2l8TljHBB0eSmDVba4uoYQ Þórðar Saga hreðu

Þórðar Saga hreðu

The Story of Thórðr Hreða an 1882 translation into English by John Coles

Section Reference 2


Now there is to be said, that the brothers came home and related the fall of King Sigurðr and their brother Klyppr. It now seemed to the brothers that they would not be able to remain in the land on account of the power of King Haraldr and Gunnhildr. Their kinsmen and friends then wished to sell their estates for ready money, and added that Thórðr should go in search for Iceland, whither many noble men had gone, who had to flee from the country before the Kings of Norway. Then Thórðr answers: "Not had I intended to flee from my property (go in exile), but as there are many noble men, who have been content with settling in Iceland, then it may be that something similar may be my fate." After this Thórðr made himself ready for a journey to Iceland, and with him his brothers Steingrímrr and Eyjulfr and his sister Sigríðr. They had with them great many chattels. He had nineteen men on board his ship. He then proceeded to sea, and this was in the early summer. They were a month at sea, and touched the Vestman Islands; thence they sailed to the west coast of the land, and to the north beyond the Strands ; they sailed into the bay, and kept themselves nearer to the north coast. They then put into one firth and took there land about the beginning of winter. Soon people came to them, and they asked them the name of the firth they had come to. They were informed that they had come to Miðfjörðr. They landed in the mouth of Miðfjörðr, and at that time Miðfjörðr was completely peopled. Skeggi, who was called Miðfjarðar-Skeggi, dwelt at Reykir. He was the son of Skinna-Bjöm. The reason for him being called Skinna-Björn was, that he was wont to sail on mercantile business to the East, and bring thence grey skins (grey fur), beaver-skins, and sable-fur. Skeggi was a great hero and fighter in single combats. He had been long journeying as viking, and once he came to Denmark, and went to Hleiðr, where the mound of King Hrólfr ("the Crow") was, broke into the mound and took away the sword of King Hrólfr, "Sköfnungr," which is the best sword ever came to Iceland. He also took the axe, which Hjalti ("the Stout-hearted") had owned, but he could not get Laufi from Böðvar "bjarki," for he could in no way bend his arms. From that time Skeggi carried the sword "Sköfnungr." Miðfjarðar-Skeggi was great chief and wealthy. He had mighty kinsmen. All the inhabitants of Miðfjörðr had chosen him as their chief. His father, Björn, had taken possession of the whole of Miðfjörðr before him. He was a "goðarð" man (temple priest) in Miðfjörðr, and in many other places. Eyjúlfr hight a good farmer; he dwelt at Ós, and was a rich man. There was another farmer, named Thorkell; he dwelt at a farm named Sandar, on the west side of the firth, opposite Ós. He was a mean man, but rich in money, and a friend of Skeggi of Reykir. Thorkell had offered Skeggi to bring up one of his children, and when Thórðr came to Miðfjörðr, Eiðr, the son of Skeggi, was being brought up at Sandar. Eyjúlfr, the farmer from Ós, was the first man who came to the chapmen and had a talk with them. Thórðr asked how it was the farmers were so slow in coming to the ship. Eyjúlfr said it was a custom, that Skeggi, as a rule, came first to the ship, and took that of the goods which he liked. Also did he receive those of the chapmen he liked for wintering at his house. Thórðr said that his pride was great, "but, on the contrary, I am told, that it is the custom of the inhabitants of the land to visit the chapmen, who have newly arrived from sea to inquire after news." Eyjúlfr answered: "Let us go and see Skeggi, and he will receive well such a man as thou art." Thórðr said: "On board my ship I intend to stay, and await there what will happen." Then quoth Eyjúfr: "I shall go and see Skeggi, and inform him of the arrival of the ship." Thórðr answers: Can you not do as you like?" and then they parted. Eyjulfr went to Reykir to meet Skeggi, and told him of the ship's arrival, also who the master was. Skeggi said that he knew well Thórðr and his parents; said that he was a serviceable man, and never had a more noble or a better person come to this land, and praised him highly. Eyjulfr asked Skeggi to ride down to the ship and choose those of the chapmen whom he liked to invite home. Skeggi answered: "It always pains me that you show me honour in all things, but once will I show you that honour, to elect those of the chapmen you like, for none of this crew shall I receive in my home. But this I advise you, that you give Thórðr no promise, unless you mean keeping it, for he thinks little of making one or another bow to the earth, if he takes that into his head." Then they parted, and Eyjulfr rode to the ship, saw the master, and told Thórðr of the interview with Skeggi. Thórðr said: "You fare well (behave generously), but it seems to me from this, that Skeggi intends picking quarrel with me; and I fancy therefore, it is more likely that I should show him a little deference." Eyjulfr said: "That would be my wish, that we should visit Skeggi." Thórðr answered: "I shall not go at all; but as Skeggi will receive no chapman to sit by his side this winter, then let him keep his pride to himself as long as he likes." Eyjúlfr invited Thórðr to stay with him for the winter at Ós, but asked him to get an abode for the other chapmen round the firth. Thórðr thanked him for his invitation, but said that he would not take up his abode with him. Thórðr asked if Eyjulfr would let his farm during the winter, and that Eyjulfr did, but betook himself to Torfastaðir, for there he possessed another farm; but Thórðr took the farm at Ós. Thereafter he had the whole cargo brought home, and the ship drawn on shore. With Thórðr went home his brothers and sister and all the crew, and dwelt there quiet during the winter. Skeggi behaved as if nothing had happened, but he and Thórðr did not speak when they met. Skeggi did not make as if he knew about the agreement or action of Thórðr and Eyjulfr. Thórðr had many men, and was himself a very jovial one, and so were his brothers. Thórðr soon became beloved by the people of his district. Skeggi did not like that much, and thought likely that he would wish to become chief over Miðfjörðr, wherefore he envied Thórðr, for he was hard-tempered, and could not endure that others should be held in the same honour as himself. Thórðr had sports during the winter, and the brothers, as well as the men from Baer, took part in them, but none equalled Thórðr, neither in agility nor in strength. Thórðr was a great active man, as well as a fine handicraftsman.

During the winter Thórðr built a boat down by the mouth of Miðfjörðr, where he, as a rule, spent his days. His intention was, that this boat should go in the spring to the Strands for fishing. Thus time lasted to Yule, and towards Yule Skeggi sent a man to Thorkell of Sandar, and invited him and his wife to a Yule feast; he also asked, that the boy Eiðr might accompany them; he was then young, but still grown pretty strong. They prepared themselves to go away from Sandar on the day before Yule, and with them the boy Eiðr. Such was the weather that thaw had set in with rain, and the river of Miðfjörðr impassable. The ice on the river began to thaw higher up, but down by the firth it was passable in a boat, and when Thorkell put forward the boat, Thórðr addressed him, saying, "Man! the river is impassable." Thorkell answers, "Look after your work, I will see to my journey." Thorkell put the boat into the river, and the three were now on board; when they had got fairly out, the ice began to thaw very quickly, so they got on slowly. They drifted down the river before the ice and the current, which ended in the capsizing of the boat. They had a ducking, and were nearly drowned; but there was a longer life in store for them, and Thorkell got them on the keel of the boat. The boat now drifted towards the sea, and opposite where Thórðr was at work, and his brother Steingrímrr with him. Then Thorkell called to Thórðr and asked him for help, but answers Thórðr: "I will look after my work, you attend to your journey." Steingrímrr said, "Do well, my brother, and save the people, for now their lives are in danger, and show thy skill." Then Thórðr casts off the outer clothes, throws himself into the water, and swims out to the boat; he had to break the ice, and push it away from him in all directions. And when he reached the boat, he first took the boy Eiðr, put him between his shoulders, fastened him with a string, and swam with him on shore: and asked his brother, Steingrímrr, to help the boy, that he might get warm. Thereupon he swam to the boat again, took the wife of Thorkell, who had become much exhausted, and brought her to land. For the third time he swims out to the boat, and brings Thorkell to land, who was nearly dead from the cold. Steingrímrr asked, "Why did you bring the boy first?" Thórðr says: "Therefore did I bring Eiðr first, because my mind tells me, that to me this youth will be of much use, and he will save my life. But therefore did I bring Thorkell last, thinking he would best stand the cold, and again I thought, that in him was the least loss even if he had perished." Thereupon changes Thorkell his clothes, and recovered his strength as well as his wife. After this they went to Reykir, but Thórðr invited Eiðr home with him to Ós. Eiðr says that he will willingly accept the invitation, and stayed there for a long time. But now there is to be related, that Thorkell came to Reykir and spoke of his unfortunate journey. Skeggi says, that a most unfortunate journey had he had, and moreover left my son with that man, who is the most violent man; he added, that his mind told him, time would come when one would give a great deal that Eiðr had never come to Thórðr. But when Yule had passed, Thorkell went home, and on his way called at Ós, and asked Eiðr to go with him. Eiðr answers: "I shall not go with thee, and you shall not again try to destroy my life." "I would no more have caused your death than I would my own," answered Thorkell; went home, and is now out of the Saga.


28 December 2019 saga, thoror, hreda, norse, viking, translated, english Read Book