kjartan said to his companions that they should also go and disport themselves that day. They did so. There was one man who was by much the best at this sport. Kjartan asked Bolli if he felt willing to try swimming against the townsman. Bolli answered, “I don’t think I am a match for him.” “I cannot think where your courage can now have got to,” said Kjartan, “so I shall go and try.” Bolli replied, “That you may do if you like.” Kjartan then plunges into the river and up to this man who was the best swimmer and drags him forthwith under and keeps him down for awhile, and then lets him go up again. And when they had been up for a long while, this man suddenly clutches Kjartan and drags him under; and they keep down for such a time as Kjartan thought quite long enough, when up they come a second time. Not a word had either to say to the other. The third time they went down together, and now they keep under for much the longest time, and Kjartan now misdoubted him how this play would end, and thought he had never before found himself in such a tight place; but at last they come up and strike out for the bank. Then said the townsman, “Who is this man?” Kjartan told him his name. The townsman said, “You are very deft at swimming. Are you as good at other deeds of prowess as at this?” Kjartan answered rather coldly, “It was said when I was in Iceland that the others kept pace with this one. But now this one is not worth much.” The townsman replied, “It makes some odds with whom you have had to do. But why do you not ask me anything?” Kjartan replied, “I do not want to know your name.” The townsman answered, “You are not only a stalwart man, but you bear yourself very proudly as well, but none the less you shall know my 30

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name, and with whom you have been having a swimming match. Here is Olaf the king, the son of Tryggvi.” Kjartan answered nothing, but turned away forthwith without his cloak. He had on a kirtle of red scarlet. The king was then well-nigh dressed; he called to Kjartan and bade him not go away so soon. Kjartan turned back, but rather slowly. The king then took a very good cloak off his shoulders and gave it to Kjartan, saying he should not go back cloakless to his companions. Kjartan thanked the king for the gift, and went to his own men and showed them the cloak. His men were nowise pleased as this, for they thought Kjartan had got too much into the king’s power; but matters went on quietly. The weather set in very hard that autumn, and there was a great deal of frost, the season being cold. The heathen men said it was not to be wondered at that the weather should be so bad; “it is all because of the newfangled ways of the king and this new faith that the gods are angry.” The Icelanders kept all together in the town during the winter, and Kjartan took mostly the lead among them. On the weather taking a turn for the better, many people came to the town at the summons of King Olaf. Many people had become Christains in Thrandhome, yet there were a great many more who withstood the king. One day the king had a meeting out at Eyrar, and preached the new faith to men - a long harangue and telling. The people of Thrandhome had a whole host of men, and in turn offered battle to the king. The king said they must know that he had had greater things to cope with than fighting there with churls out of Thrandhome. Then the good men lost heart and gave the whole case into the king’s power, and many people were baptized then and there. After that, the meeting came to an end. That same evening the king sent men to the lodgings of the Icelanders, and bade them get sure knowledge of what they were saying. They did so. They heard much noise within. Then Kjartan began to speak, and said to Bolli, “How far are you willing, kinsman, to take this new faith the king preaches?” “I certainly am not willing thereto,” said Bolli, “for their faith seems to me to be most feeble.” Kjartan said, “Did ye not think the king was holding out threats against those who should be unwilling to submit to his will?” Bolli answered, “It

certainly seemed to me that he spoke out very clearly that they would have to take exceeding hard treatment at his hands.” “I will be forced under no one’s thumb,” said Kjartan, “while I have power to stand up and wield my weapons. I think it most unmanly, too, to be taken like a lamb in a fold or a foxin a trap. I think that is a better thing to choose, if a man must die in any case, to do first some such deed as shall be held aloft for a long time afterwards.” Bolli said, “What will you do?” “I will not hide it from you,” Kjartan replied; “I will burn the king in his hall.” “There is nothing cowardly in that,” said Bolli; “but this is not likely to come to pass, as far as I can see. The king, I take it, is one of great good luck and his guardian spirit mighty, and, besides, he has a faithful guard watching both day and night.” Kjartan said that what most men failed in was daring, however valiant they might otherwise be. Bolli said it was not so certain who would have to be taunted for want of courage in the end. But here many men joined in, saying this was but an idle talk. Now when the king’s spies had overheard this, they went away and told the king all that had been said. The next morning the king wished to hold a meeting, and summoned all the Icelanders to it; and when the meeting was opened the king stood up and thanked men for coming, all those who were his friends and had taken the new faith. Then he called to him for a parley the Icelanders. The king asked them if they would be baptized, but they gave little reply to that. The king said they were making for themselves the choice that would answer the worst. “But, by the way, who of you thought it the best thing to do to burn me in my hall?” Then Kjartan answered, “You no doubt think that he who did say it would not have the pluck to confess it; but here you can see him.” “I can indeed see you,” said the king, “man of no small counsels, but it is not fated for you to stand over my head, done to death by you; and you have done quite enough that you should be prevented making a vow to burn more kings in their houses yet, for the reason of being taught better things than you know and because I do not know whether your heart was in your speech, and that you have bravely acknowledged it, I will not take your life. It may also be that you follow the faith the better the more outspoken you are against it; and I can A Black Arrow resource

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also see this, that on the day you let yourself be baptized of your own free will, several ships’ crews will on that day also take the faith. And I think it likely to happen that your relations and friends will give much heed to what you speak to them when you return to Iceland. And it is in my mind that you, Kjartan, will have a better faith when you return from Norway than you had when you came hither. Go now in peace and safety wheresoever you like from the meeting. For the time being you shall not be tormented into Christianity, for God says that He wills that no one shall come to Him unwillingly.” Good cheer was made at the king’s speech, though mostly from the Christian men; but the heathen left it to Kjartan to answer as he liked. Kjartan said, “We thank you, king, that you grant safe peace unto us, and the way whereby you may most surely draw us to take the faith is, on the one hand, to forgive us great offences, and on the other to speak in this kindly manner on all matters, in spite of your this day having us and all our concerns in your power even as it pleases you. Now, as for myself, I shall receive the faith in Norway on that understanding alone that I shall give some little worship to Thor the next winter when I get back to Iceland.” Then the king said and smiled, “It may be seen from the mien of Kjartan that he puts more trust in his own weapons and strength than in Thor and Odin.” Then the meeting was broken up. After a while many men egged the king on to force Kjartan and his followers to receive the faith, and thought it unwise to have so many heathen men near about him. The king answered wrathfully, and said he thought there were many Christians who were not nearly so wellbehaved as was Kjartan or his company either, “and for such one would have long to wait.” The king caused many profitable things to be done that winter; he had a church built and the market-town greatly enlarged. This church was finished at Christmas. Then Kjartan said they should go so near the church that they might see the ceremonies of this faith the Christians followed; and many fell in, saying that would be right good pastime. Kjartan with his following and Bolli went to the church; in that train was also Hallfred and many other Icelanders. The king preached the faith before the people, and spoke both long and tellingly, and the Christians The Sagas of the Icelanders

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made good cheer at his speech. And when Kjartan and his company went back to their chambers, a great deal of talk arose as to how they had liked the looks of the king at this time, which Christians accounted of as the next greatest festival. “For the king said, so that we might hear, that this night was born the Lord, in whom we are now to believe, if we do as the king bids us.” Kjartan says: “So greatly was I taken with the looks of the king when I saw him for the first time, that I knew at once that he was a man of the highest excellence, and that feeling has kept steadfast ever since, when I have seen him at folkmeetings, and that but by much the best, however, I liked the looks of him to-day; and I cannot help thinking that the turn of our concerns hangs altogether on our believing Him to be the true God in whom the king bids us to believe, and the king cannot by any means be more eager in wishing that I take this faith than I am to let myself be baptized. The only thing that puts off my going straightway to see the king now is that the day is far spent, and the king, I take it, is now at table; but that day will be delayed, on which we, companions, will let ourselves all be baptized.” Bolli took to this kindly, and bade Kjartan alone look to their affairs. The king had heard of the talk between Kjartan and his people before the tables were cleared away, for he had his spies in every chamber of the heathens. The king was very glad at this, and said, “In Kjartan has come true the saw: ‘High tides best for happy signs.’” And the first thing the next morning early, when the king went to church, Kjartan met him in the street with a great company of men. Kjartan greeted the king with great cheerfulness, and said he had a pressing errand with him. The king took his greeting well, and said he had had a thoroughly clear news as to what his errand must be, “and that matter will be easily settled by you.” Kjartan begged they should not delay fetching the water, and said that a great deal would be needed. The king answered and smiled. “Yes, Kjartan,” says he, “on this matter I do not think your eager-mindedness would part us, not even if you put the price higher still.” After that Kjartan and Bolli were baptized and all their crew, and a multitude of other men as well. This was on the second day of Yule before Holy Service. After that the king invited

Kjartan to his Yule feast with Bolli his kinsman. It is the tale of most men that Kjartan on the day he laid aside his white baptismal-robes became a liegeman of the king’s, he and Bolli both. Hallfred was not baptized that day, for he made it a point that the king himself should be his godfather, so the king put it off till the next day. Kjartan and Bolli stayed with Olaf the king the rest of the winter. The king held Kjartan before all other men for the sake of his race and manly prowess, and it is by all people said that Kjartan was sowinsome that he had not a single enemy within the court. Every one said that there had never before come from Iceland such a man as Kjartan. Bolli was also one of the most stalwart of men, and was held in high esteem by all good men. The winter now passes away, and, as spring came on, men got ready for their journeys, each as he had a mind to.

Chapter 41 - Bolli returns to Iceland, A.D. 999 Kalf Asgeirson went to see Kjartan and asks what he was minded to do that summer. Kjartan said, “I have been thinking chiefly that we had better take our ship to England, where there is a good market for Christian men. But first I will go and see the king before I settle this, for he did not seem pleased at my going on this journey when we talked about it in the spring.” Then Kalf went away and Kjartan went to speak to the king, greeting him courteously. The king received him most kindly, and asked what he and his companion (Kalf) had been talking about. Kjartan told what they had mostly in mind to do, but said that his errand to the king was to beg leave to go on this journey. “As to that matter, I will give you your choice, Kjartan. Either you will go to Iceland this summer, and bring men to Christianity by force or by expedients; but if you think this too difficult a journey, I will not let you go away on any account, for you are much better suited to serve noble men than to turn here into a chapman.” Kjartan chose rather to stay with the king than to go to Iceland and preach the faith to them there, and said he could not be contending by force against his own kindred. “Moreover, it would be more likely that my father and other chiefs, who are near kinsmen of mine, would go against thy will with all the less stubbornness the better beholden 31

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I am under your power.” The king said, “This is chosen both wisely and as beseems a great man.” The king gave Kjartan a whole set of new clothes, all cut out of scarlet cloth, and they suited him well; for people said that King Olaf and Kjartan were of an even height when they went under measure. King Olaf sent the court priest, named Thangbrand, to Iceland. He brought his ship to Swanfirth, and stayed with Side-Hall all the winter at Washriver, and set forth the faith to people both with fair words and harsh punishments. Thangbrand slew two men who went most against him. Hall received the faith in the spring, and was baptized on the Saturday before Easter, with all his household; then Gizor the White let himself be baptized, so did Hjalti Skeggjason and many other chiefs, though there were many more who spoke against it; and then dealings between heathen men and Christians became scarcely free of danger. Sundry chiefs even took counsel together to slay Thangbrand, as well as such men who should stand up for him. Because of this turmoil Thangbrand ran away to Norway, and came to meet King Olaf, and told him the tidings of what had befallen in his journey, and said he thought Christianity would never thrive in Iceland. The king was very wroth at this, and said that many Icelanders would rue the day unless they came round to him. That summer Hjalti Skeggjason was made an outlaw at the Thing for blaspheming the gods. Runolf Ulfson, who lived in Dale, under Isles’-fells, the greatest of chieftains, upheld the lawsuit against him. That summer Gizor left Iceland and Hjalti with him, and they came to Norway, and went forthwith to find King Olaf. The king gave them a good welcome, and said they had taken a wise counsel; he bade them stay with him, and that offer they took with thanks. Sverling, son of Runolf of Dale, had been in Norway that winter, and was bound for Iceland in the summer. His ship was floating beside the landing stage all ready, only waiting for a wind. The king forbade him to go away, and said that no ships should go to Iceland that summer. Sverling went to the king and pleaded his case, and begged leave to go, and said it mattered a great deal to him, that they should not have to unship their cargo again. The king spake, and then he was wroth: “It is well for the son of a sacrificer to be where he likes it worst.” So Sverling went no whither. That winter nothing to tell of 32

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befell. The next summer the king sent Gizor and Hjalti Skeggjason to Iceland to preach the faith anew, and kept four men back as hostages Kjartan Olafson, Halldor, the son of Gudmund the Mighty, Kolbein, son of Thord the priest of Frey, and Sverling, son of Runolf of Dale. Bolli made up his mind to journey with Gizor and Hjalti, and went to Kjartan, his kinsman, and said, “I am now ready to depart; I should wait for you through the next winter, if next summer you were more free to go away than you are now. But I cannot help thinking that the king will on no account let you go free. I also take it to be the truth that you yourself call to mind but few of the things that afford pastime in Iceland when you sit talking to Ingibjorg, the king’s sister.” She was at the court of King Olaf, and the most beautiful of all the women who were at that time in the land. Kjartan said, “Do not say such things, but bear my greeting to both my kinsfolk and friends.”

Chapter 42 - Bolli makes love to Gudrun, A.D. 1000 After that Kjartan and Bolli parted, and Gizor and Hjalti sailed from Norway and had a good journey, and came to the Westmen’s Isles at the time the Althing was sitting, and went from thence to the mainland, and hadthere meetings and parleys with their kinsmen. Thereupon they went to the Althing and preached the faith to the people in an harangue both long and telling, and then all men in Iceland received the faith. Bolli rode from the Thing to Herdholt in fellowship with his uncle Olaf, who received him with much loving-kindness. Bolli rode to Laugar to disport himself after he had been at home for a short time, and a good welcome he had there. Gudrun asked very carefully about his journey and then about Kjartan. Bolli answered right readily all Gudrun asked, and said there were no tidings to tell of his journey. “But as to what concerns Kjartan there are, in truth, the most excellent news to be told of his ways of life, for he is in the king’s bodyguard, and is there taken before every other man; but I should not wonder if he did not care to have much to do with this country for the next few winters to come.” Gudrun then asked if there was any other reason for it than the friendship between Kjartan and the king. Bolli then tells what sort of way people were talking about the

friendship of Kjartan with Ingibjorg the king’s sister, and said he could not help thinking the king would sooner marry Ingibjorg to Kjartan than let him go away if the choice lay between the two things. Gudrun said these were good tidings, “but Kjartan would be fairly matched only if he got a good wife.” Then she let the talk drop all of a sudden and went away and was very red in the face; but other people doubted if she really thought these tidings as good as she gave out she thought they were. Bolli remained at home in Herdholt all that summer, and had gained much honour from his journey; all his kinsfolk and acquaintances set great store by his valiant bearing; he had, moreover, brought home with him a great deal of wealth. He would often go over to Laugar and while away time talking to Gudrun. One day Bolli asked Gudrun what she would answer if he were to ask her in marriage. Gudrun replied at once, “No need for you to bespeak such a thing, Bolli, for I cannot marry any man whilst I know Kjartan to be still alive.” Bolli answered, “I think then you will have to abide husbandless for sundry winters if you are to wait for Kjartan; he might have chosen to give me some message concerning the matter if he set his heart at all greatly on it.” Sundry words they gave and took, each at variance with the other. Then Bolli rode home.

Chapter 43 - Kjartan comes back to Iceland, A.D. 1001 A little after this Bolli talked to his uncle Olaf, and said, “It has come to this, uncle, that I have it in mind to settle down and marry, for I am now grown up to man’s estate. In this matter I should like to have the assistance of your words and your backing-up, for most of the men hereabouts are such as will set much store by your words.” Olaf replied, “Such is the case with most women, I am minded to think, that they would be fully well matched in you for a husband. And I take it you have not broached this matter without first having made up your mind as to where you mean to come down.” Bolli said, “I shall not go beyond this countryside to woo myself a wife whilst there is such an goodly match so near at hand. My will is to woo Gudrun, Osvif’s daughter, for she is now the most renowned of women.” Olaf answered, “Ah, that is just a matter with which I will have nothing to do. To you it is in no way less A Black Arrow resource

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well known, Bolli, than to me, what talk there was of the love between Kjartan and Gudrun; but if you have set your heart very much on this, I will put no hindrance in the way if you and Osvif settle the matter between you. But have you said anything to Gudrun about it?” Bolli said that he had once hinted at it, but that she had not given much heed to it, “but I think, however, that Osvif will have most to say in the matter.” Olaf said Bolli could go about the business as it pleased himself. Not very long after Bolli rode from home with Olaf’s sons, Halldor and Steinthor; there were twelve of them together. They rode to Laugar, and Osvif and his sons gave them a good welcome. Bolli said he wished to speak to Osvif, and he set forth his wooing, and asked for the hand ofGudrun, his daughter. Osvif answered in this wise, “As you know, Bolli, Gudrun is a widow, and has herself to answer for her, but, as for myself, I shall urge this on.” Osvif now went to see Gudrun, and told her that Bolli Thorliekson had come there, “and has asked you in marriage; it is for you now to give the answer to this matter. And herein I may speedily make known my own will, which is, that Bolli will not be turned away if my counsel shall avail.” Gudrun answered, “You make a swift work of looking into this matter; Bolli himself once bespoke it before me, and I rather warded it off, and the same is still uppermost in my mind.” Osvif said, “Many a man will tell you that this is spoken more in overweening pride than in wise forethought if you refuse such a man as is Bolli. But as long as I am alive, I shall look out for you, my children, in all affairs which I know better how to see through things than you do.” And as Osvif took such a strong view of the matter, Gudrun, as far as she was concerned, would not give an utter refusal, yet was most unwilling on all points. The sons of Osvif’s urged the matter on eagerly, seeing what great avail an alliance with Bolli would be to them; so the long and short of the matter was that the betrothal took place then and there, and the wedding was to be held at the time of the winter nights. Thereupon Bolli rode home and told this settlement to Olaf, who did not hide his displeasure thereat. Bolli stayed on at home till he was to go to the wedding. He asked his uncle to it, but Olaf accepted it nowise quickly, though, at last, he yielded to the prayers of Bolli. It was a noble feast this at Laugar. Bolli stayed there the winter after. There was not much love The Sagas of the Icelanders

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between Gudrun and Bolli so far as she was concerned. When the summer came, and ships began to go and come between Iceland and Norway, the tidings spread to Norway that Iceland was all Christian. King Olaf was very glad at that, and gave leave to go to Iceland unto all those men whom he had kept as hostages, and to fare whenever they liked. Kjartan answered, for he took the lead of all those who had been hostages, “Have great thanks, Lord King, and this will be the choice we take, to go and see Iceland this summer.” Then King Olaf said, “I must not take back my word, Kjartan, yet my order pointed rather to other men than to yourself, for in my view you, Kjartan, have been more of a friend than a hostage through your stay here. My wish would be, that you should not set your heart on going to Iceland though you have noble relations there; for, I take it, you could choose for yourself such a station in life in Norway, the like of which would not be found in Iceland.” Then Kjartan answered, “May our Lord reward you, sire, for all the honours you have bestowed on me since I came into your power, but I am still in hopes that you will give leave to me, no less than to the others you have kept backfor a while.” The king said so it should be, but avowed that it would be hard for him to get in his place any untitled man such as Kjartan was. That winter Kalf Asgeirson had been in Norway and had brought, the autumn before, west-away from England, the ship and merchandise he and Kjartan had owned. And when Kjartan had got leave for his journey to Iceland Kalf and he set themselves to get the ship ready. And when the ship was all ready Kjartan went to see Ingibjorg, the king’s sister. She gave him a cheery welcome, and made room for him to sit beside her, and they fell a-talking together, and Kjartan tells Ingibjorg that he has arranged his journey to Iceland. Then Ingibjorg said, “I am minded to think, Kjartan, that you have done this of your own wilfulness rather than because you have been urged by men to go away from Norway and to Iceland.” But thenceforth words between them were drowned in silence. Amidst this Ingibjorg turns to a “mead-cask” that stood near her, and takes out of it a white coif inwoven with gold and gives it to Kjartan, saying, that it was far too good for Gudrun Osvif’s daughter to fold it round her head, yet “you will give her the coif as a bridal gift, for I wish the wives of the

Icelanders to see as much as that she with whom you have had your talks in Norway comes of no thrall’s blood.” It was in a pocket of costly stuff, and was altogether a most precious thing. “Now I shall not go to see you off,” said Ingibjorg. “Fare you well,and hail!” After that Kjartan stood up and embraced Ingibjorg, and people told it as a true story that they took it sorely to heart being parted. And now Kjartan went away and unto the king, and told the king he now was ready for his journey. Then the king led Kjartan to his ship and many men with him, and when they came to where the ship was floating with one of its gangways to land, the king said, “Here is a sword, Kjartan, that you shall take from me at our parting; let this weapon be always with you, for my mind tells me you will never be a ‘weapon-bitten’ man if you bear this sword.” It was a most noble keepsake, and much ornamented. Kjartan thanked the king with fair words for all the honour and advancement he had bestowed on him while he had been in Norway. Then the king spoke, “This I will bid you, Kjartan, that you keep your faith well.” After that they parted, the king and Kjartan in dear friendship, and Kjartan stepped on board his ship. The king looked after him and said, “Great is the worth of Kjartan and his kindred, but to cope with their fate is not an easy matter.”

Chapter 44 - Kjartan comes home, A.D. 1001 Now Kjartan and Kalf set sail for the main. They had a good wind, and were only a short time out at sea. They hove into White-river, in Burgfirth. The tidings spread far and wide of the coming of Kjartan. When Olaf, his father, and his other kinsfolk heard of it they were greatly rejoiced. Olaf rode at once from the west out of the Dales and south to Burgfirth, and there was a very joyful meeting between father and son. Olaf asked Kjartan to go and stay with him, with as many of his men as he liked to bring. Kjartan took that well, and said that there only of all places in Iceland he meant to abide. Olaf now rides home to Herdholt, and Kjartan remained with his ship during the summer. He now heard of the marriage of Gudrun, but did not trouble himself at all over it; but that had heretofore been a matter of anxiety to many. Gudmund, Solmund’s son, Kjartan’s brother-in-law, and Thurid, 33

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his sister, came to his ship, and Kjartan gave them a cheery welcome. Asgeir Eider-drake came to the ship too to meet his son Kalf, and journeying with him was Hrefna his daughter, the fairest of women. Kjartan bade his sister Thurid have such of his wares as she liked, and the same Kalf said to Hrefna. Kalf now unlocked a great chest and bade them go and havea look at it. That day a gale sprang up, and Kjartan and Kalf had to go out to moor their ship, and when that was done they went home to the booths. Kalf was the first to enter the booth, where Thurid and Hrefna had turned out most of the things in the chest. Just then Hrefna snatched up the coif and unfolded it, and they had much to say as to how precious a thing it was. Then Hrefna said she would coif herself with it, and Thurid said she had better, and Hrefna did so. When Kalf saw that he gave her to understand that she had done amiss, and bade her take it off at her swiftest. “For that is the one thing that we, Kjartan and I, do not own in common.” And as he said this Kjartan came into the booth. He had heard their talk, and fell in at once and told them there was nothing amiss. So Hrefna sat still with the head-dress on. Kjartan looked at her heedfully and said, “I think the coif becomes you very well, Hrefna,” says he, “and I think it fits the best that both together, coif and maiden, be mine.” Then Hrefna answered, “Most people take it that you are in no hurry to marry, and also that the woman you woo, you will be sure to get for wife.” Kjartan said it would not matter much whom he married, but he would not stand being kept long a waiting wooer by any woman. “Now I see that this gear suits you well, and it suits well that you become my wife.” Hrefna now took off the head-dress and gave it to Kjartan, who put itaway in a safe place. Gudmund and Thurid asked Kjartan to come north to them for a friendly stay some time that winter, and Kjartan promised the journey. Kalf Asgeirson betook himself north with his father. Kjartan and he now divided their partnership, and that went off altogether in good-nature and friendship. Kjartan also rode from his ship westward to the Dales, and they were twelve of them together. Kjartan now came home to Herdholt, and was joyfully received by everybody. Kjartan had his goods taken to the west from the ship during the autumn. The twelve men who rode with Kjartan stayed at Herdholt all the winter. Olaf and Osvif kept to the 34

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same wont of asking each other to their house, which was that each should go to the other every other autumn. That autumn the wassail was to be at Laugar, and Olaf and all the Herdholtings were to go thither. Gudrun now spoke to Bolli, and said she did not think he had told her the truth in all things about the coming back of Kjartan. Bolli said he had told the truth about it as best he knew it. Gudrun spoke little on this matter, but it could be easily seen that she was very displeased, and most people would have it that she still was pining for Kjartan, although she tried to hide it. Now time glides on till the autumn feast was to be held at Laugar. Olaf got ready and bade Kjartan come with him. Kjartan said he would stay at home and look after the household. Olaf bade him not to show that hewas angry with his kinsmen. “Call this to mind, Kjartan, that you have loved no man so much as your foster-brother Bolli, and it is my wish that you should come, for things will soon settle themselves between you, kinsmen, if you meet each other.” Kjartan did as his father bade him. He took the scarlet clothes that King Olaf had given him at parting, and dressed himself gaily; he girded his sword, the king’s gift, on; and he had a gilt helm on his head, and on his side a red shield with the Holy Cross painted on it in gold; he had in his hand a spear, with the socket inlaid with gold. All his men were gaily dressed. There were in all between twenty and thirty men of them. They now rode out of Herdholt and went on till they came to Laugar. There were a great many men gathered together already.

Chapter 45 - Kjartan marries Hrefna, A.D. 1002 Bolli, together with the sons of Osvif, went out to meet Olaf and his company, and gave them a cheery welcome. Bolli went to Kjartan and kissed him, and Kjartan took his greeting. After that they were seen into the house, Bolli was of the merriest towards them, and Olaf responded to that most heartily, but Kjartan was rather silent. The feast went off well. Now Bolli had some stud-horses which were looked upon as the best of their kind. The stallion was great and goodly, and had never failed at fight; it was light of coat, with red ears and forelock. Three mares went with it, of the same hue as the stallion. These horses Bolli wished to give to Kjartan, but Kjartan said

he was not a horsey man, and could not take the gift. Olaf bade him take the horses, “for these are most noble gifts.” Kjartan gave a flat refusal. They parted after this nowise blithely, and the Herdholtings went home, and all was quiet. Kjartan was rather gloomy all the winter, and people could have but little talk of him. Olaf thought this a great misfortune. That winter after Yule Kjartan got ready to leave home, and there were twelve of them together, bound for the countrysides of the north. They now rode on their way till they came to Asbjornness, north in Willowdale, and there Kjartan was greeted with the greatest blitheness and cheerfulness. The housing there was of the noblest. Hall, the son of Gudmund, was about twenty winters old, and took much after the kindred of the men of Salmon-river-Dale; and it is all men’s say, there was no more valiantlooking a man in all the north land. Hall greeted Kjartan, his uncle, with the greatest blitheness. Sports are now at once started at Asbjornness, and men were gathered together from far and near throughout the countrysides, and people came from the west from Midfirth and from Waterness and Waterdale all the way and from out of Longdale, and there was a great gathering together. It was the talk of all folk how strikingly Kjartan showed above other men. Now the sports were set going, and Hall took the lead. He asked Kjartan to join in the play, “and I wish, kinsman, you would show your courtesy in this.” Kjartan said, “I have been training for sports but little of late, for there were other things to do with King Olaf, but I will not refuse you this for once.” So Kjartan now got ready to play, and the strongest men there were chosen out to go against him. The game went on all day long, but no man had either strength or litheness of limb to cope with Kjartan. And in the evening when the games were ended, Hall stood up and said, “It is the wish and offer of my father concerning those men who have come from the farthest hither, that they all stay here over night and take up the pastime again to-morrow.” At this message there was made a good cheer, and the offer deemed worthy of a great man. Kalf Asgeirson was there, and he and Kjartan were dearly fond of each other. His sister Hrefna was there also, and was dressed most showily. There were over a hundred (i.e. over 120) men in the house that night. And the next day sides were divided for the games again. Kjartan sat by A Black Arrow resource

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and looked on at the sports. Thurid, his sister, went to talk to him, and said, “It is told me, brother, that you have been rather silent all the winter, and men say it must be because you are pining after Gudrun, and set forth as a proof thereof that no fondness now is shown between you and Bolli, such as through all time there had been between you. Do now the good and befitting thing, and don’t allow yourself to take this to heart, and grudge not your kinsman a good wife. To me it seems your best counsel to marry, as you bespoke it last summer, although the match be not altogether even for you, where Hrefna is, for such a match you cannot find within this land. Asgeir, her father, is a noble and a high-born man, and he does not lack wealth wherewith to make this match fairer still; moreover, another daughter of his is married to a mighty man. You have also told me yourself that Kalf Asgeirson is the doughtiest of men, and their way of life is of the stateliest. It is my wish that you go and talk to Hrefna, and I ween you will find that there great wits and goodliness go together.” Kjartan took this matter up well, and said she had ably pleaded the case. After this Kjartan and Hrefna are brought together that they may have their talk by themselves, and they talked together all day. In the evening Thurid asked Kjartan how he liked the manner in which Hrefna turned her speech. He was well pleased about it, and said he thought the woman was in all ways one of the noblest as far as he could see. The next morning men were sent to Asgeir to ask him to Asbjornness. And now they had a parley between them on this affair, and Kjartan wooed Hrefna, Asgeir’s daughter. Asgeir took up the matter with a good will, for he was a wise man, and saw what an honourableoffer was made to them. Kalf, too, urged the matter on very much, saying, “I will not let anything be spared (towards the dowry).” Hrefna, in her turn, did not make unwilling answers, but bade her father follow his own counsel. So now the match was covenanted and settled before witnesses. Kjartan would hear of nothing but that the wedding should be held at Herdholt, and Asgeir and Kalf had nothing to say against it. The wedding was then settled to take place at Herdholt when five weeks of summer had passed. After that Kjartan rode home with great gifts. Olaf was delighted at these tidings, for Kjartan was much merrier than before he left home. Kjartan kept fast through Lent, following The Sagas of the Icelanders

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therein the example of no man in this land; and it is said he was the first man who ever kept fast in this land. Men thought it so wonderful a thing that Kjartan could live so long without meat, that people came over long ways to see him. In a like manner Kjartan’s other ways went beyond those of other men. Now Easter passed, and after that Kjartan and Olaf made ready a great feast. At the appointed time Asgeir and Kalf came from the north as well as Gudmund and Hall, and altogether there were sixty men. Olaf and Kjartan had already many men gathered together there. It was a most brave feast, and for a whole week the feasting went on. Kjartan made Hrefna a bridal gift of the rich head-dress, and a most famous gift was that; for no one was there so knowing or so rich as ever to have seen or possessed such a treasure, for it is the saying of thoughtful men that eight ounces of gold were woven into the coif. Kjartan was so merry at the feast that he entertained every one with his talk, telling of his journey. Men did marvel much how great were the matters that entered into that tale; for he had served the noblest of lords - King Olaf Tryggvason. And when the feast was ended Kjartan gave Gudmund and Hall good gifts, as he did to all the other great men. The father and son gained great renown from this feast. Kjartan and Hrefna loved each other very dearly.

Chapter 46 - Feast at Herdholt and the Loss of Kjartan’s Sword, A.D. 1002 Olaf and Osvif were still friends, though there was some deal of ill-will between the younger people. That summer Olaf had his feast half a month before winter. And Osvif was also making ready a feast, to be held at “Winter-nights,” and they each asked the other to their homes, with as many men as each deemed most honourable to himself. It was Osvif’s turn to go first to the feast at Olaf’s, and he came to Herdholt at the time appointed. In his company were Bolli and Gudrun and the sons of Osvif. In the morning one of the women on going down the hall was talking howthe ladies would be shown to their seats. And just as Gudrun had come right against the bedroom wherein Kjartan was wont to rest, and where even then he was dressing and slipping on a red kirtle of scarlet, he called out to the woman who had been speaking about the

seating of the women, for no one else was quicker in giving the answer, “Hrefna shall sit in the high seat and be most honoured in all things so long as I am alive.” But before this Gudrun had always had the high seat at Herdholt and everywhere else. Gudrun heard this, and looked at Kjartan and flushed up, but said nothing. The next day Gudrun was talking to Hrefna, and said she ought to coif herself with the head-dress, and show people the most costly treasure that had ever come to Iceland. Kjartan was near, but not quite close, and heard what Gudrun said, and he was quicker to answer than Hrefna. “She shall not coif herself with the headgear at this feast, for I set more store by Hrefna owning the greatest of treasures than by the guests having it to feast thereon their eyes at this time.” The feast at Olaf’s was to last a week. The next day Gudrun spoke on the sly to Hrefna, and asked her to show her the head-dress, and Hrefna said she would. The next day they went to the outbower where the precious things were kept, and Hrefna opened a chest and took out the pocket of costly stuff, and took from thence the coif and showed it to Gudrun. She unfolded the coif and looked at it a while, but said no word of praise or blame. After that Hrefna put it back, and they went to their places, and after that all was joy and amusement. And the day the guests should ride away Kjartan busied himself much about matters in hand, getting change of horses for those who had come from afar, and speeding each one on his journey as he needed. Kjartan had not his sword “King’s-gift” with him while he was taken up with these matters, yet was he seldom wont to let it go out of his hand. After this he went to his room where the sword had been, and found it now gone. He then went and told his father of the loss. Olaf said, “We must go about this most gently. I will get men to spy into each batch of them as they ride away,” and he did so. An the White had to ride with Osvif’s company, and to keep an eye upon men turning aside, or baiting. They rode up past Lea-shaws, and past the homesteads which are called Shaws, and stopped at one of the homesteads at Shaws, and got off their horses. Thorolf, son of Osvif, went out from the homestead with a few other men. They went out of sight amongst the brushwood, whilst the others 35

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tarried at the Shaws’ homestead. An followed him all the way unto Salmonriver, where it flows out of Sælingsdale, and said he would turn back there. Thorolf said it would have done no harm though he had gone nowhere at all. The night before a little snow had fallen so that footprints could be traced. An rode back to the brushwood, and followed the footprints of Thorolf to a certain ditch or bog. He gropeddown with his hand, and grasped the hilt of a sword. An wished to have witnesses with him to this, and rode for Thorarin in Sælingsdale Tongue, and he went with An to take up the sword. After that An brought the sword back to Kjartan. Kjartan wrapt it in a cloth, and laid it in a chest. The place was afterwards called Sword-ditch, where An and Thorarin had found the “King’s-gift.” This was all kept quiet. The scabbard was never found again. Kjartan always treasured the sword less hereafter than heretofore. This affair Kjartan took much to heart, and would not let the matter rest there. Olaf said, “Do not let it pain you; true, they have done a nowise pretty trick, but you have got no harm from it. We shall not let people have this to laugh at, that we make a quarrel about such a thing, these being but friends and kinsmen on the other side.” And through these reasonings of Olaf, Kjartan let matters rest in quiet. After that Olaf got ready to go to the feast at Laugar at “winter nights,” and told Kjartan he must go too. Kjartan was very unwilling thereto, but promised to go at the bidding of his father. Hrefna was also to go, but she wished to leave her coif behind. “Goodwife,” Thorgerd said, “whenever will you take out such a peerless keepsake if it is to lie down in chests when you go to feasts?” Hrefna said, “Many folk say that it is not unlikely that I may come to places where I have fewer people to envy me than at Laugar.” Thorgerd said, “I have no great belief in people who let suchthings fly here from house to house.” And because Thorgerd urged it eagerly Hrefna took the coif, and Kjartan did not forbid it when he saw how the will of his mother went. After that they betake themselves to the journey and came to Laugar in the evening, and had a goodly welcome there. Thorgerd and Hrefna handed out their clothes to be taken care of. But in the morning when the women should dress themselves Hrefna looked for the coif and 36

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it was gone from where she had put it away. It was looked for far and near, and could not be found. Gudrun said it was most likely the coif had been left behind at home, or that she had packed it so carelessly that it had fallen out on the way. Hrefna now told Kjartan that the coif was lost. He answered and said it was no easy matter to try to make them take care of things, and bade her now leave matters quiet; and told his father what game was up. Olaf said, “My will is still as before, that you leave alone and let pass by this trouble and I will probe this matter to the bottom in quiet; for I would do anything that you and Bolli should not fall out. Best to bind up a whole flesh, kinsman,” says he. Kjartan said, “I know well, father, that you wish the best for everybody in this affair; yet I know not whether I can put up with being thus overborne by these folk of Laugar.” The day that men were to ride away from the feast Kjartan raised his voice and said, “I call on you, Cousin Bolli, to show yourself more willing henceforth than hitherto to do to us as behovesa good man and true. I shall not set this matter forth in a whisper, for within the knowledge of many people it is that a loss has befallen here of a thing which we think has slipped into your own keep. This harvest, when we gave a feast at Herdholt, my sword was taken; it came back to me, but not the scabbard. Now again there has been lost here a keepsake which men will esteem a thing of price. Come what may, I will have them both back.” Bolli answered, “What you put down to me, Kjartan, is not my fault, and I should have looked for anything else from you sooner than that you would charge me with theft.” Kjartan says, “I must think that the people who have been putting their heads together in this affair are so near to you that it ought to be in your power to make things good if you but would. You affront us far beyond necessity, and long we have kept peaceful in face on your enmity. But now it must be made known that matters will not rest as they are now.” Then Gudrun answered his speech and said, “Now you rake up a fire which it would be better should not smoke. Now, let it be granted, as you say, that there be some people here who have put their heads together with a view to the coif disappearing. I can only think that they have gone and taken what was their own. Think what you like of what has

become of the head-dress, but I cannot say I dislike it though it should be bestowed in such a way as that Hrefna should have little chance to improve her apparel with it henceforth.” After that they parted heavy of heart, and the Herdholtings rode home. That was the end of the feasts, yet everything was to all appearances quiet. Nothing was ever heard of the head-dress. But many people held the truth to be that Thorolf had burnt it in fire by the order of Gudrun, his sister. Early that winter Asgeir Eider-drake died. His sons inherited his estate and chattels.

Chapter 47 - Kjartan goes to Laugar, and of the Bargain for Tongue, A.D. 1003 After Yule that winter Kjartan got men together, and they mustered sixty men altogether. Kjartan did not tell his father the reason of his journey, and Olaf asked but little about it. Kjartan took with him tents and stores, and rode on his way until he came to Laugar. He bade his men get off their horses, and said that some should look after the horses and some put up the tents. At that time it was the custom that outhouses were outside, and not so very far away from the dwelling-house, and so it was at Laugar. Kjartan had all the doors of the house taken, and forbade all the inmates to go outside, and for three nights he made them do their errands within the house. After that Kjartan rode home to Herdholt, and each of his followers rode to his own home. Olaf was veryill-pleased with this raid, but Thorgerd said there was no reason for blame, for the men of Laugar had deserved this, yea, and a still greater shame. Then Hrefna said, “Did you have any talk with any one at Laugar, Kjartan?” He answered, “There was but little chance of that,” and said he and Bolli had exchanged only a few words. Then Hrefna smiled and said, “It was told me as truth that you and Gudrun had some talk together, and I have likewise heard how she was arrayed, that she had coifed herself with the head-dress, and it suited her exceeding well.” Kjartan answered, and coloured up, and it was easy to see he was angry with her for making a mockery of this. “Nothing of what you say, Hrefna, passed before my eyes, and there was no need for Gudrun to coif herself with the head-dress to look statelier than all other A Black Arrow resource

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women.” Thereat Hrefna dropped the talk. The men of Laugar bore this exceedingly ill, and thought it by much a greater and worse disgrace than if Kjartan had even killed a man or two of them. The sons of Osvif were the wildest over this matter, but Bolli quieted them rather. Gudrun was the fewest-spoken on the matter, yet men gathered from her words that it was uncertain whether any one took it as sorely to heart as she did. Full enmity now grows up between the men of Laugar and the Herdholtings. As the winter wore on Hrefna gave birth to a child, a boy, and he was named Asgier. Thorarin, the goodman of Tongue, let it beknown that he wished to sell the land of Tongue. The reason was that he was drained of money, and that he thought ill-will was swelling too much between the people of the countryside, he himself being a friend of either side. Bolli thought he would like to buy the land and settle down on it, for the men of Laugar had little land and much cattle. Bolli and Gudrun rode to Tongue at the advice of Osvif; they thought it a very handy chance to be able to secure this land so near to themselves, and Osvif bade them not to let a small matter stand in the way of a covenant. Then they (Bolli and Gudrun) bespoke the purchase with Thorarin, and came to terms as to what the price should be, and also as to the kind wherein it should be paid, and the bargain was settled with Thorarin. But the buying was not done in the presence of witnesses, for there were not so many men there at the time as were lawfully necessary. Bolli and Gudrun rode home after that. But when Kjartan Olafson hears of these tidings he rides off with twelve men, and came to Tongue early one day. Thorarin greeted him well, and asked him to stay there. Kjartan said he must ride back again in the morning, but would tarry there for some time. Thorarin asked his errand, and Kjartan said, “My errand here is to speak about a certain sale of land that you and Bolli have agreed upon, for it is very much against my wishes if you sell this land to Bolli and Gudrun.” Thorarin said that to do otherwise would be unbecoming to him, “For the price that Bolli has offered for the land is liberal, and is to be paid up speedily.” Kjartan said, “You shall come in for no loss even if Bolli does not buy your land; for I will buy it at the same price, and it will not be of much avail to you to speak against what I have made up my mind to have done. Indeed The Sagas of the Icelanders

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it will soon be found out that I shall want to have the most to say within this countryside, being more ready, however, to do the will of others than that of the men of Laugar.” Thorarin answered, “Mighty to me will be the master’s word in this matter, but it would be most to my mind that this bargain should be left alone as I and Bolli have settled it.” Kjartan said, “I do not call that a sale of land which is not bound by witnesses. Now you do one of two things, either sell me the lands on the same terms as you agreed upon with the others, or live on your land yourself.” Thorarin chooses to sell him the land, and witnesses were forthwith taken to the sale, and after the purchase Kjartan rode home. That same evening this was told at Laugar. Then Gudrun said, “It seems to me, Bolli, that Kjartan has given you two choices somewhat harder than those he gave Thorarin - that you must either leave the countryside with little honour, or show yourself at some meeting with him a good deal less slow than you have been heretofore.” Bolli did not answer, but went forthwith away from this talk. All was quiet now throughout what was left of Lent. The third day after Easter Kjartan rode from home with one other man, on the beach, for a follower. They came to Tongue in the day. Kjartan wished Thorarin to ride with them to Saurby to gather in debts due to him, for Kjartan had much money-at-call in these parts. But Thorarin had ridden to another place. Kjartan stopped there awhile, and waited for him. That same day Thorhalla the Chatterbox was come there. She asked Kjartan where he was minded to go. He said he was going west to Saurby. She asked, “Which road will you take?” Kjartan replied, “I am going by Sælingsdale to the west, and by Swinedale from the west.” She asked how long he would be. Kjartan answered, “Most likely I shall be riding from the west next Thursday (the fifth day of the week).” “Would you do an errand for me?” said Thorhalla. “I have a kinsman west at Whitedale and Saurby; he has promised me half a mark’s worth of homespun, and I would like you to claim it for me, and bring it with you from the west.” Kjartan promised to do this. After this Thorarin came home, and betook himself to the journey with them. They rode westward over Sælingsdale heath, and came to Hol in the evening to the brothers and

sister there. There Kjartan got the best of welcomes, for between him and them there was the greatest friendship. Thorhalla the Chatterbox came home to Laugar that evening. The sons of Osvif asked her who she had met during the day. She said she had met Kjartan Olafson. They asked where he was going. She answered, tellingthem all she knew about it, “And never has he looked braver than now, and it is not wonderful at all that such men should look upon everything as low beside themselves;” and Thorhalla still went on, “and it was clear to me that Kjartan liked to talk of nothing so well as of his land bargain with Thorarin.” Gudrun spoke, “Kjartan may well do things as boldly as it pleases him, for it is proven that for whatever insult he may pay others, there is none who dares even to shoot a shaft at him.” Present at this talk of Gudrun and Thorhalla were both Bolli and the sons of Osvif. Ospak and his brothers said but little, but what there was, rather stinging for Kjartan, as was always their way. Bolli behaved as if he did not hear, as he always did when Kjartan was spoken ill of, for his wont was either to hold his peace, or to gainsay them.

Chapter 48 - The Men of Laugar and Gudrun plan an Ambush for Kjartan, A.D. 1003 Kjartan spent the fourth day after Easter at Hol, and there was the greatest merriment and gaiety. The night after An was very ill at ease in his sleep, so they waked him. They asked him what he had dreamt. He answered, “A woman came to me most evil-looking and pulled me forth unto the bedside.She had in one hand a short sword, and in the other a trough; she drove the sword into my breast and cut open all the belly, and took out all my inwards and put brushwood in their place. After that she went outside.” Kjartan and the others laughed very much at this dream, and said he should be called An “brushwood belly,” and they caught hold of him and said they wished to feel if he had the brushwood in his stomach. Then Aud said, “There is no need to mock so much at this; and my counsel is that Kjartan do one of two things: either tarry here longer, or, if he will ride away, then let him ride with more followers hence than hither he did.” Kjartan said, “You may hold An ‘brushwood belly’ a 37

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man very sage as he sits and talks to you all day, since you think that whatever he dreams must be a very vision, but go I must, as I have already made up my mind to, in spite of this dream.” Kjartan got ready to go on the fifth day in Easter week; and at the advice of Aud, so did Thorkell Whelp and Knut his brother. They rode on the way with Kjartan a band of twelve together. Kjartan came to Whitedale and fetched the homespun for Thorhalla Chatterbox as he had said he would. After that he rode south through Swinedale. It is told how at Laugar in Sælingsdale Gudrun was early afoot directly after sunrise. She went to where her brothers were sleeping. She roused Ospak and he woke up at once, and then too the other brothers. And when Ospak saw that therewas his sister, he asked her what she wanted that she was up so early. Gudrun said she wanted to know what they would be doing that day. Ospak said he would keep at rest, “for there is little work to do.” Gudrun said, “You would have the right sort of temper if you were the daughters of some peasant, letting neither good nor bad be done by you. Why, after all the disgrace and shame that Kjartan has done to you, you none the less lie quietly sleeping, though he rides past this place with but one other man. Such men indeed are richly endowed with the memory of swine. I think it is past hoping that you will ever have courage enough to go and seek out Kjartan in his home, if you dare not meet him now that he rides with but one other man or two; but here you sit at home and bear yourselves as if you were hopeful men; yea, in sooth there are too many of you.” Ospak said she did not mince matters and it was hard to gainsay her, and he sprang up forthwith and dressed, as did also each of the brothers one after the other. Then they got ready to lay an ambush for Kjartan. Then Gudrun called on Bolli to bestir him with them. Bolli said it behoved him not for the sake of his kinship with Kjartan, set forth how lovingly Olaf had brought him up. Gudrun answered, “Therein you speak the truth, but you will not have the good luck always to do what pleases all men, and if you cut yourself out of this journey, our married life must be at an end.” And through Gudrun’s harping onthe matter Bolli’s mind swelled at all the enmity and guilts that lay at the door of Kjartan, and speedily he donned his weapons, and they 38

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grew a band of nine together. There were the five sons of Osvif - Ospak, Helgi, Vandrad, Torrad, and Thorolf. Bolli was the sixth and Gudlaug, the son of Osvif’s sister, the hopefullest of men, the seventh. There were also Odd and Stein, sons of Thorhalla Chatterbox. They rode to Swinedale and took up their stand beside the gill which is called Goat-gill. They bound up their horses and sat down. Bolli was silent all day, and lay up on the top of the gill bank. Now when Kjartan and his followers were come south past Narrowsound, where the dale begins to widen out, Kjartan said that Thorkell and the others had better turn back. Thorkell said they would ride to the end of the dale. Then when they came south past the outdairies called Northdairies Kjartan spake to the brothers and bade them not to ride any farther. “Thorolf the thief,” he said, “shall not have that matter to laugh at that I dare not ride on my way with few men.” Thorkell Whelp said, “We will yield to you in not following you any farther; but we should rue it indeed not to be near if you should stand in need of men to-day.” Then Kjartan said, “Never will Bolli, my kinsman, join hands with plotters against my life. But if the sons of Osvif lie in wait for me, there is no knowing which side will live to tell the tale, even though I may have some odds to deal with.” Thereupon the brothers rode back to the west.

Chapter 49 - The Death of Kjartan Now Kjartan rode south through the dale, he and they three together, himself, An the Black, and Thorarin. Thorkell was the name of a man who lived at Goatpeaks in Swinedale, where now there is waste land. He had been seeing after his horses that day, and a shepherd of his with him. They saw the two parties, the men of Laugar in ambush and Kjartan and his where they were riding down the dale three together. Then the shepherd said they had better turn to meet Kjartan and his; it would be, quoth he, a great good hap to them if they could stave off so great a trouble as now both sides were steering into. Thorkell said, “Hold your tongue at once. Do you think, fool as you are, you will ever give life to a man to whom fate has ordained death? And, truth to tell, I would spare neither of them from having now as evil dealings together as they like. It seems to me a better plan for us to get

to a place where we stand in danger of nothing, and from where we can have a good look at their meeting, so as to have some fun over theirplay. For all men make a marvel thereof, how Kjartan is of all men the best skilled at arms. I think he will want it now, for we two know how overwhelming the odds are.” And so it had to be as Thorkell wished. Kjartan and his followers now rode on to Goat-gill. On the other hand the sons of Osvif misdoubt them why Bolli should have sought out a place for himself from where he might well be seen by men riding from the west. So they now put their heads together, and, being of one mind that Bolli was playing them false, they go for him up unto the brink and took to wrestling and horse-playing with him, and took him by the feet and dragged him down over the brink. But Kjartan and his followers came up apace as they were riding fast, and when they came to the south side of the gill they saw the ambush and knew the men. Kjartan at once sprung off his horse and turned upon the sons of Osvif. There stood near by a great stone, against which Kjartan ordered they should wait the onset (he and his). Before they met Kjartan flung his spear, and it struck through Thorolf’s shield above the handle, so that therewith the shield was pressed against him, the spear piercing the shield and the arm above the elbow, where it sundered the main muscle, Thorolf dropping the shield, and his arm being of no avail to him through the day. Thereupon Kjartan drew his sword, but he held not the “King’s-gift.” The sons of Thorhalla went at Thorarin, for that was the task allotted to them. That outset was ahard one, for Thorarin was mightily strong, and it was hard to tell which would outlast the other. Osvif’s sons and Gudlaug set on Kjartan, they being five together, and Kjartan and An but two. An warded himself valiantly, and would ever be going in front of Kjartan. Bolli stood aloof with Footbiter. Kjartan smote hard, but his sword was of little avail (and bent so), he often had to straighten it under his foot. In this attack both the sons of Osvif and An were wounded, but Kjartan had no wound as yet. Kjartan fought so swiftly and dauntlessly that Osvif’s sons recoiled and turned to where An was. At that moment An fell, having fought for some time, with his inwards coming out. In this attack Kjartan cut off A Black Arrow resource

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one leg of Gudlaug above the knee, and that hurt was enough to cause death. Then the four sons of Osvif made an onset on Kjartan, but he warded himself so bravely that in no way did he give them the chance of any advantage. Then spake Kjartan, “Kinsman Bolli, why did you leave home if you meant quietly to stand by? Now the choice lies before you, to help one side or the other, and try now how Footbiter will do.” Bolli made as if he did not hear. And when Ospak saw that they would no how bear Kjartan over, he egged on Bolli in every way, and said he surely would not wish that shame to follow after him, to have promised them his aid in this fight and not to grant it now. “Why, heavy enough in dealings with us was Kjartan then, when by none so big a deed as this we had offended him; but ifKjartan is now to get away from us, then for you, Bolli, as even for us, the way to exceeding hardships will be equally short.” Then Bolli drew Footbiter, and now turned upon Kjartan. Then Kjartan said to Bolli, “Surely thou art minded now, my kinsman, to do a dastard’s deed; but oh, my kinsman, I am much more fain to take my death from you than to cause the same to you myself.” Then Kjartan flung away his weapons and would defend himself no longer; yet he was but slightly wounded, though very tired with fighting. Bolli gave no answer to Kjartan’s words, but all the same he dealt him his deathwound. And straightway Bolli sat down under the shoulders of him, and Kjartan breathed his last in the lap of Bolli. Bolli rued at once his deed, and declared the manslaughter due to his hand. Bolli sent the sons of Osvif into the countryside, but he stayed behind together with Thorarin by the dead bodies. And when the sons of Osvif came to Laugar they told the tidings. Gudrun gave out her pleasure thereat, and then the arm of Thorolf was bound up; it healed slowly, and was never after any use to him. The body of Kjartan was brought home to Tongue, but Bolli rode home to Laugar. Gudrun went to meet him, and asked what time of day it was. Bolli said it was near noontide. Then spake Gudrun, “Harm spurs on to hard deeds (work); I have spun yarn for twelve ells of homespun, and you have killed Kjartan.” Bolli replied, “Thatunhappy deed might well go late from my mind even if you did not remind me of it.” Gudrun said “Such The Sagas of the Icelanders

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things I do not count among mishaps. It seemed to me you stood in higher station during the year Kjartan was in Norway than now, when he trod you under foot when he came back to Iceland. But I count that last which to me is dearest, that Hrefna will not go laughing to her bed to-night.” Then Bolli said and right wroth he was, “I think it is quite uncertain that she will turn paler at these tidings than you do; and I have my doubts as to whether you would not have been less startled if I had been lying behind on the field of battle, and Kjartan had told the tidings.” Gudrun saw that Bolli was wroth, and spake, “Do not upbraid me with such things, for I am very grateful to you for your deed; for now I think I know that you will not do anything against my mind.” After that Osvif’s sons went and hid in an underground chamber, which had been made for them in secret, but Thorhalla’s sons were sent west to Holy-Fell to tell Snorri Godi the Priest these tidings, and therewith the message that they bade him send them speedily all availing strength against Olaf and those men to whom it came to follow up the blood-suit after Kjartan. At Sælingsdale Tongue it happened, the night after the day on which the fight befell, that An sat up, he who they had all thought was dead. Those who waked the bodies were very much afraid, and thought this a wondrous marvel. Then An spake to them, “I beg you, in God’sname, not to be afraid of me, for I have had both my life and my wits all unto the hour when on me fell the heaviness of a swoon. Then I dreamed of the same woman as before, and methought she now took the brushwood out of my belly and put my own inwards in instead, and the change seemed good to me.” Then the wounds that An had were bound up and he became a hale man, and was ever afterwards called An Brushwood-belly. But now when Olaf Hoskuld’s son heard these tidings he took the slaying of Kjartan most sorely to heart, though he bore it like a brave man. His sons wanted to set on Bolli forthwith and kill him. Olaf said, “Far be it from me, for my son is none the more atoned to me though Bolli be slain; moreover, I loved Kjartan before all men, but as to Bolli, I could not bear any harm befalling him. But I see a more befitting business for you to do. Go ye and meet the sons of Thorhalla, who

are now sent to Holy-Fell with the errand of summoning up a band against us. I shall be well pleased for you to put them to any penalty you like.” Then Olaf’s sons swiftly turn to journeying, and went on board a ferry-boat that Olaf owned, being seven of them together, and rowed out down Hvamsfirth, pushing on their journey at their lustiest. They had but little wind, but fair what there was, and they rowed with the sail until they came under Scoreisle, where they tarried for some while and asked about the journeyings of men thereabouts. A little while after they saw a ship coming from the west across the firth, and soon they saw who the men were, for there were the sons of Thorhalla, and Halldor and his followers boarded them straightway. They met with no resistance, for the sons of Olaf leapt forthwith on board their ships and set upon them. Stein and his brother were laid hands on and beheaded overboard. The sons of Olaf now turn back, and their journey was deemed to have sped most briskly.

Chapter 50 - The End of Hrefna. The Peace Settled, A.D. 1003 Olaf went to meet Kjartan’s body. He sent men south to Burg to tell Thorstein Egilson these tidings, and also that he would have his help for the bloodsuit; and if any great men should band themselves together against him with the sons of Osvif, he said he wanted to have the whole matter in his own hands. The same message he sent north to Willowdale, to Gudmund, his son-inlaw, and to the sons of Asgeir; with the further information that he had charged as guilty of the slaying of Kjartan all the men who had taken part in the ambush, except Ospak, son of Osvif, for he was already under outlawry because of a woman who was called Aldis, the daughter of Holmganga-Ljot of Ingjaldsand. Their son was Ulf,who later became a marshal to King Harold Sigurdsson, and had for wife Jorunn, the daughter of Thorberg. Their son was Jon, father of Erlend the Laggard, the father of Archbishop Egstein. Olaf had proclaimed that the blood-suit should be taken into court at Thorness Thing. He had Kjartan’s body brought home, and a tent was rigged over it, for there was as yet no church built in the Dales. But when Olaf heard 39

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that Thorstein had bestirred him swiftly and raised up a band of great many men, and that the Willowdale men had done likewise, he had men gathered together throughout all the Dales, and a great multitude they were. The whole of this band Olaf sent to Laugar, with this order: “It is my will that you guard Bolli if he stand in need thereof, and do it no less faithfully than if you were following me; for my mind misgives me that the men from beyond this countryside, whom, coming soon, we shall be having on our hands, will deem that they have somewhat of a loss to make up with Bolli. And when he had put the matter in order in this manner, Thorstein, with his following, and also the Willowdale men, came on, all wild with rage. Hall Gudmund’s son and Kalf Asgeirson egged them on most to go and force Bolli to let search be made for the sons of Osvif till they should be found, for they could be gone nowhere out of the countryside. But because Olaf set himself so much against their making a raid on Laugar, messages of peace were borne between the two parties, and Bolli was most willing, and bade Olaf settle all terms on his behalf, and Osvif said it was not in his power to speak against this, for no help had come to him from Snorri the Priest. A peace meeting, therefore, took place at Lea-Shaws, and the whole case was laid freely in Olaf’s hand. For the slaughter of Kjartan there were to come such fines and penalties as Olaf liked. Then the peace meeting came to an end. Bolli, by the counsel of Olaf, did not go to this meeting. The award should be made known at Thorness Thing. Now the Mere-men and Willowdale men rode to Herdholt. Thorstein Kuggison begged for Asgeir, son of Kjartan, to foster, as a comfort to Hrefna. Hrefna went north with her brothers, and was much weighed down with grief, nevertheless she bore her sorrow with dignity, and was easy of speech with every man. Hrefna took no other husband after Kjartan. She lived but a little while after coming to the north; and the tale goes that she died of a broken heart.

Chapter 51 - Osvif’s Sons are Banished Kjartan’s body lay in state for a week in Herdholt. Thorstein Egilson had had a church built at Burg. He took the body of 40

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Kjartan home with him, and Kjartan was buried at Burg. The church was newly consecrated, and as yet hung in white. Now time wore on towards the Thorness Thing, and the award was given against Osvif’s sons, who were all banished the country. Money was given to pay the cost of their going into exile, but they were forbidden to come back to Iceland so long as any of Olaf’s sons, or Asgeir, Kjartan’s son, should be alive. For Gudlaug, the son of Osvif’s sister, no weregild (atonement) should be paid, because of his having set out against, and laid ambush for, Kjartan, neither should Thorolf have any compensation for the wounds he had got. Olaf would not let Bolli be prosecuted, and bade him ransom himself with a money fine. This Halldor and Stein, and all the sons of Olaf, liked mightily ill, and said it would go hard with Bolli if he was allowed to stay in the same countryside as themselves. Olaf saw that would work well enough as long as he was on his legs. There was a ship in Bjornhaven which belonged to Audun Cable-hound. He was at the Thing,and said, “As matters stand, the guilt of these men will be no less in Norway, so long as any of Kjartan’s friends are alive.” Then Osvif said, “You, Cable-hound, will be no soothsayer in this matter, for my sons will be highly accounted of among men of high degree, whilst you, Cable-hound, will pass, this summer, into the power of trolls.” Audun Cable-hound went out a voyage that summer and the ship was wrecked amongst the Faroe Isles and every man’s child on board perished, and Osvif’s prophecy was thought to have come thoroughly home. The sons of Osvif went abroad that summer, and none ever came back again. In such a manner the blood-suit came to an end that Olaf was held to have shown himself all the greater a man, because where it was due, in the case of the sons of Osvif, to wit, he drove matters home to the very bone, but spared Bolli for the sake of their kinship. Olaf thanked men well for the help they had afforded him. By Olaf’s counsel Bolli bought the land at Tongue. It is told that Olaf lived three winters after Kjartan was slain. After he was dead his sons shared the inheritance he left behind. Halldor took over the manor of Herdholt. Thorgerd, their mother, lived with Halldor; she was most hatefully-minded towards Bolli, and thought the reward he paid for his fostering a bitter one.

Chapter 52 - The Killing of Thorkell of Goat’s Peak In the spring Bolli and Gudrun set up householding at Sælingsdale-Tongue, and it soon became a stately one. Bolli and Gudrun begat a son. To that boy a name was given, and he was called Thorleik; he was early a very fine lad, and a right nimble one. Halldor Olafson lived at Herdholt, as has before been written, and he was in most matters at the head of his brothers. The spring that Kjartan was slain Thorgerd Egil’s daughter placed a lad, as kin to her, with Thorkell of GoatPeaks, and the lad herded sheep there through the summer. Like other people he was much grieved over Kjartan’s death. He could never speak of Kjartan if Thorkell was near, for he always spoke ill of him, and said he had been a “white” man and of no heart; he often mimicked how Kjartan had taken his death-wound. The lad took this very ill, and went to Herdholt and told Halldor and Thorgerd and begged them to take him in. Thorgerd bade him remain in his service till the winter. The lad said he had no strength to bear being there any longer. “And you would not ask this of me if you knew what heart-burn I suffer from all this.” Then Thorgerd’s heart turned at the tale of his grief, and she said that as far as she was concerned, she would make a place for him there. Halldor said, “Give no heed to this lad, he is not worth taking inearnest.” Then Thorgerd answered, “The lad is of little account,” says she, “but Thorkell has behaved evilly in every way in this matter, for he knew of the ambush the men of Laugar laid for Kjartan, and would not warn him, but made fun and sport of their dealings together, and has since said many unfriendly things about the matter; but it seems a matter far beyond you brothers ever to seek revenge where odds are against you, now that you cannot pay out for their doings such scoundrels as Thorkell is.” Halldor answered little to that, but bade Thorgerd do what she liked about the lad’s service. A few days after Halldor rode from home, he and sundry other men together. He went to Goat-Peaks, and surrounded Thorkell’s house. Thorkell was led out and slain, and he met his death with the utmost cowardice. Halldor allowed no plunder, and they went home when this was done. Thorgerd was well pleased over this deed, A Black Arrow resource

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and thought this reminder better than none. That summer all was quiet, so to speak, and yet there was the greatest illwill between the sons of Olaf and Bolli. The brothers bore themselves in the most unyielding manner towards Bolli, while he gave in to his kinsmen in all matters as long as he did not lower himself in any way by so doing, for he was a very proud man. Bolli had many followers and lived richly, for there was no lack of money. Steinthor, Olaf’s son, lived in Danastead in Salmon-river-Dale. He had for wife Thurid, Asgeir’s daughter, who had before been married to Thorkell Kuggi. Their son was Steinthor, who was called “Stone-grig.”

Chapter 53 - Thorgerd’s Egging, A.D. 1007 The next winter after the death of Olaf Hoskuldson, Thorgerd, Egil’s daughter, sent word to her son Steinthor that he should come and meet her. When the mother and son met she told him she wished to go up west to Saurby, and see her friend Aud. She told Halldor to come too. They were five together, and Halldor followed his mother. They went on till they came to a place in front of the homestead of Sælingsdale Tongue. Then Thorgerd turned her horse towards the house and asked, “What is this place called?” Halldor answered, “You ask this, mother, not because you don’t know it. This place is called Tongue.” “Who lives here?” said she. He answered, “You know that, mother.” Thorgerd said and snorted, “I know that well enough,” she said. “Here lives Bolli, the slayer of your brother, and marvellously unlike your noble kindred you turn out in that you will not avenge such a brother as Kjartan was; never would Egil, your mother’s father, have behaved in such a manner; and a piteous thing it is to have dolts for sons; indeed, I think it would have suited you better if you had been your father’s daughter and had married. For here, Halldor, it comes to the old saw: ‘No stock without a duffer,’ and this is the ill-luck of Olaf I see most clearly, how he blundered in begetting his sons. This I would bring home to you, Halldor,” says she, “because you look upon yourself as being the foremost among your brothers. Now we will turn back again, for all my errand here was to put you in mind of this, lest you should have forgotten it already.” The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Then Halldor answered, “We shall not put it down as your fault, mother, if this should slip out of our minds.” By way of answer Halldor had few words to say about this, but his heart swelled with wrath towards Bolli. The winter now passed and summer came, and time glided on towards the Thing. Halldor and his brothers made it known that they will ride to the Thing. They rode with a great company, and set up the booth Olaf had owned. The Thing was quiet, and no tidings to tell of it. There were at the Thing from the north the Willowdale men, the sons of Gudmund Solmundson. Bardi Gudmundson was then eighteen winters old; he was a great and strong man. The sons of Olaf asked Bardi, their nephew, to go home with them, and added many pressing words to the invitation. Hall, the son of Gudmund, was not in Iceland then. Bardi took up their bidding gladly, for there was much love between those kinsmen. Bardi rode west from the Thing with the sons of Olaf. They came home to Herdholt, and Bardi tarried the rest of the summer time.

Chapter 54 - Halldor prepares to avenge Kjartan They plan revenge,Now Halldor told Bardi in secret that the brothers had made up their minds to set on Bolli, for they could no longer withstand the taunts of their mother. “And we will not conceal from you, kinsman Bardi, that what mostly lay behind the invitation to you was this, that we wished to have your help and fellowship.” Then Bardi answered, “That will be a matter ill spoken of, to break the peace on one’s own kinsmen, and on the other hand it seems to me nowise an easy thing to set on Bolli. He has many men about him and is himself the best of fighters, and is not at a loss for wise counsel with Gudrun and Osvif at his side. Taking all these matters together they seem to me nowise easy to overcome.” Halldor said, “There are things we stand more in need of than to make the most of the difficulties of this affair. Nor have I broached it till I knew that it must come to pass, that we make earnest of wreaking revenge on Bolli. And I hope, kinsman, you will not withdraw from doing this journey with us.” Bardi answered, “I know you do not think it likely that I will draw back, neither do I desire to do so if I see that I

cannot get you to give it up yourselves.” “There you do your share in the matter honourably,” said Halldor, “as was to be looked forfrom you.” Bardi said they must set about it with care. Halldor said he had heard that Bolli had sent his house-carles from home, some north to Ramfirth to meet a ship and some out to Middlefell strand. “It is also told me that Bolli is staying at the out-dairy in Sælingsdale with no more than the house-carles who are doing the haymaking. And it seems to me we shall never have a better chance of seeking a meeting with Bolli than now.” So this then Halldor and Bardi settled between them. There was a man named Thorstein the Black, a wise man and wealthy; he lived at Hundidale in the Broadfirth-Dales; he had long been a friend of Olaf Peacock’s. A sister of Thorstein was called Solveig; she was married to a man who was named Helgi, who was son of Hardbein. Helgi was a very tall and strong man, and a great sailor; he had lately come to Iceland, and was staying with his brother-in-law Thorstein. Halldor sent word to Thorstein the Black and Helgi his brother-in-law, and when they were come to Herdholt Halldor told them what he was about, and how he meant to carry it out, and asked them to join in the journey with him. Thorstein showed an utter dislike of this undertaking, saying, “It is the most heinous thing that you kinsmen should go on killing each other off like that; and now there are but few men left in your family equal to Bolli.” But though Thorstein spoke in this wise it went for nought. Halldor sent word to Lambi, his father’s brother, and when he came and met Halldor he told him what he was about, and Lambi urged hard that this should be carried out. Goodwife Thorgerd also egged them on eagerly to make an earnest of their journey, and said she should never look upon Kjartan as avenged until Bolli paid for him with his life. After this they got ready for the journey. In this raid there were the four sons of Olaf and the fifth was Bardi. There were the sons of Olaf, Halldor, Steinthor, Helgi, and Hoskuld, but Bardi was Gudmund’s son. Lambi was the sixth, the seventh was Thorstein, and the eighth Helgi, his brother-in-law, the ninth An Brushwood-belly. Thorgerd betook herself also to the raid with them; but they set themselves against it, and said that such were no journeys for 41

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women. She said she would go indeed, “For so much I know of you, my sons, that whetting is what you want.” They said she must have her own way.

Chapter 55 - The Death of Bolli After that they rode away from home out of Herdholt, the nine of them together, Thorgerd making the tenth. They rode up along the foreshore and so to Lea-shaws during the early part of the night. They did not stop before they got to Sælingsdale in the early morning tide. There was a thick wood in the valley at that time. Bolli was there in the out-dairy, as Halldor had heard. The dairy stood near the river at the place now called Bolli’s-tofts. Above the dairy there is a large hill-rise stretching all the way down to Stack-gill. Between the mountain slope above and the hill-rise there is a wide meadow called Barni; it was there Bolli’s house-carles were working. Halldor and his companions rode across Ran-meads unto Oxgrove, and thence above Hammer-Meadow, which was right against the dairy. They knew there were many men at the dairy, so they got off their horses with a view to biding the time when the men should leave the dairy for their work. Bolli’s shepherd went early that morning after the flocks up into the mountain side, and from there he saw the men in the wood as well as the horses tied up, and misdoubted that those who went on the sly in this manner would be no men of peace. So forthwith he makes for the dairy by the straightest cut in order to tell Bolli that men were come there. Halldor was a man of keen sight. He saw how that a man was running down the mountain side and making for the dairy. He said to his companions that “That must surely be Bolli’s shepherd, and he must have seen our coming; so we must go and meet him, and let him take no news to the dairy.” They did as he bade them. An Brushwood-belly went the fastest of them and overtook the man, picked him up, and flung him down. Such was that fall that the lad’s back-bone was broken. After that they rode to the dairy. Now the dairy was divided into two parts, the sleeping-room and the byre. Bolli had been early afoot in the morning ordering the men to their work, and had lain down again to sleep when the housecarles went away. In the dairy therefore there were left the two, Gudrun and Bolli. 42

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They awoke with the din when they got off their horses, and they also heard them talking as to who should first go on to the dairy to set on Bolli. Bolli knew the voice of Halldor, as well as that of sundry more of his followers. Bolli spoke to Gudrun, and bade her leave the dairy and go away, and said that their meeting would not be such as would afford her much pastime. Gudrun said she thought such things alone would befall there worthy of tidings as she might be allowed to look upon, and held that she would be of no hurt to Bolli by taking her stand near to him. Bolli said that in this matter he would have his way, and so it was that Gudrun went out of the dairy; she went down over the brink to a brook that ran there, and began to wash some linen. Bolli was now alone in the dairy; he took his weapon, set his helm on his head, held a shield before him, and had his sword, Footbiter, in his hand: he had no mail coat. Halldor and his followers were talking to each other outside as to how they should set to work, for no one was very eager to go into the dairy. Then said An Brushwood-belly, “There are men here in this train nearer in kinship to Kjartan than I am, but notone there will be in whose mind abides more steadfastly than in mine the event when Kjartan lost his life. When I was being brought more dead than alive home to Tongue, and Kjartan lay slain, my one thought was that I would gladly do Bolli some harm whenever I should get the chance. So I shall be the first to go into the dairy.” Then Thorstein the Black answered, “Most valiantly is that spoken; but it would be wiser not to plunge headlong beyond heed, so let us go warily now, for Bolli will not be standing quiet when he is beset; and however underhanded he may be where he is, you may make up your mind for a brisk defence on his part, strong and skilled at arms as he is. He also has a sword that for a weapon is a trusty one.” Then An went into the dairy hard and swift, and held his shield over his head, turning forward the narrower part of it. Bolli dealt him a blow with Footbiter, and cut off the tail-end of the shield, and clove An through the head down to the shoulder, and forthwith he gat his death. Then Lambi went in; he held his shield before him, and a drawn sword in his hand. In the nick of time Bolli pulled Footbiter out of the wound, whereat his shield veered aside so as to lay him open

to attack. So Lambi made a thrust at him in the thigh, and a great wound that was. Bolli hewed in return, and struck Lambi’s shoulder, and the sword flew down along the side of him, and he was rendered forthwith unfit to fight, and never after that time for the rest of his life was his arm anymore use to him. At this brunt Helgi, the son of Hardbien, rushed in with a spear, the head of which was an ell long, and the shaft bound with iron. When Bolli saw that he cast away his sword, and took his shield in both hands, and went towards the dairy door to meet Helgi. Helgi thrust at Bolli with the spear right through the shield and through him. Now Bolli leaned up against the dairy wall, and the men rushed into the dairy, Halldor and his brothers, to wit, and Thorgerd went into the dairy as well. Then spoke Bolli, “Now it is safe, brothers, to come nearer than hitherto you have done,” and said he weened that defence now would be but short. Thorgerd answered his speech, and said there was no need to shrink from dealing unflinchingly with Bolli, and bade them “walk between head and trunk.” Bolli stood still against the dairy wall, and held tight to him his kirtle lest his inside should come out. Then Steinthor Olafson leapt at Bolli, and hewed at his neck with a large axe just above his shoulders, and forthwith his head flew off. Thorgerd bade him “hale enjoy hands,” and said that Gudrun would have now a while a red hair to trim for Bolli. After that they went out of the dairy. Gudrun now came up from the brook, and spoke to Halldor, and asked for tidings of what had befallen in their dealings with Bolli. They told her all that had happened. Gudrun was dressed in a kirtle of “r·m”-stuff, and a tight-fitting woven bodice, a high bent coif on her head, and she had tied a scarf round her with dark-blue stripes, and fringed at the ends. Helgi Hardbienson went up to Gudrun, and caught hold of the scarf end, and wiped the blood off the spear with it, the same spear with which he had thrust Bolli through. Gudrun glanced at him and smiled slightly. Then Halldor said, “That was blackguardly and gruesomely done.” Helgi bade him not be angry about it, “For I am minded to think that under this scarf end abides undoer of my life.” Then they took their horses and rode away. Gudrun went along with them talking with them for a while, and then she turned back. A Black Arrow resource

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Chapter 56 - Bolli Bollison is born, A.D. 1008 The followers of Halldor now fell a-talking how that Gudrun must think but little of the slaying of Bolli, since she had seen them off chatting and talked to them altogether as if they had done nothing that she might take to heart. Then Halldor answered, “That is not my feeling, that Gudrun thinks little of Bolli’s death; I think the reason of her seeing us off with a chat was far rather, that she wanted to gain a thorough knowledge as to who the men were who had partaken in this journey. Nor is it too much said of Gudrun that in all mettleof mind and heart she is far above other women. Indeed, it is only what might be looked for that Gudrun should take sorely to heart the death of Bolli, for, truth to tell, in such men as was Bolli there is the greatest loss, though we kinsmen, bore not about the good luck to live in peace together.” After that they rode home to Herdholt. These tidings spread quickly far and wide and were thought startling, and at Bolli’s death there was the greatest grief. Gudrun sent straightway men to Snorri the Priest, for Osvif and she thought that all their trust was where Snorri was. Snorri started quickly at the bidding of Gudrun and came to Tongue with sixty men, and a great ease to Gudrun’s heart his coming was. He offered her to try to bring about a peaceful settlement, but Gudrun was but little minded on behalf of Thorleik to agree to taking money for the slaughter of Bolli. “It seems to me, Snorri, that the best help you can afford me,” she said, “is to exchange dwellings with me, so that I be not nextdoor neighbour to the Herdholtings.” At that time Snorri had great quarrels with the dwellers at Eyr, but said he would do this for the sake of his friendship with Gudrun. “Yet, Gudrun, you will have to stay on this year at Tongue.” Snorri then made ready to go away, and Gudrun gave him honourable gifts. And now Snorri rides away, and things went pretty quietly on that year. The next winter after the killing of Bolli Gudrun gave birth to a child; it was a male, and he was named Bolli. He was at an early age both big and goodly, and Gudrun loved him very much. Now as the winter passed by and the spring came the bargain took place which had been bespoken in that Snorri and Gudrun changed lands. Snorri went The Sagas of the Icelanders

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to Tongue and lived there for the rest of his life, and Gudrun went to Holyfell, she and Osvif, and there they set up a stately house. There Thorleik and Bolli, the sons of Gudrun, grew up. Thorleik was four years old at the time when Bolli his father was slain.

Chapter 57 - About Thorgils Hallason, A.D. 1018 There was a man named Thorgils Hallason; he was known by his mother’s name, as she lived longer than his father, whose name was Snorri, son of Alf o’ Dales. Halla, Thorgil’s mother, was daughter of Gest Oddliefson. Thorgils lived in Horddale at a place called Tongue. Thorgils was a man great and goodly of body, the greatest swaggerer, and was spoken of as one of no fairness in dealings with men. Between him and Snorri the Priest there was often little love lost, for Snorri found Thorgils both meddlesome and flaunting of demeanour. Thorgils would get up many errands on which to go west into the countryside, and always came to Holyfell offering Gudrun to look after her affairs, but she only took the matter quietly and made but little of it all. Thorgils asked for her son Thorleik to go home with him, and he stayed for the most part at Tongue and learnt law from Thorgils, for he was a man most skilled in law-craft. At that time Thorkell Eyjolfson was busy in trading journeys; he was a most renowned man, and of high birth, and withal a great friend of Snorri the Priest. He would always be staying with Thorstein Kuggison, his kinsman, when he was out here (in Iceland). Now, one time when Thorkell had a ship standing up in Vadil, on Bardistrand, it befell, in Burgfirth, that the son of Eid of Ridge was killed by the sons of Helga from Kropp. Grim was the name of the man who had done the manslaughter, and that of his brother was Nial, who was drowned in White-river; a little later on Grim was outlawed to the woods because of the manslaughter, and he lay out in the mountains whilst he was under the award of outlawry. He was a great man and strong. Eid was then very old when this happened, so the case was not followed up. People blamed Thorkell very much that he did not see matters righted. The next spring when Thorkell had got his ship ready he went south

across Broadfirth-country, and got a horse there and rode alone, not stopping in his journey till he got as far as Ridge, to Eid, his kinsman. Eid took him in joyfully. Thorkell told him his errand, how that he would go and find Grimhis outlaw, and asked Eid if he knew at all where his lair was. Eid answered, “I am nowise eager for this; it seems to me you have much to risk as to how the journey may speed, seeing that you will have to deal with a man of Hel’s strength, such as Grim. But if you will go, then start with many men, so that you may have it all your own way.” “That to me is no prowess,” said Thorkell, “to draw together a great company against one man. But what I wish is, that you would lend me the sword Skofnung, for then I ween I shall be able to overcome a mere runagate, be he never so mighty a man of his hands.” “You must have your way in this,” said Eid, “but it will not come to me unawares, if, some day, you should come to rue this wilfulness. But inasmuch as you will have it that you are doing this for my sake, what you ask for shall not be withheld, for I think Skofnung well bestowed if you bear it. But the nature of the sword is such that the sun must not shine upon its hilt, nor must it be drawn if a woman should be near. If a man be wounded by the sword the hurt may not be healed, unless the healing-stone that goes with the sword be rubbed thereon.” Thorkell said he would pay careful heed to this, and takes over the sword, asking Eid to point out to him the way to where Grim might have his lair. Eid said he was most minded to think that Grim had his lair north on TwodaysHeath by the Fishwaters. Then Thorkell rode northward upon the heath theway which Eid did point out to him, and when he had got a long way onward over the heath he saw near some great water a hut, and makes his way for it.

Chapter 58 - Thorkell and Grim, and their Voyage Abroad Thorkell now comes to the hut, he sees where a man is sitting by the water at the mouth of a brook, where he was linefishing, and had a cloak over his head. Thorkell leapt off his horse and tied it up under the wall of the hut. Then he walks down to the water to where the man was sitting. Grim saw the shadow of a man cast on the water, and springs up at once. 43

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By then Thorkell had got very nearly close up to him, and strikes at him. The blow caught him on his arm just above the wolf-joint (the wrist), but that was not a great wound. Grim sprang forthwith upon Thorkell, and they seized each other wrestling-wise, and speedily the odds of strength told, and Thorkell fell and Grim on the top of him. Then Grim asked who this man might be. Thorkell said that did not at all matter to him. Grim said, “Now things have befallen otherwise than you must have thought they would, for now your life will be in my power.” Thorkell said he would not pray for peace for himself, “for lucklessly I have taken this in hand.” Grim said he had had enough mishapsfor him to give this one the slip, “for to you some other fate is ordained than that of dying at this our meeting, and I shall give you your life, while you repay me in whatever kind you please.” Now they both stand up and walk home to the hut. Thorkell sees that Grim was growing faint from loss of blood, so he took Skofnung’s-stone and rubbed it on, and ties it to the arm of Grim, and it took forthwith all smarting pain and swelling out of the wound. They stayed there that night. In the morning Thorkell got ready to go away, and asked if Grim would go with him. He said that sure enough that was his will. Thorkell turns straightway westward without going to meet Eid, nor halted he till he came to Sælingsdale Tongue. Snorri the Priest welcomes him with great blitheness. Thorkell told him that his journey had sped lucklessly. Snorri said it had turned out well, “for Grim looks to me a man endowed with good luck, and my will is that you make matters up with him handsomely. But now, my friend, I would like to counsel you to leave off trade-journeyings, and to settle down and marry, and become a chief as befits your high birth.” Thorkell answered, “Often your counsels have stood me in good stead,” and he asked if Snorri had bethought him of the woman he should woo. Snorri answers, “You must woo the woman who is the best match for you, and that woman is Gudrun, Osvif’s daughter.” Thorkell said it was true that a marriage with her would be an honourable one. “But,” says he, “I think her fierceheart and recklessmindedness weigh heavily, for she will want to have her husband, Bolli, avenged. Besides, it is said that on this matter 44

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there is some understanding between her and Thorgils Hallason, and it may be that this will not be altogether to his liking. Otherwise, Gudrun pleases me well.” Snorri said, “I will undertake to see that no harm shall come to you from Thorgils; but as to the revenge for Bolli, I am rather in hopes that concerning that matter some change will have befallen before these seasons (this year) are out.” Thorkell answered, “It may be that these be no empty words you are speaking now. But as to the revenge of Bolli, that does not seem to me more likely to happen now than it did a while ago, unless into that strife some of the greater men may be drawn.” Snorri said, “I should be well pleased to see you go abroad once more this summer, to let us see then what happens.” Thorkell said so it should be, and they parted, leaving matters where they now stood. Thorkell went west over Broadfirth-country to his ship. He took Grim with him abroad. They had a good summer-voyage, and came to the south of Norway. Then Thorkell said to Grim, “You know how the case stands, and what things happened to bring about our acquaintance, so I need say nothing about that matter; but I would fain that it should turn out better than at one time it seemed likely it would. I have found you a valiant man, and for that reason I will so part from you, as if I had never borne you anygrudge. I will give you as much merchandise as you need in order to be able to join the guild of good merchants. But do not settle down here in the north of this land, for many of Eid’s kinsmen are about on trading journeys who bear you heavy ill-will.” Grim thanked him for these words, and said he could never have thought of asking for as much as he offered. At parting Thorkell gave to Grim a goodly deal of merchandise, and many men said that this deed bore the stamp of a great man. After that Grim went east in the Wick, settled there, and was looked upon as a mighty man of his ways; and therewith comes to an end what there is to be told about Grim. Thorkell was in Norway through the winter, and was thought a man of much account; he was exceeding wealthy in chattels. Now this matter must be left for a while, and the story must be taken up out in Iceland, so let us hear what matters befell there for tidings to be told of whilst Thorkell was abroad.

Chapter 59 - Gudrun demands Revenge for Bolli, A.D. 1019 In “Twinmonth” that summer Gudrun, Osvif’s daughter, went from home up into the Dales. She rode to Thickshaw; and at this time Thorleik was sometimes at Thickshaw with the sonsof Armod Halldor and Ornolf, and sometimes Tongue with Thorgils. The same night Gudrun sent a man to Snorri Godi saying that she wished to meet him without fail the next day. Snorri got ready at once and rode with one other man until he came to Hawkdale-river; on the northern side of that river stands a crag by the river called Head, within the land of Lea-Shaw. At this spot Gudrun had bespoken that she and Snorri should meet. They both came there at one and the same time. With Gudrun there was only one man, and he was Bolli, son of Bolli; he was now twelve years old, but fulfilled of strength and wits was he, so much so, that many were they who were no whit more powerful at the time of ripe manhood; and now he carried Footbiter. Snorri and Gudrun now fell to talking together; but Bolli and Snorri’s follower sat on the crag and watched people travelling up and down the countryside. When Snorri and Gudrun had asked each other for news, Snorri inquired on what errand he was called, and what had come to pass lately that she sent him word so hurriedly. Gudrun said, “Truth to tell, to me is ever fresh the event which I am about to bring up, and yet it befell twelve years ago; for it is about the revenge of Bolli I wish to speak, and it ought not to take you unawares. I have called it to your mind from time to time. I must also bring this home to you that to this end you have promised me some help if I but waited patiently, but now I think it past hopethat you will give any heed to our case. I have now waited as long as my temper would hold out, and I must have whole-hearted counsel from you as to where this revenge is to be brought home.” Snorri asked what she chiefly had in her mind’s eye. Gudrun said, “It is my wish that all Olaf’s sons should not go scatheless.” Snorri said he must forbid any onset on the men who were not only of the greatest account in the countryside, but also closely akin to those who stand nearest to back up the revenge; and it is high time already that these family feuds come to an end. Gudrun said, “Then A Black Arrow resource

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Lambi shall be set upon and slain; for then he, who is the most eager of them for evil, would be put out of the way.” Snorri said, “Lambi is guilty enough that he should be slain; but I do not think Bolli any the more revenged for that; for when at length peace should come to be settled, no such disparity between them would be acknowledged as ought to be due to Bolli when the manslaughters of both should come up for award.” Gudrun spoke, “It may be that we shall not get our right out of the men of Salmon-riverDale, but some one shall pay dear for it, whatever dale he may dwell in. So we shall turn upon Thorstein the Black, for no one has taken a worse share in these matters than he.” Snorri spake, “Thorstein’s guilt against you is the same as that of the other men who joined in the raid against Bolli, but did not wound him. But you leave such men to sit by in quiet onwhom it seems to me revenge wrought would be revenge indeed, and who, moreover, did take the life of Bolli, such as was Helgi Hardbienson.” Gudrun said, “That is true, but I cannot be sure that, in that case, all these men against whom I have been stirring up enmity will sit quietly by doing nothing.” Snorri said, “I see a good way to hinder that. Lambi and Thorstein shall join the train of your sons, and that is a fitting ransom for those fellows, Lambi and Thorstein; but if they will not do this, then I shall not plead for them to be let off, whatever penalty you may be pleased to put upon them.” Gudrun spake: “How shall we set about getting these men that you have named to go on this journey?” Snorri spake: “That is the business of them who are to be at the head of the journey.” Gudrun spake: “In this we must have your foresight as to who shall rule the journey and be the leader.” Then Snorri smiled and said, “You have chosen your own men for it.” Gudrun replied, “You are speaking of Thorgils.” Snorri said so it was. Gudrun spake: “I have talked the matter over already with Thorgils, but now it is as good as all over, for he gave me the one choice, which I would not even look at. He did not back out of undertaking to avenge Bolli, if he could have me in marriage in return; but that is past all hope, so I cannot ask him to go this journey.” Snorri spoke: “On this I will give you a counsel, for I do not begrudge Thorgils this journey. You shall promisemarriage to him, yet you shall do The Sagas of the Icelanders

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it in language of this double meaning, that of men in this land you will marry none other but Thorgils, and that shall be holden to, for Thorkell Eyjolfson is not, for the time being, in this land, but it is he whom I have in my mind’s eye for this marriage.” Gudrun spake: “He will see through this trick.” Snorri answered, “Indeed he will not see through it, for Thorgils is better known for foolhardiness than wits. Make the covenant with but few men for witnesses, and let Halldor, his foster-brother, be there, but not Ornolf, for he has more wits, and lay the blame on me if this will not work out.” After that they parted their talk and each bade the other farewell, Snorri riding home, and Gudrun unto Thickshaw. The next morning Gudrun rode from Thickshaw and her sons with her, and when they ride west along Shawstrand they see that men are riding after them. They ride on quickly and catch them up swiftly, and lo, there was Thorgils Hallason. They greeted each other well, and now ride on in the day all together, out to Holyfell.

Chapter 60 - The Egging of Gudrun A few nights after Gudrun had come home she called her sons to her to have a talk with them in her orchard; and when they were come there they saw how there were lying out some linen clothes, a shirt and linen breeches, and they were much stained with blood. Then spake Gudrun: “These same clothes you see here cry to you for your father’s revenge. I will not say many words on this matter, for it is past hope that you will heed an egging-on by words alone if you bring not home to your minds such hints and reminders as these.” The brothers were much startled as this, and at what Gudrun had to say; but yet this way they made answer that they had been too young to seek for revenge without a leader; they knew not, they felt, how to frame a counsel for themselves or others either. “But we might well bear in mind what we have lost.” Gudrun said, “They would be likely to give more thought to horse-fights or sports.” After that they went away. The next night the brothers could not sleep. Thorgils got aware of this, and asked them what was the matter. They told him all the talk they had had with their mother, and this withal that they could no longer

bear their grief or their mother’s taunts. “We will seek revenge,” said Bolli, “now that we brothers have come to so ripe an age that men will be much after us if we do not take the matter in hand.” The next day Gudrun and Thorgils had a talk together, and Gudrun started speaking in this wise: “I am given to think, Thorgils, that my sons brook it ill to sit thus quietly on any longer without seeking revenge for their father’s death. But what mostly has delayed the matter hitherto is that up to now I deemed Thorleik and Bolli too young to be busy in taking men’s lives. But need enough there has been to call this to mind a good long time before this. Thorgils answered, “There is no use in your talking this matter over with me, because you have given a flat denial to ‘walking with me’ (marrying me). But I am in just the same frame of mind as I have been before, when we have had talks about this matter. If I can marry you, I shall not think twice about killing either or both of the two who had most to do with the murder of Bolli.” Gudrun spoke: “I am given to think that to Thorleik no man seems as well fitted as you to be the leader if anything is to be done in the way of deeds of hardihood. Nor is it a matter to be hidden from you that the lads are minded to go for Helgi Hardbienson the ‘Bareserk,’ who sits at home in his house in Skorridale misdoubting himself of nothing.” Thorgils spake: “I never care whether he is called Helgi or by any other name, for neither in Helgi nor in any one else do I deem I have an over-match in strength to deal with. As far as I am concerned, the last word on this matter is now spoken if you promise before witnesses to marry me when, together with your sons, I have wreaked the revenge.” Gudrun said she would fulfil all she should agree to, even though such agreement were come to before few men to witness it. “And,” said she, “this then we shall settle to have done.” Gudrun bade becalled thither Halldor, Thorgils’ foster-brother, and her own sons. Thorgils bade that Ornolf should also be with them. Gudrun said there was no need of that, “For I am more doubtful of Ornolf’s faithfulness to you than I think you are yourself.” Thorgils told her to do as she liked. Now the brothers come and meet Gudrun and Thorgils, Halldor being also at the parley with them. Gudrun now sets forth to them that “Thorgils has said he 45

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will be the leader in this raid against Helgi Hardbienson, together with my sons, for revenge of Bolli, and Thorgils has bargained in return for this undertaking to get me for wife. Now I avow, with you to witness, that I promise this to Thorgils, that of men in this land I shall marry none but him, and I do not purpose to go and marry in any other land.” Thorgils thought that this was binding enough, and did not see through it. And now they broke up their talk. This counsel is now fully settled that Thorgils must betake himself to this journey. He gets ready to leave Holyfell, and with him the sons of Gudrun, and they rode up into the Dales and first to the homestead at Tongue.

Chapter 61 - Of Thorstein the Black and Lambi The next Lord’s day a leet was held, and Thorgils rode thither with his company, Snorri Godi was not at the leet, but there was a great many people together. During the day Thorgils fetched up Thorstein the Black for a talk with him, and said, “As you know, you were one in the onset by the sons of Olaf when Bolli was slain, and you have made no atonement for your guilt to his sons. Now although a long time is gone since those things befell, I think their mind has not given the slip to the men who were in that raid. Now, these brothers look in this light upon the matter, that it beseem them least, by reason of kinship, to seek revenge on the sons of Olaf; and so the brothers purpose to turn for revenge upon Helgi Hardbienson, for he gave Bolli his death-wound. So we ask this of you, Thorstein, that you join in this journey with the brothers, and thus purchase for yourself peace and good-will.” Thorstein replied, “It beseems me not at all to deal in treason with Helgi, my brother-in-law, and I would far rather purchase my peace with as much money as it would be to their honour to take.” Thorgils said, “I think it is but little to the mind of the brothers to do aught herein for their own gain; so you need not hide it away from yourself, Thorstein, that at your hands there lie two choices: either to betake yourself to this journey, or to undergo the harshest of treatments from them as soon as they may bring it about; and my will is, that you take this choice in spite of the ties that bind you to Helgi; for when 46

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men find themselves in such straits, each must look after himself.” Thorstein spake: “Will the same choice be given to more of the men who are charged with guilt by the sons of Bolli?” Thorgils answered, “The same choice will be put to Lambi.” Thorstein said he would think better of it if he was not left the only one in this plight. After that Thorgils called Lambi to come and meet him, and bade Thorstein listen to their talk. He said, “I wish to talk over with you, Lambi, the same matter that I have set forth to Thorstein; to wit, what amends you are willing to make to the sons of Bolli for the charges of guilt which they have against you? For it has been told me as true that you wrought wounds on Bolli; but besides that, you are heavily guilt-beset, in that you urged it hard that Bolli should be slain; yet, next to the sons of Olaf, you were entitled to some excuse in the matter.” Then Lambi asked what he would be asked to do. Thorgils said the same choice would be put to him as to Thorstein, “to join with the brothers in this journey.” Lambi said, “This I think an evil price of peace and a dastardly one, and I have no mind for this journey.” Then said Thorstein, “It is not the only thing open to view, Lambi, to cut so quickly away from this journey; for in thismatter great men are concerned, men of much worth, moreover, who deem that they have long had to put up with an unfair lot in life. It is also told me of Bolli’s sons that they are likely to grow into men of high mettle, and that they are exceeding masterful; but the wrong they have to wreak is great. We cannot think of escaping from making some amends after such awful deeds. I shall be the most open to people’s reproaches for this by reason of my alliance with Helgi. But I think most people are given to ‘setting all aside for life,’ and the trouble on hand that presses hardest must first be thrust out of the way.” Lambi said, “It is easy to see what you urge to be done, Thorstein; and I think it well befitting that you have your own way in this matter, if you think that is the only way you see open, for ours has been a long partnership in great troubles. But I will have this understood if I do go into this business, that my kinsmen, the sons of Olaf, shall be left in peace if the revenge on Helgi shall be carried out.” Thorgils agreed to this on behalf of the brothers. So now it was settled that Lambi and Thorstein should betake

themselves to the journey with Thorgils; and they bespoke it between them that they should come early on the third day (Tuesday) to Tongue, in Hord-Dale. After that they parted. Thorgils rode home that evening to Tongue. Now passes on the time within which it was bespoken they should come to Tongue. In the morning of the third day (Tuesday), before sunrise, Thorstein and Lambi came to Tongue, and Thorgils gave them a cheerful welcome.

Chapter 62 - Thorgils and his Followers leave Home Thorgils got himself ready to leave home, and they all rode up along Hord-Dale, ten of them together. There Thorgils Hallason was the leader of the band. In that train the sons of Bolli, Thorleik and Bolli, and Thord the Cat, their brother, was the fourth, the fifth was Thorstein the Black, the sixth Lambi, the seventh and eighth Haldor and Ornolf, the ninth Svein, and the tenth Hunbogi. Those last were the sons of Alf o’ Dales. They rode on their way up to Sweeping-Pass, and across Long-waterdale, and then right across Burgfirth. They rode across North-river at Isleford, but across White-river at Bankford, a short way down from the homestead of By. Then they rode over Reekdale, and over the neck of land to Skorradale, and so up through the wood in the neighbourhood of the farmstead of Water-Nook, where they got off their horses, as it was very late in the evening. The homestead of Water-Nook stands a short way from the lake on the south side of the river. Thorgils said to hisfollowers that they must tarry there over night, “and I will go to the house and spy and see if Helgi be at home. I am told Helgi has at most times very few men with him, but that he is of all men the wariest of himself, and sleeps on a strongly made lock-bed.” Thorgils’ followers bade him follow his own foresight. Thorgils now changed his clothes, and took off his blue cloak, and slipped on a grey foul-weather overall. He went home to the house. When he was come near to the home-field fence he saw a man coming to meet him, and when they met Thorgils said, “You will think my questions strange, comrade, but whose am I come to in this countryside, and what is the name of this dwelling, and who lives here?” The man answered, “You must be A Black Arrow resource

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indeed a wondrous fool and wit-bereft if you have not heard Helgi Hardbienson spoken of, the bravest of warriors, and a great man withal.” Thorgils next asked how far Helgi took kindly to unknown people coming to see him, such as were in great need of help. He replied, “In that matter, if truth is told, only good can be said of Helgi, for he is the most large-hearted of men, not only in giving harbour to comers, but also in all his high conduct otherwise.” “Is Helgi at home now?” asked Thorgils; “I should like to ask him to take me in.” The other then asks what matters he had on his hands. Thorgils answered, “I was outlawed this summer at the Thing, and I want to seek for myself the help of some such man as is a mighty one of his hands and ways, and I will in return offer my fellowship and service. So now you take me home to the house to see Helgi.” “I can do that very well, to show you home,” he said, “for you will be welcome to quarters for the night, but you will not see Helgi, for he is not at home.” Then Thorgils asked where he was. The man answered, “He is at his out-dairy called Sarp.” Thorgils asked where that was, and what men were with him. He said his son Hardbien was there, and two other men, both outlaws, whom he had taken in to shelter. Thorgils bade him show the nearest way to the dairy, “for I want to meet Helgi at once, when I can get to him and plead my errand to him.” The house-carle did so and showed him the way, and after that they parted. Thorgils returned to the wood to his companions, and told them what he had found out about Helgi. “We must tarry here through the night, and not go to the dairy till to-morrow morning.” They did as he ordained, and in the morning Thorgils and his band rode up through the wood till they were within a short way from the dairy. Then Thorgils bade them get off their horses and eat their morning meal, and so they did, and kept them for a while.

Chapter 63 - The Description of his Enemies brought to Helgi Now we must tell what happened at the dairy where Helgi was, and with him the men that were named before. In the morning Helgi told his shepherd to go through the woods in the neighbourhood of the dairy and look out for people passing, and take heed of whatever else he The Sagas of the Icelanders

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saw, to tell news of, “for my dreams have gone heavily to-night.” The lad went even as Helgi told him. He was away awhile, and when he came back Helgi asked what he had seen to tell tidings of. He answered, “I have seen what I think is stuff for tidings.” Helgi asked what that was. He said he had seen men, “and none so few either, and I think they must have come from beyond this countryside.” Helgi spoke: “Where were they when you saw them, and what were they doing, or did you take heed of the manner of raiment, or their looks?” He answered, “I was not so much taken aback at the sight as not to mind those matters, for I knew you would ask about them.” He also said they were but short away from the dairy, and were eating their morning meal. Helgi asked if they sat in a ring or side by side in a line. He said they sat in a ring, on their saddles. Helgi said, “Tell me now of their looks, and I will see if I can guess from what they looked like who the men may be.” The lad said, “There sat a man in a stained saddle, in a blue cloak. He was great of growth, and valiant-looking; he was bald in front and somewhat ‘tooth-bare.’” Helgi said, “I know that man clearly from your tale. There you have seen Thorgils Hallason, from west out of Hord-Dale. I wonder what he wants with us, the hero.” The lad spoke: “Next to him sat a man in a gilded saddle; he had on a scarlet kirtle, and a gold ring on his arm, and a goldembroidered fillet was tied round his head. This man had yellow hair, waving down over his shoulders; he was fair of hue, with a knot on his nose, which was somewhat turned up at the tip, with very fine eyes blue-eyed and swift-eyed, and with a glance somewhat restless, broad-browed and full-cheeked; he had his hair cut across his forehead. He was well grown as to breadth of shoulders and depth of chest. He had very beautiful hands, and stronglooking arms. All his bearing was courteous, and, in a word, I have never seen a man so altogether doughty-looking. He was a young-looking man too, for his lips had grown no beard, but it seemed to me he was aged by grief.” Then Helgi answers: “You have paid a careful heed, indeed, to this man, and of much account he must needs be; yet this man, I think, I have never seen, so I must make a guess at it who he is. There, I think, must have been Bolli Bollison, for I am told he has in him the makings of a man.” Then the lad

went on: “Next there sat a man on an enamelled saddle in a yellow green kirtle; he had a great finger ring on his hand. This man was most goodly to behold, and must still be young of age; his hair was auburn and most comely, and in every way he was most courtly.” Helgi answers, “I think I know who this man is, of whom you have now been telling. He must be Thorleik Bollison, and a sharp and mindful man you are.” The lad said again, “Next sat a young man; he was in a blue kirtle and black breeches, and his tunic tucked into them. This man was straight-faced, light of hair, with a goodly-featured face, slender and graceful.” Helgi answered, “I know that man, for I must have seen him, though at a time when he was quite young; for it must be Thord Thordson, fosterling of Snorri the Priest. And a very courtly band they have, the Westfirthers. What is there yet to tell?” Then the lad said, “There sat a man on a Scotch saddle, hoary of beard and very sallow of hue, with black curly hair, somewhat unsightly and yet warrior like; he had on a grey pleated cape.” Helgi said, “I clearly see who that man is; there is Lambi, the son of Thorbjorn, from Salmon-river-Dale; but I cannot think why he should be in the train of these brothers.” The lad spake: “There sat a man on a pommelled saddle, and had on a blue cloak for an overall, with a silver ring on his arm; he was a farmerlooking sort of man and past the prime of life, with dark auburn long curly hair, and scars about his face.” “Now the tale grows worse by much,” said Helgi, “for there you must have seen Thorstein the Black, my brother-in-law; and a wondrous thing indeed I deem it, that he should be in this journey, nor would I ever offer him such a home-raid. But what more is there still to tell?” He answered, “Next there sat two men like each other to look upon, and might have been of middle age; most brisk they looked, red of hair, freckled of face, yet goodly to behold.” Helgi said, “I can clearly understand who those men are. There are the sons of Armod, fosterbrothers of Thorgils, Halldor and Ornolf. And a very trustworthy fellow you are. But have you now told the tale of all the men you saw?” He answered, “I have but little to add now. Next there sat a man and looked out of the circle; he was in a plate-corselet and had a steel cap on his head, with a brim a hand’s breadth wide; he bore a shining axe on his shoulder, the 47

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edge of which must have measured an ell in length. This man was dark of hue, black-eyed, and most viking like.” Helgi answered, “I clearly know this man from your tale. There has been Hunbogi the Strong, son of Alf o’ Dales. But what I find so hard to make out is, what they want journeying with such a very picked company.” The lad spoke again: “And still there sat a man next to this strong-looking one, dark auburn of hair, thick-faced and red-faced, heavy of brow, of a tall middle size.” Helgi said, “You need not tell the tale further, there must have been Svein, son of Alf o’ Dales, brother of Hunbogi. Now it would be as well not to stand shiftless in the face of these men; for near to my mind’s foreboding it is, that they are minded to have a meeting with me or ever they leave this countryside; moreover, in this train there are men who would hold that it would have been but due and meet, though this our meeting should have taken a good long time before this. Now all the women who are in the dairy slip on quickly men’s dress and take the horses that are about the dairy and ride as quickly as possible to the winter dwelling; it may be that those who are besetting us about will not know whether men or women be riding there; they need give us only a short respite till we bring men together here, and then it is not so certain on which side the outlook will be most hopeful.” The women now rode off, four together. Thorgils misdoubts him lest news of their coming may have reached Helgi, and so bade the others take their horses and ride after them at their swiftest, and so they did, but before they mounted a man came riding up to them openly in all men’s sight. He was small of growth and all on the alert, wondrously swift of glance and had a lively horse. This man greeted Thorgils in a familiar manner, and Thorgils asked him his name and family and also whence he had come. He said his name was Hrapp, and he was from Broadfirth on his mother’s side. “And then I grew up, and Ibear the name of Fight-Hrapp, with the name follows that I am nowise an easy one to deal with, albeit I am small of growth; but I am a southlander on my father’s side, and have tarried in the south for some winters. Now this is a lucky chance, Thorgils, I have happened of you here, for I was minded to come and see you anyhow, even though I should find it a business somewhat hard to follow up. I 48

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have a trouble on hand; I have fallen out with my master, and have had from him a treatment none of the best; but it goes with the name, that I will stand no man such shameful mishandling, so I made an outset at him, but I guess I wounded him little or not at all, for I did not wait long enough to see for myself, but thought myself safe when I got on to the back of this nag, which I took from the goodman.” Hrapp says much, but asks for few things; yet soon he got to know that they were minded to set on Helgi, and that pleased him very much, and he said they would not have to look for him behind.

Chapter 64 - The Death of Helgi, A.D. 1019 Thorgils and his followers, as soon as they were on horseback, set off at a hard ride, and rode now out of the wood. They saw four men riding away from the dairy, and they rode very fast too. Seeing this, some of Thorgils’ companions said they had better ride after them at their swiftest. Then said Thorleik Bollison, “We will just go to the dairy and see what men are there, for I think it less likely that these be Helgi and his followers. It seems to me that those are only women.” A good many of them gainsaid this. Thorgils said that Thorleik should rule in the matter, for he knew that he was a very far-sighted man. They now turned to the dairy. Hrapp rode first, shaking the spear-stick he carried in his hand, and thrusting it forward in front of himself, and saying now was high time to try one’s self. Helgi and his followers were not aware of anything till Thorgils and his company had surrounded the dairy. Helgi and his men shut the door, and seized their weapons. Hrapp leapt forthwith upon the roof of the dairy, and asked if old Reynard was in. Helgi answered, “You will come to take for granted that he who is here within is somewhat hurtful, and will know how to bite near the warren.” And forthwith Helgi thrust his spear out through the window and through Hrapp, so that he fell dead to earth from the spear. Thorgils bade the others go heedfully and beware of mishaps, “for we have plenty of means wherewith to get the dairy into our power, and to overcome Helgi, placed as he is now, for I am given to think that here but few men are gathered together.” The dairy was rigged over one roof-beam,resting on two

gables so that the ends of the beam stuck out beyond each gable; there was a single turf thatch on the house, which had not yet grown together. Then Thorgils told some of his men to go to the beam ends, and pull them so hard that either the beam should break or else the rafters should slip in off it, but others were to guard the door lest those within should try and get out. Five they were, Helgi and his within the dairy - Hardbien, his son, to wit, he was twelve years old - his shepherd and two other men, who had come to him that summer, being outlaws - one called Thorgils, and the other Eyolf. Thorstein the Black and Svein, son of Alf o’ Dales, stood before the door. The rest of the company were tearing the roof off the dairy. Hunbogi the Strong and the sons of Armod took one end of the beam, Thorgils, Lambi, and Gudrun’s sons the other end. They now pull hard at the beam till it broke asunder in the middle; just at this Hardbien thrust a halberd out through where the door was broken, and the thrust struck the steel cap of Thorstein the Black and stuck in his forehead, and that was a very great wound. Then Thorstein said, as was true, that there were men before them. Next Helgi leapt so boldly out of the door so that those nearest shrunk aback. Thorgils was standing near, and struck after him with a sword, and caught him on the shoulder and made a great wound. Helgi turned to meet him, and had a wood-axe in his hand, and said, “Still the old one will dare to look at and face weapons,” and therewith he flung the axe at Thorgils, and the axe struck his foot, and a great wound that was. And when Bolli saw this he leapt forward at Helgi with Footbiter in his hand, and thrust Helgi through with it, and that was his death-blow. Helgi’s followers leapt out of the dairy forthwith, and Hardbien with them. Thorleik Bollison turned against Eyolf, who was a strong man. Thorleik struck him with his sword, and it caught him on the leg above the knee and cut off his leg, and he fell to earth dead. Hunbogi the Strong went to meet Thorgils, and dealt a blow at him with an axe, and it struck the back of him, and cut him asunder in the middle. Thord Cat was standing near where Hardbien leapt out, and was going to set upon him straightway, but Bolli rushed forward when he saw it, and bade no harm be done to Hardbien. “No man shall do a dastard’s work here, and Hardbien shall have life A Black Arrow resource

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and limbs spared.” Helgi had another son named Skorri. He was brought up at Gugland in Reekdale the southernmost.

Keen helmet-stems, accounted truly As worthies of the folk - and we Claim Bolli now’s avenged full duly.”

Chapter 65 - Of Gudrun’s Deceit

Gudrun asked them most carefully for the tidings of what had happened on their journey. Thorgils told her all she wished. Gudrun said the journey had been most stirringly carried out, and bade them have her thanks for it. After that food was set before them, and after they had eaten they were shown to bed, and slept the rest of the night. The next day Thorgils went to talk to Gudrun, and said, “Now the matter stands thus, as you know, Gudrun, that I have brought to an end the journey you bade me undertake, and I must claim that, in a full manly wise, that matter has been turned out of hand; you will also call to mind what you promised me in return, and I think I am now entitled to that prize.” Then Gudrun said, “It is not such a long time since we last talked together that I should have forgotten what we said, and my only aim is to hold to all I agreed to as concerning you. Or what does your mind tell you as to how matters were bespoken between us?” Thorgils said she must remember that, and Gudrun answered, “I think I said that of men within this land I would marry none but you; or have you aught to say against that?” Thorgils said she was right. “That is well then,” said Gudrun, “that our memory should be one and the same on this matter. And I will not put it off from you any longer, that I am minded to think that it is not fated to me to be your wife. Yet I deem that I fulfil to you all uttered words, though I marry Thorkell Eyjolfson, who at present is not in this land.” Then Thorgils said, and flushed up very much, “Clearly I do see from whence that chill wave comes running, and from thence cold counsels have always come to me. I know that this is the counsel of Snorri the Priest.” Thorgils sprang up from this talk and was very angry, and went to his followers and said he would ride away. Thorleik disliked very much that things should have taken such a turn as to go against Thorgils’ will; but

After these deeds Thorgils and his band rode away over the neck to Reekdale, where they declared these manslaughters on their hands. Then they rode the same way eastward as they had ridden from the west, and did not stop their journey till they came to Hord-Dale. They now told the tidings of what had happened in their journey, which became most famous, for it was thought a great deed to have felled such a hero as was Helgi. Thorgils thanked his men well for the journey, and the sons of Bolli did the same. And now the men part who had been in Thorgils’ train; Lambi rode west to Salmon-riverDale, and came first to Herdholt and told his kinsmen most carefully the tidings of what had happened in Skorradale. They were very ill-pleased with his journey and laid heavy reproaches upon him, saying he had shown himself much more of the stock of Thorbjorn “Skrjup” than of that of Myrkjartan, the Irish king. Lambi was very angry at their talk, and said they knew but little of good manners in overwhelming him with reproaches, “for I have dragged you out of death,” says he. After that they exchanged but few words, for both sides were yet more fulfilled of ill-will than before. Lambi now rode home to his manor. Thorgils Hallason rode out to Holyfell, and with him the sons of Gudrun and his foster-brothers Halldor and Ornolf. They came late in the evening to Holyfell, when all men were in bed. Gudrun rose up and bade the household get up and wait upon them. She went into the guest-chamber and greeted Thorgils and all the others, and asked for tidings. Thorgils returned Gudrun’s greeting; he had laid aside his cloak and his weapons as well, and sat then up against the pillars. Thorgils had on a red-brown kirtle, and had round his waist a broad silver belt. Gudrun sat down on the bench by him. Then Thorgils said this stave “To Helgi’s home a raid we led, Gave ravens corpse-repast to swallow, We dyed shield-wands with blood all red, As Thorleik’s lead our band did follow. And at our hands there perished three The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Bolli was at one with his mother’s will herein. Gudrun said she would give Thorgils some good gifts and soften him by that means, but Thorleik said that would be of no use, “for Thorgils is far too high-mettled a man to stoop to trifles in a

matter of this sort. “Gudrun said in that case he must console himself as best he could at home. After this Thorgils rode from Holyfell with his foster-brothers. He got home to Tongue to his manor mightily ill at ease over his lot.

Chapter 66 - Osvif and Gest die That winter Osvif fell ill and died, and a great loss that was deemed, for he had been the greatest of sages. Osvif was buried at Holyfell, for Gudrun had had a church built there. That same winter Gest Oddliefson fell ill, and as the sickness grew heavy on him, he called to him Thord the Low, his son, and said, “My mind forebodes me that this sickness will put an end to our living together. I wish my body to be carried to Holyfell, for that will be the greatest place about these countrysides, for I have often seen a light burning there.” Thereupon Gest died. The winter had been very cold, and there was much ice about, and Broadfirth was laid under ice so far out that no ship could get over it from Bardistrand. Gest’s body lay in state two nights at Hegi, and that very night there sprang up such a gale that all the ice was drawn away from the land, and the next day the weather was fair and still. Then Thord took a ship and put Gest’s body on board, and went south across Broadfirth that day, and came in the evening to Holyfell. Thord had a good welcome there, and stayed there through the night. In the morning Gest’s body was buried, and he and Osvif rested in one grave. So Gest’s soothsaying was fulfilled, in that now it was shorter between them than at the time when one dwelt at Bardistrand and the other in Sælingsdale. Thord the Low then went home as soon as he was ready. That next night a wild storm arose, and drove the ice on to the land again, where it held on long through the winter, so that there was no going about in boats. Men thought this most marvellous, that the weather had allowed Gest’s body to be taken across when there was no crossing before nor afterwards during the winter.

Chapter 67 - The Death of Thorgils Hallason, A.D. 1020 Thorarin was the name of a man who lived at Longdale: he was a chieftain, but not a mighty one. His son was named 49

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Audgisl, and was a nimble sort of a man. Thorgils Hallason took the chieftainship from them both, father and son. Audgisl went to see Snorri Godi, and told him of this unfairness,and asked him to help. Snorri answered only by fair words, and belittled the whole affair; but answered, “Now that Halla’s-grig is getting too forward and swaggering. Will Thorgils then happen on no man that will not give in to him in everything? No doubt he is a big man and doughty, but men as good as he is have also been sent to Hel.” And when Audgisl went away Snorri gave him an inlaid axe. The next spring Thorgils Hallason and Thorstein the Black went south to Burgfirth, and offered atonement to the sons of Helgi and his other kinsmen, and they came to terms of peace on the matter, and fair honour was done (to Helgi’s side). Thorstein paid two parts of the atonement for the manslaughter, and the third part Thorgils was to pay, payment being due at the Thing. In the summer Thorgils rode to the Thing, but when he and his men came to the lava field by Thingvellir, they saw a woman coming to meet them, and a mighty big one she was. Thorgils rode up to her, but she turned aside, and said this “Take care If you go forward, And be wary of Snorri’s wiles, No one can escape, For so wise is Snorri.” And after that she went her way. Then Thorgils said, “It has seldom happened sobefore, when luck was with me, that you were leaving the Thing when I was riding to it.” He now rode to the Thing and to his own booth. And through the early part the Thing was quiet. It happened one day during the Thing that folk’s clothes were hung out to dry. Thorgils had a blue hooded cloak, which was spread out on the booth wall, and men heard the cloak say thus “Hanging wet on the wall, A hooded cloak knows a braid (trick); I do not say he does not know two, He has been lately washed.” This was thought a most marvellous thing. The next day Thorgils went west over the river to pay the money to the sons of Helgi. He sat down on the lava above the booths, and with him was his foster-brother Halldor and sundry 50

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more of them were there together. The sons of Helgi came to the meeting. Thorgils now began to count out the money. Audgisl Thorarinson came near, and when Thorgils had counted ten Audgisl struck at him, and all thought they heard the head say eleven as it flew off the neck. Audgisl ran to the booth of the Waterfirthers and Halldor rushed after him and struck him his death-blow in the door of the booth. These tidings came to the booth of Snorri Godi how Thorgils was slain. Snorri said, “You must be mistaken; it must be that Thorgils Hallason has slain some one.” The man replied, “Why, the head flew off his trunk.” “Then perhaps it is time,” said Snorri. This manslaughter was peacefully atoned, as is told in the Saga of Thorgils Hallason.

Chapter 68 - Gudrun’s Marriage with Thorkell Eyjolfson The same summer that Thorgils Hallason was killed a ship came to Bjorn’s-haven. It belonged to Thorkell Eyjolfson. He was by then such a rich man that he had two merchant ships on voyages. The other ship came to Ramfirth to Board-Eyr; they were both laden with timber. When Snorri heard of the coming of Thorkell he rode at once to where the ship was. Thorkell gave him a most blithe welcome; he had a great deal of drink with him in his ship, and right unstintedly it was served, and many things they found to talk about. Snorri asked tidings of Norway, and Thorkell told him everything well and truthfully. Snorri told in return the tidings of all that had happened here while Thorkell had been away. “Now it seems to me,” said Snorri, “you had better follow the counsel I set forth to you before you went abroad, and should give up voyaging about and settle down in quiet, and get for yourself the same woman to wife of whomwe spoke then.” Thorkell replied, “I understand what you are driving at; everything we bespoke then is still uppermost in my mind, for indeed I begrudge me not the noblest of matches could it but be brought about.” Snorri spake, “I am most willing and ready to back that matter up on your behalf, seeing that now we are rid of both the things that seemed to you the most troublesome to overcome, if you were to get Gudrun for wife at all, in that Bolli is revenged

and Thorgils is out of the way.” Thorkell said, “Your counsels go very deep, Snorri, and into this affair I go heart and soul.” Snorri stayed in the ship several nights, and then they took a ten-oared boat that floated alongside of the merchant ship and got ready with five-and-twenty men, and went to Holyfell. Gudrun gave an exceeding affectionate welcome to Snorri, and a most goodly cheer they had; and when they had been there one night Snorri called Gudrun to talk to him, and spake, “Matters have come to this, that I have undertaken this journey for my friend Thorkell, Eyjolf’s son, and he has now come here, as you see, and his errand hither is to set forth the wooing of you. Thorkell is a man of noble degree. You know yourself all about his race and doings in life, nor is he short of wealth either. To my mind, he is now the one man west about here who is most likely to become a chieftain, if to that end he will put himself forward. Thorkell is held in great esteem when he is out there, but by much is he more honoured when he is in Norway in the train of titled men.” Then answers Gudrun: “My sons Thorleik and Bolli must have most to say in this matter; but you, Snorri, are the third man on whom I shall most rely for counsels in matters by which I set a great store, for you have long been a wholesome guide to me.” Snorri said he deemed it a clear case that Thorkell must not be turned off. Thereupon Snorri had the sons of Gudrun called in, and sets forth the matter to them, laying down how great an help Thorkell might afford them by reason of his wealth and wise foresight; and smoothly he framed his speech on this matter. Then Bolli answered: “My mother will know how most clearly to see through this matter, and herein I shall be of one mind with her own will. But, to be sure, we shall deem it wise to set much store by your pleading this matter, Snorri, for you have done to us mightily well in many things.” Then Gudrun spake: “In this matter we will lean most on Snorri’s foresight, for to us your counsels have been wholesome.” Snorri urged the matter on by every word he spoke, and the counsel taken was, that Gudrun and Thorkell should be joined in marriage. Snorri offered to have the wedding at his house; and Thorkell, liking that well, said: “I am not short of means, and I am ready to furnish them in whatever measure you please.” Then Gudrun spake: “It A Black Arrow resource

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is my wish that the feast be held here at Holyfell. I do not blench at standing the cost of it, nor shall I call upon Thorkell or any one else to trouble themselves about this matter.” “Often, indeed, you show, Gudrun,” said Snorri, “that you are the most high-mettled of women.” So this was now settled that the wedding should take place when it lacked six weeks of summer. At matters thus settled Snorri and Thorkell went away, Snorri going home and Thorkell to his ship, and he spent the summer, turn and turn about, at Tongue or at his ship. Time now wore on towards the wedding feast. Gudrun made great preparation with much ingatherings. Snorri came to the feast together with Thorkell, and they brought with them well-nigh sixty men, and a very picked company that was, for most of the men were in dyed raiments. Gudrun had well-nigh a hundred and twenty firstbidden guests. The brothers Bolli and Thorleik, with the first-bidden guests, went to meet Snorri and his train; and to him and his fellowship was given a right cheery welcome, and their horses are taken in hand, as well as their clothes. They were shown into the guest-chamber, and Thorkell and Snorri and their followers took seats on the bench that was the upper one, and Gudrun’s guests sat on the lower.

Chapter 69 - The Quarrel about Gunnar at the Feast That autumn Gunnar, the slayer of Thridrandi, had been sent to Gudrun for “trust and keep,” and she had taken him in, his name being kept secret. Gunnar was outlawed because of the slaying of Thridrandi, Geitir’s son, as is told in the Niard-wickers’ Saga. He went about much “with a hidden head,” for that many great men had their eyes upon him. The first evening of the feast, when men went to wash, a big man was standing by the water; he was broad of shoulder and wide of chest, and this man had a hat on his head. Thorkell asked who he was. He named himself as it seemed best to him. Thorkell says: “I think you are not speaking the truth; going by what the tale tells you would seem more like to Gunnar, the slayer of Thridrandi. And if you are so great a hero as other men say, you will not keep hidden your name.” Then said Gunnar: “You speak most eagerly on this The Sagas of the Icelanders

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matter; and, truth to tell, I think I have no need to hide myself from you. You have rightly named your man; but then, what have you chiefly bethought yourself of having done to me?” Thorkell said he would like that he should soon know it, and spake to his men, ordering them to lay hands on him. Gudrun sat on the dais at the upper end of the hall, together with other womenall becoifed with white linen, and when she got aware of this she rises up from the bridal bench and calls on her men to lend Gunnar help, and told them to give quarter to no man who should show any doubtful behaviour. Gudrun had the greatest number of followers, and what never was meant to happen seemed like to befall. Snorri Godi went between both sides and bade them allay this storm. “The one thing clearly to be done by you, Thorkell, is not to push things on so hotly; and now you can see what a stirring woman Gudrun is, as she overrules both of us together.” Thorkell said he had promised his namesake, Thorleik Geitir’s son, that he would kill Gunnar if he came into the countrysides of the west. “And he is my greatest friend,” Snorri spake. “You are much more in duty bound to act as we wish; and for yourself, it is a matter of the greatest importance, for you will never find such another woman as Gudrun, however far you may seek.” And because of Snorri’s reasoning, and seeing that he spoke the truth, Thorkell quieted down, and Gunnar was sent away that evening. The feast now went forward well and bravely, and when it was over the guests got ready to go away. Thorkell gave to Snorri very rich gifts, and the same to all the chief men. Snorri asked Bolli Bollison to go home with him, and to live with him as long as he liked. Bolli accepted this with thanks, and rides home to Tongue. Thorkell now settled down at Holyfell, and took in hand the affairs of the household, and it was soon seen that he was no worse a hand at that than at trade-voyaging. He had the hall pulled down in the autumn and a new one built, which was finished when the winter set in, and was both large and lofty. Between Gudrun and Thorkell dear love now grew up, and so the winter passed on. In the spring Gudrun asked how Thorkell was minded to look out for Gunnar the slayer of Thridrandi. He said that Gudrun had better take the management of that matter, “for you have taken it so hard in hand,

that you will put up with nothing but that he be sent away with honour.” Gudrun said he guessed aright: “I wish you to give him a ship, and therewithal such things as he cannot do without.” Thorkell said and smiled, “You think nothing small on most matters, Gudrun, and would be ill served if you had a mean-minded man for a husband; nor has that ever been your heart’s aim. Well, this shall be done after your own will” - and carried out it was. Gunnar took the gifts most gratefully. “I shall never be so ‘long-armed’ as to be able to repay all this great honour you are doing to me,” he said. Gunnar now went abroad and came to Norway, and then went to his own estates. Gunnar was exceeding wealthy, most great-hearted, and a good and true man withal.

Chapter 70 - Thorleik goes to Norway Thorkell Eyjolfson became a great chieftain; he laid himself out much for friendships and honours. He was a masterful man within his own countryside, and busied himself much about law-suits; yet of his pleadings at court there is no tale to tell here. Thorkell was the richest man in Broadfirth during his lifetime next after Snorri. Thorkell kept his house in good order. He had all the houses at Holyfell rebuilt large and strong. He also had the ground of a church marked out, and gave it out that he had made up his mind to go abroad and fetch timber for the building of his church. Thorkell and Gudrun had a son who was called Gellir; he looked early most likely to turn out well. Bolli Bollison spent his time turn and turn about at Tongue or Holyfell, and Snorri was very fond of him. Thorleik his brother lived at Holyfell. These brothers were both tall and most doughty looking, Bolli being the foremost in all things. Thorkell was kind to his stepsons, and Gudrun loved Bolli most of all her children. He was now sixteen, and Thorleik twenty years old. So, once on a time, Thorleik came to talk to his stepfather and his mother, and said he wished to go abroad. “I am quite tired of sitting at home like a woman, and I wish thatmeans to travel should be furnished to me.” Thorkell said, “I do not think I have done against you two brothers in anything since our alliance began. Now, I think it is the most natural thing that you should 51

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yearn to get to know the customs of other men, for I know you will be counted a brisk man wheresoever you may come among doughty men.” Thorleik said he did not want much money, “for it is uncertain how I may look after matters, being young and in many ways of an unsettled mind.” Thorkell bade him have as much as he wanted. After that Thorkell bought for Thorleik a share in a ship that stood up in Daymeal-Ness, and saw him off to his ship, and fitted him well out with all things from home. Thorleik journeyed abroad that summer. The ship arrived in Norway. The lord over the land then was King Olaf the Holy. Thorleik went forthwith to see King Olaf, who gave him a good welcome; he knew Thorleik from his kindred, and so asked him to stay with him. Thorleik accepted with thanks, and stayed with the king that winter and became one of his guard, and the king held him in honour. Thorleik was thought the briskest of men, and he stayed on with King Olaf for several months. Now we must tell of Bolli Bollison. The spring when he was eighteen years old he spoke to his stepfather and his mother, and said that he wished they would hand him out his father’s portion. Gudrun asked him what he had set his mind on doing, since he asked them to give him this money. Bolli answered, “It is my wish that a woman be wooed on my behalf, and I wish,” said Bolli, “that you, Thorkell, be my spokesman and carry this through.” Thorkell asked what woman it was Bolli wished to woo. Bolli answered, “The woman’s name is Thordis, and she is the daughter of Snorri the Priest; she is the woman I have most at heart to marry; I shall be in no hurry to marry if I do not get this one for wife. And I set a very great store by this matter being carried out.” Thorkell answered, “My help is quite welcome to you, my son, if you think that if I follow up this matter much weight lies thereon. I think the matter will be easily got over with Snorri, for he will know well enough how to see that a fair offer is made him by such as you.” Gudrun said, “I will say at once, Thorkell, that I will let spare nothing so that Bolli may but have the match that pleases him, and that for two reasons, first, that I love him most, and then he has been the most whole-hearted of my children in doing my will.” Thorkell gave it out that he was minded to furnish Bolli off handsomely. 52

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“It is what for many reasons is due to him, and I know, withal, that in Bolli a good husband will be purchased.” A little while after Thorkell and Bolli went with a good many followers to Tongue. Snorri gave to them a kind and blithe welcome, and they were treated to the very best of cheers at Snorri’s hands. Thordis, the daughter of Snorri, was at home with her father; she wasa woman both goodly and of great parts. When they had been a few nights at Tongue Thorkell broached the wooing, bespeaking on behalf of Bolli an alliance with Snorri by marriage with Thordis, his daughter. Snorri answers, “It is well you come here on this errand; it is what I might have looked for from you. I will answer the matter well, for I think Bolli one of the most hopeful of men, and that woman I deem well given in marriage who is given in marriage to him. It will, however, tell most in this matter, how far this is to Thordis’ own mind; for she shall marry such a man only on whom she sets her heart.” This matter coming before Thordis she answered suchwise as that therein she would lean on the foresight of her father, saying she would sooner marry Bolli, a man from within her own countryside, than a stranger from farther away. And when Snorri found that it was not against her wish to go with Bolli, the affair was settled and the betrothal took place. Snorri was to have the feast at his house about the middle of summer. With that Thorkell and Bolli rode home to Holyfell, and Bolli now stayed at home till the time of the wedding-feast. Then Thorkell and Bolli array themselves to leave home, and with them all the men who were set apart therefor, and a crowded company and the bravest band that was. They then rode on their way and came to Tongue, and had a right hearty welcome there. There were great numbers there, and the feast was of the noblest, and when the feast comes to an end the guests get ready to depart. Snorri gave honourable gifts to Thorkell, yea and to both of them, him and Gudrun, and the same to his other friends and relations. And now each one of those who had gone to the feast rode to his own home. Bolli abode at Tongue, and between him and Thordis dear love sprang speedily up. Snorri did all he could to entertain Bolli well, and to him he was even kinder than to his own children. Bolli received all this gratefully, and remained at Tongue that

year in great favour. The next summer a ship came to White-river. One-half of the ship belonged to Thorleik Bollison and the other half of it belonged to some Norwegian man. When Bolli heard of the coming of his brother he rode south to Burgfirth and to the ship. The brothers greeted each other joyfully. Bolli stayed there for several nights, and then both brothers ride together west to Holyfell; Thorkell takes them in with the greatest blitheness, as did also Gudrun, and they invited Thorleik to stay with them for the winter, and that he took with thanks. Thorleik tarried at Holyfell awhile, and then he rode to White-river and lets his ship be beached and his goods be brought to the West. Thorleik had had good luck with him both as to wealth and honours, for that he had become the henchman of that noblest of lords, King Olaf. He now stayed at Holyfell through the winter, while Bolli tarried at Tongue.

Chapter 71 - The Peace between the Sons of Bolli and the Sons of Olaf, A.D. 1026 That winter the brothers would always be meeting, having talks together, and took no pleasure in games or any other pastime; and one time, when Thorleik was at Tongue, the brothers talked day and night together. Snorri then thought he knew that they must be taking counsel together on some very great matter, so he went and joined the talk of the brothers. They greeted him well, but dropped their talk forthwith. He took their greeting well; and presently Snorri spoke: “What are you taking counsels about so that ye heed neither sleep nor meat?” Bolli answers: “This is no framing of counsels, for that talk is one of but little mark which we talk together.” Now Snorri found that they wanted to hide from him all that was in their minds, yet misdoubted him, that they must be talking chiefly of things from which great troubles might arise, in case they should be carried out. He (Snorri) spoke to them: “This I misdoubt me now, that it be neither a vain thing nor a matter of jest you are talking about for such long hours together, and I hold you quite excused, even if such should be the case. Now, be so good as to tell it me and not to hide it away from me. We shall not, when gathered all together, be worse able to take counsel in this matter, A Black Arrow resource

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for that I shall nowhere stand in the way of anything going forward whereby your honour grows the greater.” Thorleik thought Snorri had taken up their case in a kindly manner, and told him in a few words their wishes, and how they had made up their minds to set on the sons of Olaf, and to put them to sore penalties; they said that now they lacked of nothing to bring the sons of Olaf to terms of equality, since Thorleik was a liegeman of King Olaf, and Bolli was the son-inlaw of such a chief as Snorri was. Snorri answered in this way: “For the slaying of Bolli enough has come in return, in that the life of Helgi Hardbeinson was paid therefor; the troubles of men have been far too great already, and it is high time that now at last they be put a stop to.” Bolli said, “What now, Snorri? are you less keen now to stand by us than you gave out but a little while ago? Thorleik would not have told you our mind as yet if he had first taken counsel with me thereon. And when you claim that Helgi’s life has come in revenge for Bolli, it is a matter well known to men that a money fine was paid for the slaying of Helgi, while my father is still unatoned for.” When Snorri saw he could not reason them into a change of mind, he offered them to try to bring about a peaceful atonement between them and the sons of Olaf, rather than that any more manslaughters should befall; and the brothers agreed to this. Then Snorri rode with some men to Herdholt. Halldor gave him a good welcome,and asked him to stay there, but Snorri said he must ride back that night. “But I have an urgent errand with you.” So they fell to talking together, and Snorri made known his errand, saying it had come to his knowledge that Thorleik and Bolli would put up with it no longer that their father should be unatoned at the hands of the sons of Olaf. “And now I would endeavour to bring about peace, and see if an end cannot be put to the evil luck that besets you kinsmen.” Halldor did not flatly refuse to deal further with the case. “I know only too well that Thorgils Hallason and Bolli’s sons were minded to fall on me and my brothers, until you turned elsewhere their vengeance, so that thence-forward it seemed to them best to slay Helgi Hardbeinson. In these matters you have taken a good part, whatever your counsels may have been like in regard to The Sagas of the Icelanders

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earlier dealings between us kinsmen.” Snorri said, “I set a great store by my errand turning out well and that it might be brought about which I have most at heart, that a sound peace should be settled between you kinsmen; for I know the minds of the men who have to deal with you in this case so well, that they will keep faithfully to whatever terms of peace they agree to.” Halldor said, “I will undertake this, if it be the wish of my brothers, to pay money for the slaying of Bolli, such as shall be awarded by the umpires chosen, but I bargain that there be no outlawing of anybody concerned, nor forfeiture of my chieftainship or estate; thesame claim I make in respect of the estates my brothers are possessed of, and I make a point of their being left free owners thereof whatever be the close of this case, each side to choose their own umpire.” Snorri answered, “This is offered well and frankly, and the brothers will take this choice if they are willing to set any store by my counsel.” Thereupon Snorri rode home and told the brothers the outcome of his errand, and that he would keep altogether aloof from their case if they would not agree to this. Bolli bade him have his own way, “And I wish that you, Snorri, be umpire on our behalf.” Then Snorri sent to Halldor to say that peaceful settlement was agreed to, and he bade them choose an umpire against himself. Halldor chose on his behalf Steinthor Thorlakson of Eyr. The peace meeting should be at Drangar on Shawstrand, when four weeks of summer were passed. Thorleik Bollison rode to Holyfell, and nothing to tell tidings of befell that winter, and when time wore unto the hour bespoken for the meeting, Snorri the Priest came there with the sons of Bolli, fifteen together in all; Steinthor and his came with the same number of men to the meeting. Snorri and Steinthor talked together and came to an agreement about these matters. After that they gave out the award, but it is not told how much money they awarded; this, however, is told, that the money was readily paid and the peace well holden to. At the Thorness Thing the fines were paid out; Halldor gave Bolli a good sword, and SteinthorOlafson gave Thorleik a shield, which was also a good gift. Then the Thing was broken up, and both sides were thought to have gained in esteem from these affairs.

Chapter 72 - Bolli and Thorleik go abroad, A. D. 1029 After the peace between Bolli and Thorleik and the sons of Olaf had been settled and Thorleik had been one winter in Iceland, Bolli made it known that he was minded to go abroad. Snorri, dissuading him, said, “To us it seems there is a great risk to be run as to how you may speed; but if you wish to have in hand more than you have now, I will get you a manor and stock it for you; therewithal I shall hand over to you chieftainship over men and uphold you for honours in all things; and that, I know, will be easy, seeing that most men bear you good-will.” Bolli said, “I have long had it in my mind to go for once into southern lands; for a man is deemed to grow benighted if he learns to know nothing farther afield than what is to be seen here in Iceland.” And when Snorri saw that Bolli had set his mind on this, and that it would come to nought to try to stop him, he bade him take as much money as he liked for his journey. Bolli was all for having plenty of money, “for I will not,” he said, “be beholden to any man either here or in any foreign land.” Then Bolli rode south to Burgfirth to White-river and bought half of a ship from the owners, so that he and his brother became joint owners of the same ship. Bolli then rides west again to his home. He and Thordis had one daughter whose name was Herdis, and that maiden Gudrun asked to bring up. She was one year old when she went to Holyfell. Thordis also spent a great deal of her time there, for Gudrun was very fond of her.

Chapter 73 - Bolli’s Voyage Now the brothers went both to their ship. Bolli took a great deal of money abroad with him. They now arrayed the ship, and when everything was ready they put out to sea. The winds did not speed them fast, and they were a long time out at sea, but got to Norway in the autumn, and made Thrandheim in the north. Olaf, the king, was in the east part of the land, in the Wick, where he had made ingatherings for a stay through the winter. And when the brothers heard that the king would not come north to Thrandheim that autumn, Thorleik said he would go east along the land to meet King Olaf. Bolli said, “I have 53

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little wish to driftabout between market towns in autumn days; to me that is too much of worry and restraint. I will rather stay for the winter in this town. I am told the king will come north in the spring, and if he does not then I shall not set my face against our going to meet him.” Bolli has his way in the matter, and they put up their ship and got their winter quarters. It was soon seen that Bolli was a very pushing man, and would be the first among other men; and in that he had his way, for a bounteous man was he, and so got speedily to be highly thought of in Norway. Bolli kept a suite about him during the winter at Thrandheim, and it was easily seen, when he went to the guild meeting-places, that his men were both better arrayed as to raiment and weapons than other townspeople. He alone also paid for all his suite when they sat drinking in guild halls, and on a par with this were his openhandedness and lordly ways in other matters. Now the brothers stay in the town through the winter. That winter the king sat east in Sarpsborg, and news spread from the east that the king was not likely to come north. Early in the spring the brothers got their ship ready and went east along the land. The journey sped well for them, and they got east to Sarpsborg, and went forthwith to meet King Olaf. The king gave a good welcome to Thorleik, his henchman, and his followers. Then the king asked who was that man of stately gait in the train of Thorleik; and Thorleik answered, “He is my brother, and is named Bolli.” “He looks,indeed, a man of high mettle,” said the king. Thereupon the king asks the brothers to come and stay with him, and that offer they took with thanks, and spend the spring with the king. The king was as kind to Thorleik as he had been before, yet he held Bolli by much in greater esteem, for he deemed him even peerless among men. And as the spring went on, the brothers took counsel together about their journeys. And Thorleik asked Bolli if he was minded to go back to Iceland during the summer, “or will you stay on longer here in Norway?” Bolli answered, “I do not mean to do either. And sooth to say, when I left Iceland, my thought was settled on this, that people should not be asking for news of me from the house next door; and now I wish, brother, that you take over our ship.” Thorleik took it much to heart that they should have to part. “But you, 54

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Bolli, will have your way in this as in other things.” Their matter thus bespoken they laid before the king, and he answered thus: “Will you not tarry with us any longer, Bolli?” said the king. “I should have liked it best for you to stay with me for a while, for I shall grant you the same title that I granted to Thorleik, your brother.” Then Bolli answered: “I should be only too glad to bind myself to be your henchman, but I must go first whither I am already bent, and have long been eager to go, but this choice I will gladly take if it be fated to me to come back.” “You will have your way as to your journeyings, Bolli,” says the king, “for you Icelanders are self-willed in most matters. But with this word I must close, that I think you, Bolli, the man of greatest mark that has ever come from Iceland in my days.” And when Bolli had got the king’s leave he made ready for his journey, and went on board a round ship that was bound south for Denmark. He also took a great deal of money with him, and sundry of his followers bore him company. He and King Olaf parted in great friendship, and the king gave Bolli some handsome gifts at parting. Thorleik remained behind with King Olaf, but Bolli went on his way till he came south to Denmark. That winter he tarried in Denmark, and had great honour there of mighty men; nor did he bear himself there in any way less lordly than while he was in Norway. When Bolli had been a winter in Denmark he started on his journey out into foreign countries, and did not halt in his journey till he came to Micklegarth (Constantinople). He was there only a short time before he got himself into the Varangian Guard, and, from what we have heard, no Northman had ever gone to take war-pay from the Garth king before Bolli, Bolli’s son. He tarried in Micklegarth very many winters, and was thought to be the most valiant in all deeds that try a man, and always went next to those in the forefront. The Varangians accounted Bolli most highly of whilst he was with them in Micklegarth.

Chapter 74 - Thorkell Eyjolfson goes to Norway Now the tale is to be taken up again where Thorkell Eyjolfson sits at home in lordly way. His and Gudrun’s son, Gellir, grew up there at home, and was early both a manly fellow and winning. It is said how once upon a time Thorkell

told Gudrun a dream he had had. “I dreamed,” he said, “that I had so great a beard that it spread out over the whole of Broadfirth.” Thorkell bade her read his dream. Gudrun said, “What do you think this dream betokens?” He said, “To me it seems clear that in it is hinted that my power will stand wide about the whole of Broadfirth.” Gudrun said, “Maybe that such is the meaning of it, but I rather should think that thereby is betokened that you will dip your beard down into Broadfirth.” That same summer Thorkell runs out his ship and gets it ready for Norway. His son, Gellir, was then twelve winters old, and he went abroad with his father. Thorkell makes it known that he means to fetch timber to build his church with, and sails forthwith into the main sea when he was ready. He had an easy voyage of it, but not a very short one, and they hove into Norway northwardly. King Olaf then had his seat in Thrandheim, and Thorkell sought forthwith a meeting with King Olaf, and his son Gellir with him. Theyhad there a good welcome. So highly was Thorkell accounted of that winter by the king, that all folk tell that the king gave him not less than one hundred marks of refined silver. The king gave to Gellir at Yule a cloak, the most precious and excellent of gifts. That winter King Olaf had a church built in the town of timber, and it was a very great minster, all materials thereto being chosen of the best. In the spring the timber which the king gave to Thorkell was brought on board ship, and large was that timber and good in kind, for Thorkell looked closely after it. Now it happened one morning early that the king went out with but few men, and saw a man up on the church which then was being built in the town. He wondered much at this, for it was a good deal earlier than the smiths were wont to be up. Then the king recognised the man, and, lo! there was Thorkell Eyjolfson taking the measure of all the largest timber, crossbeams, sills, and pillars. The king turned at once thither, and said: “What now, Thorkell, do you mean after these measurements to shape the church timber which you are taking to Iceland?” “Yes, in truth, sire,” said Thorkell. Then said King Olaf, “Cut two ells off every main beam, and that church will yet be the largest built in Iceland.” Thorkell answered, “Keep your timber yourself if you think you have given me too much, or your hand itches to A Black Arrow resource

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take it back, but not an ell’s length shall I cut off it. I shall both know how to go about and how to carry out getting other timber for me.” Then says the king most calmly, “So it is, Thorkell, that you are not only a man of much account, but you are also now making yourself too big, for, to be sure, it is too overweening for the son of a mere peasant to try to vie with us. But it is not true that I begrudge you the timber, if only it be fated to you to build a church therewith; for it will never be large enough for all your pride to find room to lie inside it. But near it comes to the foreboding of my mind, that the timber will be of little use to men, and that it will be far from you ever to get any work by man done with this timber.” After that they ceased talking, and the king turned away, and it was marked by people that it misliked him how Thorkell accounted as of nought what he said. Yet the king himself did not let people get the wind of it, and he and Thorkell parted in great good-will. Thorkell got on board his ship and put to sea. They had a good wind, and were not long out about the main. Thorkell brought his ship to Ramfirth, and rode soon from his ship home to Holyfell, where all folk were glad to see him. In this journey Thorkell had gained much honour. He had his ship hauled ashore and made snug, and the timber for the church he gave to a caretaker, where it was safely bestowed, for it could not be brought from the north this autumn, as he was at all time full of business. Thorkell now sits at home at his manor throughout the winter. He had Yule-drinking at Holyfell, and to it therecame a crowd of people; and altogether he kept up a great state that winter. Nor did Gudrun stop him therein; for she said the use of money was that people should increase their state therewith; moreover, whatever Gudrun must needs be supplied with for all purposes of high-minded display, that (she said) would be readily forthcoming (from her husband). Thorkell shared that winter amongst his friends many precious things he had brought with him out to Iceland.

Chapter 75 - Thorkell and Thorstein and Halldor Olafson, A.D. 1026 That winter after Yule Thorkell got ready to go from home north to Ramfirth to bring his timber from the north. He rode first up into the Dales and then to LeaThe Sagas of the Icelanders

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shaws to Thorstein, his kinsman, where he gathered together men and horses. He afterwards went north to Ramfirth and stayed there awhile, taken up with the business of his journey, and gathered to him horses from about the firth, for he did not want to make more than one journey of it, if that could be managed. But this did not speed swiftly, and Thorkell was busy at this work even into Lent. At last he got under way with the work, and had the wood dragged from the north by more than twenty horses, and had the timber stacked on Lea-Eyr, meaning later on to bring it in a boat out to Holyfell. Thorstein owned a large ferry-boat, and this boat Thorkell was minded to use for his homeward voyage. Thorkell stayed at Lea-shaws through Lent, for there was dear friendship between these kinsmen. Thorstein said one day to Thorkell, they had better go to Herdholt, “for I want to make a bid for some land from Halldor, he having but little money since he paid the brothers the weregild for their father, and the land being just what I want most.” Thorkell bade him do as he liked; so they left home a party of twenty men together. They come to Herdholt, and Halldor gave them good welcome, and was most free of talk with them. There were few men at home, for Halldor had sent his men north to Steingrims-firth, as a whale had come ashore there in which he owned a share. Beiner the Strong was at home, the only man now left alive of those who had been there with Olaf, the father of Halldor. Halldor had said to Beiner at once when he saw Thorstein and Thorkell riding up, “I can easily see what the errand of these kinsmen is - they are going to make me a bid for my land, and if that is the case they will call me aside for a talk; I guess they will seat themselves each on either side of me; so, then, if they should give me any trouble you must not be slower to set on Thorstein than I on Thorkell. You have long been true to us kinsfolk. I have also sent to the nearest homesteads for men, and at just thesame moment I should like these two things to happen: the coming in of the men summoned, and the breaking up of our talk.” Now as the day wore on, Thorstein hinted to Halldor that they should all go aside and have some talk together, “for we have an errand with you.” Halldor said it suited him well. Thorstein told his followers they need not come with them, but Beiner went

with them none the less, for he thought things came to pass very much after what Halldor had guessed they would. They went very far out into the field. Halldor had on a pinned-up cloak with a long pin brooch, as was the fashion then. Halldor sat down on the field, but on either side of him each of these kinsmen, so near that they sat well-nigh on his cloak; but Beiner stood over them with a big axe in his hand. Then said Thorstein, “My errand here is that I wish to buy land from you, and I bring it before you now because my kinsman Thorkell is with me; I should think that this would suit us both well, for I hear that you are short of money, while your land is costly to husband. I will give you in return an estate that will beseem you, and into the bargain as much as we shall agree upon.” In the beginning Halldor took the matter as if it were not so very far from his mind, and they exchanged words concerning the terms of the purchase; and when they felt that he was not so far from coming to terms, Thorkell joined eagerly in the talk, and tried to bring the bargain to a point. Then Halldor began to draw back rather, but they pressed him all the more; yet at last it came to this, that he was the further from the bargain the closer they pressed him. Then said Thorkell, “Do you not see, kinsman Thorstein, how this is going? Halldor has delayed the matter for us all day long, and we have sat here listening to his fooling and wiles. Now if you want to buy the land we must come to closer quarters.” Thorstein then said he must know what he had to look forward to, and bade Halldor now come out of the shadow as to whether he was willing to come to the bargain. Halldor answered, “I do not think I need keep you in the dark as to this point, that you will have to go home to-night without any bargain struck.” Then said Thorstein, “Nor do I think it needful to delay making known to you what we have in our mind to do; for we, deeming that we shall get the better of you by reason of the odds on our side, have bethought us of two choices for you: one choice is, that you do this matter willingly and take in return our friendship; but the other, clearly a worse one, is, that you now stretch out your hand against your own will and sell me the land of Herdholt.” But when Thorstein spoke in this outrageous manner, Halldor leapt up so suddenly that the brooch was torn 55

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from his cloak, and said, “Something else will happen before I utter that which is not my will.” “What is that?” said Thorstein. “A pole-axe will stand on your head from one of the worst of men, and thus cast down your insolence and unfairness.” Thorkell answered, “That is an evil prophecy, and I hope it will not be fulfilled; and now I think there is ample cause why you, Halldor, should give up your land and have nothing for it.” Then Halldor answered, “Sooner you will be embracing the sea-tangle in Broadfirth than I sell my land against my own will.” Halldor went home after that, and the men he had sent for came crowding up to the place. Thorstein was of the wrothest, and wanted forthwith to make an onset on Halldor. Thorkell bade him not to do so, “for that is the greatest enormity at such a season as this; but when this season wears off, I shall not stand in the way of his and ours clashing together.” Halldor said he was given to think he would not fail in being ready for them. After that they rode away and talked much together of this their journey; and Thorstein, speaking thereof, said that, truth to tell, their journey was most wretched. “But why, kinsman Thorkell, were you so afraid of falling on Halldor and putting him to some shame?” Thorkell answered, “Did you not see Beiner, who stood over you with the axe reared aloft? Why, it was an utter folly, for forthwith on seeing me likely to do anything, he would have driven that axe into your head.” They rode now home to Lea-shaws; and Lent wears and Passion Week sets in.

Chapter 76 - The Drowning of Thorkell, A.D. 1026 On Maundy Thursday, early in the morning, Thorkell got ready for his journey. Thorstein set himself much against it: “For the weather looks to me uncertain,” said he. Thorkell said the weather would do all right. “And you must not hinder me now, kinsman, for I wish to be home before Easter.” So now Thorkell ran out the ferry-boat, and loaded it. But Thorstein carried the lading ashore from out the boat as fast as Thorkell and his followers put it on board. Then Thorkell said, “Give over now, kinsman, and do not hinder our journey this time; you must not have your own way in this.” Thorstein said, “He of us two will now follow the counsel that 56

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will answer the worst, for this journey will cause the happening of great matters.” Thorkell now bade them farewell till their next meeting, and Thorstein went home, and was exceedingly downcast. He went to the guest-house, and bade them lay a pillow under his head, the which was done. The servant-maid saw how the tears ran down upon the pillow from his eyes. And shortly afterwards a roaring blast struck the house, and Thorstein said, “There, we now can hear roaring the slayer of kinsman Thorkell.” Now to tell of the journey of Thorkell and his company: they sail this day out, down Broadfirth, and were ten on board. The wind began to blow very high, and rose to full gale before it blew over. They pushed on their way briskly, for the men were most plucky. Thorkell had with him the sword Skofnung, which was laid in the locker. Thorkell and his party sailed till they came to Bjorn’s isle, and people could watch them journey from both shores. But when they had come thus far, suddenly a squall caught the sail and overwhelmed the boat. There Thorkell was drowned and all the men who were with him. The timber drifted ashore wide about the islands, the corner-staves (pillars) drove ashore in the island called Staff-isle. Skofnung stuck fast to the timbers of the boat, and was found in Skofnungs-isle. That same evening that Thorkell and his followers were drowned, it happened at Holyfell that Gudrun went to the church, when other people had gone to bed, and when she stepped into the lich-gate she saw a ghost standing before her. He bowed over her and said, “Great tidings, Gudrun.” She said, “Hold then your peace about them, wretch.” Gudrun went on to the church, as she had meant to do, and when she got up to the church she thought she saw that Thorkell and his companions were come home and stood before the door of the church, and she saw that water was running off their clothes. Gudrun did not speak to them, but went into the church, and stayed there as long as it seemed good to her. After that she went to the guest-room, for she thought Thorkell and his followers must have gone there; but when she came into the chamber, there was no one there. Then Gudrun was struck with wonder at the whole affair. On Good Friday Gudrun sent her men to find out matters concerning the journeying of Thorkell and his company, some up to

Shawstrand and some out to the islands. By then the flotsam had already come to land wide about the islands and on both shores of the firth. The Saturday before Easter the tidings got known and great news they were thought to be, for Thorkell had been a great chieftain. Thorkell was eight-and-forty years old when he was drowned, and that was four winters before Olaf the Holy fell. Gudrun took much to heart the death of Thorkell, yet bore her bereavement bravely. Only very little of the church timber could ever be gathered in. Gellir was now fourteen years old, and with his mother he took over the business of the household and the chieftainship. It was soon seen that he was made to be a leader of men. Gudrun now became a very religious woman. She was the first woman in Iceland who knew the Psalter by heart. She would spend long time in the church at nights saying her prayers, and Herdis, Bolli’s daughter, always went with her at night. Gudrun loved Herdis very much. It is told that one night the maiden Herdis dreamed that a woman came to her who was dressed in a woven cloak, and coifed in a head cloth, but she did not think the woman winning to look at. She spoke, “Tell your grandmother that I am displeased with her, for she creeps about over me every night, and lets fall down upon me drops so hot that I am burning all over from them. My reason for letting you know this is, that I like you somewhat better, though there is something uncanny hovering about you too. However, I could get on with you if I did not feel there was so much more amiss with Gudrun.” Then Herdis awoke and told Gudrun her dream. Gudrun thought the apparition was of good omen. Next morning Gudrun had planks taken up from the church floor where she was wont to kneel on the hassock, and she had the earth dug up, and they found blue and evil-looking bones, a round brooch, and a wizard’s wand, and men thought they knew then that a tomb of some sorceress must have been there; so the bones were taken to a place far away where people were least likely to be passing.

Chapter 77 - The Return of Bolli, A.D. 1030 When four winters were passed from the drowning of Thorkell Eyjolfson a ship came into Islefirth belonging to Bolli A Black Arrow resource

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Bollison, most of the crew of which were Norwegians. Bolli brought out with him much wealth, and many precious things that lords abroad had given him. Bolli was so great a man for show when he came back from this journey that he would wear no clothes but of scarlet and fur, and all his weapons were bedight with gold: he was called Bolli the Grand. He made it known to his shipmasters that he was going west to his own countrysides, and he left his ship and goods in the hands of his crew. Bolli rode from the ship with twelve men, and all his followers were dressed in scarlet, and rode on gilt saddles, and all were they a trusty band, though Bolli was peerless among them. He had on the clothes of fur which the Garth-king had given him, he had over all a scarlet cape; and he had Footbiter girt on him, the hilt of which was dight with gold, and the grip woven with gold; he had a gilded helmet on his head, and a red shield on his flank, with a knight painted on it in gold. He had a dagger in his hand, as is the custom in foreign lands; and whenever they took quarters the women paid heed to nothing but; gazing at Bolli and his grandeur, and that of his followers. In this state Bolli rode into the western parts all the way till he came to Holyfell with his following. Gudrun was very glad to see her son. Bolli did not stay there long till he rode up to Sælingsdale Tongue to see Snorri, his father-in-law, and his wife Thordis, and their meeting was exceeding joyful. Snorri asked Bolli to stay with him with as many of his men as he liked. Bolli accepted the invitation gratefully, and was with Snorri all the winter, with the men who had ridden from the north with him. Bolli got great renown from thisjourney. Snorri made it no less his business Snorri’ now to treat Bolli with every kindness than death when he was with him before.

Chapter 78 - The Death of Snorri, and the End, A.D. 1031 When Bolli had been one winter in Iceland Snorri the Priest fell ill. That illness did not gain quickly on him, and Snorri lay very long abed. But when the illness gained on him, he called to himself all his kinsfolk and affinity, and said to Bolli, “It is my wish that you shall take over the manor here and the chieftainship after my day, for I grudge honours to you no more than to The Sagas of the Icelanders

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my own sons, nor is there within this land now the one of my sons who I think will be the greatest man among them, Halldor to wit.” Thereupon Snorri breathed his last, being seventy-seven years old. That was one winter after the fall of St. Olaf, so said Ari the Priest “Deep-in-lore.” Snorri was buried at Tongue. Bolli and Thordis took over the manor of Tongue as Snorri had willed it, and Snorri’s sons put up with it with a good will. Bolli grew a man of great account, and was much beloved. Herdis, Bolli’s daughter, grew up at Holyfell, and was the goodliest of all women. Orm, the son of Hermund, the son of Illugi, asked her in marriage, and she was given in wedlock to him; their son was Kodran, who had for wife Gudrun, the daughter of Sigmund. The son of Kodran was Hermund, who had for wife Ulfeid, the daughter of Runolf, who was the son of Bishop Kelill; their sons were Kelill, who was Abbot of Holyfell, and Reinn and Kodran and Styrmir; their daughter was Thorvor, whom Skeggi, Bard’s son, had for wife, and from whom is come the stock of the Shaw-men. Ospak was the name of the son of Bolli and Thordis. The daughter of Ospak was Gudrun, whom Thorarin, Brand’s son, had to wife. Their son was Brand, who founded the benefice of Housefell. Gellir, Thorleik’s son, took to him a wife, and married Valgerd, daughter of Thorgils Arison of Reekness. Gellir went abroad, and took service with King Magnus the Good, and had given him by the king twelve ounces of gold and many goods besides. The sons of Gellir were Thorkell and Thorgils, and a son of Thorgils was Ari the “Deep-in-lore.” The son of Ari was named Thorgils, and his son was Ari the Strong. Now Gudrun began to grow very old, and lived in such sorrow and grief as has lately been told. She was the first nun and recluse in Iceland, and by all folk it is said that Gudrun was the noblest of women of equal birth with her in this land. It is told how once upon a time Bolli came to Holyfell, for Gudrun was always very pleased when he came to see her, and how he sat by his mother for a long time, and they talked of many things. ThenBolli said, “Will you tell me, mother, what I want very much to know? Who is the man you have loved the most?” Gudrun answered, “Thorkell was the mightiest man and the greatest chief, but no man was more shapely or better endowed all round than Bolli. Thord, son of Ingun, was the

wisest of them all, and the greatest lawyer; Thorvald I take no account of.” Then said Bolli, “I clearly understand that what you tell me shows how each of your husbands was endowed, but you have not told me yet whom you loved the best. Now there is no need for you to keep that hidden any longer.” Gudrun answered, “You press me hard, my son, for this, but if I must needs tell it to any one, you are the one I should first choose thereto.” Bolli bade her do so. Then Gudrun said, “To him I was worst whom I loved best.” “Now,” answered Bolli, “I think the whole truth is told,” and said she had done well to tell him what he so much had yearned to know. Gudrun grew to be a very old woman, and some say she lost her sight. Gudrun died at Holyfell, and there she rests. Gellir, Thorkell’s son, lived at Holyfell to old age, and many things of much account are told of him; he also comes into many Sagas, though but little be told of him here. He built a church at Holyfell, a very stately one, as Arnor, the Earls’ poet, says in the ����������������������� funeral song which he wrote about Gellir, wherein he uses clear words about that matter. When Gellir was somewhat sunk into his latter age, he prepared himself for a journey away from Iceland. He went to Norway, but did not stay there long, and then left straightway that land and “walked” south to Rome to “see the holy apostle Peter.” He was very long over this journey; and then journeying from the south he came into Denmark, and there he fell ill and lay in bed a very long time, and received all the last rites of the church, whereupon he died, and he rests at Roskild. Gellir had taken Skofnung with him, the sword that had been taken out of the barrow of Holy Kraki, and never after could it be got back. When the death of Gellir was known in Iceland, Thorkell, his son, took over his father’s inheritance at Holyfell. Thorgils, another of Gellir’s sons, was drowned in Broadfirth at an early age, with all hands on board. Thorkell Gellirson was a most learned man, and was said to be of all men the best stocked of lore. Here is the end of the Saga of the men of Salmonriver-Dale.


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Egil’s Saga Chapter 1 - Of Kveldulf and his sons. There was a man named Ulf, son of Bjalf, and Hallbera, daughter of Ulf the fearless; she was sister of Hallbjorn Half-giant in Hrafnista, and he the father of Kettle Hæing. Ulf was a man so tall and strong that none could match him, and in his youth he roved the seas as a freebooter. In fellowship with him was one Kari of Berdla, a man of renown for strength and daring; he was a Berserk. Ulf and he had one common purse, and were the dearest friends. But when they gave up freebooting, Kari went to his estate at Berdla, being a man of great wealth. Three children had Kari, one son named Eyvind Lambi, another Aulvir Hnuf, and a daughter Salbjorg, who was a most beautiful woman of a noble spirit. Her did Ulf take to wife, and then he too went to his estates. Wealthy he was both in lands and chattels; he took baron’s rank as his forefathers had done, and became a great man. It was told of Ulf that he was a great householder; it was his wont to rise up early, and then go round among his labourers or where his smiths were, and to overlook his stalk and fields, and at times he would talk with such as needed his counsel, and good counsel he could give in all things, for he was very wise. But everyday as evening drew on he became sullen, so that few could come to speak with him. He was an evening sleeper, and it was commonly said that he was very shape strong. He was called Kveldulf. Kveldulf and his wife had two sons, the elder was named Thorolf, the younger Grim; these, when they grew up, were both tall men and strong, as was their father. But Thorolf was most comely as well as doughty, favoring his mother’s kin; 58

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very cheery was he, liberal, impetuous in everything, a good trader, winning the hearts of all men. Grim was swarthy, ill-favoured, like his father both in face and mind; he became a good man of business; skilful was he in wood and iron, an excellent smith. In the winter he often went to the herring fishing, and with him many house-carles. But when Thorolf was twenty years old, then he made him ready to go a harrying. Kveldulf gave him a long-ship, and Kari of Berdla’s sons, Eyvind and Aulvir, resolved to go on that voyage, taking a large force and another long-ship; and they roved the seas in the summer, and got them wealth, and had a large booty to divide. For several summers they were out roving, but stayed at home in winter with their fathers. Thorolf brought home many costly things, and took them to his father and mother; thus they were well-to-do both for possessions and honour. Kveldulf was now well stricken in years, and his sons were grown men.

Chapter 2 - Of Aulvir Hnuf. Audbjorn was then king over the Firthfolk; there was an earl of his named Hroald, whose son was Thorir. Atli the Slim was then an earl, he dwelt at Gaula; he had sons - Hallstein, Holmstein, and Herstein; and a daughter, Solveig the Fair. It happened one autumn that much people were gathered at Gaula for a sacrificial feast, then saw Aulvir Hnuf Solveig and courted her; he afterwards asked her to wife. But the earl thought him an unequal match and would not give her. Whereupon Aulvir composed many love-songs, and thought so much of Solveig that he left freebooting, but Thorolf and Eyvind Lambi kept it on.

Chapter 3 - The beginning of the rule of Harold Fairhair. Harold, son of Halfdan Swarthy, was heir after his father. He had bound himself by this vow, not to let his hair be cut or combed till he were sole king over Norway, wherefore he was called Harold Shockhead. So first he warred with the kings nearest to him and conquered them, as is told at length elsewhere. Then he got possession of Upland; thence he went northwards to Throndheim, and had many battles there before he became absolute over A Black Arrow resource

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all the Thronds. After that he purposed to go north to Naumdale to attack the brothers Herlaug and Hrollaug, kings of Naumdale. But when these brothers heard of his coming, Herlaug with twelve men entered the sepulchral mound which they had caused to be made (they were three winters at the making), and the mound then was closed after them. But king Hrollaug sank from royalty to earldom, giving up his kingdom and becoming a vassal of Harold. So Harold gained the Naumdalesmen and Halogaland, and he set rulers over his realm there. Then went he southwards with a fleet to Mæra and Raumsdale. But Solvi Bandy-legs, Hunthiof’s son, escaped thence, and going to king Arnvid, in South Mæra, he asked help, with these words: ‘Though this danger now touches us, before long the same will come to you; for Harold, as I ween, will hasten hither when he has enthralled and oppressed after his will all in North Mæra and Raumsdale. Then will the same need be upon you as was upon us, to guard your wealth and liberty, and to try everyone from whom you may hope for aid. And I now offer myself with my forces against this tyranny and wrong. But, if you make the other choice, you must do as the Naumdalesmen have done, and go of your own will into slavery, and become Harold’s thralls. My father though it victory to die a king with honour rather than become in his old age another king’s subject. Thou, as I judge, wilt think the same, and so will others who have any high spirit and claim to be men of valour.’ By such persuasion king Arnvid was determined to gather his forces and defend his land. He and Solvi made a league, and sent messengers to Audbjorn, king of the Firthfolk, that he should come and help them. Audbjorn, after counsel taken with friends, consented, and bade cut the war-arrow and send the war-summons throughout his realm, with word to his nobles that they should join him. But when the king’s messengers came to Kveldulf and told him their errand, and that the king would have Kveldulf come to him with all his house-carles, then answered he: ‘It is my duty to the king to take the field with him if he have to defend his own land, and there be harrying against the The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Firthfolk; but this I deem clean beyond my duty, to go north to Mæra and defend their land. Briefly ye may say when ye meet your king that Kveldulf will sit at home during this rush to war, nor will he gather forces nor leave his home to fight with Harold Shockhead. For I think that he has a whole load of good-fortune where our king has not a handful.’ The messengers went back to the king, and told him how their errand had sped; but Kveldulf sat at home on his estates.

Chapter 4 - Battle of king Harold and Audbjorn. King Audbjorn went with his forces northwards to Mæra; there he joined king Arnvid and Solvi Bandy-legs, and altogether they had a large host. King Harold also had come from the north with his forces, and the armies met inside Solskel. There was fought a great battle, with much slaughter in either host. Of the Mærian forces fell the kings Arnvid and Audbjorn, but Solvi escaped, and afterwards became a great sea-rover, and wrought much scathe on Harold’s kingdom, and was nicknamed Bandy-legs. On Harold’s side fell two earls, Asgaut and Asbjorn, and two sons of earl Hacon, Grjotgard and Herlaug, and many other great men. After this Harold subdued South Mæra. Vemund Audbjorn’s brother still retained the Firthfolk, being made king. It was now autumn, and king Harold was advised not to go south in autumn-tide. So he set earl Rognvald over North and South Mæra and Raumsdale, and kept a numerous force about himself.

Naust-dale, where Vemund was at a banquet, and, surrounding the house, burnt within it the king and ninety men. After that Karl of Berdla came to earl Rognvald with a long-ship fully manned, and they two went north to Mæra. Rognvald took the ships that had belonged to Vemund and all the chattels he could get. Kari of Berdla then went north to king Harold at Throndheim, and became his man. Next spring king Harold went southwards along the coast with a fleet, and subdued firths and fells, and arranged for men of his own to rule them. Earl Hroald he set over the Firthfolk. King Harold was very careful, when he had gotten new peoples under his power, about barons and rich landowners, and all those whom he suspected of being at all likely to raise rebellion. Every such man he treated in one of two ways: he either made him become his liege-man, or go abroad; or (as a third choice) suffer yet harder conditions, some even losing life or limb. Harold claimed as his own through every district all patrimonies, and all land tilled or untilled, likewise all seas and freshwater lakes. All landowners were to be his tenants, as also all that worked in the forest, salt-burners, hunters and fishers by land and sea, all these owed him duty. But many fled abroad from this tyranny, and much waste land was then colonized far and wide, both eastwards in Jamtaland and Helsingjaland, and also the West lands, the Southern isles, Dublin in Ireland, Caithness in Scotland, and Shetland. And in that time Iceland was found.

That same autumn the sons of Atli set on Aulvir Hnuf at his home, and would fain have slain him. They had such a force that Aulvir could not withstand them, but fled for his life. Going northwards to Mæra, he there found Harold, and submitted to him, and went north with the king to Throndheim, and he became most friendly with him, and remained with him for a long time thereafter, and was made a skald.

Chapter 5 - The king’s message to Kveldulf.

In the winter following earl Rognvald went the inner way by the Eid-sea southwards to the Firths. Having news by spies of the movements of king Vemund, he came by night to

‘He has heard,’ said they, ‘that you are a man of renown and high family. You will get from him terms of great honour, for the king is very keen on this, to have with him such as he hears are men of

King Harold lay with his fleet in the Firths, whence he sent messengers round the land to such as had not come to him, but with whom he thought he had business. The messengers came to Kveldulf, and were well received. They set forth their errand, said that the king would have Kveldulf come to him.


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mark for strength and bravery.’ Kveldulf answered that he was an old man, not fit for war or to be out in warships. ‘I will now,’ said he, ‘sit at home and leave serving kings.’ Upon this the messengers said, ‘Then let your son go to the king; he is a tall man and a likely warrior. The king will make you a baron,’ said they to Grim, ‘if you will serve him.’ ‘I will be made baron under none,’ said Grim, ‘while my father lives; he, while he lives, shall be my liege-lord.’ The messengers went away, and when they came to the king told him all that Kveldulf had said before them. Whereat the king looked sullen, but he spoke little; these men, he said, were proud, or what were they aiming at? Aulvir Hnuf was standing near, and he bade the king not be wroth. ‘I will go,’ said he, ‘to Kveldulf; and he will consent to come to you, as soon as he knows that you think it a matter of moment.’ So Aulvir went to Kveldulf and told him that the king was wroth, and it would not go well unless one of the two, father or son, came to the king; he said, too, that he would get them great honour from the king if they would but pay homage. Further he told them at length, as was true, that the king was liberal to his men both in money and in honours. Kveldulf said, ‘My foreboding is that I and my sons shall get no luck from this king: and I will not go to him. But if Thorolf returns this summer, he will be easily won to this journey, as also to be made the king’s man. Say you this to the king, that I will be his friend, and will keep to his friendship all who heed my words; I will also hold the same rule and authority from his hand that I held before from the former king, if he will that it continue so still, and I will see how I and the king agree.’ Then Aulvir went back and told the king that Kveldulf would send him his son, and he (said Aulvir) would suit better; but he was not then at home. The king let the matter rest. In the summer he went inland to Sogn, but in autumn made ready to go northwards to Throndheim. 60

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Chapter 6 - Thorolf resolves to serve the king. Thorolf Kveldulf’s son and Eyvind Lambi came home from sea-roving in the autumn. Thorolf went to his father, and father and son had some talk together. Thorolf asked what had been the errand of the men whom Harold sent thither. Kveldulf said the king had sent them with this message, that Kveldulf or else one of his sons should become his man. ‘How answeredst thou?’ said Thorolf. ‘I spake what was in my mind, that I would never take service with king Harold; and ye two will both do the same, if I may counsel: this I think will be the end, that we shall reap ruin from that king.’ ‘That,’ said Thorolf, ‘is quite contrary to what my mind tells me, for I think I shall get from him much advancement. And on this I am resolved, to seek the king, and become his man; and this I have learnt for true, that his guard is made up of none but valiant men. To join their company, if they will have me, seems to me most desirable; these men are in far better case than all others in the land. And ‘tis told me of the king that he is most generous in money gifts to his men, and not slow to give them promotion and to grant rule to such as he deems meet for it. Whereas I hear this about all that turn their backs upon him and pay him not homage with friendship, that they all become men of nought, some flee abroad, some are made hirelings. It seems wonderful to me, father, in a man so wise and ambitious as thou art, that thou wouldst not thankfully take the dignity which the king offered thee. But if thou thinkest that thou hast prophetic foresight of this, that we shall get misfortune from this king, and that he will be our enemy, then why didst thou not go to battle against him with that king in whose service thou wert before? Now, methinks it is most unreasonable neither to be his friend nor his enemy.’ ‘It went,’ said Kveldulf, ‘just as my mind foreboded, that they marched not to victory who went northwards to fight with Harold Shockhead in Mæra; and equally true will this be, that Harold will work much scathe on my kin. But thou,

Thorolf, wilt take thine own counsel in thine own business; nor do I fear, though thou enter into the company of Harold’s guards, that thou wilt not be thought capable and equal to the foremost in all proofs of manhood. Only beware of this, keep within bounds, nor rival thy betters; thou wilt not, I am sure, yield to others overmuch.’ But when Thorolf made him ready to go, Kveldulf accompanied him down to the ship and embraced him, with wishes for his happy journey and their next merry meeting.

Chapter 7 - Of Bjorgolf, Brynjolf, Bard, and Hildirida. There was a man in Halogaland named Bjorgolf; he dwelt in Torgar. He was a baron, powerful and wealthy; in strength, stature, and kindred half hillgiant. He had a son named Brynjolf, who was like his father. Bjorgolf was now old, and his wife was dead; and he had given over into his son’s hands all business, and found him a wife, Helga, daughter of Kettle Hæing of Hrafnista. Their son was named Bard; he soon grew to be tall and handsome, and became a right doughty man. One autumn there was a banquet where many men were gathered, Bjorgolf and his son being there the most honourable guests. In the evening they were paired off by lot to drink together, as the old custom was. Now, there was at the banquet a man named Hogni, owner of a farm in Leka, a man of great wealth, very handsome, shrewd, but of low family, who had made his own way. He had a most beautiful daughter, Hildirida by name; and it fell to her lot to sit by Bjorgolf. They talked much together that evening, and the fair maiden charmed the old man. Shortly afterwards the banquet broke up. That same autumn old Bjorgolf journeyed from home in a cutter of his own, with thirty men aboard. He came to Leka, and twenty of them went up to the house, while ten guarded the ship. When they came to the farm, Hogni went out to meet him, and made him welcome, invited him and his comrades to lodge there, which offer Bjorgolf accepted, and they entered the room. But when they had doffed their A Black Arrow resource

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travelling clothes and donned mantles, then Hogni gave orders to bring in a large bowl of beer; and Hildirida, the daughter of the house, bare ale to the guests. Bjorgolf called to him Hogni the goodman, and said, ‘My errand here is this: I will have your daughter to go home with me, and will even now make with her a hasty wedding.’ Hogni saw no choice but to let all be as Bjorgolf would; so Bjorgolf bought her with an ounce of gold, and they became man and wife, and Hildirida went home with Bjorgolf to Torgar. Brynjolf showed him ill-pleased at this business. Bjorgolf and Hildirida had two sons; one was named Harek, the other Hærek. Soon after this Bjorgolf died; but no sooner was he buried than Brynjolf sent away Hildirida and her sons. She went to her father at Leka, and there her sons were brought up. They were good-looking, small of stature, naturally shrewd, like their mother’s kin. They were commonly called Hildirida’s sons. Brynjolf made little count of them, and did not let them inherit aught of their father’s. Hildirida was Hogni’s heiress, and she and her sons inherited from him and dwelt in Leka, and had plenty of wealth. Bard, Brynjolf’s son, and Hildirida’s sons were about of an age. Bjorgolf and his son Brynjolf had long held the office of going to the Finns, and collecting the Finns’ tribute. Northwards, in Halogaland is a firth called Vefsnir, and in the firth lies an island called Alost, a large island and a good, and in this a farm called Sandness. There dwelt a man named Sigurd, the richest man thereabouts in the north; he was a baron, and wise of understanding. He had a daughter named Sigridr; she was thought the best match in Halogaland, being his only child and sole heiress to her father. Bard Brynjolf’s son journeyed from home with a cutter and thirty men aboard northwards to Alost, and came to Sigurd at Sandness. There he declared his business, and asked Sigridr to wife. This offer was well received and favourable answered, and so it came about that Bard was betrothed to the maiden. The marriage was to take place the next summer. Bard was then to come north for the wedding. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Chapter 8 - Of Bard and Thorolf. King Harold had that summer sent word to the men of power that were in Halogaland, summoning to him such as had not come to him before. Brynjolf resolved to go, and with him Bard his son; and in the autumn they went southwards to Throndheim, and there met the king. He received them most gladly. Brynjolf was made a baron of the king’s; the king also gave him large grants beside what he had before. He gave him withal the right of journey to the Finns, with the king’s business on the fells and the Finn traffic. Then Brynjolf went away home to his estate, but Bard remained, and was made one of the king’s guard. Of all his guard the king most prized his skalds; they occupied the second high seat. Of these Audun Ill-skald sat innermost, being the oldest; he had been skald to Halfdan Swarthy, king Harold’s father. Next to him sat Thorbjorn Raven, then Aulvir Hnuf, and next to him was placed Bard; he was there by-named Bard the White or Bard the Strong. He was in honour with everyone there, but between him and Aulvir Hnuf was a close friendship. That same autumn came to king Harold Thorolf Kveldulf’s son and Eyvind Lambi, Kari of Berdla’s son, and they were well received. They brought thither a swift twenty-benched long-ship well manned, which they had before used in sea-roving. They and their company were placed in the guest-hall; but when they had waited there till they thought it a fit time to go before the king, Kari of Berdla and Aulvir Hnuf went in with them. They greeted the king. Then said Aulvir Hnuf, ‘Here is come Kveldulf’s son, whom I told thee in the summer Kveldulf would send. His promise to thee will now stand fast; for here thou canst see true tokens that he will be thy friend in all when he hath sent his son hither to take service with thee, a stalwart man as thou mayest see. Now, this is the boon craved by Kveldulf and by us all, that thou receive Thorolf with honour and make him a great man with thee.’ The king answered his words well, promising that so he would do, ‘If,’ said he, ‘Thorolf proves himself as

accomplished in deed as he is right brave in look.’ After this Thorolf was made of the king’s household, and one of his guard. But Kari of Berdla and his son Eyvind Lambi went back south in the ship which Thorolf had brought north, and so home to Kari’s farm. Thorolf remained with the king, who appointed him a seat between Aulvir Hnuf and Bard; and these three struck up a close friendship. And all men said of Thorolf and Bard that they were a well-matched pair for comeliness, stature, strength, and all doughty deeds. And both were in high favour with the king. But when winter was past and summer came, then Bard asked leave to go and see to the marriage promised to him the summer before. And when the king knew that Bard’s errand was urgent, he allowed him to go home. Then Bard asked Thorolf to go north with him, saying (as was true) that he would meet there many of his kin, men of renown, whom he had not yet seen or known. Thorolf thought this desirable, so they got leave from the king for this; then they made them ready, took a good ship and crew, and went their way. When they came to Torgar, they sent word to Sigurd that Bard would now see to that marriage on which they had agreed the summer before. Sigurd said that he would hold to all that they had arranged; so they fixed the wedding-day, and Bard with his party were to come north to Sandness. At the appointed time Brynjolf and Bard set out, and with them many great men of their kin and connexions. And it was as Bard had said, that Thorolf met there many of his kinsmen that he had not known before. They journeyed to Sandness, and there was held the most splendid feast. And when the feast was ended, Bard went home with his wife, and remained at home through the summer, and Thorolf with him. In the autumn they came south to the king, and were with him another winter. During that winter Brynjolf died; and when Bard learnt that the inheritance there was open for him, he asked leave to go home. This the king granted, and before they parted Bard was made a baron, as his father had been, and held 61

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of the king all those same grants that Brynjolf had held. Bard went home to his estate, and at once became a great chief; but Hildirida’s sons got no more of the heritage than before. Bard had a son by his wife; he was named Grim. Meanwhile Thorolf was with the king, and in great honour.

The king saw to the healing of his men, whose wounds gave them hope of life, as also to the burial of the dead with all customary honours. Thorolf and Bard lay wounded. Thorolf’s wounds began to heal, but Bard’s proved mortal. Then Bard had the king called to him, and spoke thus:

Chapter 9 - Battle in Hafr’s Firth.

‘If it so be that I die of these wounds, then I would ask this of thee, that I may myself name my heir.’

King Harold proclaimed a general levy, and gathered a fleet, summoning his forces far and wide through the land. He went out from Throndheim, and bent his course southwards, for he had heard that a large host was gathered throughout Agdir, Rogaland, and Hordaland, assembled from far, both from the inland parts above, and from the east out of Vik, and many great men were there met who purposed to defend their land from the king. Harold held on his way from the north, with a large force, having his guards on board. In the forecastle of the king’s ship were Thorolf Kveldulfsson, Bard the White, Kari of Berdla’s sons, Aulvir Hnuf and Eyvind Lambi, and in the prow were twelve Berserks of the king.

To this when the king assented, then said he: ‘I will that Thorolf my friend and kinsman take all my heritage, both lands and chattels. To him, also, will I give my wife and the bringing up of my son, because I trust him for this above all men.’ This arrangement he made fast, as the law was, with the leave of the king. Then Bard died, and was buried, and his death was much mourned. Thorolf was healed of his wounds, and followed the king, and had won great glory.

The fleets met south in Rogaland in Hafr’s Firth. There was fought the greatest battle that king Harold had had, with much slaughter in either host. The king set his own ship in the van, and there the battle was most stubborn, but the end was that king Harold won the victory. Thorir Longchin, king of Agdir, fell there, but Kjotvi the wealthy fled with all his men that could stand, save some that surrendered after the battle. When the roll of Harold’s army was called, many were they that had fallen, and many were sore wounded. Thorolf was badly wounded, Bard even worse; nor was there a man unwounded in the king’s ship before the mast, except those whom iron bit not to wit the Berserks.

In the autumn the king went north to Throndheim. Then Thorolf asked to go north to Halogaland, to see after those gifts which he had received in the summer from his kinsman Bard. The king gave leave for this, adding a message and tokens that Thorolf should take all that Bard had given him, showing that the gift was with the counsel of the king, and that he would have it so. Then the king made Thorolf a baron, and granted him all the rights which Bard had had before, giving him the journey to the Finns on the same terms. He also supplied to Thorolf a good long-ship, with tackling complete, and had everything made ready for his journey thence in the best possible way. So Thorolf set out, and he and the king parted with great affection.

Then the king had his men’s wounds bound up, and thanked them for their valour, and gave them gifts, adding most praise where he thought it most deserved. He promised them also further honour, naming some to be steersmen, others forecastle men, others bowsitters. This was the last battle king Harold had within the land; after this none withstood him; he was supreme over all Norway.

But when Thorolf came north to Torgar, he was well received. He told them of Bard’s death; also how Bard had left him both lands and chattels, and her that had been his wife; then he showed the king’s order and tokens. When Sigridr heard these tidings, she felt her great loss in her husband, but with Thorolf she was already well acquainted, and knew him for a man of great mark; and this promise of her in marriage was good, and


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besides there was the king’s command. So she and her friends saw it to be the best plan that she should be betrothed to Thorolf, unless that were against her father’s mind. Thereupon Thorolf took all the management of the property, and also the king’s business. Soon after this Thorolf started with a long-ship and about sixty men, and coasted northwards, till one day at eventide he came to Sandness in Alost; there they moored the ship. And when they had raised their tent, and made arrangements, Thorolf went up to the farm buildings with twenty men. Sigurd received him well, and asked him to lodge there, for there had been great intimacy between them since the marriage connection between Sigurd and Bard. Then Thorolf and his men went into the hall, and were there entertained. Sigurd sat and talked with Thorolf, and asked tidings. Thorolf told of the battle fought that summer in the south, and of the fall of many men whom Sigurd knew well, and withal how Bard his son-inlaw had died of wounds received in the battle. This they both felt to be a great loss. Then Thorolf told Sigurd what had been the covenant between him and Bard before he died, and he declared also the orders of the king, how he would have all this hold good, and this he showed by the tokens. After this Thorolf entered on his wooing with Sigurd, and asked Sigridr, his daughter, to wife. Sigurd received the proposal well; he said there were many reasons for this; first, the king would have it so; next, Bard had asked it; and further he himself knew Thorolf well, and thought it a good match for his daughter. Thus Sigurd was easily won to grant this suit; whereupon the betrothal was made, and the wedding was fixed for the autumn at Torgar. Then Thorolf went home to his estate, and his comrades with him. There he prepared a great feast, and bade many thereto. Of Thorolf’s kin many were present, men of renown. Sigurd also came thither from the north with a longship and a chosen crew. Numerously attended was that feast, and it was at once seen that Thorolf was free-handed and munificent. He kept about him a large following, whereof the cost was A Black Arrow resource

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great, and much provision was needed; but the year was good, and needful supplies were easily found. During that winter Sigurd died at Sandness, and Thorolf was heir to all his property; this was great wealth. Now the sons of Hildirida came to Thorolf, and put in the claim which they thought they had on the property that had belonged to their father Bjorgolf. Thorolf answered them thus: ‘This I knew of Brynjolf, and still better of Bard, that they were men so generous that they would have let you have of Bjorgolf’s heritage what share they knew to be your right. I was present when ye two put in this same claim on Bard, and I heard what he thought, that there was no ground for it, for he called you illegitimate.’ Harek said that they would bring witnesses that their mother was duly bought with payment. ‘It is true that we did not at first treat of this matter with Brynjolf our brother it was a case of sharing between kinsmen, but of Bard we hoped to get our dues in every respect, though our dealings with him were not for long. Now however this heritage has come to men who are in nowise our kin, and we cannot be altogether silent about our wrong; but it may be that, as before, might will so prevail that we get not our right of thee in this, if thou refuse to hear the witness that we can bring to prove us honourably born.’ Thorolf then answered angrily: ‘So far am I from thinking you legitimate heirs that I am told your mother was taken by force, and carried home as a captive.’ After that they left talking altogether.

Chapter 10 - Thorolf in Finmark. In the winter Thorolf took his way up to the fells with a large force of not less than ninety men, whereas before it had been the wont of the king’s stewards to have thirty men, and sometimes fewer. He took with him plenty of wares for trading. At once he appointed a meeting with the Finns, took of them the tribute, and held a fair with them. All was The Sagas of the Icelanders

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managed with goodwill and friendship, though not without fear on the Finns’ side. Far and wide about Finmark did he travel; but when he reached the fells eastward, he heard that the Kylfings were come from the east, and were there for trading with the Finns, but in some places for plunder also. Thorolf set Finns to spy out the movements of the Kylfings, and he followed after to search for them, and came upon thirty men in one den, all of whom he slew, letting none escape. Afterwards he found together fifteen or twenty. In all they slew near upon a hundred, and took immense booty, and returned in the spring after doing this. Thorolf then went to his estates at Sandness, and remained there through the spring. He had a long-ship built, large, and with a dragon’s head, fitted out in the best style; this he took with him from the north. Thorolf gathered great stores of what there was in Halogaland, employing his men after the herrings and in other fishing; sealhunting there was too in abundance, and egg-gathering, and all such provision he had brought to him. Never had he fewer freedmen about his home than a hundred; he was open-handed and liberal, and readily made friends with the great, and with all that were near him. A mighty man he became, and he bestowed much care on his ships, equipment, and weapons.

Chapter 11 - The king feasts with Thorolf. King Harold went that summer to Halogaland, and banquets were made ready against his coming, both where his estates were, and also by barons and powerful landowners. Thorolf prepared a banquet for the king at great cost; it was fixed for when the king should come there. To this he bade a numerous company, the best men that could be found. The king had about three hundred men with him when he came to the banquet, but Thorolf had five hundred present. Thorolf had caused a large granary to be fitted up where the drinking should be, for there was no hall large enough to contain all that multitude. And all around the building shields were hung.

The king sate in the high seat; but when the foremost bench was filled, then the king looked round, and he turned red, but spoke not, and men thought they could see he was angry. The banquet was magnificent, and all the viands of the best. The king, however, was gloomy; he remained there three nights, as had been intended. On the day when the king was to leave Thorolf went to him, and offered that they should go together down to the strand. The king did so, and there, moored off the land, floated that dragonship which Thorolf had had built, with tent and tackling complete. Thorolf gave the ship to the king, and prayed the king to believe that he had gathered such numbers for this end, to show the king honour, and not to enter into rivalry with him. The king took Thorolf’s words well, and then became merry and cheerful. Many added their good word, saying (as was true) that the banquet was most splendid, and the farewell escort magnificent, and that the king gained much strength by such men. Then they parted with much affection. The king went northwards through Halogaland as he had purposed, and returned south as summer wore on. He went to yet other banquets there that were prepared for him.

Chapter 12 - Hildirida’s sons talk with Harold. Hildirida’s sons went to the king and bade him to a three nights’ banquet. The king accepted their bidding, and fixed when he would come. So at the appointed time he and his train came thither. The company was not numerous, but the feast went off very well, and the king was quite cheerful. Harek entered into talk with the king, and their talk turned on this, that he asked about the king’s journeys in those parts during the summer. The king answered his questions, and said that all had received him well, each after his means. ‘Great will have been the difference,’ said Harek, ‘and at Torgar the company at the banquet will have been the most numerous.’ The king said that it was so. 63

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Harek said: ‘That was to be looked for, because on that banquet most was spent; and thou, O king, hadst great luck in matters so turning out that thy life was not endangered. The end was as was likely; thou wert very wise and very fortunate; for thou at once suspectedst all was not for good on seeing the numerous company there gathered; but (as I am told) thou madest all thy men remain armed constantly and keep watch and ward night and day.’ The king looked at him and said: ‘Why speakest thou thus, Harek? What canst thou tell of this?’ Harek answered: ‘May I speak with permission what I please?’ ‘Speak,’ said the king. ‘This I judge,’ said Harek, ‘that thou wouldst not deem it to be well, if thou, O king, heardest every one’s words, what men say when speaking their minds freely at home, how they think that it is a tyranny thou exercisest over all people. But the plain truth is, O king, that to rise against thee the people lack nothing but boldness and a leader. Nor is it wonderful in a man like Thorolf that he thinks himself above everyone; he wants not for strength and comeliness; he keeps a guard round him like a king; he has wealth in plenty, even though he had but what is truly his, but besides that he holds others’ property equally at his disposal with his own. Thou, too, hast bestowed on him large grants, and he had now made all ready to repay them with ill. For this is the truth that I tell thee: when it was learnt that thou wert coming north to Halogaland with no more force than three hundred men, the counsel of people here was that an army should assemble and take thy life, O king, and the lives of all thy force. And Thorolf was head of these counsels, and it was offered him that he should be king over the Halogalanders and Naumdalesmen. Then he went in and out of each firth and round all the islands, and got together every man he could find and every weapon, and it was no secret that this army was to muster for battle against king Harold. But the truth is, O king, that though thou hadst somewhat less force than those who met thee, yet the farmer folk took flight when they saw thy fleet. Then this counsel was adopted, to meet 64

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thee with friendly show and bid thee to a banquet: but it was intended, when thou wert well drunk and lying asleep, to attack thee with fire and weapon. And here is a proof whether I am rightly informed; ye were led into a granary because Thorolf was loth to burn up his new and beautiful hall; and a further proof is that every room was full of weapons and armour. But when all their devices against thee miscarried, then they chose the best course they could; they hushed up their former purpose. And I doubt not that all may deny this counsel, because few, methinks, know themselves guiltless, were the truth to come out. Now this is my counsel, O king, that thou keep Thorolf near thee, and let him be in thy guard, and bear thy standard, and be in the forecastle of thy ship; for this duty no man is fitter. Or if thou wilt have him to be a baron, then give him a grant southwards in the Firths, where are all his family: thou mayest then keep an eye on him, that he make not himself too great for thee. But the business here in Halogaland put thou into the hands of men who are moderate and will serve thee faithfully, and have kinsfolk here, men whose relatives have had the same work here before. We two brothers are ready and willing for such service as thou wilt use us in; our father long had the king’s business here, and it prospered in his hands. It is difficult, O king, to place men as managers here, because thou wilt seldom come hither thyself. The strength of the land is too little to need thy coming with an army, yet thou must not come hither again with few followers, for there are here many disloyal people.’ The king was very angry at these words, but he spoke quietly, as was always his wont when he heard tidings of great import. He asked whether Thorolf were at home at Torgar. Harek said this was not likely. ‘Thorolf,’ said he, ‘is too wise to be in the way of thy followers, O king, for he must guess that all will not be so close but thou wilt get to know these things. He went north to Alost as soon as he heard that thou wert on thy way south.’ The king spoke little about this matter before other men; but it was easy to see that he inclined to believe the words that had been spoken.

After this the king went his way, Hildirida’s sons giving him honourable escort with gifts at parting, while he promised them his friendship. The brothers made themselves an errand into Naumdale, and so went round about as to cross the king’s path now and again; he always received their words well.

Chapter 13 - Thorgils goes to the king. There was a man named Thorgils Yeller, a house-carle of Thorolf’s, honoured above all the rest of his household; he had followed Thorolf in his roving voyages as fore-castle man and standardbearer. He had been in Hafr’s Firth, in the fleet of king Harold, and was then steering the very ship that Thorolf had used in his roving. Thorgils was strong of body and right bold of heart; the king had bestowed on him friendly gifts after the battle, and promised him his friendship. Thorgils was manager at Torgar, and bore rule there when Thorolf was not at home. Before Thorolf went away this time he had counted over all the king’s tribute that he had brought from the fells, and he put it in Thorgils’ hand, bidding him convey it to the king, if he himself came not home before the king returned south. So Thorgils made ready a large ship of burden belonging to Thorolf, and put the tribute on board, and taking about twenty men sailed southward after the king, and found him in Naumdale. But when Thorgils met the king he gave him greeting from Thorolf, and said that he was come thither with the Finns’ tribute sent by Thorolf. The king looked at him, but answered never a word, and all saw that he was angry. Thorgils then went away, thinking to find a better time to speak with the king; he sought Aulvir Hnuf, and told him what had passed, and asked him if he knew what was the matter. ‘That do I not,’ said he; ‘but this I have marked, that, since we were at Leka, the king is silent every time Thorolf is mentioned, and I suspect he has been slandered. This I know of Hildirida’s sons, that they were long in conference with the king, and it is easy to see from their words that they are Thorolf’s A Black Arrow resource

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enemies. But I will soon be certain about this from the king himself.’ Thereupon Aulvir went to the king, and said: ‘Here is come Thorgils Yeller thy friend, with the tribute which is thine; and the tribute is much larger than it has been before, and far better wares. He is eager to be on his way; be so good, O king, as to go and see it; for never have been seen such good gray furs.’ The king answered not, but he went to where the ship lay. Thorgils at once set forth the furs and showed them to the king. And when the king saw that it was true, that the tribute was much larger and better, his brows somewhat cleared, and Thorgils got speech with him. He brought the king some bearskins which Thorolf sent him, and other valuables besides, which he had gotten upon the fells. So the king brightened up, and asked tidings of the journey of Thorolf and his company. Thorgils told it all in detail. Then said the king: ‘Great pity is it Thorolf should be unfaithful to me and plot my death.’ Then answered many who stood by, and all with one mind, that it was a slander of wicked men if such words had been spoken, and Thorolf would be found guiltless. The king said he would prefer to believe this. Then was the king cheerful in all his talk with Thorgils, and they parted friends. But when Thorgils met Thorolf he told him all that had happened.

Chapter 14 - Thorolf again in Finmark. That winter Thorolf went again to Finmark, taking with him about a hundred men. As before, he held a fair with the Finns, and travelled far and wide over Finmark. But when he reached the far east, and his coming was heard of, then came to him some Kvens, saying that they were sent by Faravid, king of Kvenland, because the Kiriales were harrying his land; and his message was that Thorolf should go thither and bear him help; and further that Thorolf should have a share of the booty equal to the king’s share, and each of his men as much as two Kvens. With the Kvens The Sagas of the Icelanders

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the law was that the king should have one-third as compared with his men when the booty was shared, and beyond that, as reserved for him, all bearskins and sables. Thorolf put this proposal before his men, giving them the choice to go or not; and the more part chose to venture it, as the prize was so great. This is was decided that they should go eastwards with the messengers. Finmark is a wide tract; it is bounded westwards by the sea, wherefrom large firths run in; by sea also northwards and round to the east; but southwards lies Norway; and Finmark stretches along nearly all the inland region to the south, as also does Halogaland outside. But eastwards from Naumdale is Jamtaland, then Helsingjaland and Kvenland, then Finland, then Kirialaland; along all these lands to the north lies Finmark, and there are wide inhabited fell-districts, some in dales, some by lakes. The lakes of Finmark are wonderfully large, and by the lakes there are extensive forests. But high fells lie behind from end to end of the Mark, and this ridge is called Keels. But when Thorolf came to Kvenland and met king Faravid, they made them ready for their march, being three hundred of the kings men and a fourth hundred Norsemen. And they went by the upper way over Finmark, and came where the Kiriales were on the fell, the same who had before harried the Kvens. These, when they were aware of the enemy, gathered themselves and advanced to meet them, expecting victory as heretofore. But, on the battle being joined, the Norsemen charged furiously forwards, bearing shields stronger than those of the Kvens; the slaughter turned to be in the Kiriales’ ranks many fell, some fled. King Faravid and Thorolf took there immense wealth of spoil, and returned to Kvenland, whence afterwards Thorolf and his men came to Finmark, he and Faravid parting in friendship. Thorolf came down from the fell to Vefsnir; then went first to his farm at Sandness, stayed there awhile, and in spring went with his men north to Torgar. But when he came there, it was told him how Hildirida’s sons had been that winter at Throndheim with king Harold,

and that they would not spare to slander Thorolf with the king; and it was much questioned what grounds they had had for their slander. Thorolf answered thus: ‘The king will not believe this, though such lies be laid before him; for there are no grounds for my turning traitor to him, when he has done me much good and no evil. And so far from wishing to do him harm (though I had the choice), I would much rather be a baron of his than be called king, when some other fellow-countrymen might rise and make me his thrall.’

Chapter 15 - King Harold and Harek. Hildirida’s sons had been that winter with king Harold, and in their company twelve men of their own household and neighbours. The brothers were often talking with the king, and they still spoke in the same way of Thorolf. Harek asked: ‘Didst thou like well, O king, the Finns’ tribute which Thorolf sent thee?’ ‘I did,’ said the king. ‘Then wouldst thou have been surprised,’ said he, ‘if thou hadst received all that belonged to thee! But it was far from being so; Thorolf kept for himself the larger share. He sent thee three bearskins, but I know for certain that he kept back thirty that were by right thine; and I guess it was the same with other things. This will prove true, O king, that, if thou put the stewardship into the hand of myself and my brother, we shall bring thee more wealth.’ And to all that they said about Thorolf their comrades bore witness, wherefore the king was exceeding angry.

Chapter 16 - Thorolf and the king. In the summer Thorolf went south to king Harold at Throndheim, taking with him all the tribute and much wealth besides, and ninety men well arrayed. When he came to the king, he and his were placed in the guest-hall and entertained magnificently. On the morrow Aulvir Hnuf went to his kinsman Thorolf; they talked together, Aulvir saying that Thorolf was much slandered, and the king gave ear to such 65

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tales. Thorolf asked Aulvir to plead his cause with the king, ‘for,’ said he, ‘I shall be short-spoken before the king if he choose rather to believe the lies of wicked men than truth and honesty which he will find in me.’

thyself well, Thorolf, when thou wert with us; and this, I think, is best to do still, that thou join my guard, bear my banner, be captain over the guard; then will no man slander thee, if I can oversee night and day what thy conduct is.’

The next day Aulvir came to see Thorolf, and told him he had spoken on his business with the king; ‘but,’ said he, ‘I know no more than before what is in his mind.’

Thorolf looked on either hand where stood his house-carles; then said he: ‘Loth were I to deliver up these my followers: about thy titles and grants to me, O king, thou wilt have thine own way, but my following I will not deliver up while my means last, though I manage at my own sole cost. My request and wish, O king, is this, that thou come and visit me at my home, and the hear word of men whom thou trustest, what witness they bear to me in this matter; thereafter do as thou findest proof to warrant.’

‘Then must I myself go to him,’ said Thorolf. He did so; he went to the king where he sat at meat, and when he came in he greeted the king. The king accepted his greeting, and bade them serve him with drink. Thorolf said that he had there the tribute belonging to the king from Finmark; ‘and yet a further portion of booty have I brought as a present to thee, O king. And what I bring will, I know, owe all its worth to this, that it is given out of gratitude to thee.’ The king said that he could expect nought but good from Thorolf, ‘because,’ said he, ‘I deserve nought else; yet men tell two tales of thee as to thy being careful to win my approval.’ ‘I am not herein justly charged,’ said Thorolf, ‘if any say I have shown disloyalty to thee. This I think, and with truth: That they who speak such lying slanders of me will prove to be in nowise thy friends, but it is quite clear that they are my bitter enemies; ‘tis likely, however, that they will pay dearly for it if we come to deal together.’ Then Thorolf went away. But on the morrow Thorolf counted out the tribute in the king’s presence; and when it was all paid, he then brought out some bearskins and sables, which he begged the king to accept. Many of the bystanders said that this was well done and deserved friendship. The king said that Thorolf had himself taken his own reward. Thorolf said that he had loyally done all he could to please the king. ‘But if he likes it not,’ said he, ‘I cannot help it: the king knows, when I was with him and in his train, how I bore myself; it is wonderful to me if the king thinks me other now than he proved me to be then.’ The king answered: ‘Thou didst bear 66

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The king answered and said that he would not again accept entertainment from Thorolf; so Thorolf went out, and made ready to return home. But when he was gone, the king put into the hands of Hildirida’s sons his business in Halogaland which Thorolf had before had, as also the Finmark journey. The king claimed ownership of the estate at Torgar, and of all the property that Brynjolf had had; and all this he gave into the keeping of Hildirida’s sons. The king sent messengers with tokens to Thorolf to tell him of this arrangement, whereupon Thorolf took the ships belonging to him, put on board all the chattels he could carry, and with all his men, both freedmen and thralls, sailed northwards to his farm at Sandness, where he kept up no fewer and no less state than before.

Chapter 17 - Hildirida’s sons in Finmark and at Harold’s court. Hildirida’s sons took the business in Halogaland; and none gainsaid this because of the king’s power, but Thorolf’s kinsmen and friends were much displeased at the change. The two brothers went on the fell in the winter, taking with them thirty men. To the Finns there seemed much less honour in these stewards than when Thorolf came, and the money due was far worse paid. That same winter Thorolf went up on the fell with a hundred men; he passed on at once eastwards to Kvenland and met king Faravid. They took counsel together,

and resolved to go on the fell again as in the winter before; and with four hundred men they made a descent on Kirialaland, and attacked those districts for which they thought themselves a match in numbers, and harrying there took much booty, returning up to Finmark as the winter wore on. In the spring Thorolf went home to his farm, and then employed his men at the fishing in Vagar, and some in herringfishing, and had the take of every kind brought to his farm. Thorolf had a large ship, which was waiting to put to sea. It was elaborate in everything, beautifully painted down to the sea-line, the sails also carefully striped with blue and red, and all the tackling as elaborate as the ship. Thorolf had this ship made ready, and put aboard some of his house-carles as crew; he freighted it with dried fish and hides, and ermine and gray furs too in abundance, and other peltry such as he had gotten from the fell; it was a most valuable cargo. This ship he bade sail westwards for England to buy him clothes and other supplies that he needed; and they, first steering southwards along the coast, then stretching across the main, came to England. There they found a good market, laded the ship with wheat and honey and wine and clothes, and sailing back in autumn with a fair wind came to Hordaland. That same autumn Hildirida’s sons carried tribute to the king. But when they paid it the king himself was present and saw. He said: ‘Is this tribute now paid all that ye took in Finmark?’ ‘It is,’ they answered. ‘Less by far,’ said the king, ‘and much worse paid is the tribute now than when Thorolf gathered it; yet ye said that he managed the business ill.’ ‘It is well, O king,’ said Harek, ‘that thou hast considered how large a tribute should usually come from Finmark, because thus thou knowest how much thou losest, if Thorolf waste all the tribute before thee. Last winter we were in Finmark with thirty men, as has been the wont of thy stewards heretofore. Soon after came Thorolf with a hundred men, and we learnt this, that he meant to take the lives of us two brothers and all A Black Arrow resource

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our followers, his reason being that thou, O king, hadst handed over to us the business that he wished to have. It was then our best choice to shun meeting him, and to save ourselves: therefore we quickly left the settled districts, and went on the fell. But Thorolf went all round Finmark with his armed warriors; he had all the trade, the Finns paid him tribute, and he hindered thy stewards from entering Finmark. He means to be made king over the north there, both over Finmark and Halogaland: and the wonder is that thou wilt listen to him in anything whatever. Herein may true evidence be found of Thorolf’s ill-gotten gains from Finmark; for the largest merchant ship in Halogaland was made ready for sea at Sandness in the spring, and all the cargo on board was said to be Thorolf’s. It was laden mostly, I think, with gray furs, but there would be found there also bearskins and sables more than Thorolf brought to thee. And with that ship went Thorgils Yeller, and I believe he sailed westwards for England. But if thou wilt know the truth of this, set spies on the track of Thorgils when he comes eastwards; for I fancy that no trading-ship in our days has carried such store of wealth. And I am telling thee what is true, O king, when I say that to thee belongs every penny on board.’ All that Harek said his companions confirmed, and none there ventured to gainsay.

Chapter 18 - Thorolf’s ship is taken. There were two brothers named Sigtrygg Swiftfarer and Hallvard Hardfarer, kinsmen of king Harold on the mother’s side; from their father, a wealthy man, they had inherited an estate in Hising. Four brothers there were in all; but Thord and Thorgeir, the two younger, were at home, and managed the estate. Sigtrygg and Hallvard carried all the king’s messages, both within and without the land, and had gone on many dangerous journeys, both for putting men out of the way and confiscating the goods of those whose homes the king ordered to be attacked. They kept about them a large following; they were not generally in favour, but the king prized them highly. None could match them at travelling, either on foot or on snow-shoes; in voyaging also they were The Sagas of the Icelanders

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speedier than others, valiant men they were, and very wary. These two men were with the king when those things happened that have just been told. In the autumn the king went to a banquet in Hordaland. And one day he summoned to him the brothers Hallvard and Sigtrygg, and when they came he bade them go with their following and spy after the ship which Thorgils had taken westward to England in the summer. ‘Bring me,’ said he, ‘the ship and all that is in it, except the men; let them go their way in peace, if they do not try to defend the ship.’ The brothers made them ready for this, and, taking each one his long-ship, went to seek Thorgils, and learnt that he was come from the west, and had sailed northwards along the coast. Northwards after him went they, and found him in Fir Sound. They knew the ship at once, and laid one of their ships on the seaward side of her, while some of them landed, and thence went out on to the ship by the gangways. Thorgils’ crew, apprehending no danger, made no defence; they found out nothing till many armed men were aboard, and so they were all seized, and afterwards put on shore weaponless, with nothing but the clothes they wore. But Hallvard’s men drew out the gangways, loosed the cables, and towed out the ship; then turned them about, and sailed southwards along the coast till they met the king, to whom they brought the ship and all that was in it. And when the cargo was unloaded, the king saw that it was great wealth, and what Harek had said was no lie. But Thorgils and his comrades got conveyance, and went to Kveldulf and his son, and told of the misadventure of their voyage, yet were they well received. Kveldulf said all was tending to what he had foreboded, that Thorolf would not in the end have good luck in his friendship with king Harold. ‘And I care little,’ said he, ‘for Thorolf’s money loss in this, if worse does not come after; but I misdoubt, as before, that Thorolf will not rightly rate his own means against the stronger power with which he has to deal.’ And he bade Thorgils say this to Thorolf: ‘My counsel is that you go away out of

the land, for maybe you will do better for yourself if you serve under the king of England, or of Denmark, or of Sweden.’ Then he gave Thorgils a rowing-cutter with tackling complete, a tent also, and provisions, and all things needful for their journey. So they departed, and stayed not their journey till they came to Thorolf and told him all that had happened. Thorolf took his loss cheerfully, and said that he should not be short of money; ‘’tis good,’ said he, ‘to be in partnership with a king.’ He then bought meal and all that he needed for the maintenance of his people; his house-carles must for awhile, he said, be less bravely attired than he had purposed. Some lands he sold, some he mortgaged, but he kept up all expenses as before; he had no fewer men with him than last winter, nay, rather more. And as to feasts and friends entertained at his house, he had more means for all this than before. He stayed at home all that winter.

Chapter 19 - Thorolf retaliates. When spring came, and the snow and ice were loosed, then Thorolf launched a large warship of his own, and he had it made ready, and equipped his house-carles, taking with him more than a hundred men; and a goodly company there were, and well weaponed. And when a fair wind blew, Thorolf steered southwards along the coast till he came to Byrda; then they held an outer course outside the islands, but at times through channels between hill-slopes. Thus they coasted on southwards, and had no tidings of men till they came eastwards to Vik. There they heard that king Harold was in Vik, meaning in the summer to go into Upland. The people of the country knew nothing of Thorolf’s voyage. With a fair wind he held on south to Denmark, and thence into the Baltic, where he harried through that summer, but got no good booty. In the autumn he steered back from the east to Denmark, at the time when the fleet at Eyrar was breaking up. In the summer there had been, as was usual, many ships from Norway. Thorolf let all these vessels sail past, and did not show himself. One day at eventide he sailed into Mostrarsound , where in the haven was a large ship of burden that had come from Eyrar. The steersman was named Thorir Thruma; he was a steward 67

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of king Harold’s, manager of his farm at Thruma, a large farm in which the king used to make a long stay when he was in Vik. Much provision was needed for this farm, and Thorir had gone to Eyrar for this, to buy a cargo, malt, wheat, and honey; and much wealth of the king’s had he for that end. Thorolf made for this ship, and offered Thorir and his crew the choice to defend themselves, but, as they had no force to make defence against such numbers, they yielded. The ship with all its freight Thorolf took, but Thorir he put out on an island. Then he sailed northwards along the coast with both the ships; but when they came to the mouth of the Elbe, they lay there and waited for night. And when it was dark, they rowed their long-ship up the river and stood in for the farm-buildings belonging to Hallvard and Sigtrygg. They came there before daybreak, and formed a ring of men round the place, then raised a war-whoop and wakened those within, who quickly leapt up to their weapons. Thorgeir at once fled from his bedchamber. Round the farmhouse were high wooden palings: at these Thorgeir leapt, grasping with his hand the stakes, and so swung himself out of the yard. Thorgils Yeller was standing near; he made a sweep with his sword at Thorgeir, and cut off his hand along with the fence-stake. Then Thorgeir escaped to the wood, but Thord, his brother, fell slain there, and more than twenty men. Thorolf’s band plundered and burnt the house, then went back down the river to the sea. With a fair wind they sailed north to Vik; there again they fell in with a large merchant-ship belonging to men of Vik, laden with malt and meal. For this ship they made; but those on board, deeming they had no means of defence, yielded, and were disarmed and put on shore, and Thorolf’s men, taking the ship and its cargo, went on their way. Thorolf had now three ships, with which he sailed westwards by Fold. Then they took the high road of the sea to Lidandisness, going with all despatch, but making raid and lifting cattle on ness and shore. Northwards from Lidandisness they held a course further out, but pillaged wherever they touched land. But when Thorolf came over against the Firths, then he turned his 68

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course inward, and went to see his father Kveldulf, and there they were made welcome. Thorolf told his father what had happened in his summer voyage; he stayed there but a short time, and Kveldulf and his son Grim accompanied him to the ship. But before they parted Thorolf and his father talked together, and Kveldulf said: ‘I was not far wrong, Thorolf, in telling thee, when thou wentest to join king Harold’s guard, that neither thou nor we thy kindred would in the long run get good-fortune therefrom. Now thou hast taken up the very counsel against which I warned thee; thou matchest thy force against king Harold’s. But though thou art well endowed with valour and all prowess, thou hast not luck enough for this, to play on even terms with the king - a thing wherein no one here in the land has succeeded, though others have had great power and large force of men. And my foreboding is that this is our last meeting: it were in the course of nature from our ages that thou shouldst overlive me, but I think it will be otherwise.’ After this Thorolf embarked and went his way. And no tidings are told of his voyage till he arrived home at Sandness, and caused to be conveyed to his farm all the booty he had taken, and had his ship set up upon land. There was now no lack of provision to keep his people through the winter. Thorolf stayed on at home with no fewer men than in the winter before.

Chapter 20 - Skallagrim’s marriage. There was a man named Yngvar, powerful and wealthy. He had been a baron of the former kings. But after Harold came to the throne, Yngvar sat at home and served not the king. Yngvar was married and had a daughter named Bera. Yngvar dwelt in the Firths. Bera was his only child and heiress. Grim Kveldulf’s son asked Bera to wife, and the match was arranged. Grim took Bera in the winter following the summer when Thorolf had parted from him and his father. Grim was then twenty-five years old, and was now bald, wherefore he was henceforth called Skallagrim. He had then the management of all the farms belonging to his father and himself and of all the produce, though Kveldulf was

yet a hale and strong man. They had many freedmen about them, and many men who had grown up there at home and were about Skallagrim’s equals in age. Men of prowess and strength they were mostly, for both father and son chose strong fellows to be their followers, and trained them after their mind. Skallagrim was like his father in stature and strength, as also in face and temper.

Chapter 21 - Hallvard and his brother go after Thorolf. King Harold was in Vik while Thorolf was harrying, and in the autumn he went to Upland, and thence northward to Throndheim, where he stayed through the winter with a large force. Sigtrygg and Hallvard were with him: they had heard what Thorolf had done at their house on Hising, what scathe he had wrought on men and property. They often reminded the king of this, and withal how Thorolf had plundered the king and his subjects, and had gone about harrying within the land. They begged the king’s leave that they two brothers might go with their usual following and attack Thorolf in his home. The king answered thus: ‘Ye may think ye have good cause for taking Thorolf’s life, but I doubt your fortune falls far short of this work. Thorolf is more than your match, brave and doughty as ye may deem yourselves.’ The brothers said that his would be put to the proof, if the king would grant them leave; they had often run great risk against men on whom they had less to avenge, and generally they had won the day. And when spring came, and men made ready to go their several ways, then did Hallvard and his brother again urge their request that they might go and take Thorolf’s life. So the king gave them leave. ‘And I know,’ he said, ‘ye will bring me his head and many costly things withal when ye come back; yet some do guess that if ye sail north ye will both sail and row south.’ They made them ready with all speed, taking two ships and two hundred men; and when they were ready they sailed with a north-east wind out of the firth, but that is a head-wind for those coasting northward. A Black Arrow resource

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Chapter 22 - Death of Thorolf Kveldulfsson. King Harold was at Hlada when the brothers went away. Immediately after this the king made him ready with all haste, and embarked his force on four ships, and they rowed up the firth, and so by Beitis-sea inwards to the isthmus of Elda. There he left his ships behind, and crossed the isthmus northwards to Naumdale. The king there took ships belonging to the landowners, and embarked his force on them, having with him his guard; four hundred men they were. Six ships he had well equipped both with weapons and men. They encountered a fresh head-wind, and rowed night and day, making what progress they could. The night was then light enough for travel. On the evening of a day after sunset they came to Sandness, and saw lying there opposite the farm a long-ship with tent spread, which they knew to be Thorolf’s. He was even then purposing to sail away, and had bidden them brew the ale for their parting carousal. The king ordered his men to disembark and his standard to be raised. It was but a short way to the farm buildings. Thorolf’s watchmen sate within drinking, and were not gone to their posts; not a man was without; all sate within drinking. The king had a ring of men set round the hall: they then shouted a war-whoop, and a war-blast was blown on the king’s trumpet. On hearing which Thorolf’s men sprang to their weapons, for each man’s weapons hung above his seat. The king caused some to make proclamation at the door, bidding women, children, old men, thralls, and bondmen to come out. Then came out Sigridr the mistress, and with her the women that were within, and the others to whom permission was given. Sigridr asked if the sons of Kari of Berdla were there. They both came forward and asked what she would of them. ‘Lead me to the king,’ said she. They did so. But when she came to the king, she said: ‘Will anything, my lord, avail to reconcile thee with Thorolf?’ The king answered, ‘If Thorolf will yield him to my mercy, then shall he have life The Sagas of the Icelanders

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and limb, but his men shall undergo punishment according to the charges against them.’ Upon this Aulvir Hnuf went to the room, and had Thorolf called to speak with him, and told him what terms the king offered them. Thorolf answered that he would not take of the king compulsory terms or reconciliation. ‘Bid thou the king allow us to go out, and then leave we things to go their own course.’ The king said: ‘Set fire to the room; I will not waste my men by doing battle with him outside; I know that Thorolf will work us great man-scathe if he come out, though he has fewer men than we.’ So fire was set to the room, and it soon caught, because the wood was dry and the walls tarred and the roof thatched with birch-bark. Thorolf bade his men break up the wainscoting and get gable-beams, and so burst through the planking; and when they got the beams, then as many men as could hold on to it took one beam, and they rammed at the corner with the other beam-end so hard that the clasps flew out, and the walls started asunder, and there was a wide outlet. First went out Thorolf, then Thorgils Yeller, then the rest one after another. Fierce then was the fight; nor for awhile could it be seen which had the better of it, for the room guarded the rear of Thorolf’s force. The king lost many men before the room began to burn; then the fire attacked Thorolf’s side, and many of them fell. Now Thorolf bounded forwards and hewed on either hand; small need to bind the wounds of those who encountered him. He made for where the king’s standard was, and at this moment fell Thorgils Yeller. But when Thorolf reached the shield-wall, he pierced with a stroke the standardbearer, crying, ‘Now am I but three feet short of my aim.’ Then bore at him both sword and spear; but the king himself dealt him his death-wound, and he fell forward at the king’s feet. The king called out then, and bade them cease further slaughter; and they did so. After this the king bade his men go down to the ships. To Aulvir Hnuf and his brother he said:

‘Take ye Thorolf your kinsman and give him honourable burial; bury also the other men who have fallen, and see to the binding of the wounds of those who have hope of life; but let none plunder here, for all this is my property.’ This said, the king went down to his ships, and most of his force with him; and when they were come on board men began to bind their wounds. The king went round the ship and looked at men’s wounds; and when he saw a man binding a surface-wound, he said: ‘Thorolf gave not that wound; his weapon bites far otherwise; few, methinks, bind the wounds which he gave; and great loss have we in such men.’ As soon as day dawned the king had his sail hoisted, and sailed south as fast as he could. As the day wore on, they came upon many rowing-vessels in all the sounds between the islands; the forces on board them had meant to join Thorolf, for spies of his had been southwards as far as Naumdale, and far and wide about the islands. These had got to know how Hallvard and his brother were come from the south with a large force meaning to attack Thorolf. Hallvard’s company had constantly met a head-wind, and had waited about in various havens till news of them had gone the upper way overland, and Thorolf’s spies had become aware of it, and this gathering of force was on this account. The king sailed before a strong wind till he came to Naumdale; there he left the ships behind, and went by land to Throndheim, where he took his own ships that he had left there, and thence stood out to Hlada. These tidings were soon heard, and reached Hallvard and his men where they lay. They then returned to the king, and their voyage was much mocked at. The brothers Aulvir Hnuf and Eyvind Lambi remained awhile at Sandness and saw to the burial of the slain. To Thorolf’s body they gave all the customary honours paid at the burial of a man of wealth and renown, and set over him a memorial stone. They saw also to the healing of the wounded. They arranged also the house with Sigridr; all the stock remained, but most of the house-furniture and table-service and 69

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clothing was burnt. And when this was done, they went south and came to king Harold at Throndheim, and were with him for awhile. They were sad, and spoke little with others. And it was so that one day the brothers went before the king, and Aulvir said: ‘This permission we brothers claim of thee, O king, that we go home to our farms; for such things have happened here that we have no heart to share drink and seat with those who drew weapon on our kinsman Thorolf.’ The king looked at them, and answered curtly: ‘I will not grant you this; ye shall be here with me.’ They went back to their place. Next day, as the king sat in the audience hall, he had the brothers called to him, and said: ‘Now shall ye know of that your business which ye began with me, craving to go home. Ye have been some while here with me, and have borne you well, and always done your duty. I have thought well of you in everything. Now will I, Eyvind, that thou go north to Halogaland. I will give thee in marriage Sigridr of Sandness, her that Thorolf had to wife; and I will bestow on thee all the wealth that belonged to Thorolf; thou shalt also have my friendship if thou canst keep it. But Aulvir shall remain with me; for his skill as skald I cannot spare him.’ The brothers thanked the king for the honour granted to them, and said that they would willingly accept it. Then Eyvind made him ready for the journey, getting a good and suitable ship. The king gave him tokens for this matter. His voyage sped well, and he came north to Alost and Sandness. Sigridr welcomed him; and Eyvind then showed her the king’s tokens and declared his errand, and asked her in marriage, saying that it was the king’s message that he should obtain this match. But Sigridr saw that her only choice, as things had gone, was to let the king rule it. So the arrangement was made, and Eyvind married Sigridr, receiving with her the farm at Sandness and all the property 70

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that had been Thorolf’s. Thus Eyvind was a wealthy man. The children of Eyvind and Sigridr were Fid Squinter, father of Eyvind Skaldspoiler, and Geirlaug, whom Sighvat Red had to wife. Fid Squinter married Gunnhilda, daughter of earl Halfdan. Her mother was Ingibjorg, daughter of king Harold Fairhair. Eyvind Lambi kept the king’s friendship so long as they both lived.

Chapter 23 - The slaying of Hildirida’s sons. There was a man named Kettle Hæing, son of Thorkel earl of Naumdale, and of Hrafnilda daughter of Kettle Hæing of Hrafnista. He was a man of wealth and renown; he had been a fast friend of Thorolf Kveldulf’s son, and was his near kinsman. He had been out on that expedition when forces gathered in Halogaland with intent to join Thorolf, as has been written above. But when king Harold went south, and men knew of Thorolf’s slaying, then they called a gathering. Hæing took with him sixty men, and turned to Torgar. Hildirida’s sons were there, and few men with them. He went up to the farm, and made an attack on them; and there fell Hildirida’s sons, and most of those who were there; and Hæing and his company took all the wealth they could lay hands on. After that Hæing took two ships of burden, the largest he could get, and put on board all the wealth belonging to him that he could carry; his wife and children also he took, and all the men that had been with him in the late work. And when they were ready and the wind blew fair, they sailed out to sea. A man named Baug, Hæing’s foster-brother, of good family and wealthy, steered the second ship. A few winters before Ingjolf and Hjorleif had gone to settle in Iceland; their voyage was much talked about, and ‘twas said there was good choice of land there. So Hæing sailed west over the sea to seek Iceland. And when they saw land, they were approaching it from the south. But because the wind was boisterous, and the surf ran high on the shore, and there was no haven, they sailed on

westwards along the sandy coast. And when the wind began to abate, and the surf to calm down, there before them was a wide river-mouth. Up this river they steered their ships, and lay close to the eastern shore thereof. That river is now called Thjors-river; its stream was then much narrower and deeper that it is now. They unloaded their ships, then searched the land eastward of the river, bringing their cattle after them. Hæing remained for the first winter on the eastern bank of the outer Rang-river. But in the spring he searched the land eastwards, and then took land between Thjors-river and Mark-fleet, from fell to firth, and made his home at Hofi by east Rang-river. Ingunn his wife bare a son in this spring after their first winter, and the boy was named Hrafn. And though the house there was pulled down, the place continued to be called Hrafn-toft. Hæing gave Baug land in Fleet-lithe, down from Mark-river to the river outside Breidabolstead; and he dwelt at Lithe-end. To his shipmates Hæing gave land or sold it for a small price, and these first settlers are called land-takers. Hæing had sons Storolf, Herjolf, Helgi, Vestar; they all had land. Hrafn was Hæing’s fifth son. He was the first lawman in Iceland; he dwelt at Hofi after his father, and was the most renowned of Hæing’s sons.

Chapter 24 - Kveldulf’s grief. Kveldulf heard of his son Thorolf’s death, and so deeply grieved was he at the tidings that he took to his bed from sorrow and age. Skallagrim came often to him, and talked with him; he bade him cheer up. ‘Anything,’ (he said) ‘ was more fitting than to become worthless and lie bedridden; better counsel is it that we seek to avenge Thorolf. Maybe we shall come across some of those who took part in his slaying; but if not that, yet there will be men whom we can reach, and thereby displease the king.’ Kveldulf sang a stave: ‘Thorolf in northern isle (O cruel Norns!) is dead: Too soon the Thunder-god Hath ta’en my warrior son. Thor’s heavy wrestler, age, Holds my weak limbs from fray: A Black Arrow resource

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Though keen my spirit spurs, No speedy vengeance mine.’ King Harold went that summer to Upland, and in the autumn westwards to Valres, and as far as Vors. Aulvir Hnuf was with the king, and often spoke with him about whether he would pay atonement for Thorolf, granting to Kveldulf and Skallagrim money compensation, or such honour as would content them. The king did not altogether refuse this, if father and son would come to him. Whereupon Aulvir started northwards for the Firths, nor stayed his journey till he came one evening to these twain. They received him gratefully, and he remained there for some time. Kveldulf questioned Aulvir closely about the doings at Sandness when Thorolf fell, what doughty deeds Thorolf had wrought before he fell, who smote him with weapon, where he received most wounds, what was the manner of his fall. Aulvir told him all that he asked; and that king Harold gave him the wound that was alone enough for his bane, and that Thorolf fell forward at the very feet of the king. Then answered Kveldulf: ‘Good is that thou tellest; for ‘tis an old saw that he will be avenged who falls forward, and that vengeance will reach him who stands before him when he falls; yet is it unlikely that such good-fortune will be ours.’ Aulvir told father and son that he hoped, if they would go to the king and crave atonement, that it would be a journey to their honour; and he bade them venture this, adding many words to that end. Kveldulf said he was too old to travel: ‘I shall sit at home,’ said he. ‘Wilt thou go, Grim?’ said Aulvir. ‘I think I have no errand thither,’ said Grim; ‘I shall seem to the king not fluent in speech; nor do I think I shall long pray for atonement.’ Aulvir said that he would not need to do so: ‘We will do all the speaking for thee as well as we can.’ And seeing that Aulvir pressed this matter strongly, Grim promised to go when he thought he could be ready. He and Aulvir set them a time when Grim should come to the king. Then Aulvir The Sagas of the Icelanders

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went away first, and returned to the king.

Chapter 25 - Skallagrim’s journey to the king. Skallagrim made him ready for this journey, choosing out of his household and neighbours the strongest and doughtiest that were to be found. One was Ani, a wealthy landowner, another Grani, a third Grimolf and his brother Grim, house-carles these of Skallagrim, and the two brothers Thorbjorn Krum and Thord Beigaldi. These were called Thororna’s sons; she dwelt hard by Skallagrim, and was of magic skill. Beigaldi was a coal-biter. There was a man named Thorir Giant, and his brother Thorgeir Earthlong, Odd Lonedweller, and Griss Freedman. Twelve there were for the journey, all stalwart men, and several of them shapestrong. They took a rowing-ship of Skallagrim’s, went southwards along the coast, stood in to Ostra Firth, then travelled by land up to Vors to the lake there; and, their course lying so that they must cross it, they got a suitable rowing-ship and ferried them over, whence they had not very far to go to the farm where the king was being entertained. They came there at the time when the king was gone to table. Some men they found to speak with outside in the yard, and asked what was going on. This being told them, Grim begged one to call Aulvir Hnuf to speak with him. The man went into the room and up to where Aulvir sat, and said: ‘There be men here outside newly come, twelve together, if men one may call them, for they are liker to giants in stature and semblance than to mortal men.’ Aulvir at once rose and went out, for he knew who they were who had come. He greeted well his kinsman Grim, and bade him go with him into the room. Grim said to his comrades: ‘’Tis the custom here that men go weaponless before the king; six of us shall go in, the other six shall bide without and keep our weapons.’ Then they entered, and Aulvir went up to the king, Skallagrim standing at

his back. Aulvir was spokesman: ‘Here now is come Grim Kveldulf’s son; we shall feel thankful to thee, O king, if thou make his journey hither a good one, as we hope it will be. Many get great honour from thee to whom less is due, and who are not nearly so accomplished as is he in every kind of skill. Thou wilt also do this because it is a matter of moment to me, if that is of any worth in thy opinion.’ Aulvir spoke fully and fluently, for he was a man ready of words. And many other friends of Aulvir went before the king and pleaded this cause. The king looked round, and saw that a man stood at Aulvir’s back taller than the others by a head, and bald. ‘Is that Skallagrim,’ asked the king, ‘that tall man?’ Grim said he guessed rightly. ‘I will then,’ said the king, ‘if thou cravest atonement for Thorolf, that thou become my liege-man, and enter my guard here and serve me. Maybe I shall so like thy service that I shall grant thee atonement for thy brother, or other honour not less than I granted him; but thou must know how to keep it better than he did, if I make thee as great a man as was he.’ Skallagrim answered: ‘It is well known how far superior to me was Thorolf in every point, and he got no luck by serving thee, O king. Now will I not take that counsel; serve thee I will not, for I know I should get no luck by yielding thee such service as I should wish and as would be worthy. Methinks I should fail herein more than Thorolf.’ The king was silent, and his face became blood-red. Aulvir at once turned away, and bade Grim and his men go out. They did so. They went out, and took their weapons, and Aulvir bade them begone with all haste. He and many with him escorted them to the water-side. Before parting with Skallagrim, Aulvir said: ‘Kinsman, thy journey to the king ended otherwise than I would have chosen. I urged much thy coming hither; now, I entreat thee, go home with all speed, and come not in the way of king Harold, unless there be better agreement between you than now seems likely, and 71

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keep thee well from the king and from his men.’ Then Grim and his company went over the water; but Aulvir with his men, going to the ships drawn up by the water-side, so hacked them about that none was fit to launch. For they saw men coming down from the king’s house, a large body well armed and advancing furiously. These men king Harold had sent after them to slay Grim. The king had found words soon after Grim went out, and said: ‘This I see in that tall baldhead: that he is brim full of wolfishness, and he will, if he can reach them, work scathe on men whom we should be loth to lose. Ye may be sure, ye against whom he may bear a grudge, that he will spare none, if he get a chance. Wherefore go after him and slay him.’ Upon this they went and came to the water, and saw no ship there fit to launch. So they went back and told the king of their journey, and that Grim and his comrades would now have got clear over the lake. Skallagrim went his way with his comrades till he reached home; he then told Kveldulf of this journey. Kveldulf showed him well pleased that Skallagrim had not gone to the king on this errand to take service under him; he still said, as before, that from the king they would get only loss and no amends. Kveldulf and Skallagrim spoke often of their plans, and on this they were agreed, that they would not be able to remain in the land any more than other men who were at enmity with the king, but their counsel must be to go abroad. And it seemed to them desirable to seek Iceland, for good reports were given about choice of land there. Already friends and acquaintances of theirs had gone thither - to wit, Ingolf Arnarson, and his companions - and had taken to them land and homestead in Iceland. Men might take land there free of cost, and choose their homestead at will. So they quite settled to break up their household and go abroad. Thorir Hroaldson had in his childhood been fostered with Kveldulf, and he and Skallagrim were about of an age, and as foster-brothers were dear friends. 72

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Thorir had become a baron of the king’s at the time when the events just told happened, but the friendship between him and Skallagrim continued. Early in the spring Kveldulf and his company made ready their ships. They had plenty of good craft to choose from; they made ready two large ships of burden, and took in each thirty able-bodied men, besides women and children. All the movable goods that they could carry they took with them, but their lands none dared buy, for fear of the king’s power. And when they were ready, they sailed away: first to the islands called Solundir, which are many and large, and so scored with bays that few men (it is said) know all their havens.

Chapter 26 - Of Guttorm. There was a man named Guttorm, son of Sigurd Hart. He was mother’s brother to king Harold; also he had been his fosterfather, and ruler over his forces, for the king was a child when he first came to the throne. Guttorm had commanded the army in all battles which Harold had fought to bring the land under his sway. But when Harold became sole king of all Norway, and sat in peace, then he gave to his kinsman Guttorm Westfold and East-Agdir, and Hringariki, and all the land that had belonged to Halfdan Swarthy his father. Guttorm had two sons and two daughters. His sons were named Sigurd and Ragnar; his daughters Ragnhildr and Aslaug. Guttorm fell sick, and when near his end sent to king Harold, bidding him see to his children and his province. Soon after this he died. On hearing of his death, the king summoned Hallvard Hardfarer and his brother, and told them to go on a message for him eastwards to Vik, he being then at Throndheim. They made great preparations for their journey, choosing them men and the best ship they could get; it was the very ship they had taken from Thorgils Yeller. But when they were ready, the king told them their errand: they were to go eastwards to Tunsberg, the market town where Guttorm had resided. ‘Ye shall,’ said the king, ‘bring to me Guttorm’s sons, but his daughters shall be fostered there till I bestow them in marriage. I will find men to take charge of the province and foster the maidens.’

So the brothers started with a fair wind, and came in the spring eastwards to Vik and to Tunsberg, and there declared their errand. They took the sons of Guttorm, and much movable property, and went their way back. The wind was then somewhat slack, and their voyage slower, but nothing happened till they sailed northwards over the Sogn-sea, having now a good wind and bright weather, and being in merry mood.

Chapter 27 - Slaying of Hallvard and Sigtrygg. All through the summer Kveldulf and Skallagrim kept a look-out shorewards on the highway of vessels. Skallagrim was very sharp-sighted. He saw Hallvard’s company sailing by, and he knew the ship, for he had seen it before when Thorgils went with it. Skallagrim watched their course, and where they lay to in haven at eventide. Then he went back to his own people, and told Kveldulf what he had seen, and withal how he had recognised the ship, being that which once was Thorolf’s, and was taken by Hallvard from Thorgils, and doubtless there were some men on board who would be worth catching. So they made them ready with both their boats, and twenty men in each. Kveldulf steered one, Skallagrim the other. Then they rowed and made for the ship. But when they came where it lay, they put in to land. Hallvard’s men had set up the tent over their ship, and laid them down to sleep. But when Kveldulf’s force came upon them, then the watchmen who sat at the gangway-end leapt up, and called out to the ship; they bade the men rise, for an enemy was upon them. Hallvard’s party leapt to their weapons. But when Kveldulf with his men came to the gangway-end, he went out by the stern gangway, while Skallagrim went forward to the other gangway. Kveldulf had in his hand a battle-axe; but when he got on board, he bade his men go along the outer way by the gunwale and cut the tent from its forks, while he himself rushed aft to the stern-castle. And it is said that he then had a fit of shape-strength, as had also several of his comrades. They slew all that came in their A Black Arrow resource

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way, the same did Skallagrim where he boarded the ship; nor did father and son stay hands till the ship was cleared. When Kveldulf came aft to the stern-castle, he brandished high his battle-axe, and smote Hallvard right through helm and head, so that the axe sank in even to the shaft; then he snatched it back towards him so forcibly that he whirled Hallvard aloft, and slung him overboard. Skallagrim cleared the forecastle, slaying Sigtrygg. Many men plunged into the sea; but Skallagrim’s men took one of the boats, and rowed after and slew all that were swimming. There were lost with Hallvard fifty men in all. The ship and the wealth that was in it Skallagrim’s men took. Two or three men whom they deemed of least note they seized, and gave them their lives, asking of them who had been in the ship, and what had been the purport of the voyage. After learning all the truth about this, they looked over the slain who lay on ship-board. It was found that more had leapt overboard, and so perished, than had fallen on the ship. The sons of Guttorm had leapt overboard and perished. Of these, one was twelve years old, the other ten, and both were lads of promise. Then Skallagrim set free the men whose lives he had spared, and bade them go to king Harold and tell him the whole tale of what had been done there, and who had been the doers of it. ‘Ye shall also,’ said he, ‘bear to the king this ditty: ‘For a noble warrior slain Vengeance now on king is ta’en: Wolf and eagle tread as prey Princes born to sovereign sway. Hallvard’s body cloven through Headlong in the billows flew; Wounds of wight once swift to fare Swooping vulture’s beak doth tear.’ After this Skallagrim and his men took out to their ships and captured ship and her cargo. And then they made an exchange, loading the ship they had taken, but emptying one of their own which was smaller; and in this they put stones, and bored holes and sank it. Then, as soon as ever the wind was fair, they sailed out to sea. It is said of shape-strong men, or men with a fit of Berserk fury on them, that while the fit lasted they were so strong that nought could withstand them; but The Sagas of the Icelanders

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when it passed off, then they were weaker than their wont. Even so it was with Kveldulf. When the shape-strong fit went from him, then he felt exhaustion from the onset he had made, and became so utterly weak that he lay in bed. And now a fair wind took them out to sea. Kveldulf commanded the ship which they had taken from Hallvard. With the fair wind the ships kept well together, and for long time were in sight of each other. But when they were now far advanced over the main, Kveldulf’s sickness grew worse. And when it came to this, that death was near, then he called to him his shipmates, and told them that he thought it likely they and he would soon take different ways. ‘I have never,’ he said, ‘been an ailing man; but if it so be (as now seems likely) that I die, then make me a coffin, and put me overboard: and it will go far otherwise than I think if I do not come to Iceland and take land there. Ye shall bear my greeting to my son Grim, when ye meet, and tell him withal that if he come to Iceland, and things so turn out that unlikely as it may seem I be there first, then he shall choose him a homestead as near as may be to where I have come ashore.’ Shortly after this Kveldulf died. His shipmates did as he had bidden them do; they laid him in a coffin, and shot it overboard. There was a man named Grim, son of Thorir Kettlesson Keelfare, of noble kin and wealthy. He was in Kveldulf’s ship; he had been an old friend of both father and son, and a companion both of them and of Thorolf, for which reason he had incurred the king’s anger. He now took command of the ship after Kveldulf was dead. But when they were come to Iceland, approaching the land from the south, they sailed westwards along the coast, because they had heard that Ingolf had settled there. But coming over against Reykja-ness, and seeing the firth open before them, they steered both ships into the firth. And now the wind came on to blow hard, with much rain and mist. Thus the ships were parted. Grim the Halogalander and his crew sailed in up the Borgar Firth past all the skerries; then they cast anchor till the

wind fell and the weather cleared. They waited for the flood-tide, and then took their ship up into a river-mouth; it is called Gufu-river. They drew the ship up this river as far as it could go; then unshipped the cargo, and remained there for the first winter. They explored the land along the sea both inwards and outwards, and they had not gone far before they found Kveldulf’s coffin cast up in a creek. They carried the coffin to the ness hard by, set it down there, and raised thereover a pile of stones.

Chapter 28 - Of Skallagrim’s landtaking. Skallagrim came to land where a large ness ran out into the sea, and above the ness was a narrow isthmus; and there they put out their lading. That ness they called Ship-ness. Then Skallagrim spied out the land: there was much moorland and wide woods, and a broad space between fells and firths, seal-hunting in plenty, and good fishing. But as they spied out the land southwards along the sea, they found before them a large firth; and, turning inwards along this firth, they stayed not their going till they found their companions, Grim the Halogalander and the rest. A joyful meeting was there. They told Skallagrim of his father’s death, and how Kveldulf had come to land there, and they had buried him. Then they led Skallagrim to the place, and it seemed to him that thereabouts would be a good spot to build a homestead. He then went away, and back to his shipmates; and for that winter each party remained where they had come to land. Then Skallagrim took land between fells and firths, all the moors out to Seal-loch, and the upper land to Borgarhraun, and southwards to Hafnar-fell, and all that land from the watershed to the sea. Next spring he moved his ship southwards to the firth, and into the creek close to where Kveldulf came to land; and there he set his homestead, and called it Borg, and the firth Borgar-firth, and so too the country-side further up they named after the firth. To Grim the Halogalander he gave dwelling-place south of Borgar-firth, on the shore named Hvann-eyrr. A little beyond this a bay of no great size cuts 73

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into the land. There they found many ducks, wherefore they called it Duckkyle, and the river that fell into the sea there Duck-kyle-river. From this river to the river called Grims-river, the land stretching upwards between them Grim had. That same spring, as Skallagrim had his cattle driven inwards along the sea, they came to a small ness where they caught some swans, so they called it Swan-ness. Skallagrim gave land to his shipmates. The land between Long-river and Hafs-brook he gave to Ani, who dwelt at Anabrekka. His son was Aunund Sjoni. About this was the controversy of Thorstein and Tongue Odd. Grani dwelt at Granastead on Digraness. To Thorbjorn Krum he gave the land by Gufu-river upward, and to Thord of Beigaldi. Krum dwelt at Krums-hills, but Thord at Beigaldi. To Thorir Giant and his brothers he gave land upwards from Einkunnir and the outer part by Longriver. Thorir Giant dwelt at Giantstead. His daughter was Thordis Staung, who afterwards dwelt at Stangerholt. Thorgeir dwelt at Earthlongstead. Skallagrim spied out the land upwards all round the country-side. First he went inwards along the Borgar-firth to its head; then followed the west bank of the river, which he called White-river, because he and his companions had never before seen waters that fell out of glaciers, and the colour of the river seemed to them wonderful. They went up along White-river till a river was before them coming down from the fells to the north; this they called North-river. And they followed it up till yet again before them was a river bringing down but little water. This river they crossed, and still went up along Northriver; then they soon saw where the little river fell out of a cleft, and they called it Cleave-river. Then they crossed Northriver, and went back to White-river, and followed that upwards. Soon again a river crossed their way, and fell into Whiteriver; this they called Cross-river. They learnt that every river was full of fish. After this they returned to Borg.

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about him always many men, whom he set to seek diligently all such provisions as could be got there for man’s sustenance, because at first they had but little livestock compared with the needs of their numerous company. But what live-stock they had went every winter self-feeding in the woods. Skallagrim was a good shipwright, and westwards of Myrar was no lack of driftwood. He had buildings set up on Swan-ness, and had another house there. This he made a starting-point for seafishing, seal-hunting, and egg-gathering; in all these kinds there was plenty of provisions to get, as well as driftwood to bring to him. Whales also often came in there, and whoso would might shoot them. All such creatures were then tame on the hunting-ground, as they were unused to man. His third house he had on the sea in Western Myrar. This was even a better place to look out for driftwood. There, too, he had land sown, and called it Acres. Over against it lay islands, among which whales were found; these they called Whale-islands. Skallagrim also sent his men up on the salmon-rivers to fish. He set Odd Lonehouse by Cleave-river to see to the salmon-fishing there. Odd dwelt under Lonehouse. Lonehouse-ness has its name from him. Sigmund was the name of the man whom Skallagrim set by North-river; he dwelt at what was then called Sigmundstead, but now Hauga. Sigmundar-ness takes its name from him. He afterwards moved his homestead to Munodar-ness, that being thought more convenient for salmon-fishing. But as Skallagrim’s live-stock multiplied, the cattle used to go up to the fells in the summer. And he found that the cattle that went on the heath were by far better and fatter; also that sheep did well through the winters in the fell-dales without being driven down. So Skallagrim set up buildings close to the fell, and had a house there; and there he had his sheep kept. Of this farm Griss was the overlooker, and after him was called Grisartongue. Thus Skallagrim’s wealth had many legs to stand on. Some time after Skallagrim’s coming out, a ship put into Borgar-firth from the main, commanded by a man named Oleif Halt. With him were his wife and

children and other of his kin, and the aim of his voyage was to get him a home in Iceland. Oleif was a man wealthy, highborn, and fore-seeing. Skallagrim asked Oleif and all his company to his house for lodging. Oleif accepted this, and was with Skallagrim for his first winter in Iceland. But in the following spring Skallagrim showed him to choice land south of White-river upwards from Grims-river to Flokadale-river. Oleif accepted this, and moved thither his household, and set there his homestead by Warm-brook as it is called. He was a man of renown; his sons were Ragi in Hot-spring-dale, and Thorarin, Ragi’s brother, who took the law-speakership next after Hrafn Hængsson. Thorarin dwelt at Warmbrook; he had to wife Thordis, daughter of Olaf Shy, sister of Thord Yeller.

Chapter 30 - Of the coming out of Yngvar, and of Skallagrim’s ironforging. King Harold Fair-hair took for his own all those lands that Kveldulf and Skallagrim had left behind in Norway, and all their other property that he could lay hands on. He also sought diligently after those men who had been in the counsels or confidence or in any way helpers of Skallagrim and his folk in the deeds which they wrought before Skallagrim went abroad out of the land. And so far stretched the enmity of the king against father and son, that he bore hatred against their kith and kin, or any whom he knew to have been their dear friends. Some suffered punishment from him, many fled away and sought refuge, some within the land, some out of the land altogether. Yngvar Skallagrim’s wife’s father was one of these men aforesaid. This rede did he take, that he turned all his wealth that he could into movables, then gat him a seagoing ship and a crew thereto, and made ready to go to Iceland, for he had heard that Skallagrim had taken up his abode there, and there would be no lack of choice land there with Skallagrim. So when they were ready and a fair wind blew, he sailed out to sea, and his voyage sped well. He came to Iceland on the south coast, and held on westwards past Reykja-ness, and sailed into Borgar-firth, and entering Long-river went up it even to the Falls. There they put out they ship’s lading. A Black Arrow resource

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But when Skallagrim heard of Yngvar’s coming, he at once went to meet him and bade him to his house with as many men as he would. Yngvar accepted this offer. The ship was drawn up, and Yngvar went to Borg with many men, and stayed that winter with Skallagrim. In the spring Skallagrim offered him choice land. He gave Yngvar the farm which he had on Swan-ness, and land inwards to Mudbrook and outwards to Strome-firth. Thereupon Yngvar went out to this farm and took possession, and he was a most able man and a wealthy. Skallagrim then built a house on Ship-ness, and this he kept for a long time thereafter. Skallagrim was a good iron-smith, and in winter wrought much in red iron ore. He had a smithy set up some way out from Borg, close by the sea, at a place now called Raufar-ness. The woods he thought were not too far from thence. But since he could find no stone there so hard or smooth as he thought good for hammering iron on (for there are no beach pebbles, the seashore being all fine sand), one evening, when other were gone to sleep, Skallagrim went to the sea, and pushed out an eight-oared boat he had, and rowed out to the Midfirth islands. There he dropped an anchor from the bows of the boat, then stepped overboard, and dived down to the bottom, and brought up a large stone, and lifted it into the boat. Then he himself climbed into the boat and rowed to land, and carried the stone to the smithy and laid it down before the smithy door, and thenceforth he hammered iron on it. That stone lies there yet, and much slag beside it; and the marks of the hammering may be seen on its upper face, and it is a surf-worn boulder, unlike the other stones that are there. Four men nowadays could not lift a larger mass. Skallagrim worked hard at smithying, but his house-carles grumbled thereat, and thought it over early rising. Then Skallagrim composed this stave: ‘Who wins wealth by iron Right early must rise: Of the sea’s breezy brother Wind-holders need blast. On furnace-gold glowing My stout hammer rings, While heat-feeding bellows A whistling storm stir.’ The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Chapter 31 - Of Skallagrim’s children. Skallagrim and Bera had a great many children, but at first they all died. Then they had a son, who was sprinkled with water and named Thorolf. As a child he soon grew to be tall and was fair of countenance. It was the talk of all that he would be just such another as Thorolf Kveldulf’s son, after whom he was named. Thorolf was far beyond children of his own age in strength. And as he grew to manhood he became doughty in most accomplishments then in vogue among those who were well trained. Thorolf was of a right cheery mood. Early did he come to such full strength as to be deemed fit for warlike service with other men. He was soon a favourite with all, and his father and mother loved him well. Skallagrim and his wife had two daughters; one was named Sæunn, the other Thorunn. They also were of great promise as they grew up. Then Skallagrim and his wife had yet another son. He was sprinkled with water and named, and his name was Egil. But as he grew up it was soon seen that he would be ill-favoured, like his father, with black hair. When but three years old he was as tall and strong as other boys of six or seven. He was soon talkative and word-wise. Somewhat ill to manage was he when at play with other lads. That spring, Yngvar went to Borg, his errand being to bid Skallagrim to a feast at his house, he also named for the party his daughter Bera and Thorolf her son, and any others that Skallagrim liked to bring. Skallagrim promised to come. Yngvar then went home, prepared for the banquet, and had ale brewed. But when the set time came that Skallagrim and Bera should go to the feast, Thorolf made him ready to go with them, as also some house-carles, so that they were fifteen in all. Egil told his father that he wished to go. ‘I am,’ said he, ‘as much akin to Yngvar as is Thorolf.’ ‘You shall not go,’ said Skallagrim, ‘for you know not how to behave yourself in company where there is much drinking, you who are not good to deal with though you be sober.’

Then Skallagrim mounted his horse and rode away, but Egil was ill content with his lot. He went out of the yard, and found a draught horse of Skallagrim’s, got on its back and rode after Skallagrim’s party. No easy way had he over the moor, for he did not know the road; but he kept his eyes on the riders before him when copse or wood were not in the way. And this is to tell of his journey, that late in the evening he came to Swan-ness, when men sat there a-drinking. He went into the room, but when Yngvar saw Egil he received him joyfully, and asked why he had come so late. Egil told of his words with Skallagrim. Yngvar made Egil sit by him, they two sat opposite Skallagrim and Thorolf. For merriment over their ale they fell to reciting staves. Then Egil recited a stave: ‘Hasting I came to the hearth fire Of Yngvar, right fain so to find him, Him who on heroes bestoweth Gold that the heather-worm guardeth. Thou, of the snake’s shining treasure Always a generous giver, Wilt not than me of three winters Doughtier song-smith discover.’ Yngvar praised this stave, and thanked Egil much therefor, but on the morrow he brought to Egil as reward for the poem three sea-snail shells and a duck’s egg. And next day at the drinking Egil recited another stave about his poem’s reward: ‘The wielder of keen-biting wound-fowl Gave unto Egil the talker Three silent dogs of the surf-swell, Meet for the praise in his poem. He, the skilled guide of the sea-horse, Knowing to please with a present, Gave as fourth gift to young Egil Round egg, the brook-bird’s bed-bolster.’ Egil’s poetry won him thanks from many men. No more tidings were there of that journey. Egil went home with Skallagrim.

Chapter 32 - Of lord Brynjolf and Bjorn, his son. There was in Sogn a lord named Bjorn, a rich man; he dwelt at Aurland. His son was Brynjolf, who was sole heir to all his father’s wealth. Brynjolf’s sons were Bjorn and Thord. They were young when what has been just told happened. 75

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Bjorn was a great traveller, sometimes on free-booting, sometimes on trading voyages. He was a right doughty man. It so chanced that one summer Bjorn was present at a banquet attended by many. He saw there a fair maiden who pleased him well. He asked of what family she was, and was told that she was sister of lord Thorir Hroaldsson, and was named Thora, with the by-name Lacehand. Bjorn made his suit and asked Thora to wife. But Thorir refused his offer, and with this they parted. But that same autumn Bjorn took men and went with a cutter well equipt northwards to the Firths, and came to Thorir’s when he was not at home. Bjorn took Thora away thence, and home with him to Aurland. They two were there for the winter, and Bjorn would fain hold a wedding with her. Brynjolf his father ill liked what Bjorn had done; he thought there was dishonour therein, whereas there had been ere this long friendship between Thorir and Brynjolf. ‘So far,’ said he, ‘Bjorn, from your holding a wedding with Thora here in my house without the leave of her brother, she shall be here as well respected as if she were my daughter and your sister.’ And all had to be as Brynjolf ordered in his household, whether Bjorn liked it well or ill. Brynjolf sent men to Thorir to offer him atonement and redress for what Bjorn had done. Thorir bade Brynjolf send Thora home; no atonement could there be else. But Bjorn would in no wise let her go away, though Brynjolf begged it. And so the winter wore on. But when spring came, then Brynjolf and Bjorn were talking one day of their matters. Brynjolf asked what Bjorn meant to do. Bjorn said ‘twas likeliest that he should go away out of the land. ‘Most to my mind is it,’ said he, ‘that you should give me a long-ship and crew therewith, and I go a free-booting.’ ‘No hope is there of this,’ said Brynjolf, ‘that I shall put in your hands a warship and strong force, for I know not but you will go about just what is against my wish; why even now already I have enough trouble from you. A merchantship I will give you, and wares withal: go you then southwards to Dublin. That voyage is now most highly spoken of. I will get you a good crew.’ 76

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Bjorn said he would take this as his father willed. So he had a good merchant-ship made ready, and got men for it. Bjorn now made him ready for this voyage, but was some time about it. But when he was quite ready and a fair wind blew, he embarked on a boat with twelve men and rowed in to Aurland, and they went up to the homestead and to his mother’s bower. She was sitting therein with many women. Thora was there. Bjorn said Thora must go with him, and they led her away. But his mother bade the women not dare to let them know this within in the hall: Brynjolf, she said, would be in a sad way if he knew it, and this would bring about great mischief between father and son. But Thora’s clothes and trinkets were all laid there ready to hand, and Bjorn and his men took all with them. Then they went that night out to their ship, at once hoisted their sail, and sailed out by the Sogn-sea, and so to the main. They had an ill wind, before which they must needs run, and were long tossed about on the main, because they were bent on shunning Norway at all hazards. And so it was that one day they were sailing off the east coast of Shetland during a gale, and brake their ship in making land at Moss-ey. They got out the cargo, and went into the town that was there, carrying thither all their wares, and they drew up their ship and repaired damages.

Chapter 33 - Bjorn goes to Iceland. A little before winter came a ship from the south out of the Orkneys, with the tidings that a long-ship had come in autumn to those islands. Therein were messengers of king Harold, with this errand to earl Sigurd, that the king would have Bjorn Brynjolfsson slain wherever he might be found, and the same message Harold sent to the Southern Isles and even to Dublin. Bjorn heard these tidings, and withal that he was outlawed in Norway. Forthwith on reaching Shetland Bjorn had held his wedding with Thora, and through the winter they stayed at Moss-ey-town. But in spring, as soon as ever the sea began to calm, Bjorn drew forth his ship, and made him ready with all speed. And when he was ready and got a wind, he sailed out to the main. They had a strong breeze, and were but little time out ere

they came to the south coast of Iceland. The wind was blowing on the land; then it bore them westwards along the coast, and so out to sea. But when they got a shift of wind back again, then they sailed for the land. There was not a single man on board who had been in Iceland before. They sailed into a wondrous large firth, the wind bearing them towards its western shore. Land-wards nothing was seen but breakers and harbourless shore. Then they stood slant-wise across the wind as they might (but still eastwards), till a firth lay over against them, into which they sailed, till all the skerries and the surf were passed. Then they put in by a ness. An island lay out opposite this, and a deep sound was between them: there they made fast the ship. A bay ran up west of the ness, and above this bay stood a good-sized rocky hill. Bjorn and some men with him got into a boat, Bjorn telling his comrades to beware of saying about their voyage aught that might work them trouble. They rowed to the buildings, and found there men to speak to. First they asked where they had come to land. The men told them that this was named Borgar-firth; that the buildings they saw were called Borg; that the goodman was Skallagrim. Bjorn at once remembered about him, and he went to meet Skallagrim, and they talked together. Skallagrim asked who they were. Bjorn named himself and his father, but Skallagrim knew Brynjolf well, so he offered to Bjorn such help as he needed. This Bjorn accepted thankfully. Then Skallagrim asked what others there were in the ship, persons of rank. Bjorn said there was Thora, Hroald’s daughter, sister of lord Thorir. Skallagrim was right glad for that, and said that it was his bounden duty to give to the sister of Thorir his own foster-brother such help as she needed or he could supply; and he bade her and Bjorn both to his house with all his shipmates. Bjorn accepted this. So the cargo was moved from the ship up to the homestead at Borg. There they set up their booths; but the ship was drawn up into the brook hard by. And where Bjorn’s party had their booths is still called Bjorn’s home-field. Bjorn and his shipmates all took up their abode with Skallagrim, who never had about him fewer than sixty stout fellows. A Black Arrow resource

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Chapter 34 - Of Skallagrim and Bjorn. It befell in autumn, when ships had come to Iceland from Norway, that this report came over, how Bjorn had run away with Thora without the consent of her kin, and for that the king had made him an outlaw from Norway. But when Skallagrim got to know this, he called Bjorn to him, and asked how it had been with his marriage; had it been made with the consent of his wife’s kin. ‘I never looked for this,’ said he, ‘in a son of Brynjolf, that I should not know the truth from him.’ Bjorn answered, ‘Truth only told I to you, Grim, and you may not rebuke me for this, though I told you no further than you asked. But now I must own this, which is true, that you have heard truth about this match not being made with the agreement of Thorir, my wife’s brother.’ Then spake Skallagrim in great wrath, ‘How dared you come to meet me? Did you not know what friendship was between me and Thorir?’ Bjorn answered, ‘I knew that between you two was foster-brotherhood and close friendship; but I sought your home because I was driven ashore here, and I knew it would avail naught to shun you. Now will it be for you to rule what my lot shall be, but I hope for good from you as I am of your household.’ Then came forward Thorolf Skallagrim’s son, and added many a word, and begged his father not to lay this to Bjorn’s charge after once receiving him. Several others spoke to the same end. And so it came that Skallagrim was appeased, and said that Thorolf should have his way here. ‘Take you Bjorn,’ said he, ‘and deal with him as may best prove your manhood.’

Chapter 35 - Thorolf goes abroad. Thora bare a child in the summer; it was a girl. She was sprinkled with water, and named Asgerdr. Bera got a woman to look after the girl. Bjorn stayed for the winter with Skallagrim as did all his shipmates. Thorolf struck up a friendship with Bjorn, and was ever in his company. But when spring came, one day Thorolf had a talk with his father, and asked him The Sagas of the Icelanders

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what counsel he would give about Bjorn his winter guest, or what help he would lend him. Grim asked Thorolf what Bjorn had in view. ‘I think,’ said Thorolf, ‘that Bjorn would soonest go to Norway, if he could be there in peace. Methinks, father, this plan lies before us, that you send men to Norway to offer atonement for Bjorn; Thorir will greatly honour your word.’ Thorolf by his persuasion so managed that Skallagrim yielded and gave men for the outward voyage that summer. These went with message and tokens to Thorir Hroaldsson, and sought atonement between him and Bjorn. But no sooner did Brynjolf hear this than he, too, set his whole mind to offer atonement for Bjorn. And the end of this matter was that Thorir took atonement for Bjorn, because he saw that it had come to this now that Bjorn had nothing to fear. Thus Brynjolf got atonement accepted for Bjorn, and Skallagrim’s messengers abode with Thorir for the winter. In the summer following they went back; and on their coming back in autumn they told their tidings that Bjorn was admitted to atonement in Norway. Bjorn was with Skallagrim for yet a third winter. But next spring he made him ready for departure with his following. And when Bjorn was ready for going, then Bera said she would fain have Asgerdr, her foster-child, left-behind. This Bjorn accepted, and the girl was left behind and brought up with Skallagrim’s family. Thorolf, Skallagrim’s son, settled to go with Bjorn, and Skallagrim gave him mean for the journey. So he went abroad in the summer with Bjorn. Their voyage sped well, and they came off the main into Sogn-sea. Bjorn then sailed into Sogn, and thence on home to his father, and Thorolf with him. Brynjolf received them joyfully. Then word was sent to Thorir Hroaldsson. He and Brynjolf set a time for a meeting; to this meeting Bjorn also came. He and Thorir there ratified their atonement. Then Thorir paid out of hand such property in his house as belonged to Thora; and thereafter Thorir and Bjorn were good brothers-in-law and friends. Bjorn then stayed at home at Aurland with Brynjolf, Thorolf also being there in much favour both with father and son.

Chapter 36 - Of Eric Bloodaxe and Thorolf. King Harold long held his residence in Hordaland or Rogaland, at those large estates that he owned, at Outstone or Augvalds-ness, or at Afreksted in Fitjar, or at Seaham in Lygra. But this winter the king was in the north part of the land. Now, when Bjorn and Thorolf had been one winter in Norway and spring came, they made ready a ship and gathered men. And in the summer they went a-freebooting eastwards, and came home in the autumn, having won much wealth. But when they came home they heard that King Harold was in Rogaland and would remain there for the winter. King Harold was beginning to age much and fail in strength, but many of his sons were come to vigour. His son Eric, by-named Bloodaxe, was then quite young. He was being fostered with lord Thorir Hroaldsson. The king loved Eric above all his sons. Thorir was on most intimate terms with the king then. Bjorn and Thorolf, when they came home, went first to Aurland, but afterwards turned their way northwards to visit lord Thorir at his home. They had a certain galley rowed by thirteen or fourteen oarsmen on either side, and they had about thirty men with them. This ship they had taken in their summer freebooting. It was gaily painted above the sea-line, and was very beautiful. But when they came to Thorir they were made welcome, and abode there some time; while the ship, tented over, floated opposite the house. It happened one day that, as Thorolf and Bjorn were going down to the ship, they saw that Eric, the king’s son, was there; he went now out on to the ship, now up to the land, and stood there looking at the ship. Then said Bjorn to Thorolf: ‘The king’s son admires the ship much; do you offer it to him as a present, for I know it will much help us with the king if Eric be our pleader with him. I have heard it said that the king bears a heavy grudge against you for your father’s sake.’ Thorolf said that this would be a good plan. They then went down to the ship, and Thorolf spoke: ‘Thou regardest the ship carefully, prince; 77

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how dost thou like it?’ ‘Right well,’ said he, ‘it is a perfect beauty.’ ‘Then will I give it thee,’ said Thorolf, ‘if thou wilt take the present.’ ‘Take it I will,’ said Eric, ‘and thou wilt deem it but poor payment therefor though I should offer thee my friendship; but this thou mayest look for if I live.’ Thorolf said that he thought the ship were thus far overpaid. Then they separated. But thenceforward the king’s son was right cheerful with Thorolf and his friend. Bjorn and Thorolf, talking with Thorir, asked him whether he thought it true that the king bore a heavy grudge against Thorolf. Thorir did not deny that he had heard so. ‘Then I would fain,’ said Bjorn, ‘that you should go and plead Thorolf’s cause before him, for one lot shall befall me and Thorolf; he did as much for me when I was in Iceland.’ The end was that Thorir promised to go to the king, and bade them try whether the king’s son would go with him. But when Thorolf and Bjorn spake of this with Eric, he promised his influence with his father. After that Thorolf and Bjorn went their way to Sogn. But Thorir and Eric the king’s son set in order the newly-given galley, and went south to meet the king, and found him in Hordaland. He received them joyfully. They remained there for awhile, watching for a fit time to approach the king when he should be in a good humour. Then they opened this matter before the king, and said that a certain man had come named Thorolf, Skallagrim’s son. ‘We would pray thee,’ they said, ‘O king, to bear in mind this: that his kinsmen have done good to thee, and not to make him pay for what his father did in avenging his brother.’ Thorir spoke herein soft words, but the king answered rather shortly that to him and his much mischance had come from Kveldulf and his sons, and ‘twas to be looked for that this Thorolf would be like-minded with his kin. ‘They are all,’ said he, ‘overbearing men, who know no 78

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measure, and care not with whom they have to deal.’ Then Eric took the word. He said that Thorolf had made friends with him, and given him a noble present that ship which they had there. ‘I have,’ said he, ‘promised him my hearty friendship. There will be few to become friends with me if this man get nothing by it. Thou wilt not let it be so, father, with him who has been the first to give me such a treasure.’ The end was that the king promised them before they parted that Thorolf should be in peace with him. ‘But I will not,’ said he, ‘ that he come into my presence. And thou, Eric, mayst make him as close to thee as thou wilt, him or more of his kin. But one of two things will happen, either they will be softer to thee than to me, or thou wilt rue this thy intercession, and that thou lettest them be long in thy company.’ Thereafter went Eric Bloodaxe and Thorir home to the Firths; then they sent word to Thorolf how their errand to the king had sped. Thorolf and Bjorn were for that winter with Brynjolf. Many summers they were out a-freebooting, but the winters they spent with Brynjolf, or sometimes with Thorir.

Chapter 37 - The journey to Bjarmaland. Eric Bloodaxe now took a share in the realm. He held oversight in Hordaland and the Firths; he took and kept about him a body-guard. And one spring Eric Bloodaxe made ready to go to Bjarmaland, and chose him much people for that voyage. Thorolf betook him to this voyage with Eric, and was in the forecastle of his ship, and bare his standard. Thorolf was then taller and stronger than other men, and herein like his father. In that expedition befell much tidings. Eric had a great battle by the river Dvina in Bjarmaland, wherein he won the victory, as is told in the lays about him. And in that voyage he took Gunnhilda, daughter of Auzur Toti, and brought her home with him. Gunnhilda was above all women beautiful and shrewd, and of magic cunning. There was great intimacy between Thorolf and Gunnhilda. Thorolf ever spend the winters with Eric, the summers in freebooting. The next tidings were that Thora Bjorn’s

wife fell sick and died. But some while after Bjorn took to him another wife; she was named Alof, the daughter of Erling the wealthy of Ostr. They two had a daughter named Gunnhilda. There was a man named Thorgeir Thornfoot; he dwelt in Fenhring of Hordaland, at a place called Askr. He had three sons - one named Hadd, another Bergonund, the third Atli the short. Bergonund was beyond other men tall and strong, and he was grasping and ungentle; Atli the short was of small stature, square-built, of sturdy strength. Thorgeir was a very rich man, a devoted heathen worshipper, of magic cunning. Hadd went out freebooting, and was seldom at home.

Chapter 38 - Thorolf comes out to Iceland. Thorolf Skallagrim’s son made him ready one summer for a trading voyage; he purposed what he also performed, to go to Iceland and see his father. He had now been long abroad. By this he had got great store of wealth and many costly things. When ready for the voyage, he went to king Eric. And at their parting the king delivered to Thorolf an axe, which he said he wished to give to Skallagrim. The axe was snag-horned, large, gold-mounted, the hilt overlaid with silver; it was most valuable and costly. Thorolf went his way as soon as he was ready, and his voyage sped well; he came with his ship into Borgar-firth, and at once hastened home to his father. A right joyful meeting was theirs. Then Skallagrim went down to Thorolf’s ship, and had it drawn up, and Thorolf went home to Borg with twelve men. But when he came home, he gave Skallagrim King Eric’s greeting, and delivered to him the axe which the king had sent him. Skallagrim took the axe and held it up, looked at it awhile, but said nothing. He fixed it up by his seat. It chanced one day in the autumn at Borg that Skallagrim had several oxen driven home which he meant to slaughter. Two of these he had led under the house-wall, and placed with heads crossing. He took a large flat stone, and pushed it under their necks. Then he went near with the axe - the king’s gift - and hewed at the A Black Arrow resource

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oxen both at once, so that he took off the heads of the two. But the axe smote down on the stone, so that the mouth broke, and was rent through all the tempered steel. Skallagrim looked at the edge, said nothing, but went into the fire-hall, and, mounting to the wall-beam, thrust the axe up among the rafters above the door. There it lay in the smoke all the winter. But in the spring Thorolf declared that he meant to go abroad that summer. Skallagrim forbade him, saying: ‘’Tis good to drive home with your wain whole. You have,’ said he, ‘gotten great honour by travel; but there is the old saw, “Many farings, many fortunes.” Take you now here as much share of the property as you think will make you a great man.’ Thorolf said he would make yet one journey more. ‘And I have,’ said he, ‘an urgent errand for the journey. But when I come back next time I shall settle here. But Asgerdr, your foster-child, shall go out with me to her father. This he bade me when I came west.’ Skallagrim said Thorolf would have his way. Thereafter Thorolf went to his ship, and put it in order. And when all was ready they moved the ship out to Digra-ness, and it lay there waiting a wind. Then Asgerdr went to the ship with him. But before Thorolf left Borg Skallagrim went and took down from the rafters over the door the axe, the king’s gift - and came out with it. The haft was now black with smoke, and the blade rusted. Skallagrim looked at the axe’s edge. Then he handed it to Thorolf, reciting this stave: ‘The fierce would-wolf’s tooth-edge Hath flaws not a few, An axe all deceitful, A wood cleaver weak. Begone! worthless weapon, With shaft smoke-begrimed: A prince ill-beseemed it Such present to send.’

Chapter 39 - Kettle Blund comes out to Iceland. This had happened while Thorolf was away, that one summer a merchant-ship from Norway came into Borgar-firth. Merchant-ships used then commonly to be drawn up into rivers, brook-mouths, The Sagas of the Icelanders

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or ditches. This ship belonged to a man named Kettle, and by-named Blund; he was a Norwegian of noble kin and wealthy. His son, named Geir, who was then of full age, was with him in the ship. Kettle meant to make his home in Iceland; he came late in the summer. Skallagrim knew all about him, and offered him lodging for himself and all his company. This Kettle took, and was with Skallagrim for the winter. That winter Geir, Kettle’s son, asked to wife Thorunn, Skallagrim’s daughter, and the match was made, and Geir took her. Next spring Skallagrim showed Kettle to land above Oleif’s land, by Whiteriver, from Flokadale-river mouth to Reykjadale-river mouth, and all the tongue that lay between the rivers up to Redgill, and all Flokadale above the slopes. Kettle dwelt at Thrandarholt; Geir at Geirs-lithe; he had another farm in Reykjadale at Upper Reykir. He was called Geir the wealthy; his sons were Blund-Kettle and Thorgeir-blund. A third was Hrisa-blund, who first dwelt at Hrisa.

Chapter 40 - Of Egil’s and Skallagrim’s games. Skallagrim took much pleasure in trials of strength and games; he liked to talk about such. Ball-play was then a common game. Plenty of strong men there were at that time in the neighbourhood, but not one of strength to match with Skallagrim. He was now somewhat stricken in years. There was a man named Thord, son of Grani, at Granastead, who was of great promise; he was then young; very fond he was of Egil, Skallagrim’s son. Egil often engaged in wrestling; he was headstrong and hot-tempered, but all had the sense to teach their sons to give way to Egil. A game of ball was held at White-riverdale in the early winter, to which was a great gathering of people from all the country-side. Thither went many of Skallagrim’s household to the game. Chief among them was Thord, Grani’s son. Egil asked Thord to let him go with him to the game; he was then in his seventh winter. Thord let him do so, and Egil mounted behind him. But when they came to the play-meeting, then the men made up sides for the play. Many

small boys had come there too, and they made up a game for themselves. For this also sides were chosen. Egil was matched to play against a boy named Grim, son of Hegg, of Hegg-stead. Grim was ten or eleven years old, and strong for his age. But when they played together Egil got the worst of it. And Grim made all he could of his advantage. Then Egil got angry and lifted up the bat and struck Grim, whereupon Grim seized him and threw him down with a heavy fall, and handled him rather roughly, and said he would thrash him if he did not behave. But when Egil got to his feet, he went out of the game, and the boys hooted at him. Egil went to Thord and told him what had been done. Thord said: ‘I will go with you, and we will be avenged on them.’ He gave into his hands a halberd that he had been carrying. Such weapons were then customary. They went where the boys’ game was. Grim had now got the ball and was running away with it, and the other boys after him. Then Egil bounded upon Grim, and drove the axe into his head, so that it at once pierced his brain. After this Egil and Thord went away to their own people. The Myramen ran to their weapons, and so did either party. Oleif Halt, with his following, ran to help the Borgarmen, who were thus far the larger number, and they parted without doing more. But hence arose a quarrel between Oleif and Hegg. They fought at Laxfit, by Grims-river; there seven men fell, but Hegg was wounded to death, and his brother Kvig fell. But when Egil came home, Skallagrim said little about it; but Bera said Egil had in him the makings of a freebooter, and that ‘twould be well, so soon as he were old enough, to give him a long-ship. Then Egil made a stave: ‘Thus counselled my mother, For me should they purchase A galley and good oars To go forth a-roving. So may I high-standing, A noble barque steering, Hold course for the haven, Hew down many foemen.’ When Egil was twelve years old, he was grown so big that there were but few men howso large and strong that 79

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he could not overcome in games. In his twelfth winter he was often at games. Thord Grani’s son was then twenty years old; he was very strong. As the winter wore on, if often chanced that the two, Egil and Thord, were matched against Skallagrim. And once in the winter it so befell that there was ball-play at Borg, southwards in Sandvik. Thord and Egil were set against Skallagrim in the game; and he became weary before them, so that they had the best of it. But in the evening after sunset it began to go worse with Egil and his partner. Skallagrim then became so strong and he caught up Thord and dashed him down so violently that he was all bruised and at once got his bane. Then he seized Egil. Now there was a handmaid of Skallagrim’s named Thorgerdr Brak, who had nursed Egil when a child; she was a big woman, strong as a man, and of magic cunning. Said Brak: ‘Dost thou turn they shape-strength, Skallagrim, against thy son?’ Whereat Skallagrim let Egil loose, but clutched at her. She broke away and took to her heels with Skallagrim after her. So went they to the utmost point of Digra-ness. Then she leapt out from the rock into the water. Skallagrim hurled after her a great stone, which struck her between the shoulders, and neither ever came up again. The water there is now called Brakar-sound. But afterwards, in the evening, when they came home to Borg, Egil was very angry. Skallagrim and everybody else were set at table, but Egil had not yet come to his place. He went into the fire-hall, and up to the man who there had the overseeing of work and the management of moneys for Skallagrim, and was most dear to him. Egil dealt him his deathblow, then went to his seat. Skallagrim spoke not a word about it then, and thenceforward the matter was kept quiet. But father and son exchanged no word good or bad, and so that winter passed. The next summer after this Thorolf came out, as was told above. And when he had been in Iceland one winter, in the spring following he made ready his ship in Brakar-sound. But when he was quite ready, then one day Egil went to his father, and asked him to give him an outfit. 80

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‘I wish,’ said he, ‘to go out with Thorolf.’

Chapter 41 - Of Bjorn.

Skallagrim asked if he had spoken at all on that matter with Thorolf. Egil said he had not. Skallagrim bade him do that first. But when Egil started the question with Thorolf, he said:

Bjorn got for his portion another good and valuable homestead. He did not become a liege-man of the king, wherefore he was called Bjorn Yeoman. He was right wealthy, and a great man. No sooner did Thorolf come off the sea then he went at once to Bjorn, and brought him Asgerdr his daughter. There was a joyful meeting. Asgerdr was a most beautiful and accomplished woman, wise and right skilful.

‘’Tis not likely that I shall take you abroad with me; if your father thinks he cannot manage you here in his house, I have no confidence for this, to take you with me to foreign lands; for it will not do to show there such temper as you do here.’ ‘Maybe,’ said Egil, ‘neither of us will go.’ In the night came on a furious gale, a south-wester. But when it was dark, and now flood-tide, Egil came where the ship lay. He went out on to the ship, and outside the tenting; he cut asunder the cables that were on the seaward side; then, hurrying back to land by the bridge, he at once shot out the bridge, and cut the cables that were upon land. Then the ship was driven out into the firth. But when Thorolf’s men were aware that the ship was adrift, they jumped into the boat; but the wind was far too strong for them to get anything done. The ship drifted over to Duck-kyle, and on the islands there; but Egil went home to Borg. And when people got to know of the trick that Egil had played, the more part blamed it. Egil said he should before long do Thorolf more harm and mischief if he would not take him away. But then others mediated between them, and the end was that Thorolf took Egil, and he went out with him that summer. When Thorolf came on shipboard, at once taking the axe which Skallagrim had given into his hands, he cast it overboard into the deep so that it nevermore came up. Thorolf went his way in the summer, and his voyage sped well, and they came out to Hordaland. He at once stood northwards to Sogn. There it had happened in the winter that Brynjolf had fallen sick and died, and his sons had shared the heritage. Thord had Aurland, the estate on which his father had dwelt. He had become a liege-man of the king, and was made a baron. Thord’s daughter was named Rannveig, the mother of Thord and Helgi, this Thord being father if Ingiridr whom king Olaf had to wife. Helgi was father of Brynjolf, father of Serk, Sogn, and Svein.

Thorolf went to see king Eric. And when they met, Thorolf greeted Eric from Skallagrim, and said that he had thankfully received the king’s gift. He then brought out a good long-ship’s sail, which he said Skallagrim had sent to the king. King Eric received the gift well, and bade Thorolf be with him for the winter. For this Thorolf thanked the king, but said: ‘I must first go to Thorir; with him I have an urgent errand.’ Then Thorolf went to Thorir, as he had said, and met there a right hearty welcome. Thorir bade him be with him. This Thorolf said he would accept; ‘and there is,’ said he, ‘one with me who must have lodging where I am; he is my brother, and he has never before been away from home, and he needs that I look after him.’ Thorir said that Thorolf had every right, if he would, to bring more men with him thither. ‘Your brother, too,’ said he, ‘we think, betters our company if he be at all like you.’ Then Thorolf went to his ship, and had it drawn up and made snug, whereafter he and Egil went to lord Thorir. Thorir had a son named Arinbjorn, who was somewhat older than Egil. Arinbjorn early showed himself a manly fellow and a doughty. With Arinbjorn Egil struck up a friendship, and was ever his follower. But between the brothers was rather a coolness.

Chapter 42 - Thorolf asks Asgerdr to wife. Thorolf Skallagrim’s son now sounded Thorir as to how he would take the matter should Thorolf ask in marriage Asgerdr his kinswoman. Thorir welcomed this readily, saying that he would be his A Black Arrow resource

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pleader in this suit. Soon after Thorolf went north to Sogn with a goodly company. He came to Bjorn’s house, and was well received there. Bjorn bade him be with him as long as he would. Thorolf speedily opened to Bjorn his errand, and made his offer, asking Bjorn’s daughter Asgerdr to wife. This proposal Bjorn took well, his consent was easily won; and it was settled that the betrothal should be there, and a day was fixed for the wedding. The feast was to be at Bjorn’s in the autumn. Then Thorolf went back to Thorir, and told him what had been done in his journey. Thorir was glad that the match was to be made. But when the time came that Thorolf should go to the feast, he bade men to go with him. First bade he Thorir and Arinbjorn and their housecarles, and some rich yeoman; and for the journey there was a large and goodly company. But when the appointed day was near at hand that Thorolf should leave home, and the bridesmen were now come, then Egil fell sick, so that he could not go. Thorolf and his company had a large long-ship well equipt, and went on their way as had been agreed.

Chapter 43 - Of Aulvir and Egil. There was a man named Aulvir, a housecarle of Thorir’s, who was manager and bailiff over his estate. He had the getting in of debts, and was treasurer. Aulvir was past his youth, but was still quite a hale man. It so happened that Aulvir had to leave home to get in some rents of Thorir’s that had stood over from the spring. He had a row-boat, on board which went twelve of Thorir’s house-carles. Just then Egil began to recover, and rose from his bed. He thought it was dull work at home when everybody was gone away. So he spoke with Aulvir, and said he would like to go with him. But Aulvir thought one good comrade would not overload them, as there was enough ship-room. So Egil prepared to go. He had his weapons, sword, halberd, and buckler. They went their way when they were ready. They had the wind blowing hard against them, and sharp gale and troublesome; but they pursued their journey vigorously, taking to their oars. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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And their progress was such, that on the evening of a day they came to Atla-isle, and there put in to land. In this island, not far up from the shore, was a large farm belonging to king Eric. The overlooker thereof was a man named Bard. He was called Bard of Atla-isle, and was a good business man and worker; not of high birth, but much prized by the king and Gunnhilda. Aulvir and his men drew up their ship beyond flood-tide mark. They then went to the farm buildings, and found Bard outside, and told him of their journey, and withal that they would fain be there for the night. Bard saw that they were very wet, and led them to a fire-hall that stood apart from the other buildings. There he had a large fire made for them, at which their clothes were dried. When they had put them on again, Bard came in. ‘Now will we,’ said he, ‘set you a table here. I know you will be glad to sleep; you are weary from your wetting.’

The man said that some house-carles of lord Thorir were come thither. The king said: ‘Go after them at once, and call them in hither.’ And so it was done, with the message that the king would fain see them. Whereupon they came. The king received Aulvir well, and bade him sit in the high-seat facing himself, and his comrades outside him. They did so, Egil sitting next to Aulvir. Ale was then served to them to drink. Many toasts went round, and a horn should be drunk to each toast. But as the evening wore on, many of Aulvir’s companions became helpless. Some remained in the room, though sick, some went out of doors. Bard busily plied them with drink. Then Egil took the horn which Bard had offered to Aulvir, and drank it off. Bard said that Egil was very thirsty, and brought him at once the horn again filled, and bade him drink it off. Egil took the horn, and recited a stave:

Aulvir liked that well. Soon the table was set, and food given them, bread and butter and large bowls of curds set forth. Bard said: ‘Right sorry am I that there is no ale in the house, that I might receive you as I would; you will have to make out with what there is.’

‘Wizard-worshipper of cairns! Want of ale thou couldst allege, Here at spirits’ holy feast. False deceiver thee I find. Stranger guests thou didst beguile, Cloaking thus thy churlish greed. Bard, a niggard base art thou,

Aulvir and his folk were very thirsty, and drank up the curds. Then Bard had oatdrink brought in, and they drank that. ‘I should like,’ said Bard, ‘to give you better drink if I had any.’

Treacherous trick on such to play.’Bard bade him drink and stop that jeering. Egil drained every cup that came to him, drinking for Aulvir likewise. Then Bard went to the queen and told her there was a man there who put shame on them, for, howsoever much he drank, he still said he was thirsty. The queen and Bard then mixed the drink with poison, and bare it in. Bard consecrated the cup, then gave it to the ale-maid. She carried it to Egil, and bade him drink. Egil then drew his knife and pricked the palm of his hand. He took the horn, scratched runes thereon, and smeared blood in them. He sang:

There was no lack of straw in the room. Then he bade them lie down to sleep.

Chapter 44 - The slaying of Bard. King Eric and queen Gunnhilda came that same evening to Atla-isle, and Bard had prepared there a banquet for the king; and there was to be there a sacrifice to the guardian spirits. Sumptuous was the banquet, and great the drinking within the hall. ‘Where is Bard?’ asked the king; ‘I see him not.’ Someone said: ‘Bard is outside supplying his guests.’ ‘Who be these guests,’ said the king, ‘that he deemeth this more a duty than to be here within waiting on us?’

‘Write we runes around the horn, Redden all the spell with blood; Wise words choose I for the cup Wrought from branching horn of beast. Drink we then, as drink we will, Draught that cheerful bearer brings, Learn that health abides in ale, Holy ale that Bard hath bless’d.’ The horn burst asunder in the midst, and the drink was spilt on the straw below. 81

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Then Aulvir began to be faint. So Egil stood up, took Aulvir by the hand, and led him to the door. Egil shifted his cloak to his left side, and under the mantle held his sword. But when they came to the door, then came Bard after them with a full horn, and bade them drink a farewell cup. Egil stood in the door. He took the horn and drank it off; then recited a stave: ‘Ale is borne to me, for ale Aulvir now maketh pale. From ox-horn I let pour ‘Twixt my lips the shower. But blind they fate to see Blows thou bring’st on thee: Full soon from Odin’s thane Feel’st thou deadly rain.’ With that Egil threw down the horn, but gripped his sword and drew; it was dark in the room. He thrust Bard right through the middle with the sword, so that the point went out at the back. Bard fell dead, the blood welling from the wound. Aulvir fell too, vomiting. Then Egil dashed out of the room; it was pitch dark outside. Egil at once ran off from the buildings. But in the entrance-room it was now seen that Bard and Aulvir were fallen. Then came the king, and bade them bring light; whereupon they saw what had happened, that Aulvir lay there senseless; but Bard was slain, and the floor all streaming with blood. Then the king asked where was that big man who had drunk most that evening. Men said that he had gone out. ‘Seek him,’ said the king, ‘and bring him to me.’ Search was made for him round the premises, but nowhere was he found. But when they came to the detached fire-hall, there lay Aulvir’s comrades. The king’s men asked if Egil had come there at all. They said that he had run in, taken his weapons, and so out again. This was told to the king. The king bade his men go with all speed and seize every ship or boat on the island. ‘But in the morning,’ said he, ‘when it is light, we must search all the island and slay the man.’

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places where boats were. But wheresoever he came to the strand, men were always there before him. He went thus through the whole night, and found never a boat. But when day dawned, he was standing on a certain ness. He saw then another island, and between him and it lay a very wide sound. This was then his counsel: he took helmet, sword, and spear, breaking off the spear-shaft and casting it out into the sea; but the weapons he wrapped round in his cloak and made thereof a bundle which he bound on his back. Then he plunged into the water, nor stayed his swimming till he came to the island. It was called Sheppey; it was an island of no great size covered with brushwood. There were cattle on it, both sheep and oxen, belonging to Atla-isle. But when he came to the island, he wrung his clothes dry. By this time it was broad daylight, and the sun was risen. King Eric had Atla-island well searched as soon as it was light; this took some time, the island being large, and Egil was not found. Then the king made them row to other islands and seek him. It was evening when twelve men rowed to Sheppey. They were to look for Egil, and had also to bring from thence some cattle for slaughter. Egil saw the boat coming to the island; he then lay down and hid himself in the brushwood before the boat came to land. They left three men behind with the boat; but nine went up, and they separated into three search parties, with three in each. But when a rise in the ground was between them and the boat, then Egil stood up (having before got his weapons ready), and made straight across for the sea, and then along the shore. They who guarded the boat were not aware of it till Egil was upon them. He at once smote one with a death-blow; but another took to his heels, and he had to leap up something of a bank. Egil followed him with a blow cutting off his foot. The third man leapt out into the boat, and pushed off with the pole. Egil drew the boat to him with the rope, and leapt out into it. Few blows were exchanged ere Egil slew him, and pushed him overboard. Then he took oars and rowed the boat away. He went all that night and the day after, nor stayed till he came to lord Thorir’s. As for Aulvir and his comrades, the king let them go in peace, as guiltless in this matter.

But the men who were in Sheppey were there for many nights, and killed cattle for food, and made a fire and cooked them, and piled a large fuel-heap on the side of the island looking towards Atla-isle, and set fire thereto, and let folk know their plight. When that was seen, men rowed out to them, and brought to land those who yet lived. The king was by this time gone away; he went to another banquet. But of Aulvir there is this to be told, that he reached home before Egil, and Thorolf and Thorir had come home even before that. Aulvir told the tidings, the slaying of Bard and the rest that had there befallen, but of Egil’s goings since he knew nothing. Thorolf was much grieved hereat, as also was Arinbjorn; they thought that Egil would return nevermore. But the next morning Egil came home. Which when Thorolf knew, he rose up and went out to meet him, and asked in what way he had escaped, and what tidings had befallen in his journey. Then Egil recited this stave: ‘From Norway king’s keeping, From craft of Gunnhilda, So I freed me (nor flaunt I The feat overbold), That three, whom but I wot not, The warrior king’s liege-men, Lie dead, to the high hall Of Hela downsped.’ Arinbjorn spoke well of this work, and said to his father that he would be bound to atone Egil with the king. Thorir said, ‘It will be the common verdict that Bard got his desert in being slain; yet hath Egil wrought too much after the way of his kin, in looking little before him and braving a king’s wrath, which most men find a heavy burden. However, I will atone you, Egil, with the king for this time.’ Thorir went to find the king, but Arinbjorn remained at home and declared that one lot should befall them all. But when Thorir came to the king, he offered terms for Egil, his own bail, while the king should doom the fine. King Eric was very wroth, and it was hard to come to speech with him; he said that what his father had said would prove true - that family would never be trustworthy. He bade Thorir arrange it thus: ‘Though I A Black Arrow resource

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accept some atonement, Egil shall not be long harboured in my realm. But for the sake of thy intercession, Thorir, I will take a money fine for this man.’ The king fixed such fine as he thought fit; Thorir paid it all and went home.

Chapter 46 - Of Thorolf’s and Egil’s harrying. Thorolf and Egil stayed that winter with Thorir, and were made much of. But in spring they got ready a large war-ship and gathered men thereto, and in summer they went the eastern way and harried; there won they much wealth and had many battles. They held on even to Courland, and made a peace for half a month with the men of the land and traded with them. But when this was ended, then they took to harrying, and put in at divers places. One day they put in at the mouth of a large river, where was an extensive forest upon land. They resolved to go up the country, dividing their force into companies of twelve. They went through the wood, and it was not long before they came to peopled parts. There they plundered and slew men, but the people fled, till at last there was no resistance. But as the day wore on, Thorolf had the blast sounded to recall his men down to the shore. Then each turned back from where they were into the wood. But when Thorolf mustered his force, Egil and his company had not come down; and the darkness of night was closing in, so that they could not, as they thought, look for him. Now Egil and his twelve had gone through a wood and then saw wide plains and tillage. Hard by them stood a house. For this they made, and when they came there they ran into the house, but could see no one there. They took all the loose chattels that they came upon. There were many rooms, so this took them a long time. But when they came out and away from the house, an armed force was there between them and the wood, and this attacked them. High palings ran from the house to the wood; to these Egil bade them keep close, that they might not be come at from all sides. They did so. Egil went first, then the rest, one behind the other, so near that none could come between. The Courlanders attacked them The Sagas of the Icelanders

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vigorously, but mostly with spears and javelins, not coming to close quarters. Egil’s party going forward along the fence did not find out till too late that another line of palings ran along on the other side, the space between narrowing till there was a bend and all progress barred. The Courlanders pursued after them into this pen, while some set on them from without, thrusting javelins and swords through the palings, while others cast clothes on their weapons. Egil’s party were wounded, and after that taken, and all bound, and so brought home to the farmhouse. The owner of that farm was a powerful and wealthy man; he had a son grown up. Now they debated what they should do with their prisoners. The goodman said that he thought this were best counsel, to kill them one on the heels of another. His son said that the darkness of night was now closing in, and no sport was thus gotten by their torture; he bade them be let bide till the morning. So they were thrust into a room and strongly bound. Egil was bound hand and foot to a post. Then the room was strongly locked, and the Courlanders went into the dining-hall, ate, drank, and were merry. Egil strained and worked at the post till he loosed it up from the floor. Then the post fell, and Egil slipped himself off it. Next he loosed his hands with his teeth. But when his hands were loose, he loosed therewith the bonds from his feet. And then he freed his comrades; but when they were all loosed they searched round for the likeliest place to get out. The room was made with walls of large wooden beams, but at one end thereof was a smooth planking. At this they dashed and broke it through. They had now come into another room; this too had walls of wooden beams. Then they heard men’s voices below under their feet. Searching about they found a trapdoor in the floor, which they opened. Thereunder was a deep vault; down in it they heard men’s voices. Then asked Egil what men were these. He who answered named himself Aki. Would he like to come up, asked Egil. Aki answered, they would like it much. Then Egil and his comrades lowered into the vault the rope with which they had been bound, and drew up thence three men. Aki said that these were his two

sons, and they were Danes, who had been made prisoners of war last summer. ‘I was,’ he said, ‘well treated through the winter, and had the chief care of the goodman’s property; but the lads were enslaved and had a hard lot. In spring we made up our minds to run away, but were retaken. Then we were cast into this vault.’ ‘You must know all about the plan of this house,’ said Egil; ‘where have we the best hope to get out?’ Aki said that there was another plank partition: ‘Break you up that, you will then come into a corn-store, whereout you may go as you will.’ Egil’s men did so; they broke up the planking, came into the granary, and thence out. It was pitch dark. Then said Egil’s comrades that they should hasten to the wood. But Egil said to Aki, ‘If you know the house here, you can show us the way to some plunder.’ Aki said there was no lack of chattels. ‘Here is a large loft in which the goodman sleeps; therein is no stint of weapons.’ Egil bade them go to that loft. But when they came to the staircase head they saw that the loft was open. A light was inside, and servants, who were making the beds. Egil bade some stay outside and watch that none came out. Egil ran into the loft, seized weapons, of which there was no lack. They slew all the men that were in there, and they armed themselves fully. Aki went to a trapdoor in the floor and opened it, telling them that they should go down by this to the store-room below. They got a light and went thither. It was the goodman’s treasury; there were many costly things, and much silver. There the men took them each a load and carried it out. Egil took under his arm a large meadcask, and bare it so. But when they came to the wood, then Egil stopped, and he said: ‘This our going is all wrong, and not warlike. We have stolen the goodman’s property without his knowing thereof. Never ought that shame to be ours. Go we back to the house, and let him know what hath befallen.’ All spoke against that, saying they would make for the ship. Egil set down the mead-cask, then 83

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ran off, and sped him to the house. But when he came there, he saw that serving-lads were coming out of the kitchen with dishes and bearing them to the dining-hall. In the kitchen (he saw) was a large fire and kettles thereon. Thither he went. Great beams had been brought home and lighted, as was the custom there, by setting fire to the beam-end and so burning it lengthwise. Egil seized a beam, carried it to the dining-hall, and thrust the burning end under the eaves, and so into the birch bark of the roof, which soon caught fire. Some fagot-wood lay hard by; this Egil brought and piled before the hall-door. This quickly caught fire. But those who sate drinking within did not find it out till the flame burst in round the roof. Then they rushed to the door; but there was no easy way out, both by reason of the fagot-wood, and because Egil kept the door, and slew most who strove to pass out either in the doorway or outside. The goodman asked who had the care of the fire. Egil answered, ‘He has now the care of the fire whom you yester-even had thought least likely; nor will you wish to bake you hotter than I shall kindle; you shall have soft bath before soft bed, such as you meant to give to me and my comrades. Here now is that same Egil whom you bound hand and foot to the post in that room you shut so carefully. I will repay you your hospitality as you deserve.’ At this the goodman thought to steal out in the dark, but Egil was near, and dealt him his death-blow, as he did to many others. Brief moment was it ere the hall so burned that it fell in. Most of those who were within perished. But Egil went back to the wood, where he found his comrades, and they all went together to the ship. Egil said he would have the mead-cask which he carried as his own special prize; it proved to be full of silver. Thorolf and his men were overjoyed when Egil came down. They put out from land as soon as day dawned; Aki and his two sons were with Egil’s following. They sailed in the summer, now far spent, to Denmark, where they lay in wait for merchant-ships, and plundered when they got the chance. 84

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Chapter 47 - Of the further harrying of Thorolf and Egil. Harold Gormsson had then taken the kingdom in Denmark, his father Gorm being now dead. The land was then open to harrying; freebooters often lay off the Danish coast. Aki knew Denmark well both by sea and land. So Egil inquired of him diligently where the places were that promised good booty. But when they came to Eyrar-sound, then Aki said that up on land there was a large trading town named Lundr; there, he said, was hope of plunder, but ‘twas likely that the townsmen would make resistance. The question was put before the men whether they should go up or not. Opinions were much divided, some liking, some letting it; then the matter was referred to the leaders. Thorolf was rather for going up. Then Egil was asked what counsel he thought good. He recited a stave: ‘Wolf-battening warrior, Wield we high gleaming swords. In snake-fostering summer Such deeds well beseem. Lead up to Lundr: Let laggards be none! Spear-music ungentle By sunset shall sound.’ After that they made them ready to go up, and they came to the town. But when the townsmen were aware of the enemy’s coming, they made against them. A wooden wall was round the town; they set men to guard this. A very fierce battle was there fought. Egil, with his following, charged fiercely on the gate nor spared himself. There was a great slaughter, the townsmen falling one upon another. It is said that Egil first entered the town, the others following. Then those of the town fled, and great was the slaughter. But Thorolf and his company plundered the town and took much wealth, and fired the buildings before they left. Then they went down to their ships.

country dwelt an earl named Arnfid. But when he heard that freebooters had come to land there, he sent his men to meet them with this errand, to know whether they wished for peace or war. Upon the messengers’ coming to Thorolf with their errand, he said that they would not harry there, that there was no need to harry there or come with warshield, the land being not wealthy. The messengers went back to the earl, and told him the issue of their errand: but when the earl knew that he need not gather men for this cause, then he rode down without any armed force to meet the freebooters. When they met, all went well at the conference. The earl bade Thorolf to a banquet with him, and as many of his men as he would. Thorolf promised to go. On the appointed day the earl had ridinghorses sent down to meet them. Thorolf and Egil went, and they had thirty men with them. When they came to the earl, he received them well; they were led into the dining-hall. At once beer was brought in and given them to drink. They sate there till evening. But before the tables were removed the earl said that they should cast lots to drink together in pairs, man and woman, so far as numbers would allow, but the odd ones by themselves. They cast then their lots into the skirt of a cloak, and the earl drew them out. The earl had a very beautiful daughter then in the flower of youth; the lot decreed that Egil should sit by her for the evening. She was going about the floor of the hall amusing herself. Egil stood up and went to the place in which the earl’s daughter had sat during the day. But when all took their several seats, then the earl’s daughter went to her place. She said in verse: ‘Why sittest in my seat, youth? Thou seldom sure hast given To wolf his warm flesh-banquet. Alone I will mine own. O’er carrion course thou heard’st not Croak hoarse the joying raven, Nor wentest where sword-edges In warfare madly met.’

Chapter 48 - Of the banquet at earl Arnfid’s.

Egil took her, and set her down by him. He sang:

Thorolf stood northwards with his force past Holland, and they put into a harbour there, as the wind drove them back. They did not plunder there. A little way up the

‘With bloody brand on-striding Me bird of bane hath followed: My hurtling spear hath sounded In the swift Vikings’ charge. A Black Arrow resource

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Raged wrathfully our battle, Ran fire o’er foemen’s rooftrees; Sound sleepeth many a warrior Slain in the city gate.’ They two then drank together for the evening, and were right merry. The banquet was of the best, on that day and on the morrow. Then the rovers went to their ships, they and the earl parting in friendship with exchange of gifts. Thorolf with his force then stood for the Brenn-islands. At that time these were a great lair of freebooters, because through the islands sailed many merchant-ships. Aki went home to his farms, and his sons with him. He was a very wealthy man, owning several farms in Jutland. He and Thorolf parted with affection, and pledged them to close friendship. But as autumn came on, Thorolf and his men sailed northward along the Norway coast till they reached the Firths, then went to lord Thorir. He received them well, but Arinbjorn his son much better, who asked Egil to be there for the winter. Egil took this offer with thanks. But when Thorir knew of Arinbjorn’s offer, he called it rather a hasty speech. ‘I know not,’ said he, ‘how king Eric may like that; for after the slaying of Bard he said that he would not have Egil be here in the land.’ ‘You, father, can easily manage this with the king,’ said Arinbjorn, ‘so that he will not blame Egil’s stay. You will ask Thorolf, your niece’s husband, to be here; I and Egil will have one winter home.’ Thorir saw from this talk that Arinbjorn would have his way in this. So father and son offered Thorolf winter-home there, which he accepted. They were there through the winter with twelve men. Two brothers there were named Thorvald Proud and Thorfid Strong, near kinsmen of Bjorn Yeoman, and brought up with him. Tall men they were and strong, of much energy and forward daring. They followed Bjorn so long as he went out roving; but when he settled down in quiet, then these brothers went to Thorolf, and were with him in his harrying; they were forecastle men in his ship. And when Egil took command of a ship, then Thorfid was his forecastle man. These brothers followed Thorolf throughout, and he valued them most of his crew. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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They were of his company this winter, and sate next to the two brothers. Thorolf sate in the high seat over against Thorir, and drank with him; Egil sate as cup-mate over against Arinbjorn. At all toasts the cup must cross the floor. Lord Thorir went in the autumn to king Eric. The king received him exceedingly well. But when they began to talk together, Thorir begged the king not to take it amiss that he had Egil with him that winter. The king answered this well; he said that Thorir might get from him what he would, but it should not have been so had any other man harboured Egil. But when Gunnhilda heard what they were talking of, then said she: ‘This I think, Eric, that ‘tis now going again as it has gone often before; thou lendest easy ear to talk, nor bearest long in mind the ill that is done thee. And now thou wilt bring forward the sons of Skallagrim to this, that they will yet again smite down some of thy near kin. But though thou mayest choose to think Bard’s slaying of no account, I think not so.’ The king answered: ‘Thou, Gunnhilda, more than others provokest me to savageness; yet time was when thou wert on better terms with Thorolf than now. However I will not take back my word about those brothers.’ ‘Thorolf was well here,’ said she, ‘before Egil made him bad; but now I reckon no odds between them.’ Thorir went home when he was ready, and told the brothers the words of the king and of the queen.

Chapter 49 - Slaying of Thorvald Proud. Eyvind Skreyja and Alf were the names of two brothers of Gunnhilda, sons of Auzur Toti. They were tall and strong, and great traders. They were then made much of by king Eric and Gunnhilda. Not generally liked were they; at this time they were young, but fully grown to manhood. It so befell in the spring that a great sacrifice was fixed to be held in the summer at Gaular. Here was the most renowned chief temple. Thither flocked numbers from the firths and from the fells, and from Sogn, and almost all the great men. King Eric went thither. Then spoke Gunnhilda with her brothers: ‘I would fain that you

two should so manage matters in this crowded gathering, that ye get to slay one of the two sons of Skallagrim, or, better still, both.’ They said it should be done. Lord Thorir made ready to go thither. He called Arinbjorn to speak with him. ‘Now will I,’ said he, ‘go to the sacrifice, but I will not that Egil go thither. I know the craft of Gunnhilda, the vehemence of Egil, the power of the king; no easy task were it to watch these all at once. But Egil will not let himself be hindered, unless you stay behind. Now Thorolf and the rest of his company shall go with me; Thorolf shall sacrifice and pray for happiness for his brother as well as himself.’ Whereupon Arinbjorn told Egil that he meant to stay at home; ‘and you shall be with me,’ said he. Egil agreed that it should be so. But Thorir and the rest went to sacrifice, and a very great multitude was there, and there was much drinking. Thorolf went with Thorir wheresoever he went, and they never were apart day or night. Eyvind told Gunnhilda that he could get no chance at Thorolf. She bade him then slay some one of Thorolf’s men rather than let everything fail. It chanced one evening, when the king had gone to rest, as had also Thorir and Thorolf, but Thorfid and Thorvald still sate up, that the two brothers Eyvind and Alf came and sat down by them, and were very merry. First they drank as one drinking-party; but presently it came to this, that each should drink half a horn, Eyvind and Thorvald being paired together to drink, and Alf and Thorfid. Now as the evening wore on there was unfair drinking; next followed bandying of words, then insulting language. Then Eyvind jumped up, drew a sword, and thrust at Thorvald, dealing him a wound that was his death. Whereupon up jumped on either side the king’s men and Thorir’s house-carles. But men were all weaponless in there, because it was sanctuary. Men went between and parted them who were most furious; nor did anything more happen that evening. Eyvind had slain a man on holy ground; he was therefore made accursed, and had to go abroad at once. The king offered a 85

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fine for the man; but Thorolf and Thorfid said they never had taken man-fine, and would not take this. With that they parted. Thorir and his company went home. King Eric and Gunnhilda sent Eyvind south to Denmark to king Harold Gormsson, for he might not now abide on Norwegian soil. The king received him and his comrades well: Eyvind brought to Denmark a large war-ship. He then appointed Eyvind to be his coastguard there against freebooters, for Eyvind was a right good warrior.

Well did the warrior fight, Warder of Denmark’s realm. Till, with his wights o’erborne, Eastwards from wave-horse high To swim and seek the sand Swift Eyvind Skreyja leapt.’

In the spring following that winter Thorolf and Egil made them ready to go again a-freebooting. And when ready, they again stood for the eastern way. But when they came to Vik, they sailed then south along Jutland, and harried there; then went to Friesland, where they stayed for a great part of the summer; but then stood back for Denmark. But when they came to the borderland where Denmark and Friesland meet, and lay by the land there, so it was that one evening when they on shipboard were preparing for sleep, two men came to Egil’s ship, and said they had an errand to him. They were brought before him. They said that Aki the wealthy had sent them thither with this message: ‘Eyvind Skreyja is lying out off Jutlandside, and thinks to waylay you as you come from the south. And he has gathered such large force as ye cannot withstand if ye encounter it all at once; but he himself goes with two light vessels, and he is even now here close by you.’

Chapter 50 - Of Athelstan king of the English.

But when these tidings came before Egil, at once he and his took down their tenting. He bade them go silently; they did so. They came at dawn to where Eyvind and his men lay at anchor; they set upon them at once, hurling both stones and spears. Many of Eyvind’s force fell there; but he himself leapt overboard and got to land by swimming, as did all those of his men who escaped. But Egil took his ships, cargo, and weapons. They went back that day to their own company, and met Thorolf. He asked wither Egil had gone, and where he had gotten those ships with which they came. Egil said that Eyvind Skreyja had had the ships, but they had taken them from him. Then sang Egil: ‘In struggle sternly hard We strove off Jutland-side: 86

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Thorolf said: ‘Herein ye have so wrought, methinks, that it will not serve us as our autumn plan to go to Norway.’ Egil said it was quite as well, though they should seek some other place.

Alfred the Great ruled England, being of his family the first supreme king over England. That was in the days of Harold Fairhair, king of Norway. After Alfred, Edward his son was king in England. He was father of Athelstan the Victorious, who was foster-father of Hacon the Good. It was at this time of our story that Athelstan took the kingdom after his father. There were several brothers sons of Edward. But when Athelstan had taken the kingdom, then those chieftains who had before lost their power to his forefathers rose in rebellion; now they thought was the easiest time to claim back their own, when a young king ruled the realm. These were Britons, Scots, and Irish. King Athelstan therefore gathered him an army, and gave pay to all such as wished to enrich themselves, both foreigners and natives. The brothers Thorolf and Egil were standing southwards along Saxony and Flanders, when they heard that the king of England wanted men, and that there was in his service hope of much gain. So they resolved to take their force thither. And they went on that autumn till they came to king Athelstan. He received them well; he saw plainly that such followers would be a great help. Full soon did the English king decide to ask them to join him, to take pay there, and become defenders of his land. They so agreed between them that they became king Athelstan’s men. England was thoroughly Christian in faith, and had long been so, when these things happened. King Athelstan was a good Christian; he was called Athelstan

the Faithful. The king asked Thorolf and his brother to consent to take the first signing with the cross, for this was then a common custom both with merchants and those who took soldiers’ pay in Christian armies, since those who were ‘primesigned’ (as ‘twas termed) could hold all intercourse with Christians and heathens alike, while retaining the faith which was most to their mind. Thorolf and Egil did this at the king’s request, and both let themselves be prime-signed. They had three hundred men with them who took the king’s pay.

Chapter 51 - Of Olaf king of Scots. Olaf the Red was the name of the king in Scotland. He was Scotch on his father’s side, but Danish on his mother’s side, and came of the family of Ragnar Hairy-breeks. He was a powerful prince. Scotland, as compared with England, was reckoned a third of the realm; Northumberland was reckoned a fifth part of England; it was the northernmost county, marching with Scotland on the eastern side of the island. Formerly the Danish kings had held it. Its chief town is York. It was in Athelstan’s dominions; he had set over it two earls, the one named Alfgeir, the other Gudrek. They were set there as defenders of the land against the inroads of Scots, Danes, and Norsemen, who harried the land much, and though they had a strong claim on the land there, because in Northumberland nearly all the inhabitants were Danish by the father’s or mother’s side, and many by both. Bretland was governed by two brothers, Hring and Adils; they were tributaries under king Athelstan, and withal had this right, that when they were with the king in the field, they and their force should be in the van of the battle before the royal standard. These brothers were right good warriors, but not young men. Alfred the Great had deprived all tributary kings of name and power; they were now called earls, who had before been kings or princes. This was maintained throughout his lifetime and his son Edward’s. But Athelstan came young to the kingdom, and of him they stood less in awe. Wherefore many now were disloyal who had before been faithful subjects. A Black Arrow resource

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Chapter 52 - Of the gathering of the host.

appointed such captains of companies as he thought fit.

Olaf king of Scots, drew together a mighty host, and marched upon England. When he came to Northumberland, he advanced with shield of war. On learning this, the earls who ruled there mustered their force and went against the king. And when they met there was a great battle, whereof the issue was that king Olaf won the victory, but earl Gudrek fell, and Alfgeir fled away, as did the greater part of the force that had followed them and escaped from the field. And now king Olaf found no further resistance, but subdued all Northumberland.

When Egil returned from the council to his fellows, they asked him what tidings he could tell them of the Scots’ king. He sang:

Alfgeir went to king Athelstan, and told him of his defeat. But as soon as king Athelstan heard that so mighty a host was come into his land, he despatched men and summoned forces, sending word to his earls and other nobles. And with such force as he had he at once turned him and marched against the Scots. But when it was bruited about that Olaf king of Scots had won a victory and subdued under him a large part of England, he soon had a much larger army than Athelstan, for many nobles joined him. And on learning this, Hring and Adils, who had gathered much people, turned to swell king Olaf’s army. Thus their numbers became exceeding great. All this when Athelstan learned, he summoned to conference his captains and his counsellors; he inquired of them what were best to do; he told the whole council point by point what he had ascertained about the doings of the Scots’ king and his numbers. All present were agreed on this, that Alfgeir was most to blame, and thought it were but his due to lose his earldom. But the plan resolved on was this, that king Athelstan should go back to the south of England, and then for himself hold a levy of troops, coming northwards through the whole land; for they saw that the only way for the needful numbers to be levied in time was for the king himself to gather the force. As for the army already assembled, the king set over it as commanders Thorolf and Egil. They were also to lead that force which the freebooters had brought to the king. But Alfgeir still held command over his own troops. Further, the king The Sagas of the Icelanders

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‘Olaf one earl by furious Onslaught in flight hath driven, The other slain: a sovereign Stubborn in fight is he. Upon the field fared Gudrek False path to his undoing. He holds, this foe of England, Northumbria’s humbled soil.’ After this they sent messengers to king Olaf, giving out this as their errand, that king Athelstan would fain enhazel him a field and offer battle on Vin-heath by Vin-wood; meanwhile he would have them forbear to harry his land; but of the twain he should rule England who should conquer in the battle. He appointed a week hence for the conflict, and whichever first came on the ground should wait a week for the other. Now this was then the custom, that so soon as a king had enhazelled a field, it was a shameful act to harry before the battle was ended. Accordingly king Olaf halted and harried not, but waited till the appointed day, when he moved his army to Vin-heath. North of the heath stood a town. There in the town king Olaf quartered him, and there he had the greatest part of his force, because there was a wide district around which seemed to him convenient for the bringing in of such provisions as the army needed. But he sent men of his own up to the heath where the battlefield was appointed; these were to take campingground, and make all ready before the army came. But when the men came to the place where the field was enhazelled, there were all the hazel-poles set up to mark the ground where the battle should be. The place ought to be chosen level, and whereon a large host might be set in array. And such was this; for in the place where the battle was to be the heath was level, with a river flowing on one side, on the other a large wood. But where the distance between the wood and the river was least (though this was a good long stretch), there king Athelstan’s men had pitched, and their tents quite filled the space between wood and river. They had so pitched that in every third

tent there were no men at all, and in one of every three but few. Yet when king Olaf’s men came to them, they had then numbers swarming before all the tents, and the others could not get to go inside. Athelstan’s men said that their tents were all full, so full that their people had not nearly enough room. But the front line of tents stood so high that it could not be seen over them whether they stood many or few in depth. Olaf’s men imagined a vast host must be there. King Olaf’s men pitched north of the hazel-poles, toward which side the ground sloped a little. From day to day Athelstan’s men said that the king would come, or was come, to the town that lay south of the heath. Meanwhile forces flocked to them both day and night. But when the appointed time had expired, then Athelstan’s men sent envoys to king Olaf with these words: ‘King Athelstan is ready for battle, and had a mighty host. But he sends to king Olaf these words, that he would fain they should not cause so much bloodshed as now looks likely; he begs Olaf rather to go home to Scotland, and Athelstan will give him as a friendly gift one shilling of silver from every plough through all his realm, and he wishes that they should become friends.’ When the messengers came to Olaf he was just beginning to make ready his army, and purposing to attack. But on the messengers declaring their errand, he forebore to advance for that day. Then he and his captains sate in council. Wherein opinions were much divided. Some strongly desired that these terms should be taken; they said that this journey had already won them great honour, if they should go home after receiving so much money from Athelstan. But some were against it, saying that Athelstan would offer much more the second time, were this refused. And this latter counsel prevailed. Then the messengers begged king Olaf to give them time to go back to king Athelstan, and try if he would pay yet more money to ensure peace. They asked a truce of one day for their journey home, another for deliberation, a third to return to Olaf. The king granted them this. The messengers went home, and came back on the third day according to 87

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promise; they now said to king Olaf that Athelstan would give all that he offered before, and over and above, for distribution among king Olaf’s soldiers, a shilling to every freeborn man, a silver mark to every officer of a company of twelve men or more, a gold mark to every captain of the king’s guard, and five gold marks to every earl. Then the king laid this offer before his forces. It was again as before; some opposed this, some desired it. In the end the king gave a decision: he said he would accept these terms, if this too were added, that king Athelstan let him have all Northumberland with the tributes and dues thereto belonging. Again the messengers ask armistice of three days, with this further, that king Olaf should send his men to hear Athelstan’s answer, whether he would take these terms or no; they say that to their thinking Athelstan will hardly refuse anything to ensure peace. King Olaf agreed to this and sent his men to king Athelstan. Then the messengers ride all together, and find king Athelstan in the town that was close to the heath on the south. King Olaf’s messengers declare before Athelstan their errand and the proposals for peace. King Athelstan’s men told also with what offers they had gone to king Olaf, adding that this had been the counsel of wise men, thus to delay the battle so long as the king had not come. But king Athelstan made a quick decision on this matter, and thus bespake the messengers: ‘Bear ye these my words to king Olaf, that I will give him leave for this, to go home to Scotland with his forces; only let him restore all the property that he has wrongfully taken here in the land. Then make we peace between our lands, neither harrying the other. Further be it provided that king Olaf shall become my vassal, and hold Scotland for me, and be my under-king. Go now back,’ said he, ‘and tell him this.’ At once that same evening the messengers turned back on their way, and came to king Olaf about midnight; they then waked up the king, and told him straightway the words of king Athelstan. The king instantly summoned his earls and other captains; he then caused the messengers to come and 88

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declare the issue of their errand and the words of Athelstan. But when this was made known before the soldiers, all with one mouth said that this was now before them, to prepare for battle. The messengers said this too, that Athelstan had a numerous force, but he had come into the town on that same day when the messengers came there.

blade was two ells long, ending in a fouredged spike; the blade was broad above, the socket both long and thick. The shaft stood just high enough for the hand to grasp the socket, and was remarkably thick. The socket fitted with iron prong on the shaft, which was also wound round with iron. Such weapons were called mail-piercers.

Then spoke earl Adils, ‘Now, methinks, that has come to pass, O king, which I said, that ye would find tricksters in the English. We have sat here long time and waited while they have gathered to them all their forces, whereas their king can have been nowhere near when we came here. They will have been assembling a multitude while we were sitting still. Now this is my counsel, O king, that we two brothers ride at once forward this very night with our troop. It may be they will have no fear for themselves, now they know that their king is near with a large army. So we shall make a dash upon them. But if they turn and fly, they will lose some of their men, and be less bold afterwards for conflict with us.’

Egil was armed in the same way as Thorolf. He was girded with the sword that he called Adder; this he had gotten in Courland; it was a right good weapon. Neither of the two had shirt of mail.

The king thought this good counsel. ‘We will here make ready our army,’ said he, ‘as soon as it is light, and move to support you.’ This plan they fixed upon, and so ended the council.

Chapter 53 - Of the fight. Earl Hring and Adils his brother made ready their army, and at once in the night moved southwards for the heath. But when day dawned, Thorolf’s sentries saw the army approaching. Then was a war-blast blown, and men donned their arms selects spirited and that they began to draw up the force, and they had two divisions. Earl Alfgeir commanded one division, and the standard was borne before him. In that division were his own followers, and also what force had been gathered from the countryside. It was a much larger fours than that which followed Thorolf and Egil. Thorolf was thus armed. He had a shield ample and stout, a right strong helmet on his head; he was girded with the sword that he called Long, a weapon large and good. If his hand he had a halberd, whereof the feather-formed

They set up their standard, which was borne by Thofid the Strong. All their men had Norwegian shields and Norwegian armour in every point; and in their division were all the Norsemen who were present. Thorolf’s force was drawn up near the wood, Alfgeir’s moved along the river. Earl Adils and his brother saw that they would not come upon Thorolf unawares, so they began to draw up their force. They also made two divisions, and had two standards. Adils was opposed to earl Alfgeir, Hring to the freebooters. The battle now began; both charged with spirit. Earl Adils pressed on hard and fast till Alfgeir gave ground; then Adils’ men pressed on twice as boldly. Nor was it long before Alfgeir fled. And this is to be told of him, that he rode away south over the heath, and a company of men with him. He rode till he came near the town, where sate the king. Then spake the earl: ‘I deem it not safe for us to enter the town. We got sharp words of late when we came to the king after defeat by king Olaf; and he will not think our case bettered by this coming. No need to expect honour where he is.’ Then he rode to the south country, and of his travel ‘tis to be told that he rode night and day till he and his came westwards to Earls-ness. Then the earl got a ship to take him southwards over the sea; and he came to France, where half of his kin were. He never after returned to England. Adils at first pursued the flying foe, but not far; then he turned back to where the battle was, and made an onset there. This when Thorolf saw, he said that Egil should turn and encounter him, and A Black Arrow resource

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bade the standard be borne that way; his men he bade hold well together and stand close.

earls Hring and Adils were fallen, and a multitude of his men likewise.

‘Move we to the wood,’ said he, ‘and let it cover our back, so that they may not come at us from all sides.’

Chapter 54 - The fall of Thorolf.

They did so; they followed along the wood. Fierce was the battle there. Egil charged against Adils, and they had a hard fight of it. The odds of numbers were great, yet more of Adils’ men fell than of Egil’s. Then Thorolf became so furious that he cast his shield on his back, and, grasping his halberd with both hands, bounded forward dealing cut and thrust on either side. Men sprang away from him both ways, but he slew many. Thus he cleared the way forward to earl Hring’s standard, and then nothing could stop him. He slew the man who bore the earl’s standard, and cut down the standard-pole. After that he lunged with his halberd at the earl’s breast, driving it right through mail-coat and body, so that it came out at the shoulders; and he lifted him up on the halberd over his head, and planted the butt-end in the ground. There on the weapon the earl breathed out his life in sight of all, both friends and foes. Then Thorolf drew his sword and dealt blows on either side, his men also charging. Many Britons and Scots fell, but some turned and fled. But earl Adils seeing his brother’s fall, and the slaughter of many of his force, and the flight of some, while himself was in hard stress, turned to fly, and ran to the wood. Into the wood fled he and his company; and then all the force that had followed the earl took to flight. Thorolf and Egil pursued the flying foe. Great was then the slaughter; the fugitives were scattered far and wide over the heath. Earl Adils had lowered his standard; so none could know his company from others. And soon the darkness of night began to close in. Thorolf and Egil returned to their camp; and just then king Athelstan came up with the main army, and they pitched their tents and made their arrangements. A little after came king Olaf with his army; they, too, encamped and made their arrangements where their men had before placed their tents. Then it was told king Olaf that both his The Sagas of the Icelanders

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King Athelstan had passed the night before in the town whereof mention was made above, and there he heard rumour that there had been fighting on the heath. At once he and all the host made ready and marched northwards to the heath. There they learnt all the tidings clearly, how that battle had gone. Then the brothers Thorolf and Egil came to meet the king. He thanked them much for their brave advance, and the victory they had won; he promised them his hearty friendship. They all remained together for the night. No sooner did day dawn than Athelstan waked up his army. He held conference with his captains, and told them how his forces should be arranged. His own division he first arranged, and in the van thereof he set those companies that were the smartest. Then he said that Egil should command these: ‘But Thorolf,’ said he, ‘shall be with his own men and such others as I add thereto. This force shall be opposed to that part of the enemy which is loose and not in set array, for the Scots are ever loose in array; they run to and fro, and dash forward here and there. Often they prove dangerous if men be not wary, but they are unsteady in the field if boldly faced.’ Egil answered the king: ‘I will not that I and Thorolf be parted in the battle; rather to me it seems well that we two be placed there where is like to be most need and hardest fighting.’ Thorolf said, ‘Leave we the king to rule where he will place us, serve we him as he likes best. I will, if you wish it, change places with you.’ Egil said, ‘Brother, you will have your way; but this separation I shall often rue.’ After this they formed in the divisions as the king had arranged, and the standards were raised. The king’s division stood on the plain towards the river; Thorolf’s division moved on the higher ground beside the wood. King Olaf drew up his forces when he saw king Athelstan had done so. He also made two divisions; and

his own standard, and the division that himself commanded, he opposed to king Athelstan and his division. Either had a large army, there was no difference on the score of numbers. But king Olaf’s second division moved near the wood against the force under Thorolf. The commanders thereof were Scotch earls, the men mostly Scots; and it was a great multitude. And now the armies closed, and soon the battle waxed fierce. Thorolf pressed eagerly forward, causing his standard to be borne onwards along the woodside; he thought to go so far forward as to turn upon the Scotch king’s division behind their shields. His own men held their shields before them; they trusted to the wood which was on their right to cover that side. So far in advance went Thorolf that few of his men were before him. But just when he was least on his guard, out leapt from the wood earl Adils and his followers. They thrust at Thorolf at once with many halberds, and there by the wood he fell. But Thorfid, who bore the standard, drew back to where the men stood thicker. Adils now attacked them, and a fierce contest was there. The Scots shouted a shout of victory, as having slain the enemy’s chieftain. This shout when Egil heard, and saw Thorolf’s standard going back, he felt sure that Thorolf himself would not be with it. So he bounded thither over the space between the two divisions. Full soon learnt he the tidings of what was done, when he came to his men. Then did he keenly spur them on to the charge, himself foremost in the van. He had in his hand his sword Adder. Forward Egil pressed, and hewed on either hand of him, felling many men. Thorfid bore the standard close after him, behind the standard followed the rest. Right sharp was the conflict there. Egil went forward till he met earl Adils. Few blows did they exchange ere earl Adils fell, and many men around him. But after the earl’s death his followers fled. Egil and his force pursued, and slew all whom they overtook; no need there to beg quarter. Nor stood those Scotch earls long, when they saw the others their fellows fly; but at once they took to their heels. Whereupon Egil and his men made for where king Olaf’s division was, and coming on them behind their shields 89

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soon wrought great havoc. The division wavered, and broke up. Many of king Olaf’s men then fled, and the Norsemen shouted a shout of victory. But when king Athelstan perceived king Olaf’s division beginning to break, he then spurred on his force, and bade his standard advance. A fierce onset was made, so that king Olaf’s force recoiled, and there was a great slaughter. King Olaf fell there, and the greater part of the force which he had had, for of those who turned to fly all who were overtaken were slain. Thus king Athelstan gained a signal victory.

Chapter 55 - Egil buries Thorolf. While his men still pursued the fugitives, king Athelstan left the battle-field, and rode back to the town, nor stayed he for the night before he came thither. But Egil pursued the flying foe, and followed them far, slaying every man whom he overtook. At length, sated with pursuit, he with his followers turned back, and came where the battle had been, and found there the dead body of his brother Thorolf. He took it up, washed it, and performed such other offices as were the wont of the time. They dug a grave there, and laid Thorolf therein with all his weapons and raiment. Then Egil clasped a gold bracelet on either wrist before he parted from him; this done they heaped on stones and cast in mould. Then Egil sang a stave: ‘Dauntless the doughty champion Dashed on, the earl’s bold slayer: In stormy stress of battle Stout-hearted Thorolf fell. Green grows on soil of Vin-heath Grass o’er my noble brother: But we our woe - a sorrow Worse than death-pang must bear.’ And again he further sang: ‘With warriors slain round standard The western field I burdened; Adils with my blue Adder Assailed mid snow of war. Olaf, young prince, encountered England in battle thunder: Hring stood not stour of weapons, Starved not the ravens’ maw.’ Then went Egil and those about him to seek king Athelstan, and at once went before the king, where he sat at the drinking. There was much noise of 90

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merriment. And when the king saw that Egil was come in, he bade the lower bench be cleared for them, and that Egil should sit in the high-seat facing the king. Egil sat down there, and cast his shield before his feet. He had his helm on his head, and laid his sword across his knees; and now and again he half drew it, then clashed it back into the sheath. He sat upright, but with head bent forward. Egil was large-featured, broad of forehead, with large eyebrows, a nose not long but very thick, lips wide and long, chin exceeding broad, as was all about the jaws; thick-necked was he, and bigshouldered beyond other men, hardfeatured, and grim when angry. He was well-made, more than commonly tall, had hair wolf-gray and thick, but became early bald. He was black-eyed and brownskinned, But as he sat (as was before written), he drew one eye-brow down towards the cheek, the other up to the roots of the hair. He would not drink now, though the horn was borne to him, but alternately twitched his brows up and down. King Athelstan sat in the upper high-seat. He too laid his sword across his knees. When they had sat there for a time, then the king drew his sword from the sheath, and took from his arm a gold ring large and good, and placing it upon the sword-point he stood up, and went across the floor, and reached it over the fire to Egil. Egil stood up and drew his sword, and went across the floor. He stuck the sword-point within the round of the ring, and drew it to him; then he went back to his place. The king sate him again in his high-seat. But when Egil was set down, he drew the ring on his arm, and then his brows went back to their place. He now laid down sword and helm, took the horn that they bare to him, and drank it off. Then sang he: ‘Mailed monarch, god of battle, Maketh the tinkling circlet Hang, his own arm forsaking, On hawk-trod wrist of mine. I bear on arm brand-wielding Bracelet of red gold gladly. War-falcon’s feeder meetly Findeth such meed of praise.’ Thereafter Egil drank his share, and talked with others. Presently the king caused to be borne in two chests; two

men bare each. Both were full of silver. The king said: ‘These chests, Egil, thou shalt have, and, if thou comest to Iceland, shalt carry this money to thy father; as payment for a son I send it to him: but some of the money thou shalt divide among such kinsmen of thyself and Thorolf as thou thinkest most honourable. But thou shalt take here payment for a brother with me, land or chattels, which thou wilt. And if thou wilt abide with me long, then will I give thee honour and dignity such as thyself mayst name.’ Egil took the money, and thanked the king for his gifts and friendly words. Thenceforward Egil began to be cheerful; and then he sang: ‘In sorrow sadly drooping Sank my brows close-knitted; Then found I one who furrows Of forehead could smooth. Fierce-frowning cliffs that shaded My face a king hath lifted With gleam of golden armlet: Gloom leaveth my eyes.’ Then those men were healed whose wounds left hope of life. Egil abode with king Athelstan for the next winter after Thorolf’s death, and had very great honour from the king. With Egil was then all that force which had followed the two brothers, and come alive out of the battle. Egil now made a poem about king Athelstan, and in it is this stave: ‘Land-shielder, battle-quickener, Low now this scion royal Earls three hath laid. To Ella Earth must obedient bow. Lavish of gold, kin-glorious, Great Athelstan victorious, Surely, I swear, all humbled To such high monarch yields.’ But this is the burden in the poem: ‘Reindeer-trod hills obey Bold Athelstan’s high sway.’ Then gave Athelstan further to Egil as poet’s meed two gold rings, each weighing a mark, and therewith a costly cloak that the king himself had formerly worn. But when spring came Egil signified to the king this, that he purposed to go away in the summer to Norway, and to learn ‘how matters stand with Asgerdr, my late brother Thorolf’s wife. A large property is there in all; but I know not whether there A Black Arrow resource

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be children of theirs living. I am bound to look after them, if they live; but I am heir to all, if Thorolf died childless.’ The king answered, ‘This will be, Egil, for you to arrange, to go away hence, if you think you have an errand of duty; but I think ‘twere the best way that you should settle down here with me on such terms as you like to ask.’ Egil thanked the king for his words. ‘I will,’ he said, ‘now first go, as I am in duty bound to do; but it is likely that I shall return hither to see after this promise so soon as I can.’ The king bade him do so. Whereupon Egil made him ready to depart with his men; but of these many remained behind with the king. Egil had one large war-ship, and on board thereof a hundred men or thereabouts. And when he was ready for his voyage, and a fair wind blew, he put out to sea. He and king Athelstan parted with great friendship: the king begged Egil to return as soon as possible. This Egil promised to do. Then Egil stood for Norway, and when he came to land sailed with all speed into the Firths. He heard these tidings, that lord Thorir was dead, and Arinbjorn had taken inheritance after him, and was made a baron. Egil went to Arinbjorn and got there a good welcome. Arinbjorn asked him to stay there. Egil accepted this, had his ship set up, and his crew lodged. But Arinbjorn received Egil and twelve men; they stayed with him through the winter.

Chapter 56 - Marriage of Egil. Bergonund son of Thorgeir Thornfoot had then married Gunnhilda daughter of Bjorn Yeoman. She had come to keep house with him at Askr. But Asgerdr, whom Thorolf Skallagrimsson had had to wife, was then with Arinbjorn, her kinsman. Thorolf and she had a daughter named Thordis, and the girl was there with her mother. Egil told Asgerdr of Thorolf’s death, and offered her his guardianship. Asgerdr was much grieved at the tidings; she answered Egil’s words well, saying however but little one way or the other. But, at autumn wore on, Egil began to be very gloomy and drank little, and often say with his head drooping in his cloak. One The Sagas of the Icelanders

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time Arinbjorn went to him and asked what meant his gloom. ‘Though now you have had a great loss in your brother, yet ‘tis manly to bear up well; man must overlive man. Come, what verse are you now repeating? Let me hear.’ Egil said he had just made this verse: ‘Unfriendly, who was friend, Fair goddess seems. Of old Bold with uplifted brow Beheld I woman’s face. Now one (whose name I veil) No sooner to the skald Occurs, than shyly sinks Screen’d in his cloak his head.’ Arinbjorn asked who was the woman about whom he composed such love-song. ‘Have you hidden her name in this stave?’ Then Egil recited: ‘Sorrow shows not, but hides The saddening thought within. Names in my poesy Not oft I use to veil. For Odin’s warrior wights Will surely searching find In war-god’s wine of song What poet deep hath plunged.’ ‘Here,’ said Egil, ‘will the old saw be found true. All should be told to a friend. I will tell you that which you ask, about what woman I compose verse. ‘’Tis Asgerdr your kinswoman; and I would fain have your furtherance to secure this match.’ Arinbjorn said that he deemed it well thought of. ‘I will,’ said he, ‘surely give my good word that this match may be made.’ Then Egil laid this matter before Asgerdr, but she referred it to the decision of her father and her kinsman Arinbjorn. Arinbjorn talked with Asgerdr, and she made the same answer. Arinbjorn was desirous of this match. After this Arinbjorn and Egil went together to Bjorn, and then Egil made his suit and asked to wife Asgerdr Bjorn’s daughter. Bjorn took this matter well, and said that Arinbjorn should chiefly decide this. Arinbjorn greatly desired it; and the end of the matter was that Egil and Asgerdr were betrothed, and the wedding was to be at Arinbjorn’s. And when the appointed time came,

there was a very grand feast at Egil’s marriage. He was then very cheerful for the remaining part of the winter. In the spring he made ready a merchant-ship for a voyage to Iceland. Arinbjorn advised him not to settle in Norway while Gunnhilda’s power was so great. ‘For she is very wroth with you,’ said Arinbjorn; ‘and this has been made much worse by your encounter with Eyvind near Jutland.’ But when Egil was ready, and a fair wind blew, he sailed out to sea, and his voyage sped well. He came in the autumn to Iceland, and stood into Borgar-firth. He had now been out twelve winters. Skallagrim was an old man by this time. Full glad was he when Egil came home. Egil went to lodge at Borg, and with him Thofid Strong and many of their company; and they were there with Skallagrim for the winter. Egil had immense store of wealth; but it is not told that Egil shared that silver which king Athelstan had given him either with Skallagrim or others. That winter Thorfid married Sæunn, Skallagrim’s daughter; and in the following spring Skallagrim gave them a homestead at Long-river-foss, and the land inwards from Leiru-brook between Long-river and Swan-river, even up to the fell. Daughter of Thorfid and Sæunn was Thordis wife to Arngeir in Holm, the son of Bersi Godless. Their son was Bjorn, Hitadale’s champion. Egil abode there with Skallagrim several winters. He took upon him the management of the property and farm no less than Skallagrim. Egil became more and more bald. The country-side began now to be settled far and wide. Hromund, brother of Grim the Halogalander, settled at this time in Cross-river-lithe with his shipmates. Hromund was father of Gunnlaug, the father of Thuridr Dylla, mother of Illugi the Swarthy. Egil had now been several winters at Borg with his father, when one summer a ship from Norway to Iceland with these tidings from the east, that Bjorn Yeoman was dead. Further, it was told that all the property owned by Bjorn had been taken up by Bergonund, his son-inlaw, who had moved to his own home all loose chattels, letting out the lands, and securing to himself all the rents. He had also got possession of all the farms occupied of late by Bjorn. This when Egil 91

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heard, he inquired carefully whether Bjorn had acted on his own counsel in this matter, or had the support of others more powerful. It was told him that Onund was become a close friend of king Eric, but was on even more intimate terms with Gunnhilda. Egil let the matter rest for this autumn; but when winter was past and spring came, then Egil bade them draw out his ship, which had stood in the shed at Long-river-foss. This ship he made ready for sea, and got a crew thereto. Asgerdr his wife was to go with him, but Thordis Thorolf’s daughter remained behind. Egil sailed out to sea when he was ready, and of his voyage there is nothing to tell before he came to Norway. He at once, as soon as he could, went to seek Arinbjorn. Arinbjorn received him well, and asked Egil to stay with him; this offer he took. So both he and Asgerdr went thither and several men with them. Egil very soon spoke with Arinbjorn about those claims on money that he thought he had there in the land. Arinbjorn said, ‘That matter seems to me unpromising. Bergonund is hard, ill to deal with, unjust, covetous; and he has now much support from the king and the queen. Gunnhilda is your bitter enemy, as you know already, and she will not desire Onund to put the case right.’ Egil said, ‘The king will let us get law and justice in this matter, and with your help it seems no great thing in my eyes to take the law of Bergonund.’ They resolved on this, that Egil should equip a swift cutter, whereon they embarked some twenty men, and went south to Hordaland and on to Askr. There they go to the house and find Onund. Egil declares his business, and demands of Onund’s sharing of the heritage of Bjorn. He says that Bjorn’s daughters were by law both alike his heirs, ‘Though methinks,’ says Egil, ‘Asgerdr will be deemed more nobly born than your wife Gunnhilda.’ Then says Onund in high-pitched voice, ‘A wondrous bold man are you, Egil, the outlaw of king Eric, who come hither to his land and think here to attack his men and friends. You are to know, Egil, that I have overthrown men as good as you for less cause than methinks this is, when you 92

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claim heritage in right of your wife; for this is well known to all, that she is born of a bondwoman.’ Onund was furious in language for a time; but when Egil saw that Onund would do no right in this matter, then he summoned him to court, and referred the matter to the law of the Gula-thing. Onund said, ‘To the Gula-thing I will come, and my will is that you should not come away thence with a whole skin.’ Egil said he would risk coming to the Thing all the same: ‘There let come what come may to end our matter.’ Egil then went away with his company, and when he came home told Arinbjorn of his journey and of Onund’s answer. Arinbjorn was very angry that Thora his father’s sister had been called a bondwoman. Arinbjorn went to king Eric, and declared this matter before him.’ The king took his words rather sullenly, and said that Arinbjorn had long advocated Egil’s cause: ‘He has had this grace through thee, that I have let him be here in the land; but now shall I think it too much to bear if thou back him in his assaults on my friends.’ Arinbjorn said, ‘Thou wilt let us get law in this case.’ The king was rather peevish in this talk, but Arinbjorn could see that the queen was much worse-willed. Arinbjorn went back and said that things looked rather unpromising. Then winter wore away, and the time came when men should go to the Gula-thing. Arinbjorn took to the Thing a numerous company, among them went Egil.

Chapter 57 - Suit between Egil and Onund. King Eric was there numerously attended. Bergonund was among his train, as were his brothers; there was a large following. But when the meeting was to be held about men’s lawsuits, both the parties went where the court was set, to plead their proofs. Then was Onund full of big words. Now where the court sate was a level plot, with hazel-poles planted in a ring, and outside were twisted ropes all around. This was called, ‘the precincts.’ Within the ring sate twelve judges of the

Firth-folk, twelve of the Sogn-folk, twelve of the Horda-folk. These three twelves were to judge all the suits. Arinbjorn ruled who should be judges from the Firthfolk, Thord of Aurland who should be so from the Sogn-folk. All these were of one party. Arinbjorn had brought thither a long-ship full equipt, also many small craft and store-ships. King Eric had six or seven long-ships all well equipt; a great number of landowners were also there. Egil began his cause thus: he craved the judges to give him lawful judgement in the suit between him and Onund. He then set forth what proofs he held of his claim on the property that had belonged to Bjorn Brynjolf’s son. He said that Asgerdr daughter of Bjorn, own wife of him Egil, was rightful heiress, born noble, of landed gentry, even of titled family further back. And he craved of the judges this, to adjudge to Asgerdr half of Bjorn’s inheritance, whether land or chattels. And when he ceased speaking, then Bergonund took the word and spoke thus: ‘Gunnhilda my wife is the daughter of Bjorn and Alof, the wife whom Bjorn lawfully married. Gunnhilda is rightful heiress of Bjorn. I for this reason took possession of all the property left by Bjorn, because I knew that that other daughter of Bjorn had no right to inherit. Her mother was a captive of war, afterwards taken as concubine, without her kinsmen’s consent, and carried from land to land. But thou, Egil, thinkest to go on here, as everywhere else, with thy fierceness and wrongful dealing. This will not avail thee now; for king Eric and queen Gunnhilda have promised me that I shall have right in every cause within the bounds of their dominion. I will produce true evidence before the king and the judges that Thora Lace-hand, Asgerdr’s mother, was taken captive from the house of Thorir her brother, and a second time from Brynjolf’s house at Aurland. Then she went away out of the land with freebooters, and was outlawed from Norway, and in this outlawry Bjorn and she had born to them this girl Asgerdr. A great wonder now is this in Egil, that he thinks to make void all the words of king Eric. First, Egil, thou art here in the land after Eric made thee an outlaw; secondly - which is worse - though, thou hast a bondwoman to thy wife, thou claimest for her right of heritage. I demand this of the judges, that they adjudge the inheritance to A Black Arrow resource

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Gunnhilda, but adjudge Asgerdr to be the bondwoman of the king, because she was begotten when her father and mother were outlawed by the king.’ Right wroth was Arinbjorn when he heard Thora Lace-hand called a bondwoman; and he stood up, and would no longer hold his peace, but looked around on either side, and took the word: ‘Evidence we will bring, sir king, in this matter, and oaths we will add, that this was in the reconciliation of my father and Bjorn Yeoman expressly provided, that Asgerdr daughter of Bjorn and Thora was to have right of inheriting after Bjorn her father; as also this, which thyself, O king, dost know, that thou restoredst Bjorn to his rights in Norway, and so everything was settled which had before stood in the way of their reconciliation.’ To these words the king found no ready answer. Then sang Egil a stave: ‘Bondwoman born this knave My brooch-decked lady calls. Shameless in selfish greed Such dealing Onund loves: Braggart! my bride is one Born heiress, jewell’d dame. Our oaths, great king, accept, Oaths that are meet and true.’ Then Arinbjorn produced witnesses, twelve men, and all well chosen. These all had heard, being present, the reconciliation of Thorir and Bjorn, and they offered to the king and judges to swear to it. The judges were willing to accept their oath if the king forbade it not. Then did queen Gunnhilda take the word: ‘Great wonder is this, sir king, that thou lettest this big Egil make such a coil of the whole cause before thee. Wouldst thou find nought to say against him, though he should claim at thy hand thy very kingdom? Now though thou wilt give no decision that may help Onund, yet will not I brook this, that Egil tread under foot our friends and wrongfully take the property from Onund. Where is Alf my brother? Go thou, Alf, with thy following, where the judges are, and let them not give this wrong judgment.’ Then he and his men went thither, and cut in sunder the precinct-ropes and tore down the poles, and scattered the judges. Great uproar was there in the Thing; but The Sagas of the Icelanders

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men there were all weaponless. Then spake Egil: ‘Can Bergonund hear my words?’ ‘I hear,’ said Onund. ‘Then do I challenge thee to combat, and be our fight here at the Thing. Let him of us twain have this property, both lands and chattels, who wins the victory. But be thou every man’s dastard if thou darest not.’ Whereupon king Eric made answer: ‘If thou, Egil, art strongly set on fighting, then will we grant thee this forthwith.’ Egil replied: ‘I will not fight with king’s power and overwhelming force; but before equal numbers I will not flee, if this be given me. Nor will I then make any distinction of persons, titled or untitled.’ Then spake Arinbjorn: ‘Go we away, Egil; we shall not here effect to-day anything that will be to our gain.’ And with this Arinbjorn and all his people turned to depart. But Egil turned him and cried aloud: ‘This do I protest before thee, Arinbjorn, and thee, Thord, and all men that now can hear my word, barons and lawmen and all people, that I ban all those lands that belonged to Bjorn Brynjolfsson, from building and tillage, and from all gain therefrom to be gotten. I ban them to thee, Bergonund, and to all others, natives and foreigners, high and low; and anyone who shall herein offend I denounce as a law-breaker, a peace breaker, and accursed.’ After which Egil went away with Arinbjorn. They then went to their ships; and there was a rise in the ground of some extent to pass over, so that the ships were not visible from the Thing-field. Egil was very wroth. And when they came to the ships, Arinbjorn spoke before his people and said: ‘All men know what has been the issue of the Thing here, that we have not got law; but the king is much in wrath, so that I expect our men will get hard measure from him if he can bring it about. I will now that every man embark on his ship and go home. Let none wait for other.’ Then Arinbjorn went on board his own

ship, and to Egil he said: ‘Now go you with your comrades on board the cutter that lies here outside the long-ship, and get you away at once. Travel by night so much as you may, and not by day, and be on your guard, for the king will seek to meet with you. Come and find me afterwards, when all this is ended, whatever may have chanced between you and the king.’ Egil did as Arinbjorn said; they went aboard the cutter, about thirty men, and rowed with all their might. The vessel was remarkably fast. Then rowed out of the haven many other ships of Arinbjorn’s people, cutters and row-boats; but the long-ship which Arinbjorn steered went last, for it was the heaviest under oars. Egil’s cutter, which he steered, soon outstripped the rest. Then Egil sang a stave: ‘My heritage he steals, The money-grasping heir Of Thornfoot. But his threats, Though fierce, I boldly meet. For land we sought the law: Land-grabbing loon is he! But robbery of my right Ere long he shall repay.’

Chapter 58 - Of king Eric and Egil. King Eric heard the concluding words of Egil that he spake last at the Thing, and his wrath waxed hot. But all men had gone weaponless to the Thing, therefore the king attempted no attack. He bade his men hasten to their ships, and they did as he bade. Then, when they came to the strand, the king summoned his household Thing, and told them his purpose. ‘We must now,’ said he, ‘untent our ships and row after Arinbjorn and Egil, and this I will have you know, that we will take Egil’s life if we get the chance, and spare no man who shall stand up for him.’ After that they went aboard, made all ready as speedily as might be, and pushed out the ships and rowed to the place where Arinbjorn’s ships had been. These were now all gone. Then the king bade that they should row after them northwards by the sound. And when he came to Sogn-sea, then there was Arinbjorn’s company rowing in towards Sheeping-sound, and thither the king turned in after them, and he came up 93

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with Arinbjorn’s ship in the inner part of Sheeping-sound. At once the king made for it, and they exchanged words. The king asked whether Egil was in the ship. Arinbjorn answered.

aboard of that. And those of Egil’s men who had been left behind, and not leapt into the cutter, were all slain who could be caught, but some escaped to land. Ten men of Egil’s followers were lost there.

‘Egil is not here,’ he said; ‘that, O king, thou mayest at once see. Here on board on none but those whom thou knowest; and Egil will not be found down under the benches, though thou shouldst seek him there.’

Some ships rowed after Egil, but some plundered the merchant-ship. All the booty on board was taken, and the ship burnt. But those who rowed after Egil pulled hard; two at each oar, and they could even so take the rowing by turns. For they had no lack of men on board, while Egil’s crew was short, they being now but eighteen on the cutter. So the distance between them lessened. But inside of the island was a shallow sound between it and other islands. It was now low water. Egil and his rowers ran their cutter into that shallow sound, but the long-ships could not float there; thus pursuers and pursued were parted. The king then turned back southwards, but Egil went north to seek Arinbjorn. Then sang Egil a stave:

The king asked Arinbjorn what he knew latest of Egil. He said that Egil was on a cutter with thirty men, and they took their way out to Stone-sound. Then the king told his men to row by the inner sound, and shape their course so as to meet Egil. There was a man named Kettle Hod; he was of king Eric’s guard, an Uplander by family. He was pilot on the king’s ship, and steered the same. Kettle was a tall man and a handsome; he was near of kin to the king. And ‘twas generally said that he and the king were like in appearance. Now Egil, before going to the Thing, had had his ship launched and the cargo put on board. And after parting with Arinbjorn, he and his went their way to Stone-sound, till they came to his ship, which lay there afloat in the haven with tent overspread. Then they went up aboard the ship, but the cutter rode beside the rudder of the ship between the land and the ship, and the oars lay there in the loops. Next morning, when day had hardly dawned, the watch were aware that some ships were rowing for them. But when Egil saw that it was an enemy, he stood up and bade that they should leap into the cutter. He armed himself at once, as did they all. Egil took up those chests of silver which king Athelstan gave him, and bore them with him. They leapt armed into the cutter, and rowed forward between the land and the long-ship that was advancing nearest to the land; this was king Eric’s ship. But, as it happened suddenly and there was little light, the two ships ran past each other. And when the sterncastles were opposite, then Egil hurled a spear and smote in the middle the man who sat steering, Kettle Hod to wit, and at once he got his bane. Then king Eric called out and bade men row after Egil and his party, but as their vessels ran past Egil’s merchant-ship, the king’s men leapt 94

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‘Wakener of weapon-din, The warlike prince, hath wrought (Where I escaped scot-free) Scathe on our gallant ten. Yet sped my hand a spear, Like springing salmon swift, That rushed and Kettle’s ribs Rent sore with deathful wound.’ Egil came to Arinbjorn, and told him these tidings. Arinbjorn said that he could expect nothing better in dealing with king Eric. ‘But you shall not want for money, Egil. I will make good the loss of your ship, and give you another, in which you can well sail to Iceland.’ Asgerdr, Egil’s wife, had remained at Arinbjorn’s while they went to the Thing. Arinbjorn gave Egil a good sea-worthy ship, and had it laden with such things as Egil wished. This ship Egil got ready for sea, and again he had a crew of about thirty men. Then he and Arinbjorn parted in friendship. And Egil sang: ‘Requite him, righteous gods, For robbery of my wealth! Hunt him away, be wroth, High Odin, heavenly powers! Foe of his folk, base king, May Frey and Njord make flee! Hate him, land-guardians, hate, Who holy ground hath scorn’d!’

Chapter 59 - King Eric slays his brothers. Harold Fairhair set his sons to rule in Norway when he began to grow old: Eric he made king above all his other sons. It was when Harold had been king for seventy years that he gave over the kingdom into the hands of his son Eric. At that time Gunnhilda bare a son, whom Harold the king sprinkled with water, giving him his own name; and he added this that he should be king after his father if he lived long enough. King Harold then settled down in retirement, being mostly in Rogaland or Hordaland. But three years later king Harold died in Rogaland, and a mound was raised to his memory by Haugasound. After the death of the king there was great strife between his sons, for the men of Vik took Olaf for their king, but the Thronds Sigurd. But these two, his brothers, Eric slew at Tunsberg, one year after king Harold’s death. All these things happened in one and the same summer, to wit, king Eric’s going with his army eastwards to Vik to fight with his brothers, and (before that) the strife of Egil and Bergonund at the Gula-thing, with the other events that have just been related. Bergonund remained at home on his estate when the king went to the war, for he thought it unsafe for him to leave home while Egil was still in the land. Hadd, his brother, was now there with him. There was a man named Frodi, a kinsman of king Eric, very handsome, young in years, but a man grown. King Eric left him behind to protect Bergonund. Frodi was staying at Alrekstead, a royal farm, and had some men there. A son of Eric and Gunnhilda there was named Rognvald, who was then ten or eleven years old, and had the makings of a very handsome man. He was with Frodi when these things happened. But before king Eric rowed forth to this war, he made Egil an outlaw through all Norway, and free for any man to slay. Arinbjorn was with the king in the war; but before he left home Egil took his ship to sea, and made for the outlying fishing station called Vitar, over against Aldi. It is on the high road of the seas: fishermen were there, and ‘twas a good place for hearing tidings. Then he heard that the king had made him an outlaw. Whereupon Egil sang a stave: A Black Arrow resource

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‘Law-breaker, land-demon, Long voyage lays on me; He bane of his brothers, Beguiled by his bride. Gunnhilda the guilt bears (Grim queen) of my exile: Fain am I full swiftly Her frauds to repay.’ The weather was calm, a fell-wind blew by night, a sea breeze by day. One evening Egil sailed out to sea, but the fishermen were then rowing in to land, those, to wit, who had been set as spies on Egil’s movements. They had this to tell, that Egil had put out and sailed to sea, and was gone. This news they carried to Bergonund. And when he knew these tidings, then he sent away all those men that he had had before for protection. Thereafter he rowed in to Alrekstead, and bade Frodi to his house, for he had a great ale-drinking there. Frodi went with him, taking some men. They were feasted well there, and they made merry, with no fear of danger. Rognvald, the king’s son, had a pinnace, rowed by six men on either side, painted all above the sea line. He had with him ten or twelve who constantly followed him; and when Frodi had left home, then Rognvald took the pinnace and they rowed out to Herdla twelve in number. A large farm of the king’s was there, whereof the manager was named Skegg-Thorir. Rognvald in his childhood had been fostered there. Thorir received the king’s son joyfully. There too was no lack of drink.

Chapter 60 - The slaying of Bergonund and Rognvald the king’s son. Egil sailed out to sea for the night, as was written above. And when morning came the wind fell and there was a calm. They then lay drifting, letting the ship ride free for some nights. But when a sea-breeze came on, Egil said to his shipmen, ‘We will now sail to land, for I do not quite know, should the sea-wind come to blow hard, where we could make land, ‘tis a dangerous-looking coast in most places.’ The rowers bade Egil rule their course. So then they made sail, and sailed into the waters about Herdla. There they found a good haven, and spread the tent over their ship, and lay there for the night. They The Sagas of the Icelanders

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had on the ship a little boat, into which went Egil with three men. They rowed into Herdla, and sent a man up into the island to learn tidings; and when he came down to the ship, he said that there at the farm was Rognvald, the king’s son, and his men. ‘They sate there a-drinking,’ said he. ‘I lit on one of the house-carles; he was ale-mad, and said that here they must not drink less than was drunk at Bergonund’s, though Frodi was feasting there with a party of five. He said that no more were there than the house-hold, save Frodi and his men.’ Whereupon Egil rowed back to the ship, and bade the men rise and take their weapons. They did so. The ship they put out from the shore and anchored. Egil left twelve men to guard the ship, but himself went on the ship’s boat, they being eighteen in all; they then rowed in along the sound. They so regulated their pace that they came to Fenhring at eventide, and put into a hidden creek there. Then said Egil: ‘Now will I go up into the island and spy out what I can get to know; but you shall await me here.’ Egil had his weapons that he was wont to have, a helm and shield, a sword at his girdle, a halberd in his hand. He went up into the island and along the border of a wood. He had now drawn a hood over his helm. He came where there were some lads, and with them large sheep-dogs. And when they began to exchange words, he asked whence they were, and why they were there, and had such big dogs. They said: ‘You must be a very silly fellow; have you not heard that a bear goes about the island here, a great pest? He kills both men and sheep, and a price is set upon his head. We watch here at Askr every night over our flocks that are penned in the fold. By why go you at night thus armed?’ He answered: ‘I, too, am afraid of the bear; and few, methinks, now go weaponless. He has long pursued me to-night. See there now, where he is in the skirt of the wood! Are all asleep at this farmhouse?’ The boy said that Bergonund and Frodi would be drinking still; ‘they sit at it every night.’ ‘Then tell them,’ said Egil, ‘where the bear is; but I will hasten home.’ So he went away; but the boy ran home

to the farmhouse, and into the room where they were drinking. All had gone to sleep save these three, Onund, Frodi, and Hadd. The boy told them where the bear was. They took their weapons which hung there by them, and at once ran out and up to the wood. From the main forest ran out a spur of wood with scattered bushes. The boy told them where the bear had been in the bushes. Then they saw that the branches moved, whence they guessed that the bear would be there. Then Bergonund advised that Hadd and Frodi should run forward between the shrubs and the main forest, and stop the bear from gaining the wood. Bergonund ran forward to the bushes. He had helm and shield, a sword at his girdle, a halberd in his hand. Egil was there before him in the bushes, but no bear. And when he saw where Bergonund was, he unsheathed his sword, and, taking the coil of cord attached to the hilt, would it round his arm, and so let the sword hang. In his hand he grasped his halberd, and then ran forward to meet Bergonund. Which when Bergonund saw, he quickened his pace and cast his shield before him, and ere they met each hurled his halberd at the other. Egil opposed the halberd with shield held aslant, so that the halberd with a cut tore out of the shield and flew into the ground. But Egil’s weapon came full on the middle of the shield, and went right through it far up the blade, and the weapon was fast in the shield. Onund’s shield was thus cumbersome. Then quickly did Egil grasp his sword-hilt. Onund also began to draw his sword; but ere it was half drawn Egil pierced him with a thrust. Onund reeled at the blow; but Egil suddenly snatched back his sword, and made a cut at Onund, well-nigh taking off his head. Then Egil took his halberd out of the shield. Now Hadd and Frodi saw Bergonund’s fall, and ran thither. Egil turned to meet them. At Frodi he threw his halberd, which, piercing the shield, went into his breast and out at his back. At once he fell back dead. Then, taking his sword, Egil turned against Hadd, and they exchanged but few blows ere Hadd fell. Just then the herd-boys chanced to come up. Egil said to them: ‘Watch you here by Onund your 95

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master and his friends, that no beast or bird tear their bodies.’

Such stress of stern battle Against them I stirred.’

Egil then went his way, and before long eleven of his comrades met him, six staying to watch the ship. They asked him what success he had had. Whereupon he sang:

And when Egil and his men came to Herdla, at once fully armed they ran up to the farm buildings. But when Thorir and his household saw that, they at once ran away and saved themselves, all that could go, men and women. Egil’s party plundered the place of all they could lay hands on; then they rowed out to their ship. Nor had they long to wait ere a breeze blew off the land. They made ready to sail.

‘Long did we losers sit, Losers through him who took With greed the gold that once To guard I better knew: Till now Bergonund’s bane My blade with wounds hath wrought, And hidden earth in veil Of Hadd’s and Frodi’s blood.’ Then Egil said: ‘We will now turn back to the farm, and act in warlike-wise, slaying all the men we can, and taking all the booty we can come by.’ They went to the farm, rushed into the house, and slew there fifteen or sixteen men. Some escaped by running away. They plundered the place, destroying what they could not take with them. The cattle they drove to the shore and slaughtered, putting on board as much as the boat would hold; then they rowed out by the sound between the islands. Egil was now furious, so that there was no speaking with him. He sat at the boat’s helm. And when they got further out in the firth towards Herdla, then came rowing out towards them Rognvald the king’s son with twelve more on the painted pinnace. They had now learnt that Egil’s ship lay in Herdla-water, and they meant to take to Onund news of Egil’s whereabouts. And when Egil saw the boat, he knew it at once. Straight for it he steered; and when the boats came together, the beak of the cutter struck the side of the pinnace’s bow, which so heeled over that the water poured in on one side and the boat filled. Egil leapt aboard, grasping his halberd, and cried to his men to let no one in the pinnace escape with life. This was easy, for there was no defence. All were slain as they swam, none escaped. Thirteen there perished, Rognvald and his comrades. Then Egil and his men rowed to Herdla island, and Egil sang a stave: ‘I fought, nor feared vengeance; Falchion there reddened Blood of son of Bloodaxe, Bold king, and his queen. Perish’d on one pinnace Prince with twelve his liege-men, 96

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And when all was ready for sailing, Egil went up into the island. He took in his hand a hazel-pole, and went to a rocky eminence that looked inward to the mainland. Then he took a horse’s head and fixed it on the pole. After that, in solemn form of curse, he thus spake: ‘Here set I up a curse-pole, and this curse I turn on king Eric and queen Gunnhilda. (Here he turned the horse’s head landwards.) This curse I turn also on the guardian-spirits who dwell in this land, that they may all wander astray, nor reach or find their home till they have driven out of the land king Eric and Gunnhilda.’ This spoken, he planted the pole down in a rift of the rock, and let it stand there. The horse’s head he turned inwards to the mainland; but on the pole he cut runes, expressing the whole form of curse. After this Egil went aboard the ship. They made sail, and sailed out to sea. Soon the breeze freshened, and blew strong from a good quarter; so the ship ran on apace. Then sang Egil: ‘Forest-foe, fiercely blowing, Flogs hard and unceasing With sharp storm the sea-way That ship’s stern doth plow. The wind, willow-render, With icy gust ruthless Our sea-swan doth buffet O’er bowsprit and beak.’ Their voyage sped well; from the main they came into Borgar-firth, brought their ship into the haven, carried their baggage on shore. Egil then went home to Borg; but his crew found them lodging. Skallagrim was now old and weak with age. Egil took the management of the property and care of the house.

Chapter 61 - Death of Skallagrim. There was a man named Thorgeir. He had to wife Thordis Yngvar’s daughter, Egil’s mother’s sister. Thorgeir dwelt on Swanness at Lambstead. He had come out to Iceland with Yngvar. He was wealthy and much honoured of men. Thorgeir and his wife had a son Thord, who was dwelling at Lambstead after his father, when Egil now came back to Iceland. It chanced in the autumn, shortly before winter, that Thord rode in to Borg to find Egil his kinsman; and he bade him to a banquet. He had had ale brewed out at his home. Egil promised to go, and a day was fixed about a week thence. So when the time came, Egil prepared to go, and with him Asgerdr his wife; they were a company of ten or twelve in all. But just when Egil was ready, Skallagrim went out with him, and embracing him before he mounted said: ‘You are late, methinks, Egil, in paying to me that money which king Athelstan sent me. What do you mean to do with that money?’ Egil answered, ‘Are you very short of money, father? I did not know it. I shall at once let you have silver, when I know you need it; but I know that you still have in your keeping one or two chests full of silver.’ ‘I suppose,’ said Skallagrim, ‘you think that we have made our division of the movable property. You must now be content if I do what I like with that money I have in keeping.’ Egil answered: ‘You cannot think you need to ask any leave from me in this; for you will choose to have it your own way, whatever I may say.’ Then Egil rode away till he came to Lambstead, where he was made heartily welcome; he was to be there three nights. That same evening that Egil left home, Skallagrim had a horse saddled. He then rode out just when others were going to bed. When he went away, he bore before him on his knees a very large chest; but under his arm he carried a brazen kettle. It has been since held for certain that he let down one or both into Krum’s bog-hole, and dropped a large stone slab atop of them. Skallagrim came home about midnight, and then went to his place and lay down in his clothes. But in the morning, when it was light and A Black Arrow resource

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people were dressed, there sat Skallagrim forward on the seat’s edge, already dead, and so stiff that they could not straighten him nor move him, though they tried all they could. Then a man was put on horseback, who galloped off as hard as he might to Lambstead. At once he sought Egil, and told him these tidings. Then Egil took his weapons and clothes and rode home, reaching Borg by eventide. And at once on dismounting he went in, and to the passage that was round the hall, with doors leading from the passage to the seats inside. Egil went on to the chief seat, and took Skallagrim by the shoulders, and forced him backwards, and laid him down in the seat, and rendered then the services to the dead. Then Egil bade them take digging tools and break open the wall on the south side. When this was done, then Egil supported the head and others the feet of Skallagrim; and so they bore him athwart the house out through the breach in the wall just made. Then they bore him immediately down to Nausta-ness. There for the night a tent was set over the body; but in the morning with flood-tide Skallagrim was put on a boat and rowed out to Digraness. There Egil had a mound raised on the point of the ness. Therein was laid Skallagrim, with his horse, his weapons, and his smithy tools. It is not told that any valuables were laid in the mound beside him. Egil took the heritage, lands and chattels. Thenceforward he ruled the house. With Egil there was Thordis, daughter of Thorolf and Asgerdr.

Chapter 62 - Egil’s voyage to England. King Eric ruled over Norway one year after the death of his father king Harold, before Hacon Athelstan’s foster-son, another son of Harold, came out of the west from England; and in that same summer Egil Skallagrimsson went to Iceland. Hacon went northwards to Throndheim. He was there accepted as king. He and Eric were for the winter both king in Norway. But in the following spring each gathered an army. Hacon had by far the larger numbers; the reason of this was that he made it law in the land that every man should own The Sagas of the Icelanders

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his patrimony, where king Harold had enslaved all, rich and poor alike. Eric saw no other choice but to flee the land; so he went abroad with Gunnhilda his wife and their children. Lord Arinbjorn was king Eric’s foster-brother, and foster-father of his son. Dear to the king was he above all his barons; the king had set him as ruler over all the Firth-folk. Arinbjorn was with the king when he left the land; they first went westwards over the main to the Orkneys. There Eric gave his daughter Ragnhildr in marriage to earl Arnfinn. After that he went south with his force along the coast of Scotland, and harried there; thence still south to England, and harried there. And when king Athelstan heard of this, he gathered force and went against Eric. But when they met, terms were proposed, and the terms were that king Athelstan gave to Eric the government of Northumberland; and he was to be for king Athelstan defender of the land against the Scots and Irish. Athelstan had made Scotland tributary under him after the death of king Olaf, but that people were constantly disloyal to him. The story goes that Gunnhilda had a spell worked, this spell being that Egil Skallagrimsson should find no rest in Iceland till she had seen him. But in that summer when Hacon and Eric had met and contended for Norway, all travel to any land from Norway was forbidden; so in that summer there came to Iceland from Norway neither ship nor tidings. Egil Skallagrimsson abode at his home. But during the second winter that he was living at Borg after Skallagrim’s death Egil became melancholy, and this was more marked as the winter wore on. And when summer came, Egil let it be known that he meant to make ready his ship for a voyage out in the summer. He then got a crew. He purposed to sail to England. They were thirty men on the ship. Asgerdr remained behind, and took charge of the house. Egil’s purpose was to seek king Athelstan and look after the promise that he had made to Egil at their last parting. It was late ere Egil was ready, and when he put to sea, the winds delayed him. Autumn then came on, and rough weather set in. They sailed past the north coast of the Orkneys. Egil would not put in there, for he thought king Eric’s power would be supreme all over the islands. Then they

sailed southwards past Scotland, and had great storms and cross winds. Weathering the Scotch coast they held on southwards along England; but on the evening of a day, as darkness came on, it blew a gale. Before they were aware, breakers were both seaward and ahead. There was nothing for it but to make for land, and this they did. Under sail they ran ashore, and came to land at Humber-mouth. All the men were saved, and most of the cargo, but as for the ship, that was broken to pieces. When they found men to speak with, they learnt these tidings, which Egil thought good, that with king Athelstan all was well and with his kingdom: but other tidings were there which Egil thought dangerous, to wit, that king Eric Bloodaxe was there and Gunnhilda, and they had the government of the province, and Eric was but a short way up the country in the town of York. This also Egil learnt, that lord Arinbjorn was there with the king, and in great friendship with him. And when Egil got to know these tidings, he resolved what to do. He thought he had little hope of escape, though he should try to conceal himself and to go disguised as long as he might till he were clear of Eric’s dominions. For he was at that time easily known by such as should see him. He thought also it were a mean man’s fate to be captured in such flight. So he took a bold heart, and resolved that at once, in that very night when they came there, he would get him a horse and ride to the town. He came there in the evening, and rode at once into the town. He had now a hood drawn over his helm, and was fully armed. Egil inquired where in the town Arinbjorn was housed. It was told him. Thither he rode to the house. When he came to the hall-door, he dismounted from his horse, and found a man to speak to. It was told him that Arinbjorn sat at meat. Egil said: ‘I would fain, good fellow, you should go into the hall and ask Arinbjorn whether he will rather speak without or within to Egil Skallagrimsson.’ The man said: ‘’Tis but little trouble for me to do this errand.’ He went into the hall, and spoke quite loud: ‘There is a man come here out before the door,’ said he, ‘big as a giant, and he begged me go in and ask whether thou 97

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wouldst rather without or within speak to Egil Skallagrimsson.’ Arinbjorn said: ‘Go and beg him to bide without, nor shall he need to bide long.’ He did as Arinbjorn told him, went out and said what had been said to him. Arinbjorn bade take up the tables; then went he out and all his house-carles with him. And when Arinbjorn met Egil, he greeted him well, and asked why he was come there. Egil in few words told him clearly of his journey: ‘And now you shall see what counsel I ought to take, if you will give me any help.’ ‘Have you,’ said Arinbjorn, ‘before you came to this house met any men in the town who are likely to have known you?’ ‘None,’ said Egil. ‘Let men then take their weapons,’ said Arinbjorn. They did so. But when all were armed, then went they to the king’s house. And when they came to the hall, then Arinbjorn knocked at the door, asking them to open, and saying who was there. The door-keepers at once opened the door. The king was sitting at table. Arinbjorn then bade that they should go in twelve in number, naming for this Egil and ten others. ‘Now shall you, Egil, bring the king your head and clasp his foot, but I will be your spokesman.’ Then they went in. Arinbjorn went before the king and saluted him. The king received him, and asked what he would have. Arinbjorn said: ‘I lead hither one who has come a long way to seek thee in thy place, and to be reconciled to thee. Great is this honour to thee, my lord, when thine enemies travel of their own free will from other lands, and deem they cannot endure thy wrath though thou be nowhere near. Now show thyself princely to this man. Let him get of thee good terms, seeing that he hath so magnified thine honour, as thou now mayst see, by braving many seas and dangers to come hither from his own home. No compulsion drove him to this journey, nought but goodwill to thee.’ Then the king looked round, and saw over men’s heads where Egil stood. The king 98

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knew him at once, and, darting a keen glance at him, said: ‘How wert thou so bold, Egil, that thou daredst to come before me? Thy last parting from me was such that of life thou couldst have from me no hope.’ Then went Egil up to the table, and clasped the foot of the king. He then sang: ‘With cross-winds far cruising I came on my wave-horse, Eric England’s warder Eager soon to see. Now wielder of wound-flash, Wight dauntless in daring, That strong strand of Harold’s Stout lineage I meet.’

further thou didst wish to doom his death, and didst slay his men, and plunder all his goods, and withal didst make him an outlaw and drive him from the land. And Egil is one who will stand no teasing. But in every cause under judgment one must look on the act with its reasons. I will now have Egil in keeping for the night.’

Gunnhilda said: ‘Why shall not Egil be slain at once? Rememberest thou no more, O king, what Egil hath done to thee, slain thy friends and kin, ay, even thine own son to boot, and cursed thyself? Where ever was it known that a king was thus dealt with?’

Then Arinbjorn and Egil went back to the house, and when they came in they two went into a small upper room and talked over this matter. Arinbjorn said: ‘The king just now was very wroth, yet methought his mood rather softened before the end, and fortune will now decide what may be the upshot. I know that Gunnhilda will set all her mind on marring your cause. Now I would fain that we take this counsel: that you be awake through the night, and compose a song of praise about king Eric. I should think it had best be a poem of twenty stanzas, and you might recite it to-morrow when we come before the king. Thus did Bragi my kinsman, when he was under the wrath of Bjorn king of Sweden; he composed a poem of praise about him in one night, and for it received his head. Now may we also have the same luck with the king, that you may make your peace with him, if you can offer him the poem of praise.’

Arinbjorn said: ‘If Egil have spoken evil of the king, for that he can now atone in words of praise that shall live for all time.’

Egil said: ‘I shall try this counsel that you wish, but ‘twas the last thing I ever meant, to sing king Eric’s praises.’

Gunnhilda said: ‘We will hear none of his praise. O king, bid Egil be led out and beheaded. I will neither hear his words nor see him.’

Arinbjorn bade him try.

King Eric said: ‘I need not to count the crimes on thy hands, for they are so many and great that each one might well warrant that thou go not hence alive. Thou hast nothing else to expect but that here thou must die. This thou mightest know before, that thou wouldst get no terms from me.’

Then said Arinbjorn: ‘The king will not let himself be egged on to all thy dastardly work. He will not have Egil slain by night, for night-slaying is murder.’ The king said: ‘So shall it be, Arinbjorn, as thou demandest. Egil shall live this night. Take thou him home with thee, and bring him to me in the morning.’ Arinbjorn thanked the king for his words: ‘We hope, my lord, that henceforth Egil’s cause will take a better turn. And though Egil has done great wrong against thee, yet look thou on this, that he has suffered much from thee and thy kin. King Harold thy father took the life of Thorolf, a man of renown, Egil’s father’s brother, for the slander of bad men, for no crime at all. And thou, O king, didst break the law in Egil’s case for the sake of Bergonund; nay

Then Arinbjorn went away, and had food and drink carried to the upper room. Egil was there alone for the night. Arinbjorn went to his men, and they sate over drink till midnight. Then Arinbjorn and his men went to the sleeping chambers, but before undressing he went up to the room to Egil, and asked how he was getting on with the poem. Egil said that nothing was done. ‘Here,’ said he, ‘has sate a swallow by the window and twittered all night, so that I have never got rest for that same.’ Whereupon Arinbjorn went away and out by the door leading up to the houseroof, and he sate by the window of the upper room where the bird had before sate. He saw that something of a shape witch-possest moved away from the roof. Arinbjorn sate there by the window all night till dawn. But after Arinbjorn had come there, Egil composed all the poem, A Black Arrow resource

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and got it so by heart that he could recite it in the morning when he met Arinbjorn. They watched for a fit time to go before the king.

Chapter 63 - Egil recites the poem. King Eric went to table according to his wont, and much people were with him. And when Arinbjorn knew this, then went he with all his followers fully armed to the king’s palace while the king sate at table. Arinbjorn craved entrance into the hall; it was granted. He and Egil went in with half of his followers, but the other half stood without before the door. Arinbjorn saluted the king; the king received him well. Arinbjorn spoke: ‘Here now is come Egil. He has not sought to run away in the night. Nor would we fain know, my lord, what his lot is to be. I hope thou wilt let him get good from my words, for I think it a matter of great moment to me that Egil gain terms from thee. I have so acted (as was right) that neither in word nor deed have I spared aught whereby thy honour should be made greater than before. I have also abandoned all my possessions, kinsmen, and friends that I had in Norway, and followed thee when all other barons deserted thee; and herein do I what is meet, for thou hast often done great good to me.’ Then spoke Gunnhilda: ‘Cease, Arinbjorn, nor prate so at length of this. Thou hast done much good to king Eric, and this he hath fully rewarded. Thou owest far more duty to king Eric than to Egil. It is not for thee to ask that Egil go unpunished hence from king Eric’s presence, seeing what crimes he hath wrought.’ Then said Arinbjorn: ‘If thou, O king, and thou Gunnhilda, if ye two have resolved that Egil shall here get no terms, then is this the manly course, to give him respite and leave to go for a week, that he may look out for himself; of his own free will any way he came hither to seek you, and therefore hoped for peace. Thereafter, this done, let your dealings together end as they may.’ Gunnhilda said, ‘Well can I see by this, Arinbjorn, that thou art more faithful to Egil than to king Eric. If Egil is to ride hence for a week, then will he in this time be come to king Athelstan. But king The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Eric cannot now hide this from himself, that every king is now stronger than is he, whereas a little while ago it had been deemed incredible that king Eric would not have the will and energy to avenge his wrongs on such a one as Egil.’ Said Arinbjorn: ‘No one will call Eric a greater man for slaying a yeoman’s son, a foreigner, who has freely come into his power. But if the king wishes to achieve greatness hereby, then will I help him in this, so that these tidings shall be thought more worthy of record; for I and Egil will now back each other, so that we must both be met at once. Thou wilt then, O king, dearly buy the life of Egil, when we be all laid dead on the field, I and my followers. Far other treatment should I have expected of thee, than that thou wouldst prefer seeing me laid dead on the earth to granting me the boon I crave of one man’s life.’ Then answered the king: ‘A wondrous eager champion art thou, Arinbjorn, in this thy helping of Egil. Loth were I to do thee scathe, if it comes to this; if thou wilt rather give away thine own life than that he be slain. But sufficient are the charges against Egil, whatever I cause to be done with him.’ And when the king had said this, then Egil advanced before him and began the poem, and recited in a loud voice, and at once won silence. HEAD-RANSOM 1. ‘Westward I sailed the wave, Within me Odin gave The sea of song I bear (So ‘tis my wont to fare): I launched my floating oak When loosening ice-floes broke, My mind a galleon fraught With load of minstrel thought. 2. ‘A prince doth hold me guest, Praise be his due confess’d: Of Odin’s mead let draught In England now be quaff’d. Laud bear I to the king, Loudly his honour sing; Silence I crave around, My song of praise is found. 3. ‘Sire, mark the tale I tell, Such heed beseems thee well; Better I chaunt my strain, If stillness hush’d I gain. The monarch’s wars in word

Widely have peoples heard, But Odin saw alone Bodies before him strown. 4. ‘Swell’d of swords the sound Smiting bucklers round, Fiercely waxed the fray, Forward the king made way. Struck the ear (while blood Streamed from glaives in flood) Iron hailstorm’s song, Heavy, loud and long. 5. ‘Lances, a woven fence, Well-ordered bristle dense; On royal ships in line Exulting spearmen shine. Soon dark with bloody stain Seethed there an angry main, With war-fleet’s thundering sound, With wounds and din around. 6. ‘Of men many a rank Mid showering darts sank: Glory and fame Gat Eric’s name. 7. ‘More may yet be told, An men silence hold: Further feats and glory, Fame hath noised in story. Warriors’ wounds were rife, Where the chief waged strife; Shivered swords with stroke On blue shield-rims broke. 8. ‘Breast-plates ringing crashed, Burning helm-fire flashed, Biting point of glaive Bloody wound did grave. Odin’s oaks (they say) In that iron-play Baldric’s crystal blade Bowed and prostrate laid. 9. ‘Spears crossing dashed, Sword-edges clashed: Glory and fame Gat Eric’s name. 10. ‘Red blade the king did wield, Ravens flocked o’er the field. Dripping spears flew madly, Darts with aim full deadly. Scotland’s scourge let feed Wolf, the Ogress’ steed: For erne of downtrod dead Dainty meal was spread. 11. ‘Soared battle-cranes O’er corse-strown lanes, Found flesh-fowl’s bill Of blood its fill. 99

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While deep the wound He delves, around Grim raven’s beak Blood-fountains break. 12. ‘Axe furnished feast For Ogress’ beast: Eric on the wave To wolves flesh-banquet gave. 13. ‘Javelins flying sped, Peace affrighted fled; Bows were bent amain, Wolves were battle-fain: Spears in shivers split, Sword-teeth keenly bit; Archers’ strings loud sang, Arrows forward sprang. 14. ‘He back his buckler flings From arm beset with rings, Sword-play-stirrer good, Spiller of foemen’s blood. Waxing everywhere (Witness true I bear), East o’er billows came Eric’s sounding name. 15. ‘Bent the king his yew, Bees wound-bearing flew: Eric on the wave To wolves flesh-banquet gave. 16. ‘Yet to make more plain I to men were fain High-soul’d mood of king, But must swiftly sing. Weapons when he takes, The battle-goddess wakes, On ships’ shielded side Streams the battle-tide. 17. ‘Gems from wrist he gives, Glittering armlets rives: Lavish ring-despiser Loves not hoarding miser. Frodi’s flour of gold Gladdens rovers bold; Prince bestoweth scorning Pebbles hand-adorning. 18. ‘Foemen might not stand For his deathful brand; Yew-bow loudly sang, Sword-blades meeting rang. Lances aye were cast, Still he the land held fast, Proud Eric prince renowned; And praise his feats hath crowned. 19. ‘Monarch, at thy will Judge my minstrel skill: Silence thus to find Sweetly cheered my mind. 100

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Moved my mouth with word From my heart’s ground stirred, Draught of Odin’s wave Due to warrior brave. 20. ‘Silence I have broken, A sovereign’s glory spoken: Words I knew well-fitting Warrior-council sitting. Praise from heart I bring, Praise to honoured king: Plain I sang and clear Song that all could hear.’

Chapter 64 - Egil’s life is given him. King Eric sate upright while Egil recited the poem, and looked keenly at him. And when the song of praise was ended, then spake the king: ‘Right well was the poem recited; and now, Arinbjorn, I have resolved about the cause between me and Egil, how it shall go. Thou hast pleaded Egil’s cause with great eagerness, since thou offerest to risk a conflict with me. Now shall I for thy sake do what thou hast asked, letting Egil go from my land safe and unhurt. But thou, Egil, so order thy going that, after leaving my presence and this hall, thou never come before my eyes, nor my sons’ eyes, nor be ever in the way of myself or my people. But I give thee now thy head this time for this reason, that thou camest freely into my power. I will do no dastardly deed on thee; yet know thou this for sure, that this is no reconciliation with me or my sons or any of our kin who wish to wreak their vengeance.’ Then sang Egil: ‘Loth am I in nowise, Though in features loathly, Helm-capt head in pardon From high king to take. Who can boast that ever Better gift he won him, From a lordly sovereign’s Noble-minded son?’ Arinbjorn thanked the king with many fair words for the honour and friendship that he had shown him. Then they two, Arinbjorn and Egil, went back to Arinbjorn’s house. After that Arinbjorn bade horses be made ready for his people. He rode away with Egil, and a hundred fully armed men with him. Arinbjorn rode with that force till they came to king Athelstan, where they were well received. The king asked Egil to remain with him,

and inquired how it had gone between him and king Eric. Whereupon Egil sang: ‘Egil his eyes black-browed From Eric, raven’s friend, Welcomed. Wise help therein Wife’s loyal kin lent. My head, throne of helmet, An heritage noble, As erst, from rough rainstorm To rescue I knew..’ But at the parting of Arinbjorn and Egil, Egil gave Arinbjorn those two gold rings that king Athelstan had given him, whereof each weighed a mark. And Arinbjorn gave Egil the sword called Dragvandill. This had been given to Arinbjorn by Thorolf Skallagrimsson; but before that Skallagrim had received it from Thorolf his brother; but to Thorolf the sword was given by Grim Shaggyskin, son of Kettle Hæing. Kettle Hæing had owned the sword and used it in his single combats, and no sword was there more biting. Egil and Arinbjorn parted with much affection. Arinbjorn went home to king Eric at York; but Egil’s comrades and shipmates had good peace there, and disposed of their cargo under Arinbjorn’s protection. But as winter wore on they moved south to England and joined Egil.

Chapter 65 - Egil goes to Norway. There was a baron in Norway named Eric Allwise. He married Thora, daughter of lord Thorir, sister of Arinbjorn. He owned property eastwards in Vik. He was a very wealthy man, much honoured, of prophetic foresight. Son of Eric and Thora was Thorstein; he was brought up with Arinbjorn, and was now fully grown, though quite young. He had gone westwards to England with Arinbjorn. But in that same summer when Egil had come to England these tidings were heard from Norway, that Eric Allwise was dead, but the king’s stewards had taken his inheritance, and claimed it for the king. These tidings when Arinbjorn and Thorstein heard, they resolved that Thorstein should go east and see after the inheritance. So when spring came on and men made ready their ships who meant to travel from land to land, then Thorstein went south to London, and there found king Athelstan. A Black Arrow resource

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He produced tokens and a message from Arinbjorn to the king and also to Egil, that he might be his advocate with the king, so that king Athelstan might send a message from himself to king Hacon, his foster-son, advising that Thorstein should get his inheritance and possessions in Norway. King Athelstan was easily persuaded to this, because Arinbjorn was known to him for good. Then came Egil also to speak with king Athelstan, and told him his intention. ‘I wish this summer,’ said he, ‘to go eastwards to Norway and see after the property of which king Eric and Bergonund robbed me. Atli the Short, Bergonund’s brother, is now in possession. I know that, if a message of yours be added, I shall get law in this matter.’ The king said that Egil should rule his own goings. ‘But best, methinks, were it,’ he said, ‘for thee to be with me and be made defender of my land and command my army. I will promote thee to great honour.’ Egil answered: ‘This offer I deem most desirable to take. I will say yea to it and not nay. Yet have I first to go to Iceland, and see after my wife and the property that I have there.’ King Athelstan gave then to Egil a good merchant-ship and a cargo therewith; there was aboard for lading wheat and honey, and much money’s worth in other wares. And when Egil made ready his ship for sea, then Thorstein Eric’s son settled to go with him, he of whom mention was made before, who was afterwards called Thora’s son. And when they were ready they sailed, king Athelstan and Egil parting with much friendship. Egil and his company had a prosperous voyage; they came to Norway eastwards in Vik, and sailed their ship right into Osloar-firth. Up on land there Thorstein had estates, and also inwards as far as Raumarik. And when Thorstein landed there, he then preferred his claim to his father’s property before the stewards who were settled on his farm. Many lent help to Thorstein in this matter: a meeting was held about it: Thorstein had there many kinsmen of renown. The end was that it was referred to the king’s decision, The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Thorstein meanwhile taking to him the safe-keeping of his father’s possessions. For winter lodgment Egil went to Thorstein’s with eleven more. Thither to Thorstein’s house was moved the wheat and honey; a merry time of it they had that winter. Thorstein kept house in grand style, for provisions were in plenty.

Chapter 66 - Egil and Thorstein go before the king. King Hacon Athelstan’s foster-son then ruled Norway, as was told before. That winter the king held court in the north in Throndheim. But as the winter wore on, Thorstein started on his journey and Egil with him, and they had about thirty men. When ready they first went to Upland, thence northwards by the Dovre-fell to Throndheim, where they came before king Hacon. They declared their errand with the king. Thorstein explained his cause, and produced witnesses that he was rightful owner of all that inheritance which he claimed. The king received this matter well, and let Thorstein obtain his possessions, and therewith he was made a baron of the king even as his father had been. Egil also went before king Hacon and declared his errand, giving therewith king Athelstan’s message and tokens. Egil claimed property that had belonged to Bjorn Yeoman, lands and chattels. Half of this property he claimed for himself and Asgerdr his wife; and he offered witness and oaths to his cause. He said, too, that he had set all this before king Eric, adding that he had then not got law, owing to king Eric’s power and the prompting of Gunnhilda. Egil set forth the whole cause which had been tried at the Gula-thing. He then begged the king to grant him law in this matter. King Hacon answered: ‘This have I heard, that my brother Eric and with him Gunnhilda both assert that thou, Egil, hast cast a stone beyond thy strength in thy dealings with them. Now, methinks, though I and Eric have not the luck to agree, yet thou mightest be well content should I do nothing in this cause.’ Egil said: ‘Thou mayest not, O king, be silent about causes so great, for all men here in the land, natives or foreigners, must hearken to thy bidding or banning. I

have heard that thou establishest here in the land law and right for everyone. Now I know that thou wilt let me get these even as other men. Methinks I am of birth and have strength of kinsfolk enough here in the land to win right against Atli the Short. But as for the cause between me and king Eric, there is this to say to thee, that I went before him, and that we so parted that he bade me go in peace whither I would. I will offer thee, my lord, my following and service. I know that there will be here with thee men who can in no wise be thought of more martial appearance than I am. My foreboding is that it will not be long ere thou and king Eric meet, if ye both live. And I shall be surprised if thou come not then to think that Gunnhilda has borne too many sons.’ The king said: ‘Thou shalt not, Egil, become my liege-man. Thy kin have hewn far too many gaps in our house for it to be well that thou shouldst settle here in this land. Go thou out to Iceland, and dwell there on thy father’s inheritance. No harm will there touch thee from our kin; but in this land ‘tis to be looked for that through all thy days our kin will be the more powerful. Yet for the sake of king Athelstan, my foster-father, thou shalt have peace here in the land, and shalt get law and land-right, for I know that he holds thee right dear.’ Egil thanked the king for his words, and prayed that the king would give him sure tokens to Thord in Aurland, or to other barons in Sogn and Hordaland. The king said that this should be done.

Chapter 67 - Egil slays Ljot the Pale. Thorstein and Egil made ready for their journey so soon as they had ended their errand. They then went their way back, and when they came south over the Dovre-fell, then said Egil that he would go down to Raumsdale, and after that south by way of the sounds. ‘I will,’ said he, ‘finish my business in Sogn and Hordaland, for I would fain in the summer take my ship out to Iceland.’ Thorstein bade him settle his journey as he would. So Thorstein and Egil separated. Thorstein went south by the dales all the way till he came to his estates. There he produced the tokens of the king and his 101

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message before the stewards, that they should give up all that property which they had taken and Thorstein claimed. No one spoke against it, and he then took all his property. Egil went his way, they being twelve in all. They came on to Raumsdale, there got them conveyance, and then went south to Mæri. Nothing is told of their journey before they came to the island called Hod, and went to pass the night at a farm named Bindheim. This was a well-to-do homestead, in which dwelt a baron named Fridgeir. He was young in years, and had but lately inherited his father’s property. His mother was named Gyda; she was a sister of lord Arinbjorn, a woman of a noble presence and wealthy. She managed the house for her son Fridgeir: they lived in grand style. There Egil and his company found good welcome. In the evening Egil sat next to Fridgeir, and his comrades outside him. There was much drink and sumptuous viands. Gyda, the house-mistress, in the evening had some talk with Egil. She inquired about Arinbjorn, her brother, and other of her kinsmen and friends who had gone to England with Arinbjorn. Egil answered her inquiries. She asked what tidings had befallen in Egil’s journey. He told her plainly. Then he sang: ‘Gloomy on me glowered In gruesome wrath a king: But cuckoo faints and fails not For vulture flapping near. Aid good from Arinbjorn, As oft, and peace I gat. He falls not whom true friends Help forward on his way.’ Egil was very cheerful that evening, but Fridgeir and his household were rather silent. Egil saw there a maiden fair and well dressed; he was told that she was Fridgeir’s sister. The maiden was sad and wept constantly that evening, which they thought strange. They were there for the night, but in the morning the wind was blowing hard, and there was no putting to sea. They need a boat to take them from the island. Then went Fridgeir and with him Gyda to Egil, and offered that he and his comrades should stay there till it was good travelling weather, and should have thence such help for the journey as they needed. This Egil accepted. They stayed there weather-bound for three nights, 102

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most hospitably entertained. After that the weather became calm. Then Egil and his men rose up early in the morning and made ready; then went to meat, and ale was given them to drink, and they sat awhile. Then they took their clothes. Egil stood up and thanked the master and mistress of the house for their entertainment; then they went out. The master and his mother went out into the path with them. Gyda then went to speak with her son Fridgeir, and talked low with him, Egil standing the while and waiting for them. Egil said to the maiden: ‘Why weep you, maiden? I never see you cheerful.’ She could not answer, but wept the more. Fridgeir now said to his mother aloud: ‘I will not now ask this. They are even now ready for their journey.’ Then Gyda went to Egil and said: ‘I will tell you, Egil, how things stand here with us. There is a man named Ljot the Pale. He is a Berserk and a duellist; he is hated. He came here and asked my daughter to wife; but we answered at once, refusing the match. Whereupon he challenged my son Fridgeir to wager of battle; and he has to go to-morrow to this combat on the island called Vors. Now I wished, Egil, that you should go to the combat with Fridgeir. It would soon be shown if Arinbjorn were here in the land, that we should not endure the overbearing of such a fellow as is Ljot.’ Egil said: ‘’Tis but my bounden duty, lady, for the sake of Arinbjorn thy kinsman that I go, if Fridgeir thinks this any help to him.’ ‘Herein you do well,’ said Gyda. ‘So we will go back into the hall, and be all together for the whole day.’ Then Egil and the rest went into the hall and drank. They sate there for the day. But in the evening came those friends of Fridgeir who had appointed to go with him, and there was a numerous company for the night, and a great banquet. On the morrow Fridgeir made ready to go, and many with him, Egil being one of the party. It was now good travelling weather. They now start, and soon come to the island. There was a fair plain near the sea, which was to be the place of combat. The ground was marked out by stones lying round in a ring. Soon came thither Ljot

and his party. Then he made him ready for the combat. He had shield and sword. Ljot was a man of vast size and strong. And as he came forward on the field to the ground of combat, a fit of Berserk fury seized him; he began to bellow hideously, and bit his shield. Fridgeir was not a tall man; he was slenderly built, comely in face, not strong. He had not been used to combats. But when Egil saw Ljot, then he sang a stave: ‘It fits not young Fridgeir To fight with this warrior, Grim gnawer of shield-rim, By his gods who doth curse. I better may meet him, May rescue the maiden; Full fearsome he stareth, Yet “fey” are his eyes.’ Ljot saw where Egil stood, and heard his words. He said: ‘Come thou hither, big man, to the holm, and fight with me, if thou hast a wish that way. That is a far more even match than that I should fight with Fridgeir, for I shall deem me no whit the greater man though I lay him low on earth.’ Then sang Egil: ‘It fits not young Fridgeir To fight with this warrior, Grim gnawer of shield-rim, By his gods who doth curse. I better may meet him, May rescue the maiden; Full fearsome he stareth, Yet “fey” are his eyes.’ After this Egil made him ready for combat with Ljot. Egil had the shield that he was wont to have, was girded with the sword which he called Adder, but in his hand he had Dragvandill. He went in over the boundary that marked the battle-ground, but Ljot was then not ready. Egil shook his sword and sang: ‘Hew we with hilt-wands flashing, Hack we shield with falchion, Test we moony targets, Tinge red sword in blood. Ljot from life be sundered, Low stern play shall lay him, Quelled the quarrel-seeker: Come, eagles, to your prey.’ Then Ljot came forward on the field and declared the law of combat, that he should ever after bear the name of dastard who should draw back outside the boundary stones that were set up A Black Arrow resource

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in a ring round the field of combat. This done, they closed, and Egil dealt a blow at Ljot, which Ljot parried with his shield, but Egil then dealt blow upon blow so fast that Ljot got no chance for a blow in return. He drew back to get room for a stroke, but Egil pressed as quickly after him, dealing blows with all his vigour. Ljot went out beyond the boundary stones far into the field. So ended the first bout. Then Ljot begged for a rest. Egil let it be so. They stopped therefore and rested. And Egil sang: ‘Free-handed gold-giver, Back goeth yon champion, In craven fear crouches This wealth-craving wight. Not strongly fights spearmen His strokes who delayeth. Lo beat by a bald-head This bragging pest flies.’ These were the laws of wager of battle in those times, that when one man challenged another on any claim, and the challenger gained the victory, then he should have as prize of victory that which he had claimed in his challenge. But if he were vanquished, then should he ransom himself for such price as should be fixed. But if he were slain on the field, then had he forfeited all his possessions, and he who slew him in the combat should take his inheritance. This was also law, that if a foreigner died who had no heir in the land, then that inheritance fell to the king’s treasury. And now Egil bade Ljot be ready. ‘I will,’ he said, ‘that we now try to the uttermost this combat.’ Ljot sprang swiftly to his feet. Egil bounded at him and dealt at once a blow at him. He pressed him so close, that he was driven back, and the shield shifted from before him. Then smote Egil at Ljot, and the blow came on him above the knee, taking off his leg. Ljot then fell and soon expired. Then Egil went to where Fridgeir and his party stood. He was heartily thanked for this work. Then sang Egil: ‘Fall’n lies the wolf-feeder, Foul worker of mischief: Ljot’s leg by skald sever’d Leaves Fridgeir in peace. From the free gold-giver Guerdon none I seek me, The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Sport I deem the spear-din, Sport with such pale foe.’ Ljot’s death was little mourned, for he had been a turbulent bully. He was a Swede by birth, and had no kin there in the land. He had come thither and amassed him wealth by duels. He had slain many worthy landowners, whom he had first challenged to wager of battle for their lands and heritages; he had now become very wealthy both in lands and chattels. Egil went home with Fridgeir from the field of combat. He stayed there but a short time before going south to Mæri. Egil and Fridgeir parted with much affection. Egil charged Fridgeir with the securing of those lands that had belonged to Ljot. Egil went on his way and came to the Firths, whence he went into Sogn to seek Thord in Aurland. Thord received him well; he declared his errand and the message of king Hacon. These words of Egil were taken well by Thord, who promised him his help in this matter. Egil remained there with Thord far into the spring.

Chapter 68 - Of Egil’s journeyings. Egil went on southwards to Hordaland, taking for this journey a rowing vessel, and thereon thirty men. They came on a day to Askr on Fenhring island. Egil went up to the house with twenty men, while ten guarded the ship. Atli the Short was there with some men. Egil bade him be called out and told that Egil Skallagrimsson had an errand with him. Atli took his weapons, as did all the fighting men that were there, and then they went out. Egil spoke: ‘I am told, Atli, that you hold in keeping that property which of right belongs to me and my wife Asgerdr. You will belike have heard it talked of ere now how I claimed the inheritance of Bjorn Yeoman, which Bergonund your brother kept from me. I am now come to look after that property, lands and chattels, and to beg you to give it up and pay it into my hands.’ Said Atli: ‘Long have we heard, Egil, that you are a most unjust man, but now I shall come to prove it, if you mean to claim at my hands this property, which king

Eric adjudged to Bergonund my brother. King Eric had then power to bid and ban in this land. I was thinking now, Egil, that you would be come here for this end, to offer me a fine for my brothers whose lives you took, and that you would pay atonement for the pillage committed by you here at Askr. I would make answer to this proposal, if you should plead this errand; but here to this other I can make none.’ ‘I shall then,’ said Egil, ‘offer you, as I offered Onund, that Gula-thing laws decide our cause. Your brothers I declare to have fallen without claim for fine and through their own wrong deeds, because they had first plundered me of law and land-right, and taken my property by force of arms. I have the king’s leave herein to try the law with you in this cause. I summon you to the Gula-thing, there to have lawful decision on this matter.’ ‘To the Gula-thing,’ said Atli, ‘I will come, and we can there speak of this matter.’ Hereupon Egil with his comrades went away. He went north to Sogn, then into Aurland to Thord, his wife’s kinsman, and there he stayed till the Gula-thing. And when men came to the Thing, then came Egil thither. Atli the Short was also there. They began to declare their cause, and pleaded it before those who were to judge. Egil made his demand of money due, but Atli offered against it as a lawful defence the oath of twelve men that he, Atli, had in keeping no money that belonged to Egil. And when Atli went before the court with his twelve who would swear, then went Egil to meet him, and said that he would not accept Atli’s oaths for his own property. ‘I will offer you other law, that we do battle here at the Thing, and he shall have the property who wins the victory.’ This was also law, that Egil proposed, and ancient custom, that any man had a right to challenge another to wager of battle, whether he were defendant in a cause or prosecutor. Atli said that he would not refuse this to do battle with Egil. ‘For,’ said he, ‘you propose what I ought to have proposed, seeing that I have enough loss to avenge on you. You have done to death my two brothers, and far shall I be from upholding the right if I yield to you mine own 103

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possessions unlawfully rather than fight with you when you offer me this choice.’

Egil went where his comrades stood, and then he sang:

So then Atli and Egil joined hands and pledged them to do battle, the victor to own the lands for which they had been disputing.

‘I bared blue Dragvandill, Who bit not the buckler, Atli the Short so blunted All edge by his spells. Straining my strength I grappled, Staggered the wordy foeman; My tooth I bade bite him, Best of swords at need.’

After this they arrayed them for combat. Egil came forward with helm on head, and shield before him, and halberd in hand, but his sword Dragvandill he suspended from his right arm. It was the custom with those who fought in single combats so to arrange that the sword should need no drawing during the fight, but be attached to the arm, to be ready at once when the combatant willed. Atli had the same arming as Egil. He was experienced in single combats, was a strong man, and of a good courage. To the field was led forth a bull, large and old ‘sacrificial beast’ such was termed, to be slain by him who won the victory. Sometimes there was one such ox, sometimes each combatant had his own led forth. And when they were ready for the combat, then ran they each at the other, and first they threw their halberds, neither of which stood fast in the foeman’s shield, but both struck in the ground. Then took they both to their swords, and went at it with a will, blow upon blow. Atli gave no ground. They smote fast and hard, and full soon their shields were becoming useless. And when Atli’s shield was of no use, then he cast it from him, and, grasping his sword with both hands, dealt blows as quickly as possible. Egil fetched him a blow on the shoulder, but the sword bit not. He dealt another, and a third. It was now easy to find parts in Atli that he could strike, since he had no cover; and Egil brandished and brought down his sword with all his might, yet it bit not, strike he where he might. Then Egil saw that nothing would be done this way, for his shield was now rendered useless. So Egil let drop both sword and shield, and bounding on Atli, gripped him with his hands. Then the difference of strength was seen, and Atli fell right back, but Egil went down prone upon him and bit through his throat. There Atli died. Egil leapt up at once and ran to where the victim stood; with one hand he gripped his lips, with the other his horn, and gave him such a wrench, that his feet slipped up and his neck was broken; after which 104

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Then Egil got possession of all those lands for which he had contended and claimed as rightfully coming to his wife Asgerdr from her father. Nothing is told of further tidings at that Thing. Egil then went first into Sogn and arranged about those lands that he now got into his own power. He remained there for a great part of the spring. Afterwards he went with his comrades eastwards to Vik, then to seek Thorstein, and was there for awhile.

Chapter 69 - Egil comes out to Iceland. In the summer Egil prepared his ship, and, when all was ready, at once set sail for Iceland. His voyage sped well. He came to Borgar-firth and brought in his ship just below his own house. He had his cargo conveyed home, and set up his ship. Egil stayed in his home that winter. He had now brought out very great wealth, and was a very rich man. He had a large and lofty house. Egil was by no means meddlesome with other men’s matters, nor generally presuming when here in Iceland; nor did any try to encroach on what was his. Egil remained at home now for years not a few. Egil and Asgerdr had children thus named: Bodvar a son, and another son Gunnar; Thorgerdr a daughter, and Bera. Their youngest was Thorstein. All Egil’s children were of good promise and intelligence. Thorgerdr was the eldest of the children, Bera the next.

Chapter 70 - Egil goes abroad. Egil heard tidings from east over the seas that Eric Bloodaxe had fallen in the west while freebooting; but Gunnhilda and her sons and Eric’s had gone to Denmark, and all those that had followed Eric to England had left that country. This, too, he heard, that Arinbjorn was now come to

Norway. He had taken again the grants and possessions that he had before, and had gotten great favour with the king. Then Egil thought it desirable again to go to Norway. Besides this came the tidings that king Athelstan was dead. His brother Edmund now ruled England. So Egil made ready his ship, and got him a crew. Aunund Sjoni was among them, son of Ani of Anabrekka. Aunund was tall, and the strongest of those men who were then in the country-side; nay, some doubted whether he were not shape-strong. Aunund had often been on voyages from land to land. He was somewhat older than Egil; there had long been friendship between the two. And when Egil was ready he put out to sea, and their voyage sped well; they came to Mid-Norway. And when they sighted land, they steered for the Firths. They soon got tidings from land, and it was told them that Arinbjorn was at home on his estate. Egil put his ship into the haven nearest to Arinbjorn’s house; then went he to seek Arinbjorn, and a most joyful meeting was theirs. Arinbjorn offered quarters to Egil and such of his men as he liked to bring. This Egil accepted, and had his ship set up on rollers; but his crew found them quarters. Egil and eleven with him went to Arinbjorn’s. Egil had caused to be made a long ship’s sail, elaborately worked; this he gave to Arinbjorn, and yet other gifts of value. Egil was there for the winter, treated with much honour. In the winter Egil went southwards to Sogn to collect his land-rents, staying there some time. After that he came north again to the Firths. Arinbjorn held a great Yule-feast, to which he bade his friends and the neighbouring landowners. There was there much company and good cheer. Arinbjorn gave Egil as a Yule-gift a trailing robe made of silk, and richly broidered with gold, studded with gold buttons in front all down to the hem. Arinbjorn had had the robe made to fit Egil’s stature. Arinbjorn gave also to Egil at Yule a complete suit newly made; it was cut of English cloth of many colours. Friendly gifts of many kinds gave Arinbjorn at Yule to those who were his guests, for Arinbjorn was beyond all men open-handed and noble. Then Egil composed a stave: ‘Warrior gave to poet A Black Arrow resource

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Silken robe gold-glistering: Never shall I find me Friend of better faith. Arinbjorn untiring Earneth well his honours: For his like the ages Long may look in vain.’

Chapter 71 - Egil’s sadness. Egil after Yule-tide was taken with much sadness that he spake not a word. And when Arinbjorn perceived this he began to talk with Egil, and asked what this sadness meant. ‘I wish,’ said he, ‘you would let me know whether you are sick, or anything ails you, that I may find a remedy.’ Egil said: ‘Sickness of body I have none; but I have much anxiety about this, how I shall get that property which I won when I slew Ljot the Pale northwards in Mæra. I am told that the king’s stewards have taken up all that property, and claimed ownership thereof for the king. Now I would fain have your help in the recovery of this.’ Arinbjorn: ‘I do not think your claim to the ownership of that property is against the law of the land; yet methinks the property is now come into strong keeping. The king’s treasury hath a wide entrance, but a narrow exit. We have urged many arduous claims of money against powerful persons, but we were in more confidence with the king than now; for the friendship between me and king Hacon is shallow; yet must I act after the old saw: He must tend the oak who is to dwell beneath it.’ ‘Yet,’ said Egil, ‘my mind is that, if we have law to show, we should try. Maybe the king will grant us right in this, for I am told that the king is just, and keeps well to the laws which he has made here in the land. I am rather minded to go seek the king and try the matter with him.’ Arinbjorn said that he did not desire this. ‘I think, Egil, that these things will be hard to reconcile, your eagerness and daring, and the king’s temper and power. For I deem him to be no friend of yours, and for good reason as he thinks. I would rather that we let this matter drop, and did not take it up. But if you wish it, Egil, I will rather myself go to the king and moot the question.’ The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Egil said that he thanked him heartily, and would choose it to be so. Hacon was then in Rogaland, but at times in Hordaland; there was no difficulty in finding him. And not long after this talk Arinbjorn made ready for his journey. It was then publicly known that he purposed to seek the king. He manned with his house-carles a twentyoared galley that he had. Egil was to stay at home; Arinbjorn would not have him go. Arinbjorn started when ready, and his journey went well; he found king Hacon, and was well received. And when he had been there a little while, he declared his errand before the king, and said that Egil Skallagrimsson was come there in the land, and thought he had a claim to all that property that had belonged to Ljot the Pale. ‘We are told, O king, that Egil pleads but law in this; but your stewards have taken up the property, and claimed ownership for you. I would pray you, my lord, that Egil may get law herein.’ The king was slow to speak, but at length answered: ‘I know not, Arinbjorn, why thou comest with such pleading for Egil. He came once before me, and I told him that I would not have him sojourn here in the land, for reasons which ye already know. Now Egil must not set up such claim before me ad he did before my brother Eric. And to thee, Arinbjorn, I have this to say, that thou mayest be here in the land only so long as thou preferrest not foreigners before me and my word; for I know that thy heart is with Harold son of Eric, thy foster-son; and this is thy best choice, to go to those brothers and be with them; for I strongly suspect that men like thee will be ill to trust to, if I and Eric’s sons ever have to try conclusions.’ And when the king had so spoken, Arinbjorn saw that it would not do to plead this cause any further with him; so he prepared to return home. The king was rather sullen and gloomy towards Arinbjorn after he knew his errand; but Arinbjorn was not in the mood to humble himself before the king about this matter. And so they parted. Arinbjorn went home and told Egil the issue of his errand. ‘I will not,’ said he, ‘again plead such a cause to the king.’ Egil at this report frowned much; he

thought he had lost much wealth, and wrongfully. A few days after, early one morning when Arinbjorn was in his chamber and few men were present, he had Egil called thither; and when he came, then Arinbjorn had a chest opened, and weighed out forty marks of silver, adding these words: ‘This money I pay you, Egil, for those lands which belonged to Ljot the Pale. I deem it just that you should have this reward from me and my kinsman Fridgeir for saving his life from Ljot; for I know that you did this for love of me. I therefore am bound not to let you be cheated of your lawful right in this matter.’ Egil took the money, and thanked Arinbjorn. Then Egil again became quite cheerful.

Chapter 72 - Of Arinbjorn’s harrying. Arinbjorn stayed at home on his estate that winter, but in the next spring he let it be known that he meant to go afreebooting. Arinbjorn had good choice of ships. He made ready in the spring three war-ships, all large, and he had three hundred men. His house-carles he had on his own ship, which was excellently equipt; he had also with him many landowners’ sons. Egil settled to go with him; he steered a ship, and with him went many of the comrades whom he brought from Iceland. But the merchant-ship which he brought from Iceland he caused to be moved eastwards to Vik, getting some men there to dispose of the cargo. But Arinbjorn and Egil with the warships held a southward course along the coast; then took their force still southwards to Saxland, where they harried in the summer and got wealth. As autumn came on they came back northward harrying, and lay off Friesland. One night when the weather was calm they went up a large river-mouth, where was bad harbourage, and the ebb of the tide was great. There up on land were wide flats with woods hard by. The fields were soaked because there had been much rain. They resolved to go up there, and left behind a third of their force to guard the ships. They followed up the river, keeping between it and the woods. Soon they came to a hamlet where dwelt several peasants. The people ran out of the 105

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hamlet into the fields, such as could do so, when they perceived the enemy, but the freebooters pursued them. Then they came to a second village, and a third; all the people fled before them. The land was level, flat fields everywhere, intersected by dykes full of water. By these the cornlands or meadows were enclosed; in some places large stakes were set, and over the dyke, where men should go, were bridges and planks laid. The country folk fled to the forest. But when the freebooters had gone far into the settled parts, the Frisians gathered them in the woods, and when they had assembled three hundred men, they went against the freebooters resolved to give them battle. There was then some hard fighting; but the end was that the Frisians fled and the freebooters pursued the fugitives. The peasants that escaped were scattered far and wide, and so were their pursuers. Thus it happened that on either side few kept together. Egil was hotly pursuing, and a few with him, after a numerous company that fled. The Frisians came to a dyke, over which they went, and then drew away the bridge. Then came up Egil and his men on the other bank. Egil at once went at the dyke and leapt it, but it was no leap for other men, and no one tried it. But when the Frisians saw that but one man was following, they turned back and attacked him, but he defended himself well, and used the dyke to cover him behind so that they could not attack him on all sides. Eleven men set on him, but the end of their encounter was that he slew them all. After that Egil pushed out the bridge over the dyke, and crossed it back again. He then saw that all his people had turned back to the ships. He was then near the wood, and he now went along the wood towards the ships so that he had the choice of the wood if he needed its shelter. The freebooters had brought down to the shore much booty and cattle. And when they came to the ships, some slaughtered the cattle, some carried out the plunder to the ships, some stood higher up and formed a shield-burgh; for the Frisians were come down in great force and were shooting at them, being also in battle array. And when Egil came down and saw how matters stood, he ran at full speed right at the throng. His halberd he held before him grasped in both hands, and slung his shield behind his back. He 106

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thrust forward his halberd, and all before him started aside, and so gat he a passage right through their ranks. Thus he dashed down to his men, who looked on him as recovered from the dead. Then they went on ship-board, and loosed from land. They sailed then to Denmark. And when they came to Lima-firth and lay at Hals, Arinbjorn held a meeting of his men, and laid before them his plans. ‘Now will I,’ said he, ‘go seek Eric’s sons with such force as will follow me. I have now learnt that the brothers are in Denmark here, and maintain a large following, and spend the summers in harrying, but for the winters abide here in Denmark. I now give leave to all to go to Norway who would rather do that than follow me. For you, Egil, methinks, the best counsel is that, as soon as we part, you return to Norway, and then on with all speed to Iceland.’ Then the men separated to their several ships. Those who wished to go back to Norway joined Egil, but by far the larger part of the force followed Arinbjorn. Arinbjorn and Egil parted in love and friendship. Arinbjorn went to seek Eric’s sons, and joined the company of Harold Gray-fell his foster-son, and was with him henceforth so long as they both lived. Egil went northwards to Vik, and into Osloar-firth. There was his merchant ship which he had caused to be moved thither in the spring. There were also his cargo and the men who had gone with the ship. Thorstein Thora’s son came to seek Egil, and asked him and such men as he would bring to stay with him that winter. Egil accepted the offer, had his ship set up and the cargo safely bestowed. Of his followers some got quarters there, some went to their several homes in the north. Egil in a company of ten or twelve went to Thorstein’s, and remained there for the winter an honoured guest.

Chapter 73 - Mission to Vermaland. King Harold Fairhair had subdued Vermaland eastwards as far as Lake Wener. Vermaland had first been cleared and tilled by Olaf Tree-cutter, father of Halfdan Whitebone, who first of his family was king in Norway; and from him on the father’s side was king Harold descended, and all his forefathers had

ruled over Vermaland and taken tribute therefrom, and set men in charge over the land. But when Harold was grown old, then was an earl named Arnvid governor of Vermaland. It happened there, as elsewhere, that the tribute was worse paid now than when Harold was in the vigour of life. So also was it when Harold’s sons strove for the rule in Norway, the outlying tributary lands were little looked after. But when Hacon sat in peace, then enquired he after all the empire that his father Harold had had. King Hacon had sent eastwards to Vermaland a company of twelve men. These had received the tribute from the earl. But as they were going back to Eida-wood, robbers set upon them and slew them all. The same hap befell yet other messengers sent by king Hacon eastwards to Vermaland; the men were slain, and no money was brought back. Then was it said by some that earl Arnvid belike set men of his own to slay the king’s men, while he kept the tribute for himself. Whereupon king Hacon sent yet a third company. He was then in Throndheim; the messengers were to go to Vik and seek Thorstein Thora’s son with these words, that he should go eastwards to Vermaland and gather in the tribute for the king, or else he must leave the land. For the king had heard that Arinbjorn Thorstein’s mother’s brother was gone southwards to Denmark and was with Eric’s sons, and further that they had a large following and spent the summer in harrying. King Hacon mistrusted the loyalty of all this company, expecting as he did hostilities from Eric’s sons if they had but strength to raise rebellion against him. And to Arinbjorn’s kinsmen and friends he showed great dislike, putting some to death, driving some from the land, or laying on them other hard conditions. And so it was that before Thorstein the king put this choice. The man who bore this message was named Kol; he was a man of all lands; he had been long in Denmark and in Sweden, and knew all about ways and men there. In Norway too he had travelled widely. And when he brought this proposal to Thorstein Thora’s son, then Thorstein told Egil upon what errand these men came, and asked how he should answer them; he said that it seemed a hard thing for him to lose his A Black Arrow resource

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possessions and be driven out of the land.

Chapter 74 - Journey to Vermaland.

Egil said: ‘It is to me quite clear what this message means; the king will have you out of the land like others of Arinbjorn’s kin, for I call sending a man of your nobleness on such errand a sending to certain death. My advice is that you call the king’s messengers to conference with you, and I will be present at your talk, and we will see what come of it.’

Egil with three comrades made him ready for the journey. They had horses and sledges, and so had the king’s men. There was then deep snow, and all the roads were effaced. They betook them to their journey when they were ready, and sledged up the land; and when they came eastwards near Eida, it happened one night that so much fresh snow fell that they could not see the way. On the morrow they traveled slowly, because there were snowdrifts directly one left the track. And as the day wore on they stopped to bait their horses; this was near a wooded ridge. Then spoke the king’s men with Egil: ‘Here now the roads divide; forward below the ridge dwells a landowner named Arnold, our friend; we with our party will go and lodge there. But you shall go yonder up the ridge, and when you come over it you will soon have before you a large house where you are sure of lodging. A wealthy man dwells there, Armod Beard by name. But tomorrow early we will again join company and go on the next evening to Eida-wood. There dwells a worthy landowner named Thorfinn.’

Thorstein did as he bade; he held conference with them. The messengers told all the truth of their errand and of the king’s message, that Thorstein must go on this mission or else be outlawed. Egil said: ‘I see clearly about your errand, that if Thorstein refuses to go, then you will have to go and gather the in the tribute.’ The messengers said that he guessed rightly. Said Egil: ‘Thorstein shall not go on this journey; for he is in nowise bound thereto, a man of his renown, to go on such mean missions. Thorstein will do that whereto he is bound, to wit, attend the king within the land or without, if the king demands it. Also, if ye want to have some men from hence for this journey, this will be granted you, and all such furtherance of your journey as ye may name to Thorstein.’ Then the messengers talked among themselves, and agreed that they would accept these terms, if Egil would go with them on the journey. ‘The king,’ they said, ‘bears him great ill-will, and he will think our journey a right good one if we bring it about that Egil be slain. He can then drive Thorstein out of the land if he pleases.’ So they told Thorstein that they would be content if Egil went and Thorstein stayed at home. ‘So shall it be,’ said Egil. ‘I will release Thorstein from this journey. But how many men think ye that ye need to take from hence?’ ‘We are eight,’ said they; ‘we would fain have four men go from hence; then are we twelve.’ Egil said it should be so. Aunund Sjoni and some of Egil’s company had gone out to sea, to look after their ship and another cargo which they had given into safe keeping in the autumn, and they had not yet returned. Egil thought this a great pity, but the king’s men were impatient to be gone, and would not wait. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Upon this they separated, Egil and his men going up the ridge. But of the king’s men this is to be told, that no sooner were they and Egil out of sight of each other, than they took their snow-shoes (which they had brought with them) and put them on; then they retraced their way as fast as they could. Night and day they travelled, and turned toward Upland, thence north by the Dovre-fell, nor stayed they till they came before king Hacon, and told him of their journey, how it had sped. Egil and his comrades crossed the ridge that evening. To be brief, so soon as they left the main road and got upon the ridge, they found deep snow, steep rocks, tangled copsewood. Now and again in the snow the horses so plunged and lay that they had to be pulled up out of it, and over rocks and crags was a hard struggle. Much ado had they with the horses; but the walking for the men was of the heaviest, and sorely wearied were they when they came off the ridge and saw before them a large house, for which they made. And when they came to the enclosure, they saw men standing outside, Armod

and some of his household. They exchanged words and asked each other’s tidings, and when Armod knew that they were messengers of the king, he offered them lodging. This they accepted. Armod’s house-carles took their horses and harness; but the master bade Egil go into the hall, and they did so. Armod made Egil sit in the high seat on the lower bench, and his comrades outside him. They spoke much of what a toilsome way they had come that evening, but the house-carles thought it a great marvel that they had won through it at all; it was, they said, no road for man even were it free of snow. Then said Armod: ‘Think ye not this were the best hospitality, that a table should be set for you and supper given you now, and then you should sleep? This will best rest you.’ ‘We should like this right well,’ said Egil. So Armod had a table set for them, whereon were placed large bowls full of curds. Then said Armod that he was sorry he had no beer to give them. Egil and his men were very thirsty from weariness; they took up the bowls and drank the curds eagerly, Egil drinking far the most. No other food was brought. The household was numerous. The mistress sat on the cross-bench, and beside her the other women. The master’s daughter, ten or eleven years old, was running about the hall-floor. The mistress called her to her side, and spoke in her ear. Then the girl went out to where Egil sat, and recited a verse: ‘To thee with this message My mother doth send me, To bear word that Egil Be wary and wait. “So temper thy stomach,” Thus sayeth our lady, “With fare far more worthy Soon feed we our guests.”’ Armod struck the girl, and bade her hold her tongue: ‘You are always,’ said he, ‘saying what least suits.’ The girl went away; but Egil threw down the curd-bowl, which was now nearly empty. The bowls were then removed from them. And now the household took their seats, and tables were set all round the hall, and 107

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food served; dishes of meat were brought in and set before Egil and the rest. After this ale was borne in, beer of the strongest. Soon they began to drink bumpers, each man was to drink off the horn; and especial care was taken that Egil and his companions should drink hard. Egil drank without shirking a drop for a long while, but when his companions were become helpless, then he drank for them what they could not. So matters went on till the tables were removed, and by then all in the room were well drunk. But before each cup that he drank Armod said: ‘I drink to you, Egil,’ and the housecarles drank to Egil’s companions with the same preface. A man was appointed to bear every cup to Egil’s party, and he urged them to drink it off quick. Egil told his companions to drink no more, but himself drank for them what they could not avoid. Egil soon found that it would not do for him to go on so. Wherefore he stood up, went across the floor to where Armod sat, took him with his hands by the shoulders, and forced him back against the inner posts, and spat in his face. There was an outcry and uproar, but Egil went back to his place, sate him down, and bade them serve him drink. Armod leapt up and ran out; Egil continued to drink for a while, as did some others in the hall; but there was little merriment. Soon Egil and his men stood up, and took their weapons from the wall where they had hung them up; they then went to the granary in which their horse were, and laid themselves down in the straw, and slept through the night.

Chapter 75 - Parting of Egil and Armod. Egil rose up in the morning as soon as it was day. He and his made them ready, and when ready went at once to the house to seek Armod. And when they came to the apartments where slept Armod and his wife and daughter, then Egil burst open the door and approached Armod’s bed. He then drew his sword, but with the other hand grasped the beard of Armod, and forced him forward to the edge of the bed. But Armod’s wife and daughter leapt up and prayed Egil not to slay Armod. Egil said he would spare him 108

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for their sakes; ‘For,’ said he, ‘this is but meet; yet has he deserved to die.’

bed-clothes that she had used hung out to air. Then Egil sang:

After this Egil cut off his beard close to his chin, and put out one of his eyes. Then he went out to his companions.

‘Runes none should grave ever Who knows not to read them; Of dark spell full many The meaning may miss. Ten spell-words writ wrongly On whale-bone were graven: Whence to leek-tending maiden, Long sorrow and pain.’

They went on their way and came a day-meal-time to the house of Thorfinn. He dwelt by Eida-wood. Of him they craved a day-meal and to bait their horses. Thorfinn granted this, and Egil with his men went into the hall. Egil asked if Thorfinn had seen anything of the rest of his party. ‘We appointed,’ he said, ‘to meet here.’ Thorfinn said: ‘Here passed six men together a little before day; and they were well armed.’ Then said a house-carle: ‘I was driving a sledge in the night to fetch wood, and I came upon six men on the road; they were house-carles of Armod; but that was long before day. Now I am not sure whether these will be the same as the six of whom you spoke.’ Thorfinn said that the six men whom he had met had passed after the house-carle came back with the load of wood. While they sat at meat Egil saw that a woman lay sick on the daÔs at the ends of the hall. He asked who was that woman in such sad case. Thorfinn said she was named Helga, and was his daughter; she had long been ill; her complaint was a pining sickness; she got no sleep at night, and was as one possessed. ‘Has anything,’ asked Egil, ‘been tried for her ailment?’ ‘Runes have been graven,’ said Thorfinn; ‘a landowner’s son hard by did this; and she is since much worse than before. But can you, Egil, do anything for such ailments?’ Egil said: ‘Maybe no harm will be done by my taking it in hand.’ And when Egil had finished his meal, he went where the woman lay and spoke with her. Then he bade them lift her from her place and lay clean clothes under her, and they did so. Next he searched the bed in which she had lain, and there he found a piece of whalebone whereon were runes. Egil read them, then cut the runes and scraped them off into the fire. He burned the whole piece of whalebone, and had the

Egil then graved runes, and laid them under the bolster of the bed where the woman lay. She seemed as if she waked out of sleep, and said she now felt well, but she was weak. But her father and mother were overjoyed. And Thorfinn offered to Egil all the furtherance that he might think needful.

Chapter 76 - Egil comes to landowner Alf. Egil said to his comrades that he would go on his way and abide no longer. Thorfinn had a son named Helgi, a valiant man. Father and son offered Egil their company through the wood. They said they knew for a fact that Armod Beard had put six men into the wood to lie in wait for them, and it was likely that there would be more ambushed in the wood in case the first should fail. There were with Thorfinn four that offered to go. Then Egil sang a stave: ‘If four with me follow, Thou findest not six men With us bloody sword-blows To barter in fight. And if he with eight go, Undaunted in courage On twelve black-browed Egil The battle will dare..’ Thorfinn and his men decided to go into the wood with Egil: thus they were eight in all. And when they came where the ambush was set, they saw men there. But these house-carles of Armod who were in ambush, on seeing that the travellers were eight in number, thought they were overmatched, and hid them away in the wood. And when Egil’s party came where the liers-in-wait had been, they saw that all was not peaceful. And now Egil said that Thorfinn and his men should go back, but they offered to go further. However Egil would not have it, and bade them go home; so they did so and turned back. A Black Arrow resource

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But Egil and his men went on forward, being now four. And as the day wore on they perceived that there were six men in the wood, and they were pretty sure that these also were house-carles of Armod. Up leapt the liers-in-wait and made at them, and they met their charge: and the encounter ended in Egil’s slaying two and the rest running back into the wood. Then Egil’s company went on their way, and nothing more happened till they got out of the wood and found lodging near the wood with a landowner named Alf, who was called Alf the wealthy. He was an old man, wealthy in money, of a strange temper, so that he could keep but few in his household. A good reception Egil found there, and with him Alf was talkative. Egil asked many questions, and Alf told him what he asked. They spoke much about the earl and the king of Norway’s messengers, who had before gone eastward to gather the tribute. Alf in his talk was no friend to the earl.

Chapter 77 - Egil gathers tribute. Egil made him ready early next morning to continue his journey, as did his comrades, but at parting Egil gave Alf a fur cloak. Alf took the gift with thanks, saying, ‘A good mantle have I here.’ And he bade Egil visit him on the way back. They parted friends; and Egil going on his way came on the evening of a day to earl Arnvid’s court, where he found a good reception. He and his comrades were placed next to the sitter in the seat opposite the earl. When Egil had been there for a night, he declared his errand with the earl, and the message of the king from Norway, and said that he wished to have all that tribute from Vermaland that had been owing since Arnvid had been set over the land. The earl said that he had paid out of hand all the tribute, and delivered it into the hands of the king’s messengers. ‘But I know not,’ he said, ‘what they have since done with it, whether they brought it to the king or ran away with it out of the land. However, as ye bear sure tokens that the king has sent you, I will pay all the tribute to which he has a right, and deliver it into your hands: but I will not be answerable afterwards for how you fare with it.’ Egil and his men remained there for awhile. But before Egil went away the earl paid them the tribute. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Part was in silver, part in gray fur. And when Egil’s party were ready they started to return. At their parting Egil said to the earl: ‘Now we will bear to the king this tribute which we have received. But know, earl, that this is much less money than the king deems to be his due here; and that too without counting that, as he thinks, thou oughtest to pay atonement for the messengers whom common rumour says thou didst cause to be slain.’ The earl said that that was not true. With this they parted. Now when Egil was gone, the earl called to him his two brothers, each of whom was named Ulf, and spoke thus: ‘That big fellow Egil, who was here for awhile, will, I expect, do us an ill turn when he comes to the king. We may by this mark how he will bear our matter before the king, that he threw in our face such a charge, the taking the life of the king’s men. Now must ye two go after their party and slay them all, and let none bear this slander before the king. Methinks the wisest plan were to lie in wait for them in Eida-wood. Take with you so many men as to make sure that not one of them escape, while ye get no less of men from them.’ Then did the brothers make them ready for their journey, and they took thirty men. They went to the wood, of which they knew every path: then they watched for Egil’s coming. There were two roads through the wood. One led over a certain ridge, and there was a steep cliff, and only a path for one; this was the shorter road. The other led round the edge of the ridge, over wide bogs, across which hewn wood was laid, there too making a causeway for but one to pass. And they lay in wait fifteen in either place.

Chapter 78 - Egil and his band slay twenty-five men. Egil went till he came to Alf’s, and was there for the night in good quarters. Next morning he rose before day and made ready for his journey. And while they sat over their morning meal, Alf the master came in. He said: ‘You are making a start betimes, Egil; but my counsel would be that you hurry not your journey, but rather look before you, for I think there be liers-in-wait for you in the wood. I have no men to give you as escort who would

be any strength to you: but this I offer, that ye tarry here with me till I can report to you that the wood is safe.’ Egil said: ‘That will be mere nonsense. I will go on my way as I before meant to do.’ So he and his men made ready to go, while Alf tried to stop them, and bade them come back, if they saw that the way was trodden: ‘None,’ he said, ‘have passed the wood from the east since you, Egil, went eastward, except these, who, as I suspect, have gone wishing to encounter you.’ Egil said, ‘How many will they be, think you, if it is as you say? We have not lost the game, though there be some odds against us.’ Alf said: ‘I with my house-carles had gone to the wood, and we came on men’s footprints; the trail led into the wood, and there must have been many in all. But if you do not believe this that I say, go and see for yourself the trail, and then turn back, if it seems as I tell you.’ Egil went his way, and when they came where the road entered the wood, they saw there the tracks both of men and horses. Egil’s comrades then advised that they should turn back. ‘We will go on,’ said Egil: ‘methinks ‘tis no wonder that men have gone through Eida-wood, for it is a public road.’ So they went on, and the footmarks continued, being of a numerous company. And when they came there where the roads forked, then the trail also forked, and was equally strong either way. Then said Egil: ‘Now I think that maybe Alf has told the truth. We will now make us ready as expecting an encounter.’ So then Egil and his men doffed their cloaks and all their loose clothing, and laid these on the sledge. Egil had brought in his sledge a very long cord of bast, for it is the wont of those who take long sledging journeys to have with them some spare cord in case the harness need mending. Egil took a large flat stone, and laid it before his breast and stomach. Then he bent thereon the cord, and wound it round and round him, and so encased him right up to the shoulders. Eida-wood is of this kind: there is reaching to the cultivated land on either side dense forest, but in the middle is a wide space of shrubs and thin copse, with some parts quite bare of wood. Egil and his company turned by the shorter way, which lay over the ridge. They all had shields and helms, 109

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and weapons both to cut and thrust. Egil walked first. And when they came to the ridge, there was wood at the foot of it, but above on the rock it was bare. But when they came up to the rock, then seven men leapt out of the wood and up to the cliff after them, and shot at them. Egil and his men turned and stood abreast across the path. Then came other men against them from above on the crag’s brow, and cast stones at them, and this was by far the greater danger. Then said Egil, ‘Now must you step back and close to the cliff, and cover yourselves as best ye may; but I will try to win the summit.’ They did so. And when Egil got past the rock out on the top, there were in front eight men, who all at once set upon him. Of their exchange of blows nought is there to tell: the end was that Egil slew them all. Then he went forward to the verge of the summit and hurled over stones, that none could withstand; and thereafter three of the Vermians fell, but four gat them into the wood sore wounded and bruised. Then Egil and his men took their horses and went on their way till they came over the ridge. But the Vermians who had escaped brought news of this to their fellows, who were by the bog. They then advanced by the lower road and so beset the way in front of Egil. Ulf said to his comrades: ‘We must now go cunningly to work with them, and so manage that none get away. This,’ said he, ‘is the nature of the ground: the road skirts the ridge, close to the foot of which runs the bog, while a rocky brow is above, and the passage lies between these and is no broader than a footpath. Now some of us shall go forward round the brow to withstand them if they advance; but some shall hide here in the wood, and leap out at their back when they have got on before us. And take we such heed that none escape.’ They did as Ulf bade: Ulf went forward round the brow and ten men with him. Egil and his men went on their way knowing nought of this plan till they came into the narrow path. Then out leapt men behind them, and drove at them with weapons. They faced about and defended themselves. Now also dashed at them those who were in front of the rocky brow; and when Egil saw that, he turned to meet them. Quick were the blows exchanged between them; and Egil smote down some in the narrow pass, but some 110

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turned back to where there was more level space. Egil dashed after them. There fell Ulf. And in the end Egil slew there single-handed eleven men. Then he went where his comrades were keeping the pass before eight men: there were some wounded on either side. But when Egil came, then at once the Vermians fled to the wood hard by. Five escaped, all sore wounded, but three fell there. Egil had many wounds, but none serious. They then continued their journey. He bound his comrades’ wounds, none of which were mortal. They sat in the sledge, and drove for the rest of the day. But the Vermians who escaped took their horses, and dragged themselves from the wood eastwards to inhabited parts. There they got their wounds bound. Procuring companions, they made their way to the earl, and told him of their misadventure. They told how both the Ulfs had fallen, twenty-five men were dead, and but five escaped with life, and they all wounded and bruised. The earl then asked what were the tidings of Egil and his comrades. They answered: ‘We know not for sure how much they were wounded; but full boldly did they set on us when we were eight and they four; then we fled. Five reached the wood, but three perished; yet, for all we could see, Egil and his men were as fresh as ever.’

The man who had graved the runes for Helga dwelt not far off. It now came out that he had asked her to wife, but Thorfinn would not give her. Then this landowner’s son would fain beguile her, but she would not consent. So he thought to grave for her love-runes, but he did not understand them aright, and graved that wherefrom she took her sickness. And when Egil was ready to depart, Thorfinn and his son escorted them on the road: they being thus ten or twelve in company. They went with them all that day as a guard against Armod and his house-carles. But when the tidings were heard how Egil’s band had fought against overwhelming odds in the wood and conquered, then Armod thought it hopeless to raise shield against Egil: wherefore he with all his men sat at home. Egil and Thorfinn exchanged gifts at parting, and pledged themselves to friendship. Then Egil and his men went their way, and no tidings are told of their journey before they came to Thorstein’s.

Chapter 79 - Egil comes to Thorfinn’s. The harrying of king Hacon.

There their wounds were healed. Egil stayed there till spring. But Thorstein sent messengers to king Hacon to bring him the tribute for which Egil had gone to Vermaland. Who, when they came before the king, told him the tidings of what had been done in Egil’s journey, and brought him the tribute. The king was now sure that what he had before suspected was true, namely, that earl Arnvid had caused the slaying of the two companies of messengers sent eastwards by him. The king said that Thorstein should have leave to dwell in the land, and should be reconciled to him. Then the messengers returned home; and on coming to Thorstein’s told him that the king was well pleased with this Vermaland journey, and that Thorstein was now to have reconciliation and friendship with the king.

Egil traveled on till he came westward out of the wood. They made for Thorfinn’s that evening, where they were well received: their wounds were bound up, and they stayed there several nights. Helga, the master’s daughter, was now on her feet, and whole of her ailment. For this she and all the family thanked Egil. He and his rested there themselves and their beasts.

King Hacon in the summer went eastwards to Vik: whence he journeyed still eastwards to Vermaland with a large force. Earl Arnvid fled away; but the king took large fines from those landowners whom he thought guilty against him according to the report of those who went after the tribute. He set over the land another earl, taking hostages of him and of the landowners. In this expedition

The earl said that their journey had been as bad as could be. ‘I could have been content we should have great loss of life, had ye but slain these Northmen; but now when they come west from the wood and tell these tidings to Norway’s king, then may we expect from him the very hardest terms.’

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Hacon went far and wide about western Gautland and subdued it, as is told in his Saga, and is found in the poems composed about him. It is also told that he went to Denmark, and harried there far and wide. Then was it that with two ships he disabled twelve ships of the Danes, and gave to Tryggva, son of his brother Olaf, the name of king and the rule over Vik eastwards. Egil in the summer made ready his merchant-ship and got thereto a crew. But the long-ship that he had brought from Denmark in the autumn he gave to Thorstein at parting. Thorstein gave Egil good gifts, and they pledged them to close friendship. Egil sent messengers to Thord, his wife’s kinsman, at Aurland, and gave him charge to arrange for those lands that Egil owned in Sogn and Hordaland, bidding him sell them if there were a buyer. And when Egil was ready for his voyage, they sailed out along the bay, and then northwards along the Norway coast, and afterwards out into the main. They had a fairly good breeze, and came from the main into Borgarfirth; and Egil steered his ship up the firth to the haven close to his own house. He had his cargo conveyed home, and his ship set up on wooden props. Egil went home to his house: fain were folk to see him; and there he stayed for that winter.

Chapter 80 - Of the marriages of Egil’s daughters. By the time that Egil came out to Iceland from this journey, the whole district was settled. All the original land-takers were dead, but their sons or sons’ sons were living, and dwelt there in the district. There was a man named Grim, son of Sverting; he dwelt at Moss-fell below the heath; rich was he and of good family; his sister was Rannveig whom Thorod, the priest in Olvos, had to wife; their son was Skapti the lawman. Grim was also afterwards lawman. He asked to wife Thordis daughter of Thorolf Egil’s brother, and stepdaughter of Egil. Egil loved Thordis no whit less than his own children. She was a very beautiful woman. And since Egil knew that Grim was a wealthy man and the match was a good one, it was so settled, and Thordis was given to Grim. Then Egil paid over to her her father’s heritage, and she went home The Sagas of the Icelanders

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with Grim, and the pair dwelt long at Moss-fell. There was a man named Olaf, son of Hauskuld Dale-koll’s son and Melkorka daughter of Myrkjartan king of the Irish. Olaf dwelt at Hjardarholt in Lax-riverdale, westward in Broad-firth dales. Olaf was very wealthy, the handsomest man in Iceland of his time, of a noble character. He asked to wife Thorgerdr, Egil’s daughter. Thorgerdr was comely, tall above woman’s wont, wise, rather proudspirited, but in daily life gentle. Egil was well acquainted with Olaf, and knew that the match was a worthy one, wherefore Thorgerdr was given to Olaf. She went home with him to Hjardarholt. Auzur, Eyvind’s son, brother of Thorod in Olvos, had to wife Egil’s daughter Bera.

Chapter 81 - Death of Bodvar: Egil’s poem thereon. Bodvar Egil’s son was just now growing up; he was a youth of great promise, handsome, tall and strong as had been Egil or Thorolf at his age. Egil loved him dearly, and Bodvar was very fond of his father. One summer it happened that there was a ship in White-river, and a great fair was held there. Egil had there bought much wood, which he was having conveyed home by water: for this his house-carles went, taking with them an eight-oared boat belonging to Egil. It chanced one time that Bodvar begged to go with them, and they allowed him so to do. So he went into the field with the house-carles. They were six in all on the eight-oared boat. And when they had to go out again, high-water was late in the day, and, as they must needs wait for the turn of tide, they did not start till late in the evening. Then came on a violent south-west gale, against which ran the stream of the ebb. This made a rough sea in the firth, as can often happen. The end was that the boat sank under them, and all were lost. The next day the bodies were cast up: Bodvar’s body came on shore at Einars-ness, but some came in on the south shore of the firth, whither also the boat was driven, being found far in near Reykjarhamar. Egil heard these tidings that same day, and at once rode to seek the bodies: he

found Bodvar’s, took it up and set it on his knees, and rode with it out to Digraness, to Skallagrim’s mound. Then he had the mound opened, and laid Bodvar down there by Skallagrim. After which the mound was closed again; this task was not finished till about nightfall. Egil then rode home to Borg, and, when he came home, he went at once to the locked bedcloset in which he was wont to sleep. He lay down, and shut himself in, none daring to crave speech of him. It is said that when they laid Bodvar in earth Egil was thus dressed: his hose were tight-fitting to his legs, he wore a red kirtle of fustian, closely-fitting, and laced at the sides: but they say that his muscles so swelled with his exertion that the kirtle was rent off him, as were also the hose. On the next day Egil still did not open the bed-closet: he had no meat or drink: there he lay for that day and the following night, no man daring to speak with him. But on the third morning, as soon as it was light, Asgerdr had a man set on horseback, who rode as hard as he could westwards to Hjardarholt, and told Thorgerdr all these tidings; it was about nones when he got there. He said also that Asgerdr had sent her word to come without delay southwards to Borg. Thorgerdr at once bade them saddle her a horse, and two men attended her. They rode that evening and through the night till they came to Borg. Thorgerdr went at once into the hall. Asgerdr greeted her, and asked whether they had eaten supper. Thorgerdr said aloud, ‘No supper have I had, and none will I have till I sup with Freyja. I can do no better than does my father: I will not overlive my father and brother.’ She then went to the bed-closet and called, ‘Father, open the door! I will that we both travel the same road.’ Egil undid the lock. Thorgerdr stepped up into the bed-closet, and locked the door again, and lay down on another bed that was there. Then said Egil, ‘You do well, daughter, in that you will follow your father. Great love have you shown to me. What hope is there that I shall wish to live with this grief?’ After this they were silent awhile. Then Egil spoke: ‘What is it now, daughter? You are chewing something, are you not?’ ‘I am chewing samphire,’ said she, ‘because I think it will do me harm. Otherwise I think I may live too 111

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long.’ ‘Is samphire bad for man?’ said Egil. ‘Very bad,’ said she; ‘will you eat some?’ ‘Why should I not?’ said he. A little while after she called and bade them give her drink. Water was brought to her. Then said Egil, ‘This comes of eating samphire, one ever thirsts the more.’ ‘Would you like a drink, father?’ said she. He took and swallowed the liquid in a deep draught: it was in a horn. Then said Thorgerdr: ‘Now are we deceived; this is milk.’ Whereat Egil bit a sherd out of the horn, all that his teeth gripped, and cast the horn down.

Sea-wavesflood that whilom Welled from giant’s wound Smite upon the grave-gate Of my sire and son.

Since he the shelter And shield of my house Hied him from life To heaven’s glad realm.

4. ‘Dwindling now my kindred Draw near to their end, Ev’n as forest-saplings Felled or tempest-strown. Not gay or gladsome Goes he who beareth Body of kinsman On funeral bier.

11. ‘Full surely I know, In my son was waxing The stuff and the strength Of a stout-limbed wight: Had he reached but ripeness To raise his shield, And Odin laid hand On his liegeman true.

5. ‘Of father fallen First I may tell; Of much-loved mother Must mourn the loss. Sad store hath memory For minstrel skill, A wood to bloom leafy With words of song.

12. ‘Willing he followed His father’s word, Though all opposing Should thwart my rede: He in mine household Mine honour upheld, Of my power and rule The prop and the stay.

6. ‘Most woful the breach, Where the wave in-brake On the fenced hold Of my father’s kin. Unfilled, as I wot, And open doth stand The gap of son rent By the greedy surge.

13. ‘Oft to my mind My loss doth come, How I brotherless bide Bereaved and lone. Thereon I bethink me, When thickens the fight Thereon with much searching My soul doth muse:


7. ‘Me Ran, the sea-queen, Roughly hath shaken: I stand of beloved ones Stript and all bare. Cut hath the billow The cord of my kin, Strand of mine own twisting So stout and strong.

14. ‘Who staunch stands by me In stress of fight, Shoulder to shoulder, Side by side? Such want doth weaken In war’s dread hour; Weak-winged I fly, Whom friends all fail.

1. ‘Much doth it task me My tongue to move, Through my throat to utter The breath of song. Poesy, prize of Odin, Promise now I may not, A draught drawn not lightly From deep thought’s dwelling.

8. ‘Sure, if sword could venge Such cruel wrong, Evil times would wait gir, ocean-god. That wind-giant’s brother Were I strong to slay, ‘Gainst him and his sea-brood Battling would I go.

15. ‘Son’s place to his sire (Saith a proverb true) Another son born Alone can fill. Of kinsmen none (Though ne’er so kind) To brother can stand In brother’s stead.

2. ‘Forth it flows but hardly; For within my breast Heaving sobbing stifles Hindered stream of song Blessed boon to mortals Brought from Odin’s kin, Goodly treasure, stolen From Giant-land of yore.

9. ‘But I in no wise Boast, as I ween, Strength that may strive With the stout ships’ Bane. For to eyes of all Easy now ‘tis seen How the old man’s lot Helpless is and lone.

16. ‘O’er all our ice-fields, Our northern snows, Few now I find Faithful and true. Dark deeds men love, Doom death to their kin, A brother’s body Barter for gold.

3. ‘He, who so blameless Bore him in life, O’erborne by billows With boat was whelmed.

10. ‘Me hath the main Of much bereaved; Dire is the tale, The deaths of kin:

17. ‘Unpleasing to me Our people’s mood, Each seeking his own In selfish peace.

Then spoke Thorgerdr: ‘What counsel shall we take now? This our purpose is defeated. Now I would fain, father, that we should lengthen our lives, so that you may compose a funeral poem on Bodvar, and I will grave it on a wooden roller; after that we can die, if we like. Hardly, I think, can Thorstein your son compose a poem on Bodvar; but it were unseemly that he should not have funeral rites. Though I do not think that we two shall sit at the drinking when the funeral feast is held.’ Egil said that it was not to be expected that he could now compose, though he were to attempt it. ‘However, I will try this,’ said he. Egil had had another son named Gunnar, who had died a short time before. So then Egil began the poem, and this is the beginning.


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To the happier bees’ home Hath passed my son, My good wife’s child To his glorious kin. 18. ‘Odin, mighty monarch, Of minstrel mead the lord, On me a heavy hand Harmful doth lay. Gloomy in unrest Ever I grieve, Sinks my drooping brow, Seat of sight and thought. 19. ‘Fierce fire of sickness First from my home Swept off a son With savage blow: One who was heedful, Harmless, I wot, In deeds unblemished, In words unblamed. 20. ‘Still do I mind me, When the Friend of men High uplifted To the home of gods That sapling stout Of his father’s stem, Of my true wife born A branch so fair. 21. ‘Once bare I goodwill To the great spear-lord, Him trusty and true I trowed for friend: Ere the giver of conquest, The car-borne god, Broke faith and friendship False in my need. 22. ‘Now victim and worship To Vilir’s brother, The god once honoured, I give no more. Yet the friend of Mimir On me hath bestowed Some boot for bale, If all boons I tell. 23. ‘Yea he, the wolf-tamer, The war-god skilful, Gave poesy faultless To fill my soul: Gave wit to know well Each wily trickster, And force him to face me As foeman in fight. 24. ‘Hard am I beset; Whom Hela, the sister Of Odin’s fell captive, On Digra-ness waits. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Yet shall I gladly With right good welcome Dauntless in bearing Her death-blow bide. Egil began to cheer up as the composing of the poem went on; and when the poem was complete, he brought it before Asgerdr and Thorgerdr and his family. He rose from his bed, and took his place in the high-seat. This poem he called ‘Loss of Sons.’ And now Egil had the funeral feast of his son held after ancient custom. But when Thorgerdr went home, Egil enriched her with good gifts.

Chapter 82 - Hacon’s wars and death. Poem on Arinbjorn. Long time did Egil dwell at Borg, and became an old man. But it is not told that he had lawsuits with any here in the land; nor is there a word of single combats, or war and slaughter of his after he settled down here in Iceland. They say that Egil never went abroad out of Iceland after the events already related. And for this the main cause was that Egil might not be in Norway, by reason of the charges which (as has been told before) the kings there deemed they had against him. He kept house in munificent style, for there was no lack of money, and his disposition led him to munificence. King Hacon, Athelstan’s foster-son, long ruled over Norway; but in the latter part of his life Eric’s sons came to Norway and strove with him for the kingdom; and they had battles together, wherein Hacon ever won the victory. The last battle was fought in Hordaland, on Stord-island, at Fitjar: there king Hacon won the victory, but also got his death-wound. After that Eric’s sons took the kingdom in Norway. Lord Arinbjorn was with Harold Eric’s son, and was made his counsellor, and had of him great honours. He was commander of his forces and defender of the land. A great warrior was Arinbjorn, and a victorious. He was governor of the Firth folk. Egil Skallagrimsson heard these tidings of the change of kings in Norway, and therewith how Arinbjorn had returned to his estates in Norway, and was there in great honour. Then Egil composed a poem about Arinbjorn, whereof this is the beginning:

ARINBJORN’S EPIC, OR A PART THEREOF. 1. ‘For generous prince Swift praise I find, But stint my words To stingy churl. Openly sing I Of king’s true deeds, But silence keep On slander’s lies. 2. ‘For fabling braggarts Full am I of scorn, But willing speak I Of worthy friends: Courts I of monarchs A many have sought, A gallant minstrel Of guileless mood. 3. ‘Erewhile the anger Of Yngling’s son I bore, prince royal Of race divine. With hood of daring O’er dark locks drawn A lord right noble I rode to seek. 4. ‘There sate in might The monarch strong, With helm of terror High-throned and dread; A king unbending With bloody blade Within York city Wielded he power. 5. ‘That moon-like brightness Might none behold, Nor brook undaunted Great Eric’s brow: As fiery serpent His flashing eyes Shot starry radiance Stern and keen. 6. ‘Yet I to this ruler Of fishful seas My bolster-mate’s ransom Made bold to bear, Of Odin’s goblet O’erflowing dew Each listening ear-mouth Eagerly drank. 7. ‘Not beauteous in seeming My bardic fee To ranks of heroes In royal hall: When I my hood-knoll Wolf-gray of hue 113

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For mead of Odin From monarch gat.

If I for such good Gave nought again.

Nor easily shafted Are all men’s spears.

8. ‘Thankful I took it, And therewithal The pit-holes black Of my beetling brows; Yea and that mouth That for me bare The poem of praise To princely knees.

15. ‘Now better seeth The bard to climb With feet poetic The frowning steep, And set forth open In sight of all The laud and honour Of high-born chief.

22. ‘Out of the mansion Of Arinbjorn, When guested and rested In generous wise, None with hard jest, None with rude jeer, None with his axe-hand Ungifted hie.

9. ‘Tooth-fence took I, And tongue likewise, Ears’ sounding chambers And sheltering eaves. And better deemed I Than brightest gold The gift then given By glorious king.

16. ‘Now shall my voice-plane Shape into song Virtues full many Of valiant friend. Ready on tongue Twofold they lie, Yea, threefold praises Of Thorir’s son.

23. ‘Hater of money Is he of the Firths, A foe to the gold-drops Of Draupnir born. .....

10. ‘There a staunch stay Stood by my side, One man worth many Of meaner wights, Mine own true friend Whom trusty I found, High-couraged ever In counsels bold.

17. ‘First tell I forth What far is known, Openly bruited In ears of all; How generous of mood Men deem this lord, Bjorn of the hearth-fire The birchwood’s bane.

11. ‘Arinbjorn Alone us saved Foremost of champions From fury of king; Friend of the monarch He framed no lies Within that palace Of warlike prince.

18. ‘Folk bear witness With wond’ring praise, How to all guests Good gifts he gives: For Bjorn of the hearth-stone Is blest with store Freely and fully By Frey and Njord.

12. ‘Of the stay of our house Still spake he truth, (While much he honoured My hero-deeds) Of the son of Kveldulf, Whom fair-haired king Slew for a slander, But honoured slain.

19. ‘To him, high scion Of Hroald’s tree, Fulness of riches Flowing hath come; And friends ride thither In thronging crowd By all wide ways ‘Neath windy heaven.

13. ‘Wrong were it if he Who wrought me good, Gold-splender lavish, Such gifts had cast To the wasteful tract Of the wild sea-mew, To the surge rough-ridden By sea-kings’ steeds.

20. ‘Above his ears Around his brow A coronal fair, As a king, he wore. Beloved of gods, Beloved of men, The warrior’s friend, The weakling’s aid.

14. ‘False to my friend Were I fairly called, An untrue steward Of Odin’s cup; Of praise unworthy, Pledge-breaker vile,

21. ‘That mark he hitteth That most men miss; Though money they gather, This many lack: For few be the bounteous And far between,


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24.‘Rings he scatters, Riches he squanders, Of avarice thievish An enemy still. ..... 25. ‘Long course of life His lot hath been, By battles broken, Bereft of peace. ..... 26. ‘Early waked I, Word I gathered, Toiled each morning With speech-moulding tongue. A proud pile built I Of praise long-lasting To stand unbroken In Bragi’s town.’’

Chapter 83 - Of Einar Helgi’s son and Egil. There was a man named Einar. He was the son of Helgi, the son of Ottar, the song of Bjorn Easterling, who took land in Broadfirth. Einar was brother of Osvif the seer. Einar at an early age was tall and strong, and most doughty. He began to compose poetry when quite young, and was eager for learning. One summer at the Thing Einar went to the booth of Egil Skallagrimsson, and they began to talk, and soon their talk took this turn that they spoke of poetry. In this converse both of them found pleasure. After this Einar often went to talk with Egil, and a great friendship was struck up between them. Einar had not long returned to Iceland from foreign travel. Egil asked Einar much of tidings from the east, and about his friends, and withal about those that he A Black Arrow resource

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deemed his enemies. He asked also much about men of rank. Einar in turn asked Egil about the events that had happened in his travels, and about his exploits. This talk pleased Egil, and was kept up briskly. Einar asked Egil on what occasion his prowess had been most hardly tried; this he begged him to say. Egil then sang: ‘One with eight I battled, Eleven faced I twice, Made for wolf a meal, Myself the bane of all. Shields shook by sword-strokes Smitten fast and furious; Angry fire forth-flashing Flew my ashen spear.’ Egil and Einar pledged them to friendship on parting. Einar was long abroad from Iceland with men of rank. Einar was open-handed, and often short of money, but noble-hearted and manly. He was in the body-guard of earl Hacon Sigurd’s son. At that time there was in Norway much war, the battles between earl Hacon and Eric’s sons; and now one, now the other, was driven from the land. King Harold, Eric’s son, fell south in Denmark, at Hals in Lima-firth; this was by treachery. He was then fighting with Harold Knut’s son, who was called Gold-Harold, and earl Hacon was there. There fell also with king Harold lord Arinbjorn, of whom much has already been told. And when Egil heard of the fall of Arinbjorn, then he sang: ‘Mead-givers, glorious men, Gold-spending warrior wights Are spent and gone. Where seek Such lavish donors now? Erewhile, beyond the sea, Earth’s islet-studded belt, Such on my high hawk-perch Hailed down the silver shower.’ Einar Helgi’s son the poet was nicknamed Skala-glam. He composed a poem about earl Hacon, which is called ‘Dearth of Gold’; and for a long time the earl would not hear the poem because he was wroth with Einar. Then Einar sang: ‘Song made I on a chief Supreme o’er land enthroned; While others slept, I wrought, Whereof I much repent. Hither the earl to seek Eager I came, nor thought From brave free-handed prince Far-comers worse would fare.’ The Sagas of the Icelanders

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And further he sang: ‘Seek we that earl whose sword Spreads banquet for the wolf: To Sigvald’s ship well-oared, Shield-fenced, my sword I lend. Wielder of wound-snake, he Will not my succour scorn: I to his sea-borne barque My buckler now will bear.’ The earl did not wish Einar to go away; so he granted a hearing to the poem, and thereafter gave Einar a shield, which was a most costly work. It was inscribed with old tales; and between the writing were overlaid spangles of gold with precious stones set therein. Einar went to Iceland and lodged with his brother Osvif: but in autumn he rode east and came to Borg, and was guest there. Egil was just then not at home, having gone to the northern part of the district, but was expected home. Einar waited for him three nights: longer than three nights it was not the custom to stay on a friendly visit. Then Einar made him ready to go; but when ready he went to Egil’s place in the hall, and there he hung up that precious shield, and told the house-carles that he left it a gift for Egil. Then he rode away. But on that same day Egil came home. And when he came in to his place, then he saw the shield, and asked whose was that costly work. It was told him that Einar Skala-glam had come there, and had left the shield as a gift for him. Then said Egil: ‘The wretched man, to give it! He means that I should bide awake and compose poetry about his shield. Now, bring my horse. I must ride after him and slay him.’ He was told that Einar had ridden away early in the morning. ‘He will,’ they said, ‘by this be come westwards to the dales.’ Soon after Egil composed a poem, whereof this is the beginning: ‘Of shield, the ship’s bright guard, To show the praise ‘’tis time, Home to my hand is given The treasure-sender’s gift. Sure hath Skala-glam To skilful guidance lent (Speak, ye who list my lay) The reins of minstrel lore.’ Egil and Einar remained friends so long as they both lived. But about the shield’s fortune at last this is told, that Egil took it with him to the wedding when he went north to Broadmoor with Thorkettle

Gunnvald’s son and Red-Bjorn’s sons Trefill and Helgi. There the shield was spoilt by falling into a tub of sour whey. After this Egil had the outer ornaments taken off: and there were twelve ounces of gold in the spangles.

Chapter 84 - Of Thorstein Egil’s son. Thorstein Egil’s son when he grew up was a most handsome man, white-haired, bright-faced. Tall he was and strong, yet not so much so as his father. Thorstein was wise, gentle, quite of temper, calm above other men. Egil loved him little; nor was Thorstein affectionate with his father; but Asgerdr and Thorstein loved each other dearly. Egil was now beginning to age much. One summer Thorstein rode to the Thing, but Egil sat at home. Before Thorstein left home he and Asgerdr managed to take from Egil’s chest without his knowledge the silken robe given him by Arinbjorn, and Thorstein took it to the Thing. But when he wore it at the Thing it trailed behind him, and became soiled at the hem as they were going to the hill of laws. And when he came home, Asgerdr put the robe in the chest where it was before. Long after, when Egil opened his chest, he found that the robe was spoilt, and questioned Asgerdr how that had come about. She told him the truth. Then Egil sang: ‘Him who from me inherits I hold no worthy heir. A son deceives me living, Deceit I call his deed. Well might he, wave-horse-rider, Wait but awhile, till me Sea-skimming shipmen cover With shroud of piled stones.’ Thorstein married Jofridr, daughter of Gunnar son of Hlif: her mother was Helga daughter of Olaf Feilan, sister of Thord Gellir. Jofridr had before been wife of Thorod the son of Tongue-Odd. Soon after this Asgerdr died. After her death Egil gave up his housekeeping to Thorstein, and went south to Moss-fell to Grim, his son-in-law, for he loved Thordis his step-daughter most of all who were then living. One summer a ship came out and put into Loam Bay, steered by a man named Thormod. He was a Norwegian, a house-carle of Thorstein 115

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Thora’s son. He was to take with him a shield, which Thorstein had sent to Egil Skallagrimsson: it was a valuable treasure. Thormod brought Egil the shield, and he received it with thanks. In the following winter Egil composed a poem about the gift of the shield: it is called Bucklerpoem, and this is the beginning: ‘List to the stream of lay From long-haired Odin flowing, Thane of a king, and bid Thy folk due silence keep. For thee, sea-raven’s ruler, Rained from the eagle’s beak Full oft shall shower of song In Horda’s shore be heard.’ Thorstein Egil’s son dwelt at Borg. He had two illegitimate sons, Hrifla and Hrafn. But after his marriage he and Jofridr had ten children. Helga the fair was their daughter, she about whom quarrelled Skald-Hrafn and Gunnlaug Wormstongue. Grim was their eldest son, the second Skuli, the third Thorgeir, the fourth Kollsvein, the fifth Hjorleif, the sixth Hall, the seventh Egil, the eighth Thord. The other daughter was Thora, who was married to Thormod Kleppjarn’s son. From Thorstein’s children sprang a large progeny, and many great men. They are called Myramen, all those that sprang from Skallagrim.

Chapter 85 - Of Aunund Sjoni and Steinar his son. Aunund Sjoni dwelt at Anabrekka, while Egil dwelt at Borg. Aunund married Thorgerdr daughter of Thorbjorn the Stout, of Snæfell-strand: the children of Aunund and his wife were a son Steinar, and a daughter Dalla. And when Aunund grew old and his sight was dim, then he gave up the housekeeping to Steinar his son. Father and son had much wealth. Steinar was above other men tall and strong, ill-favoured, with a stoop, long in the legs, short in the body. He was a very quarrelsome man, vehement, overbearing, and obstinate, a most headstrong fellow. And when Thorstein Egil’s son came to dwell at Borg, there was at once a coolness between him and Steinar. South of Hafs-brook lies a moor called Stackmoor. In winter this is under water, but in spring, when the ice breaks up, such good grazing for cattle is there, that it was deemed equal to stacked hay. Hafs-brook by old custom marked the boundary; 116

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but in spring Steinar’s cattle encroached much on Stack-moor, when driven out to Hafs-brook, and Thorstein’s house-carles complained of it. Steinar took no notice of this; and so matters went on for the first summer without anything happening. But in the second spring Steinar continued to take the pasturage; wherefore Thorstein spoke with him about it, but quietly, asking him to control the grazing of his kine, as had been the old usage. Steinar said the cattle should go where they would. He spoke on the whole matter with obstinacy, and he and Thorstein had words about it. Thorstein then had the cattle turned back to the moor beyond Hafs-brook. This when Steinar knew, he charged Grani his thrall to sit by the cattle on Stack-moor, and he sat there every day. This was in the latter part of the summer: all the pasture south of Hafs-brook had been grazed by then. Now it happened one day that Thorstein had mounted a knoll to look round. He saw where Steinar’s cattle were moving. Out he went on to the moor: it was late in the day. He saw that the cattle had now come far out on the fenny hollow. Thorstein ran out on the moor. And when Grani saw that, he drove the cattle away apace till they came to the milking-shed. Thorstein followed, and he and Grani met in the gate. Thorstein slew him there: and it has been called since Grani’s gate: it is in the wall of the enclosure. Thorstein pulled down the wall over Grani, and so covered his body. Then he went home to Borg, but the women who came to the milking-shed found Grani where he lay. After that they carried him home to the house, and told Steinar these tidings. Steinar buried him up on the hillside, and soon got another thrall to go with the cattle, whose name is not told. Thorstein made as though he knew nothing about the pasture for the remainder of the summer. It now happened that Steinar in the early part of the winter went out to Snæfellstrand and stayed there awhile. There he saw a thrall named Thrand, who was tall and strong above other men. Steinar, wishing to buy him, bid a large sum: but his owner valued him at three marks of silver, which was twice the price of a common thrall, and at this sum the bargain was made. Steinar took Thrand home with him, and when they came home, then spoke Steinar with Thrand: ‘Now stand matters so that I will have work of you.

But as all the work is already arranged, I will put on you a task of but little trouble: you shall sit by my cattle. I make a great point of their being well kept at pasture. I would have you go by no man’s rule but your own, take them wherever the pasture on the moor is best. I am no judge of a man’s look if you have not courage and strength enough to hold your own against any house-carle of Thorstein’s.’ Steinar delivered into Thrand’s hand a large axe. whose blade was an ell long, it was keen as a razor. ‘This I think of you, Thrand,’ said Steinar, ‘that you would not regard the priesthood of Thorstein if ye two were face to face.’ Thrand answered: ‘No duty do I, as I deem, owe to Thorstein; and methinks I understand what work you have laid before me. You think you risk little where I am; and I believe I shall come well out of it if I and Thorstein try our strength together.’ After this Thrand took charge of the cattle. He understood, ere he had been long there, whither Steinar had had his cattle taken, and he sat by them on Stackmoor. When Thorstein was aware of this, he sent a house-carle to seek Thrand, bidding him tell Thrand the boundary between his land and Steinar’s. When the house-carle came to Thrand, he told him his errand, and bade him take the cattle otherwither, saying that the land on which they were belonged to Thorstein Egil’s son. Thrand said, ‘I care not a jot who owns the land; I shall take the cattle where I think the pasture is best.’ Then they parted: the house-carle went home and told him the thrall’s answer. Thorstein let the matter rest, and Thrand took to sitting by the cattle night and day.

Chapter 86 - Slaying of Thrand. One morning Thorstein rose with the sun, and went up on the hill. He saw where Steinar’s cattle were. Then went Thorstein out on the moor till he came to the cattle. There stands a wood-clad rock by Hafs-brook: upon this Thrand was lying asleep, having put off his shoes. Thorstein mounted the rock: he had in his hand a small axe, and no other weapon. With the shaft of the axe he poked Thrand, and bade him wake. Up he jumped swiftly and suddenly, gripped his axe with both hands and raised it aloft, and asked Thorstein what he wanted. He replied, ‘I wish to A Black Arrow resource

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tell you that this land is mine; yours is the pasture beyond the brook. It is no wonder if you do not yet know the landmarks here.’ Said Thrand, ‘It makes no odds to me who owns the land: I shall let the cattle be where they please.’ ‘’Tis likely,’ said Thorstein, ‘that I shall wish myself, and not Steinar’s thralls, to rule my own land.’ Said Thrand, ‘You are a far more foolish man, Thorstein, than I judged you to be, if you will take night-quarters under my axe, and for this risk your honours. Methinks, from what I see, I have twice your strength; nor lack I courage: better weaponed am I also than you.’ Thorstein replied: ‘That risk I shall run, if you do not as I say about the pasture. I hope that our good fortune may differ much, as does the justice of our cause.’ Thrand said: ‘Now shall you see, Thorstein, whether I at all fear your threats.’ And with that Thrand sat down and tied on his shoe. But Thorstein raised his axe swiftly, and smote on Thrand’s neck so that his head fell forward on his breast. Then Thorstein heaped some stones over him and covered his body, which done, he went home to Borg. On that day Steinar’s cattle were late in coming home; and when there seemed no hope of their coming, Steinar took his horse and saddled it, and fully armed himself. He then rode to Borg. And when he came there he found men to speak to, and asked where Thorstein was. It was told him that he was sitting within. Then Steinar asked that he should come out; he had (he said) an errand with him. Which when Thorstein heard, he took his weapons and went out to the door. Then he asked Steinar what was his errand. ‘Have you slain Thrand my thrall?’ said Steinar. ‘Truly I have,’ said Thorstein; ‘you need not put that upon any other man.’ ‘Then I see,’ said Steinar, ‘that you mean to guard your land with the strong hand, since you have slain my two thralls: yet methinks this is no great exploit. Now will I offer you in this a far better choice, if you wish to guard your land by force: I shall not trust other men with the driving of my cattle, but be you sure of this, the cattle shall be on your land both night and day.’ ‘So it is,’ said Thorstein, ‘that I slew last summer your thrall, whom you set to feed cattle on my land, but afterwards let you have the feed as you would up to the winter. Now have I slain another thrall of yours, for the same fault as the former. Again you shall have The Sagas of the Icelanders

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the feed from now through the summer, as you will. But next summer, if you feed on my land, and set men to drive your cattle thither, then will I go on slaying for you every man that tends them, though it be yourself. I will act this every summer while you hold to the manner of grazing that you have begun.’ Then Steinar rode away and home to Brekka. And a little while after Steinar rode up to Stafar-holt, where Einar then dwelt. He was a priest. Steinar asked his help, and offered him money. Einar said, ‘You will gain little by my help, unless more men of honour back you in this cause.’ After that Steinar rode up to Reykjardale to see Tongue-Odd, and asked his help and offered him money. Odd took the money, and promised his help; he was to strengthen Steinar to take the law of Thorstein. Then Steinar rode home. But in the spring Odd and Einar went with Steinar on the journey of summons, taking a large company. Steinar summoned Thorstein for thrall-slaying, and claimed lesser outlawry as the penalty of each slaying. For this was the law, when thralls of anyone were slain, and the fine for the thrall was not brought to the owner before the third sunrise. But two charges of lesser outlawry were equivalent to one of full outlawry. Thorstein brought no counter-summons on any charge. And soon after he sent men southwards to Ness, who came to Grim as Mossfell and there told these tidings. Egil did not show much interest about it, but he quietly learned by the questions what had passed between Thorstein and Steinar, as also about those who had strengthened Steinar in this cause. Then the messengers went home, and Thorstein appeared well pleased with their journey. Thorstein Egil’s son took a numerous company to the spring-tide Thing: he came there one night before other men, and they roofed their booths, he and the Thingmen who had booths there. And when they had made all arrangements, then Thorstein bade his Thingmen set to work, and they built there large boothwalls. Then he had roofed in a far larger booth than the other that were there. In this booth were no men. Steinar rode to the Thing also with a numerous company, as did Tongue-Odd, and Einar from Stafar-holt; they roofed

their booths. The Thing was a very full one. Men pleaded their causes. Thorstein offered no atonement for himself, but to those who advised atonement made answer, that he meant to abide by judgment. He said that he thought the cause which Steinar came, about the slaying of his thralls, was little worth; Steinar’s thralls, he argued, had done enough to deserve death. Steinar was high and mighty about his cause: he had, as he thought, charges good in law, and helpers strong enough to win his rights. So he was most impetuous in his cause. That day men went to the Thing-brink and spoke their pleadings; but in the evening the judges were to go out to try suits. Thorstein was there with his train; he had there chief authority as to the rules of the Thing, for so it had been while Egil held priesthood and headship. Both parties were fully armed. And now it was seen from the Thing that a troop of men was riding down along Cleave-river with gleaming shields. And when they rode into the Thing, there rode foremost a man in a blue mantle. He had on his head a gilded helm, by his side a gold-decked shield, in his hand a barbed spear whose socket was overlaid with gold, and a sword at his girdle. Thither had come Egil Skallagrim’s son with eighty men, all well-weaponed, as if arrayed for battle. A choice company it was: Egil had brought with him the best landowners’ sons from the southern Nesses, those whom he thought the most warlike. With this troop Egil rode to the booth which Thorstein had had roofed, a booth hitherto empty. They dismounted. And when Thorstein perceived his father’s coming, he with all his troop went to meet him, and bade him welcome. Egil and his force had their travelling gear carried into the booth, and their horses turned out to pasture. This done, Egil and Thorstein with the whole troop went up to the Thing-brink, and sat them down where they were wont to sit. Then Egil stood up and spoke with loud voice: ‘Is Aunund Sjoni here on the Thing-brink?’ Aunund replied that he was there. And he said, ‘I am glad, Egil, that you are come. This will set right all the dispute here between these men.’ ‘Is it by your counsel,’ said Egil, ‘that your son Steinar brings a charge against my 117

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son Thorstein, and has gathered much people to this end, to make Thorstein an outcast?’ ‘Of this I am not the cause,’ said Aunund, ‘that they are quarrelling. I have spend many a word and begged Steinar to be reconciled with Thorstein; for in any case I would have spared your son Thorstein disgrace: and good cause for this is the loving friendship of old that has been between us two, Egil, since we grew up here as next-door neighbours.’ ‘It will soon be clear,’ said Egil, ‘whether you speak this as truth or vain words; though I think this latter can hardly be. I remember the day when either of us had deemed it incredible that one should be accusing the other, or that we should not control our sons from going on with such folly as I hear this is like to prove. To me this seems right counsel, while we both live and are so nearly concerned with their quarrel, that we take this cause into our own hands and quash it, and let not Tongue-Odd and Einar match our sons together like fighting horses. Let them henceforth find some other way than this of making money.’ Then stood up Aunund and spoke: ‘Rightly say you, Egil; and it ill-beseems us to be at a Thing where our sons quarrel. Never shall that shame be ours, that we lacked the manhood to reconcile them. Now, Steinar, I will that you give this cause into my hands, and let me deal with it as I please.’ ‘I am not sure,’ said Steinar, ‘that I will so abandon my cause; for I have already sought me the help of great men. I will now only bring my cause to such an issue as shall content Odd and Einar.’ Then Odd and Steinar talked together. Odd said, ‘I will give you, Steinar, the help that I promised towards getting law, or for such issue of the cause as you may consent to accept. You will be mainly answerable for how your cause goes, if Egil is to be judge therein.’ Whereupon Aunund said: ‘I need not leave this matter to the tongue of Odd. Of him I have had neither good or bad; but Egil has done to me much that is very good. I trust him far more than others; and I shall have my way in this. It will be for your advantage not to have all of us on your hands. I have hitherto ruled for us both, and will do so still.’ Steinar said, ‘You are right eager about this cause, 118

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father; but I think we shall oft rue this.’ After this Steinar made over the cause to Aunund to prosecute or compromise according to law. And no sooner had Aunund the management of this cause, than he went to seek the father and son, Thorstein and Egil. Then said Aunund: ‘Now I will, Egil, that you alone shape and shear in this matter as you will, for I trust you best to deal with this my cause as with all others.’ Then Thorstein and Aunund took hands, and named them witnesses, declaring withal that Egil Skallagrimsson should along judge this cause, as he would, without appeal, then and there at the Thing. And so ended this suit. Now men went home to their booths. Thorstein had three oxen led to Egil’s booth and slaughtered for the Thing banquet. And when Tongue-Odd and Steinar came home to their booth, Odd said: ‘Now have you, Steinar, and your father ruled the issue of your suit. I now declare myself free of debt to you, Steinar, in regard of that help which I promised you; for it was agreed between us that I should help you in carrying through your suit, or to such issue as should content you; free am I, I say, whatever may be the terms adjudged you by Egil.’ Steinar said that Odd had helped him well and manfully, and their friendship should be closer than before. ‘I pronounce you,’ he said, ‘free of debt to me in regard of that whereto you were bound.’ In the evening the judges went out; but nothing happened that needs to be told.

Chapter 87 - Of Egil and Aunund Sjoni. The next day Egil Skallagrimsson went to the Thing-brink, and with him Thorstein and all their party. Thither came also Aunund and Steinar, Tongue-Odd and Einar, and company. And when the law pleadings were finished, then stood up Egil and spoke thus: ‘Are Steinar and Aunund, father and son, present, so that they can hear my words?’ Aunund answered that they were. ‘Then will I,’ said Egil, ‘deliver my judgment between Steinar and Thorstein. I begin the cause with this: Grim my father came to this island, and took to him here

all the land of Myrar and the district round about, and chose him a homestead at Borg, and assigned a parcel of land thereto, but gave to his friends choice of land outside that same, in which they have since settled. To Ani he gave a homestead at Anabrekka, where Aunund and Steinar have hitherto dwelt. We all know this, Steinar, what are the landmarks between Borg and Anabrekka, that the chief one is Hafsbrook. Now therefore not from ignorance, Steinar, did you act in grazing on Thorstein’s land, for you, Steinar, and you, Aunund, might know that Ani received the land of my father Grim: but you encroached on his land, thinking that he would be so degenerate as tamely to submit to your robbery. But Thorstein slew two thralls of yours. Now it is evident to all that these died for their ill-deeds, and are therefore unatonable, nay, even had they been free men, yet had they been unatonable, no fine could have been claimed for them. But as for you, Steinar, seeing that you devised to rob my son Thorstein of his property which he took with my authority, and I took by inheritance after my father, you shall therefore lose your land at Anabrekka, and have no payment for the same. And further, you shall have neither homestead nor lodgment here in the district south of Long-river. And you must quit Anabrekka before flitting days are past; else may you, immediately after flitting days, be slain with impunity by any who wish to help Thorstein, if you refuse to go away or break any of these terms that I have pronounced for you.’ But when Egil sat down, then Thorstein named witnesses to his decision. Then spoke Aunund Sjoni: ‘’Twill be said, Egil, that this judgment which you have given and pronounced is very crooked. And what I have to say is this: hitherto I have done all I could to prevent strife, but henceforth I shall not spare to do what I can to harm Thorstein.’ ‘This I forebode,’ said Egil, ‘that the longer our quarrel lasts, the worse will be the fortune of you and your son. I thought you must have known, Aunund, that I have held mine own before men quite as great as are you and your son. But for Odd and Einar, who have so eagerly thrust themselves into this cause, they have reaped therefrom due honour.’ A Black Arrow resource

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Chapter 88 - Of Thorgeir. Thorgeir Blund was there at the Thing, Egil’s sister’s son; he had given Thorstein much help in this suit. He begged father and son to give him some land out there on the Moors. Hitherto he had dwelt south of White-river below Blundswater. Egil received the request well, and persuaded Thorstein to let him come thither. So they settled Thorgeir at Anabrekka, but Steinar moved house beyond Long-river and settled down at Leiru-brook. But Egil rode home southwards to Ness, father and son parting on friendly terms. There was a man with Thorstein named Iri, fleet of foot and keen of sight above others; he was a foreigner, a freedman of Thorstein’s, but he still had the care of his flocks, and especially to gather the wethers up to the fell in spring, and in autumn down to the fold. Now, after flitting days, Thorstein bade gather the wethers that had been left behind in spring, meaning to have them driven to the fell. Iri was there in the sheepfold, but Thorstein and his house-carles rode up to the fell, being eight in all. Thorstein was having a fence made across Grisar-tongue, between Long-water and Cleaveriver; at which many of his men were employed in the spring. After inspecting his house-carles’ work here, Thorstein rode homewards. Now as he came over against the Thing-field, Iri came running to meet them, and said that he wished to speak to Thorstein alone. Thorstein bade his companions ride on while they spoke together. Iri said he had gone up to Einkunnir that day, and looked to the sheep. ‘But I saw,’ said he, ‘in the wood above the winter road the gleam of twelve spears and some shields.’ Then Thorstein said in a loud voice, so that his companions could hear: ‘Why can he be in such a hurry to see me that I may not ride on my way home? However Aulvald will think it strange that I refuse him the visit if he is sick.’ Iri then ran up to the fell as fast as he could. Thorstein said to his companions: ‘I think we must lengthen our way, for we must first ride south to Aulvaldstead. Aulvald send me word I am to go to him. And he will think it no more than a fair return for the ox that he gave me last autumn that I should go and see him, if he deems the matter important.’ Whereupon Thorstein with his company The Sagas of the Icelanders

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rode south by the moor above Stangarholt, and so on south to Gufa-river, and down along the river by the riding-path. And when they came down below the lake, they saw south of the river man cattle and a man with them. He was a house-carle of Aulvald’s. Thorstein asked whether all was well there. He said that all was well, and that Aulvald was in the copse cutting wood. ‘Then tell him,’ said Thorstein, ‘if he has an urgent errand with me, to come to Borg, for I will now ride home.’ And so he did. It was afterwards learnt that Steinar, with eleven more, had lain in ambush at Einkunnir that same day. Thorstein made as though he had heard nought of it, and things remained quiet.

Chapter 89 - Thorstein goes to a feast. There was a man named Thorgeir, a kinsman and friend of Thorstein: he dwelt then at Swan-ness. Thorgeir was wont to have a harvest feast every autumn. He went to Thorstein Egil’s son and asked him to his house. Thorstein promised to come, and Thorgeir went home. But on the appointed day Thorstein made him ready to go: it wanted then four weeks of winter. With Thorstein went an Easterling, his guest, and two housecarles. There was a son of Thorstein named Grim, who was then ten years old; he too went with Thorstein, thus they were five in all. And they rode out to Foss, there they crossed Long-river, then out, as the road lay, to Aurrida-river. On the outer bank of that river Steinar was at work, and Aunund, and their house-carles. And when they perceived Thorstein they ran to their weapons, then pursued his party. On seeing Steinar’s pursuit, these rode outside Long-holt. There is a hillock, high and bare of wood. Thorstein’s party dismounted there, and climbed the hillock. Thorstein bade the boy Grim go into the wood, and not be present at the encounter. As soon as Steinar and his company came to the hillock they set upon Thorstein’s party, and there was a fight. There were in Steinar’s band six grown men in all, and a seventh was Steinar’s son, ten years old. This encounter was seen by those who were on the meadows from other farms, and they ran to part them. But by the time

they were parted both Thorstein’s housecarles had lost their lives, one house-carle of Steinar’s had fallen, and several were wounded. After they were parted Thorstein sought for Grim. And they found him sore wounded, while Steinar’s son lay there by him dead. And when Thorstein leapt on his horse, then Steinar called after him, ‘You run now, Thorstein the white.’ Thorstein answered, ‘You shall run further ere a week be out.’ Then Thorstein with his company rode out over the moor, taking with them the boy Grim. And when they came to the holt that is there, the boy died; and they buried him there in the holt, called since Grimsholt. And the place where they fought is called Battle-hillock. Thorstein rode to Swan-ness that evening, as he had intended, and sat there at the feast three nights, after which he made him ready to go home. Men offered to go with him, but he would not; so he and his Easterling friend rode two together. That same day Steinar, expecting that Thorstein would be riding home, rode out along the shore. But when he came to the dunes below Lamba-stead he lay in wait there. He had the sword named Skrymir, an excellent weapon. He stood there on the sandhill with drawn sword and eyes turned one way, for he saw Thorstein riding out on the sand. Lambi, who dwelt at Lamba-stead, saw what Steinar was doing. He left the house and went down the back, and, when he came to Steinar, he gripped him behind between the shoulders. Steinar tried to shake him off, but Lambi held fast, and so they went from the sandhill on to the level, and just then Thorstein and his friend rode by on the path below. Steinar had ridden thither on his stallion, which was now galloping inwards along the seashore. Thorstein and his friend saw this, and wondered, for they had perceived nothing of Steinar’s coming. Then Steinar turned to regain the bank (for he saw not that Thorstein had ridden by). And as they came on the edge of the bank, Lambi suddenly threw Steinar from the sandhill down on to the flat sand, and himself ran home. As soon as he could get to his feet Steinar ran after Lambi. But when Lambi reached his house-door, he dashed in 119

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and slammed the door after him, Steinar aiming a blow after him so that the sword stuck in the wood of the door. There they parted, and Steinar went home. But when Thorstein came home, he sent next day a house-carle out to Leiru-brook to bid Steinar move house beyond Borgar-hraun, else would he take advantage of this against Steinar when he had more power on his side, ‘and you will then,’ said he, ‘have no choice of migration.’ So Steinar prepared to go out to Snæfells-strand, and there he set up his household at a place called Ellida. And thus ended the dealings between him and Thorstein Egil’s son. Thorgeir Blund dwelt at Anabrekka. He proved a bad neighbour to Thorstein in every way that he could do so. On one occasion, when Egil and Thorstein met, they talked much about Thorgeir Blund their kinsman, and they both agreed about him. Then Egil sang: ‘Steinar my word erewhile Stript of his fruitful acres: So did I hope to help The heir of Geir and Kettle. False, though he promised fair, My sister’s son hath failed me. Blund now (whereat I wonder) Withholds him not from ill.’ Thorgeir Blund left Anabrekka, and went south to Floka-dale; for Thorstein saw he could not get on with him, and yet wished to be forbearing. Thorstein was a man with no trickery, just, and never aggressive on others, but he held his own if others attacked him. But it proved disastrous to most to match their force with him. Odd was then head-man in Borgar-firth, south of White-river. He was templepriest, and ruled over that temple, to which all paid tribute within Skardsheath.

Chapter 90 - Death of Egil Skallagrim’s son. Egil Skallagrim’s son now grew old, and in his old age became heavy in movement, and dull both in hearing and sight; he became also stiff in the legs. Egil was at Moss-fell with Grim and Thordis. It happened one day that as Egil went out along the house-wall he stumbled and 120

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fell. Some women saw this, and laughed, saying: ‘You are now quite gone, Egil, if you fall when alone.’ Then said the master Grim, ‘Women jeered at us less when we were younger.’ Egil then sang: ‘Old haltered horse I waver, Bald-head I weakly fall: Hollow my failing leg-bones, The fount of hearing dry.’ Egil became quite blind. And it was so that one day, when the weather was cold, Egil went to the fire to warm himself. Whereupon the cook said that it was a great wonder, so mighty a man as Egil had been, that he should lie in their way so that they could not do their work. ‘Be you civil,’ said Egil, ‘though I bask by the fire, and let us bear and forbear about place.’ ‘Stand you up,’ said she, ‘and go to your seat, and let us do our work.’ Egil stood up, and went to his place and sang: ‘Blind near the blaze I wander, Beg of the fire-maid pardon, Crave for a seat. Such sorrow From sightless eyes I bear. Yet England’s mighty monarch Me whilom greatly honoured: And princes once with pleasure The poet’s accents heard.’ Again, once when Egil went to the fire to warm himself, a man asked him whether his feet were cold, and warned him not to put them too near the fire. ‘That shall be so,’ said Egil; ‘but ‘tis not easy steering my feet now that I cannot see; a very dismal thing is blindness.’ Then Egil sang: ‘Lonely I lie, And think it long, Carle worn with eld From kings’ courts exiled. Feet twain have I, Frosty and cold, Bedfellows needing Blaze of fire.’ In the later days of Hacon the Great Egil Skallagrim’s son was in his ninth decade of years, and save for his blindness was a hale and hearty man. One summer, when men made ready to go to the Thing, Egil asked Grim that he might ride with him to the Thing. Grim was slow to grant this. And when Grim and Thordis talked together, Grim told her what Egil had asked. ‘I would

like you,’ said he, ‘to find out what lies under this request.’ Thordis then went to talk with Egil her uncle: it was Egil’s chief pleasure to talk to her. And when she met him she asked: ‘Is it true, uncle, that you wish to ride to the Thing? I want you to tell me what plan you have in this?’ ‘I will tell you,’ said he, ‘what I have thought of. I mean to take with me to the Thing two chests that king Athelstan gave me, each of which is full of English silver. I mean to have these chests carried to the Hill of Laws just when it is most crowded. Then I mean to sow broadcast the silver, and I shall be surprized if all share it fairly between them. Kicks, I fancy, there will be and blows; nay, it may end in a general fight of all the assembled Thing.’ Thordis said: ‘A famous plan, methinks, is this, and it will be remembered so long as Iceland is inhabited.’ After this Thordis went to speak with Grim and told him Egil’s plan. ‘That shall never be,’ said he, ‘that he carry this out, such monstrous folly.’ And when Egil came to speak with Grim of their going to the Thing, Grim talked him out of it all; and Egil sat at home during the Thing. But he did not like it, and he wore a frowning look. At Moss-fell were the summer-sheds of the milch kine, and during the Thing-time Thordis was at the sheds. It chanced one evening, when the household at Moss-fell were preparing to go to bed, that Egil called to him two thralls of Grim’s. He bade them bring him a horse. ‘I will go to the warm bath, and you shall go with me,’ said he. And when Egil was ready, he went out, and he had with him his chests of silver. He mounted the horse. They then went down through the home paddock and under the slope there, as men saw afterwards. But in the morning, when men rose, they saw Egil wandering about in the holt east of the farm, and leading the horse after him. They went to him, and brought him home. But neither thralls nor chests ever came back again, and many are the guesses as to where Egil hid his money. East of the farm at Moss-fell is a gill coming down from the fell: and it is noteworthy that in rapid thaws there was a great rush of water there, but after the water has fallen there have been found in the gill English A Black Arrow resource

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pennies. Some guess that Egil must have hidden his money there. Below the farm enclosure at Moss-fell are bogs wide and very deep. Many feel sure that ‘tis there Egil hid his money. And south of the river are hot springs, and hard by there large earthholes, and some men guess that Egil must have hidden his money there, because out that way cairnfires were often seen to hover. Egil said that he had slain Grim’s thralls, also that he had hidden the chests, but where he had hidden them he told no man. In the autumn following Egil fell sick of the sickness whereof he died. When he was dead, then Grim had Egil dressed in goodly raiment, and carried down to Tjalda-ness; there a sepulchral mound was made, and in it was Egil laid with his weapons and his raiment.

Chapter 91 - Grim takes the Christian faith. Grim of Moss-fell was baptized when Christianity was established by law in Iceland. He had a church built there, and ‘tis common report that Thordis had Egil moved to the church. And this proof there is thereof, that later on, when a church was built at Mossfell, and that church which Grim had built at Bush-bridge taken down, the churchyard was dug over, and under the altar-place were found human bones. They were much larger than the bones of other men. From the tales of old people it is thought pretty sure that these were Egil’s bones. Skapti the priest, Thorarin’s son, a wise man, was there at the time. He took then the skull of Egil, and set it on the churchyard fence. The skull was wondrous large, but still more out of the common way was its heaviness. It was all wave-marked on the surface like a shell. Skapti then wished to try the thickness of the skull. He took a good-sized hand-axe, and brandishing it aloft in one hand, brought down the back of it with force on the skull to break it. But where the blow fell the bone whitened, but neither was dinted nor cracked. Whence it might be gathered that this skull could not easily be harmed by the blows of weak men while skin and flesh were on it. The bones of Egil were laid in the outer part of the churchyard at Moss-fell. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Chapter 92 - Of Thorstein’s descendants. Thorstein Egil’s son received baptism when Christianity came to Iceland, and he had a church built at Borg. He was true to the faith, and a good man. He lived to be old, and died in his bed; he was buried at Borg by the church which he had built. From Thorstein have come numerous descendants; many great men, many poets: they are of the stock of the Myra-men, as are all who sprang from Skallagrim. It long held good of that kin that the men were tall, and great warriors, some too were of prophetic sight. They were of two distinct types: for in that stock have been born the handsomest men in Iceland, such were Thorstein Egil’s son, and Kjartan Olaf’s son, sister’s son of Thorstein, and Hall Gudmund’s son, also Helga the fair, Thorstein’s daughter (about whom Gunnlaug Worms-tongue and Skaldraven quarrelled). But the more part of the Myra-men were very ill-favoured. Of the brothers, sons of Thorstein, Thorgeir was the strongest, Skuli was the tallest. He dwelt at Borg after the days of Thorstein his father. Skuli was long time out freebooting. He was forecastleman of earl Eric on the Iron Ram when king Olaf Tryggvason fell. Skuli was in seven battles, and was deemed a great warrior and a brave. He afterwards came out to Iceland, settled in the house at Borg, and dwelt there till old age; many have been his descendants. And so ends this story.


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The Story of Hrafnkell, Frey’s Priest Chapter 1 It was in the days of King Harold Fairhair that a man brought his ship to Iceland into Breiðdal, his name being Hallfreðr. Breiðdal is a countryside down below that of Fljótsdalr. On board his ship was his wife and son, who was hight Hrafnkell, who was then fifteen winters old, a hopeful man and a goodly. Hallfreðr set up household. In the course of the winter there died a servant-maid of foreign kin, whose name was Arnthrúðr; hence the name of the place Arnthruðr-staðir. In the spring Hallfreðr moved his house northward over the heath, and set up a home at a place called Geitdalr. One night he dreamt that there came a man to him, and said : “There liest thou, Hallfreðr, and rather unwarily; flit thy house away west across the Lagarfljót, for there all thy good luck awaits thee.” Thereupon he awoke and flitted his belongings down valley across Rangá, into the Tongue, to a spot, which has since been called Hallfreðr-staðir, and there he dwelt into a good old age. In breaking up from Geitdalr he had left a goat and a buck behind, and the same day that Hallfreðr left, an earthslip struck the house, and there these two creatures were lost. Hence the name Geitdalr, which this place has borne ever since.

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this time Jökuldalr was all settled as high as the bridge. Once Hrafnkell rode up along Fljótsdalhérað and saw that a certain void valley stretched up beyond Jökuldalr, which seemed to him to be a better settlement than other valleys which he had seen already. And when he came home, he asked his father to share him out his part in the property, saying, that he was minded to set up house in the valley. This his father granted him, and in the valley he had found, he made an abode for himself, which he called Aðalból. Hrafnkell got him for wife Oddbjörg, daughter of Skjaldúlfr, from Laxárdalr, with whom he begat two sons, the older hight Thórir, the younger ¡sbjörn. But when Hrafnkell had hallowed for himself the land of Aðalból, he held a great sacrificial feast, and a great temple, too, he reared up there. Hrafnkell loved no other god before Frey, and to him he made offerings of all the best things he had, going half-shares. Hrafnkell settled the whole of the valley, bestowing lands on other people, on condition of being their chief; and thus he assumed priesthood over them. From this it came to pass that his name was lengthened, and he was called Freysgoði. He was a man of right unruly ways, but a well-mannered man notwithstanding. He asserted the authority of a priest over all the men of Jokuldalr. Hrafnkell was meek and blithe towards his own people, but stern and crossgrained towards those of Jokuldalr, who never got fair dealings with him. He busied himself much with single combats, and for no man did he pay a weregild, and one ever brought him to do boot for whatsoever he might have done. The country side of Fljótsdalr is a right difficult one to traverse, stony and sloughy. Yet father and son would be constantly riding to see each other, for between them there was much fondness of love. Hallfreðr thought the common way was too difficult of passing, so he sought for a new road above the fells, which stand in the countrysides of Fljótsdalr, where he found a drier one, although a longer, which ever since has been called the “gate” of Hallfreðr. This road is traversed only by those who are well acquainted with the country-sides.

Chapter 3 There was a man named Bjarni, who dwelt at a stead called Langarhús, in Hrafnkelsdalr. He was married, and had A Black Arrow resource

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begotten sons with his wife, one of whom was called Sámr, the other Eyvindr, goodly men and promising; Eyvindr stayed at home with his father, but Sámr was married, and had his abode on the northern side of the valley at a place called Leikskálar, and was right well off for live-stock. Sámr was a turbulent fellow, and skilled in law withal; but Eyvindr became a traveller, and went to Norway, where he dwelt for the first winter; from there he went abroad into foreign lands, coming at last to a stay in Constantinople, where he was right honourably received by the Greek king, and where, for a while, he spent his time. Of all his possessions there was one for which Hrafnkell had greater fondness than any other. This was a horse of a roan colour, which he called “Freymane.” He gave unto his friend Frey the half of this horse, and so great a love had he for it, that he made a solemn vow that he would kill any one who should ride the horse without his leave.

Chapter 4 A man was hight Thorbjörn, brother of Bjarni, who dwelt at a stead in Hrafnkelsdalr, called Hóll, situated across the valley right against Aðalból, on the eastern side. Thorbjörn was a man of scanty means, but of many useless mouths. The eldest of his sons was called Einarr; he was a tall man and well-mannered withal. It so happened one spring that Thorbjörn said to Einarr that he had better try to secure some place for himself; “for,” said he, “I am in want of no more work than can be done by the hands that are here already, but thou wilt find it easy to secure a situation, able and skilful as thou art. It is not for any want of love that I thus call upon thee to go away, for thou art to me the most useful of all my children; but it is because of my small means and poverty; but my other children must grow up labourers, but as for thee, thou wilt find it easier to get a place than they.” Einarr answered : “Too late hast thou let me know of this, as now all places and situations, the best of them at least, are already arranged for, and I deem it an undesirable thing to have to accept only the worst.” Now Einarr took his horse and rode to Aðalból, where Hrafnkell sat in his chamber, and received him well The Sagas of the Icelanders

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and joyfully. Einarr applied for a situation with Hrafnkell, and he answered : “Why askest so late for this? otherwise I should have taken thee the first of all men. Now I have secured all my servants, except for that one business which, I fear, thou art not minded to undertake.” Einarr asked what it was. Hrafnkell answered, he had got no one to take charge of his sheep, but said he was in great need of one. Einarr said he did not mind what work he did, whether this or any other; but said he would like to settle with him for cloth and board wages. “I’ll make a short bargain with thee,” said Hrafnkell. “Thy business shall be to watch fifteen ewes at the mountain dairy, and gather and carry home faggots for summer fuel. On these terms thou shalt take service with me for two ‘half-years.’ But a one thing I must give thee, as all my shepherds, to understand: ‘Freymane’ goes grazing in the valley with his band of mares; thou shalt take care of him winter and summer; but I warn thee of one thing, namely, that thou never be on his back on any condition whatever, for I am bound by a mighty vow to slay the man that ever should have a ride on him. There are twelve mares with him; whichever one of these thou mayest want, night or day, is at your service. Do now as I tell thee, and mind the old saw: ‘No blame is borne by those who warn.’ Now thou knowest what I have said.” Einarr said he trusted he was under no such luckless spell as to ride on a horse which was forbidden, least of all when there were other horses at his disposal.

Chapter 5 Now Einarr goes home for his clothes, and betakes himself to Aðalból. Thereupon they brought the milkingstock to the mountain-dairy up in Hrafnkelsdalr, which was set up at a place called Grjótteigssel. During the summer all went in a fair way with Einarr, so that never a ewe was missing up to mid-summer; but then, one night, it came to pass that nearly thirty of them had strayed away. Einarr went all over the sheep-walks, searching without finding any, and for nearly a week the sheep were missing. One morning Einarr rose early, and, coming out, found that all the fog from the south and the drizzle had lifted. And so he takes into his hand a staff and

a bridle, and a riding-rug. Then he went on, passing Grjótteigsá, which ran above the dairy. On the shingly flats by the river were lying about all the sheep that had been home in the evening before. These he drove home towards the dairy, and then went in search of those that were wanting. He now saw the stud-horses further afield on the flats, and was minded to secure one of them to ride on, knowing that he would cover ground more quickly by riding than by walking: and when he came to the horses, he had to run about after them, they being now shy, though never before they used to run away from any one -except “Freymane” alone. He was as quiet as if stuck buried in the ground. Einarr, seeing that the morning was passing off, thought that Hrafnkell surely would never know if he rode upon the horse, and so he took it, put on it the bridle, and the riding-rug on his back under himself, and rode up past the gorge of Grjóta, and farther up towards the glaciers, then along the “jökul,” beneath whick Jökulsá runs, and then down along the river unto the dairy of Reykir. He asked all shepherds at the sundry dairies if any of them had set their eye upon the sheep, but no one professed to have seen them. Einarr rode “Freymane” from the first streak of dawn until middle eve, and the horse took him quickly over the ground and far, for it was the best of horses. Then it came into Einarr’s mind that it was time already to drive home to the dairy the sheep which were still in safe keeping, letting alone those that he could not find. So he rode to the eastward over the mountain-necks into Hrafnkelsdalr. But as he came down by Grjótteigr, he heard the bleating of sheep along the river-gorge, even where he had ridden close by before; and turning thither, sees how thirty ewes come running along towards him, even the very ones which had been missing for a whole week already, and these, with the rest of the ewes, he drove along home to the dairy. The horse was all foaming with sweat, so that every hair on him was dripping; bespattered he was all over with mire, and mightily blown. Twelve times he rolled himself, and then he set up a mighty neighing, and then set off at a swift pace down along the beaten tracks. Einarr ran forthwith after him, endeavouring to overtake him, and to lay hand on him and bring him back to the horses. But now “Freymane” was so shy, that Einarr could 123

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get nowhere near him. Thus the horse ran down all along the valley, never stopping until it came home to Aðalból. At the time Hrafnkell sat at table, and when the horse came before the door it neighed aloud. Hrafnkell told one of the handmaidens who were serving at table, to go to the door, “for I heard the neighing of a horse, and meseemed the neighing was like to that of ‘Frey-mayne.’” She went out to the door, and there beheld “Freymane” in a most ungainly plight. She told Hrafnkell that “Freymane” stood outside the door most ill-favoured of look. “What is the matter with the champion that he should come home as at this time,” says Hrafnkell; “sure that bodes no good.” Then he went out and saw “Freymane,” and spoke to him: “I am sorry to see thee in this kind of plight, my pet; however, thou hadst all thy wits about thee in thus coming to let me know what is the matter; due revenge shall be taken for this, and now thou mayest go back to thy company.” And forthwith “Freymane” walked up the valley again to join the stud.

Chapter 6 In the evening Hrafnkell went to his bed as usual, and slept through the night. In the morning he had a horse brought home to him, and ordered it to be saddled, and rode up to the dairy. He rode in blue raiment: he had an axe in his hand, but no other weapons about him. At that time Einarr had just driven the ewes into the pen, and lay on the wall of the pen, casting up the number of the sheep; but the women were busy a-milking. They all greeted Hrafnkell, and he asked how they got on. Einarr answered: “I have had no good speed myself, for no less than thirty ewes were missing for a week, though now I have found them again.” Hrafnkell said, he had no fault to find with tilings of that kind; “It has not happened so often as might have been expected, that thou hast lost the ewes. But has not something worse befallen than that? Didst thou not have a ride on ‘Freymane’ yesterday?” Einarr said he could not gainsay that utterly. “Why didst thou ride on this horse which was forbidden thee, while there were plenty of others on which thou art free to ride? Now this one trespass I should have forgiven thee, if I had not used words of such earnest already. And 124

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yet thou hast manfully confessed thy guilt.” But by reason of the belief that those who fulfil their vows never come to grief, he leaped off his horse, sprang upon Einarr, and dealt him his death-blow. After that, having done the deed, he rode home to Aðalból and there told these tidings. He got him another shepherd to take charge of the dairy. But he had Einarr’s dead body brought westward upon the terrace by the dairy, and there set up a beacon beside his cairn; and it is called Einarr’s beacon, where, when the sun is right above it, they count mid-eve hour (six o’clock) at the dairy.

Chapter 7 The news of Einarr, his son’s, death, was brought over to Thorbjörn at Hóll, and he was mightily grieved at the tidings. He now took his horse, and rode over to Aðalból to ask Hrafnkell to do boot for his son. Hrafnkell said that he had slain many a man beside this one; “for thou must know that I never pay weregild to any man, and yet people have to rest content with things so done. Yet I allow it, that I think that this my deed is rather of the worse kind among the manslaughters which I have wrought hitherto; thou, too, hast been a neighbour of mine for a long while, and I have had a good liking for thee, and we have enjoyed one another’s favour; and no small tiling would have brought matters to an evil pass between me and Einarr, if only he had not ridden this horse; but now I have to regret that I spoke too much; and seldomer, indeed, should we have to regret that which we say too little than that which we say too much, and now I shall show that I consider this deed of mine a worse one than other deeds that I have done, inasmuch as I will supply thy house with dairy-produce during the summer, and with slaughtered meat when autumn comes; and in the same way I will do to thee as long as thou art minded to keep a house. Thy sons and daughters we shall fit out at my cost, and so endow them, as to make their conditions desirable. And all that thou knowest my house to contain, and of which thou mayest stand in need in future, thou shalt let me know of, nor henceforth shalt thou be in want of those things which may be requisite unto thee. Thou shalt keep house as long as thou takest pleasure therein, but when

thou art tired thereof, thou shalt come to me, and I will take care of thee unto thy dying day. Let this be our atonement; and likely, it seems to me, that most people will say, that this man was dearly paid for.” “This offer I will not accept,” says Thorbjörn. “What then?” says Hrafnkell. Then spake Thorbjörn: “I will, that we name an umpire between us.” Answered Hrafnkell: “Then thou holdest thyself as good a man as I; the peace between us is at an end.” Then Thorbjörn rode away, and down along Hrafnkelsdalr. He came to Langarhus, and met his brother Bjarni, and told him the tidings, asking him at the same time to lend him a hand in these matters. Bjarni answered, saying that Hrafnkell was his equal to deal with; “for though we have plenty of money to dispose of, we are not the men to plunge into a strife with such a man; and sooth, indeed, is the old saw; ‘Know one thing, know thyself!’ He has made lawsuits difficult for many a one who have been mightier men of their hands than we are; and it seems to me that thou hast been somewhat short of wits in refusing such a good offer, and I will have nothing to do with this.” Thorbjörn overwhelmed his brother with abuse, saying that there was in him the less of manhood, the more he was to be depended upon. So he rode away, and the two brothers parted in little love. He did not stop until he came down to Leikskálar, where he knocked at the door, and people answered the knock and came out. Thorbjörn asked Sámr to come out and see him. Sámr greeted his kinsman well, and asked him to put up there. Thorbjörn answered it slowly somewhat. Seeing that Thorbjörn was downcast, Sámr asked him for tidings, and Thorbjörn told him the slaughter of his son Einarr. “That is no great tidings,” said Sámr, “if Hrafnkell slays a man.” Thorbjörn asks if Sámr was minded to lend him any help: “for such is the nature of the case, that though the man is nearest and dearest to me, yet the blow has been dealt no way from malice.” “Hast thou tried to have any redress of Hrafnkell?” said Sámr. Thorbjörn told all truthfully as to what had passed between him and Hrafnkell. “Never before did I know Hrafnkell to make such offer to any man, as those he has made to thee,” says Sámr. “Now I will ride with thee up to Aðalból, and let us come before Hrafnkell in a humble mind, and see if he will still hold A Black Arrow resource

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to the same offers; and I doubt not that he will behave honourably in the matter.” Says Thorbjörn: “This is to be said, both that Hrafnkell will now refuse, and that such is no more in my mind now than it was when I rode away from there.” Sámr says: “Heavy enough, I guess, will it be to strive with Hrafnkell in matters at law.” Thorbjörn answers: “That is why ye young men never come to aught, that you flinch at all things, and I am minded to think that no man has got such milksops for kinsmen as I have. It seems to me that a man like you is putting himself in a right false position, being skilled in law and eager for petty cases, but refusing to take up this case, a great and urgent one. Thou shalt be widely reviled for this, as, indeed, thou deservest, being known as the most boisterous man in our kin. And I now see how the matter turns.” Sámr answered: “By how much art thou the better off than before, even if I should take up the case, and we should both be worsted together?” Thorbjörn answered: “It would be a great relief to my mind, if thou shouldst undertake it, no matter how after that it should turn out.” Sámr said: “I am right unwilling to engage in this, and it is only for the sake of kinship that I do it; but thou must know, that in thee I deem that I have no avail of any kind.” Then Sámr gave his hand, and took the case off Thorbjörn’s hand.

Chapter 8 Now Sámr took a horse, and rode up the valley unto a certain stead, where he declared the manslaughter, and after that he gathered men against Hrafnkell. Hrafnkell heard of this, and thought it a laughable affair that Sámr should have undertaken a blood-suit against him. And thus the winter and the next summer pass away. When the days of the summonses pass by, Sámr rode away from home up to Aðalból, and summoned Hrafnkell for the manslaughter of Einarr. After that he rode down the valley, and called upon the goodmen to come to the “fiing.” Hrafnkell, too, sent messengers down along Jokuldalr and charged his men to come; and thus from his own jurisdiction he brought together seventy men. With this band he rode eastward over Fljótsdalshérað, across it past the upper end of the water, then straight across the neck unto Skriðudalr, and up along the The Sagas of the Icelanders

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same valley and south unto ÷xarheiði on the way to Berufjörðr and the straight “fiing” road to Siða. From Fljotsdalr there are seventeen days’ journey unto fiingvellir. Now when Hallfreðr had ridden away from the country-side, Sámr gathered men together, and most of those that he brought together, and who formed his following, were only country tramps; unto these men Sámr gave both weapons and clothes and victuals. Sámr struck another route out of the valley. He first went north to the bridge and then over the bridge, and thence unto Moðrudalsheiði, putting up at Moðrudalr for the night. Thence they rode unto Herðirbreiðstunga, and so on above Bláfjöll, and thence into Króksdalr, and so southward unto the Sand, until they came down unto Sauðafell, whence unto fiingvöll, where Hrafnkell had not arrived as yet, the reason of his slower travelling being the longer road he had to do. Sámr tilts a booth for his men, but nowhere near where the Eastfirth-men were wont to tilt. Now shortly after this Hallfreðr arrived and tilted his booth as had been his wont here before. He heard that Sámr was at the “fiing,” and that he found right laughable. The “fiing” was a very crowded one, and at it there were most of the lords of the land. Sámr went to all the chieftains, asking them for help and avail, but they all answered one way, saying each that they had nothing good to requite Sámr so as to join him in strife at law against priest Hrafnkell and thus to hazard their honour. They also say that most of those who ever had contentions at law with Hrafnkell had fared one way; that in all such cases as had men set up against him, he had worsted them all. Sámr went home to his booth, and in a downcast frame of mind; the two kinsmen were misdoubting that their affairs would come to such an utter downfall, as that they would only reap from it shame and disgrace, and in so deep an anxiety were both of them fallen, that they might have no enjoyment either of food or sleep, because all the chieftains refused all assistance to them, even those upon whose help they had counted most.

Chapter 9 It so fell early one morning, that the old carl Thorbjörn was awake; he roused Sámr from his sleep and bade him stand

up, “for now it behoves not to slumber.” Sámr stood up and put on his raiment. They went abroad, walking down to Oxará below the bridge, where they washed themselves. Thorbjörn spake to Sámr, “It is my counsel now, that thou cause our horses to be driven up, and that we get ready to return home, for it is easy to see that here nothing is awaiting us but utter shame.” Sámr answered: “That is well enough, since thou wouldst hear of nothing but striving with Hrafnkell, and didst not choose to accept offers that many a man, who had lost a near kinsman, would have been fain to take. With hard reproaches thou didst egg on my mind, doing the same to others, who were not willing to enter the case with thee. But as for me I shall never give in, until I deem that all hope is past of my ever being able to bring things further about.” This came so close home to Thorb-jörn, that he wept. Then they saw how, on the western side of the river, only a bit further down than where they were sitting, five men walk together out of a certain booth. He who was at the head of them, and walked abreast of them, was a tall man, not of a stout build to look at, arrayed in a leaf-green kirtle, in his hand a sword ornamented; a straight-faced man he was, and ruddy of hue, and of a goodly presence, light-auburn of hair, which was fast growing hoary. This was a man easy to know, as he had a light lock in his hair on the left side. Then Sámr spake: “Stand we up, and go we west across the river to meet these men.” Now they went down along the river, and the leader of those men is the first to greet them, asking them who they were, to which they answered as asked. Sámr asked this man for his name; he said he was named Thorkell, and was the son of Thjostar. Sámr asked where his family was, and where he had got a home. The other said he was a West-firther by kin and origin, and that his abode was in Thorskafjörðr. Questioned Sámr: “Art thou a man of a priesthood?” “Far from it,” said the other. “Art thou a bonder then?” said Sámr. He said that was not so. Sámr asked: “What of a man art thou then?” He answered: “I am only a country tramp. I came out here last summer, having been for seven winters abroad, having fared all the way to Constantinople, being now a henchman of the King of the Greeks, and at this time staying with my brother, 125

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whose name is Thorgeirr.” “Is he a man of a priesthood?” said Sámr. Thorkell answered: “A man of a priesthood he is indeed, both in Thorskafjörðr and wide about elsewhere in the West-firths.” “Is he here at the fiing?” said Sámr. “To be sure,” said Thorkell. “How many men has he got with him?” said Sámr. “About seventy men,” said Thorkell. “Are there more of ye brothers?” said Sámr. “A third one still,” says Thorkell. “Who is he?” says Sámr. “He is hight Thormoðr,” says Thorkell, “and dwells at Garðar on ¡lptanes, and is married to ThórdÌs, the daughter of Thórólfr Skalla-grimsson of Borg.” “Art thou minded at all to bear us a hand?” says Sámr. “What is it you want?” says Thorkell. “To be backed up by the might of chieftains,” says Sámr, “for we have affairs at law on hand against Hrafnkell the priest, for the manslaughter of Einarr Thorbjarnar-son; and if thou shouldst back us up, we, as plaintiffs, are confident of the case.” Thorkell answered: “As I told you, I am not a man of a priesthood.” “Why art thou so stinted of thy share,” said Sámr, “being the son of a chieftain like the rest of thy brothers?” Thorkell answered: “I did not say that I was not possessed of a priesthood, but I handselled to my brother Thorgeirr my rule of men before I went abroad; and since my return I have not resumed it, because I deem it well cared for, while he takes charge of it. Go ye to meet him, and ask him to look to you; he is a lordlyminded man, and a noble-hearted, and in every way of good conditions; a young man too, and ambitious withal. Such are the likeliest men to yield the assistance ye want.” Sámr says: “We shall get nothing out of him unless thou backest up our suit as well.” Thorkell answers: “I will promise to be rather with than against you, as it seems to me the necessity is urgent, that a suit should be brought on for a close relative. Go ye now to the booth, and go ye into the booth, now that all men are asleep; ye will see, where there stands, athwart the upper part of the floor, a couple of sleeping-bags, out of one of which I have just arisen, and in the other of which there is resting still Thorgeirr, my brother. Since he came to the ‘fiing’ he has suffered much from a suppurated foot, and has therefore slept little a-night, but last night, the boil burst, and the core is out: since that he has been asleep, and has stretched the foot from 126

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under the clothes out over the foot-board for relief from over-heat. Let the old man go first, and let him go up the booth. It seems to me that he is a right decrepit old fellow, both as to sight and as to age. Now, my man,” says Thorkell, “when thou comest up to the sleeping-bag, take care to trip hard and come flopping down upon the footboard, and catch in the fall at the toe which is bandaged, and pull at it, and just see how he likes it.” Sámr said: “No doubt that thou art a man of wholesome counsel to us, but this seems to me hardly a wise thing to do.” Thorkell answered: “One of two things you must do -- to take what I advise, or not to come to me for a counsel at all.” Sámr spake, and said: “As he has counselled, so the thing shall be done.” Thorkell said that he would come on later, “for I am waiting for my men.”

Chapter 10 Now Sámr and Thorbjörn went away and came into the booth, where all men were asleep; they soon saw where Thorgeirr was lying. The old carl Thorbjörn went first, and in a stumbling manner he walked. But when he came up to the sleeping-bag, then he stumbled on to the footboard and clutched at the sore toe and pulled hard at it, while Thorgeirr woke and jumped up in the sleeping-bag, and asked who he was who was going on so headlong as to rush upon people’s sore feet. But Sámr and his men had nothing to say for themselves; but in the same moment Thorkell sprang into the booth and said to Thorgeirr his brother: “Be not so hasty and furious, kinsman, about this; it will do thee no harm, and people often do by chance things worse than they would; and to many a man it has happened to be unable to have his eye on all things, when his mind is overloaded with great things. No wonder, kinsman, that thou shouldst be so hurt in thy foot which has so long been painful, and, indeed, that pain pinches thyself sharpest. But even so it may be, that no less painful to an old man is the death of his son, for whom he can get no redress, being moreover a man pinched by every kind of want. No doubt he knows best his own pain, and it is not to be wondered at that he should not be very heedful of all tilings, in whose mind mighty things are abiding.” Thorgeirr answered: “I did not know that he was to hold me responsible for this, for I did not kill his

son, and he cannot therefore revenge this on me.” “He nowise minded to be avenged on thee,” says Thorkell, “but he came to thee at a faster pace than he could help, and paid for his dimness of sight in his eager hope of finding some support in thee. And a noble deed it would be to lend one’s help to an old and needy man. This is to him a matter of necessity, not of choice, seeing that it is his son, after whom he has to take up the suit. But now all the chieftains back out of all help to these men, and show therein a great want of great-mindedness.” Thorgeirr answered: “Against whom have these men the plaint to bring?” Thorkell answered: “Hrafnkell the priest has slain the son of Thorbjörn, sackless. One deed after another he works, never allowing redress to any one therefor.” Thorgeirr answered: “I shall, belike, fare the way of others, in not finding that I have any such good deed to requite to these men, as that I should go willingly into law struggles with Hrafnkell. For it seems that every summer he deals with those who have got cases to contest with him, so that most of them get little or no honour thereof in the end. In this way I have seen them fare every one. This, I guess, must be the cause why most men are so unwilling, whom necessity does not urge along.” Thorkell answered: “It may be, if I were a chieftain, that I should fare in the same way, and that I should deem it ill to have to strive with Hrafnkell, but as I am, I look on that matter otherwise, for I should above all things choose to deal with such a man before whom all men had come to grief already; and greatly should I deem that my honour had advanced, or the honour of any chieftain, by Hrafnkell being brought into some straits; whereas, I should deem it undiminished if I fared no worse than others, as the proverbs say, ‘Tis not my curse what’s common fate,’ and ‘nothing venture, nothing gain.’” “Now I see,” says Thorgeirr, “how thy mind stands in the matter; thou wilt lend these men thy assistance. Now I shall hand over to thee my priesthood and my rule of men, and have thou that which I have had before, but after that we go even shares, and now thou back up whomsoever thou choosest” Answered Thorkell: “It seems to me that our priesthood will be best looked after by being longest in thy hands; and I should like no one better to have it than thee, for thou hast many things to make thee a man above all of us brothers, whereas I have not made up my mind as to what I shall do A Black Arrow resource

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with myself as at this time. Thou knowest, kinsman, that I have meddled in few things since I came to Iceland. I shall see what my counsels are held worth, for now I have pleaded this cause all I can at present. May be that Thorkell Leppr may come forward hereafter in such a manner as that his words may be held of greater account.” Thorgeirr answered: “I see now, kinsman, how the matter stands, that thou art not pleased, which I cannot bear to think of, so we will lend these men our assistance if it be thy will, whatsoever end the affair may have.” Thorkell answered: “Therefore I asked that it is my pleasure that the request be granted.” “What do these men consider themselves able to do?” says Thorgeirr, “so that thereby the success of their case may be better insured?” “As I said before today,” said Sámr, “we want the assistance of chieftains, but the pleading of the case is in my hand.” Thorgeirr said that it was then for him to show what he was good for: “And now the thing to be done is to start the suit in the most correct manner. But methinks it is Thorkell’s will that you come to meet him before judgment fall; and then ye will have something for your pertinacity -- either some comfort, or otherwise a humiliation still greater than before, and grief and heartburn. Now go ye home and be merry, for if ye are to strive with Hrafnkell it behoves you to bear yourselves well and straightly for a while. But let no man be told that we have promised you any support.” Now they went home to their booth and bore themselves right merrily. People wondered much at this, how they had so suddenly come to change their mind, seeing how downcast they were when they went away.

Chapter 11 And now they sit quietly until the time when judgments were to be passed. Then Sámr called together his men and went to the Mount of Laws, where the court was set. Then Sámr came boldly forth to the court; calling witnesses forthwith, he pleaded his cause in a manner good in law against Hrafnkell the priest, without making mistakes and with a frank and fearless manner of pleading. Then came up the sons of Thjóstar with a large following of men, all men from the west country joining them, whereby it was seen how well befriended the sons of Thjóstar were. Sámr pleaded the cause unto judgment, The Sagas of the Icelanders

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until Hrafnkell was called upon to defend, or then he who should be there present who should come forward to keep up law defence for him, according as might be good and right in law. Sámr’s pleading was received with good cheer, and the question was put whether no one would bring forward a lawful defence on behalf of Hrafnkell. People rushed to the booth of Hrafnkell and told him what was doing. He started quickly, calling together his men, and went to the court, thinking that there would be but a poor “defence of the coast,” and thinking in his mind how he should make small men loth to set up cases against him ; and was minded to break up the court for Sámr and to hustle him out of the case. This, however, was not to be done now; there being already there such a crowd of people that he could get nowhere near; and so was himself hustled away with great violence, even so that he could not hear the speaking of those who pleaded against him, and therefore was deprived of means to bring forward a lawful defence on his own behalf. But Sámr pushed the suit to the full extent of law, until Hrafnkell, at this very “fiing,” was made full outlaw. Hrafnkell went forthwith to his booth and had his horses brought up and rode away from the “fiing” mightily ill-contented at the end of these affairs, for such he had never before experienced. So he rode east, over Lyngdalsheiði and further on to Siða, and did not halt travelling until he came to Hrafnkelsdalr, and settled in his home at Aðalból. He behaved as if nothing had happened. But Sámr remained behind at the “fiing,” going about and bearing himself right struttingly. Many people thought it well that the case should have come about in this way, and that Hrafnkell should have to come down once in a way, calling now to mind how many people he had dealt with unfairly before.

Chapter 12 Sámr waited until the “fiing” broke up, and men got ready to return home. He thanked the brothers well for their assistance, and Thorgeirr asked Sámr, laughingly, how he was pleased at the turn matters had taken? He signified his pleasure thereat; but Thorgeirr asked: “Deemest thou thyself now in any better case than before?” Sámr said: “Methinks that Hrafnkell has had a right great shame of this, such as shall be long remembered, and I deem it to be

worth as much as a great lot of money.” Thorgeirr said: “A full outlaw the man is not yet, as long as the act of distress has not been executed, which must be done at his own home, not later than a fortnight after ‘Wapentake’ “ (but it is called Wapentake when all men ride away from the “fiing”). “But I guess,” said Thorgeirr, “that Hrafnkell is come home, and means to sit at Aðalból, and I also hold likely that he will have taken to himself thy rule over men. But thou, I guess, art minded to ride home and to settle at thy house as best thou mayest, if such be possible. I guess, too, that thou deemest thou hast so brought about thy affairs as to declare him an outlaw, but I am minded to think that he will overawe people in the same manner as before, excepting that, as for thyself, thou wilt have to stoop even lower than ever.” “That I never mind,” said Sámr. “Thou art a brave man,” said Thorgeirr, “and I think that my kinsman, Thorkell, is minded not to let it come to a poor end with thee, having made up his mind to accompany thee until a settlement of thy case with Hrafnkell be brought about, so that thou mayest sit at thy home in quiet. And thou, too, wilt think that it is most due to us now to give thee our support, since already we had the most to do in thy affairs. Now for this once we shall accompany thee to the Eastfirths; but art thou acquainted with any road thither which is not a highroad?” Sámr said he would go back the same way he had come from the east, and was now right glad at this offer.

Chapter 13 Thorgeirr selected the best men from his band, and charged forty of them to accompany him. Sámr, likewise, had forty men in his following, and the whole band was well fitted out, both as to weapons and horses. So they rode all along die same way until they came into Jokuldalr one night, as the fire of dawn was first lighting. They passed over the bridge on the river in the very morning when the act of distress was to be executed. Then asked Thorgeirr how they could best come there unawares; for this Sámr said he had a good advice. And out of the road he turned and up to the mountain side, and so along the neck, between Hrafnkelsdalr and Jokuldalr, until they came to the outer spur of the mountain, beneath which stood the homestead of Aðalból. There 127

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some grassy deans stretched up into the heath and a steep slope stretched down into the valley, underneath which was the farmstead. Then Sámr got off his horse and said: “Let our horses be loose and be guarded by twenty men, while we, sixty together, rush upon the stead, where, I guess, few people will be upon their feet as yet.” Now they did so, and there the deans are called horse-deans unto this day. They were swiftly upon the farm. The time for rising was past, and yet the people had not got up. They broke the door open by a beam and rushed in. Hrafnkell lay in his bed, and him, together with all his housecarls, those who were able to bear weapons, they made prisoners; but women and children they drove all into one chamber. On the lawn there stood a storehouse, between which and the hall there was laid a beam for drying clothes on; unto this storehouse they brought Hrafnkell and his men. He made many offers for himself and his people; but when that was not heeded, he asked the life of his men to be spared, “for they have done nothing to offend you; but it is no shame to me to be killed; and from that I beg not to be excused; only ill-treatment I pray to be spared, for that is no honour to you.” Thorkell said: “We have heard, that hitherto thou hast not let thyself be easily led by thy enemies, and it is now well that thou shouldst take a lesson for it to-day.” Then they took Hrafnkell and his men, and tied their hands behind their back; whereupon they broke up the storehouse, and took down from pegs some ropes hanging therein ; and next they took out their knives, making slits through their hough sinews, drawing therethrough the ropes which then they slung over the aforenamed beam, and there tied them up, eight together. Then said Thorgeirr: “Now thou hast been brought to such a plight, Hrafnkell, as thou deservest, unlikely as thou wouldst have deemed it, that thou shouldst ever have received such a shame at any man’s hands as now has come to pass. Now which wilt thou do, Thorkell, sit here beside Hrafnkell and watch them, or go outside the farmstead with Sámr within the distance of an arrow shot, and there execute the act of distress on some stony knoll where there be neither field nor meadow.” (This was to be done at the time when the sun was in due south.) Thorkell answered: “I will sit there beside Hrafnkell, and thus have less to do.” Then Thorgeirr and Sámr executed the act of 128

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distress. Now after this they walked home and took down Hrafnkell and his men, and set them down in a field; and then blood had already filled their eyes. Then said Thorgeirr to Sámr that he should now deal with Hrafnkell as he liked, “for meseems it is now a matter of small difficulty to deal with him.” Then answered Sámr: “Two choices are set before thee, Hrafnkell; one to be taken outside the stead, together with those of thy men that I choose, and to be slaughtered; but whereas thou hast a great number of useless mouths to provide for, I will allow thee to look thereto. So the second choice is, if thou wilt have thy life, that thou betake thyself from Aðalból with all thy folk and with so much money only as I share to thee, which shall be mighty little; but I shall settle on thy property and have the rule of all thy men; and to neither shalt thou ever raise a claim, nor thy heirs, nor shalt thou ever live nearer this place than somewhere to the east of Fljotsdalsherað; and this thou mayest handsel me if thou art ready to accept it.” Hrafnkell answered: “Many a man would think a swift death better than such hard dealings, but, belike, I shall fare after the manner of many, ‘that life be chosen while choice there is;’ which I do, mostly because of my sons, for theirs will be a scanty prospect if I die from them.” Then Hrafnkell was let loose and he handselled self-doom unto Sámr. Sámr allowed Hrafnkell so much of the wealth as he chose, which was a slight portion indeed. His spear Hrafnkell retained, but no weapon besides; and this very day he betook himself from Aðalból together with all his folk. Then said Thorkell to Sámr: “I wonder at thy doing this, for no man will regret more than thyself having given Hrafnkell his life.” Sámr said that could not be helped now.

Chapter 14 Hrafnkell brought his household east over Fljótsdals-herað and right across Fljótsdalr unto the eastern side of Lagarfljót. At the bottom of that water stood a small stead, which was called Lokhylla. This land Hrafnkell bought on credit, for his means went no further than to cover the cost of household implements. People had much talk about this, how Hrafnkell’s masterfulness had suddenly come down to nought; and many a man now recalls the ancient saw: “Short is the age of over-boldness.”

This was a good woodland and large in extent, but the house was a poor one, and therefore he bought the land at a low price. But Hrafnkell spared no cost; he felled the wood, which was large, and raised there a lofty abode, which since has been called Hrafnkelsstaðir, and has always been accounted of as a good stead. During the first seasons Hrafnkell lived there in battle with hard distress. He had much ado in storing his home with fish. He went much about common labour while the stead was being built. The first half-year he embarked on the winter with one calf and one kid. But it turned well out for him, so that nearly everything lived in the way of live stock, which was added to it; and it might be said that nearly every creature was with two heads. That same summer there happened to be a large catch in Lagarfljót, which brought the householders of the country-side many a comfort, and this held on well every summer.

Chapter 15 Sámr set up his house at Aðalból after Hrafnkell, and set up a great banquet there, and invited to him all those who formerly had been Hrafnkell’s retainers. Sámr offered to be the lord over them instead of Hrafnkell, and they accepted the offer, although they had various misgivings about the matter. The sons of Thjóstar counselled him to be bounteous of his money, and helpful to his men, and a support to whomsoever might be in want; “And then they are not men if they do not faithfully follow thee in whatsoever thou mayest stand in need of. But this we counsel thee, therefore, that we should like to see thee successful in all things, for thou seemest to us to be a stalwart man. Now take care of thyself and be wary of thy ways: ‘for evil foes ‘tis hard to heed.’” The sons of Thjóstar sent for “Freymane” and the stud; said they would like to see the beasts of which there were so many stories abroad. Then the horses were brought home and they were viewed by the brothers. Thorgeirr said: “These horses seem to me to be serviceable to the household, and it is my counsel that they be made to work all they can in the service of man until they can live no longer by reason of old age; but this horse ‘Freymane’ seems to me no better than other horses, nay, the worse, indeed, that A Black Arrow resource

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he has brought many an evil thing about; and I will not that he be the cause of any more manslaughters than he has been already, so it is fittest that he be received by him who owns him.” Now they led the horse down the field. Beside the river there stood a precipitous rock, and below it there was a deep eddy in the river, and so they led the horse forth unto the rock. The sons of Thjóstar wound a certain cloth over the head of the horse, tied a stone round his neck, and thereupon seized long poles wherewith they thrust the horse over the precipice and destroyed him so. Sithence this rock is called Freymane’s Rock. Above it stands the temple which Hrafnkell had had. Thorkell wished to come there, and he let strip all the gods, and after that he set the temple on fire and burnt there up everything together. After that the guests prepared to leave, and Sámr presented the brothers with things most precious, and they bespoke a firm friendship between them, and thereupon parted the best of friends. After this they rode west to the firths and arrived in Thorskafjörðr in great honour. Sámr settled Thorbjörn in the house at Leikskálar, where he was to keep house; but the wife of Sámr went to his house at Aðalból where he farmed for a while.

Chapter 16 The news was brought east into Fljótsdalr, to Hrafnkell, that the sons of Thjóstar had destroyed “Freymane” and burnt the temple. Then said Hrafnkell: “I deem it a vain thing to believe in the gods,” and he vowed that henceforth he would set his trust in them no more. And to this he kept ever afterwards, and never made a sacrifice again. Now Hrafnkell sat at Hrafnkelsstaðir, raking money together fast. He became a much honoured man in the country-side, and every one chose to sit and stand as it pleased him. At that time there was a great going of ships from Norway to Iceland, and people were taking up claims in the country as fast as might be during Hrafnkell’s days. No one might settle freely in Hrafnkell’s country-side without his leave; and all those who settled had to promise him their aid, against which he promised his protection. Thus he brought under himself all the land on the eastern side of Lagarfljót. This jurisdiction soon became much more thickly peopled than that The Sagas of the Icelanders

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which he had ruled over before, stretching all the way up Skriðudal as well as up all along Lagarfljót. Now his mind, too, had undergone a change; he was much better liked than heretofore; he was still of the same temper as to helpful husbandry and lordly household ways; but now the man was much milder and meeker in all things than ever before. He and Sámr often met at public gatherings, but never a word fell betwixt them as to their former dealings. In this manner six winters passed away. Sámr also was well liked among his retainers, for he was gentle and quiet and ready to help, and bore in mind always the counsel which those brothers had given him; he, too, was a man of much splendour in outfit and raiment.

Chapter 17 It is stated that there came a certain ship into Reiðarfjörðr, the master of which was Eyvindr Bjarnason, who had been abroad for seven winters together. Eyvindr had bettered himself greatly as to manners, and had now become the briskest of men. Now he soon was told of the tidings which had come to pass, and he made as if he took little heed thereof, being a man of unmeddlesome ways. When Sámr heard this he rode to the ship, and a great joyful meeting there was between the brothers. Sámr asked him to come up west to his place, and Eyvindr accepted it, and bade Sámr ride home first, and afterwards send him horses for his chattels. He hauled his ship aland, and made her snug. Now Sámr did as Eyvindr bade, and went home, and had horses sent down to meet Eyvindr, and when he had made his chattels ready for the journey, he set off unto Hrafnkelsdalr, riding up along Reiðarfjörðr. They were five in company together, and a sixth there was, an attendant of Eyvindr, an Icelander by kin, and a relative of his. This youth Eyvindr had redeemed from poverty, and brought him now home in his own company, and had done to him as to himself, which good deed of Eyvindr was loudly praised, and the common talk was that few people could be found to match him. Now they rode up along Thorsdalsheiði, driving before them sixteen horses loaded. They were there together, two of Sámr’s house-carls, and three of the sailors; all arrayed in vari-coloured clothes, and carrying glittering shields. They

rode across Skriðudalr, and across the neck, over the country-side, and unto Fljótsdalr, to a spot called Bulunyarvellir, and thence unto the shingly flats of Gilsá -- a river that flows into the Fljot from the east, between Hallormsstaðr and Hrafnkelstaðir: then they rode up along Lagarfljót, down below the home-field of Hrafnkelsstaðir, and thus round the upper end of the water, crossing Jökulsá at the ford of Skali. This was midway between the hour of rising and the hour of day-meal (i.e. nine o’clock A.M.). A certain woman was there by the waterside washing her linen, and, seeing the men travelling, the handmaiden gathers up her linen and rushes homeward. The linen she threw down beside a certain pile of wood, running into the house herself. At this time Hrafnkell was not up as yet; his chosen men lay about in the hall, but the workmen had already gone each about his business, the time being the hay-making season. Now when the maiden came in she took up the wood, saying: “Sooth, indeed, are most of the old saws; ‘so one grows craven as one grows old;’ that honour mostly cometh to but little which, beginning early, is allowed to drop into dishonour, the bearer having no courage to wreak his right at any time, and such must be held a great wonder in a man who, once upon a time, has had bravery to boast of. Now the thing is changed; those who grow up with their fathers, and are deemed as of no worth against you, yet, when they grow up in another country, they are deemed of the greatest worth in whatsoever place they show themselves, and come back again from abroad and hold themselves better even than any chieftains. Now Eyvindr Bjarnarson has just crossed the river at the ford of Skuli, riding with a shield so fair that it beamed again; surely he is so much of a man as to be worth taking in revenge.” These things the handmaiden said in great eagerness of temper. Hrafnkell rose and answered her: “May be the words thou speakest are only too true; not because that thou meanest anything good thereby; but it is well that thou have something for thy ado, and go forthwith, as hard as thou canst run, south to Viðivellir, to the sons of Hallsteinn, Sighvatr, and Snorri, and bid them at once come to me with as many men as they have about them able to bear weapons.” Another handmaiden he sent down to Hrólfstadir to fetch the sons of 129

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Hrólfr, Thordr, and Halli, together with such men as might happen to be there able-bodied. All these were the stoutest of men, and were skilled in all manly parts. Hrafnkell also sent for his housecarls. And thus they were at last eighteen together. They armed themselves trustily, and rode across the river where the others had crossed it before.

Chapter 18 By this time Eyvindr and his men had got upon the heath, and on he rode until he had crossed the heath half-way, and had come to a spot called Bessagötur, where there is a boggy mire like a slough to ride through, where the horses waded all the way knee-deep, haunch-deep, or even belly-deep; but underneath the bottom was as hard as a frozen earth. On the western side of this bog is a large lava, and, when they got upon the lava, the youth looked back and said to Eyvindr: “Some men there be riding after us, no less than eighteen in number, among whom there is one, a big man on his horse, riding in blue raiment, and to me he seems to bear the likeness of Hrafnkell, the priest, although I have now not seen him for a long while.” Eyvindr answered: “What is that to us? I know nothing whereby I need fear the anger of Hrafnkell, having never done aught to offend him. No doubt he has some errand into the next valley, desiring, may be, to go see his friends.” The youth answered: “My mind bodes me that he be minded to meet thee.” “I am not aware,” says Eyvindr, “that aught has happened between him and my brother Sámr since their atonement.” The youth answered: “I wish thou wouldst ride away west to the dale, where thou shalt be in safety; but I know so much of Hrafnkell’s temper, that he will do nothing to us, if he should miss thee; for, if thou alone be safe, then all things are well seen to; then there ‘be no bear to tug along,’ and that is well, whatsoever may become of us.” Eyvindr said he felt no desire to ride so hurriedly away, “for I know not who the men may be, and many a man would find a matter good to laugh at if I should run away before it came to any trial at all.” Now they rode west over the lava, when they came upon another mire called Oxemire, a grassy spot, with bogs which are all but impassable. Hence old Hallfreðr struck 130

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the higher tracks, though they were longer. Now Eyvindr rode westward into the bog-land, where the horses came by, plentifully weltering in the mire; and they were much delayed because thereof. The others, riding loose, quickly covered the ground, and Hrafnkell and his men rode their way towards the bog-land. And just as Eyvindr had got over the bogs, he saw that there was come Hrafnkell and both his sons. Now Eyvindr’s men bade him ride away, now all trammels are past, “And thou wilt have time to reach Aðalból while the bog-land lies between thee and Hrafnkell.” Eyvindr answered: “I mean not to fly away from any man to whom I never did any harm.” So now they rode upon the neck of the land where some small hills rise above the ground. On this neck, spurring off from the mountain, there was a certain hummock and a windswept place surrounded by high banks. Up to this spot Eyvindr rode, and got there off his horse and waited for them. Then Eyvindr said: “Now we shall soon know their errand.” After this they betook themselves up on to the hummock, where they broke up some stones. Now Hrafnkell turned off the road, making for the hummock. Without accosting Eyvindr with a word, he set on them forthwith. Eyvindr defended himself well and manfully; but his attendant, not deeming himself the stoutest of men for fighting, took his horse and rode west over the neck to Aðalból, and told Sámr what was going on. Sámr bestirred himself quickly, gathering men together, so that there was twenty of them in a band, and right well-armed following he had. Now Sámr rode eastward unto the heath, and to the spot where the fight had stood, and saw how matters had come about between them, and how Hrafnkell rode eastward again from his work; Eyvindr lying there fallen, and all his men. The first thing Sámr did, was to try if there still lingered life in the body of his brother, and carefully he was searched; but they had all lost their lives, five of them together. Of Hrafnkell’s men, twelve had fallen, but six had been able to ride away. Now Sámr made a short stay here, and rode, together with his men, in pursuit of Hrafnkell, who rode away as fast as they could on their weary horses. Then said Sámr: “We shall be able to overtake them, they having their horses jaded, ours being all fresh; yet it will be a hard thing to reach them, though,

probably, if they cross the heath before, it will be at a close shave.” At this time Hrafnkell had passed Oxemire again to the eastward. Now both parties ride until Sámr reaches the brow of the heath, and saw that Hrafnkell had already got far down the slopes, and perceives that he will be able to fly away into the country-side, and said: “Now here we must return, for Hrafnkell will have no lack of men to help him.” And so Sámr returns, at things thus done, and came back to the spot where Eyvindr was lying, and set about throwing up a how over Eyvindr and his followers. In these parts, even to this day, the hummock is called Evindr-hummock, the mountains Eyvindr-hills, the valley Eyvindr-dale.

Chapter 19 Now Sámr brought all the chattels home to Aðalból; and when he came home Sámr sent for his retainers to be there with him the next morning by the hour of day-meal (9 o’clock A.M.), being minded to set off eastward over the heath, “And let our journey now take its own turn.” In the evening Sámr went to bed, and a goodly gathering of people there was there. Hrafnkell rode home and told the tidings that had befallen. Having partaken of a repast, he gathers to him men, even to the number of seventy, with which gathering he rides west over the heath, and coming unawares upon Aðalból, he took Sámr in his bed, and had him brought out. Then Hrafnkell spoke : “Now thy conditions have come to such a pass, Sámr, as surely a short while ago thou wouldst not have believed, I having now in my hand the power of thy life. Yet I shall not deal with thee in more unmanly manner than thou didst to me. Now two conditions I put before thee -- one, to be slain; the other, that I settle and arrange all things between me and thee.” Sámr said that he would rather choose to live, though he well knew that that condition would be hard enough. To that Hrafnkell bade him be sure to make up his mind, “For that is a requital I owe thee; and I should deal with thee better by half, if thou art worthy of it. Thou shalt be off from Aðalból, and betake thee to Leikskálar, and there set up thy house; thou shalt take with thee all the wealth A Black Arrow resource

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that belonged to Eyvindr, but from hence thou shalt take with thee of money’s worth, so much as thou didst bring hither; that only shalt thou bring away. I shall overtake again my priesthood, and my house, and my property; and great as I see the increase of my wealth has grown, thou shalt enjoy nought thereof notwithstanding; for Eyvindr, thy brother, no weregild shall be forthcoming, even for this reason, that thou didst plead so provokingly after thy kinsman: for thou hast, indeed, had plentiful weregild for Einarr, thy relation, in having enjoyed my rule and my wealth for six years together; but the slaying of Eyvindr and his men, I value no more than the mutilation wrought on me and my men. Thou didst drive me out of my country-side; but I am content that thou abide at Leikskálar; and that will do for thee, if thou rush not into over-boldness, that may bring about thy shame. My underling thou shalt remain while we are both alive. Be thou sure of this, too, that things shall fare the worse with thee, the more ill-dealings we have together.” Now Sámr went away with his folk down to Leikskálar, and there set up his household. Now Hrafnkell committed his household of Aðalból to his chosen men and on Thórir, his son, he settled his house at Hrafnkelsstaðir; but he himself had the priesthood over all these countrysides, and his son ¡sbjörn, being younger, remained with him.

Chapter 20 Now Sámr sat at Leikskálar this winter: he was few-spoken and unmeddlesome, and many people found that he was right ill-content with his lot. But in the winter, when the days began to lengthen, Sámr rode in company with another man, having a train of three horses, across the bridge, and thence onward across the heath of Möðrudalr; thence again across Jökulsá-of-the-Ferry, to M˝vatn; thence across the Fljótsheiði, and past Ljósavatn’s Pass, never halting on his way until he made Thorskafjörðr, where a good cheer was made for him. At that time Thorkell had just arrived from a journey abroad, having spent four winters together in foreign lands. Sámr stayed there for a week, giving himself some rest. He now told them of all the dealings between himself and Hrafnkell, and charged the brothers to lend him The Sagas of the Icelanders

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now, as afore, their aid and avail. This time Thorgeirr was chief spokesman on his own and his brother’s behalf; said he was settled afar; “The way between us is a long way indeed, and before we left thee we thought we had made matters snug enough for thee, so much so, that it would have been an easy matter for thee to maintain thyself. But now things have come to what I foretold thee, when thou gavest life to Hrafnkell, that that would be the matter of thy sorest regret. I urged thee to take Hrafnkell’s life, but thou wantedst to have thy way. Now it is easy to see the disparity of wisdom there is between ye two: he allowing thee to sit in peace all along, and only seized the chance of attack when he saw his way to destroying him in whom he deemed there was a greater man than in thyself. Now we may nowise allow thy lucklessness to be the bringer-about of our ruin. Nor have we any such eager desire to plunge into a strife with Hrafnkell again, as that we should want to risk our honour in that matter again. But we are willing to offer thee to come here with all thy relatives, and are ready to afford thee our protection, shouldst thou find thy mind more at ease here, than in the neighbourhood of Hrafnkell.” Sámr said he was not of a mind to close such a bargain; said he wanted to be home again, and bade them afford him relay-horses which was granted him forthwith. The brothers wanted to give Sámr good gifts, but he would take none such; rejoined only that they were men of little hearts. Now Sámr rode home unto his house of Leikskálar, where he lived unto old age, nor ever, as long as he lived, did he get a redress against Hrafnkell. But Hrafnkell sat at home and maintained his lordly title, until he died in his bed. His “how” is in Hrafnkelsdalr, down below Aðalból. In his “how” there was laid down great wealth, all his armour, and his good spear. His sons stepped into his rule; Thórir dwelling at Hrafnkelstaðir, and ¡sbjörn at ¡ðalból; both owning the priesthood conjointly, and were deemed to be right mighty men of their hands. And here the tale of Hrafnkell cometh to a close.


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fair?” Hrut held his peace. Hauskuld said the same thing to him a second time, and then Hrut answered, “Fair enough is this maid, and many will smart for it, but this I know not, whence thief’s eyes have come into our race”. Then Hauskuld was wroth, and for a time the brothers saw little of each other.

The Story of Burnt Njal Chapter 1 - Of Fiddle Mord There was a man named Mord whose surname was Fiddle; he was the son of Sigvat the Red, and he dwelt at the “Vale” in the Rangrivervales. He was a mighty chief, and a great taker up of suits, and so great a lawyer that no judgments were thought lawful unless he had a hand in them. He had an only daughter, named Unna. She was a fair, courteous and gifted woman, and that was thought the best match in all the Rangrivervales. Now the story turns westward to the Broadfirth dales, where, at Hauskuldstede, in Laxriverdale, dwelt a man named Hauskuld, who was Dalakoll’s son, and his mother’s name was Thorgerda. He had a brother named Hrut, who dwelt at Hrutstede; he was of the same mother as Hauskuld, but his father’s name was Heriolf. Hrut was handsome, tall and strong, well skilled in arms, and mild of temper; he was one of the wisest of men - stern towards his foes, but a good counsellor on great matters. It happened once that Hauskuld bade his friends to a feast, and his brother Hrut was there, and sat next him. Hauskuld had a daughter named Hallgerda, who was playing on the floor with some other girls. She was fair of face and tall of growth, and her hair was as soft as silk; it was so long, too, that it came down to her waist. Hauskuld called out to her, “Come hither to me, daughter”. So she went up to him, and he took her by the chin, and kissed her; and after that she went away. Then Hauskuld said to Hrut, “What dost thou think of this maiden? Is she not 132

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Chapter 2 - Hrut woos Unna It happened once that those brothers, Hauskuld and Hrut, rode to the Althing, and there was much people at it. Then Hauskuld said to Hrut, “One thing I wish, brother, and that is, that thou wouldst better thy lot and woo thyself a wife.” Hrut answered, “That has been long on my mind, though there always seemed to be two sides to the matter; but now I will do as thou wishest; whither shall we turn our eyes?” Hauskuld answered, “Here now are many chiefs at the Thing, and there is plenty of choice, but I have already set my eyes on a spot where a match lies made to thy hand. The woman’s name is Unna, and she is a daughter of Fiddle Mord one of the wisest of men. He is here at the Thing, and his daughter too, and thou mayest see her if it pleases thee.” Now the next day, when men were going to the High Court, they saw some well-dressed women standing outside the booths of the men from the Rangrivervales, Then Hauskuld said to Hrut “Yonder now is Unna, of whom I spoke; what thinkest thou of her?” “Well,” answered Hrut; “but yet I do not know whether we should get on well together.” After that they went to the High Court, where Fiddle Mord was laying down the law as was his wont, and alter he had done he went home to his booth. Then Hauskuld and Hrut rose, and went to Mord’s booth. They went in and found Mord sitting in the innermost part of the booth, and they bade him “good day”. He rose to meet them, and took Hauskuld by the hand and made him sit down by his side, and Hrut sat next to Hauskuld, So after they had talked much of this A Black Arrow resource

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and that, at last Hauskuld said, “I have a bargain to speak to thee about; Hrut wishes to become thy son-in-law, and buy thy daughter, and I, for my part, will not be sparing in the mattes”. Mord answered, “I know that thou art a great chief, but thy brother is unknown to me”. “He is a better man than I,” answered Hauskuld. “Thou wilt need to lay down a large sum with him, for she is heir to all I leave behind me,” said Mord. “There is no need,” said Hauskuld, “to wait long before thou hearest what I give my word he shall have. He shall have Kamness and Hrutstede, up as far as Thrandargil, and a trading-ship beside, now on her voyage.” Then said Hrut to Mord, “Bear in mind, now, husband, that my brother has praised me much more than I deserve for love’s sake; but if after what thou hast heard, thou wilt make the match, I am willing to let thee lay down the terms thyself”. Mord answered, “I have thought over the terms; she shall have sixty hundreds down, and this sum shall be increased by a third more in thine house, but if ye two have heirs, ye shall go halves in the goods”. Then said Hrut, “I agree to these terms, and now let us take witness”. After that they stood up and shook hands, and Mord betrothed his daughter Unna to Hrut, and the bridal feast was to be at Mord’s house, half a month after Midsummer. Now both sides ride home from the Thing, and Hauskuld and Hrut ride westward by Hallbjorn’s beacon. Then Thiostolf, the son of Biorn Gullbera of Reykiardale, rode to meet them, and told them how a ship had come out from Norway to the White River, and how aboard of her was Auzur, Hrut’s father’s brother, and he wished Hrut to come to him as soon as ever he could. When Hrut heard this, he asked Hauskuld to go with him to the ship, so Hauskuld went with his brother, and when they reached the ship, Hrut gave his kinsman Auzur a kind and hearty welcome. Auzur asked them into his booth to drink, so their horses were unsaddled, and they went in and drank, and while they were drinking, Hrut The Sagas of the Icelanders

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said to Auzur, “Now, kinsman, thou must ride west with me, and stay with me this winter.” “That cannot be, kinsman, for I have to tell thee the death of thy brother Eyvind, and he has left thee his heir at the Gula Thing, and now thy foes will seize thy heritage, unless thou comest to claim it.” “What’s to be done now, brother?” said Hrut to Hauskuld, “for this seems a hard matter, coming just as I have fixed my bridal day.” “Thou must ride south,” said Hauskuld, “and see Mord, and ask him to change the bargain which ye two have made, and to let his daughter sit for thee three winters as thy betrothed, but I will ride home and bring down thy wares to the ship.” Then said Hrut, “My wish is that thou shouldest take meal and timber, and whatever else thou needest out of the lading”. So Hrut had his horses brought out, and he rode south, while Hauskuld rode home west. Hrut came east to the Rangrivervales to Mord, and had a good welcome, and he told Mord all his business, and asked his advice what he should do. “How much money is this heritage?” asked Mord, and Hrut said it would come to a hundred marks, if he got it all. “Well,” said Mord, “that is much when set against what I shall leave behind me, and thou shalt go for it, if thou wilt.” After that they broke their bargain, and Unna was to sit waiting for Hrut three years as his betrothed. Now Hrut rides back to the ship, and stays by her during the summer, till she was ready to sail, and Hauskuld brought down all Hrut’s wares and money to the ship, and Hrut placed all his other property in Hauskuld’s hands to keep for him while he was away. Then Hauskuld rode home to his house, and a little while after they got a fair wind and sail away to sea. They were out three weeks, and the first land they made was Hern, near Bergen, and so sail eastward to the Bay.

Chapter 3 - Hrut and Gunnhillda, kings mother At that time Harold Grayfell reigned in Norway; he was the son of Eric

Bloodaxe, who was the son of Harold Fairhair; his mother’s name was Gunnhillda, a daughter of Auzur Toti, and they had their abode east, at the King’s Crag. Now the news was spread, how a ship had come thither east into the Bay, and as soon as Gunnhillda heard of it, she asked what men from Iceland were aboard, and they told her Hrut was the man’s name, Auzur’s brother’s son. Then Gunnhillda said, “I see plainly that he means to claim his heritage, but there is a man named Soti, who has laid his hands on it”. After that she called her waiting-man, whose name was Augmund, and said “I am going to send thee to the Bay to find out Auzur and Hint, and tell them that I ask them both to spend this winter with me. Say, too, that I will be their friend, and if Hrut will carry out my counsel, I will see after his suit, and anything else he takes in hand, and I will speak a good word, too, for him to the king.” After that he set off and found them; and as soon as they knew that he was Gunnhillda’s servant, they gave him good welcome. He took them aside and told them his errand, and after that they talked over their plans by themselves. Then Auzur said to Hrut “Methinks, kinsman, here is little need for long talk, our plans are ready made for us; for I know Gunnhillda’s temper; as soon as ever we say we will not go to her she will drive us out of the land, and take all our goods by force; but if we go to her, then she will do us such honour as she has promised.” Augmund went home, and when he saw Gunnhillda, he told her how his errand had ended, and that they would come, and Gunnhillda said “It is only what was to be looked for; for Hrut is said to be a wise and well-bred man; and now do thou keep a sharp look out, and tell me as soon as ever they come to the town.” Hrut and Auzur went east to the King’s Crag, and when they reached the town, their kinsmen and friends went out to meet and welcome them. They asked, whether the king were in the town, and they told them he was. After that they met Augmund, and he brought them a greeting 133

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from Gunnhillda, saying, that she could not ask them to her house before they had seen the king, lest men should say, “I make too much of them”. Still she would do all she could for them, and she went on, “tell Hrut to be outspoken before the king, and to ask to be made one of his bodyguard”; “and here,” said Augmund, “is a dress of honour which she sends to thee, Hrut, and in it thou must go in before the king”. After that he went away. The next day Hrut said “Let us go before the king.” “That may well be,” answered Auzur. So they went, twelve of them together, and all of them friends or kinsmen, and came into the hall where the king sat over his drink. Hrut went first and bade the king “good day,” and the king, looking steadfastly at the man who was welldressed, asked him his name. So he told his name. “Art thou an Icelander?” said the king. He answered, “Yes”. “What drove thee hither to seek us?” Then Hrut answered “To see your state, lord; and, besides, because I have a great matter of inheritance here in the land, and I shall have need of your help, if I am to get my rights.” The king said “I have given my word that every man shall have lawful justice here in Norway; but hast thou any other errand in seeking me?” “Lord!” said Hrut, “I wish you to let me live in your court, and become one of your men.” At this the king holds his peace, but Gunnhillda said “It seems to me as if this man offered you the greatest honour, for me thinks if there were many such men in the body-guard, it would be well filled.” “Is he a wise man?” asked the king. “He is both wise and willing,” said she. “Well,” said the king, “methinks my mother wishes that thou shouldst have the rank for which thou askest, but for the sake of our honour and the custom of the 134

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land, come to me in half a month’s time, and then thou shalt be made one of my body-guard. Meantime, my mother will take care of thee, but then come to me.”

“My mother shall settle that,” said the king.

Then Gunnhillda said to Augmund -

Then she got him a seat in the highest room, and he spent the winter with the king in much honour.

“Follow them to my house, and treat them well.”

Chapter 4 - Of Hrut’s cruise

So Augmund went out, and they went with him, and he brought them to a hall built of stone, which was hung with the most beautiful tapestry, and there too was Gunnhillda’s high-seat.

When the spring came he asked about Soti, and found out he had gone south to Denmark with the inheritance. Then Hrut went to Gunnhillda and tells her what Soti had been about. Gunnhillda said -

Then Augmund said to Hrut -

“I will give thee two long-ships, full manned, and along with them the bravest men. Wolf the Unwashed, our overseer of guests; but still go and see the king before thou settest off.”

“Now will be proved the truth of all that I said to thee from Gunnhillda. Here is her high-seat, and in it thou shalt sit, and this seat thou shalt hold, though she comes herself into the hall.” After that he made them good cheer, and they had sat down but a little while when Gunnhillda came in. Hrut wished to jump up and greet her. “Keep thy seat!” she says, “and keep it too all the time thou art my guest.” Then she sat herself down by Hrut, and they fell to drink, and at even she said “Thou shalt be in the upper chamber with me to-night, and we two together.” “You shall have your way,” he answers. After that they went to sleep, and she locked the door inside. So they slept that night, and in the morning fell to drinking again. Thus they spent their life all that half-month, and Gunnhillda said to the men who were there “Ye shall lose nothing except your lives if you say to any one a word of how Hrut and I are going on.” [When the half-month was over] Hrut gave her a hundred ells of household woollen and twelve rough cloaks, and Gunnhillda thanked him for his gifts. Then Hrut thanked her and gave her a kiss and went away. She bade him “farewell”. And next day he went before the king with thirty men after him and bade the king “good-day”. The king said “Now, Hrut, thou wilt wish me to carry out towards thee what I promised.” So Hrut was made one of the king’s body-guard, and he asked, “Where shall I sit?”

Hrut did so; and when he came before the king, then he told the king of Soti’s doings, and how he had a mind to hold on after him. The king said, “What strength has my mother handed over to thee?” “Two long-ships and Wolf the Unwashed to lead the men,” says Hrut. “Well given,” says the king. “Now I will give thee other two ships, and even then thou’lt need all the strength thou’st got.” After that he went down with Hrut to the ship, and said “fare thee well”. Then Hrut sailed away south with his crews. Chapter 5 - Atli Arnvid son’s slaying There was a man named Atli, son of Arnvid, Earl of East Gothland. He had kept back the taxes from Hacon Athelstane’s foster child, and both father and son had fled away from Jemtland to Gothland. After that, Atli held on with his followers out of the Mælar by Stock Sound, and so on towards Denmark, and now he lies out in ÷resound. He is an outlaw both of the Dane-King and of the Swede-King. Hrut held on south to the Sound, and when he came into it he saw many ships in the Sound. Then Wolf said “What’s best to be done now, Icelander?” “Hold on our course,” says Hrut, “’for nothing venture, nothing have’. My ship and Auzur’s shall go first, but thou shalt lay thy ship where thou likest.” “Seldom have I had others as a shield A Black Arrow resource

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before me,” says Wolf, and lays his galley side by side with Hrut’s ship; and so they hold on through the Sound. Now those who are in the Sound see that ships are coming up to them, and they tell Atli. He answered, “Then maybe there’ll be gain to be got”. After that men took their stand on board each ship; “but my ship,” says Atli, “shall be in the midst of the fleet”. Meantime Hrut’s ships ran on, and as soon as either side could hear the other’s hail, Atli stood up and said “Ye fare unwarily. Saw ye not that warships were in the Sound? But what’s the name of your chief?”

Now Hrut turns to meet Atli: he cut at once at Hrut’s shield, and clove it all in two, from top to point; just then Atli got a blow on his hand from a stone, and down fell his sword. Hrut caught up the sword, and cut his foot from under him. After that he dealt him his death-blow. There they took much goods, and brought away with them two ships which were best, and stayed there only a little while. But meantime Soti and his crew had sailed past them, and he held on his course back to Norway, and made the land at Limgard’s side. There Soti went on shore, and there he met Augmund, Gunnhillda’s page; he knew him at once, and asks “How long meanest thou to be here?”

Hrut tells his name.

“Three nights,” says Soti.

“Whose man art thou?” says Atli.

“Whither away, then?” says Augmund.

“One of king Harold Grayfell’s bodyguard.”

“West, to England,” says Soti, “and never to come back again to Norway while Gunnhillda’s rule is in Norway.”

Atli said, “’Tis long since any love was lost between us, father and son, and your Norway kings”. “Worse luck for thee,” says Hrut. “Well,” says Atli, “the upshot of our meeting will be, that thou shalt not be left alive to tell the tale;” and with that he caught up a spear and hurled it at Hrut’s ship, and the man who stood before it got his death. After that the battle began, and they were slow in boarding Hrut’s ship. Wolf, he went well forward, and with him it was now cut, now thrust. Atli’s bowman’s name was Asolf; he sprung up on Hrut’s ship, and was four men’s death before Hrut was ware of him; then he turned against him, and when they met, Asolf thrust at and through Hrut’s shield, but Hrut cut once at Asolf, and that was his death-blow. Wolf the Unwashed saw that stroke, and called out “Truth to say, Hrut, thou dealest big blows, but thou’st much to thank Gunnhillda for.” “Something tells me,” says Hrut, “that thou speakest with a ‘fey’ mouth.” Now Atli sees a bare place for a weapon on Wolf, and shot a spear through him, and now the battle grows hot: Atli leaps up on Hrut’s ship, and clears it fast round about, and now Auzur turns to meet him, and thrust at him, but fell down full length on his back, for another man thrust at him. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Augmund went away, and goes and finds Gunnhillda, for she was a little way off at a feast, and Gudred, her son, with her. Augmund told Gunnhillda what Soti meant to do, and she begged Gudred to take his life. So Gudred set off at once, and came unawares on Soti, and made them lead up the country, and hang him there. But the goods he took, and brought them to his mother, and she got men to carry them all down to the King’s Crag, and after that she went thither herself. Hrut came back towards autumn, and had gotten great store of goods. He went at once to the king, and had a hearty welcome. He begged them to take whatever they pleased of his goods, and the king took a third. Gunnhillda told Hrut how she had got hold of the inheritance, and had Soti slain. He thanked her, and gave her half of all he had.

Chapter 6 - Hrut sails out to Iceland Hrut stayed with the king that winter in good cheer, but when spring came he grew very silent. Gunnhillda finds that out, and said to him when they two were alone together “Art thou sick at heart?” “So it is,” said Hrut, “as the saying runs - ‘Ill goes it with those who are born on a

barren land’.” “Wilt thou to Iceland?” she asks. “Yes,” he answered. “Hast thou a wife out there?” she asked; and he answers, “No”. “But I am sure that is true,” she says; and so they ceased talking about the matter. [Shortly after] Hrut went before the king and bade him “good day”; and the king said, “What dost thou want now, Hrut?” “I am come to ask, lord, that you give me leave to go to Iceland.” “Will thine honour be greater there than here?” asks the king. “No, it will not,” said Hrut; “but every one must win the work that is set before him.” “It is pulling a rope against a strong man,” said Gunnhillda, “so give him leave to go as best suits him.” There was a bad harvest that year in the land, yet Gunnhillda gave Hrut as much meal as he chose to have; and now he busks him to sail out to Iceland, and Auzur with him; and when they were all-boun, Hrut went to find the king and Gunnhillda. She led him aside to talk alone, and said to him “Here is a gold ring which I will give thee;” and with that she clasped it round his wrist. “Many good gifts have I had from thee,” said Hrut. Then she put her hands round his neck and kissed him, and said “If I have as much power over thee as I think, I lay this spell on thee that thou mayest never have any pleasure in living with that woman on whom thy heart is set in Iceland, but with other women thou mayest get on well enough, and now it is like to go well with neither of us; - but thou hast not believed what I have been saying.” Hrut laughed when he heard that, and went away; after that he came before the king and thanked him; and the king spoke kindly to him, and bade him “farewell”. Hrut went straight to his ship, and they had a fair wind all the way until they ran into Borgarfirth. 135

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As soon as the ship was made fest to the land, Hrut rode west home, but Auzur stayed by the ship to unload her, and lay her up. Hrut rode straight to Hauskuldstede, and Hauskuld gave him a hearty welcome, and Hrut told him all about his travels. After that they sent men east across the rivers to tell Fiddle Mord to make ready for the bridal feast; but the two brothers rode to the ship, and on the way Hauskuld told Hrut how his money matters stood, and his goods had gained much since he was away. Then Hrut said “The reward is less worth than it ought to be, but I will give thee as much meal as thou needst for thy household next winter.” Then they drew the ship on land on rollers, and made her snug in her shed, but all the wares on board her they carried away into the Dales westward. Hrut stayed at home at Hrutstede till winter was six weeks off, and then the brothers made ready, and Auzur with them, to ride to Hrut’s wedding. Sixty men ride with them, and they rode east till they came to Rangriver plains. There they found a crowd of guests, and the men took their seats on benches down the length of the hall, but the women were seated on the cross benches on the dais, and the bride was rather downcast. So they drank out the feast and it went off well. Mord pays down his daughter’s portion, and she rides west with her husband and his train. So they ride till they reach home. Hrut gave over everything into her hands inside the house, and all were pleased at that; but for all that she and Hrut did not pull well together as man and wife, and so things went on till spring, and when spring came Hrut had a journey to make to the Westfirths, to get in the money for which he had sold his wares; but before he set off his wife says to him “Dost thou mean to be back before men ride to the Thing?” “Why dost thou ask?” said Hrut. “I will ride to the Thing,” she said, “to meet my father.” “So it shall be,” said he, “and I will ride to the Thing along with thee.” “Well and good,” she says. After that Hrut rode from home west to 136

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the Firths, got in all his money, and laid it out anew, and rode home again. When he came home he busked him to ride to the Thing, and made all his neighbours ride with him. His brother Hauskuld rode among the rest. Then Hrut said to his wife “If thou hast as much mind now to go to the Thing as thou saidst a while ago, busk thyself and ride along with me.” She was not slow in getting herself ready, and then they all rode to the Thing. Unna went to her father’s booth, and he gave her a hearty welcome, but she seemed somewhat heavy-hearted, and when he saw that he said to her “I have seen thee with a merrier face. Hast thou anything on thy mind?” She began to weep, and answered nothing. Then he said to her again, “Why dost thou ride to the Thing, if thou wilt not tell me thy secret? Dost thou dislike living away there in the west?” Then she answered him “I would give all I own in the world that I had never gone thither.” “Well!” said Mord, “I’ll soon get to the bottom of this.” Then he sends men to fetch Hauskuld and Hrut, and they came straightway; and when they came in to see Mord, he rose up to meet them and gave them a hearty welcome, and asked them to sit down. Then they talked a long time in a friendly way, and at last Mord said to Hauskuld “Why does my daughter think so ill of life in the west yonder?” “Let her speak out,” said Hrut, “if she has anything to lay to my charge.” But she brought no charge against him. Then Hrut made them ask his neighbours and household how he treated her, and all bore him good witness, saying that she did just as she pleased in the house. Then Mord said, “Home thou shalt go, and be content with thy lot; for all the witness goes better for him than for thee”. After that Hrut rode home from the Thing, and his wife with him, and all went smoothly between them that summer; but when spring came it was the old story over again, and things grew worse and worse as the spring went on. Hrut had

again a journey to make west to the Firths, and gave out that he would not ride to the Althing, but Unna his wife said little about it. So Hrut went away west to the Firths.

Chapter 7 - Unna separates from Hrut Now the time for the Thing was coming on, Unna spoke to Sigmund Auzur’s son, and asked if he would ride to the Thing with her; he said he could not ride if his kinsman Hrut set his face against it. “Well!” says she, “I spoke to thee because I have better right to ask this from thee than from any one else.” He answered, “I will make a bargain with thee: thou must promise to ride back west with me, and to have no underhand dealings against Hrut or myself”. So she promised that, and then they rode to the Thing. Her father Mord was at the Thing, and was very glad to see her, and asked her to stay in his booth white the Thing lasted, and she did so. “Now,” said Mord, “what hast thou to tell me of thy mate, Hrut?” Then she sung him a song, in which she praised Hrut’s liberality, but said he was not master of himself. She herself was ashamed to speak out. Mord was silent a short time, and then said “Thou hast now that on thy mind I see, daughter, which thou dost not wish that any one should know save myself, and thou wilt trust to me rather than any one else to help thee out of thy trouble.” Then they went aside to talk, to a place where none could overhear what they said; and then Mord said to his daughter “Now tell me all that is between you two, and don’t make more of the matter than it is worth.” “So it shall be,” she answered, and sang two songs, in which she revealed the cause of their misunderstanding; and when Mord pressed her to speak out, she told him how she and Hrut could not live together, because he was spell-bound, and that she wished to leave him. A Black Arrow resource

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“Thou didst right to tell me all this,” said Mord, “and now I will give thee a piece of advice, which will stand thee in good stead, if thou canst carry it out to the letter. First of all, thou must ride home from the Thing, and by that time thy husband will have come back, and will be glad to see thee; thou must he blithe and buxom to him, and he will think a good change has come over thee, and thou must show no signs of coldness or ill-temper, but when spring comes thou must sham sickness, and take to thy bed. Hrut will not lose time in guessing what thy sickness can be, nor will he scold thee at all, but he will rather beg every one to take all the care they can of thee. After that he will set off west to the Firths, and Sigmund with him, for he will have to flit all his goods home from the Firths west, and he will be away till the summer is far spent. But when men ride to the Thing, and after all have ridden from the Dales that mean to ride thither, then thou must rise from thy bed and summon men to go along with thee to the Thing; and when thou art all-boun, then shalt thou go to thy bed, and the men with thee who are to bear thee company, and thou shalt take witness before thy husband’s bed, and declare thyself separated from him by such a lawful separation as may hold good according to the judgment of the Great Thing, and the laws of the land; and at the man’s door [the main door of the house] thou shalt take the same witness. After that ride away, and ride over Laxriverdale Heath, and so on over Holtbeacon Heath; for they will look for thee by way of Hrutfirth. And so ride on till thou comest to me; then I will see after the matter. But into his hands thou shalt never come more.” Now she rides home from the Thing, and Hrut had come back before her, and made her hearty welcome. She answered him kindly, and was blithe and forbearing towards him. So they lived happily together that half-year; but when spring came she fell sick, and kept her bed. Hrut set off west to the Firths, and bade them tend her well before he went. Now, when the time for the Thing comes, she busked herself to ride away, and did in every way as had been laid down for her; and then she rides away to the Thing. The country folk looked for her, but could not find her. Mord made his daughter welcome, and asked her if she had followed his advice; and she says, “I have not broken one tittle of it”. The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Then she went to the Hill of Laws, and declared herself separated from Hrut; and men thought this strange news. Unna went home with her father, and never went west from that day forward.

a good cause, and is besides mighty in himself and one of the boldest of men.”

Chapter 8 - Mord claims his goods from Hrut

After that men ride home from the Thing, and those brothers Hauskuld and Hrut ride west to Reykiardale, and turned in as guests at Lund, where Thiostolf, Biorn Gullbera’s son, then dwelt. There had been much rain that day, and men got wet, so long-fires were made down the length of the hall. Thiostolf, the master of the house, sat between Hauskuld and Hrut, and two boys, of whom Thiostolf had the rearing, were playing on the floor, and a girl was playing with them. They were great chatterboxes, for they were too young to know better. So one of them said -

Hrut came home, and knit his brows when he heard his wife was gone, but yet kept his feelings well in hand, and stayed at home all that half-year, and spoke to no one on the matter. Next summer he rode to the Thing, with his brother Hauskuld, and they had a great following. But when he came to the Thing, he asked whether Fiddle Mord were at the Thing, and they told him he was; and all thought they would come to words at once about their matter, but it was not so. At last, one day when the brothers and others who were at the Thing went to the Hill of Laws, Mord took witness and declared that he had a money-suit against Hrut for his daughter’s dower, and reckoned the amount at ninety hundreds in goods, calling on Hrut at the same time to pay and hand it over to him, and asking for a fine of three marks. He laid the suit in the Quarter Court, into which it would come by law, and gave lawful notice, so that all who stood on the Hill of Laws might hear. But when he had thus spoken, Hrut said - “Thou hast undertaken this suit, which belongs to thy daughter, rather for the greed of gain and love of strife than in kindliness and manliness. But I shall have something to say against it; for the goods which belong to me are not yet in thy hands. Now, what I have to say is this, and I say it out, so that all who hear me on this hill may bear witness: I challenge thee to fight on the island; there on one side shall be laid all thy daughter’s dower, and on the other I will lay down goods worth as much, and whoever wins the day shall have both dower and goods; but if thou wilt not fight with me, then thou shalt give up all claim to these goods.” Then Mord held his peace, and took counsel with his friends about going to fight on the island, and Jorund the priest gave him an answer. “There is no need for thee to come to ask us for counsel in this matter, for thou knowest if thou fightest with Hrut thou wilt lose both life and goods. He has

Then Mord spoke out, that he would not fight with Hrut, and there arose a great shout and hooting on the hill, and Mord got the greatest shame by his suit.

“Now, I will be Mord, and summon thee to lose thy wife because thou hast not been a good husband to her.” Then the other answered “I will be Hrut, and I call on thee to give up all claim to thy goods, if thou darest not to fight with me.” This they said several times, and all the household burst out laughing. Then Hauskuld got wroth, and struck the boy who called himself Mord with a switch, and the blow fell on his face, and graced the skin. “Get out with thee,” said Hauskuld to the boy, “and make no game of us;” but Hrut said, “Come hither to me,” and the boy did so. Then Hrut drew a ring from his finger and gave it to him, and said “Go away, and try no man’s temper henceforth.” Then the boy went away saying “Thy manliness I will bear in mind all my life.” From this matter Hrut got great praise, and after that they went home; and that was the end of Mord’s and Hrut’s quarrel.

Chapter 9 - Thorwald gets Hallgerda to wife Now, it must be told how Hallgerda, Hauskuld’s daughter, grows up, and is the fairest of women to look on; she was 137

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tall of stature, too, and therefore she was called “Longcoat”. She was fair-haired, and had so much of it that she could hide herself in it; but she was lavish and hard-hearted. Her foster-father’s name was Thiostolf; he was a South islander by stock; he was a strong man, well skilled in arms, and had slain many men, and made no atonement in money for one of them. It was said, too, that his rearing had not bettered Hallgerda’s temper. There was a man named Thorwald; he was Oswif’s son, and dwelt out on Middlefells strand, under the Fell. He was rich and well to do, and owned the islands called Bear-isles, which lie out in Broadfirth, whence he got meal and stock fish. This Thorwald was a strong and courteous man, though somewhat hasty in temper. Now, it fell out one day that Thorwald and his father were talking together of Thorwald’s marrying, and where he had best look for a wife, and it soon came out that he thought there wasn’t a match fit for him far or near. “Well,” said Oswif, “wilt thou ask for Hallgerda Longcoat, Hauskuld’s daughter?” “Yes! I will ask for her,” said Thorwald. “But that is not a match that will suit either of you,” Oswif went on to say, “for she has a will of her own, and thou art stern-tempered and unyielding.” “For all that I will try my luck there,” said Thorwald, “so it’s no good trying to hinder me.” “Ay!” said Oswif, “and the risk is all thine own.” After that they set off on a wooing journey to Hauskuldstede, and had a hearty welcome. They were not long in telling Hauskuld their business, and began to woo; then Hauskuld answered “As for you, I know how you both stand in the world, but for my own part I will use no guile towards you. My daughter has a hard temper, but as to her looks and breeding you can both see for yourselves.” “Lay down the terms of the match,” answered Thorwald, “for I will not let her temper stand in the way of our bargain.” Then they talked over the terms of the bargain, and Hauskuld never asked his daughter what she thought of it, for his 138

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heart was set on giving her away, and so they came to an understanding as to the terms of the match. After that Thorwald betrothed himself to Hallgerda, and rode away home when the matter was settled.

Chapter 10 - Hallgerda’s wedding Hauskuld told Hallgerda of the bargain he had made, and she said “Now that has been put to the proof which I have all along been afraid of, that thou lovest me not so much as thou art always saying, when thou hast not thought it worth while to tell me a word of all this matter. Besides, I do not think the match as good a one as thou hast always promised me.” So she went on, and let them know in every way that she thought she was thrown away. Then Hauskuld said “I do not set so much store by thy pride as to let it stand in the way of my bargains; and my will, not thine, shall carry the day if we fell out on any point.” “The pride of all you kinsfolk is great,” she said, “and so it is not wonderful if I have some of it.” With that she went away, and found her foster-father Thiostolf, and told him what was in store for her, and was very heavyhearted. Then Thiostolf said “Be of good cheer, for thou wilt be married a second time, and then they will ask thee what thou thinkest of the match; for I will do in all things as thou wishest, except in what touches thy father or Hrut.” After that they spoke no more of the matter, and Hauskuld made ready the bridal feast, and rode off to ask men to it. So he came to Hrutstede and called Hrut out to speak with him. Hrut went out, and they began to talk, and Hauskuld told him the whole story of the bargain, and bade him to the feast, saying “I should be glad to know that thou dost not feel hurt though I did not tell thee when the bargain was being made.” “I should be better pleased,” said Hrut, “to have nothing at all to do with it; for this match will bring luck neither to him nor to her; but still I will come to the feast if thou thinkest it will add any honour to thee.”

“Of course I think so,” said Hauskuld, and rode off home. Oswif and Thorwald also asked men to come, so that no fewer than one hundred guests were asked. There was a man named Swan, who dwelt in Bearfirth, which lies north from Steingrimsfirth. This Swan was a great wizard, and he was Hallgerda’s mother’s brother. He was quarrelsome, and hard to deal with, but Hallgerda asked him to the feast, and sends Thiostolf to him; so he went, and it soon got to friendship between him and Swan. Now men come to the feast, and Hallgerda sat upon the cross-bench, and she was a very merry bride. Thiostolf was always talking to her, though he sometimes found time to speak to Swan, and men thought their talking strange. The feast went off well, and Hauskuld paid down Hallgerda’s portion with the greatest readiness. After he had done that, he said to Hrut “Shall I bring out any gifts beside?” “The day will come,” answered Hrut, “when thou wilt have to waste thy goods for Hallgerda’s sake, so hold thy hand now.”

Chapter 11 - Thorwald’s slaying Thorwald rode home from the bridal feast, and his wife with him, and Thiostolf, who rode by her horse’s side, and still talked to her in a low voice. Oswif turned to his son and said “Art thou pleased with thy match? and how went it when ye talked together?” “Well,” said he, “she showed all kindness to me. Thou mightst see that by the way she laughs at every word I say.” “I don’t think her laughter so hearty as thou dost,” answered Oswif, “but this will be put to the proof by and by.” So they ride on till they come home, and at night she took her seat by her husband’s side, and made room for Thiostolf next herself on the inside. Thiostolf and Thorwald had little to do with each other, and few words were thrown away between them that winter, and so time went on. Hallgerda was prodigal and grasping, and there was nothing that any of their neighbours had that she must not have too, and all that she had, no matter whether it A Black Arrow resource

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were her own or belonged to others, she waited. But when the spring came there was a scarcity in the house, both of meal and stock fish, so Hallgerda went up to Thorwald and said “Thou must not be sitting indoors any longer, for we want for the house both meal and fish.” “Well,” said Thorwald, “I did not lay in less for the house this year than I laid in before, and then it used to last till summer.” “What care I,” said Hallgerda, “if thou and thy father have made your money by starving yourselves.” Then Thorwald got angry and gave her a blow on the face and drew blood, and went away and called his men and ran the skiff down to the shore. Then six of them jumped into her and rowed out to the Bear-isles, and began to load her with meal and fish. Meantime it is said that Hallgerda sat out of doors heavy at heart. Thiostolf went up to her and saw the wound on her face, and said “Who has been playing thee this sorry trick?” “My husband Thorwald,” she said, “and thou stoodst aloof, though thou wouldst not if thou hadst cared at all for me.” “Because I knew nothing about it,” said Thiostolf, “but I will avenge it.” Then he went away down to the shore and ran out a six-oared boat, and held in his hand a great axe that he had with a haft overlaid with iron. He steps into the boat and rows out to the Bear-isles, and when he got there all the men had rowed away but Thorwald and his followers, and he stayed by the skiff to load her, while they brought the goods down to him. So Thiostolf came up just then and jumped into the skiff and began to load with him, and after a while he said “Thou canst do but little at this work, and that little thou dost badly.” “Thinkest thou thou canst do it better?” said Thorwald. “There’s one thing to be done which I can do better than thou,” said Thiostolf, and then he went on “The woman who is thy wife has made a The Sagas of the Icelanders

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bad match, and you shall not live much longer together.” Then Thorwald snatched up a fishingknife that lay by him, and made a stab at Thiostolf; he had lifted his axe to his shoulder and dashed it down. It came on Thorwald’s arm and crushed the wrist, but down fell the knife. Then Thiostolf lifted up his axe a second time and gave Thorwald a blow on the head, and he fell dead on the spot.

Chapter 12 - Thiostolf’s flight

the black, her kinsman, to go with her, and bade him saddle their horses, for she said - “I will ride home to my father”. While he made ready for their journey, she went to her chests and unlocked them, and called all the men of her house about her, and gave each of them some gift; but they all grieved at her going. Now she rides home to her father; and he received her well, for as yet he had not heard the news. But Hrut said to Hallgerda “Why did not Thorwald come with thee?” and she answered -

While this was going on, Thorwald’s men came down with their load, but Thiostolf was not slow in his plans. He hewed with both hands at the gunwale of the skiff and cut it down about two planks; then he leapt into his boat, but the dark blue sea poured into the skiff, and down she went with all her freight. Down too sank Thorwald’s body, so that his men could not see what had been done to him, but they knew well enough that he was dead, Thiostolf rowed away up the firth, but they shouted after him wishing him ill luck. He made them no answer, but rowed on till he got home, and ran the boat up on the beach, and went up to the house with his axe, all bloody as it was, on his shoulder. Hallgerda stood out of doors, and said -

“He is dead.”

“Thine axe is bloody; what hast thou done?”

He said, “Ill luck is the end of ill redes, and now I see how it has all gone. Hallgerda must have sent Thiostolf to Bearfirth, but she herself must have ridden home to her father. Let us now gather folk and follow him up thither north.” So they did that, and went about asking for help, and got together many men. And then they all rode off to Steingrims river, and so on to Liotriverdale and Selriverdale, till they came to Bearfirth.

“I have done now what will cause thee to be wedded a second time.” “Thou tellest me then that Thorwald is dead?” she said. “So it is,” said he, “and now look out for my safety.” “So I will,” she said; “I will send thee north to Bearfirth, to Swanshol, and Swan, my kinsman, will receive thee with open arms. He is so mighty a man that no one will seek thee thither.” So he saddled a horse that she had, and jumped on his back, and rode off north to Bearfirth, to Swanshol, and Swan received him with open arms, and said “That’s what I call a man who does not stick at trifles! And now I promise thee if they seek thee here, they shall get nothing but the greatest shame.” Now, the story goes back to Hallgerda, and how she behaved. She called on Liot

Then Said Hauskuld “That was Thiostolf’s doing?” “It was,” she said. “Ah!” said Hauskuld, “Hrut was not for wrong when he told me that this bargain would draw mickle misfortune after it. But there’s no good in troubling one’s self about a thing that’s done and gone.” Now the story must go back to Thorwald’s mates, how there they ate, and how they begged the loan of a boat to get to the mainland. So a boat was lent them at once, and they rowed up the firth to Reykianess, and found Oswif, and told him these tidings.

Now Swan began to speak, and gasped much. “Now Oswif’s fetches are seeking us out.” Then up sprung Thiostolf, but Swan said, “Go thou out with me, there won’t be need of much”. So they went out both of them, and Swan took a goatskin and wrapped it about his own head, and said, “Become mist and fog, become fright and wonder mickle to all those who seek thee”. Now, it must be told how Oswif, his friends, and his men are riding along the ridge; then came a great mist against them, and Oswif said, “This is Swan’s doing; 139

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‘twere well if nothing worse followed”. A little after a mighty darkness came before their eyes, so that they could see nothing, and then they fell off their horses’ backs, and lost their horses, and dropped their weapons, and went over head and ears into bogs, and some went astray into the wood, till they were on the brink of bodily harm. Then Oswif said, “If I could only find my horse and weapons, then I’d turn back”; and he had scarce spoken these words than they saw somewhat, and found their horses and weapons. Then many still egged the others on to look after the chase once more; and so they did, and at once the same wonders befell them, and so they fared thrice. Then Oswif said, “Though the course be not good, let us still turn back. Now, we will take counsel a second time, and what now pleases my mind best, is to go and find Hauskuld, and ask atonement for my son; for there’s hope of honour where there’s good store of it.”

Oswif - “Take now my hand in handsel as a token that thou lettest the suit drop”.

He answered - “I was rather thinking now of leaving off trading voyages”.

So Oswif stood up and said - “This is not an atonement on equal terms when thy brother utters the award, but still thou (speaking to Hrut) hast behaved so well about it that I trust thee thoroughly to make it” Then he stood up and took Hauskuld’s hand, and came to an atonement in the matter, on the understanding that Hrut was to make up his mind and utter the award before Oswif went away. After that, Hrut made his award, and said - “For the slaying of Thorwald I award two hundred in silver” - that was then thought a good price for a man - “and thou shalt pay it down at once, brother, and pay it too with an open hand”.

“What hast thou then in thy mind? Wilt thou woo thee a wife?”

So they rode thence to the Broadfirth dales, and there is nothing to be told about them till they come to Hauskuldstede, and Hrut was there before them. Oswif called out Hauskuld and Hrut, and they both went out and bade him good-day. After that they began to talk. Hauskuld asked Oswif whence he came. He said he had set out to search for Thiostolf, but couldn’t find him. Hauskuld said he must have gone north to Swanshol, “and thither it is not every man’s lot to go to find him”.

He thanked him for his gift, and went home well pleased at the way in which things had gone.

“Well,” says Oswif, “I am come hither for this, to ask atonement for my son from thee.” Hauskuld answered - “I did not slay thy son, nor did I plot his death; still it may be forgiven thee to look for atonement somewhere”. “Nose is next of kin, brother, to eyes,” said Hrut, “and it is needful to stop all evil tongues, and to make him atonement for his son, and so mend thy daughter’s state, for that will only be the case when this suit is dropped, and the less that is said about it the better it will be.” Hauskuld said - “Wilt thou undertake the award?” “That I will,” says Hrut, “nor will I shield thee at all in my award; for if the truth must be told thy daughter planned his death.” Then Hrut held his peace some little while, and afterwards he stood up, and said to 140

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Hauskuld did so, and then Hrut said to Oswif - “I will give thee a good cloak which I brought with me from foreign lands”.

After that Hauskuld and Hrut came to Oswif to share the goods, and they and Oswif came to a good agreement about that too, and they went home with their share of the goods, and Oswif is now out of our story. Hallgerda begged Hauskuld to let her come back home to him, and he gave her leave, and for a long time there was much talk about Thorwald’s slaying. As for Hallgerda’a goods they went on growing till they were worth a great sum.

Chapter 13 - Glum’s wooing Now three brothers are named in the story. One was called Thorarin, the second Ragi, and the third Glum. They were the sons of Olof the Halt, and were men of much worth and of great wealth in goods. Thorarin’s surname was Ragi’s brother; he had the Speakership of the Law after Rafn Heing’s son. He was a very wise man, and lived at Varmalek, and he and Glum kept house together. Glum had been long abroad; he was a tall, strong, handsome man. Ragi their brother was a great man-slayer. Those brothers owned in the south Engey and Laugarness. One day the brothers Thorarin and Glum were talking together, and Thorarin asked Glum whether he meant to go abroad, as was his wont.

“That I will,” says he, “if I could only get myself well matched.” Then Thorarin told off all the women who were unwedded in Borgarfirth, and asked him if he would have any of these - “Say the word, and I will ride with thee!” But Glum answered - “I will have none of these”. “Say then the name of her thou wishest to have,” says Thorarin. Glum answered - “If thou must know, her name is Hallgerda, and she is Hauskuld’s daughter away west in the dales”. “Well,” says Thorarin, “’tis not with thee as the saw says, ‘be warned by another’s woe’; for she was wedded to a man, and she plotted his death.” Glum said - “May be such ill-luck will not befall her a second time, and sure I am she will not plot my death. But now, if thou wilt show me any honour, ride along with me to woo her.” Thorarin said - “There’s no good striving against it, for what must be is sure to happen”. Glum often talked the matter over with Thorarin, but he put it off a long time. At last it came about that they gathered men together and rode off ten in company, west to the dales, and came to Hauskuldstede. Hauskuld gave them a hearty welcome, and they stayed there that night. But early next morning, Hauskuld sends Hrut, and he came thither at once; and Hauskuld was out of doors when he rode into the “town”. Then Hauskuld told Hrut what men had come thither. “What may it be they want?” asked Hrut “As yet,” says Hauskuld, “they have not let out to me that they have any business.” “Still,” says Hrut, “their business must be with thee. They will ask the hand of thy daughter, Hallgerda. If they do, what answer wilt thou make?” “What dost thou advise me to say?” says Hauskuld. “Thou shalt answer well,” says Hrut; “but still make a clean breast of all the good and A Black Arrow resource

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all the ill thou knowest of the woman.”


But while the brothers were talking thus, out came the guests. Hauskuld greeted them well, and Hrut bade both Thorarin and his brothers good morning. After that they all began to talk, and Thorarin said -

Then Glum said - “There has been some talk between thy father and my brother Thorarin and myself about a bargain. It was that I might get thee, Hallgerda, if it be thy will, as it is theirs; and now, if thou art a brave woman, thou wilt say right out whether the match is at all to thy mind; but if thou hast anything in thy heart against this bargain with us, then we will not say anything more about it.”

“I am come hither, Hauskuld, with my brother Glum on this errand, to ask for Hallgerda thy daughter, at the hand of my brother Glum. Thou must know that he is a man of worth.” “I know well,” says Hauskuld, “that ye are both of you powerful and worthy men; but I must tell you right out, that I chose a husband for her before, and that turned out most unluckily for us.” Thorarin answered - “We will not let that stand in the way of the bargain; for one oath shall not become all oaths, and this may prove to be a good match, though that turned out ill; besides Thiostolf had most hand in spoiling it”. Then Hrut spoke: “Now I will give you a bit of advice - this: if ye will not let all this that has already happened to Hallgerda stand in the way of the match, mind you do not let Thiostolf go south with her if the match comes off, and that he is never there longer than three nights at a time, unless Glum gives him leave, but fall an outlaw by Glum’s hand without atonement if he stay there longer. Of course, it shall be in Glum’s power to give him leave; but he will not if he takes my advice. And now this match, shall not be fulfilled, as the other was, without Hallgerda’s knowledge. She shall now know the whole course of this bargain, and see Glum, and herself settle whether she will have him or not; and then she will not be able to lay the blame on others if it does not turn out well. And all this shall be without craft or guile.” Then Thorarin said - “Now, as always, it will prove best if thy advice be taken”. Then they sent for Hallgerda, and she came thither, and two women with her. She had on a cloak of rich blue wool, and under it a scarlet kirtle, and a silver girdle round her waist, but her hair came down on both sides of her bosom, and she had turned the locks up under her girdle. She sat down between Hrut and her father, and she greeted them all with kind words, and spoke well and boldly, and asked what was the news. After that she ceased The Sagas of the Icelanders

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Hallgerda said - “I know well that you are men of worth and might, ye brothers. I know too that now I shall be much better wedded than I was before; but what I want to know is, what you have said already about the match, and how far you have given your words in the matter. But so far as I now see of thee, I think I might love thee well if we can but hit it off as to temper.” So Glum himself told her all about the bargain, and left nothing out, and then he asked Hauskuld and Hrut whether he had repeated it right. Hauskuld said he had; and then Hallgerda said - “Ye have dealt so well with me in this matter, my father and Hrut, that I will do what ye advise, and this bargain shall be struck as ye have settled it”. Then Hrut said - “Methinks it were best that Hauskuld and I should name witnesses, and that Hallgerda should betroth herself, if the Lawman thinks that right and lawful”. “Right and lawful it is,” says Thorarin. After that Hallgerda’s goods were valued, and Glum was to lay down as much against them, and they were to go shares, half and half, in the whole. Then Glum bound himself to Hallgerda as his betrothed, and they rode away home south; but Hauskuld was to keep the wedding-feast at his house. And now all is quiet till men ride to the wedding.

Chapter 14 - Glum’s wedding Those brothers gathered together a great company, and they were all picked men. They rode west to the dales and came to Hauskuldstede, and there they found a great gathering to meet them. Hauskuld and Hrut, and their friends, filled one bench, and the bridegroom the other. Hallgerda sat upon the cross-bench on

the dais, and behaved well. Thiostolf went about with his axe raised in air, and no one seemed to know that he was there, and so the wedding went off well. But when the feast was over, Hallgerda went away south with Glum and his brothers. So when they came south to Varmalek, Thorarin asked Hallgerda if she would undertake the housekeeping, “No, I will not,” she said. Hallgerda kept her temper down that winter, and they liked her well enough. But when the spring came, the brothers talked about their property, and Thorarin said - “I will give up to you the house at Varmalek, for that is readiest to your hand, and I will go down south to Laugarness and live there, but Engey we will have both of us in common”. Glum was willing enough to do that. So Thorarin went down to the south of that district, and Glum and his wife stayed behind there, and lived in the house at Varmalek. Now Hallgerda got a household about her; she was prodigal in giving, and grasping in getting. In the summer she gave birth to a girl. Glum asked her what name it was to have. “She shall be called after my father’s mother, and her name shall be Thorgerda,” for she came down from Sigurd Fafnir’sbane on the father’s side, according to the family pedigree. So the maiden was sprinkled with water, and had this name given her, and there she grew up, and got like her mother in looks and feature. Glum and Hallgerda agreed well together, and so it went on for a while. About that time these tidings were heard from the north and Bearfirth, how Swan had rowed out to fish in the spring, and a great storm came down on him from the east, and how he was driven ashore at Fishless, and he and his men were there lost. But the fishermen who were at Kalback thought they saw Swan go into the fell at Kalbackshorn, and that he was greeted well; but some spoke against that story, and said there was nothing in it. But this all knew that he was never seen again either alive or dead. So when Hallgerda heard that, she thought she had a great loss in her mother’s brother. Glum begged Thorarin to change lands with him, but he said he would not; “but,” said he, “if I outlive you, I mean to have Varmalek to myself”. 141

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When Glum told this to Hallgerda, she said, “Thorarin has indeed a right to expect this from us”.

Chapter 15 - Thiostolf goes to Glum’s house Thiostolf had beaten one of Hauskuld’s house-carles, so he drove him away. He took his horse and weapons, and said to Hauskuld “Now, I will go away and never come back.” “All will be glad at that,” says Hauskuld. Thiostolf rode till he came to Varmalek, and there he got a hearty welcome from Hallgerda, and not a bad one from Glum. He told Hallgerda how her father had driven him away, and begged her to give him her help and countenance. She answered him by telling him she could say nothing about his staying there before she had seen Glum about it. “Does it go well between you?” he says. “Yes,” she says, “our love runs smooth enough.” After that she went to speak to Glum, and threw her arms round his neck and said “Wilt thou grant me a boon which I wish to ask of thee?” “Grant it I will,” he says, “if it be right and seemly; but what is it thou wishest to ask?” “Well,” she said, “Thiostolf has been driven away from the west, and what I want thee to do is to let him stay here; but I will not take it crossly if it is not to thy mind.” Glum said - “Now that thou behavest so well, I will grant thee thy boon; but I tell thee, if he takes to any ill he shall be sent off at once”. She goes then to Thiostolf and tells him, and he answered “Now, thou art still good, as I had hoped.” After that he was there, and kept himself down a little white, but then it was the old story, he seemed to spoil all the good he found; for he gave way to no one save to Hallgerda alone, but she never took his 142

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side in his brawls with others. Thorarin, Glum’s brother, blamed him for letting him be there, and said ill luck would come of it, and all would happen as had happened before if he were there. Glum answered him well and kindly, but still kept on in his own way.

Chapter 16 - Glum’s sheep hunt Now once on a time when autumn came, it happened that men had hard work to get their flocks home, and many of Glum’s wethers were missing. Then Glum said to Thiostolf “Go thou up on the fell with my housecarles and see if ye cannot find out anything about the sheep.” “’Tis no business of mine,” says Thiostolf, “to hunt up sheep, and this one thing is quite enough to hinder it. I won’t walk in thy thralls’ footsteps. But go thyself, and then I’ll go with thee.” About this they had many words. The weather was good, and Hallgerda was sitting out of doors. Glum went up to her and said “Now Thiostolf and I have had a quarrel, and we shall not live much longer together.” And so he told her all that they had been talking about. Then Hallgerda spoke up for Thiostolf, and they had many words about him. At last Glum gave her a blow with his hand, and said “I will strive no longer with thee,” and with that he went away.

many sheep. Some of them, too, went by way of Scoradale, and it came about at last that those twain, Glum and Thiostolf, were left alone together. They went south from Crossfell and found there a flock of wild sheep, and they went from the south towards the fell, and tried to drive them down; but still the sheep got away from them up on the fell. Then each began to scold the other, and Thiostolf said at last that Glum had no strength save to tumble about in Hallgerda’s arms. Then Glum said “’A man’s foes are those of his own house.’ Shall I take upbraiding from thee, runaway thrall as thou art?” Thiostolf said “Thou shalt soon have to own that I am no thrall, for I will not yield an inch to thee.” Then Glum got angry, and cut at him with his hand-axe, but he threw his axe in the way, and the blow fell on the haft with a downward stroke and bit into it about the breadth of two fingers. Thiostolf cut at him at once with his axe, and smote him on the shoulder, and the stroke hewed asunder the shoulderbone and collarbone, and the wound bled inwards. Glum grasped at Thiostolf with his left hand so fast that he fell; but Glum could not hold him, for death came over him. Then Thiostolf covered his body with stones, and took off his gold ring. Then he went straight to Varmalek. Hallgerda was sitting out of doors, and saw that his axe was bloody. He said -

Now she loved him much, and could not calm herself, but wept out loud. Thiostolf went up to her and said -

“I know not what thou wilt think of it, but I tell thee Glum is slain.”

“This is sorry sport for thee, and so it must not be often again.”

“So it is,” he says.

“Nay,” she said, “but thou shalt not avenge this, nor meddle at all whatever passes between Glum and me.” He went off with a spiteful grin. Chapter 17 - Glum’s slaying Now Glum called men to follow him, and Thiostolf got ready and went with them. So they went up South Reykiardale and then up along by Baugagil and so south to Crossfell. But some of his band he sent to the Sulafells, and they all found very

“That must be thy deed?” she says. She laughed and said “Thou dost not stand for nothing in this sport.” “What thinkest thou is best to be done now?” he asked. “Go to Hrut, my father’s brother,” she said, “and let him see about thee.” “I do not know,” says Thiostolf, “whether this is good advice; but still I will take thy counsel in this matter.” So he took his horse, and rode west A Black Arrow resource

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to Hrutstede that night. He binds his horse at the back of the house, and then goes round to the door, and gives a great knock. After that he walks round the house, north about. It happened that Hrut was awake. He sprang up at once, and put on his jerkin and pulled on his shoes. Then he took up his sword, and wrapped a cloak about his left arm, up as far as the elbow. Men woke up just as he went out; there he saw a tall stout man at the back of the house, and knew it was Thiostolf. Hrut asked him what news. “I tell thee Glum is slain,” says Thiostolf. “Who did the deed?” says Hrut. “I slew him,” says Thiostolf. “Why rodest thou hither?” says Hrut. “Hallgerda sent me to thee,” says Thiostolf. “Then she has no hand in this deed,” says Hrut, and drew his sword. Thiostolf saw that, and would not be behind hand, so he cuts at Hrut at once. Hrut got out of the way of the stroke by a quick turn, and at the same time struck the back of the axe so smartly with a side-long blow of his left hand, that it flew out of Thiostolf’s grasp. Then Hrut made a blow with the sword in his right hand at Thiostolf’s leg, just above the knee, and cut it almost off so that it hung by a little piece, and sprang in upon him at the same time, and thrust him hard back. After that he smote him on the head, and dealt him his deathblow. Thiostolf fell down on his back at full length, and then out came Hrut’s men, and saw the tokens of the deed. Hrut made them take Thiostolf away, and throw stones over his body, and then he went to find Hauskuld, and told him of Glum’s slaying, and also of Thiostolf’s. He thought it harm that Glum was dead and gone, but thanked him for killing Thiostolf. A little while after, Thorarin Ragi’s brother hears of his brother Glum’s death, then he rides with eleven men behind him west to Hauskuldstede, and Hauskuld welcomed him with both hands, and he is there the night. Hauskuld sent at once for Hrut to come to him, and he went at once, and next day they spoke much of the slaying of Glum, and Thorarin said - “Wilt thou make me any atonement for my brother, for I have had a great loss?” Hauskuld answered - “I did not slay thy The Sagas of the Icelanders

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brother, nor did my daughter plot his death; but as soon as ever Hrut knew it he slew Thiostolf”. Then Thorarin held his peace, and thought the matter had taken a bad turn. But Hrut said - “Let us make his journey good; he has indeed had a heavy loss, and if we do that we shall be well spoken of. So let us give him gifts, and then he will be our friend ever afterwards.” So the end of it was that those brothers gave him gifts, and he rode back south. He and Hallgerda changed homesteads in the spring, and she went south to Laugarness and he to Varmalek. And now Thorarin is out of the story.

Chapter 18 - Fiddle Mord’s death Now it must be told how Fiddle Mord took a sickness and breathed his last; and that was thought great scathe. His daughter Unna took all the goods he left behind him. She was then still unmarried the second time. She was very lavish, and unthrifty of her property; so that her goods and ready money wasted away, and at last she had scarce anything left but land and stock.

Chapter 19 - Gunnar comes into the story There was a man whose name was Gunnar. He was one of Unna’s kinsmen, and his mother’s name was Rannveig. Gunnar’s father was named Hamond. Gunnar Hamond’s son dwelt at Lithend, in the Fleetlithe. He was a tall man in growth, and a strong man - best skilled in arms of all men. He could cut or thrust or shoot if he chose as well with his left as with his right hand, and he smote so swiftly with his sword, that three seemed to flash through the air at once. He was the best shot with the bow of all men, and never missed his mark. He could leap more than his own height, with all his war-gear, and as far backwards as forwards. He could swim like a seal, and there was no game in which it was any good for anyone to strive with him; and so it has been said that no man was his match. He was handsome of feature, and fair skinned. His nose was straight, and a little turned up at the end. He was blueeyed and bright-eyed, and ruddy-cheeked. His hair thick, and of good hue, and

hanging down in comely curls. The most courteous of men was he, of sturdy frame and strong will, bountiful and gentle, a fast friend, but hard to please when making them. He was wealthy in goods. His brother’s name was Kolskegg; he was a tall strong man, a noble fellow, and undaunted in everything. Another brother’s name was Hjort; he was then in his childhood. Orm Skogarnef was a base-born brother of Gunnar’s; he does not come into this story. Arnguda was the name of Gunnar’s sister. Hroar, the priest at Tongue, had her to wife.

Chapter 20 - Of Njal and his children There was a man whose name was Njal. He was the son of Thorgeir Gelling, the son of Thorolf. Njal’s mother’s name was Asgerda. Njal dwelt at Bergthorsknoll in the land-isles; he had another homestead on Thorolfsfell. Njal was wealthy in goods, and handsome of face; no beard grew on his chin. He was so great a lawyer, that his match was not to be found. Wise too he was, and foreknowing and foresighted. Of good counsel, and ready to give it, and all that he advised men was sure to be the best for them to do. Gentle and generous, he unravelled every man’s knotty points who came to see him about them. Bergthora was his wife’s name; she was Skarphedinn’s daughter, a very high-spirited, bravehearted woman, but somewhat hardtempered. They had six children, three daughters and three sons, and they all come afterwards into this story.

Chapter 21 - Unna goes to see Gunnar Now it must be told how Unna had lost all her ready money. She made her way to Lithend, and Gunnar greeted his kinswoman well. She stayed there that night, and the next morning they sat out of doors and talked. The end of their talk was that she told him how heavily she was pressed for money. “This is a bad business,” he said. “What help wilt thou give me out of my distress?” she asked. He answered - “Take as much money as thou needest from what I have out at interest”. 143

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“Nay,” she said, “I will not waste thy goods.” “What then dost thou wish?” “I wish thee to get back my goods out of Hrut’s hands,” she answered. “That, methinks, is not likely,” said he, “when thy father could not get them back, and yet he was a great lawyer, but I know little about law.” She answered - “Hrut pushed that matter through rather by boldness than by law; besides, my father was old, and that was why men thought it better not to drive things to the uttermost. And now there is none of my kinsmen to take this suit up if thou hast not daring enough.” “I have courage enough,” he replied, “to get these goods back; but I do not know how to take the suit up.” “Well!” she answered, “go and see Njal of Bergthorsknoll, he will know how to give thee advice. Besides, he is a great friend of thine.” “’Tis like enough he will give me good advice, as he gives it to every one else,” says Gunnar. So the end of their talk was, that Gunnar undertook her cause, and gave her the money she needed for her housekeeping, and after that she went home. Now Gunnar rides to see Njal, and he made him welcome, and they began to talk at once. Then Gunnar said - “I am come to seek a bit of good advice from thee”. Njal replied - “Many of my friends are worthy of this, but still I think I would take more pains for none than for thee”. Gunnar said - “I wish to let thee know that I have undertaken to get Unna’s goods back from Hrut”. “A very hard suit to undertake,” said Njal, “and one very hazardous how it will go; but still I will get it up for thee in the way I think likeliest to succeed, and the end will be good if thou breakest none of the rules I lay down; if thou dost, thy life is in danger.” “Never fear; I will break none of them,” said Gunnar. Then Njal held his peace for a little while, and after that he spoke as follows: 144

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Chapter 22 - Njal’s advice “I have thought over the suit, and it will do so. Thou shalt ride from home with two men at thy back. Over all thou shalt have a great rough cloak, and under that, a russet kirtle of cheap stuff, and under all, thy good clothes. Thou must take a small axe in thy hand, and each of you must have two horses, one fat, the other lean. Thou shalt carry hardware and smith’s work with thee hence, and ye must ride off early to-morrow morning, and when ye are come across Whitewater westwards, mind and slouch thy hat well over thy brows. Then men will ask who is this tall man, and thy mates shall say - ‘Here is Huckster Hedinn the Big, a man from Eyjafirth, who is going about with smith’s work for sale’. This Hedinn is ill-tempered and a chatterer - a fellow who thinks he alone knows everything. Very often he snatches back his wares, and flies at men if everything is not done as he wishes. So thou shalt ride west to Borgarfirth offering all sorts of wares for sale, and be sure often to cry off thy bargains, so that it will be noised abroad that Huckster Hedinn is the worst of men to deal with, and that no lies have been told of his bad behaviour. So thou shalt ride to Northwaterdale, and to Hrutfirth, and Laxriverdale, till thou comest to Hauskuldstede. There thou must stay a night, and sit in the lowest place, and hang thy head down. Hauskuld will tell them all not to meddle nor make with Huckster Hedinn, saying he is a rude unfriendly fellow. Next morning thou must be off early and go to the farm nearest Hrutstede. There thou must offer thy goods for sale, praising up all that is worst, and tinkering up the faults. The master of the house will pry about and find out the faults. Thou must snatch the wares away from him, and speak ill to him. He will say - ‘Twas not to be hoped that thou wouldst behave well to him, when thou behavest ill to every one else. Then thou shalt fly at him, though it is not thy wont, but mind and spare thy strength, that thou mayest not be found out. Then a man will be sent to Hrutstede to tell Hrut he had best come and part you. He will come at once and ask thee to his house, and thou must accept his offer. Thou shalt greet Hrut, and he will answer well. A place will be given thee on the lower bench over against Hrut’s high-seat. He will ask if thou art

from the North, and thou shalt answer that thou art a man of Eyjafirth. He will go on to ask if there are very many famous men there. ‘Shabby fellows enough and to spare,’ thou must answer. ‘Dost thou know Reykiardale and the parts about?’ he will ask. To which thou must answer - ‘I know all Iceland by heart’. “Are there any stout champions left in Reykiardale?’ he will ask. ‘Thieves and scoundrels,’ thou shalt answer. Then Hrut will smile and think it sport to listen. You two will go on to talk of the men in the Eastfirth Quarter, and thou must always find something to say against them. At last your talk will come to Rangrivervale, and then thou must say, there is small choice of men left in those parts since Fiddle Mord died. At the same time sing some stave to please Hrut, for I know thou art a skald. Hrut will ask what makes thee say there is never a man to come in Mord’s place; and then thou must answer, that he was so wise a man and so good a taker up of suits, that he never made a false step in upholding his leadership. He will ask - ‘Dost thou know how matters fared between me and him?’ “’I know all about it,’ thou must reply, ‘he took thy wife from thee, and thou hadst not a word to say.’ “Then Hrut will ask - ‘Dost thou not think it was some disgrace to him when he could not get back his goods, though he set the suit on foot?’ “’I can answer thee that well enough,’ thou must say, ‘Thou challengedst him to single combat; but he was old, and so his friends advised him not to fight with thee, and then they let the suit fall to the ground.’ “’True enough,” Hrut will say. ‘I said so, and that passed for law among foolish men; but the suit might have been taken up again at another Thing if he had the heart.’ “’I know all that,’ thou must say. “Then he will ask - ‘Dost thou know anything about law?” “’Up in the North I am thought to know something about it,’ thou shalt say. ‘But still I should like thee to tell me how this suit should be taken up.’ “’What suit dost thou mean?’ he will ask. A Black Arrow resource

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“’A suit,’ thou must answer, ‘which does not concern me. I want to know how a man must set to work who wishes to get back Unna’s dower.’ “Then Hrut will say - ‘In this suit I must be summoned so that I can hear the summons, or I must be summoned here in my lawful house’. “’Recite the summons, then,’ thou must say, and I will say it after thee.’ “Then Hrut will summon himself; and mind and pay great heed to every word he says. After that Hrut will bid thee repeat the summons, and thou must do so, and say it all wrong, so that no more than every other word is right. “Then Hrut will smile and not mistrust thee, but say that scarce a word is right. Thou must throw the blame on thy companions, and say they put thee out, and then thou must ask him to say the words first, word by word, and to let thee say the words after him. He will give thee leave, and summon himself in the suit, and thou shalt summon after him there and then, and this time say every word right. When it is done, ask Hrut if that were rightly summoned, and he will answer ‘there is no flaw to be found in it’. Then thou shalt say in a loud voice, so that thy companions may hear “’I summon thee in the suit which Unna Mord’s daughter has made over to me with her plighted hand.’ “But when men are sound asleep, you shall rise and take your bridles and saddles, and tread softly, and go out of the house, and put your saddles on your fat horses in the fields, and so ride off on them, but leave the others behind you. You must ride up into the hills away from the home pastures and stay there three nights, for about so long will they seek you. After that ride home south, riding always by night and resting by day. As for us we will then ride this summer to the Thing, and help thee in thy suit.” So Gunnar thanked Njal, and first of all rode home.

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horseback met them and asked who that tall man might be of whom so little was seen. But his companions said it was Huckster Hedinn. Then the others said a worse was not to be looked for behind, when such a man as he went before. Hedinn at once made as though he would have set upon them, but yet each went their way. So Gunnar went on doing everything as Njal had laid it down for him, and when he came to Hauskuldstede he stayed there the night, and thence he went down the dale till he came to the next farm to Hrutstede. There he offered his wares for sale, and Hedinn fell at once upon the farmer. This was told to Hrut, and he sent for Hedinn, and Hedinn went at once to see Hrut, and had a good welcome. Hrut seated him over against himself, and their talk went pretty much as Njal had guessed; but when they came to talk of Rangrivervale, and Hrut asked about the men there, Gunnar sung this stave -

the river, and so up along the bank by Hiardarholt till the dale broke off among the hills, and so there they are upon the fells between Laxriverdale and Hawkdale, having got to a spot where no one could find them unless he had fallen on them by chance.

Men in sooth are slow to find, - So the people speak by stealth, Often this hath reached my ears, - All through Rangar’s rolling vales. Still I trow that Fiddle Mord, Tried his hand in fight of yore; Sure was never gold-bestower, Such a man for might and wit.

Hauskuld said - “This beast is no man’s fetch, but Gunnar’s of Lithend, and now methinks I see all about it. Up! let us ride to Hrutstede.” And they did so. Hrut lay in his locked bed, and asks who have come there? Hauskuld tells who he is, and asked what guests might be there in the house.

Then Hrut said, “Thou art a skald, Hedinn. But hast thou never heard how things went between me and Mord?” Then Hedinn sung another stave Once I ween I heard the rumour, How the Lord of rings bereft thee; From thine arms earth’s offspring tearing, Trickful he and trustful thou. Then the men, the buckler-bearers, Begged the mighty gold-begetter, Sharp sword oft of old he reddened, Not to stand in strife with thee. So they went on, till Hrut, in answer told him how the suit must be taken up, and recited the summons. Hedinn repeated it all wrong, and Hrut burst out laughing, and had no mistrust. Then he said, Hrut must summon once more, and Hrut did so. Then Hedinn repeated the summons a second time, and this time right, and called his companions to witness how he summoned Hrut in a suit which Unna Mord’s daughter had made over to him with her plighted hand. At night he went to sleep like other men, but as soon as ever Hrut was sound asleep, they took their clothes and arms, and went out and came to their horses, and rode off across

Hauskuld wakes up that night at Hauskuldstede, and roused all his household, “I will tell you my dream,” he said. “I thought I saw a great bear go out of this house, and I knew at once this beast’s match was not to be found; two cubs followed him, wishing well to the bear, and they all made for Hrutstede, and went into the house there. After that I woke. Now I wish to ask if any of you saw aught about yon tall man.” Then one man answered him - “I saw how a golden fringe and a bit of scarlet cloth peeped out at his arm, and on his right arm he had a ring of gold”.

“Only Huckster Hedinn is here,” says Hrut. “A broader man across the back, it will be, I fear,” says Hauskuld, “I guess here must have been Gunnar of Lithend.” “Then there has been a pretty trial of cunning,” says Hrut. “What has happened?” says Hauskuld. “I told him how to take up Unna’s suit, and I summoned myself and he summoned after, and now he can use this first step in the suit, and it is right in law.” “There has, indeed, been a great falling off of wit on one side,” said Hauskuld, “and Gunnar cannot have planned it all by himself; Njal must be at the bottom of this plot, for there is not his match for wit in all the land.” Now they look for Hedinn, but he is already off and away; after that they gathered folk, and looked for them three days, but could not find them. Gunnar rode south from the fell to Hawkdale and so east of Skard, and north to 145

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Holtbeaconheath, and so on until he got home.

witness, Warriors grasping Woden’s guard, Unless the wealthy wight down payeth Dower of wife with flowing veil.

share nor profit in that vengeance. And after all it is most likely that he will turn to our stock to seek for friends.”

Chapter 24 - Gunnar and Hrut strive at the thing

After that Gunnar went away from the court with all his followers. Hrut and Hauskuld went home too, and the suit was never pursued nor defended from that day forth. Hrut said, as soon as he got inside the booth, “This has never happened to me before, that any man has offered me combat and I have shunned it”.

After that they left off speaking of the matter. Gunnar showed Njal the money, and he said - “The suit has gone off well”.

Gunnar rode to the Althing, and Hrut and Hauskuld rode thither too with a very great company. Gunnar pursues his suit, and began by calling on his neighbours to bear witness, but Hrut and his brother had it in their minds to make an onslaught on him, but they mistrusted their strength. Gunnar next went to the court of the men of Broadfirth, and bade Hrut listen to his oath and declaration of the cause of the suit, and to all the proofs which he was about to bring forward. After that he took his oath, and declared his case. After that he brought forward his witnesses of the summons, along with his witnesses that the suit had been handed over to him. All this time Njal was not at the court. Now Gunnar pursued his suit till he called on the defendant to reply. Then Hrut took witness, and said the suit was naught, and that there was a flaw in the pleading; he declared that it had broken down because Gunnar had failed to call those three witnesses which ought to have been brought before the court. The first, that which was taken before the marriage-bed, the second, before the man’s door, the third, at the Hill of Laws. By this time Njal was come to the court and said the suit and pleading might still he kept alive if they chose to strive in that way. “No,” says Gunnar, “I will not have that; I will do the same to Hrut as he did to Mord my kinsman; - or, are those brothers Hrut and Hauskuld so near that they may hear my voice?” “Hear it we can,” says Hrut. “What dost thou wish?” Gunnar said - “Now all men here present be ear-witnesses, that I challenge thee Hrut to single combat, and we shall fight to-day on the holm, which is here in Axewater. But if thou wilt not fight with me, then pay up all the money this very day.” After that Gunnar sung a stave Yes, so must it be, this morning - Now my mind is full of fire - Hrut with me on yonder island Raises roar of helm and shield. All that hear my words bear 146

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“Then thou must mean to fight,” says Hauskuld, “but that shall not be if I have my way; for thou comest no nearer to Gunnar than Mord would have come to thee, and we had better both of us pay up the money to Gunnar.” After that the brothers asked the householders of their own country what they would lay down, and they one and all said they would lay down as much as Hrut wished. “Let us go then,” says Hauskuld, “to Gunner’s booth, and pay down the money out of hand.” That was told to Gunnar, and he went out into the doorway of the booth, and Hauskuld said “Now it is thine to take the money.” Gunnar said “Pay it down, then, for I am ready to take it.” So they paid down the money truly out of hand, and then Hauskuld said - “Enjoy it now, as thou hast gotten it”. Then Gunnar sang another stave Men who wield the blade of battle Hoarded wealth may well enjoy, Guileless gotten this at least, Golden meed I fearless take; But if we for woman’s quarrel, Warriors born to brandish sword, Glut the wolf with manly gore, Worse the lot of both would be. Hrut answered - “Ill will be thy meed for this”. “Be that as it may,” says Gunnar. Then Hauskuld and his brother went home to their booth, and he had much upon his mind, and said to Hrut -

“Ay,” says Gunnar, “but it was all thy doing.” Now men rode home from the Thing, and Gunnar got very great honour from the suit. Gunnar handed over all the money to Unna, and would have none of it, but said he thought he ought to look for more help from her and her kin hereafter than from other men. She said, so it should be.

Chapter 25 - Unna’s second wedding There was a man named Valgard, he kept house at Hof by Rangriver, he was the son of Jorund the Priest, and his brother was Wolf Aurpriest. Those brothers. Wolf Aurpriest, and Valgard the guileful, set off to woo Unna, and she gave herself away to Valgard without the advice of any of her kinsfolk. But Gunnar and Njal, and many others thought ill of that, for he was a cross-grained man and had few friends. They begot between them a son, whose name was Mord, and he is long in this story. When he was grown to man’s estate, he worked ill to his kinsfolk, but worst of all to Gunnar. He was a crafty man in his temper, but spiteful in his counsels. Now we will name Njal’s sons. Skarphedinn was the eldest of them. He was a tall man in growth and strong withal; a good swordsman; he could swim like a seal, the swiftest-footed of men, and bold and dauntless; he had a great flow of words and quick utterance; a good skald too; but still for the most part he kept himself well in hand; his hair was dark brown, with crisp curly locks; he had good eyes; his features were sharp, and his face ashen pale, his nose turned up and his front teeth stuck out, and his mouth was very ugly. Still he was the most soldier-like of men.

“Will this unfairness of Gunnar’s never be avenged?”

Grim was the name of Njal’s second son. He was fair of face and wore his hair long. His hair was dark, and he was comelier to look on than Skarphedinn. A tall strong man.

“Not so,” says Hrut; “’twill be avenged on him sure enough, but we shall have no

Helgi was the name of Njal’s third son. He too was fair of face and had fine hair. He A Black Arrow resource

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was a strong man and well-skilled in arms. He was a man of sense and knew well how to behave. They were all unwedded at that time, Njal’s sons. Hauskuld was the fourth of Njal’s sons. He was base-born. His mother was Rodny, and she was Hauskuld’s daughter, the sister of Ingialld of the Springs. Njal asked Skarphedinn one day if he would take to himself a wife. He bade his father settle the matter. Then Njal asked for his hand Thorhilda, the daughter of Ranvir of Thorolfsfell, and that was why they had another homestead there after that. Skarphedinn got Thorhilda, but he stayed still with his father to the end. Grim wooed Astrid of Deepback; she was a widow and very wealthy. Grim got her to wife, and yet lived on with Njal.

Chapter 26 - Of Asgrim and his children There was a man named Asgrim. He was Ellidagrim’s son. The brother of Asgrim Ellidagrim’s son was Sigfus. Asgrim had two sons, and both of them were named Thorhall. They were both hopeful men. Grim was the name of another of Asgrim’s sons, and Thorhalla was his daughter’s name. She was the fairest of women, and well behaved. Njal came to talk with his son Helgi, and said, “I have thought of a match for thee, if thou wilt follow my advice”. “That I will surely,” says he, “for I know that thou both meanest me well, and canst do well for me; but whither hast thou turned thine eyes?” “We will go and woo Asgrim Ellidagrim’s son’s daughter, for that is the best choice we can make.”

Chapter 27 - Helgi Njal’s son’s wooing A little after they rode out across Thurso water, and fared till they came into Tongue. Asgrim was at home, and gave them a hearty welcome; and they were there that night. Next morning they began to talk, and then Njal raised the question of the wooing, and asked for Thorhalla for his son Helgi’s hand. Asgrim answered that well, and said there were no men The Sagas of the Icelanders

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with whom he would be more willing to make this bargain than with them. They fell a-talking then about terms, and the end of it was that Asgrim betrothed his daughter to Helgi, and the bridal day was named. Gunnar was at that feast, and many other of the best men. After the feast Njal offered to foster in his house Thorhall, Asgrim’s son, and he was with Njal long after. He loved Njal more than his own father. Njal taught him law, so that he became the greatest lawyer in Iceland in those days.

Chapter 28 - Hallvard comes out to Iceland There came a ship out from Norway, and ran into Arnbæl’s Oyce,ˆ and the master of the ship was Hallvard, the white, a man from the Bay.ˆ He went to stay at Lithend, and was with Gunnar that winter, and was always asking him to fare abroad with him. Gunnar spoke little about it, but yet said more unlikely things might happen; and about spring he went over to Bergthorsknoll to find out from Njal whether he thought it a wise step in him to go abroad. “I think it is wise,” says Njal; “they will think thee there an honourable man, as thou art.” “Wilt thou perhaps take my goods into thy keeping while I am away, for I wish my brother Kolskegg to fare with me; but I would that thou shouldst see after my household along with my mother.” “I will not throw anything in the way of that,” says Njal; “lean on me in this thing as much as thou likest.” “Good go with thee for thy words,” says Gunnar, and he rides then home. The Easterling [the Norseman Hallvard] fell again to talk with Gunnar that he should fare abroad. Gunnar asked if he had ever sailed to other lands? He said he had sailed to every one of them that lay between Norway and Russia, and so, too, I have sailed to Biarmaland.ˆ “Wilt thou sail with me eastward ho?” says Gunnar. “That I will of a surety,” says he. Then Gunnar made up his mind to sail abroad with him. Njal took all Gunnar’s goods into his keeping.

Chapter 29 - Gunnar goes abroad So Gunnar fared abroad, and Kolskegg with him. They sailed first to Tˆnsberg,ˆ and were there that winter. There had then been a shift of rulers in Norway, Harold Grayfell was then dead, and so was Gunnhillda. Earl Hacon the Bad, Sigurd’s son, Hacon’s son, Gritgarth’s son, then ruled the realm. The mother of Hacon was Bergliot, the daughter of Earl Thorir. Her mother was Olof harvest-heal. She was Harold Fair-hair’s daughter. Hallvard asks Gunnar if he would make up his mind to go to Earl Hacon? “No; I will not do that,” says Gunnar. “Hast thou ever a long-ship?” “I have two,” he says. “Then I would that we two went on warfare; and let us get men to go with us.” “I will do that,” says Hallvard. After that they went to the Bay, and took with them two ships, and fitted them out thence. They had good choice of men, for much praise was said of Gunnar. “Whither wilt thou first fare?” says Gunnar. “I wish to go south-east to Hisingen, to see my kinsman Oliver,” says Hallvard. “What dost thou want of him?” says Gunnar. He answered - “He is a fine brave fellow, and he will be sure to get us some more strength for our voyage”. “Then let us go thither,” says Gunnar. So, as soon as they were “boun,” they held on east to Hisingen, and had there a hearty welcome. Gunnar had only been there a short time ere Oliver made much of him. Oliver asks about his voyage, and Hallvard says that Gunnar wishes to go a-warfaring to gather goods for himself. “There’s no use thinking of that,” says Oliver, “when ye have no force.” “Well,” says Hallvard, “then you may add to it.” “So I do mean to strengthen Gunnar somewhat,” says Oliver; “and though thou reckonest thyself my kith and kin, I think there is more good in him.” “What force, now, wilt thou add to ours?” he asks. 147

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“Two long-ships, one with twenty, and the other with thirty seats for rowers.” “Who shall man them?” asks Hallvard. “I will man one of them with my own house-carles, and the freemen around shall man the other. But still I have found out that strife has come into the river, and I know not whether ye two will be able to get away; for they are in the river.” “Who?” says Hallvard. “Brothers twain,” says Oliver; “one’s name is Vandil and the other’s Karli, sons of Sjolf the Old, east away out of Gothland.” Hallvard told Gunnar that Oliver had added some ships to theirs, and Gunnar was glad at that. They busked them for their voyage thence, till they were “all-boun”. Then Gunnar and Hallvard went before Oliver, and thanked him; he bade them fare warily for the sake of those brothers.

Chapter 30 - Gunnar goes a-searoving So Gunnar held on out of the river, and he and Kolskegg were both on board one ship. But Hallvard was on board another. Now, they see the ships before them, and then Gunnar spoke, and said “Let us be ready for anything if they turn towards us! but else let us have nothing to do with them.” So they did that, and made all ready on board their ships. The others patted their ships asunder, and made a fareway between the ships. Gunnar fared straight on between the ships, but Vandil caught up a grappling-iron, and cast it between their ships and Gunnar’s ship, and began at once to drag it towards him. Oliver had given Gunnar a good sword; Gunnar now drew it, and had not yet put on his helm. He leapt at once on the forecastle of Vandil’s ship, and gave one man his death-blow. Karli ran his ship alongside the other side of Gunnar’s ship, and hurled a spear athwart the deck, and aimed at him about the waist. Gunnar sees this, and turned him about so quickly, that no eye could follow him, and caught the spear with his left hand, and hurled it back at Karli’s ship, and that man got his death who stood before it. Kolskegg snatched up a grapnel and casts it at Karli’s ship, and the fluke fell inside the hold, and went out 148

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through one of the planks, and in rushed the coal-blue sea, and all the men sprang on board other ships. Now Gunnar leapt back to his own ship, and then Hallvard came up, and now a great battle arose. They saw now that their leader was unflinching, and every man did as well as he could. Sometimes Gunnar smote with the sword, and sometimes he hurled the spear, and many a man had his bane at his hand. Kolskegg backed him well. As for Karli, he hastened in a ship to his brother Vandil, and thence they fought that day. During the day Kolskegg took a rest on Gunnar’s ship, and Gunnar sees that. Then he sung a song For the eagle ravine-eager, Raven of my race, to-day Better surely hast thou catered, Lord of gold, than for thyself; Here the morn come greedy ravens, Many a rill of wolfˆ to sup, But thee burning thirst down-beareth, Prince of battle’s Parliament! After that Kolskegg took a beaker full of mead, and drank it off and went on fighting afterwards; and so it came about that those brothers sprang up on the ship of Vandil and his brother, and Kolskegg went on one side, and Gunnar on the other. Against Gunnar came Vandil, and smote at once at him with his sword, and the blow fell on his shield. Gunnar gave the shield a twist as the sword pierced it, and broke it short off at the hilt. Then Gunnar smote back at Vandil, and three swords seemed to be aloft, and Vandil could not see how to shun the blow. Then Gunnar cut both his legs from under him, and at the same time Kolskegg ran Karli through with a spear. After that they took great war spoil. Thence they held on south to Denmark, and thence east to Smoland,ˆ and had victory wherever they went. They did not come back in autumn. The next summer they held on to Reval, and fell in there with sea-rovers, and fought at once, and won the fight. After that they steered east to Osel,ˆ and lay there somewhile under a ness. There they saw a man coming down from the ness above them; Gunnar went on shore to meet the man, and they had a talk. Gunnar asked him his name, and he said it was Tofi. Gunnar asked again what he wanted. “Thee I want to see,” says the man. “Two warships lie on the other side under the ness, and I will tell thee who command them: two brothers are the captains - one’s

name is Hallgrim, and the other’s Kolskegg. I know them to be mighty men of war; and I know too that they have such good weapons that the like are not to be had. Hallgrim has a bill which he had made by seething-spells; and this is what the spells say, that no weapon shall give him his death-blow save that bill. That thing follows it too that it is known at once when a man is to be slain with that bill, for something sings in it so loudly that it may be heard a long way off - such a strong nature has that bill in it.” Then Gunnar sang a song Soon shall I that spearhead seize, And the bold sea-rover slay, Him whose blows on headpiece ring, Heaper up of piles of dead. Then on Endil’s courserˆ bounding, O’er the sea-depths I will ride, While the wretch who spells abuseth, Life shall lose in Sigar’s storm.ˆ “Kolskegg has a short sword; that is also the best of weapons. Force, too, they have - a third more than ye. They have also much goods, and have stowed them away on land, and I know clearly where they are. But they have sent a spy-ship off the ness, and they know all about you. Now they are getting themselves ready as fast as they can; and as soon as they are ‘boun,’ they mean to run out against you. Now you have either to row away at once, or to busk yourselves as quickly as ye can; but if ye win the day, then I will lead you to all their store of goods.” Gunnar gave him a golden finger-ring, and went afterwards to his men and told them that war-ships lay on the other side of the ness, “and they know all about us; so let us take to our arms, and busk us well, for now there is gain to be got”. Then they busked them; and just when they were boun they see ships coming up to them. And now a fight sprung up between them, and they fought long, and many men fell. Gunnar slew many a man. Hallgrim and his men leapt on board Gunnar’s ship, Gunnar turns to meet him, and Hallgrim thrust at him with his bill. There was a boom athwart the ship, and Gunnar leapt nimbly back over it, Gunnar’s shield was just before the boom, and Hallgrim thrust his bill into it, and through it, and so on into the boom. Gunnar cut at Hallgrim’s arm hard, and lamed the forearm, but the sword would not bite. Then down fell the bill, and Gunnar seized the bill, and thrust Hallgrim through, and then sang a song A Black Arrow resource

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Slain is he who spoiled the people, Lashing them with flashing steel: Heard have I how Hallgrim’s magic Helm-rod forged in foreign land; All men know, of heart-strings doughty, How this bill hath come to me, Deft in fight, the wolf’s dear feeder. Death alone us two shall part. And that vow Gunnar kept, in that he bore the bill while he lived. Those namesakes [the two Kolskeggs] fought together, and it was a near thing which would get the better of it. Then Gunnar came up, and gave the other Kolskegg his death-blow. After that the sea-rovers begged for mercy. Gunnar let them have that choice, and he let them also count the slain, and take the goods which the dead men owned, but he gave the others whom he spared their arms and their clothing, and bade them be off to the lands that fostered them. So they went off and Gunnar took all the goods that were left behind. Tofi came to Gunnar after the battle, and offered to lead him to that store of goods which the sea-rovers had stowed away, and said that it was both better and larger than that which they had already got. Gunnar said he was willing to go, and so he went ashore, and Tofi before him, to a wood, and Gunnar behind him. They came to a place where a great heap of wood was piled together. Tofi says the goods were under there, then they tossed off the wood, and found under it both gold and silver, clothes and good weapons. They bore those goods to the ships, and Gunnar asks Tofi in what way he wished him to repay him. Tofi answered, “I am a Dansk man by race, and I wish thou wouldst bring me to my kinsfolk”. Gunnar asks why he was there away east? “I was taken by sea-rovers,” says Tofi, “and they put me on land here in Osel, and here I have been ever since.”

Chapter 31 - Gunnar goes to king Harold Gorm’s son and Earl Hacon Gunnar took Tofi on board, and said to Kolskegg and Hallvard, “Now we will hold our course for the north lands”. They were well pleased at that, and bade him have his way. So Gunnar sailed from the east with much goods. He had ten ships, and ran in with them to Heidarby The Sagas of the Icelanders

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in Denmark. King Harold Gorm’s son was there up the country, and he was told about Gunnar, and how too that there was no man his match in all Iceland. He sent men to him to ask him to come to him, and Gunnar went at once to see the king, and the king made him a hearty welcome, and sat him down next to himself. Gunnar was there half a month. The king made himself sport by letting Gunnar prove himself in divers feats of strength against his men, and there were none that were his match even in one feat. Then the king said to Gunnar, “It seems to me as though thy peer is not to be found far or near,” and the king offered to get Gunnar a wife, and to raise him to great power if he would settle down there. Gunnar thanked the king for his offer and said - “I will first of all sail back to Iceland to see my friends and kinsfolk”. “Then thou wilt never come back to us,” says the king. “Fate will settle that, lord,” says Gunnar. Gunnar gave the king a good long-ship, and much goods besides, and the king gave him a robe of honour, and goldenseamed gloves, and a fillet with a knot of gold on it, and a Russian hat. Then Gunnar fared north to Hisingen. Oliver welcomed him with both hands, and he gave back to Oliver his ships, with their lading, and said that was his share of the spoil. Oliver took the goods, and said Gunnar was a good man and true, and bade him stay with him some while. Hallvard asked Gunnar if he had a mind to go to see Earl Hacon. Gunnar said that was near his heart, “for now I am somewhat proved, but then I was not tried at all when thou badest me do this before”. After that they fared north to Drontheim to see Earl Hacon, and he gave Gunnar a hearty welcome, and bade him stay with him that winter, and Gunnar took that offer, and every man thought him a man of great worth. At Yule the Earl gave him a gold ring. Gunnar set his heart on Bergliota, the Earl’s kinswoman, and it was often to be seen from the Earl’s way, that he would have given her to him to wife if Gunnar had said anything about that.

Chapter 32 - Gunnar comes out to Iceland When the spring came, the Earl asks Gunnar what course he meant to take. He said he would go to Iceland. The Earl said that had been a bad year for grain, “and there will be little sailing out to Iceland, but still thou shalt have meal and timber both in thy ship”. Gunnar fitted out his ship as early as he could, and Hallvard fared out with him and Kolskegg. They came out early in the summer, and made Arnbæl’s Oyce before the Thing met. Gunnar rode home from the ship, but got men to strip her and lay her up. But when they came home all men were glad to see them. They were blithe and merry to their household, nor had their haughtiness grown while they were away. Gunnar asks if Njal were at home; and he was told that he was at home; then he let them saddle his horse, and those brothers rode over to Bergthorsknoll. Njal was glad at their coming, and begged them to stay there that night, and Gunnar told him of his voyages. Njal said he was a man of the greatest mark, “and thou hast been much proved; but still thou wilt be more tried hereafter; for many will envy thee”. “With all men I would wish to stand well,” says Gunnar. “Much bad will happen,” says Njal, “and thou wilt always have some quarrel to ward off.” “So be it, then,” says Gunnar, “so that I have a good ground on my side.” “So will it be too,” says Njal, “if thou hast not to smart for others.” Njal asked Gunnar if he would ride to the Thing. Gunnar said he was going to ride thither, and asks Njal whether he were going to ride; but he said he would not ride thither, “and if I had my will thou wouldst do the like”. Gunnar rode home, and gave Njal good gifts, and thanked him for the care he had taken of his goods, Kolskegg urged him on much to ride to the Thing, saying, “There thy honour will grow, for many will flock to see thee there”. “That has been little to my mind,” says 149

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Gunnar, “to make a show of myself; but I think it good and right to meet good and worthy men.” Hallvard by this time was also come thither, and offered to ride to the Thing with them.

Chapter 33 - Gunnar’s wooing So Gunnar rode, and they all rode. But when they came to the Thing they were so well arrayed that none could match them in bravery; and men came out of every booth to wonder at them. Gunnar rode to the booths of the men of Rangriver, and was there with his kinsmen. Many men came to see Gunnar, and ask tidings of him; and he was easy and merry to all men, and told them all they wished to hear. It happened one day that Gunnar went away from the Hill of Laws, and passed by the booths of the men from Mossfell; then he saw a woman coming to meet him, and she was in goodly attire; but when they met she spoke to Gunnar at once. He took her greeting well, and asks what woman she might be. She told him her name was Hallgerda, and said she was Hauskuld’s daughter, Dalakoll’s son. She spoke up boldly to him, and bade him tell her of his voyages; but he said he would not gainsay her a talk. Then they sat them down and talked. She was so clad that she had on a red kirtle, and had thrown over her a scarlet cloak trimmed with needlework down to the waist. Her hair came down to her bosom, and was both fair and full. Gunnar was clad in the scarlet clothes which King Harold Gorm’s son had given him; he had also the gold ring on his arm which Earl Hacon had given him. So they talked long out loud, and at last it came about that he asked whether she were unmarried. She said, so it was, “and there are not many who would run the risk of that”. “Thinkest thou none good enough for thee?” “Not that,” she says, “but I am said to be hard to please in husbands.” “How wouldst thou answer were I to ask for thee?” “That can not be in thy mind,” she says. “It is though,” says he. “If thou hast any mind that way, go and 150

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see my father.” After that they broke off their talk. Gunnar went straightway to the Dalesmen’s booths, and met a man outside the doorway, and asks whether Hauskuld were inside the booth?

Then Hallgerda was sent for, and they talked over the business when she was by, and now, as before, they made her betroth herself. The bridal feast was to be at Lithend, and at first they were to set about it secretly; but the end after all was that every one knew of it.

The man says that he was. Then Gunnar went in, and Hauskuld and Hrut made him welcome. He sat down between them, and no one could find out from their talk that there had ever been any misunderstanding between them. At last Gunnar’s speech turned thither; how these brothers would answer if he asked for Hallgerda?

Gunnar rode home from the Thing, and came to Bergthorsknoll, and told Njal of the bargain he had made. He took it heavily.

“Well,” says Hauskuld, “if that is indeed thy mind.”

“Never shall she spoil our friendship,” says Gunnar.

Gunnar says that he is in earnest, “but we so parted last time, that many would think it unlikely that we should ever be bound together”.

“Ah! but yet that may come very near,” says Njal; “and, besides, thou wilt have always to make atonement for her.”

“How thinkest thou, kinsman Hrut?” says Hauskuld. Hrut answered, “Methinks this is no even match”. “How dost thou make that out?” says Gunnar. Hrut spoke - “In this wise will I answer thee about this matter, as is the very truth. Thou art a brisk brave man, well to do, and unblemished; but she is much mixed up with ill report, and I will not cheat thee in anything.” “Good go with thee for thy words,” says Gunnar, “but still I shall hold that for true, that the old feud weighs with ye, if ye will not let me make this match.” “Not so,” says Hrut, “’tis more because I see that thou art unable to help thyself; but though we make no bargain, we would still be thy friends.” “I have talked to her about it,” says Gunnar, “and it is not far from her mind.” Hrut says - “I know that you have both set your hearts on this match; and, besides, ye two are those who run the most risk as to how it turns out”. Hrut told Gunnar unasked all about Hallgerda’s temper, and Gunnar at first thought that there was more than enough that was wanting; but at last it came about that they struck a bargain.

Gunnar asks Njal why he thought this so unwise? “Because from her,” says Njal, “will arise all kind of ill if she comes hither east.”

Gunnar asked Njal to the wedding, and all those as well whom he wished should be at it from Njal’s house. Njal promised to go; and after that Gunnar rode home, and then rode about the district to bid men to his wedding.

Chapter 34 - Of Thrain Sigfus’ son There was a man named Thrain, he was the son of Sigfus, the son of Sighvat the Red. He kept house at Gritwater on Fleetlithe. He was Gunnar’s kinsman, and a man of great mark. He had to wife Thorhilda Skaldwife; she had a sharp tongue of her own, and was giving to jeering. Thrain loved her little. He and his wife were bidden to the wedding, and she and Bergthora, Skarphedinn’s daughter, Njal’s wife, waited on the guests with meat and drink. Kettle was the name of the second son of Sigfus; he kept house in the Mark, east of Markfleet. He had to wife Thorgerda, Njal’s daughter. Thorkell was the name of the third son of Sigfus; the fourth’s name was Mord; the fifth’s Lambi; the sixth’s Sigmund; the seventh’s Sigurd. These were all Gunnar’s kinsmen, and great champions. Gunnar bade them all to the wedding. Gunnar had also bidden Valgard the guileful, and Wolf Aurpriest, and their sons Runolf and Mord. A Black Arrow resource

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Hauskuld and Hrut came to the wedding with a very great company, and the sons of Hauskuld, Torleik, and Olof, were there; the bride, too, came along with them, and her daughter Thorgerda came also, and she was one of the fairest of women; she was then fourteen winters old. Many other women were with her, and besides there were Thorkatla Asgrim Ellidagrim’s son’s daughter, and Njal’s two daughters, Thorgerda and Helga. Gunnar had already many guests to meet them, and he thus arranged his men. He sat on the middle of the bench, and on the inside, away from him, Thrain Sigfus’ son, then Wolf Aurpriest, then Valgard the guileful, then Mord and Runolf, then the other sons of Sigfus, Lambi sat outermost of them.

Then Thrain began to speak - “I will not whisper about that which is in my mind. This I will ask thee, Hauskuld Dalakoll’s son, wilt thou give me to wife Thorgerda, thy kinswoman?”

hearty welcome, and when they had been there a little while, Helgi came home with Thorhalla his wife. Then Bergthora went up to the cross-bench, and Thorhalla with her, and Bergthora said to Hallgerda -

“I do not know that,” says Hauskuld; “methinks thou art ill parted from the one thou hadst before. But what kind of man is he, Gunnar?”

“Thou shalt give place to this woman.”

Gunnar answers - “I will not say aught about the man, because he is near of kin; but say thou about him, Njal,” says Gunnar, “for all men will believe it”. Njal spoke, and said - “That is to be said of this man, that the man is well to do for wealth, and a proper man in all things. A man, too, of the greatest mark; so that ye may well make this match with him.”

Next to Gunnar on the outside, away from him, sat Njal, then Skarphedinn, then Helgi, then Grim, then Hauskuld Njal’s son, then Hafr the Wise, then Ingialld from the Springs, then the sons of Thorir from Holt away east. Thorir would sit outermost of the men of mark, for every one was pleased with the seat he got.

Then Hauskuld spoke - “What thinkest thou we ought to do, kinsman Hrut?”

Hauskuld, the bride’s father, sat on the middle of the bench over against Gunnar, but his sons sat on the inside away from him; Hrut sat on the outside away from Hauskuld, but it is not said how the others were placed. The bride sat in the middle of the cross-bench on the dais; but on one hand of her sat her daughter Thorgerda, and on the other Thorkatla Asgrim Ellidagrim’s son’s daughter. Thorhillda went about waiting on the guests, and Bergthora bore the meat on the board.

Then Gunnar stands up, and Thrain too, and they go to the cross-bench. Gunnar asked that mother and daughter whether they would say yes to this bargain. They said they would find no fault with it, and Hallgerda betrothed her daughter. Then the places of the women were shifted again, and now Thorhalla sate between the brides. And now the feast sped on well, and when it was over, Hauskuld and his company ride west, but the men of Rangriver rode to their own abode. Gunnar gave many men gifts, and that made him much liked.

Now Thrain Sigfus’ son kept staring at Thorgerda Glum’s daughter; his wife Thorhillda saw this, and she got wroth, and made a couplet upon him.

Hallgerda took the housekeeping under her, and stood up for her rights in word and deed. Thorgerda took to housekeeping at Gritwater, and was a good housewife.

“Thou mayst make the match, because it is an even one for her,” says Hrut. Then they talk about the terms of the bargain, and are soon of one mind on all points.

“Thrain,” she says, “Gaping mouths are no wise good, Goggle eyne are in thy head,”

Chapter 35 - The visit to Bergthorsknoll

He rose at once up from the board, and said he would put Thorhillda away, “I will not bear her jibes and jeers any longer;” and he was so quarrelsome about this, that he would not be at the feast unless she were driven away. And so it was, that she went away; and now each man sat in his place, and they drank and were glad.

Now it was the custom between Gunnar and Njal, that each made the other a feast, winter and winter about, for friendship’s sake; and it was Gunnar’s turn to go to feast at Njal’s. So Gunnar and Hallgerda set off for Bergthorsknoll, and when they got there Helgi and his wife were not at home. Njal gave Gunnar and his wife a

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She answered - “To no one will I give place, for I will not be driven into the corner for any one”. “I shall rule here,” said Bergthora, After that Thorhalla sat down, and Bergthora went round the table with water to wash the guests’ hands. Then Hallgerda took hold of Bergthora’s hand, and said “There’s not much to choose, though, between you two. Thou hast hangnails on every finger, and Njal is beardless.” “That’s true,” says Bergthora, “yet neither of us finds fault with the other for it; but Thorwald, thy husband, was not beardless, and yet thou plottedst his death.” Then Hallgerda said - “It stands me in little stead to have the bravest man in Iceland if thou dost not avenge this, Gunnar!” He sprang up and strode across away from the board, and said - “Home I will go, and it were more seemly that thou shouldest wrangle with those of thine own household, and not under other men’s roofs; but as for Njal, I am his debtor for much honour, and never will I be egged on by thee like a fool”. After that they set off home. “Mind this, Bergthora,” said Hallgerda, “that we shall meet again.” Bergthora said she should not be better off for that. Gunnar said nothing at all, but went home to Lithend, and was there at home all the winter. And now the summer was running on towards the Great Thing.

Chapter 36 - Kol slew Swart Gunnar rode away to the Thing, but before he rode from home he said to Hallgerda - “Be good now while I am away, and show none of thine ill temper in anything with which my friends have to do”. “The trolls take thy friends,” says Hallgerda. So Gunnar rode to the Thing, and saw 151

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it was not good to come to words with her. Njal rode to the Thing too, and all his sons with him. Now it must be told of what tidings happened at home. Njal and Gunnar owned a wood in common at Redslip; they had not shared the wood, but each was wont to hew in it as he needed, and neither said a word to the other about that. Hallgerda’s grieve’sˆ name was Kol; he had been with her long, and was one of the worst of men. There was a man named Swart; he was Njal’s and Bergthora’s house-carle; they were very fond of him. Now Bergthora told him that he must go up into Redslip and hew wood; but she said - “I will get men to draw home the wood”. He said he would do the work She set him to win; and so he went up into Redslip, and was to be there a week. Some gangrel men came to Lithend from the east across Markfleet, and said that Swart had been in Redslip, and hewn wood, and done a deal of work. “So,” says Hallgerda, “Bergthora must mean to rob me in many things, but I’ll take care that he does not hew again.” Rannveig, Gunnar’s mother, heard that, and said - “There have been good housewives before now, though they never set their hearts on manslaughter”. Now the night wore away, and early next morning Hallgerda came to speak to Kol, and said - “I have thought of some work for thee”; and with that she put weapons into his hands, and went on to say - “Fare thou to Redslip; there wilt thou find Swart”. “What shall I do to him?” he says. “Askest thou that when thou art the worst of men?” she says. “Thou shalt kill him.” “I can get that done,” he says, “but ‘tis more likely that I shall lose my own life for it.” “Everything grows big in thy eyes,” she says, “and thou behavest ill to say this after I have spoken up for thee in everything. I must get another man to do this if thou darest not.” He took the axe, and was very wroth, and takes a horse that Gunnar owned, and rides now till he comes east of Markfleet. 152

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There he got off and bided in the wood, till they had carried down the firewood, and Swart was left alone behind. Then Kol sprang on him, and said - “More folk can hew great strokes than thou alone”; and so he laid the axe on his head, and smote him his death-blow, and rides home afterwards, and tells Hallgerda of the slaying. She said - “I shall take such good care of thee, that no harm shall come to thee”. “May be so,” says he, “but I dreamt all the other way as I slept ere I did the deed.” Now they come up into the wood, and find Swart slain, and bear him home. Hallgerda sent a man to Gunnar at the Thing to tell him of the slaying. Gunnar said no hard words at first of Hallgerda to the messenger, and men knew not at first whether he thought well or ill of it. A little after he stood up, and bade his men go with him: they did so, and fared to Njal’s booth. Gunnar sent a man to fetch Njal, and begged him to come out. Njal went out at once, and he and Gunnar fell a-talking, and Gunnar said “I have to tell thee of the slaying of a man, and my wife and my grieve Kol were those who did it; but Swart, thy house-carle, fell before them.” Njal held his peace while he told him the whole story. Then Njal spoke “Thou must take heed not to let her have her way in everything.” Gunnar said - “Thou thyself shall settle the terms”. Njal spoke again - “’Twill be hard work for thee to atone for all Hallgerda’s mischief; and somewhere else there will be a broader trail to follow than this which we two now have a share in, and yet, even here there will be much awanting before all be well; and herein we shall need to bear in mind the friendly words that passed between us of old; and something tells me that thou wilt come well out of it, but still thou wilt be sore tried”. Then Njal took the award into his own hands from Gunnar, and said “I will not push this matter to the uttermost; thou shalt pay twelve ounces of silver; but I will add this to my award, that if anything happens from our homestead about which thou hast to utter

an award, thou wilt not be less easy in thy terms”. Gunnar paid up the money out of hand, and rode home afterwards. Njal, too, came home from the Thing, and his sons. Bergthora saw the money, and said “This is very justly settled; but even as much money shall be paid for Kol as time goes on.” Gunnar came home from the Thing and blamed Hallgerda. She said, better men lay unatoned in many places, Gunnar said, she might have her way in beginning a quarrel, “but how the matter is to be settled rests with me”. Hallgerda was for ever chattering of Swart’s slaying, but Bergthora liked that ill. Once Njal and her sons went up to Thorolfsfell to see about the housekeeping there, but that selfsame day this thing happened when Bergthora was out of doors: she sees a man ride up to the house on a black horse. She stayed there and did not go in, for she did not know the man. That man had a spear in his hand, and was girded with a short sword. She asked this man his name. “Atli is my name,” says he. She asked whence he came. “I am an Eastfirther,” he says. “Whither shalt thou go?” she says. “I am a homeless man,” says he, “and I thought to see Njal and Skarphedinn, and know if they would take me in.” “What work is handiest to thee?” says she. “I am a man used to field-work,” he says, “and many things else come very handy to me; but I will not hide from thee that I am a man of hard temper and it has been many a man’s lot before now to bind up wounds at my hand.” “I do not blame thee,” she says, “though thou art no milksop.” Atli said - “Hast thou any voice in things here?” “I am Njal’s wife,” she says, “and I have as much to say to our housefolk as he.” “Wilt thou take me in then?” says he. “I will give thee thy choice of that,” says she. “If thou wilt do all the work that I A Black Arrow resource

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set before thee, and that though I wish to send thee where a man’s life is at stake.”

a workman, “but still ‘twould be better to ask those who have been about last night”.

“Thou must have so many men at thy beck,” says he, “that thou wilt not need me for such work.”

“Who are they?” says he.

“That I will settle as I please,” she says. “We will strike a bargain on these terms,” says he. Then she took him into the household. Njal and his sons came home and asked Bergthora what man that might be? “He is thy house-carle,” she says, “and I took him in.” Then she went on to say he was no sluggard at work. “He will be a great worker enough, I daresay,” says Njal, “but I do not know whether he will be such a good worker.” Skarphedinn was good to Atli. Njal and his sons ride to the Thing in the course of the summer; Gunnar was also at the Thing. Njal took out a purse of money. “What money is that, father?” “Here is the money that Gunnar paid me for our house-carle last summer.” “That will come to stand thee in some stead,” says Skarphedinn, and smiled as he spoke. Chapter 37 - The slaying of Kol, whom Atli slew Now we must take up the story, and say that Atli asked Bergthora what work he should do that day. “I have thought of some work for thee,” she says; “thou shall go and look for Kol until thou find him; for now shalt thou slay him this very day, if thou wilt do my will.” “This work is well fitted,” says Atli, “for each of us two are bad fellows; but still I will so lay myself out for him that one or other of us shall die.” “Well mayest thou fare,” she says, “and thou shalt not do this deed for nothing.” He took his weapons and his horse, and rode up to Fleetlithe, and there met men who were coming down from Lithend. They were at home east in the Mark. They asked Atli whither he meant to go? He said he was riding to look for an old jade. They said that was a small errand for such The Sagas of the Icelanders

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“Killing-Kol,” say they, “Hallgerda’s house-carle, fared from the fold just now, and has been awake all night.” “I do not know whether I dare to meet him,” says Atli, “he is bad-tempered, and may be that I shall let another’s wound be my warning.” “Thou bearest that look beneath the brows as though thou wert no coward,” they said, and showed him where Kol was. Then he spurred his horse and rides fast, and when he meets Kol, Atli said to him “Go the pack-saddle bands well?” “That’s no business of thine, worthless fellow, nor of any one else whence thou comest.” Atli said - “Thou hast something behind that is earnest work, but that is to die”. After that Atli thrust at him with his spear, and struck him about his middle. Kol swept at him with his axe, but missed him, and fell off his horse, and died at once. Atli rode till he met some of Hallgerda’s workmen, and said, “Go ye up to the horse yonder, and look to Kol, for he has fallen off, and is dead”. “Hast thou slain him?” say they. “Well, ‘twill seem to Hallgerda as though he has not fallen by his own hand.” After that Atli rode home and told Bergthora; she thanked him for this deed, and for the words which he had spoken about it. “I do not know,” says he, “what Njal will think of this.” “He will take it well upon his hands,” she says, “and I will tell thee one thing as a token of it, that he has earned away with him to the Thing the price of that thrall which we took last spring, and that money will now serve for Kol; but though peace be made thou must still beware of thyself, for Hallgerda will keep no peace.” “Wilt thou send at all a man to Njal to tell him of the slaying?” “I will not,” she says, “I should like it better that Kol were unatoned.”

Then they stopped talking about it. Hallgerda was told of Kol’s slaying, and of the words that Atli had said. She said Atli should be paid off for them. She sent a man to the Thing to tell Gunnar of Kol’s slaying; he answered little or nothing, and sent a man to tell Njal. He too made no answer, but Skarphedinn said “Thralls are men of more mettle than of yore; they used to fly at each other and fight, and no one thought much harm of that; but now they will do naught but kill,” and as he said this he smiled. Njal pulled down the purse of money which hung up in the booth, and went out; his sons went with him to Gunnar’s booth. Skarphedinn said to a man who was in the doorway of the booth “Say thou to Gunnar that my father wants to see him.” He did so, and Gunnar went out at once and gave Njal a hearty welcome. After that they began to talk. “’Tis ill done,” says Njal, “that my housewife should have broken the peace, and let thy house-carle be slain.” “She shall not have blame for that,” says Gunnar. “Settle the award thyself,” says Njal. “So I will do,” say Gunnar, “and I value those two men at an even price, Swart and Kol. Thou shalt pay me twelve ounces in silver.” Njal took the purse of money and handed it to Gunnar. Gunnar knew the money, and saw it was the same that he had paid Njal. Njal went away to his booth, and they were just as good friends as before. When Njal came home, he blamed Bergthora; but she said she would never give way to Hallgerda. Hallgerda was very cross with Gunnar, because he had made peace for Kol’s slaying, Gunnar told her he would never break with Njal or his sons, and she flew into a great rage; but Gunnar took no heed of that, and so they sat for that year, and nothing noteworthy happened.

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Next spring Njal said to Atli - “I wish that thou wouldst change thy abode to the east firths, so that Hallgerda may not put an end to thy life”. “I am not afraid of that,” says Atli, “and I will willingly stay at home if I have the choice.” “Still that is less wise,” says Njal. “I think it better to lose my life in thy house than to change my master; but this I will beg of thee, if I am slain, that a thrall’s price shall not be paid for me.” “Thou shalt be atoned for as a free man; but perhaps Bergthora will make thee a promise which she will fulfil, that revenge, man for man, shall be taken for thee.” Then he made up his mind to be a hired servant there. Now it must be told of Hallgerda that she sent a man west to Bearfirth, to fetch Brynjolf the Unruly, her kinsman. He was a base son of Swan, and he was one of the worst of men. Gunnar knew nothing about it. Hallgerda said he was well fitted to be a grieve. So Brynjolf came from the west, and Gunnar asked what he was to do there? He said he was going to stay there. “Thou wilt not better our household,” says Gunnar, “after what has been told me of thee, but I will not turn away any of Hallgerda’s kinsmen, whom she wishes to be with her.” Gunnar said little, but was not unkind to him, and so things went on till the Thing. Gunnar rides to the Thing and Kolskegg rides too, and when they came to the Thing they and Njal met, for he and his sons were at the Thing, and all went well with Gunnar and them.

He was rather slow in answering her, and Hallgerda said “’Twould grow less in Thiostolf’s eyes to kill Atli if he were alive.” “Thou shalt have no need to goad me on much more,” he says, and then he seized his weapons, and takes his horse and mounts, and rides to Thorolfsfell. There he saw a great reek of coal smoke east of the homestead, so he rides thither, and gets off his horse and ties him up, but he goes where the smoke was thickest. Then he sees where the charcoal pit is, and a man stands by it. He saw that he had thrust his spear in the ground by him. Brynjolf goes along with the smoke right up to him, but he was eager at his work, and saw him not. Brynjolf gave him a stroke on the head with his axe, and he turned so quick round that Brynjolf loosed his hold of the axe, and Atli grasped the spear, and hurled it after him. Then Brynjolf cast himself down on the ground, but the spear flew away over him. “Lucky for thee that I was not ready for thee,” says Atli, “but now Hallgerda will be well pleased, for thou wilt tell her of my death; but it is a comfort to know that thou wilt have the same fate soon; but come now, take thy axe which has been here.” He answered him never a word, nor did he take the axe before he was dead. Then he rode up to the house on Thorolfsfell, and told of the slaying, and after that rode home and told Hallgerda. She sent men to Bergthorsknoll, and let them tell Bergthora, that now Kol’s slaying was paid for. After that Hallgerda sent a man to the Thing to tell Gunnar of Atli’s killing.

Bergthora said to Atli - “Go thou up into Thorolfsfell and work there a week”.

Gunnar stood up, and Kolskegg with him, and Kolskegg said -

So he went up thither, and was there on the sly, and burnt charcoal in the wood.

“Unthrifty will Hallgerda’s kinsmen be to thee.”

Hallgerda said to Brynjolf - “I have been told Atli is not at home, and he must be winning work on Thorolfsfell”.

Then they go to see Njal, and Gunnar said -

“What thinkest thou likeliest that he is working at?” says he. “At something in the wood,” she says. “What shall I do to him?” he asks. “Thou shalt kill him,” says she. 154

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“I have to tell thee of Atli’s killing.” He told him also who slew him, and went on, “and now I will bid thee atonement for the deed, and thou shall make the award thyself”. Njal said - “We two have always meant never to come to strife about anything; but

still I cannot make him out a thrall”. Gunnar said that was all right, and stretched out his hand. Njal named his witnesses, and they made peace on those terms. Skarphedinn said, “Hallgerda does not let our house-carles die of old age”. Gunnar said - “Thy mother will take care that blow goes for blow between the houses”. “Ay, ay,” says Njal, “there will be enough of that work.” After that Njal fixed the price at a hundred in silver, but Gunnar paid it down at once. Many who stood by said that the award was high; Gunnar got wroth, and said that a full atonement was often paid for those who were no brisker men than Atli. With that they rode home from the Thing. Bergthora said to Njal when she saw the money - “Thou thinkest thou hast fulfilled thy promise, but now my promise is still behind”. “There is no need that thou shouldst fulfil it,” says Njal. “Nay,” says she, “thou hast guessed it would be so; and so it shall be.” Hallgerda said to Gunnar “Hast thou paid a hundred in silver for Atli’s slaying, and made him a free man?” “He was free before,” says Gunnar, “and besides, I will not make Njal’s household outlaws who have forfeited their rights.” “There’s not a pin to choose between you,” she said, “for both of you are so blate.” “That’s as things prove,” says he. Then Gunnar was for a long time very short with her, till she gave way to him; and now all was still for the rest of that year; in the spring Njal did not increase his household, and now men ride to the Thing about summer.

Chapter 39 - The slaying of Brynjolf the Unruly There was a man named Thord, he was surnamed Freedmanson. Sigtrygg was his father’s name, and he had been the A Black Arrow resource

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freedman of Asgerd, and he was drowned in Markfleet. That was why Thord was with Njal afterwards. He was a tall man and a strong, and he had fostered all Njal’s sons. He had set his heart on Gudfinna Thorolf’s daughter, Njal’s kinswoman; she was housekeeper at home there, and was then with child.

Thord met Hallgerda’a herdsman, and gave out the slaying as done by his hand, and said where he lay, and bade him tell Hallgerda of the slaying. After that he rode home to Bergthorsknoll, and told Bergthora of the slaying, and other people too.

Now Bergthora came to talk with Thord Freedmanson; she said -

The herdsman told Hallgerda of the slaying; she was snappish at it, and said much ill would come of it, if she might have her way.

“Thou shalt go to kill Brynjolf, Hallgerda’s kinsman.” “I am no man-slayer,” he says, “but still I will do what ever thou wilt.”

“Good luck go with thy hands,” she said.

“This is my will,” she says.

Chapter 40 - Gunnar and Njal make peace about Brynjolf’s slaying

After that he went up to Lithend, and made them call Hallgerda out, and asked where Brynjolf might be.

Now these tidings come to the Thing, and Njal made them tell him the tale thrice, and then he said -

“What’s thy will with him?” she says.

“More men now become man-slayers than I weened.”

“I want him to tell me where he has hidden Atli’s body; I have heard say that he has buried it badly.”

“Take heed,” says Thord, “that the same thing does not befall him as befell Atli.”

Skarphedinn spoke - “That man, though, must have been twice fey,” he says, “who lost his life by our foster-father’s hand, who has never seen man’s blood. And many would think that we brothers would sooner have done this deed with the turn of temper that we have.”

“Thou art no man-slayer,” she says, “and so nought will come of it even if ye two do meet.”

“Scant apace wilt thou have,” says Njal, “ere the like befalls thee; but need will drive thee to it.”

“Never have I seen man’s blood, nor do I know how I should feel if I did,” he says, and gallops out of the “town” and down to Acretongue.