GXD13Y8-20WcLeEZm8aPxw Laxdæla Saga

Laxdæla Saga

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

Section Reference 49


Thorkel hight a bonder; he dwelt at Goatcrags in Swinedale; it is now waste land there. He had fared to his horses that day, and his shepherd with him. They saw both of them the men of Bathstead lying in wait, and then Kjartan's company, as they rode three in all south along the dale. Then spake the shepherd that they should turn to meet Kjartan therewith; great good hap would be theirs, said he, if they might prevent so mickle trouble as was then toward. Thorkel spake : Hold thy peace, and that quickly; thou born fool, thou mayst not give life to any man if his bane be set. This too is sooth, that I in nowise grudge that they should do one to another as much ill as it liketh them; methinks this is the better rede, that we come near thereto, whereas we may best see the meeting, and so have sport of their dealings, yet ourselves run no risk. For all men allow that Kjartan is the best of all fighting men; it seemeth like to me that he will need to be, since it is known to us that great are the odds against him here. And Thorkel had his way. Now Kjartan and his folk rode on to Goat-gill. Then those sons of Osvif have a deeming that Bolli had set himself where he might well see if men ride from the west. They took now their rede; themseemed that Bolli might play them false: they go up the brent to him and grappled him as it were in wrestling and drew him by the feet down the brent. Soon thereafter came Kjartan, for they were riding swiftly. When Kjartan's folk came south across the gill, then saw he the ambush, and knew the men, and sprang straightway from his horse and turned to meet those sons of Osvif. Thereby stood a mickle stone ; here Kjartan bade that they should hold their ground. But before they came together, Kjartan drave with a spear, and smote the shield of Thorolf above the handlestrap, and bare down the shield on him; and the spear past through the shield and the arm above the elbow, and therewith sundered the great muscle; then Thorolf let drop the shield, and his arm was useless to him all that day. Afterward Kjartan drew his sword; and he had not as then King's-loom. Those brethren the sons of Thorhalla ran on Thorarin: he was a big man and a strong, and they too were right deft men: not easy was it to see which of them should get the better of the other. Then set the sons of Osvif on Kjartan, and Gudlaug with them; they were six, but Kjartan and An two. An warded him well, and would ever be going out before Kjartan. Bolli stood by with Footbiter. Kjartan hewed hard, but the sword bit ill: he must always be straightening it under his foot. On both sides were men wounded, the sons of Osvif and An, but Kjartan had as yet no wound. Kjartan fought so fiercely and valiantly that the sons of Osvif gave back, and turned therewith whereas An was. Then fell An, and he had so fought for a space, that his guts hung out. In that onset Kjartan hewed the leg from Gudlaug above the knee, and that hurt was his bane. Then the sons of Osvif, four of them, set on Kjartan, and he warded him so valiantly that never fared he backward before them. Then spake Kjartan: Bolli kinsman, why faredst thou from home, if thou wilt stand by in peace? And it is now to be looked for that thou shouldst give aid to one of the two sides, and try yet how biteth Footbiter. Bolli made as if he heard not. But when Ospak saw that they might not prevail against Kjartan, then eggeth he Bolli in all wise: he might not will, said he, to have such shame follow him as to have plighted himself to share in that onset, and now to hold not to it: and Kjartan was heavy then in his dealings with us, when we had done nought of like greatness to him; and if Kjartan shall now escape from our hands, soon will there be for thee, Bolli, even as for us, mischief afoot. Then Bolli drew Footbiter, and turned on Kjartan. Then spake Kjartan to Bolli: Surely thou art minded now to do nithings-work; but far better do I deem it to take the word of bane from thee, kinsman, than to give it to thee. Then Kjartan cast away his weapon, and would not ward himself; and yet was he little wounded, but exceeding fight-weary. No answer made Bolli to the words of Kjartan, but yet he gave him his bane-wound. Straightway Bolli put himself beneath the other's shoulders, and Kjartan died on the knees of Bolli. Bolli straightway rued him of the deed, and gave out the slaying as his work. Then Bolli sendeth the sons of Osvif into the township, but himself with Thorarin abode by the dead. J But when those sons of Osvif came to Bathstead and told the tidings, Gudrun made good cheer thereover; then was the arm of Thorolf bound up; it healed slowly and was of no avail ever after. The body of Kjartan was borne to Tongue. There after rode Bolli home to Bath-stead. Gudrun came to meet him and asked him how the time had sped. Bolli said it was nigh noon. Spake Gudrun: Mickle prowess hath been done; I have spun yarn for twelve ells, and thou hast slain Kjartan. Then saith Bolli: Yet may that illhap pass slowly from my heart, though thou mind me not thereof. Gudrun spake: I reckon not such with ill haps; methought thou hadst more honour that winter when Kjartan was in Norway, and now hath he trodden you under foot from the time that he came out to Iceland; and that tell I last which I deem of most worth, that Hrefna shall not go laughing to bed this night. Then saith Bolli, and was sore wroth: Unsure I deem it that she pales more than thou at these tidings; and methinks it like that thou wouldst be less moved, though I were left lying on the fight-meads, and Kjartan told thee of the tidings. Gudrun marked that Bolli grew wroth, and then she spake: Make no such words, quoth she, for I can thee much thank for that work; now meseems I know this, that thou wilt not do aught against my will. Afterward went the sons of Osvif into that earthhouse which had been privily made for them ; but the sons of Thorhalla were sent to Holy fell, to tell the tidings to Snorri the priest; and this therewith, that they should bid him give them some speedy aid against Olaf and those men who would follow up the bloodsuit for Kjartan. Now it came to pass at Saelings-dale-Tongue the same night after the day wherein the slaying had been done, that An sat up, whom all men thought to be dead; they were afeared that waked the bodies, and mickle wonder that seemed to them. Then spake An to them: I bid you in God's name that ye fear not me; for I have lived all this time, and have had all my wits until within this hour; but now came over me the heaviness of a swoon. Then I dreamed of that same wife as last night, and methought she took the small wood out of my belly, and let the guts come in place thereof, and good was the change for me. Then were those wounds bound up that An had, and he grew whole, and was called afterward An Copsebelly. But when Olaf Hoskuldson heard these tidings, he was sore grieved for the slaying of Kjartan, and yet he bare him in manly wise; but his sons would fare straightway against Bolli and slay him. Then spake Olaf: That shall in nowise be; no boot would it be to me for my son though Bolli were slain. And albeit I loved Kjartan beyond all other men, yet I would not that any hurt should come to Bolli. But I see a befitting errand for you; do ye fare against the sons of Thorhalla Wordy, for I have learned that they have been sent to Holyfell to summon a host to the sons of Osvif: well were it methinks that ye should deal them such wife as it likes you. Then those sons of Olaf made them ready to fare, and went to the ferry that Olaf had ; and they were four in all. They rowed out along Hvammsfirth, and seek forth on their way eagerly. They have light wind and fair weather, and row under sail till they come under Score-isle, and there abide they awhile, and ask tidings of the faring of men. Then see they a ship row eastwards over the Firth: soon knew they the men, that there were those sons of Thorhalla; thereupon Halldor and his folk lay them aboard: and there was no withstanding them, for the sons of Olaf leapt straightway out on the ship at Odd's men; Stein and his brother were taken with hands and hewed over the gunwale. Those sons of Olaf turn back and their journey was deemed right glorious.


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