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Hrafnkels Saga freysgoða

The Story of Hrafnkell, Frey's Priest an 1882 translation into English by John Coles

Section Reference 7


The news of Einarr, his son's, death, was brought over to Thorbjörn at Hóll, and he was mightily grieved at the tidings. He now took his horse, and rode over to Aðalból to ask Hrafnkell to do boot for his son. Hrafnkell said that he had slain many a man beside this one; "for thou must know that I never pay weregild to any man, and yet people have to rest content with things so done. Yet I allow it, that I think that this my deed is rather of the worse kind among the manslaughters which I have wrought hitherto; thou, too, hast been a neighbour of mine for a long while, and I have had a good liking for thee, and we have enjoyed one another's favour; and no small tiling would have brought matters to an evil pass between me and Einarr, if only he had not ridden this horse; but now I have to regret that I spoke too much; and seldomer, indeed, should we have to regret that which we say too little than that which we say too much, and now I shall show that I consider this deed of mine a worse one than other deeds that I have done, inasmuch as I will supply thy house with dairy-produce during the summer, and with slaughtered meat when autumn comes; and in the same way I will do to thee as long as thou art minded to keep a house. Thy sons and daughters we shall fit out at my cost, and so endow them, as to make their conditions desirable. And all that thou knowest my house to contain, and of which thou mayest stand in need in future, thou shalt let me know of, nor henceforth shalt thou be in want of those things which may be requisite unto thee. Thou shalt keep house as long as thou takest pleasure therein, but when thou art tired thereof, thou shalt come to me, and I will take care of thee unto thy dying day. Let this be our atonement; and likely, it seems to me, that most people will say, that this man was dearly paid for." "This offer I will not accept," says Thorbjörn. "What then?" says Hrafnkell. Then spake Thorbjörn: "I will, that we name an umpire between us." Answered Hrafnkell: "Then thou holdest thyself as good a man as I; the peace between us is at an end." Then Thorbjörn rode away, and down along Hrafnkelsdalr. He came to Langarhus, and met his brother Bjarni, and told him the tidings, asking him at the same time to lend him a hand in these matters. Bjarni answered, saying that Hrafnkell was his equal to deal with; "for though we have plenty of money to dispose of, we are not the men to plunge into a strife with such a man; and sooth, indeed, is the old saw; 'Know one thing, know thyself!' He has made lawsuits difficult for many a one who have been mightier men of their hands than we are; and it seems to me that thou hast been somewhat short of wits in refusing such a good offer, and I will have nothing to do with this." Thorbjörn overwhelmed his brother with abuse, saying that there was in him the less of manhood, the more he was to be depended upon. So he rode away, and the two brothers parted in little love. He did not stop until he came down to Leikskálar, where he knocked at the door, and people answered the knock and came out. Thorbjörn asked Sámr to come out and see him. Sámr greeted his kinsman well, and asked him to put up there. Thorbjörn answered it slowly somewhat. Seeing that Thorbjörn was downcast, Sámr asked him for tidings, and Thorbjörn told him the slaughter of his son Einarr. "That is no great tidings," said Sámr, "if Hrafnkell slays a man." Thorbjörn asks if Sámr was minded to lend him any help: "for such is the nature of the case, that though the man is nearest and dearest to me, yet the blow has been dealt no way from malice." "Hast thou tried to have any redress of Hrafnkell?" said Sámr. Thorbjörn told all truthfully as to what had passed between him and Hrafnkell. "Never before did I know Hrafnkell to make such offer to any man, as those he has made to thee," says Sámr. "Now I will ride with thee up to Aðalból, and let us come before Hrafnkell in a humble mind, and see if he will still hold to the same offers; and I doubt not that he will behave honourably in the matter." Says Thorbjörn: "This is to be said, both that Hrafnkell will now refuse, and that such is no more in my mind now than it was when I rode away from there." Sámr says: "Heavy enough, I guess, will it be to strive with Hrafnkell in matters at law." Thorbjörn answers: "That is why ye young men never come to aught, that you flinch at all things, and I am minded to think that no man has got such milksops for kinsmen as I have. It seems to me that a man like you is putting himself in a right false position, being skilled in law and eager for petty cases, but refusing to take up this case, a great and urgent one. Thou shalt be widely reviled for this, as, indeed, thou deservest, being known as the most boisterous man in our kin. And I now see how the matter turns." Sámr answered: "By how much art thou the better off than before, even if I should take up the case, and we should both be worsted together?" Thorbjörn answered: "It would be a great relief to my mind, if thou shouldst undertake it, no matter how after that it should turn out." Sámr said: "I am right unwilling to engage in this, and it is only for the sake of kinship that I do it; but thou must know, that in thee I deem that I have no avail of any kind." Then Sámr gave his hand, and took the case off Thorbjörn's hand.


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