KAPJn_F-vUiWi4kMGsTPhQ Hávarðar Saga Ísfirðings

Hávarðar Saga Ísfirðings

The Story of Howard the Halt an 1891 translation into English by William Morris and Eiríkr Magnússon

Section Reference 4


The Slaying of Olaf Howardson

Now Thorbiorn Thiodrekson rode every summer to the Thing with his men; he was a mighty chief, of great stock, and had many kinsmen.

In those days Guest Oddleifson dwelt at the Mead on Bardstrand; he was a great sage, and wise and, well-befriended, the most foreseeing of all men, and had rule over many.

Now the same summer that the father and son shifted their dwelling Thorbiorn rode to the Thing a-wooing, and craved the sister of Guest Oddleifson. Guest was cold over the match, saying that Thorbiorn was little to his mind because of his injustice and violence; but whereas many furthered Thorbiorn in his wooing, Guest gave him this choice, that the match should be if he promised by hand given to lay aside his injustice and. wrongdoing, and to render his own to each man, and hold by law and right; but if he would not bring himself to this, then was Guest to be quit of the bargain, and the match to be clean voided.

Thorbiorn assented hereto, and the bargain was struck on these terms. Then Thorbiorn rode from the Thing home with Guest to Bardstrand, and the wedding was holden in the summer, and that was the best of bridals.

But when these tidings were known in. Icefirth, Sigrid and Thoralf her kinsman take counsel together, and summon the bonders, and let appraise for Sigrid her goods out of Bathstead. and thereafter she fared to Thoralf at Loonsere.

So when Thorbiorn came home to Bathstead he was wondrous wroth that Sigrid was gone; and he threatened the bonders with measureless evil in that they had appraised those goods, and he grew as hard as hard might be, for he deemed his might waxen by this alliance of his.

Master Howard's live stock was very wild that summer, and on a morning early the herdsman came in, and Olaf asked how it went with him. "So it goes," quoth he, " that there is a deal of the beasts missing, and I may not do both at once, seek for those that are lost, and heed them that are found." "Keep a good heart, fellow," answered Olaf, "heed what thou hast, and I will go seek the missing."

Now by this time he was grown to be the most hopeful of men, and the goodliest to look on, and both big and strong: he was eighteen winters old. So Olaf took his axe in his hand, and went down along by the firth till he came to Loonsere, and there he sees that those sheep are all gotten to the place where they first came aland; so he turned toward the house early in the morning-tide, and smote on the door, and thither came Sigrid, and greeted him well, and well he took her greeting.

But now when they had talked awhile, Sigrid said: "Lo a boat coming over the firth, and therein I see clearly Thorbiorn Thiodrekson and Vakr his kinsman; and I can see their weapons lying forward in the prow, and Warflame is there, Thorbiorn's sword; and now either he will have done an ill deed or be minded for one; wherefore I pray thee Olaf meet him not; this long while have ye been ill seen one of another, and belike matters will not be bettered since ye were at the appraising of the goods for me from Bathstead."

Olaf answered : "I fear not Thorbiorn whiles I have done him no wrong, and but a little way will I run before him alone."

"A brave word of thine" she said, "that thou, a lad of eighteen winters, must needs yield nought before one who is any man's match in fight, and beareth a sword whose stroke will not be stayed by aught; yea, and I deem that if their intent is to meet thee, as indeed my mind forebodes me, wicked Vakr will not sit idle by the fight."

Olaf answered : "I have no errand with Thorbiorn, and I will not go meet them, yet if we do meet, thou shalt have to ask after brave deeds if need there be."

"Nay, I shall never ask thereof," said Sigrid.

Then Olaf sprang up quickly, and bade her live long and happy, and she bade him farewell; and therewith he went down to the foreshore whereas lay the sheep; and Thorbiorn and Vakr were come to land now, over against that very place; so he went his ways down to the boat and met it, and drew it up under them on to the beach. Thorbiorn greeted Olaf well, and he took the greeting, and asked whither away, and Thorbiorn said he would go see his sister Thordis. "So go we all together," said Olaf; "it falleth amiss, because I must needs drive my sheep home; and verily it might well be said that sheep-drovers shall be getting great men in Icefirth if thou shouldst lower thyself so far as to take to that craft."

"Nay, I heed that nought" said Thorbiorn.

Now there was a big heap of wood on the beach, whereon lay a great forked cudgel with the ends broken off: this Olaf caught up and bore in his hand, and so drave the sheep before him, and they went their ways all together.

Thorbiorn talked with Olaf, and was as merry as might be: but Olaf found that they would ever be hanging back; so he looked to that, and then on they went all abreast, till they came past the knoll, and there the ways sundered.

Then Thorbiorn turned about and said : "Kinsman Vakr, there is no longer any need to put off that which we would do."

Olaf saw the intent of them, and turned up on to the bent, and they set on him from below: Olaf warded himself with the cudgel, but Thorbiorn smote hard and oft with the sword Warflame, and sliced away the cudgel as if it had been a stalk of angelica: yet gat they heavy strokes from the cudgel whiles it held out; but when it was all smitten to pieces Olaf took to his axe, and defended himself so well that they deemed it doubtful how it would go between them; and they were all wounded.

Now Thordis, Thorbiorn's sister, went out that morning of the fight, and heard the noise thereof, but might not see aught; so she sent her foot-page to see what was toward ; who came back and told her that there were Thorbiorn her brother and Vakr her son fighting against Olaf Howardson : so she turned back into the house, and told her son Skart of these tidings, and bade him go help his kinsmen; but he said: "I am more like to go fight for Olaf against them, for I hold it shame for three to fall upon one man, they being as like to win the day as any four other; I will nowise go." Thordis answered: "I was deeming that I had two stout-hearted sons; but sooth is that which is said,' Many a thing lieth long hidden :' for now I know that thou art rather a daughter than a son of mine, since thou durst not help thy kin: wherefore now shall I show full surely that I am a braver daughter than thou art a son."

Therewith she went away, but he waxed wondrous wroth, and he leapt up and caught hold of his axe, and ran out, and down along the bent to where they were fighting. Thorbiorn saw him, and set on all the more fiercely, but Olaf saw him not: and as soon as Skart came within reach of Olaf he fetched a blow at him with both hands, and drave the axe deep in between the shoulders. Olaf was about smiting at Thorbiorn, but when he got that stroke he turned about with axe raised aloft on Skart, who was weaponless now, and smote him on the head so that the axe stood in the brain: but even therewith was Thorbiorn beside Olaf, and smote him into the breast, and that was enough for the death of him, and the twain, Skart and Olaf, tumbled down dead.

Then Thorbiorn went up to Olaf and smote him across the face so that the front teeth and jaw-teeth fell out. Vakr said, "Why dost thou so to a dead man?"

Thorbiorn answered that it might yet serve him somewhat, and he took a clout therewith, and knit up the teeth in it, and kept them. Then they went into the house, and told Thordis the tidings; and they were both grievously wounded.

Thordis was much overcome thereat, and bewailed bitterly that eager egging-on of her son: but she gave them help and service there.

Now are these tidings told far and wide about Icefirth; and all thought it the greatest scathe of Olaf, such a defence as he had made withal, as the rumour of men told: for herein did Thor-biorn well, in that he told everything even as it had happened, and gave Olaf his due in the story.

So they fared home when they deemed they had might thereto, and their weariness had run off, and Thorbiorn went to Loonsere and asked for Sigrid: but he was told that she had not been seen since she went out with Olaf that other morning. She was sought for far and wide, but, as the tale goes, she was never seen again.

So Thorbiorn went home and abode in peace at his own house.


27 December 2019 saga, Howard, norse, viking, translated, english Read Book