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Title: Laxdæla Saga - Translated from the Icelandic
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Europe at http://dp.rastko.net





                          MURIEL A.C. PRESS


                            PUBLISHED BY
                          J.M. DENT AND CO.
                      ALDINE HOUSE LONDON W.C.

























         EGIL, A.D. 959

























































[Illustration: Map of the District of Laxdale Saga]


Of Ketill Flatnose and his Descendants, 9th Century A.D. [Sidenote:
Ketill's family] 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 Deep-minded" 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.


Ketill and his Sons prepare to leave Norway

[Sidenote: The tyranny of King Harald] 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 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. [Sidenote:
Ketill's speech] 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.

Chap. III

Ketill's Sons go to Iceland

[Sidenote: Of Bjorn in 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 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. [Sidenote:
Ketill's doings in Scotland] 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.


Ketill goes to Scotland, A.D. 890

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 for wife Thurid, daughter of Eyvind, and sister of
Helgi the Lean. The Scotch did not keep the peace long, but
treacherously murdered him. [Sidenote: Of Unn the Deep-minded] 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. [Sidenote: Unn leaves the Faroe Isles] 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.


Unn goes to Iceland, A.D. 895

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, 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. [Sidenote: Unn
takes land in Iceland] 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 Middlefell-strand
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
Broadfirth-Dales, 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.


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. [Sidenote: Her
followers] He lived at Hordabolstad (Hord-Lair-Stead), 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
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 of Ulf 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.


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.
[Sidenote: Unn's advice to Olaf] 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 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)." [Sidenote:
Olaf's wedding] That same summer Olaf "Feilan" married Alfdis. 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 my kinsman, Olaf, to own and to manage."
[Sidenote: Unn's death] 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. [Sidenote: Olaf's children] The children of Olaf and
Alfdis were Thord Yeller, who married 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 Most-Beard, 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-in-law, 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. [Sidenote: Thorgerd's second marriage] 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 go abroad, and take with
her that share of goods which fell to her lot. 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.


The Birth of Hrut and Thorgerd's Second Widowhood, A.D. 923

[Sidenote: Thorgerd returns to Iceland] 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
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.


Hoskuld's Marriage, A.D. 935

[Sidenote: Of Jorunn Bjorn's daughter] 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. [Sidenote: Hoskuld
marries Jorunn] 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 your proposal 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. [Sidenote: Hoskuld's children] 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.


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. [Sidenote: Of Hrapp and Vigdis] 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 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-the-sea, 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."


About Thord Goddi and Thorbjorn Skrjup

[Sidenote: Thord Goddi and his wife Vigdis] 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 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. [Sidenote: Houskuld goes abroad]
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).


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 to adjudge--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. [Sidenote: Of Gilli the Russian] 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. [Sidenote: The bargain
for the slave woman] 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't expect 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. [Sidenote: Of the dumb
slave woman] 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 is
dumb. I have tried in 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."


Hoskuld Returns to Iceland, A.D. 948

[Sidenote: King Hakon bids Hoskuld farewell] 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 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 done him. [Sidenote: Hoskuld's arrival in
Iceland] 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 came home,
and had very little to say to the mistress. [Sidenote: Melkorka's
history discovered] 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 home-field 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 sat down on the brink of the field.
[Sidenote: Of Melkorka's family] 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 soon seen that Olaf, as he grew up, was far superior to other men,
both on account of his beauty and courtesy.


The Murder of Hall, Ingjald's Brother

[Sidenote: The fishing at Bjorn isles] 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.
[Sidenote: Thorolf's quarrel] He took ship as one of the crew with a
man called Thorolf. He was 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 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. [Sidenote: Hall's death] 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 well through 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. [Sidenote: Thorolf's flight] 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. [Sidenote: Vigdis takes in Thorolf] 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." After that 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 north-west wind, and landed in
Salmon-river-Mouth 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. [Sidenote: Ingjald's bargain with
Thord] Thord said there was no truth in that. Ingjald bade him not to
deny it. "Let us rather come to a bargain together: you 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 brought on 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.


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. [Sidenote: The flight of Thorolf and Asgaut] At that
moment Asgaut came back, and Vigdis asked him where he had parted with
Thorolf. Asgaut replied, "I took him to our sheephouses as Thord 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 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 he
would not desert him, "whatever plan you are minded to follow in this
matter." [Sidenote: The crossing of the river] 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 at her 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. [Sidenote:
Ingjald returns to Thord] 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. [Sidenote: The returning of the money]
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 with it 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.


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. [Sidenote: The reward of Asgaut] 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 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, my kinsman, 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 terror-struck, 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 should take
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."
[Sidenote: Thord goes to Hoskuld] 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
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 took the gifts;
and all was quiet after that, but their friendship was rather less
warm than formerly. [Sidenote: Olaf surnamed the Peacock] 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


About Viga Hrapp's Ghost, A.D. 950

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. [Sidenote: Hrapp's death] 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 will put 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. 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. [Sidenote:
Thorstein Swart leaves home] Now it was the turn of his mother,
Vigdis, to take 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.


Of the Drowning of Thorstein Swart

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 Salmon-river-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 south-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.
[Sidenote: The wreck] 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. [Sidenote: Gudmund's story] 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 washed up 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-in-law, Thorarin"--so that then it was the turn of Hild
to come in for the money, as 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. [Sidenote: The ordeal] Now the kinsmen of
Thorarin misdoubted this tale somewhat, and said they would not
believe it unproved, and claimed one-half 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 ordeal at 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 all right if no one
had spoilt it. Then Thorkell took all the chattels to himself, but the
land at Hrapstead was left to lie fallow.


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. [Sidenote: Hrut in Norway] 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. [Sidenote: Hrut comes to Iceland]
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 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. [Sidenote: Hoskuld's treatment of 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 that Thorgerd 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. [Sidenote: Hrut's fight] 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
Salmon-river-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. Both
sides 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 Salmon-river-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 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". [Sidenote: Jorunn's good advice] 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. [Sidenote: Hoskuld and Hrut become friends] 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.


Melkorka's Marriage and Olaf the Peacock's Journey, A.D. 955

[Sidenote: Of Thorliek Hoskuldson] 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 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. [Sidenote: Melkorka's plans]
Melkorka thought Hoskuld had done shamefully by 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." [Sidenote: Melkorka's marriage] 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 he comes to hear of them, namely, that
you have gone out of the land, and that I am married." Olaf bade 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.[1] Bard, Hoskuld's son, was at the
wedding, and was a party with them to all these doings. [Sidenote:
Olaf goes to Norway] 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 finger-ring, 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

[Footnote 1: One hundred = 120 X 30 = 3600 x 120 = 432,000 ells


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 she knew 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. [Sidenote: Olaf wishes to
leave Norway] 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.
[Sidenote: Olaf's voyage] 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 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 worse service 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. [Sidenote: They get to Ireland] 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 to-day I noticed that there was a dip, and 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. [Sidenote: The Irish] 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 gold-reddened 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. [Sidenote: Olaf
meets Myrkjartan] 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 rode so near to the
ship, that each could hear what the other said. [Sidenote: Their talk
together] 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." [Sidenote: Melkorka's tokens accepted] 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 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. [Sidenote: Melkorka's foster-mother] 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. The king
drove from his land that winter both Vikings and raiders. [Sidenote:
Olaf's life in Ireland] 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 eager-minded 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. [Sidenote: Olaf
comes to Norway again] 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 land in
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.


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. [Sidenote: Olaf goes home] 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." Olaf
thanked 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 brothers also received him
fondly, as well as all his kinsfolk; but between Olaf and Bard was
love the fondest. [Sidenote: Melkorka receives Olaf] 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.
[Sidenote: Hoskuld's advice to Olaf] 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 are great 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." [Sidenote: Olaf's proposal] 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 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 remarked
what a handsome man he was, and how noble his bearing, well arrayed as
he was as to weapons and clothes.


The Marriage of Olaf Peacock and Thorgerd, the Daughter of Egil, A.D.

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.
[Sidenote: Thorgerd's refusal] Egil now went away to find his
daughter, and they talked together. Egil said, "There is here a man
named 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." [Sidenote: Olaf proposes himself] 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." [Sidenote: Thorgerd accepts Olaf] 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 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 Salmon-river-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.


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. [Sidenote: Thord's death]
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 Salmon-river 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. [Sidenote: The new
house built] There were two brothers with Olaf, both 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 lay well 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. [Sidenote: The naming of
Herdholt] 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.[2] 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 house-carles; one looked after the dry
cattle and another after the cows. The fold was out in the wood, some
way from the homestead. [Sidenote: Hrapp's ghost] 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 my fill of
wrestling with him." Olaf went to the fold door 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

[Footnote 2: _i.e._, in view of the fact stated above that Olaf's
flocks would always be gathering there.]


About Hoskuld's Sons

[Sidenote: Of Thorliek Hoskuldson] 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 was well 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. [Sidenote: Hrut's
quarrel with Thorliek] 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, 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 deemed a 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. [Sidenote: The birth of Bolli] 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


The Death of Hoskuld, A.D. 985

[Sidenote: Hoskuld's death] 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 in wedlock, 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. [Sidenote: The funeral
feast postponed] 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 lead of the
brothers. When they got to the Thing they set up three booths, and
make themselves comfortable in a handsome manner.


The Funeral Feast for Hoskuld

[Sidenote: Olaf's invitation to the chiefs] 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.
[Sidenote: The funeral feast] Then the brothers got ready for the
feast, and Olaf put forward unstintedly his third part, and the feast
was furnished 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 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 with Olaf.
Thorgerd received him well, and Bolli grew up there and was loved no
less than their own children.


The Birth of Kjartan, Olaf's Son, A.D. 978

[Sidenote: Birth of Kjartan] 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. [Sidenote: Bersi
and Halldor] 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 boy and 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.


Olaf's Second Journey to Norway, A.D. 975

[Sidenote: Olaf's meeting with Giermund] 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.
[Sidenote: Hakon Earl gives Olaf timber] And towards the end of the
winter Olaf told Giermund the reason 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. [Sidenote: Giermund goes with Olaf] 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 knew nothing 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 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 his hands. [Sidenote: Giermund's marriage]
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.


About Giermund and Thured, A.D. 978

[Sidenote: Giermund leaves Iceland] 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-river-Mouth 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.
[Sidenote: Thured follows Giermund] 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. [Sidenote: Thured's revenge] Giermund called to his men, and
bade them leap into the cockle-boat and row after them. They did so,
but when they got a little way they found how the coal-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


Thured's Second Marriage, A.D. 980

[Sidenote: Gudmund marries Thured] 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 wife. Their daughter was Thorfinna,
whom Thorstein Kuggason had for wife. Bergthora, Olaf's daughter, was
married west in Deepfirth to Thorhall the Priest. [Sidenote: Harri the
Ox] Their son was Kjartan, father of Smith-Sturla, 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


Of Osvif Helgeson

[Sidenote: Osvif and his family] 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. [Sidenote:
Osvif's household] 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-handed woman 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 nor a bucksome
woman. Thord loved her little, as he 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.


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. [Sidenote: Meeting of Gudrun and Gest] 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. [Sidenote: Gudrun's
dreams] And as the day was wearing on, Gudrun said, "I wish, cousin, you
would ride home with us with all your followers, for it is 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, 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." [Sidenote: Gest's reading of the 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. [Sidenote: Gest and Gudrun
part] 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. [Sidenote: Gest visits Olaf] Gest met a servant of
Olaf's by the home-field fence, who invited 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 Lea-river. 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 foster-brothers 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." [Sidenote: Gest's prophecy]
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.


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. [Sidenote: Gudrun marries Thorvald] The matter was
not taken up in a very adverse manner, yet Osvif said that against
the 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. [Sidenote: Her friendship with Thord] 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.


Gudrun's Second Marriage, A.D. 991

[Sidenote: Kotkell the wizard] 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." Gudrun answered,
"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
befell there. Thord spent much time in Gest's booth and always talked
to Gudrun. [Sidenote: Thord separates from Aud] 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. [Sidenote: Thord marries Gudrun] Thord
drove from the west unto Laugar a great deal of live stock. After
that he wooed Gudrun and that 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[3] or who at the dairy, and speak in a friendly way of
Thord as it behoves you to do." The boy promised to 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. [Sidenote: Aud's revenge] 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 locked-bed 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 Aud had 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. [Sidenote: Ingun changes her
dwelling] 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. [Sidenote: The drowning of Thord] 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, with Ingun 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 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.

[Footnote 3: _i.e._, at home at Laugar.]


About Kotkell and Grima

[Sidenote: The birth of Thord Cat] 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, and gave 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. [Sidenote: Kotkell's
horses] 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 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." [Sidenote:
Thorliek shelters Kotkell] Thorliek now changed his mind in this matter,
for the horses seemed fair to him, and Kotkell pleaded his case
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.


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. [Sidenote: Eldgrim of Burgfirth] 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 self-willed, 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.
[Sidenote: Hrut meets with Eldgrim] 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 went to meet him, and saw that it was
Eldgrim driving the horses. Hrut greeted him, and Eldgrim returned his
greeting, but rather slowly. [Sidenote: Hrut takes Thorliek's part]
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." [Sidenote: He kills Eldgrim] 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.
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. [Sidenote: Kotkell's enchantments] 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 went to 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. [Sidenote: Death of Kotkell and Grima] Olaf said
too that forthwith Kotkell and his wife and sons must be 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-river-Dale,
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.

[Sidenote: Hrut's anger against Thorliek] A little while afterwards
Hrut went to find Olaf his kinsman, and told him that he would not
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-river-Dale." 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."[4] Hrut thought he
now saw things stuck 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.

[Footnote 4: _i.e._, old age = Hrut, and youthful power=Olaf, the
greatest "goði" in the countryside.]


The Death of Stigandi. Thorliek leaves Iceland

[Sidenote: Stigandi and the slave woman] 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. [Sidenote:
The death of Stigandi] 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 came on, and turned the
sward topsy-turvy, 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 house-carle 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 Salmon-river-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. [Sidenote: Olaf and Thorliek meet]
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." [Sidenote:
Thorliek goes abroad] 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


Of Kjartan's Friendship for Bolli

[Sidenote: Osvif's counsel] 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 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. [Sidenote:
Olaf's forebodings] 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.


Kjartan and Bolli Voyage to Norway, A.D. 996

[Sidenote: The family of Asgeir] Asgeir was the name of a man, he was
called Eider-drake. He lived at Asgeir's-river, 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 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. [Sidenote: Kjartan arranges to leave Iceland]
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. [Sidenote: Kjartan goes to
Norway] 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-river-Dale. 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 Broad-river-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 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. [Sidenote: The swimming in the river Nid] 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. [Sidenote:
Kjartan and the townsman] 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." [Sidenote: Kjartan and
King Olaf] 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 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. [Sidenote: Kjartan discusses the Christian faith] 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 fox in 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,"
[Sidenote: Kjartan's resolve] 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. [Sidenote: King Olaf and
the Icelanders] 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." [Sidenote: The king's
preaching] "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 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 well-behaved 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 made good cheer at his speech. [Sidenote: Kjartan's
determination] 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 folk-meetings,
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.'" [Sidenote: Kjartan and his men become
Christians] 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. [Sidenote: Kalf wishes to leave Norway] 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 so
winsome 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.


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. [Sidenote: Kjartan stays in Norway] 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 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
Wash-river, 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. [Sidenote: Thangbrand returns from Iceland] 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 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. [Sidenote: Of
Ingibjorg the king's sister] 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."


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 had there meetings and parleys with their kinsmen. [Sidenote:
Bolli goes to Laugar] 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." [Sidenote: He
talks with Gudrun] 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.


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." [Sidenote: Bolli proposes to
Gudrun] 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 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. [Sidenote:
He is accepted] Bolli said he wished to speak to Osvif, and he set
forth his wooing, and asked for the hand of Gudrun, 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.[5] Thereupon Bolli rode home and told
this settlement to Olaf, who did not hide his displeasure thereat.
[Sidenote: The wedding] 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 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 back for 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. [Sidenote: Kjartan prepares to leave Norway] 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. [Sidenote: The gifts] 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."

[Footnote 5: Winter nights (vetrnætr), the two last days of autumn and
the first day of winter.]


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.
[Sidenote: Olaf goes to greet 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, his sister, came
to his ship, and Kjartan gave them a cheery welcome. [Sidenote: Hrefna
and the coif] 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 have a 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 it away 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. [Sidenote: Kjartan goes to Herdholt]
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
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 he was 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." [Sidenote: They ride to Laugar]
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


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. [Sidenote: Bolli's gift refused] 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 valiant-looking a man in all the north land. [Sidenote: The games
at Asbjornness] 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. [Sidenote: Thurid's
advice] Kjartan sat by 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. [Sidenote: Kjartan marries Hrefna]
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 honourable offer 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 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. [Sidenote: The coif] 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.


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 how the 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." [Sidenote: Gudrun sees
the coif] 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 out-bower 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. [Sidenote: The loss of Kjartan's sword] 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 tarried at the Shaws' homestead. An
followed him all the way unto Salmon-river, 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.
[Sidenote: An finds the sword] An rode back to the brushwood, and
followed the footprints of Thorolf to a certain ditch or bog. He
groped down 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 such things fly here from house to
house." [Sidenote: Hrefna misses the coif] 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 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." [Sidenote: Kjartan
complains to Bolli] 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
behoves a 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. [Sidenote: The end of the coif] 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


Kjartan goes to Laugar, and of the Bargain for Tongue, A.D. 1003

[Sidenote: Kjartan's expedition to Laugar] 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
very ill-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 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. [Sidenote: The
buying of the land at Tongue] Thorarin, the goodman of Tongue, let it
be known 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. [Sidenote: Kjartan's bargain]
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 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. [Sidenote: Kjartan rides to Saurby] 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. [Sidenote:
Thorhalla returns to Laugar] 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, telling them 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.


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. [Sidenote: An's dream] 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 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.
[Sidenote: Gudrun wakes her brothers] 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 there was 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. [Sidenote: The ambush laid for Kjartan] 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 on the
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 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.[6] They bound up their horses and sat down. Bolli was
silent all day, and lay up on the top of the gill bank. [Sidenote:
Thorkell of Goat-peaks] 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 out-dairies 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.

[Footnote 6: Gill=gorge, deep watercourse.]


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 Goat-peaks 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
their play. 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. [Sidenote: The
beginning of the fight] 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). [Sidenote: The fight] 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 a hard 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 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 if
Kjartan is now to get away from us, then for you, Bolli, as even for
us, the way to exceeding hardships will be equally short." [Sidenote:
Bolli kills Kjartan] 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 death-wound. 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. [Sidenote:
Gudrun's greeting] 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, "That unhappy
deed might well go late from my mind even if you did not remind me of
it." Gudrun said "Such 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. [Sidenote: An comes to life] 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's name, 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." [Sidenote: The
deaths of Stein and his brother] 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.


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 blood-suit; 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-in-law, 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. [Sidenote: Olaf protects Bolli] But when Olaf
heard 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. [Sidenote: The death of Hrefna]
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.


Osvif's Sons are Banished

[Sidenote: The revenge for Kjartan] 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 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. [Sidenote: Audun's drowning]
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.


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. [Sidenote: Thorgerd and the
shepherd lad] The spring that Kjartan was slain Thorgerd Egil's
daughter placed a lad, as kin to her, with Thorkell of Goat-Peaks, 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. [Sidenote: The killing of Thorkell] Halldor said, "Give no heed
to this lad, he is not worth taking in earnest." 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, and
thought this reminder better than none. That summer all was quiet, so
to speak, and yet there was the greatest ill-will 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."


Thorgerd's Egging, A.D. 1007

[Sidenote: Thorgerd goes to see Tongue] 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." [Sidenote: She eggs on her sons]
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." 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.


Halldor prepares to avenge Kjartan

[Sidenote: 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 for from
you." Bardi said they must set about it with care. [Sidenote: and
prepare to attack Bolli] 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. [Sidenote: Thorgerd goes with
her sons] 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 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.


The Death of Bolli

[Sidenote: The journey] 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. [Sidenote: Bolli prepares to meet 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 house-carles went away. In the dairy therefore there
were left the two, Gudrun and Bolli. 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 not one 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. [Sidenote:
Bolli is wounded] 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 any more use to him. [Sidenote: Bolli's death] 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. [Sidenote: Gudrun's courage]
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 "rám"-stuff,[7] 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.

[Footnote 7: Unknown what stuff.]


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 mettle of 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.
[Sidenote: Snorri counsels Gudrun] 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 next-door 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. [Sidenote: The birth of Bolli Bollison]
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 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.


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). [Sidenote: The outlaw Grim] 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.
[Sidenote: Thorkell goes to find Grim] 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 Grim his
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 Twodays-Heath by the Fishwaters. Then Thorkell rode northward
upon the heath the way 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.


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 line-fishing, and had a cloak over
his head. [Sidenote: They fight] 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. 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. [Sidenote: They make peace] 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 mishaps for 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. [Sidenote: Thorkell and Grim go to Snorri] 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 fierce heart and
reckless-mindedness weigh heavily, for she will want to have her husband,
Bolli, avenged. Besides, it is said that on this matter 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 any grudge. 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. [Sidenote: The end of the story of Grim]
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.


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 sons of Armod Halldor and Ornolf, and
sometimes Tongue with Thorgils. [Sidenote: Gudrun meets Snorri] 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 hope that you will give any heed to our case.
[Sidenote: They talk of revenge] 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 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-river-Dale, 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." [Sidenote: Snorri's
advice] 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 on whom 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." [Sidenote: The
trick to be played on Thorgils] Snorri spoke: "On this I will give you
a counsel, for I do not begrudge Thorgils this journey. You shall
promise marriage to him, yet you shall do 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.


The Egging of Gudrun

[Sidenote: Gudrun and her sons] 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." [Sidenote: Thorgils promises to
help in the revenge] 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 be called 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." [Sidenote:
Thorgils deceived by Gudrun] 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 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.


Of Thorstein the Black and Lambi

[Sidenote: Thorstein the Black joins with the brothers] 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 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."
[Sidenote: Lambi is persuaded to join them] 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 this matter
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. [Sidenote: The journey
settled] 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. [Sidenote: The party leave home] 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)[8] 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.

[Footnote 8: The agreement was made on a Sunday.]


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. [Sidenote: Thorgils takes the lead] Thorgils said to his
followers 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 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." [Sidenote:
Thorgils and Helgi's servant] 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.


The Description of his Enemies brought to Helgi

[Sidenote: Helgi and his shepherd] 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 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.
[Sidenote: The description of Helgi's enemies] 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 gold-embroidered 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 strong-looking 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." [Sidenote: The description continued] 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." [Sidenote: Further description of the men] 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 farmer-looking
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, foster-brothers 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 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. [Sidenote: Hrapp
joins the brothers and Thorgils] 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 I bear 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. [Sidenote: His talk and
behaviour] I 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.


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. [Sidenote: The women leave the dairy] 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."
[Sidenote: The breaking of the beam] 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. [Sidenote:
Helgi's death] 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 and limbs spared."
Helgi had another son named Skorri. He was brought up at Gugland in
Reekdale the southernmost.


Of Gudrun's Deceit

[Sidenote: Thorgils' return] 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-river-Dale, 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.
[Sidenote: Gudrun receives them] 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[9] with blood all red,
    As Thorleik's lead our band did follow.
    And at our hands there perished three
    Keen helmet-stems,[10] accounted truly
    As worthies of the folk--and we
    Claim Bolli now's avenged full duly."

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." [Sidenote: Thorgils discovers Gudrun's trick] 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." [Sidenote: Gest's prophecy fulfilled] 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 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.

[Footnote 9: Shield-wands = swords.]

[Footnote 10: Helmet-stems, those who upbear the helmet = men, specially


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. [Sidenote: The funeral of Gest and
Osvif] 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.


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 Audgisl, and was a
nimble sort of a man. Thorgils Hallason took the chieftainship from
them both, father and son. [Sidenote: Snorri advises Audgisl] 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 so before, 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. [Sidenote:
Thorgils' cloak] 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. [Sidenote:
Thorgils' death] He sat down on the lava above the booths, and with
him was his foster-brother Halldor and sundry 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.


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. [Sidenote: Thorkell proposes to Gudrun] "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 whom we 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."
[Sidenote: Gudrun accepts his proposal] 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 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. [Sidenote: They are married] 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 first-bidden 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


The Quarrel about Gunnar at the Feast

[Sidenote: Gunnar at the wedding 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 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 women all 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. [Sidenote: The quarrel]
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. [Sidenote: Gudrun has her way] 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


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.
[Sidenote: Thorleik wishes to leave Iceland] 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. [Sidenote: He goes to Norway] 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 that means 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 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. [Sidenote: Bolli's wooing] 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. "It is
what for many reasons is due to him, and I know, withal, that in Bolli
a good husband will be purchased." [Sidenote: Bolli's marriage] 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 was a 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. [Sidenote: Thorleik's return] 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.


The Peace between the Sons of Bolli and the Sons of Olaf, A.D. 1026

[Sidenote: The brothers talk of revenge] 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. [Sidenote: Snorri's advice]
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, 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-in-law 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.
[Sidenote: The peace settled] 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 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." [Sidenote: Kjartan's brothers
pay weregild for Bolli] 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; the same 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 Steinthor Olafson 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.


Bolli and Thorleik go abroad, A. D. 1029

[Sidenote: Bolli wishes to leave Iceland] 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."
[Sidenote: Bolli goes with Thorleik] 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.


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. [Sidenote: They come to Norway] 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 little wish to drift about 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.
[Sidenote: They stay with King Olaf] 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, 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."
[Sidenote: Bolli goes to Denmark] 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.


Thorkell Eyjolfson goes to Norway

[Sidenote: Thorkell's dream] 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. [Sidenote: Thorkell in Norway] 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. They had 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 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." [Sidenote: His measuring of King
Olaf's church] 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. [Sidenote: Thorkell's return] 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 there came 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.


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 Lea-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. [Sidenote: The bargain with Halldor] 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 the same moment I should like these two things to happen: the
coming in of the men summoned, and the breaking up of our talk."
[Sidenote: Halldor gets the best of it] 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. [Sidenote: He refuses to deal with them] 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 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." [Sidenote: Thorkell and Thorstein return home
disgusted] 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.


The Drowning of Thorkell, A.D. 1026

[Sidenote: Thorkell goes for his wood] 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
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." [Sidenote: The drowning of 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." [Sidenote: Gudrun and
the ghosts] 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. [Sidenote: The ghost of the
sorceress] 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.


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 Bollison, most of the
crew of which were Norwegians. [Sidenote: Bolli's splendour] 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 this journey. Snorri made it no less his business Snorri' now to
treat Bolli with every kindness than death when he was with him


The Death of Snorri, and the End, A.D. 1031

[Sidenote: Snorri' death] 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 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. [Sidenote: The
descendants of Herdis] 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. [Sidenote: Bolli questions
his mother] Then Bolli 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. [Sidenote: The end of Gellir] 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 Salmon-river-Dale.

       *       *       *       *       *

_The_ 'Laxdale Saga'--_one of the great Sagas of Iceland--is herewith
introduced for the first time to English readers. The translation has
been made by_ Mrs. Muriel Press. _The original text presents many
difficulties, and the manuscript translation has had the advantage of
being revised by a competent Icelander. Many doubtful passages have
been elucidated by him. The accompanying Note gives his interpretation
of the obscure verses on page 234. In addition to these kind services,
he has specially prepared for this volume the Map of the Places
mentioned in the Saga. It is to be hoped that_ Mrs. Press's _efforts
to popularise this famous Saga may be successful, and may warrant the
publication of other Sagas, and Masterpieces of Northern literature,
in the Series, notably_ 'Njala-Saga,' 'Volsunga-Saga,' _and the_


_October 13, 1899,_

       *       *       *       *       *


These lines may be thus interpreted:--

    "Hangs a wet hood on the wall;
    It knoweth of a trick;
    Though it be at most times 'dry,'
    I hide not now it knoweth two."

The ditty points to the fact that Snorri had given Audgisl Thorarinson
a "chased axe" (one trick), and that, at Snorri's secret behest,
Audgisl was now on the eve of taking the hood-owner's (Thorgils
Hallason's) life (two). This, the hood says, it knows, though at most
times it is '_dry_.' 'Dry' here seems clearly to stand in the sense of
'clear of,' 'free from,' _expers, immunis_; practically, _ignorant_.
At most times the hood is ignorant of such 'tricks' threatening
Thorgils' life, though now it knows of one, even two. With this use of
'ðurr,' _cf._ Sturlunga^2 ii. 227_{37}--"Um sum illvirki þeirra er
þat sumum mönnum eigi tvímælis-laust, hvárt þér munið _þurt_ hafa um
setið allar vitundir" = "As to some misdeeds of theirs, it is to some
men (a matter) not free from double speech whether you will have sat
(by) '_dry_' of all knowledge (_i.e._ complicity) therein," _i.e._,
concerning certain of their misdeeds some persons will have their
doubts as to whether you be 'clear of' all complicity therein.

Of course it is Thorgils' 'Fylgja' (Fetch) that speaks through the

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