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Hrafnkels Saga freysgoða

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

Section Reference 9


It so fell early one morning, that the old carl Thorbjörn was awake; he roused Sámr from his sleep and bade him stand up, "for now it behoves not to slumber." Sámr stood up and put on his raiment. They went abroad, walking down to Oxará below the bridge, where they washed themselves. Thorbjörn spake to Sámr, "It is my counsel now, that thou cause our horses to be driven up, and that we get ready to return home, for it is easy to see that here nothing is awaiting us but utter shame." Sámr answered: "That is well enough, since thou wouldst hear of nothing but striving with Hrafnkell, and didst not choose to accept offers that many a man, who had lost a near kinsman, would have been fain to take. With hard reproaches thou didst egg on my mind, doing the same to others, who were not willing to enter the case with thee. But as for me I shall never give in, until I deem that all hope is past of my ever being able to bring things further about." This came so close home to Thorb-jörn, that he wept. Then they saw how, on the western side of the river, only a bit further down than where they were sitting, five men walk together out of a certain booth. He who was at the head of them, and walked abreast of them, was a tall man, not of a stout build to look at, arrayed in a leaf-green kirtle, in his hand a sword ornamented; a straight-faced man he was, and ruddy of hue, and of a goodly presence, light-auburn of hair, which was fast growing hoary. This was a man easy to know, as he had a light lock in his hair on the left side. Then Sámr spake: "Stand we up, and go we west across the river to meet these men." Now they went down along the river, and the leader of those men is the first to greet them, asking them who they were, to which they answered as asked. Sámr asked this man for his name; he said he was named Thorkell, and was the son of Thjostar. Sámr asked where his family was, and where he had got a home. The other said he was a West-firther by kin and origin, and that his abode was in Thorskafjörðr. Questioned Sámr: "Art thou a man of a priesthood?" "Far from it," said the other. "Art thou a bonder then?" said Sámr. He said that was not so. Sámr asked: "What of a man art thou then?" He answered: "I am only a country tramp. I came out here last summer, having been for seven winters abroad, having fared all the way to Constantinople, being now a henchman of the King of the Greeks, and at this time staying with my brother, whose name is Thorgeirr." "Is he a man of a priesthood?" said Sámr. Thorkell answered: "A man of a priesthood he is indeed, both in Thorskafjörðr and wide about elsewhere in the West-firths." "Is he here at the Þing?" said Sámr. "To be sure," said Thorkell. "How many men has he got with him?" said Sámr. "About seventy men," said Thorkell. "Are there more of ye brothers?" said Sámr. "A third one still," says Thorkell. "Who is he?" says Sámr. "He is hight Thormoðr," says Thorkell, "and dwells at Garðar on Álptanes, and is married to Thórdís, the daughter of Thórólfr Skalla-grimsson of Borg." "Art thou minded at all to bear us a hand?" says Sámr. "What is it you want?" says Thorkell. "To be backed up by the might of chieftains," says Sámr, "for we have affairs at law on hand against Hrafnkell the priest, for the manslaughter of Einarr Thorbjarnar-son; and if thou shouldst back us up, we, as plaintiffs, are confident of the case." Thorkell answered: "As I told you, I am not a man of a priesthood." "Why art thou so stinted of thy share," said Sámr, "being the son of a chieftain like the rest of thy brothers?" Thorkell answered: "I did not say that I was not possessed of a priesthood, but I handselled to my brother Thorgeirr my rule of men before I went abroad; and since my return I have not resumed it, because I deem it well cared for, while he takes charge of it. Go ye to meet him, and ask him to look to you; he is a lordly-minded man, and a noble-hearted, and in every way of good conditions; a young man too, and ambitious withal. Such are the likeliest men to yield the assistance ye want." Sámr says: "We shall get nothing out of him unless thou backest up our suit as well." Thorkell answers: "I will promise to be rather with than against you, as it seems to me the necessity is urgent, that a suit should be brought on for a close relative. Go ye now to the booth, and go ye into the booth, now that all men are asleep; ye will see, where there stands, athwart the upper part of the floor, a couple of sleeping-bags, out of one of which I have just arisen, and in the other of which there is resting still Thorgeirr, my brother. Since he came to the 'Þing' he has suffered much from a suppurated foot, and has therefore slept little a-night, but last night, the boil burst, and the core is out: since that he has been asleep, and has stretched the foot from under the clothes out over the foot-board for relief from over-heat. Let the old man go first, and let him go up the booth. It seems to me that he is a right decrepit old fellow, both as to sight and as to age. Now, my man," says Thorkell, "when thou comest up to the sleeping-bag, take care to trip hard and come flopping down upon the footboard, and catch in the fall at the toe which is bandaged, and pull at it, and just see how he likes it." Sámr said: "No doubt that thou art a man of wholesome counsel to us, but this seems to me hardly a wise thing to do." Thorkell answered: "One of two things you must do -- to take what I advise, or not to come to me for a counsel at all." Sámr spake, and said: "As he has counselled, so the thing shall be done." Thorkell said that he would come on later, "for I am waiting for my men."


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