GXD13Y8-20WcLeEZm8aPxw Laxdæla Saga

Laxdæla Saga

The Story of the Laxdalers a 1903 translation into English by Robert Proctor

Section Reference 37


It came to pass one summer at the Thing, as Thorleik was sitting in his booth, that a big man came into the booth. He greeted Thorleik, but ne took this man's greeting, and asked of his name and whence he was. He said that he hight Eldgrim, and dwelt in Burg-firth at the stead which is called Eldgrimstead; now that stead lies in the dale which cleaves the fells westwards betwixt Mull and Grisetongue. It is now called Grims-dale. Saith Thorleik: I have heard tell of thee, that thou art no fainthearted man. Eldgrim spake: This is my errand hither, that I will buy of thee those studhorses, the precious ones, that Kotkel gave thee last summer. Thorleik answers : The horses are not for sale. Eldgrim spake: I offer thee as many studhorses in their stead, and somewhat as makeweight thereto; and many men will say that I offer twice their worth. Spake Thorleik : I am no haggler; inasmuch as these horses gettest thou never, though thou offer thrice their worth. Eldgrim spake : It cannot be gainsaid that thou art stubborn and self-willed: this too would I fain see, that thou get a worser price than I have now offered thee, and lose the horses none the less. Thorleik reddened much at this word, and spake : Needs is it, Eldgrim, that thou come to close quarters if thou wilt deave me out of the horses. Spake Eldgrim : Unlike thou deemest it that thou shouldst come by the worse at my hands: but this summer shall I fare to look on the horses, to whichsoever of us twain it may be given to own them thenceforth. Thorleik saith : Do after thy word ; but offer me not odds of strength. Then they sunder speech. So said men who heard it that the twain were fairly matched in their dealings. Then fared men home from the Thing, and all was without tidings. Now it came to pass one morning early, that a man sat outside Hrutstead, the abode of Hrut Herjolfson; but when he came in Hrut asked him what tidings. He said that he knew no tidings to tell of save that he saw a man ride from beyond by the ford, and thither whereas were Thorleik's horses : and the man dismounted, and handled the horses. Hrut asked where the horses were then. The housecarle spake : Yet again have they done well for themselves in their pasture, for they were standing even in thy meadow below the garth. Hrut answers: Sooth is it that kinsman Thorleik is ever heedless in his grazing ; and yet I deem it liker that not by his rede are those horses driven hence. Then sprang up Hrut, clad in a shirt and breeks of linen, and cast over him a gray cloak, and had in his hand the gold-inwrought halberd that Harald the king had given him. He goes out somewhat hastily, and saw Eldgrim driving the horses. Hrut hailed him. Eldgrim took his greeting, but somewhat slowly. Hrut asked whither he would drive the horses. Eldgrim answers: I shall not hide it from thee, though I wot of the kinship betwixt thee and Thorleik : but in such wise am I come after the horses, that I am minded that he shall never own them henceforth. I have kept the promise that I made him at the Thing, for I have not fared after the horses with a great company. Hrut saith : No feat is that, though thou take the horses hence while Thorleik lieth abed and asleep : thou wouldst best fulfil the bargain ye made, if thou metst him ere thou ride out of the countryside with the horses. Eldgrim spake : Do thou make Thorleik ware if thou wilt; for thou mayst see that I am come from home in suchlike array that I should deem it well if a meeting might be brought about between me and Thorleik : and he shook the barbed spear that he bare in his hand. He had also a helm on his head, and was girded with a sword; a shield was at his side ; he was clad in a byrny. Spake Hrut: Rather shall I try something other than to fare to Combness, since I am heavy of foot: but I may not see Thorleik robbed if I have might to let it, though there be little love lost betwixt us kinsmen. Eldgrim spake : Is it not so; that thou art minded to take the horses from me? Hrut answereth : I will give thee other studhorses that thou mayst let these go free, though they be not so good as these. Spake Eldgrim : Most fair is thy tale, Hrut: but inasmuch as I have laid hand on Thorleik's horses, thou shalt never pluck them from me by barter or threats. Then answers Hrut: Methinks thou makest choice of that lot which shall prove the worser for both of us. Now will Eldgrim depart, and lashes his horse: but when Hrut saw that, he hove up the halberd and setteth it betwixt the shoulders of Eldgrim, so that the byrny was straightway slit before it, and the halberd brake out at his breast. Eldgrim fell dead from his horse, as was like to be. Then Hrut hid his body. That place hight Eldgrim's-holt south of Combness. After this rideth Hrut down to Combness and telleth these tidings to Thorleik. He grew very wroth thereat, and he deemed him sore dishonoured by this hap; but Hrut deemed that he had shown him much friendship. Quoth Thorleik, that not only had he done ill by him, but that no good should come of it to himself. Quoth Hrut, that he must do as he pleased in that. They sunder nowise blithely. Hrut was then of eighty winters, when he slew Eldgrim, and was deemed to have waxed mickle by this deed. Thorleik deemed none the better of Hrut in that he was grown mightier by this deed ; he deemed that he wotted plainly that he would have gotten the better of Eldgrim if they had made trial of each other, so little had he withstood Hrut. Now fared Thorleik to his tenants Kotkel and Grima, 'and bade them do somewhat that should be a dishonour to Hrut. They undertook this lightly and said that they were full ready thereto. Then fareth Thorleik home. But a little after they fare from home, Kotkel to wit and Grima, and their sons. That was at night: they fared to the stead of Hrut and there made mickle spells. But when the sound of the spells came to those within, then deemed they that they wist not what was toward; but fair was that chant to hear. Hrut alone knew the sound, and bade no man look out that night; and let each man who may bide awake ; no hurt shall come to us if we fare in such wise. But yet all men slept. Hrut was longest awake, and yet he too slept at last. Kari hight a son of Hrut; he was then twelve winters old, and was the hopefullest of the sons of Hrut. He loved him much. Kari slept wellnigh not at all, because for him was the play made ; he felt not much at his ease. Kari sprang up and looked out; he came within the spell-ring and fell down dead straightway. Hrut awoke in the morning, and his homemen, and missed his son. He was found lifeless a little way from the doors. This Hrut deemed the most scathe, and let pile a howe over Kari. Then he rideth to meet Olaf Hoskuldson, and telleth him those tidings that had come to pass there. Olaf was wood wroth at his tale, and said it had been ill devised, to let set down close by them such evil men as were Kotkel and his folk. He said moreover that Thorleik had dealt himself an evil lot in his doings with Hrut; but yet, quoth he, greater has the loss been than aught he can have wished for. Olaf said that they should straightway slay Kotkel, and his wife and sons; and yet is it over-late now. Olaf and Hrut fare with fifteen men. But when Kotkel's folk see men riding to their stead, they flee up into the fell. There was Hallbjorn Whetstones-eye taken, and a bag drawn over his head : straightway were men told off to ward him, but some set on up into the fells after Kotkel and Grima and Stigandi. Kotkel and Grima were laid hands on upon the Necks betwixt Hawkdale and Laxwaterdale. There were they stoned to death, and that mark is still seen, and it hight War-lock's-cairn. Stigandi bent south from the Necks into Hawkdale, and was there lost to them. Hrut and his sons fared seaward with Hallbjorn. They put out a ship and rowed from land with him ; then took they the bag from off his head, and bound a stone round his neck. Then Hallbjorn cast a glance aland, and the look of his eyes was nought good. Then spake Hallbjorn: No lucky day was it for us when we kinsmen came to Combness here to meet with Thorleik. This weird I lay on it, saith he, that Thorleik shall not win joyous days there henceforth, and that it shall be a heavy burden to all such as are set in his room. This doom is thought to have been fully accomplished. Then they drowned him, and rowed aland. A little after fareth Hrut to see Olaf his kinsman, and telleth him that he will not be on such terms with Thorleik, and bade him furnish him with men to set upon Thorleik. Answers Olaf: It is not seemly that ye kinsmen should come to blows; this matter has taken an unlucky turn for Thorleik. Rather will we seek to make you at one together: thou hast tarried oft on thy part well and long. Saith Hrut: Nought such may be tried, nor may the breach betwixt us be healed: but this fain would I, that we live not both of us long in Laxwater-dale henceforward. Olaf answers: This shall not be fitting for thee, to go further against Thorleik than I grant leave thereto; but if thou do so, then is it not unlike that dale meet knoll. Now Hrut deems he knows that Olaf may not be moved in this. He fareth homeward, and it likes him exceeding ill. And there is peace, so to say. And men abide at peace for that season.


28 December 2019 saga, laxdalers, norse, viking, translated, english Read Book