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 3


Howard shifteth his Dwelling-Place

It is next to be told how a whale came ashofe in Icefirth : now Thorbiorn and Howard had rights of drift adjoining one to the other, and men said straightway that this whale was Howard's of right; and it was the best of whales. Either side went thither, and would have the judgment of the Lawman thereon : many men were come together there, and it seemed clear to all that Howard should have the whale.

But now Thorkel the Lawman being come, he was asked whose the whale was: he answered, speaking, very low, "Certainly the whale is theirs." Then went Thorbiorn to him with drawn sword, "Whose, thou wretch?" said he. "O thine, thine, surely," said Thorkel in all haste, letting his head fall. So then Thorbiorn set to work, and with wrongdoing took to him all the whale, and Howard went home ill content with his lot, and all men now deemed that Thorbiorn's utter wrongdoing was again made manifest.

On a day Olaf went to his sheep-folds because the weather was hard that winter, and men had great need to look to their sheep, and that night had been exceeding hard; so when he was about going he sees a man coming up to the house, Brand the Strong to wit. Olaf greeted him, and Brand took his greeting well; Olaf asked what made him there so late. Brand said: "It is an ugly tale. I went to my sheep early in the day, but they had all got driven down on to the foreshore ; there were two places whereby to drive them up, but so oft as I tried to do that, there was a man in the way, and withstood them, so that they all came back into my arms; and thus has it gone on all day until now, wherefore am I fain that we go there both together."

"That will I do for thy prayer," said Olaf.

So they went both together down to the foreshore, and when they would drive up the sheep thence, they saw Thormod, Olaf's wrestling-fellow, standing in the way, and staying the sheep, so that they cajne back into their arms. Then said Olaf, "Which wilt thou, Brand, drive the sheep, or play with Thormod?"

"The easiest will I choose," said Brand, "driving the sheep to wit."

Then Olaf went there whereas stood Thormod against him up above. There lay a great snowdrift over the face of the bank. Olaf ran forthwith up the bank at Thormod, who gave back before him ; but when he came up on to the bank Thormod ran under the arms of him, and Olaf caught hold and wrestled with all his might; they played a long while, and Olaf thought that Thormod had lost but little of his strength from that handling of his: so it came to pass that they both fell together on the face of the bank, and rolled over and over one another till they tumbled into the drift below, and now one, now the other, was atop, till they came on to the foreshore; by then as it happed Thormod was under, so Olaf made the most of it, and brake the back of him asunder, and served him as he would, and then swam out to sea with him and sank him in the depths of the sea; and ever after have men deemed it uncouth for men sailing anigh there.

Then Olaf swam ashore, and Brand had by then driven up all the sheep, and he gave Olaf fair welcome, and so each went his ways home.

But when Brand came home, the night was far spent, and Thorbiorn asked what had belated him. Brand told him how things had gone, and how Olaf had stood him in stead. Then said Vakr: "Thou must have been sore afraid, whereas thou praisest that booby: his fame will mostly come of his dealings with ghosts, forsooth."

Brand answered: "Thou wouldst havebeen more afraid ; for ever art thou greatest in talk, as the fox in his tail, and in nowise art thou a match for him."

So they talked till either grew hot; then Thor-biorn bade Brand not to champion Olaf: " It shall be ill for thee or any other to make more of Olaf than me or my kin."

So weareth winter, and when spring is come, Howard falleth to talk with Olaf his son, saying: "Things have come to this, kinsman, that I have no heart to live any longer so nigh to Thorbiorn, for we have no might to hold our own against him."

Olaf said : "It is little to my mind to have such boot for our wrongs as to flee before Thorbiorn ; yet will I that thou rule; whither wilt thou, then?"

Howard answered : "Out on the other side of the firth are many empty tofts' and wide lands owned of no man ; there will I that we set up our dwelling, and then we shall be nigher to our friends and kinsfolk."

That rede they take and flit all their stock and such goods as they had, and set up there a very goodly house, which was afterward called Howard-stead.

Now there were no bonders in Icefirth in those days, but were land-settlers.


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