Grettis Saga

Grettir's Saga a 1900 translation into English by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson

Grettis Saga

Grettir's Saga a 1914 translation into English by G. H. Hight
1.   There was a man named Onund, who was the son of Ufeigh Clubfoot, the son of Ivar the Smiter; Onund was brother of Gudbiorg, the mother of Gudbrand Ball, the father of Asta, the mother of King Olaf the Saint. Onund was an Uplander by the kin of his mother; but the kin of his father dwelt chiefly about Rogaland and Hordaland. He was a great viking, and went harrying west over the Sea. Balk of Sotanes, the son of Blaeng, was with him herein, and Orm the Wealthy withal, and Hallvard was the name of the third of them. They had five ships, all well manned, and therewith they harried in the South-isles; and when they came to Barra, they found there a king, called Kiarval, and he, too, had five ships. They gave him battle, and a hard fray there was. The men of Onund were of the eagerest, and on either side many fell; but the end of it was that the king fled with only one ship. So there the men of Onund took both ships and much wealth, and abode there through the winter. For three summers they harried throughout Ireland and Scotland, and thereafter went to Norway.


1.   Family and early wars of Onund the son of Ofeig.
There was a man named Onund, the son of Ofeig Clumsyfoot, who was the son of Ivar Horsetail. Onund was the brother of Gudbjorg, the mother of Gudbrand Knob, the father of Asta, the mother of King Olaf the Saint. His mother came from the Upplands, while his father's relations were mostly in Rogaland and Hordland. He was a great viking and used to harry away in the West over the sea. He was accompanied on these expeditions by one Balki, the son of Blaeing from Sotanes, and by Orm the Wealthy. Another comrade of theirs was named Hallvard. They had five ships, all well equipped. They plundered the Hebrides, reaching the Barra Isles, where there ruled a king named Kjarval, who also had five ships. These they attacked; there was a fierce battle between them, in which Onund's men fought with the utmost bravery. After many had fallen on both sides, the battle ended with the king taking to flight with a single ship; the rest were captured by Onund's force, along with much booty. They stayed there for the winter, and spent the succeeding three summers harrying the coasts of Ireland and Scotland, after which they returned to Norway.


2.   In those days were there great troubles in Norway. Harald the Unshorn, son of Halfdan the Black, was pushing forth for the kingdom. Before that he was King of the Uplands; then he went north through the land, and had many battles there, and ever won the day. Thereafter he harried south in the land, and wheresoever he came, laid all under him; but when he came to Hordaland, swarms of folk came thronging against him; and their captains were Kiotvi the Wealthy, and Thorir Longchin, and those of South Rogaland, and King Sulki. Geirmund Helskin was then in the west over the Sea; nor was he in that battle, though he had a kingdom in Hordaland.

Now that autumn Onund and his fellows came from the west over the Sea; and when Thorir Longchin and King Kiotvi heard thereof, they sent men to meet them, and prayed them for help, and promised them honours. Then they entered into fellowship with Thorir and his men; for they were exceeding fain to try their strength, and said that there would they be whereas the fight was hottest.

Now was the meeting with Harald the King in Rogaland, in that firth which is called Hafrsfirth; and both sides had many men. This was the greatest battle that has ever been fought in Norway, and hereof most Sagas tell; for of those is ever most told, of whom the Sagas are made; and thereto came folk from all the land, and many from other lands and swarms of vikings.

Now Onund laid his ship alongside one board of the ship of Thorir Longchin, about the midst of the fleet, but King Harald laid his on the other board, because Thorir was the greatest bearserk, and the stoutest of men; so the fight was of the fiercest on either side. Then the king cried on his bearserks for an onslaught, and they were called the Wolf-coats, for on them would no steel bite, and when they set on nought might withstand them. Thorir defended him very stoutly, and fell in all hardihood on board his ship; then was it cleared from stem to stern, and cut from the grapplings, and let drift astern betwixt the other ships. Thereafter the king's men laid their ship alongside Onund's, and he was in the forepart thereof and fought manly; then the king's folk said, "Lo, a forward man in the forecastle there, let him have somewhat to mind him how that he was in this battle." Now Onund put one foot out over the bulwark and dealt a blow at a man, and even therewith a spear was aimed at him, and as he put the blow from him he bent backward withal, and one of the king's forecastle men smote at him, and the stroke took his leg below the knee and sheared it off, and forthwith made him unmeet for fight. Then fell the more part of the folk on board his ship; but Onund was brought to the ship of him who is called Thrand; he was the son of Biorn, and brother of Eyvind the Eastman; he was in the fight against King Harald and lay on the other board of Onund's ship.

But now, after these things, the more part of the fleet scattered in flight; Thrand and his men, with the other vikings, got them away each as he might, and sailed west over the Sea; Onund went with him, and Balk and Hallvard Sweeping; Onund was healed, but went with a wooden leg all his life after; therefore as long as he lived was he called Onund Treefoot.


2.   Battle of Hafrsfjord.
At that time Norway was very disturbed. Harald Shockhead, the son of Halfdan the Black, till then king of the Upplands, was aiming at the supreme kingship. He went into the North and fought many battles there, in which he was always victorious. Then he marched harrying through the territories to the South, bringing them into subjection wherever he came. On reaching Hordland he was opposed by a motley multitude led by Kjotvi the Wealthy, Thorir Long-chin, and Soti and King Sulki from South Rogaland. Geirmund Swarthyskin was then away in the West, beyond the sea, so he was not present at the battle, although Hordland belonged to his dominion.

Onund and his party had arrived that autumn from the western seas, and when Thorir and Kjotvi heard of their landing they sent envoys to ask for their aid, promising to treat them with honour.

They were very anxious for an opportunity of distinguishing themselves, so they joined Thorir's forces, and declared that they would be in the thickest part of the battle. They met King Harald in a fjord in Rogaland called Hafrsfjord. The forces on each side were very large, and the battle was one of the greatest ever fought in Norway. There are many accounts of it, for one always hears much about those people of whom the saga is told. Troops had come in from all the country around and from other countries as well, besides a multitude of vikings. Onund brought his ship alongside of that of Thorir Long-chin in the very middle of the battle. King Harald made for Thorir's ship, knowing him to be a terrible berserk, and very brave. The fighting was desperate on either side. Then the king ordered his berserks, the men called Wolfskins, forward. No iron could hurt them, and when they charged nothing could withstand them. Thorir defended himself bravely and fell on his ship fighting valiantly. The whole ship from stem to stern was cleared and her fastenings were cut, so that she fell out of the line of battle. Then they attacked Onund's ship, in the forepart of which he was standing and fighting manfully. The king's men said: "He bears himself well in the forecastle. Let us give him something to remind him of having been in the battle." Onund was stepping out with one foot on to the bulwark, and as he was striking they made a thrust at him with a spear; in parrying it he bent backwards, and at that moment a man on the forecastle of the king's ship struck him and took off his leg below the knee, disabling him at a blow. With him fell the greater number of his men. They carried him to a ship belonging to a man named Thrand, a son of Bjorn and brother of Eyvind the Easterner. He was fighting against King Harald, and his ship was lying on the other side of Onund's. Then there was a general flight. Thrand and the rest of the vikings escaped any way they could, and sailed away westwards. They took with them Onund and Balki and Hallvard Sugandi. Onund recovered and went about for the rest of his life with a wooden leg, wherefore he was called Onund Treefoot as long as he lived.


3.   At that time were many great men west over the Sea, such as had fled from their lands in Norway before King Harald, because he had made all those outlaws, who had met him in battle, and taken to him their possessions. So, when Onund was healed of his wounds, he and Thrand went to meet Geirmund Helskin, because he was the most famed of vikings west there over the Sea, and they asked him whether he had any mind to seek after that kingdom which he had in Hordaland, and offered him their fellowship herein; for they deemed they had a sore loss of their lands there, since Onund was both mighty and of great kin.

Geirmund said that so great had grown the strength of King Harald, that he deemed there was little hope that they would win honour in their war with him when men had been worsted, even when all the folk of the land had been drawn together; and yet withal that he was loth to become a king's thrall and pray for that which was his own; that he would find somewhat better to do than that; and now, too, he was no longer young. So Onund and his fellows went back to the South-isles, and there met many of their friends.

There was a man, Ufeigh by name, who was bynamed Grettir; he was the son of Einar, the son of Olvir Bairn-Carle; he was brother to Oleif the Broad, the father of Thormod Shaft; Steinulf was the name of Olvir Bairn-Carle's son, he was the father of Una whom Thorbiorn Salmon-Carle had to wife. Another son of Olvir Bairn-Carle was Steinmod, the father of Konal, who was the father of Aldis of Barra. The son of Konal was Steinmod, the father of Haldora, the wife of Eilif, the son of Ketil the Onehanded. Ufeigh Grettir had to wife Asny, the daughter of Vestar Haengson; and Asmund the Beardless and Asbiorn were the sons of Ufeigh Grettir, but his daughters were these, Aldis, and Asa, and Asvor. Ufeigh had fled away west over the Sea before Harald the king, and so had Thormod Shaft his kinsman, and had with them their kith and kin; and they harried in Scotland, and far and wide west beyond the sea.

Now Thrand and Onund Treefoot made west for Ireland to find Eyvind the Eastman, Thrand's brother, who was Land-ward along the coasts of Ireland; the mother of Eyvind was Hlif, the daughter of Rolf, son of Ingiald, the son of King Frodi; but Thrand's mother was Helga, the daughter of Ondott the Crow; Biorn was the name of the father of Eyvind and Thrand, he was the son of Rolf from Am; he had had to flee from Gothland, for that he had burned in his house Sigfast, the son-in-law of King Solver; and thereafter had he gone to Norway, and was the next winter with Grim the hersir, the son of Kolbiorn the Abasher. Now Grim had a mind to murder Biorn for his money, so he fled thence to Ondott the Crow, who dwelt in Hvinisfirth in Agdir; he received Biorn well, and Biorn was with him in the winter, but was in warfare in summer-tide, until Hlif his wife died; and after that Ondott gave Biorn Helga his daughter, and then Biorn left off warring.

Now thereon Eyvind took to him the war-ships of his father, and was become a great chief west over the Sea; he wedded Rafarta, the daughter of Kiarval, King of Ireland; their sons were Helgi the Lean and Snaebiorn.

So when Thrand and Onund came to the South-isles, there they met Ufeigh Grettir and Thormod Shaft, and great friendship grew up betwixt them, for each thought he had gained from hell the last who had been left behind in Norway while the troubles there were at the highest. But Onund was exceeding moody, and when Thrand marked it, he asked what he was brooding over in his mind. Onund answered, and sang this stave


"What joy since that day can I get
When shield-fire's thunder last I met;
Ah, too soon clutch the claws of ill;
For that axe-edge shall grieve me still.
In eyes of fighting man and thane,
My strength and manhood are but vain,
This is the thing that makes me grow
A joyless man; is it enow?"


Thrand answered that whereso he was, he would still be deemed a brave man, "And now it is meet for thee to settle down and get married, and I would put forth my word and help, if I but knew whereto thou lookest."

Onund said he did in manly wise, but that his good hope for matches of any gain was gone by now.

Thrand answered, "Ufeigh has a daughter who is called Asa, thitherward will we turn if it seem good to thee." Onund showed that he was willing enough hereto; so afterwards they talked the matter over with Ufeigh; he answered well, and said that he knew how that Onund was a man of great kin and rich of chattels; "but his lands," said he, "I put at low worth, nor do I deem him to be a hale man, and withal my daughter is but a child."

Thrand said, that Onund was a brisker man yet than many who were hale of both legs, and so by Thrand's help was this bargain struck; Ufeigh was to give his daughter but chattels for dowry, because those lands that were in Norway neither would lay down any money for.

A little after Thrand wooed the daughter of Thormod Shaft, and both were to sit in troth for three winters.

So thereafter they went a harrying in the summer, but were in Barra in the winter-tide.


3.   Meeting of defeated chiefs in the west and marriage of Onund.
There were then in the western parts many distinguished men who had fled from their homes in Norway before King Harald, for he declared all who fought against him outlaws, and seized their property. As soon as Onund had recovered from his wound, Thrand went with his party to Geirmund Swarthyskin, who was the most eminent of the vikings in the West. They asked him whether he was not going to try and regain his kingdom in Hordland, and offered to join him, hoping by this means to do something for their own properties, for Onund was very wealthy and his kindred very powerful. Geirmund answered that Harald had such a force that there was little hope of gaining any honour by fighting when the whole country had joined against him and been beaten. He had no mind, he said, to become the king's thrall, and to beg for that which he had once possessed in his own right. Seeing that he was no longer in the vigour of his youth he preferred to find some other occupation. So Onund and his party returned to the Southern Islands, where they met many of their friends.

There was a man named Ofeig, nicknamed Grettir. He was the son of Einar, the son of Olvir the Babyman. He was a brother of Oleif the Broad, the father of Thormod Shaft. Another son of Olvir was named Steinolf, the father of Una, whom Thorbjorn the Salmon-man married. A third son of Olvir was Steinmod, who was the father of Konal, the father of Alfdis of the Barra Isles. Konal's son was named Steimnod; he was the father of Halldora, whom Eilif, the son of Ketil the One-handed, married.

Ofeig Grettir married Asny, the daughter of Vestar, the son of Haeing. His sons were Asmund the Beardless and Asbjorn, and his daughters were named Aldis, Aesa, and Asvor. Ofeig had fled from the wrath of King Harald into the West over the sea, along with his kinsman Thormod Shaft and all their families. They ravaged far and wide in the western seas. Thrand and Onund Treefoot were going West to Ireland to join Thrand's brother, Eyvind the Easterner, who had command of the Irish defences. Eyvind's mother was named Hlif; she was the daughter of Hrolf, the son of Ingjald, the son of King Frodi, while Thrand's mother was Helga, the daughter of Ondott Crow. The father of Eyvind and Thrand was Bjorn, the son of Hrolf of Ar. He had had to leave Gautland because he had burnt in his house Sigfast the father-in-law of King Solvi. Then he went to Norway and spent the winter with Grim the Hersir, a son of Kolbjorn the Sneak, who wanted to murder him for his money. Thence Bjorn went to Ondott Crow, who lived in Hvinisfjord in Agdir. There he was well received, stayed the winter, and went campaigning with Ondott in the summer until his wife Hlif died. Eventually Ondott gave Bjorn his daughter Helga, and Bjorn then no longer went out to fight. Eyvind had taken over his father's ships and become a great chief in the western parts. He married Rafarta, the daughter of the Irish king Kjarval. Their sons were Helgi the Lean and Snaebjorn.

When Thrand and Onund came to the Southern Islands they found there Ofeig Grettir and Thormod Shaft, with whom they became very friendly, for each thought the others had risen from the dead, their last meeting having been in Norway when the war was at its worst. Onund was very silent, and Thrand, when he noticed it, asked what was on his mind. Onund answered with a verse:


"No joy is mine since in battle I fought.
Many the sorrows that o'er me lower.
Men hold me for nought; this thought is the worst
of all that oppresses my sorrowing heart."


Thrand said: "Why, you still seem as full of vigour as ever you were. You may yet settle down and marry. You shall have my good word and my interest if you will only tell me whom you fancy."

Onund said he behaved nobly; but said there had once been a time when his chances of making a profitable marriage had been better.

Thrand said: "Ofeig has a daughter named Aesa; we might mention it if you like."

Onund said he would like it, and soon afterwards Ofeig was approached on the subject. He received the proposal favourably, saying he knew the man to be of good lineage and to have some wealth in movable property, though his lands were not worth much. "But," he said, "I do not think he is very wise. Why, my daughter is quite a child."

Thrand said that Onund was more vigorous than many a man whose legs were sounder.

So with the aid of Thrand the terms were settled. Ofeig was to give his daughter a portion in cash, for neither would reckon anything for his lands in Norway. Soon afterwards Thrand was betrothed to the daughter of Thormod Shaft. Both the maids were to remain plighted for three years.

Then they went on fighting expeditions in the summer, remaining in the Barra Isles during the winter.


4.   There were two vikings called Vigbiod and Vestmar; they were South-islanders, and lay out both winter and summer; they had thirteen ships, and harried mostly in Ireland, and did many an ill deed there till Eyvind the Eastman took the land-wardship; thereafter they got them gone to the South-isles, and harried there and all about the firths of Scotland: against these went Thrand and Onund, and heard that they had sailed to that island, which is called Bute. Now Onund and his folk came there with five ships; and when the vikings see their ships and know how many they are, they deem they have enough strength gathered there, and take their weapons and lay their ships in the midst betwixt two cliffs, where was a great and deep sound; only on one side could they be set on, and that with but five ships at once. Now Onund was the wisest of men, and bade lay five ships up into the sound, so that he and his might have back way when they would, for there was plenty of sea-room astern. On one board of them too was a certain island, and under the lee thereof he let one ship lie, and his men brought many great stones forth on to the sheer cliffs above, yet might not be seen withal from the ships.

Now the vikings laid their ships boldly enough for the attack, and thought that the others quailed; and Vigbiod asked who they were that were in such jeopardy. Thrand said that he was the brother of Eyvind the Eastman, "and here beside me is Onund Treefoot my fellow."

Then laughed the vikings, and shouted


"Treefoot, Treefoot, foot of tree,
Trolls take thee and thy company."


"Yea, a sight it is seldom seen of us, that such men should go into battle as have no might over themselves."

Onund said that they could know nought thereof ere it were tried; and withal they laid their ships alongside one of the other, and there began a great fight, and either side did boldly. But when they came to handy blows, Onund gave back toward the cliff, and when the vikings saw this, they deemed he was minded to flee, and made towards his ship, and came as nigh to the cliff as they might. But in that very point of time those came forth on to the edge of the cliff who were appointed so to do, and sent at the vikings so great a flight of stones that they might not withstand it.

Then fell many of the viking-folk, and others were hurt so that they might not bear weapon; and withal they were fain to draw back, and might not, because their ships were even then come into the narrowest of the sound, and they were huddled together both by the ships and the stream; but Onund and his men set on fiercely, whereas Vigbiod was, but Thrand set on Vestmar, and won little thereby; so, when the folk were thinned on Vigbiod's ship, Onund's men and Onund himself got ready to board her: that Vigbiod saw, and cheered on his men without stint: then he turned to meet Onund, and the more part fled before him; but Onund bade his men mark how it went between them; for he was of huge strength. Now they set a log of wood under Onund's knee, so that he stood firmly enow; the viking fought his way forward along the ship till he reached Onund, and he smote at him with his sword, and the stroke took the shield, and sheared off all it met; and then the sword drove into the log that Onund had under his knee, and stuck fast therein; and Vigbiod stooped in drawing it out, and even therewith Onund smote at his shoulder in such wise, that he cut the arm from off him, and then was the viking unmeet for battle.

But when Vestmar knew that his fellow was fallen, he leaped into the furthermost ship and fled with all those who might reach her. Thereafter they ransacked the fallen men; and by then was Vigbiod nigh to his death: Onund went up to him, and sang


"Yea, seest thou thy wide wounds bleed?
What of shrinking didst thou heed
In the one-foot sling of gold?
What scratch here dost thou behold?
And in e'en such wise as this
Many an axe-breaker there is
Strong of tongue and weak of hand:
Tried thou wert, and might'st not stand."


So there they took much spoil and sailed back to Barra in the autumn.


4.   Fight with vikings Vigbjod and Vestmar.
There were two Vikings from the Southern Isles, named Vigbjod and Vestmar; they were abroad both summer and winter. They had eight ships, and harried mostly round the coast of Ireland, where they did many an evil deed until Eyvind undertook the defence of the coast, when they retired to the Hebrides to harry there, and right in to the Scotch firths. Thrand and Onund went out against them and learned that they had sailed to an island called Bot. Onund and Thrand followed them thither with five ships, and when the vikings sighted them and saw how many there were, they thought their own force was sufficient, so they took to their arms and advanced to the attack. Onund ordered his ships to take up a position between two rocks where there was a deep but narrow channel, open to attack from one side only, and by not more than five ships at once. Onund was a very wily man. He sent his five ships forward into the channel so that, as there was plenty of sea room behind them, they could easily retire by merely backing their oars. One ship he brought under an island lying on their beam, and carried a great stone to a place on the front of the rock where it could not be seen from the enemy's ships. The Vikings came boldly on, thinking they had caught them in a trap. Vigbjod asked who they were that he had hemmed in. Thrand answered that he was a brother of Eyvind the Easterner, and the man with him was his comrade, Onund Treefoot. The vikings laughed and said:


"Trolls take the rascal Treefoot
and lay him even with the ground.
Never yet did I see men go to battle who could not carry themselves."


Onund said that could not be known until it was tried. Then the ships came together. There was a great battle in which both sides fought bravely. When the battle was thick Onund ordered his ships to back their oars. The vikings seeing it thought they were taking to flight, and pushed on with all their might, coming under the rock just at the moment when the party which had been dispatched for that purpose arrived. They launched upon the vikings stones so huge that nothing could hold against them. A number of the vikings were killed, and others were so injured that they could fight no more. Then the vikings tried to escape, but could not, as their ships were in the narrowest part of the channel and were impeded both by the current and by the enemy's ships. Onund's men vigorously attacked the wing commanded by Vigbjod while Thrand engaged Vestmar, but effected little. When the men on Vigbjod's ship had been somewhat reduced, Onund's men, he himself with them, prepared to board her. On seeing that, Vigbjod spurred on his men resolutely. He turned against Onund, most of whose men gave way. Onund was a man of immense strength and he bade his followers observe how it fared with them. They shoved a log under the stump of his leg, so that he stood pretty firm. The viking dashed forward, reached Onund and hewed at him with his sword, which cut right through his shield and into the log beneath his leg, where it remained fixed. As Vigbjod bent down to pull his sword clear again, Onund dealt him a blow on his shoulder, severing his arm and disabling him. When Vestmar saw his comrade fall, he sprang on to the outermost ship and escaped along with all who could get on to her. Then they examined the dead. Vigbjod had already expired. Onund went up to him and said:


"Bloody thy wounds. Didst thou see me flee?
'One-leg' no hurt received from thee.
Braver are many in word than in deed.
Thou, slave, didst fail when it came to the trial."


They took a large quantity of booty and returned to the Barra Isles in the autumn.


5.   The summer after this they made ready to fare west to Ireland. But at that time Balk and Hallvard betook themselves from the lands west over the sea, and went out to Iceland, for from thence came tales of land good to choose. Balk settled land in Ramfirth and dwelt at either Balkstead; Hallvard settled Sweepingsfirth, and Hallwick out to the Stair, and dwelt there.

Now Thrand and Onund met Eyvind the Eastman, and he received his brother well; but when he knew that Onund was come with him, then he waxed wroth, and would fain set on him. Thrand bade him do it not, and said that it was not for him to wage war against Northmen, and least of all such men as fared peaceably. Eyvind said that he fared otherwise before, and had broken the peace of Kiarval the King, and that he should now pay for all. Many words the brothers had over this, till Thrand said at last that one fate should befall both him and Onund; and then Eyvind let himself be appeased.

So they dwelt there long that summer, and went on warfare with Eyvind, who found Onund to be the bravest of men. In the autumn they fared to the South-isles, and Eyvind gave to Thrand to take all the heritage of their father, if Biorn should die before Thrand.

Now were the twain in the South-isles until they wedded their wives, and some winters after withal.


5.   Visit of Onund and Thrand to Eyvind in Ireland.
The following summer they made ready for a voyage to the West, to Ireland. At the same time Balki and Hallvard sailed westwards, to Iceland, where they had heard that good land was available for occupation. Balki took up some land at Hrutafjord, and had his abode in two places called Balkastad. Hallvard occupied Sugandafjord and Skalavik as far as Stigi, where he lived.

Thrand and Onund went to visit Eyvind the Easterner, who welcomed joyfully his brother Thrand; but when he heard that Onund had also come, he became very angry and wanted to fight him. Thrand asked him not to do so, and said it would ill become him to quarrel with men from Norway, especially with such as had given no offence. Eyvind said that he had given offence before, when he made war on Kjarval the king, and that he should now pay for it. The brothers had much to say to each other about the matter, till at last Thrand said that he and Onund should share their fortune together. Then Eyvind allowed himself to be appeased. They stayed there a long time in the summer and went with Eyvind on his expeditions. Eyvind found Onund to be a man of the greatest valour. In the autumn they went to the Hebrides, and Eyvind made over to Thrand all his share in their father Bjorn's patrimony in the event of Bjorn dying before Thrand. They stayed in the Hebrides until they married and some years after.


6.   And now it came to pass that Biorn, the father of Thrand, died; and when Grim the hersir hears thereof he went to meet Ondott Crow, and claimed the goods left by Biorn; but Ondott said that Thrand had the heritage after his father; Grim said that Thrand was west over seas, and that Biorn was a Gothlander of kin, and that the king took the heritage of all outland men. Ondott said that he should keep the goods for the hands of Thrand, his daughter's son; and therewith Grim gat him gone, and had nought for his claiming the goods.

Now Thrand had news of his father's death, and straightway got ready to go from the South-isles, and Onund Treefoot with him; but Ufeigh Grettir and Thormod Shaft went out to Iceland with their kith and kin, and came out to the Eres in the south country, and dwelt the first winter with Thorbiorn Salmon-Carle.

Thereafter they settled Gnup-Wards'-rape, Ufeigh, the outward part, between Thwart-river and Kalf-river, and he dwelt at Ufeigh's-stead by Stone-holt; but Thormod settled the eastward part, and abode at Shaft-holt.

The daughters of Thormod were these: Thorvor, mother of Thorod the Godi of Hailti, and Thora, mother of Thorstein, the Godi, the father of Biarni the Sage.

Now it is to be said of Thrand and Onund that they sailed from the lands west over the Sea toward Norway, and had fair wind, and such speed, that no rumour of their voyage was abroad till they came to Ondott Crow.

He gave Thrand good welcome, and told him how Grim the hersir had claimed the heritage left by Biorn. "Meeter it seems to me, kinsman," said he, "that thou take the heritage of thy father and not king's-thralls; good luck has befallen thee, in that none knows of thy coming, but it misdoubts me that Grim will come upon one or other of us if he may; therefore I would that thou shouldst take the inheritance to thee, and get thee gone to other lands."

Thrand said that so he would do, he took to him the chattels and got away from Norway at his speediest; but before he sailed into the sea, he asked Onund Treefoot whether he would not make for Iceland with him; Onund said he would first go see his kin and friends in the south country.

Thrand said, "Then must we part now, but I would that thou shouldst aid my kin, for on them will vengeance fall if I get off clear; but to Iceland shall I go, and I would that thou withal shouldst make that journey."

Onund gave his word to all, and they parted in good love. So Thrand went to Iceland, and Ufeigh and Thormod Shaft received him well. Thrand dwelt at Thrand's-holt, which is west of Steer's-river.


6.   Death of Bjorn; disputes over his property in norway.
The next thing that happened was the death of Thrand's father Bjorn. When the news of it reached Grim the Hersir he proceeded against Ondott Crow and claimed Bjorn's estate. Ondott held Thrand to be the rightful heir of his father, but Grim contended that Thrand was away in the West. Bjorn, he said, came from Gautland, and the succession to the estate of all foreigners passed to the king. Ondott said that he would hold the property on behalf of Thrand, who was his daughter's son. Grim then departed, having effected nothing by his claim.

Thrand, when he heard of his father's death, prepared to leave the Hebrides, and Onund Treefoot decided to go with him. Ofeig Grettir and Thormod Shaft went to Iceland with all their belongings, landing at Eyrar in the South. They spent the first winter with Thorbjorn the Salmon-man, and then occupied Gnupverjahrepp. Ofeig took the outer part lying between the rivers Thvera and Kalfa, and lived at Ofeigsstad near Steinsholt, while Thormod took the eastern part, living at Skaptaholt. Thormod's daughters were named Thorvor and Thorve; the former afterwards became the mother of Thorodd the Godi at Hjalli, Thorve of Thorstein the Godi the father of Bjarni the Wise.

We now return to Thrand and Onund, who sailed back from the West to Norway. A strong wind blew in their favour, so that they arrived at the house of Ondott Crow before any one knew of their journey. He welcomed Thrand and told him of the claim which Grim the Hersir had raised for Bjorn's estate.

"To my thinking, kinsman," he said, "it is better that the property should go to you than to the king's thralls. It is a fortunate thing for you that no one knows of your having come here, for I expect that Grim will make an attack upon one or the other of us if he can. I should prefer if you would take over your property and stay in other countries."

Thrand said that he would do so. He took over the property and prepared to leave Norway. Before leaving he asked Onund Treefoot whether he would not come to Iceland. Onund said he wanted first to visit some of his relations and friends in the South.

"Then," said Thrand, "we must part. I should be glad if you would give my kinsmen your support, for our enemies will certainly try to take revenge upon them when I am gone. I am going to Iceland, and I want you to come there too."

Onund said he would come, and they parted with great friendship. Thrand went to Iceland, where he met with a welcome from Ofeig and Thormod Shaft. He took up his dwelling at Thrandarholt to the west of Thjorsa.


7.   Onund went south to Rogaland, and met there many of his kin and friends; he dwelt there in secret at a man's called Kolbein. Now he heard that the king had taken his lands to him and set a man thereover who was called Harek, who was a farmer of the king's; so on a night Onund went to him, and took him in his house; there Harek was led out and cut down, and Onund took all the chattels they found and burnt the homestead; and thereafter he abode in many places that winter.

But that autumn Grim the hersir slew Ondott Crow, because he might not get the heritage-money for the king; and that same night of his slaying, Signy, his wife, brought aboard ship all her chattels, and fared with her sons, Asmund and Asgrim, to Sighvat her father; but a little after sent her sons to Soknadale to Hedin her foster-father; but that seemed good to them but for a little while, and they would fain go back again to their mother; so they departed and came at Yule-tide to Ingiald the Trusty at Hvin; he took them in because of the urgency of Gyda his wife, and they were there the winter through. But in spring came Onund north to Agdir, because he had heard of the slaying of Ondott Crow; but when he found Signy he asked her what help she would have of him.

She said that she would fain have vengeance on Grim the hersir for the slaying of Ondott. Then were the sons of Ondott sent for, and when they met Onund Treefoot, they made up one fellowship together, and had spies abroad on the doings of Grim. Now in the summer was a great ale-drinking held at Grim's, because he had bidden to him Earl Audun; and when Onund and the sons of Ondott knew thereof they went to Grim's homestead and laid fire to the house, for they were come there unawares, and burnt Grim the hersir therein, and nigh thirty men, and many good things they took there withal. Then went Onund to the woods, but the sons of Ondott took a boat of Ingiald's, their foster-father's, and rowed away therein, and lay hid a little way off the homestead. Earl Audun came to the feast, even as had been settled afore, and there "missed friend from stead." Then he gathered men to him, and dwelt there some nights, but nought was heard of Onund and his fellows; and the Earl slept in a loft with two men.

Onund had full tidings from the homestead, and sent after those brothers; and, when they met, Onund asked them whether they would watch the farm or fall on the Earl; but they chose to set on the Earl. So they drove beams at the loft-doors and broke them in; then Asmund caught hold of the two who were with the Earl, and cast them down so hard that they were well-nigh slain; but Asgrim ran at the Earl, and bade him render up weregild for his father, since he had been in the plot and the onslaught with Grim the hersir when Ondott Crow was slain. The Earl said he had no money with him there, and prayed for delay of that payment. Then Asgrim set his spear-point to the Earl's breast and bade him pay there and then; so the Earl took a chain from his neck, and three gold rings, and a cloak of rich web, and gave them up. Asgrim took the goods and gave the Earl a name, and called him Audun Goaty.

But when the bonders and neighbouring folk were ware that war was come among them, they went abroad and would bring help to the Earl, and a hard fight there was, for Onund had many men, and there fell many good bonders and courtmen of the Earl. Now came the brothers, and told how they had fared with the Earl, and Onund said that it was ill that he was not slain, "that would have been somewhat of a revenge on the King for our loss at his hands of fee and friends." They said that this was a greater shame to the Earl; and therewith they went away up to Sorreldale to Eric Alefain, a king's lord, and he took them in for all the winter.

Now at Yule they drank turn and turn about with a man called Hallstein, who was bynamed Horse; Eric gave the first feast, well and truly, and then Hallstein gave his, but thereat was there bickering between them, and Hallstein smote Eric with a deer-horn; Eric gat no revenge therefor, but went home straightway. This sore misliked the sons of Ondott, and a little after Asgrim fared to Hallstein's homestead, and went in alone, and gave him a great wound, but those who were therein sprang up and set on Asgrim. Asgrim defended himself well and got out of their hands in the dark; but they deemed they had slain him.

Onund and Asmund heard thereof and supposed him dead, but deemed they might do nought. Eric counselled them to make for Iceland, and said that would be of no avail to abide there in the land (i.e. in Norway), as soon as the king should bring matters about to his liking. So this they did, and made them ready for Iceland and had each one ship. Hallstein lay wounded, and died before Onund and his folk sailed. Kolbein withal, who is afore mentioned, went abroad with Onund.


7.   Murder of Ondott Crow, and the vengeance therefor.
Onund went to Rogaland in the South and visited many of his relations and friends. He lived there in concealment with a man named Kolbeinn. He there learned that King Harald had taken all his property and given it into the charge of a man named Harekr, one of his officials. Onund went by night to Harekr's house and caught him at home; he was led to execution. Then Onund took possession of all the loose property which he found and burnt the building.

That autumn Grim the Hersir murdered Ondott Crow because he had not succeeded in getting the property for the king. Ondott's wife Signy carried off all their loose property that same night to a ship and escaped with her sons Asmund and Asgrim to her father Sighvat. A little later she sent her sons to Hedin, her foster-father in Soknadal, where they remained for a time and then wanted to return to their mother. They left at last, and at Yule-tide came to Ingjald the Trusty at Hvin. His wife Gyda persuaded him to take them in, and they spent the winter there. In the spring Onund came to northern Agdir, having learned of the murder of Ondott. He met Signy and asked her what assistance they would have of him. She said they were most anxious to punish Grim for the death of Ondott. So the sons were sent for, and when they met Onund Treefoot they all joined together and had Grim's doings closely watched.

In the summer there was a beer-brewing at Grim's for a jarl named Audun, whom he had invited. When Onund and the sons of Ondott heard of it, they appeared at his house unexpectedly and set fire to it. Grim the Hersir and about thirty men were burnt in the house. They captured a quantity of valuables. Then Onund went into the forest, while the two brothers took the boat of their foster-father Ingjald, rowed away and lay in hiding a little way off. Soon jarl Audun appeared, on his way to the feast, as had been arranged, but on arriving he missed his host. So he collected his men around him and stayed there a few nights, quite unaware of Onund and his companions. He slept in a loft with two other men. Onund knew everything that was going on in the house and sent for the two brothers to come to him. On their arrival he asked them whether they preferred to keep watch on the house or to attack the jarl. They chose to attack. They then battered the entrance of the loft with beams until the door gave way. Asmund seized the two men who were with the jarl and threw them to the ground with such violence that they were well-nigh killed.

Asgrim rushed at the jarl and demanded of him weregild for his father, for he had been in league with Grim and took part in the attack when Ondott was murdered. The jarl said he had no money about him and asked for time. Asgrim then placed the point of his spear against his breast and ordered him to pay up on the spot. Then the jarl took a necklace from his neck and gave it to him with three gold rings and a velvet mantle. Asgrim took the things and bestowed a name upon the jarl. He called him Audun Nannygoat.

When the farmers and people about heard of the disturbances they all came out to help the jarl. Onund had a large force with him, and there was a great battle in which many a good farmer and many a follower of the jarl were slain. The brothers returned to Onund and reported what had occurred with the jarl. Onund said it was a pity they had not killed him. It would, he said, have been something to make up for the losses which he had suffered from King Harald. They said the disgrace was far worse for the jarl as it was, and they went off to Surnadal to Eirik Beery, a Landman there, who took them all in for the winter. At Yule-tide they had a great drinking bout with a man named Hallsteinn, nicknamed Stallion. Eirik opened the feast and entertained them generously. Then it was Hallsteinn's turn, and they began to quarrel. Hallsteinn struck Eirik with a deer's horn, for which Eirik got no revenge, but had to go home with it, to the great annoyance of Ondott's sons. A little later Asgrim went to Hallsteinn's house and gave him a severe wound. All the people who were present started up and attacked Asgrim. He defended himself vigorously and escaped in the dark, leaving them under the belief that they had killed him. Onund and Asmund, on hearing that Asgrim had been killed, were at a loss what they could do in the matter. Eirik's advice was that they should betake themselves to Iceland, for it would never do for them to remain in the land where the king could get at them. This they determined to do. Each of them had his own ship and they made ready for the voyage to Iceland. Hallsteinn was laid low with his wound and died before Onund sailed with his party. Kolbeinn, the man who was mentioned before, went in the ship with Onund.


8.   Now Onund and Asmund sailed into the sea when they were ready, and held company together; then sang Onund this stave


"Meet was I in days agone
For storm, wherein the Sweeping One,
Midst rain of swords, and the darts' breath,
Blew o'er all a gale of death.
Now a maimed, one-footed man
On rollers' steed through waters wan
Out to Iceland must I go;
Ah, the skald is sinking low."


They had a hard voyage of it and much of baffling gales from the south, and drove north into the main; but they made Iceland, and were by then come to the north off Longness when they found where they were: so little space there was betwixt them that they spake together; and Asmund said that they had best sail to Islefirth, and thereto they both agreed; then they beat up toward the land, and a south-east wind sprang up; but when Onund and his folk laid the ship close to the wind, the yard was sprung; then they took in sail, and therewith were driven off to sea; but Asmund got under the lee of Brakeisle, and there lay till a fair wind brought him into Islefirth; Helgi the Lean gave him all Kraeklings' lithe, and he dwelt at South Glass-river; Asgrim his brother came out some winters later and abode at North Glass-river; he was the father of Ellida-Grim, the father of Asgrim Ellida-Grimson.


8.   Onund and Asmund sail to Iceland.
Onund and Asmund set sail directly when they were ready and their ships kept together. Onund said:


"Hallvard and I were aforetime deemed
worthy in storm of swords to bear us.
With one foot now I step on the ship
towards Iceland. The poet's day is o'er."


They had a rough passage with cross winds, mostly from the south, so that they drifted away to the north. They made Iceland right in the North, at Langanes, where they regained their reckonings. The ships were near enough to each other for them to speak together. Asmund said they had better make for Eyjafjord, and this was agreed to. They kept under the land and heavy weather set in from the south-east. Just as Onund was tacking, the yard was carried away; they lowered the sail and were driven out to sea. Asmund got under the lee of Hrisey, where he waited until a fair wind set in which took him up to Eyjafjord. Helgi the Lean gave him the whole of Kraeklingahlid, and he lived at South-Glera. A few years later his brother Asgrim came to Iceland and took up his residence at North-Glera. His son was Ellidagrim the father of Asgrim.


9.   Now it is to be told of Onund Treefoot that he drave out to sea for certain days, but at last the wind got round to the north, and they sailed for land: then those knew who had been there before that they had come west off the Skagi; then they sailed into Strand-Bay, and near to the South-Strands, and there rowed toward them six men in a ten-oared boat, who hailed the big ship, and asked who was their captain; Onund named himself, and asked whence they came; they said they were house-carles of Thorvald, from Drangar; Onund asked if all land through the Strands had been settled; they said there was little unsettled in the inner Strands, and none north thereof. Then Onund asked his shipmates, whether they would make for the west country, or take such as they had been told of; they chose to view the land first. So they sailed in up the bay, and brought to in a creek off Arness, then put forth a boat and rowed to land. There dwelt a rich man, Eric Snare, who had taken land betwixt Ingolfs-firth, and Ufoera in Fishless; but when Eric knew that Onund was come there, he bade him take of his hands whatso he would, but said that there was little that had not been settled before. Onund said he would first see what there was, so they went landward south past some firths, till they came to Ufoera; then said Eric, "Here is what there is to look to; all from here is unsettled, and right in to the settlements of Biorn." Now a great mountain went down the eastern side of the firth, and snow had fallen thereon, Onund looked on that mountain, and sang


"Brand-whetter's life awry doth go.
Fair lands and wide full well I know;
Past house, and field, and fold of man,
The swift steed of the rollers ran:
My lands, and kin, I left behind,
That I this latter day might find,
Coldback for sunny meads to have;
Hard fate a bitter bargain drave."


Eric answered, "Many have lost so much in Norway, that it may not be bettered: and I think withal that most lands in the main-settlements are already settled, and therefore I urge thee not to go from hence; but I shall hold to what I spake, that thou mayst have whatso of my lands seems meet to thee." Onund said, that he would take that offer, and so he settled land out from Ufoera over the three creeks, Byrgis Creek, Kolbein's Creek, and Coldback Creek, up to Coldback Cleft. Thereafter Eric gave him all Fishless, and Reekfirth, and all Reekness, out on that side of the firth; but as to drifts there was nought set forth, for they were then so plentiful that every man had of them what he would. Now Onund set up a household at Coldback, and had many men about him; but when his goods began to grow great he had another stead in Reekfirth. Kolbein dwelt at Kolbein's Creek. So Onund abode in peace for certain winters.


9.   Onund settles in Kaldbak.
Onund Treefoot was driven away from the shore for several days, after which the wind shifted and blew towards the land. Then they made land again, which those of them who had been there before recognised as the western coast of the Skagi peninsula. They sailed in to Strandafloi, almost to Sudrstrandir. There came rowing towards them a ten-oared boat with six men on board, who hailed the sea-going ship and asked who was their captain. Onund told them his name and asked whence they came. They said they were the men of Thorvald from Drangar. Then Onund asked whether all the land round that coast was occupied; they answered there was very little left at Sudrstrandir and none at all in the North. So Onund asked his men whether they would seek some land further to the West or take that of which they had just been told. They said they would first explore a little further. They sailed in along the coast of the bay and anchored off a creek near Arnes, where they put off in a boat to the shore.

Here dwelt a wealthy man named Eirik Snare, who had taken the land between Ingolfsfjord and Ofaera in Veidileysa. On hearing that Onund had arrived in those parts, he offered to let him have such portion as he needed from his own lands, adding that there was little land which had not already been taken up. Onund said he would first like to see what there was.

Then they went further into the bay past some fjords and came to Ofaera, where Eirik said: "Here is what there is to see. From here down to the lands of Bjorn is unoccupied." A high range of mountains, on which snow had fallen, rose from beside the river. Onund looked at the mountains and spoke a verse:


"My lands and my might have drifted away
as drifts the ship on the ocean.
My friends and my home I have left behind me,
and bartered my acres for Kaldbak."


"Many a man," answered Eirik, "has lost so much in Norway that it may not be mended. I expect too that nearly all the lands in the main districts have been taken, so that I will not urge you to leave these parts and seek elsewhere. I will keep to my word and let you have whatever lands of my own you may require."

Onund said he would take advantage of his offer, and in the end he took some of the Ofaera land and the three creeks Byrgisvik, Kolbeinsvik, and Kaldbaksvik as far as Kaldbak's Cliff. Afterwards Eirik gave him Veidileysa with Reykjarfjord and the outer part of Reykjanes on that side. Nothing was settled about the drift which came to the coast, because there was so much of it that every one could have what he wanted. Onund made his home in Kaldbak and had a large household. His property increased and he had another house in Reykjarfjord. Kolbeinn lived in Kolbeinsvik and for some years Onund lived quietly at home.


10.   Now Onund was so brisk a man, that few, even of whole men, could cope with him; and his name withal was well known throughout the land, because of his forefathers. After these things, befell that strife betwixt Ufeigh Grettir and Thorbiorn Earl's-champion, which had such ending, that Ufeigh fell before Thorbiorn in Grettir's-Gill, near Heel. There were many drawn together to the sons of Ufeigh concerning the blood-suit, and Onund Treefoot was sent for, and rode south in the spring, and guested at Hvamm, with Aud the Deeply-wealthy, and she gave him exceeding good welcome, because he had been with her west over the Sea. In those days, Olaf Feilan, her son's son, was a man full grown, and Aud was by then worn with great eld; she bade Onund know that she would have Olaf, her kinsman, married, and was fain that he should woo Aldis of Barra, who was cousin to Asa, whom Onund had to wife. Onund deemed the matter hopeful, and Olaf rode south with him. So when Onund met his friends and kin-in-law they bade him abide with them: then was the suit talked over, and was laid to Kialarnes Thing, for as then the Althing was not yet set up. So the case was settled by umpiredom, and heavy weregild came for the slayings, and Thorbiorn Earl's-champion was outlawed. His son was Solmund, the father of Kari the Singed; father and son dwelt abroad a long time afterwards.

Thrand bade Onund and Olaf to his house, and so did Thormod Shaft, and they backed Olaf's wooing, which was settled with ease, because men knew how mighty a woman Aud was. So the bargain was made, and, so much being done, Onund rode home, and Aud thanked him well for his help to Olaf. That autumn Olaf Feilan wedded Aldis of Barra; and then died Aud the Deeply-wealthy, as is told in the story of the Laxdale men.


10.   Ofeig Grettir is killed. Visit of Onund to Aud the Deep-minded.
Onund was a man of such valour that few, even of those whose limbs were sound, could measure themselves against him. His name, too, was renowned throughout the whole country on account of his ancestry. It happened that a dispute arose between Ofeig Grettir and one Thorbjorn called Jarlakappi, which ended in Ofeig being killed by Thorbjorn in Grettisgeil near Haell. The feud was taken up by Ofeig's sons who assembled a large force of men. Onund Treefoot was sent for, and in the spring he rode South to Hvamm, where he stayed with Aud the Deep-Minded. He had been with her over the sea in the West, and she received him with welcome. Her grandson, Olaf Feilan, was then grown up, and Aud was very infirm. She consulted Onund concerning her kinsman Olaf, for whom she wished to ask in marriage Alfdis of the Barra Isles, the cousin of Onund's wife Aesa. Onund thought it a very suitable match, and Olaf rode with him to the South. Then Onund met friends and kinsmen, who made him their guest. The matter of the dispute was talked over between them, and finally laid before the Kjalarnes Thing, for the All-Thing had not yet been established. Eventually it was settled by arbitration and heavy weregilds were imposed for the murder. Thorbjorn Jarlakappi was exiled. His son was Solmund, the father of Svidukari. These kinsmen were long abroad after that. Thrand invited Onund and Olaf with his party to stay with him, as did Thormod Shaft. The matter of Olaf's marriage was then pressed, and an agreement easily arrived at, for Aud's rank and influence were well known to them. The settlement was arranged and Onund's party rode home again. Aud thanked him for his aid in behalf of Olaf, who married Alfdis of the Barra Isles that autumn. Then Aud the Deep-Minded died, as is told in the Laxdaela Saga.


11.   Onund and Asa had two sons; the elder was called Thorgeir, the younger Ufeigh Grettir; but Asa soon died. Thereafter Onund got to wife a woman called Thordis, the daughter of Thorgrim, from Gnup in Midfirth, and akin to Midfirth Skeggi. Of her Onund had a son called Thorgrim; he was early a big man, and a strong, wise, and good withal in matters of husbandry. Onund dwelt on at Coldback till he was old, then he died in his bed, and is buried in Treefoot's barrow; he was the briskest and lithest of one-footed men who have ever lived in Iceland.

Now Thorgrim took the lead among the sons of Onund, though others of them were older than he; but when he was twenty-five years old he grew grey-haired, and therefore was he bynamed Greypate; Thordis, his mother, was afterwards wedded north in Willowdale, to Audun Skokul, and their son was Asgeir, of Asgeir's-River. Thorgrim Greypate and his brothers had great possessions in common, nor did they divide the goods between them. Now Eric, who farmed at Arness, as is aforesaid, had to wife Alof, daughter of Ingolf, of Ingolfs-firth; and Flosi was the name of their son, a hopeful man, and of many friends. In those days three brothers came out hither, Ingolf, Ufeigh, and Eyvind, and settled those three firths that are known by their names, and there dwelt afterwards. Olaf was the name of Eyvind's son, he first dwelt at Eyvind's-firth, and after at Drangar, and was a man to hold his own well.

Now there was no strife betwixt these men while their elders were alive; but when Eric died, it seemed to Flosi, that those of Coldback had no lawful title to the lands which Eric had given to Onund; and from this befell much ill-blood betwixt them; but Thorgrim and his kin still held their lands as before, but they might not risk having sports together. Now Thorgeir was head-man of the household of those brothers in Reekfirth, and would ever be rowing out a-fishing, because in those days were the firths full of fish; so those in the Creek made up their plot; a man there was, a house-carle of Flosi in Arness, called Thorfin, him Flosi sent for Thorgeir's head, and he went and hid himself in the boat-stand; that morning, Thorgeir got ready to row out to sea, and two men with him, one called Hamund, the other Brand. Thorgeir went first, and had on his back a leather bottle and drink therein. It was very dark, and as he walked down from the boat-stand Thorfin ran at him, and smote him with an axe betwixt the shoulders, and the axe sank in, and the bottle squeaked, but he let go the axe, for he deemed that there would be little need of binding up, and would save himself as swiftly as might be; and it is to be told of him that he ran off to Arness, and came there before broad day, and told of Thorgeir's slaying, and said that he should have need of Flosi's shelter, and that the only thing to be done was to offer atonement, "for that of all things," said he, "is like to better our strait, great as it has now grown."

Flosi said that he would first hear tidings; "and I am minded to think that thou art afraid after thy big deed."

Now it is to be said of Thorgeir, that he turned from the blow as the axe smote the bottle, nor had he any wound; they made no search for the man because of the dark, so they rowed over the firths to Coldback, and told tidings of what had happed; thereat folk made much mocking, and called Thorgeir, Bottleback, and that was his by-name ever after.

And this was sung withal


"The brave men of days of old,
Whereof many a tale is told,
Bathed the whiting of the shield,
In wounds' house on battle-field;
But the honour-missing fool,
Both sides of his slaying tool,
Since faint heart his hand made vain.
With but curdled milk must stain."



11.   Death of Onund. Disputes between the sons of Onund and of Eirik.
Onund and Aesa had two sons; the elder was named Thorgeir, the younger Ofeig Grettir. Soon afterwards Aesa died and Onund married a second wife, Thordis Thorgrim's daughter of Gnup in Midfjord, a kinsman of Skeggi of Midfjord. By her Onund had a son named Thorgrim, who grew up quickly to manhood, tall and strong, wise and a good manager. Onund continued to live at Kaldbak until his old age. He died a natural death and lies in Treefoot's howe. He was the boldest and most active one-legged man that ever came to Iceland.

Among Onund's sons Thorgrim was the foremost, although the others were older. When he was twenty-five years old his hair was grey, whence they nick-named him Greyhead. His mother Thordis married again, taking as her second husband Audun Skokull. They had a son named Asgeir of Asgeirsa. Thorgrim Greyhead and his brothers had a large property, which they managed together without dividing it up.

Eirik lived, as was mentioned, at Arnes. He had married Alof, the daughter of Ingolf of Ingolfsfjord, by whom he had a son named Flosi, a very promising young man with many friends.

There came to that part of Iceland three brothers, named Ingolf, Ofeig, and Eyvind, and took the three fjords which are called by their names, where they lived. Eyvind had a son named Olaf. He at first lived at Eyvindsfjord, but went later to Drangar. He was a most capable man.

So long as their fathers were living no disputes arose among these men; but when Eirik was dead it occurred to Flosi that those of Kaldbak had no legal title to the lands which Eirik had given to Onund. Out of this serious dissensions arose between them. Thorgrim and his brothers continued in possession of the lands as before, but they would not join in games together. Thorgeir, the eldest brother, was managing the farm at Reykjarfjord, and often rowed out fishing, as the fjords were full of fish. The men of Vik now laid their plans. Flosi had a man in Arnes named Thorfinn, and sent him to fetch Thorgeir's head. This man hid himself in the boatshed. One morning when Thorgeir was preparing to row out with two other men, one of whom was named Brand, Thorgeir was walking ahead with a leather skin on his back containing some drink. It was very dark, and as he passed the boat-house Thorfinn sprang out upon him and dealt him a blow with an axe between his shoulders. The axe went into something and made a squeaking noise. Thorfinn let go his axe, feeling quite sure that no bandages would be needed, and being very anxious to escape as fast as he could. He ran North, and reaching Arnes before the day had quite broken, said that he had killed Thorgeir and that Flosi must protect him. The only thing to be done was to offer some compensation in money. "That," he said, "will be the best thing for us after such a terrible piece of work."

Flosi said he must first learn more about it, and that he thought Thorfinn seemed very frightened after his doughty deed.

We must now tell what had happened to Thorgeir. He turned round when he was struck, but the blow had gone into the leather bottle, and he was unhurt. They could make no search for the man because it was dark, so they rowed on down the fjord to Kaldbak, where they told what had happened. People made great game of the affair and called him Thorgeir Bottleback, a name which stuck to him ever after. A verse was made:


"In days gone by men bathed their blades
in the streaming gore of a foeman's wound.
But now a wretch of all honour bereft
reddens his dastard axe in whey."



12.   In those days befell such hard times in Iceland, that nought like them has been known there; well-nigh all gettings from the sea, and all drifts, came to an end; and this went on for many seasons. One autumn certain chapmen in a big ship were drifted thither, and were wrecked there in the Creek, and Flosi took to him four or five of them; Stein was the name of their captain; they were housed here and there about the Creek, and were minded to build them a new ship from the wreck; but they were unhandy herein, and the ship was over small stem and stern, but over big amidships.

That spring befell a great storm from the north, which lasted near a week, and after the storm men looked after their drifts. Now there was a man called Thorstein, who dwelt at Reekness; he found a whale driven up on the firthward side of the ness, at a place called Rib-Skerries, and the whale was a big whale.

Thorstein sent forthwith a messenger to Wick to Flosi, and so to the nighest farm-steads. Now Einar was the name of the farmer at Combe, and he was a tenant of those of Coldback, and had the ward of their drifts on that side of the firths; and now withal he was ware of the stranding of the whale: and he took boat and rowed past the firths to Byrgis Creek, whence he sent a man to Coldback; and when Thorgrim and his brothers heard that, they got ready at their swiftest, and were twelve in a ten-oared boat, and Kolbein's sons fared with them, Ivar and Leif, and were six altogether; and all farmers who could bring it about went to the whale.

Now it is to be told of Flosi that he sent to his kin in Ingolfs-firth and Ufeigh's-firth, and for Olaf Eyvindson, who then dwelt at Drangar; and Flosi came first to the whale, with the men of Wick, then they fell to cutting up the whale, and what was cut was forthwith sent ashore; near twenty men were thereat at first, but soon folk came thronging thither.

Therewith came those of Coldback in four boats, and Thorgrim laid claim to the whale and forbade the men of Wick to shear, allot, or carry off aught thereof: Flosi bade him show if Eric had given Onund Treefoot the drift in clear terms, or else he said he should defend himself with arms. Thorgrim thought he and his too few, and would not risk an onset; but therewithal came a boat rowing up the firth, and the rowers therein pulled smartly. Soon they came up, and there was Swan, from Knoll in Biornfirth, and his house-carles; and straightway, when he came, he bade Thorgrim not to let himself be robbed; and great friends they had been heretofore, and now Swan offered his aid. The brothers said they would take it, and therewith set on fiercely; Thorgeir Bottleback first mounted the whale against Flosi's house-carles; there the aforenamed Thorfin was cutting the whale, he was in front nigh the head, and stood in a foot-hold he had cut for himself; then Thorgeir said, "Herewith I bring thee back thy axe," and smote him on the neck, and struck off his head.

Flosi was up on the foreshore when he saw that, and he egged on his men to meet them hardily; now they fought long together, but those of Coldback had the best of it: few men there had weapons except the axes wherewith they were cutting up the whale, and some choppers. So the men of Wick gave back to the foreshores; the Eastmen had weapons, and many a wound they gave; Stein, the captain, smote a foot off Ivar Kolbeinson, but Leif, Ivar's brother, beat to death a fellow of Stein's with a whale-rib; blows were dealt there with whatever could be caught at, and men fell on either side. But now came up Olaf and his men from Drangar in many boats, and gave help to Flosi, and then those of Coldback were borne back overpowered; but they had loaded their boats already, and Swan bade get aboard and thitherward they gave back, and the men of Wick came on after them; and when Swan was come down to the sea, he smote at Stein, the sea-captain, and gave him a great wound, and then leapt aboard his boat; Thorgrim wounded Flosi with a great wound and therewith got away; Olaf cut at Ufeigh Grettir, and wounded him to death; but Thorgeir caught Ufeigh up and leapt aboard with him. Now those of Coldback row east by the firths, and thus they parted; and this was sung of their meeting


At Rib-skerries, I hear folk tell,
A hard and dreadful fray befell,
For men unarmed upon that day
With strips of whale-fat made good play.
Fierce steel-gods these in turn did meet
With blubber-slices nowise sweet;
Certes a wretched thing it is
To tell of squabbles such as this.


After these things was peace settled between them, and these suits were laid to the Althing; there Thorod the Godi and Midfirth-Skeggi, with many of the south-country folk, aided those of Coldback; Flosi was outlawed, and many of those who had been with him; and his moneys were greatly drained because he chose to pay up all weregild himself. Thorgrim and his folk could not show that they had paid money for the lands and drifts which Flosi claimed. Thorkel Moon was lawman then, and he was bidden to give his decision; he said that to him it seemed law, that something had been paid for those lands, though mayhap not their full worth; "For so did Steinvor the Old to Ingolf, my grandfather, that she had from him all Rosmwhale-ness and gave therefor a spotted cloak, nor has that gift been voided, though certes greater flaws be therein: but here I lay down my rede," said he, "that the land be shared, and that both sides have equal part therein; and henceforth be it made law, that each man have the drifts before his own lands." Now this was done, and the land was so divided that Thorgrim and his folk had to give up Reekfirth and all the lands by the firth-side, but Combe they were to keep still. Ufeigh was atoned with a great sum; Thorfin was unatoned, and boot was given to Thorgeir for the attack on his life; and thereafter were they set at one together. Flosi took ship for Norway with Stein, the ship-master, and sold his lands in the Wick to Geirmund Hiuka-timber, who dwelt there afterwards. Now that ship which the chapmen had made was very broad of beam, so that men called it the Treetub, and by that name is the creek known: but in that keel did Flosi go out, but was driven back to Axefirth, whereof came the tale of Bodmod, and Grimulf, and Gerpir.


12.   Battle at Rifsker.
At that time there came over Iceland a famine the like of which had never been seen before. Nearly all the fisheries failed, and also the drift wood. So it continued for many years.

One autumn some traders in a sea-going ship, who had been driven out of their course, were wrecked at Vik. Flosi took in four or five of them with their captain, named Steinn. They all found shelter in the neighbourhood of Vik and tried to rig up a ship out of the wreckage, but were not very successful. The ship was too narrow in the bow and stern and too broad amidships. In the spring a northerly gale set in which lasted nearly a week, after which men began to look for drift.

There was a man living in Reykjanes named Thorsteinn. He found a whale stranded on the south side of the promontory at the place now called Rifsker. It was a large rorqual, and he at once sent word by a messenger to Flosi in Vik and to the nearest farms.

At Gjogr lived a man named Einar, a tenant of the Kaldbak men whom they employed to look after the drift on that side of the fjord. He got to know of the whale having been stranded and at once rowed across the fjord in his boat to Byrgisvik, whence he sent a messenger to Kaldbak. When Thorgrim and his brother heard the news they got ready to go with all speed to the spot. There were twelve of them in a ten-oared boat, and six others, with Ivar and Leif, sons of Kolbeinn. All the farmers who could get away went to the whale.

In the meantime Flosi had sent word to his kinsmen in the North at Ingolfsfjord and Ofeigsfjord and to Olaf the son of Eyvind who lived at Drangar. The first to arrive were Flosi and the men of Vik, who at once began to cut up the whale, carrying on shore the flesh as it was cut. At first there were about twenty men, but more came thronging in. Then there came the men of Kaldbak with four ships. Thorgrim laid claim to the whale and forbade the men of Vik to cut, distribute, or carry away any portion of it. Flosi called upon him to show proof that Eirik had in express words given over the drift to Onund; if not, he said he would prevent them by force. Thorgrim saw that he was outnumbered and would not venture on fighting. Then there came a ship across the fjords, the men rowing with all their might. They came up; it was Svan of Hol from Bjarnarfjord with his men, and he at once told Thorgrim not to let himself be robbed. The two men had been great friends, and Svan offered Thorgrim his aid, which the brothers accepted, and they attacked valiantly. Thorgeir Bottleback was the first to get on to the whale where Flosi's men were. Thorfinn, who was spoken of before, was cutting it up, standing near the head on the place where he had been carving. "Here I bring you your axe," said Thorgeir. Then he struck at Thorfinn's neck and cut off his head. Flosi was up on the beach and saw it. He urged on his men to give it them back. They fought for a long time and the Kaldbak people were getting the best of it. Most of them had no weapons but the axes with which they were cutting up the whale and short knives. The men of Vik were driven from the whale on to the sandbanks. The men from the East, however, were armed and able to deal wounds. Their captain Steinn cut off the leg of Kolbeinn's son Ivar, and Ivar's brother Leif beat one of Steinn's men to death with a rib of the whale. Then they fought with anything they could get, and men were slain on both sides. At last Olaf came up with a number of ships from Drangar and joined Flosi; the men of Kaldbak were then overpowered by numbers. They had already loaded their ships, and Svan told them to get on board. They therefore retired towards the ships, the men of Vik after them. Svan on reaching the sea struck at Steinn their captain, wounding him badly, and then sprang into his own ship. Thorgrim gave Flosi a severe wound and escaped. Olaf wounded Ofeig Grettir fatally, but Thorgeir carried him off and sprang on to his ship with him. The Kaldbak men rowed into the fjord and the two parties separated.

The following verse was composed on these doings:


"Hard were the blows which were dealt at Rifsker;
no weapons they had but steaks of the whale.
They belaboured each other with rotten blubber.
Unseemly methinks is such warfare for men."


After this they made peace, and the dispute was laid before the All-Thing. On the side of the Kaldbak men were Thorodd the Godi, Skeggi of Midfjord, and many others from the South. Flosi was exiled, along with several others who had been with him. He was put to great expense, for he insisted upon paying all the fines himself. Thorgrim and his brothers were unable to show that they had paid any money either for the land or for the drift which Flosi claimed. The Lawman was Thorkell Mani, and the question was referred to him. He declared that by law something must have been paid, though not necessarily the full value.

"There was a case in point," he said, "between my grandfather Ingolf and a woman named Steinvor the Old. He gave her the whole of Rosmhvalanes and she gave him a dirty cloak for it; the transfer was afterwards held to be valid. That was a much more important affair than this. My advice is that the land be divided in equal portions between the two; and henceforward it shall be legally established that all drift shall be the property of the owner of the land upon which it has been stranded."

This was agreed to. Thorgrim and his brothers were to give up Reykjarfjord with all on that side, and were to keep Kamb. For Ofeig a large sum of money was paid, and Thorfinn was assessed at nothing at all; Thorgeir received compensation for the attack made upon his life, and all the parties were reconciled. Flosi went to Norway with Steinn the captain and sold his lands in Vik to Geirmund Hvikatimbr, who lived there thenceforward.

The ship which Steinn's sailors had built was rather a tub. She was called Trekyllir--Tree-sack. Flosi went on his journey in her, but was driven back to Oxarfjord; out of this arose the saga of Bodmod the Champion and Grimolf.


13.   Now after this the brothers Thorgrim and Thorgeir shared their possessions. Thorgrim took the chattels and Thorgeir the land; Thorgrim betook himself to Midfirth and bought land at Biarg by the counsel of Skeggi; he had to wife Thordis, daughter of Asmund of Asmund's-peak, who had settled the Thingere lands: Thorgrim and Thordis had a son who was called Asmund; he was a big man and a strong, wise withal, and the fairest-haired of men, but his head grew grey early, wherefore he was called Asmund the Greyhaired. Thorgrim grew to be a man very busy about his household, and kept all his well to their work. Asmund would do but little work, so the father and son had small fellowship together; and so things fared till Asmund had grown of age; then he asked his father for travelling money; Thorgrim said he should have little enough, but gave him somewhat of huckstering wares.

Then Asmund went abroad, and his goods soon grew great; he sailed to sundry lands, and became the greatest of merchants, and very rich; he was a man well beloved and trusty, and many kinsmen he had in Norway of great birth.

One autumn he guested east in the Wick with a great man who was called Thorstein; he was an Uplander of kin, and had a sister called Ranveig, one to be chosen before all women; her Asmund wooed, and gained her by the help of Thorstein her brother; and there Asmund dwelt a while and was held in good esteem: he had of Ranveig a son hight Thorstein, strong, and the fairest of men, and great of voice; a man tall of growth he was, but somewhat slow in his mien, and therefore was he called Dromund. Now when Thorstein was nigh grown up, his mother fell sick and died, and thereafter Asmund had no joy in Norway; the kin of Thorstein's mother took his goods, and him withal to foster; but Asmund betook himself once more to seafaring, and became a man of great renown. Now he brought his ship into Hunawater, and in those days was Thorkel Krafla chief over the Waterdale folk; and he heard of Asmund's coming out, and rode to the ship and bade Asmund to his house; and he dwelt at Marstead in Waterdale; so Asmund went to be guest there. This Thorkel was the son of Thorgrim the Godi of Cornriver, and was a very wise man.

Now this was after the coming out of Bishop Frederick, and Thorvald Kodran's son, and they dwelt at the Brooks-meet, when these things came to pass: they were the first to preach the law of Christ in the north country; Thorkel let himself be signed with the cross and many men with him, and things enow betid betwixt the bishop and the north-country folk which come not into this tale.

Now at Thorkel's was a woman brought up, Asdis by name, who was the daughter of Bard, the son of Jokul, the son of Ingimund the Old, the son of Thorstein, the son of Ketil the Huge: the mother of Asdis was Aldis the daughter of Ufeigh Grettir, as is aforesaid; Asdis was as yet unwedded, and was deemed the best match among women, both for her kin and her possessions; Asmund was grown weary of seafaring, and was fain to take up his abode in Iceland; so he took up the word, and wooed this woman. Thorkel knew well all his ways, that he was a rich man and of good counsel to hold his wealth; so that came about, that Asmund got Asdis to wife; he became a bosom friend of Thorkel, and a great dealer in matters of farming, cunning in the law, and far-reaching. And now a little after this Thorgrim Greypate died at Biarg, and Asmund took the heritage after him and dwelt there.


13.   Thorgrim settles at bjarg and marries. his son Asmund visits norway and marries twice.
After these events Thorgrim and his brothers divided up the property between them. Thorgrim took the movable property and Thorgeir the lands. Then Thorgrim went inland to Midfjord and bought some land at Bjarg with the aid of Skeggi. He married Thordis, the daughter of Asmund from Asmund's peak who had land in Thingeyrasveit. They had a son named Asmund, a great man and strong, also wise, and notable for his abundance of hair, which turned grey very early. He was called Longhair.

Thorgrim occupied himself with the management of his estate and kept all the men of his household hard at work. Asmund did not want to work, so that he and his father got on rather badly together. This continued until Asmund was grown up, when he asked his father to give him the means to go abroad. Thorgrim said he should have little enough, but he gave him some ready cash. So Asmund went away and soon increased his capital. He sailed to divers lands, became a great trader and very wealthy. He was popular and enjoyed good credit, and had many friends among the leading men of Norway.

One autumn Asmund was in the East on a visit to a certain magnate named Thorsteinn. His family came from the Upplands, and he had a sister named Rannveig who had excellent prospects. Asmund asked this girl in marriage and obtained her through the interest of her brother Thorsteinn; he settled there for a time and was highly thought of. He and Rannveig had a son named Thorsteinn, who became a handsome man, strong, and with a powerful voice. He was very tall and rather sluggish in his movements, wherefore he was nicknamed Dromund. When young Thorsteinn was half grown up his mother fell ill and died, and Asmund cared no more for Norway. Thorsteinn was taken over by his mother's relations along with his property, while Asmund went on voyages and became famous.

Asmund came in his ship to Hunavain, where Thorkell Krafla was chief of the Vatnsdalers. On hearing of Asmund's arrival Thorkell went to the ship and invited him to stay, and Asmund went to visit him in Marsstadir in Vatnsdal where he lived. Thorkell was a son of Thorgrim, the Godi of Karnsa, and a man of great experience. This was soon after the arrival of Bishop Fridrek and Thorvald the son of Kodran, who were living at Laekjamot when these events happened, preaching Christianity for the first time in the North of the island. Thorkell and many of his men received the prima signatio. Many things might be told of the dealings between the bishop's men and the Northerners, which, however, do not belong to this saga.

There was a girl named Asdis who was being brought up in Thorkell's house. She was a daughter of Bard the son of Jokull, the son of Ingimund the Old, the son of Thorsteinn, the son of Ketil Raum. Her mother's name was Aldis, whom we have already heard of as the daughter of Ofeig Grettir. Asdis was not betrothed as yet, and was a most desirable match, both on account of her connections and her wealth. Asmund now became sick of travelling about and wanted to settle down in Iceland. So he spoke up and asked for Asdis as his wife. Thorkell knew all about him and knew that he was a man of wealth, able to manage his affairs, so the marriage was arranged. Asmund married Asdis, and became a close friend of Thorkell. He was a great man of affairs, learned in the law and very strenuous. Soon afterwards Thorgrim Greyhead died at Bjarg; Asmund succeeded to his property and took up his residence at Bjarg.


14.   Asmund the Greyhaired kept house at Biarg; great and proud was his household, and many men he had about him, and was a man much beloved. These were the children of him and Asdis. Atli was the eldest son; a man yielding and soft-natured, easy, and meek withal, and all men liked him well: another son they had called Grettir; he was very froward in his childhood; of few words, and rough; worrying both in word and deed. Little fondness he got from his father Asmund, but his mother loved him right well.

Grettir Asmundson was fair to look on, broad-faced, short-faced, red-haired, and much freckled; not of quick growth in his childhood.

Thordis was a daughter of Asmund, whom Glum, the son of Uspak, the son of Kiarlak of Skridinsenni, afterwards had to wife. Ranveig was another daughter of Asmund; she was the wife of Gamli, the son of Thorhal, the son of the Vendlander; they kept house at Meals in Ramfirth; their son was Grim. The son of Glum and Thordis, the daughter of Asmund, was Uspak, who quarrelled with Odd, the son of Ufeigh, as is told in the Bandamanna Saga.

Grettir grew up at Biarg till he was ten years old; then he began to get on a little; but Asmund bade him do some work; Grettir answered that work was not right meet for him, but asked what he should do.

Says Asmund, "Thou shalt watch my home-geese."

Grettir answered and said, "A mean work, a milksop's work."

Asmund said, "Turn it well out of hand, and then matters shall get better between us."

Then Grettir betook himself to watching the home-geese; fifty of them there were, with many goslings; but no long time went by before he found them a troublesome drove, and the goslings slow-paced withal. Thereat he got sore worried, for little did he keep his temper in hand. So some time after this, wayfaring men found the goslings strewn about dead, and the home-geese broken-winged; and this was in autumn. Asmund was mightily vexed hereat, and asked if Grettir had killed the fowl: he sneered mockingly, and answered


"Surely as winter comes, shall I
Twist the goslings' necks awry.
If in like case are the geese,
I have finished each of these."


"Thou shalt kill them no more," said Asmund.

"Well, a friend should warn a friend of ill," said Grettir.

"Another work shall be found for thee then," said Asmund.

"More one knows the more one tries," said Grettir; "and what shall I do now?"

Asmund answered, "Thou shalt rub my back at the fire, as I have been wont to have it done."

"Hot for the hand, truly," said Grettir; "but still a milksop's work."

Now Grettir went on with this work for a while; but autumn came on, and Asmund became very fain of heat, and he spurs Grettir on to rub his back briskly. Now, in those times there were wont to be large fire-halls at the homesteads, wherein men sat at long fires in the evenings; boards were set before the men there, and afterwards folk slept out sideways from the fires; there also women worked at the wool in the daytime. Now, one evening, when Grettir had to rub Asmund's back, the old carle said,

"Now thou wilt have to put away thy sloth, thou milk-sop."

Says Grettir, "Ill is it to goad the foolhardy."

Asmund answers, "Thou wilt ever be a good-for-nought."

Now Grettir sees where, in one of the seats stood wool-combs: one of these he caught up, and let it go all down Asmund's back. He sprang up, and was mad wroth thereat; and was going to smite Grettir with his staff, but he ran off. Then came the housewife, and asked what was this to-do betwixt them. Then Grettir answered by this ditty


"This jewel-strewer, O ground of gold,
(His counsels I deem over bold),
On both these hands that trouble sow,
(Ah bitter pain) will burn me now;



Therefore with wool-comb's nails unshorn
Somewhat ring-strewer's back is torn:
The hook-clawed bird that wrought his wound,
Lo, now I see it on the ground."


Hereupon was his mother sore vexed, that he should have taken to a trick like this; she said he would never fail to be the most reckless of men. All this nowise bettered matters between Asmund and Grettir.

Now, some time after this, Asmund had a talk with Grettir, that he should watch his horses. Grettir said this was more to his mind than the back-rubbing.

"Then shalt thou do as I bid thee," said Asmund. "I have a dun mare, which I call Keingala; she is so wise as to shifts of weather, thaws, and the like, that rough weather will never fail to follow, when she will not go out on grazing. At such times thou shalt lock the horses up under cover; but keep them to grazing on the mountain neck yonder, when winter comes on. Now I shall deem it needful that thou turn this work out of hand better than the two I have set thee to already."

Grettir answered, "This is a cold work and a manly, but I deem it ill to trust in the mare, for I know none who has done it yet."

Now Grettir took to the horse-watching, and so the time went on till past Yule-time; then came on much cold weather with snow, that made grazing hard to come at. Now Grettir was ill clad, and as yet little hardened, and he began to be starved by the cold; but Keingala grazed away in the windiest place she could find, let the weather be as rough as it would. Early as she might go to the pasture, never would she go back to stable before nightfall. Now Grettir deemed that he must think of some scurvy trick or other, that Keingala might be paid in full for her way of grazing: so, one morning early, he comes to the horse-stable, opens it, and finds Keingala standing all along before the crib; for, whatever food was given to the horses with her, it was her way to get it all to herself. Grettir got on her back, and had a sharp knife in his hand, and drew it right across Keingala's shoulder, and then all along both sides of the back. Thereat the mare, being both fat and shy, gave a mad bound, and kicked so fiercely, that her hooves clattered against the wall. Grettir fell off; but, getting on his legs, strove to mount her again. Now their struggle is of the sharpest, but the end of it is, that he flays off the whole of the strip along the back to the loins. Thereafter he drove the horses out on grazing; Keingala would bite but at her back, and when noon was barely past, she started off, and ran back to the house. Grettir now locks the stable and goes home. Asmund asked Grettir where the horses were. He said that he had stabled them as he was wont. Asmund said that rough weather was like to be at hand, as the horses would not keep at their grazing in such good weather as now it was.

Grettir said, "Oft fail in wisdom folk of better trust."

Now the night goes by, but no rough weather came on. Grettir drove off the horses, but Keingala cannot bear the grazing. This seemed strange to Asmund, as the weather changed in nowise from what it had been theretofore. The third morning Asmund went to the horses, and, coming to Keingala, said,

"I must needs deem these horses to be in sorry case, good as the winter has been, but thy sides will scarce lack flesh, my dun."

"Things boded will happen," said Grettir, "but so will things unboded."

Asmund stroked the back of the mare, and, lo, the hide came off beneath his hand; he wondered how this could have happened, and said it was likely to be Grettir's doing. Grettir sneered mockingly, but said nought. Now goodman Asmund went home talking as one mad; he went straight to the fire-hall, and as he came heard the good wife say, "It were good indeed if the horse-keeping of my kinsman had gone off well."

Then Asmund sang this stave


"Grettir has in such wise played,
That Keingala has he flayed,
Whose trustiness would be my boast
(Proudest women talk the most);
So the cunning lad has wrought,
Thinking thereby to do nought
Of my biddings any more.
In thy mind turn these words o'er."


The housewife answered, "I know not which is least to my mind, that thou shouldst ever be bidding him work, or that he should turn out all his work in one wise."

"That too we will make an end of," said Asmund, "but he shall fare the worse therefor."

Then Grettir said, "Well, let neither make words about it to the other."

So things went on awhile, and Asmund had Keingala killed; and many other scurvy tricks did Grettir in his childhood whereof the story says nought. But he grew great of body, though his strength was not well known, for he was unskilled in wrestling; he would make ditties and rhymes, but was somewhat scurrilous therein. He had no will to lie anight in the fire-hall and was mostly of few words.


14.   Asmund's children, Grettir's childhood.
Asmund Longhair now set up a large and sumptuous household in Bjarg, where he maintained a numerous retinue and became very popular. His children were as follows: The eldest was Atli, an able and accomplished man, tactful and easy to deal with; he was much liked by all. His second son was called Grettir. He was very hard to manage in his bringing up. He spoke little and was rough in his manners and quarrelsome, both in words and deeds. He got little affection from his father Asmund, but his mother loved him dearly. Grettir was a handsome man in appearance, with a face rather broad and short, red-haired and somewhat freckled; not very precocious in his youth. There was a daughter named Thordis, who afterwards married Glum the son of Ospak, Kjallak's son from Skridinsenni. Another daughter was named Rannveig; she married Gamli the son of Thorhall of Vineland, and they dwelt at Melar in Hrutafjord and had a son named Grim. Glum and Thordis had a son named Ospak who fell into a dispute with Odd the son of Ofeig, which is told of in the "Saga of the Banded Men."

Grettir grew up at Bjarg until he was ten years old, when he began to develop a little. Asmund told him that he must do some work. Grettir said that would not suit him very well, but asked what he was to do.

"You must mind the geese," said Asmund.

"That is wretched work, only fit for an idiot," Grettir answered.

"You do that properly," his father said, "and we shall get on better together."

So Grettir went to mind the geese. There were fifty of them, and a number of goslings. Before long he began to find them troublesome, and the goslings would not come on quickly enough. This put him out, for he could never control his temper. Soon afterwards some wanderers found the goslings lying outside dead, and the geese with their wings broken. This was in the autumn. Asmund was very much annoyed and asked Grettir whether he had killed the birds. Grettir grinned and answered:


"Always when winter is coming on
I like to wring the goslings' necks.
If among them there are geese
I treat the creatures all alike."


"You shan't twist any more of their necks," said Asmund.

"The friend aye warns his friend of ill," answered Grettir.

"I will give you other work to do."

"He knoweth most who most hath tried. But what am I to do now?" Grettir asked.

"You shall rub my back when I am sitting by the fire, as I am in the habit of having it done."

"Warm work for the hands." he answered. "It is only fit for an idiot."

This for a time was Grettir's occupation. As the autumn advanced Asmund wanted more warmth, and was constantly telling Grettir to rub his back hard. It was the custom in those days for people to have large rooms with long fires in them in their houses, where men sat by the fire in the evenings on benches, sleeping afterwards at the side away from the fires. By day the women carded their wool there.

One evening when Grettir had to scratch Asmund's back his father said to him: "Now you will have to put aside your laziness, you good-for-nothing you."

Grettir answered: "`Tis ill to rouse a hasty temper."

"You are fit for nothing at all," said Asmund.

Grettir saw some wood-combs lying on one of the benches; he took up one of them and drew it along Asmund's back. Asmund sprang up and was going to thrash him with his stick, but he escaped. His mother came up and asked what they were fighting about. Grettir answered in a verse:


"Oh lady, the giver of treasure, I see,
has dire intent to burn my hands.
With nails uncut I was stroking his back.
Clearly I see the bird of wounds."


His mother was much vexed with Grettir for what he had done and said he would not grow up very prudent. The affair did not improve the relations between Asmund and his son.

Soon after this Asmund spoke to Grettir and told him to look after his horses. Grettir said that would be better than back-fire-warming.

"You are to do what I tell you," said Asmund. "I have a dun mare with a dark stripe down her back whom I call Keingala. She is very knowing about the weather and about rain coming. When she refuses to graze it never fails that a storm will follow. You are then to keep the horses under shelter in the stables, and when cold weather sets in keep them to the north of the ridge. I hope you will perform this duty better than the two which I gave you before."

Grettir said: "That is cold work, and fit for a man to do; but it seems to me rash to trust to the mare, when to my knowledge no one has done so before."

So Grettir took to minding the horses, and went on until Yule-tide was past, when very cold weather set in, with snow, so that grazing was difficult. He was very badly provided with clothes and little hardened to the weather. He began to feel it very cold, and Keingala always chose the windiest places whatever the weather was. She never came to the meadow early enough to get home before nightfall. Grettir then thought he would play a trick upon Keingala to pay her out for her wanderings. One morning early he came to the stables, opened the door and found Keingala standing in front of the manger. She had taken the whole of the fodder which had been given to all the horses for herself. Grettir jumped upon her back, with a sharp knife in his hand which he drew across her shoulder and along her back on both sides. The horse was fat and fresh; she shied back very frightened and kicked out till her hoofs rattled against the walls. Grettir fell off, but picked himself up and tried to mount her again. There was a sharp struggle, which ended in his shaving all the skin on her back down to her flank. Then he drove the horses out to the meadow. Keingala would not take a bite except off her back, and soon after noon she bolted off to the stables. Grettir locked the door and went home. Asmund asked him where the horses were; he said he had looked after them as usual. Asmund said there must be a storm close at hand if the horses would not stay out in such weather as there was then.

Grettir said: "Many seem wise who are lacking in wit."

The night passed and there was no storm. Grettir drove out the horses, but Keingala could not endure the pasture. Asmund thought it very strange that no change came in the weather. On the third morning he went himself to the horses and on seeing Keingala he said: "Ill indeed have the horses fared in this beautiful weather! Thy back will not deceive me, my Bleikala."

"The likely may happen--also the unlikely," said Grettir.

Asmund stroked the back of the horse and all her coat came off on his hand. He could not understand how she had got into that state and thought Grettir must have done it. Grettir grinned and said nothing. Asmund went home and became very abusive. He heard his wife say: "My son's watching of the horses must have prospered well."

Then he spoke a verse:


"He has cheated me sorely, and Keingala shorn.
'Tis the pride of a woman that urges her tongue.
Artful he holds my commands in derision.
Consider my verses, oh wife of my heart."


"I do not know," she said, "which seems to me the more perverse, for you to make him work, or for him always to get out of it in the same way."

"Now there shall be an end to it," said Asmund. "He must have something worse than merely making good the damage."

"Let neither speak of it to the other," said Grettir, and so it remained.

Asmund had Keingala killed. Many more childish pranks did Grettir play which are not told in the saga. He now began to grow very big, but men did not clearly know what strength he had because he had never been tried in wrestling. He kept making verses and ditties which were always a little ironical. He did not sleep in the common room and was generally very silent.


15.   At this time there were many growing up to be men in Midfirth; Skald-Torfa dwelt at Torfa's-stead in those days; her son was called Bessi, he was the shapeliest of men and a good skald.

At Meal lived two brothers, Kormak and Thorgils, with them a man called Odd was fostered, and was called the Foundling-skald.

One called Audun was growing up at Audunstead in Willowdale, he was a kind and good man to deal with, and the strongest in those north parts, of all who were of an age with him. Kalf Asgeirson dwelt at Asgeir's-river, and his brother Thorvald with him. Atli also, Grettir's brother, was growing into a ripe man at that time; the gentlest of men he was, and well beloved of all. Now these men settled to have ball-play together on Midfirth Water; thither came the Midfirthers, and Willowdale men, and men from Westhope, and Waterness, and Ramfirth, but those who came from far abode at the play-stead.

Now those who were most even in strength were paired together, and thereat was always the greatest sport in autumn-tide. But when he was fourteen years old Grettir went to the plays, because he was prayed thereto by his brother Atli.

Now were all paired off for the plays, and Grettir was allotted to play against Audun, the aforenamed, who was some winters the eldest of the two; Audun struck the ball over Grettir's head, so that he could not catch it, and it bounded far away along the ice; Grettir got angry thereat, deeming that Audun would outplay him; but he fetches the ball and brings it back, and, when he was within reach of Audun, hurls it right against his forehead, and smites him so that the skin was broken; then Audun struck at Grettir with the bat he held in his hand, but smote him no hard blow, for Grettir ran in under the stroke; and thereat they seized one another with arms clasped, and wrestled. Then all saw that Grettir was stronger than he had been taken to be, for Audun was a man full of strength.

A long tug they had of it, but the end was that Grettir fell, and Audun thrust his knees against his belly and breast, and dealt hardly with him.

Then Atli and Bessi and many others ran up and parted them; but Grettir said there was no need to hold him like a mad dog, "For," said he, "thralls wreak themselves at once, dastards never."

This men suffered not to grow into open strife, for the brothers, Kalf and Thorvald, were fain that all should be at one again, and Audun and Grettir were somewhat akin withal; so the play went on as before, nor did anything else befall to bring about strife.


15.   Games at Midfjordvatn
There were then a good many youths growing up in Midfjord. A certain Skaldtorfa, whose home was in Torfustadir, had a son named Bersi, an accomplished young man and a clever poet. Two brothers named Kormak and Thorgils lived at Mel and had with them a youth named Odd, who was dependent upon them, and was nicknamed Odd the Needy-Skald. Another was named Audun; he grew up in Audunarstad in Vididal, a pleasant good-natured youth and the strongest of his age in the North. Kalf the son of Asgeir and his brother Thorvald lived at Asgeirsa. Grettir's brother Atli was then growing to a man; he was most gracious in manners and universally liked.

These youths used to play at ball together at Midfjord Water. Those from Midfjord and from Vididal used to meet there, and there came many from Vestrhop and Vatnsnes with some from Hrutafjord. Those who came from afar used to lodge there. Those who were about equal in the ball-game were matched together, and generally they had much fun in the autumn. Grettir went to the sports when he was fourteen years old at the request of his brother Atli. The parties were made up. Grettir was matched against Audun, the youth already mentioned, who was a few years the elder. Audun struck the ball over Grettir's head so that he could not reach it, and it bounded far away over the ice. Grettir lost his temper, thinking he had done it out of mischief, but he fetched the ball, brought it back and going up to Audun drove it straight into his forehead, so that the skin was broken.

Audun then struck at Grettir with the bat that he was holding, but Grettir ducked and the blow missed him. Then they seized each other with their arms and wrestled. It was evident to the people around that Grettir was stronger than they had supposed, for Audun was very strong indeed of body. They struggled long together until at last Grettir was thrown. Audun then set his knees on his stomach and dealt unmercifully with him. Atli and Bersi and a number of the others ran up and separated them. Grettir said they need not hold him like a mad dog, and added: "The thrall alone takes instant vengeance, the coward never."

The rest had no mind to let the affair create discord among them, and the brothers Kalf and Thorvald tried to reconcile them. Audun and Grettir were distantly related to each other. The games went on and there was no further disturbance.


16.   Now Thorkel Krafla got very old; he had the rule of Waterdale and was a great man. He was bosom friend of Asmund the Greyhaired, as was beseeming for the sake of their kinship; he was wont to ride to Biarg every year and see his kin there, nor did he fail herein the spring following these matters just told. Asmund and Asdis welcomed him most heartily, he was there three nights, and many things did the kinsmen speak of between them. Now Thorkel asked Asmund what his mind foreboded him about his sons, as to what kind of craft they would be likely to take to. Asmund said that he thought Atli would be a great man at farming, foreseeing, and money-making. Thorkel answered, "A useful man and like unto thyself: but what dost thou say of Grettir?"

Asmund said, "Of him I say, that he will be a strong man and an unruly, and, certes, of wrathful mood, and heavy enough he has been to me."

Thorkel answered, "That bodes no good, friend; but how shall we settle about our riding to the Thing next summer?"

Asmund answered, "I am growing heavy for wayfaring, and would fain sit at home."

"Wouldst thou that Atli go in thy stead?" said Thorkel.

"I do not see how I could spare him," says Asmund, "because of the farm-work and ingathering of household stores; but now Grettir will not work, yet he bears about that wit with him that I deem he will know how to keep up the showing forth of the law for me through thy aid."

"Well, thou shall have thy will," said Thorkel, and withal he rode home when he was ready, and Asmund let him go with good gifts.

Some time after this Thorkel made him ready to ride to the Thing, he rode with sixty men, for all went with him who were in his rule: thus he came to Biarg, and therefrom rode Grettir with him.

Now they rode south over the heath that is called Two-days'-ride; but on this mountain the baiting grounds were poor, therefore they rode fast across it down to the settled lands, and when they came down to Fleet-tongue they thought it was time to sleep, so they took the bridles off their horses and let them graze with the saddles on. They lay sleeping till far on in the day, and when they woke, the men went about looking for their horses; but they had gone each his own way, and some of them had been rolling; but Grettir was the last to find his horse.

Now it was the wont in those days that men should carry their own victuals when they rode to the Althing, and most bore meal-bags athwart their saddles; and the saddle was turned under the belly of Grettir's horse, and the meal-bag was gone, so he goes and searches, and finds nought.

Just then he sees a man running fast, Grettir asks who it is who is running there; the man answered that his name was Skeggi, and that he was a house-carle from the Ridge in Waterdale. "I am one of the following of goodman Thorkel," he says, "but, faring heedlessly, I have lost my meal-bag."

Grettir said, "Odd haps are worst haps, for I, also, have lost the meal-sack which I owned, and now let us search both together."

This Skeggi liked well, and a while they go thus together; but all of a sudden Skeggi bounded off up along the moors and caught up a meal-sack. Grettir saw him stoop, and asked what he took up there.

"My meal-sack," says Skeggi.

"Who speaks to that besides thyself?" says Grettir; "let me see it, for many a thing has its like."

Skeggi said that no man should take from him what was his own; but Grettir caught at the meal-bag, and now they tug one another along with the meal-sack between them, both trying hard to get the best of it.

"It is to be wondered at," says the house-carle, "that ye Waterdale men should deem, that because other men are not as wealthy as ye, that they should not therefore dare to hold aught of their own in your despite."

Grettir said, that it had nought to do with the worth of men that each should have his own.

Skeggi answers, "Too far off is Audun now to throttle thee as at that ball-play."

"Good," said Grettir; "but, howsoever that went, thou at least shall never throttle me."

Then Skeggi got at his axe and hewed at Grettir; when Grettir saw that, he caught the axe-handle with the left hand bladeward of Skeggi's hand, so hard that straightway was the axe loosed from his hold. Then Grettir drave that same axe into his head so that it stood in the brain, and the house-carle fell dead to earth. Then Grettir seized the meal-bag and threw it across his saddle, and thereon rode after his fellows.

Now Thorkel rode ahead of all, for he had no misgiving of such things befalling: but men missed Skeggi from the company, and when Grettir came up they asked him what he knew of Skeggi; then he sang


"A rock-troll her weight did throw
At Skeggi's throat a while ago:
Over the battle ogress ran
The red blood of the serving-man;
Her deadly iron mouth did gape
Above him, till clean out of shape
She tore his head and let out life:
And certainly I saw their strife."


Then Thorkel's men sprung up and said that surely trolls had not taken the man in broad daylight. Thorkel grew silent, but said presently, "The matter is likely to be quite other than this; methinks Grettir has in all likelihood killed him, or what could befall?"

Then Grettir told all their strife. Thorkel says, "This has come to pass most unluckily, for Skeggi was given to my following, and was, nathless, a man of good kin; but I shall deal thus with the matter: I shall give boot for the man as the doom goes, but the outlawry I may not settle. Now, two things thou hast to choose between, Grettir; whether thou wilt rather go to the Thing and risk the turn of matters, or go back home."

Grettir chose to go to the Thing, and thither he went. But a lawsuit was set on foot by the heirs of the slain man: Thorkel gave handsel, and paid up all fines, but Grettir must needs be outlawed, and keep abroad three winters.

Now when the chiefs rode from the Thing, they baited under Sledgehill before they parted: then Grettir lifted a stone which now lies there in the grass and is called Grettir's-heave; but many men came up to see the stone, and found it a great wonder that so young a man should heave aloft such a huge rock.

Now Grettir rode home to Biarg and tells the tale of his journey; Asmund let out little thereon, but said that he would turn out an unruly man.


16.   Grettir kills Skeggi and is outlawed for three years
Thorkell Krafla now began to grow very old. He was a great chieftain and held the Vatnsdal Godord. He was a close friend of Asmund Longhair, as befitted the near relations in which they stood to each other. He had, therefore, been in the habit of riding every year in the spring to Bjarg to visit his kinsmen there, and he did so in the spring which followed the events just related. Asmund and Asdis received him with both hands. He stayed there three nights and many a matter did the kinsmen discuss together. Thorkell asked Asmund what his heart told him about his sons, and what professions they were likely to follow. Asmund said that Atli would probably be a great landowner, very careful and wealthy.

"A useful man, like yourself," said Thorkell. "But what can you tell me of Grettir?"

"I can only say," he replied, "that he will be a strong man; but headstrong and quarrelsome. A heavy trial has he been to me."

"That does not look very promising, kinsman!" said Thorkell. "But how are we to arrange our journey to the Thing in the summer?"

"I am getting difficult to move," he said. "I would rather stay at home."

"Would you like Atli to go for you?"

"I don't think I can spare him," Asmund said, "because of the work and the provisioning. Grettir will not do anything. But he has quite wit enough to carry out the duties at the Thing on my behalf under your guidance."

"It shall be as you please," said Thorkell.

Then Thorkell made himself ready and rode home; Asmund dismissed him with presents.

A little later Thorkell journeyed to the Thing with sixty men. All the men of his godord went with him. They passed through Bjarg, where Grettir joined them. They rode South through the heath called Tvidaegra. There was very little grazing to be had in the hills, so they rode quickly past them into the cultivated land. When they reached Fljotstunga they thought it was time to sleep, so they took the bits from their horses and turned them loose with their saddles. They lay there well on into the day, and when they woke began to look for their horses. Every horse had gone off in a different direction and some had been rolling. Grettir could not find his horse at all. The custom was at that time that men should find their own provisions at the Thing, and most of them carried their sacks over their saddles. When Grettir found his horse its saddle was under its belly, and the sack of provisions gone. He searched about but could not find it. Then he saw a man running very fast and asked him who he was. He said his name was Skeggi and that he was a man from Ass in Vatnsdal in the North.

"I am travelling with Thorkell," he said. "I have been careless and lost my provision-bag."

"Alone in misfortune is worst. I also have lost my stock of provisions; so we can look for them together."

Skeggi was well pleased with this proposal, and so they went about seeking for a time. Suddenly, when Grettir least expected it, Skeggi started running with all his might along the moor and picked up the sack. Grettir saw him bend and asked what it was that he had picked up.

"My sack," he said.

"Who says so besides yourself?" Grettir asked. "Let me see it! Many a thing is like another."

Skeggi said no one should take from him what was his own. Grettir seized hold of the sack and they both pulled at it for a time, each trying to get his own way.

"You Midfjord men have strange notions," said Skeggi, "if you think that because a man is not so wealthy as you are, he is not to dare to hold to his own before you."

Grettir said it had nothing to do with a man's degree, and that each should have that which was his own.

Skeggi replied: "Audun is now too far away to strangle you as he did at the ball-play."

"That is well," said Grettir; "but however that may have been you shall not strangle me."

Skeggi then seized his axe and struck at Grettir, who on seeing it seized the handle of the axe with his left hand and pulled it forward with such force that Skeggi at once let go. The next moment it stood in his brain and he fell dead to the earth. Grettir took the sack, threw it across his saddle and rode back to his companions.

Thorkell rode on, knowing nothing of what had happened. Soon Skeggi was missed in the company, and when Grettir came up they asked him what news he had of Skeggi. He answered in a verse:


"Hammer-troll ogress has done him to death.
Thirsting for blood the war-fiend came.
With hard-edged blade she gaped, o'er his head,
nor spared she his teeth. I saw it myself."


Then Thorkell's men sprang up and said it was impossible that a troll should have taken the man in full daylight. Thorkell was silent for a moment. Then he said: "There must be something more in it. Grettir must have killed him. What was it that really happened, Grettir?"

Grettir then told him all about their fight. Thorkell said: "It is a most unfortunate occurrence, because Skeggi was entrusted to my service, and was a man of good family. I will take the matter upon myself and pay whatever compensation is adjudged. But a question of banishment does not lie with me. Now, Grettir, there are two things for you to choose between. Either you can go on to the Thing with us and take the chance of what may happen there, or you can turn back and go home."

Grettir decided to go on to the Thing, and to the Thing he went. The matter was taken up by the heirs of the man slain. Thorkell gave his hand to pay the compensation and Grettir was to be banished for three years.

On their way back from the Thing all the chiefs halted at Sledaass before they parted company. It was then that Grettir lifted a stone lying in the grass, which is still known as Grettishaf. Many went afterwards to see this stone and were astounded that so young a man should have lifted such a mountain.

Grettir rode home to Bjarg and told his father about his adventures. Asmund was much put out and said he would be a trouble to everybody.


17.   There was a man called Haflidi, who dwelt at Reydarfell in Whiteriverside, he was a seafaring man and had a sailing ship, which lay up Whiteriver: there was a man on board his ship, hight Bard, who had a wife with him young and fair. Asmund sent a man to Haflidi, praying him to take Grettir and look after him; Haflidi said that he had heard that the man was ill ruled of mood; yet for the sake of the friendship between him and Asmund he took Grettir to himself, and made ready for sailing abroad.

Asmund would give to his son no faring-goods but victuals for the voyage and a little wadmall. Grettir prayed him for some weapon, but Asmund answered, "Thou hast not been obedient to me, nor do I know how far thou art likely to work with weapons things that may be of any gain; and no weapon shalt thou have of me."

"No deed no reward," says Grettir. Then father and son parted with little love. Many there were who bade Grettir farewell, but few bade him come back.

But his mother brought him on his road, and before they parted she spoke thus, "Thou art not fitted out from home, son, as I fain would thou wert, a man so well born as thou; but, meseems, the greatest shortcoming herein is that thou hast no weapons of any avail, and my mind misgives me that thou wilt perchance need them sorely."

With that she took out from under her cloak a sword well wrought, and a fair thing it was, and then she said, "This sword was owned by Jokul, my father's father, and the earlier Waterdale men, and it gained them many a day; now I give thee the sword, and may it stand thee in good stead."

Grettir thanked her well for this gift, and said he deemed it better than things of more worth; then he went on his way, and Asdis wished him all good hap.

Now Grettir rode south over the heath, and made no stay till he came to the ship. Haflidi gave him a good welcome and asked him for his faring-goods, then Grettir sang


"Rider of wind-driven steed,
Little gat I to my need,
When I left my fair birth-stead,
From the snatchers of worm's bed;
But this man's-bane hanging here,
Gift of woman good of cheer,
Proves the old saw said not ill,
Best to bairn is mother still."


Haflidi said it was easily seen that she thought the most of him. But now they put to sea when they were ready, and had wind at will; but when they had got out over all shallows they hoisted sail.

Now Grettir made a den for himself under the boat, from whence he would move for nought, neither for baling, nor to do aught at the sail, nor to work at what he was bound to work at in the ship in even shares with the other men, neither would he buy himself off from the work.

Now they sailed south by Reekness and then south from the land; and when they lost land they got much heavy sea; the ship was somewhat leaky, and scarce seaworthy in heavy weather, therefore they had it wet enough. Now Grettir let fly his biting rhymes, whereat the men got sore wroth. One day, when it so happened that the weather was both squally and cold, the men called out to Grettir, and bade him now do manfully, "For," said they, "now our claws grow right cold." Grettir looked up and said


"Good luck, scurvy starvelings, if I should behold
Each finger ye have doubled up with the cold."


And no work they got out of him, and now it misliked them of their lot as much again as before, and they said that he should pay with his skin for his rhymes and the lawlessness which he did. "Thou art more fain," said they, "of playing with Bard the mate's wife than doing thy duty on board ship, and this is a thing not to be borne at all."

The gale grew greater steadily, and now they stood baling for days and nights together, and all swore to kill Grettir. But when Haflidi heard this, he went up to where Grettir lay, and said, "Methinks the bargain between thee and the chapmen is scarcely fair; first thou dost by them unlawfully, and thereafter thou castest thy rhymes at them; and now they swear that they will throw thee overboard, and this is unseemly work to go on."

"Why should they not be free to do as they will?" says Grettir; "but I well would that one or two of them tarry here behind with me, or ever I go overboard."

Haflidi says, "Such deeds are not to be done, and we shall never thrive if ye rush into such madness; but I shall give thee good rede."

"What is that?" says Grettir.

"They blame thee for singing ill things of them; now, therefore, I would that thou sing some scurvy rhyme to me, for then it might be that they would bear with thee the easier."

"To thee I never sing but good," says Grettir: "I am not going to make thee like these starvelings."

"One may sing so," says Haflidi, "that the lampoon be not so foul when it is searched into, though at first sight it be not over fair."

"I have ever plenty of that skill in me," says Grettir.

Then Haflidi went to the men where they were baling, and said, "Great is your toil, and no wonder that ye have taken ill liking to Grettir."

"But his lampoons we deem worse than all the rest together," they said.

Haflidi said in a loud voice, "He will surely fare ill for it in the end."

But when Grettir heard Haflidi speak blamefully of him, he sang


"Otherwise would matters be,
When this shouting Haflidi
Ate in house at Reydarfell
Curdled milk, and deemed it well;
He who decks the reindeer's side
That 'twixt ness and ness doth glide,
Twice in one day had his fill
Of the feast of dart shower shrill."


The shipmen thought this foul enough, and said he should not put shame on Skipper Haflidi for nought.

Then said Haflidi, "Grettir is plentifully worthy that ye should do him some shame, but I will not have my honour staked against his ill-will and recklessness; nor is it good for us to wreak vengeance for this forthwith while we have this danger hanging over us; but be ye mindful of it when ye land, if so it seem good to you."

"Well," they said, "why should we not fare even as thou farest? for why should his vile word bite us more than thee?"

And in that mind Haflidi bade them abide; and thence-forward the chapmen made far less noise about Grettir's rhymes than before.

Now a long and a hard voyage they had, and the leak gained on the ship, and men began to be exceeding worn with toil. The young wife of the mate was wont to sew from Grettir's hands, and much would the crew mock him therefor; but Haflidi went up to where Grettir lay and sang


"Grettir, stand up from thy grave,
In the trough of the grey wave
The keel labours, tell my say
Now unto thy merry may;
From thy hands the linen-clad
Fill of sewing now has had,
Till we make the land will she
Deem that labour fitteth thee."


Then Grettir stood up and sang


"Stand we up, for neath us now
Rides the black ship high enow;
This fair wife will like it ill
If my limbs are laid here still;
Certes, the white trothful one
Will not deem the deed well done,
If the work that I should share
Other folk must ever bear."


Then he ran aft to where they were baling, and asked what they would he should do; they said he would do mighty little good.

"Well," said he, "ye may yet be apaid of a man's aid."

Haflidi bade them not set aside his help, "For it may be he shall deem his hands freed if he offers his aid."

At that time pumping was not used in ships that fared over the main; the manner of baling they used men called tub or cask baling, and a wet work it was and a wearisome; two balers were used, and one went down while the other came up. Now the chapmen bade Grettir have the job of sinking the balers, and said that now it should be tried what he could do; he said that the less it was tried the better it would be. But he goes down and sinks the balers, and now two were got to bale against him; they held out but a little while before they were overcome with weariness, and then four came forward and soon fared in likewise, and, so say some, that eight baled against him before the baling was done and the ship was made dry. Thenceforth the manner of the chapmen's words to Grettir was much changed, for they saw what strength he had to fall back upon; and from that time he was the stoutest and readiest to help, wheresoever need was.

Now they bore off east into the main, and much thick weather they had, and one night unawares they ran suddenly on a rock, so that the nether part of the ship went from under her; then the boat was run down, and women and all the loose goods were brought off: nearby was a little holm whither they brought their matters as they best could in the night; but when it began to dawn they had a talk as to where they were come; then they who had fared between lands before knew the land for Southmere in Norway; there was an island hardby called Haramsey; many folk dwelt there, and therein too was the manor of a lord.


17.   Grettir sails for Norway and is wrecked on Haramarsey
There dwelt at Reydarfell on the banks of the Hvita a man named Haflidi, a mariner, owning a ship of his own which was lying in dock in the Hvita river. He had as his mate a man named Bard who had a young and pretty wife. Asmund sent a man to Haflidi asking him to take Grettir and look after him. Haflidi answered that he had heard that Grettir was very difficult to get on with, but out of friendship for Asmund he took him. Grettir, therefore, prepared to go to sea. His father would not give him any outfit for his voyage beyond his bare provisions and a little wadmal. Grettir asked him to give him some sort of weapon. Asmund answered: "You have never been obedient to me. Nor do I know what you would do with a weapon that would be of any profit. I shall not give you any."

Grettir said: "Work not done needs no reward."

Father and son parted with little love between them. Many wished him a good voyage, but few a safe return. His mother went with him along the road. Before they parted she said: "You have not been sent off in the way that I should have wished, my son, or in a way befitting your birth. The most cruel thing of all, I think, is that you have not a weapon which you can use. My heart tells me that you will want one."

Then she took from under her mantle a sword all ready for use, a valuable possession. She said: "This was the sword of Jokull, my father's father and of the ancient Vatnsdal men, in whose hands it was blessed with victory. I give it to you; use it well."

Grettir thanked her warmly and said it would be more precious to him than any other possession though of greater value. Then he went on his way and Asdis wished him all possible happiness. He rode South over the heath and did not stop till he reached his ship. Haflidi received him well and asked him about his outfit for the voyage. Grettir spoke a verse:


"Oh trimmer of sails I my father is wealthy,
but poorly enough he sent me from home.
My mother it was who gave me this sword.
True is the saying: The mother is best."


Haflidi said it was evident that she had most thought for him.

Directly they were ready and had a wind they got under way. When they were out of shallow water they hoisted their sail. Grettir made himself a corner under the ship's boat, whence he refused to stir either to bale or to trim the sails or to do any work in the ship, as it was his duty to do equally with the other men; nor would he buy himself off. They sailed to the South, rounded Reykjanes and left the land behind them, when they met with stormy weather. The ship was rather leaky and became very uneasy in the gale; the crew were very much exhausted. Grettir only let fly satirical verses at them, which angered them sorely.

One day when it was very stormy and very cold the men called out to Grettir to get up and work; they said their claws were quite frozen. He answered:


"Twere well if every finger were froze
on the hands of such a lubberly crew."


They got no work out of him and liked him even worse than before, and said they would pay him out on his person for his squibs and his mutinous behaviour.

"You like better," they said, "to pat the belly of Bard the mate's wife than to bear a hand in the ship. But we don't mean to stand it."

The weather grew steadily worse; they had to bale night and day, and they threatened Grettir. Haflidi when he heard them went up to Grettir and said: "I don't think your relations with the crew are very good. You are mutinous and make lampoons about them, and they threaten to pitch you overboard. This is most improper."

"Why cannot they mind their own business?" Grettir rejoined. "But I should like one or two to remain behind with me before I go overboard."

"That is impossible," said Haflidi. "We shall never get on upon those terms. But I will make you a proposal about it."

"What is that?"

"The thing which annoys them is that you make lampoons about them. Now I suggest that you make a lampoon about me. Then, perhaps, they will become better disposed towards you."

"About you I will never utter anything but good," said he. "I am not going to compare you with the sailors."

"But you might compose a verse which should at first appear foul, but on closer view prove to be fair."

"That," he answered, "I am quite equal to."

Haflidi then went to the sailors and said: "You have much toil; and it seems that you don't get on with Grettir."

"His lampoons," they answered, "annoy us more than anything else."

Then Haflidi, speaking loud, said: "It will be the worse for him some day."

Grettir, when he heard himself being denounced, spoke a verse:


"Other the words that Haflidi spake
when he dined on curds at Reydarfell.
But now two meals a day he takes
in the steed of the bays mid foreland shores."


The sailors were very angry and said he should not lampoon Haflidi for nothing. Haflidi said: "Grettir certainly deserves that you should take him down a little, but I am not going to risk my good name because of his ill-temper and caprice. This is not the time to pay him out, when we are all in such danger. When you get on shore you can remember it if you like."

"Shall we not endure what you can endure?" they said. "Why should a lampoon hurt us more than it does you?"

Haflidi said so it should be, and after that they cared less about Grettir's lampoons.

The voyage was long and fatiguing. The ship sprung a leak, and the men began to be worn out. The mate's young wife was in the habit of stitching Grettir's sleeves for him, and the men used to banter him about it. Haflidi went up to Grettir where he was lying and said:


"Arise from thy den! deep furrows we plough!
Remember the word thou didst speak to the fair.
Thy garment she sewed; but now she commands
that thou join in the toil while the land is afar."


Grettir got up at once and said:


"I will rise, though the ship be heavily rolling.
The woman is vexed that I sleep in my den.
She will surely be wrath if here I abide
while others are toiling at work that is mine."


Then he hurried aft where they were baling and asked what they wanted him to do. They said he would do little good. He replied: "A man's help is something." Haflidi told them not to refuse his help. "Maybe," he said, "he is thinking of loosening his hands if he offers his services."

In those days in sea-going ships there were no scuppers for baling; they only had what is called bucket or pot-baling, a very troublesome and fatiguing process. There were two buckets, one of which went down while the other came up. The men told Grettir to take the buckets down, and said they would try what he could do. He said the less tried the better, and went below and filled his bucket. There were two men above to empty the buckets as he handed them. Before long they both gave in from fatigue. Then four others took their places, but the same thing happened. Some say that before they were done eight men were engaged in emptying the buckets for him. At last the ship was baled dry. After this, the seamen altered their behaviour towards Grettir, for they realised the strength which was in him. From that time on he was ever the forwardest to help wherever he was required.

They now held an easterly course out to sea. It was very dark. One night when they least expected it, they struck a rock and the lower part of the ship began to fill. The boats were got out and the women put into them with all the loose property. There was an island a little way off, whither they carried as much of their property as they could get off in the night. When the day broke, they began to ask where they were. Some of them who had been about the country before recognised the coast of Sunnmore in Norway. There was an island lying a little off the mainland called Haramarsey, with a large settlement and a farm belonging to the Landman on it.


18.   Now the lord who dwelt in the island was called Thorfinn; he was the son of Karr the Old, who had dwelt there long; and Thorfinn was a great chief.

But when day was fully come men saw from the island that the chapmen were brought to great straits. This was made known to Thorfinn, and he quickly bestirred himself, and had a large bark of his launched, rowed by sixteen men, on this bark were nigh thirty men in all; they came up speedily and saved the chapmen's wares; but the ship settled down, and much goods were lost there. Thorfinn brought all men from the ship home to himself, and they abode there a week and dried their wares. Then the chapmen went south into the land, and are now out of the tale.

Grettir was left behind with Thorfinn, and little he stirred, and was at most times mighty short of speech. Thorfinn bade give him meals, but otherwise paid small heed to him; Grettir was loth to follow him, and would not go out with him in the day; this Thorfinn took ill, but had not the heart to have food withheld from him.

Now Thorfinn was fond of stately house-keeping, and was a man of great joyance, and would fain have other men merry too: but Grettir would walk about from house to house, and often went into other farms about the island.

There was a man called Audun who dwelt at Windham; thither Grettir went every day, and he made friends with Audun, and there he was wont to sit till far on in the day. Now one night very late, as Grettir made ready to go home, he saw a great fire burst out on a ness to the north of Audun's farm. Grettir asked what new thing this might be. Audun said that he need be in no haste to know that.

"It would be said," quoth Grettir, "if that were seen in our land, that the flame burned above hid treasure."

The farmer said, "That fire I deem to be ruled over by one into whose matters it avails little to pry."

"Yet fain would I know thereof," said Grettir.

"On that ness," said Audun, "stands a barrow, great and strong, wherein was laid Karr the Old, Thorfinn's father; at first father and son had but one farm in the island; but since Karr died he has so haunted this place that he has swept away all farmers who owned lands here, so that now Thorfinn holds the whole island; but whatsoever man Thorfinn holds his hand over, gets no scathe."

Grettir said that he had told his tale well: "And," says he, "I shall come here to-morrow, and then thou shalt have digging-tools ready."

"Now, I pray thee," says Audun, "to do nought herein, for I know that Thorfinn will cast his hatred on thee therefor."

Grettir said he would risk that.

So the night went by, and Grettir came early on the morrow and the digging-tools were ready; the farmer goes with him to the barrow, and Grettir brake it open, and was rough-handed enough thereat, and did not leave off till he came to the rafters, and by then the day was spent; then he tore away the rafters, and now Audun prayed him hard not to go into the barrow; Grettir bade him guard the rope, "but I shall espy what dwells within here."

Then Grettir entered into the barrow, and right dark it was, and a smell there was therein none of the sweetest. Now he groped about to see how things were below; first he found horse-bones, and then he stumbled against the arm of a high-chair, and in that chair found a man sitting; great treasures of gold and silver were heaped together there, and a small chest was set under the feet of him full of silver; all these riches Grettir carried together to the rope; but as he went out through the barrow he was griped at right strongly; thereon he let go the treasure and rushed against the barrow-dweller, and now they set on one another unsparingly enough.

Everything in their way was kicked out of place, the barrow-wight setting on with hideous eagerness; Grettir gave back before him for a long time, till at last it came to this, that he saw it would not do to hoard his strength any more; now neither spared the other, and they were brought to where the horse-bones were, and thereabout they wrestled long. And now one, now the other, fell on his knee; but the end of the strife was, that the barrow-dweller fell over on his back with huge din. Then ran Audun from the holding of the rope, and deemed Grettir dead. But Grettir drew the sword, 'Jokul's gift,' and drave it at the neck of the barrow-bider so that it took off his head, and Grettir laid it at the thigh of him. Then he went to the rope with the treasure, and lo, Audun was clean gone, so he had to get up the rope by his hands; he had tied a line to the treasure, and therewith he now haled it up.

Grettir had got very stiff with his dealings with Karr, and now he went back to Thorfinn's house with the treasures, whenas all folk had set them down to table. Thorfinn gave Grettir a sharp look when he came into the drinking-hall, and asked him what work he had on hand so needful to do that he might not keep times of meals with other men. Grettir answers, "Many little matters will hap on late eves," and therewith he cast down on the table all the treasure he had taken in the barrow; but one matter there was thereof, on which he must needs keep his eyes; this was a short-sword, so good a weapon, that a better, he said, he had never seen; and this he gave up the last of all. Thorfinn was blithe to see that sword, for it was an heirloom of his house, and had never yet gone out of his kin.

"Whence came these treasures to thine hand?" said Thorfinn.

Grettir sang


"Lessener of the flame of sea,
My strong hope was true to me,
When I deemed that treasure lay
In the barrow; from to-day
Folk shall know that I was right;
The begetters of the fight
Small joy now shall have therein,
Seeking dragon's-lair to win."


Thorfinn answered, "Blood will seldom seem blood to thine eyes; no man before thee has had will to break open the barrow; but, because I know that what wealth soever is hid in earth or borne into barrow is wrongly placed, I shall not hold thee blameworthy for thy deed as thou hast brought it all to me; yea, or whence didst thou get the good sword?"

Grettir answered and sang


"Lessener of waves flashing flame,
To my lucky hand this came



In the barrow where that thing
Through the dark fell clattering;
If that helm-fire I should gain,
Made so fair to be the bane
Of the breakers of the bow,
Ne'er from my hand should it go."


Thorfinn said, "Well hast thou prayed for it, but thou must show some deed of fame before I give thee that sword, for never could I get it of my father while he lived."

Said Grettir, "Who knows to whom most gain will come of it in the end?"

So Thorfinn took the treasures and kept the sword at his bed-head, and the winter wore on toward Yule, so that little else fell out to be told of.


18.   Adventure in the howe of Kar the Old
The name of the Landman who lived in the island was Thorfinn. He was a son of Kar the Old, who had lived there for a long time. Thorfinn was a man of great influence.

When the day broke, the people on the island saw that there were some sailors there in distress and reported it to Thorfinn, who at once set about to launch his large sixteen-oared boat. He put out as quickly as possible with some thirty men to save the cargo of the trader, which then sank and was lost, along with much property. Thorfinn brought all the men off her to his house, where they stayed for a week drying their goods. Then they went away to the South, and are heard of no more in this story.

Grettir stayed behind with Thorfinn, keeping very quiet and speaking little. Thorfinn gave him his board, but took little notice of him. Grettir held rather aloof, and did not accompany him when he went abroad every day. This annoyed Thorfinn, but he did not like to refuse Grettir his hospitality; he was a man who kept open house, enjoyed life and liked to see other men happy. Grettir liked going about and visiting the people in the other farms on the island. There was a man named Audun, who dwelt at Vindheim. Grettir went to see him daily and became very intimate with him, sitting there all day long.

One evening very late when Grettir was preparing to return home, he saw a great fire shoot up on the headland below Audun's place, and asked what new thing that might be. Audun said there was no pressing need for him to know.

"If they saw such a thing in our country," said Grettir, "they would say the fire came from some treasure."

"He who rules that fire," answered the man, "is one whom it will be better not to inquire about."

"But I want to know," Grettir said.

"On that headland," said Audun, "there is a howe, wherein lies Kar the Old, the father of Thorfinn. Once upon a time father and son had a farm-property on the island; but ever since Kar died his ghost has been walking and has scared away all the other farmers, so that now the whole island belongs to Thorfinn, and no man who is under Thorfinn's protection suffers any injury."

"You have done right to tell me," said Grettir. "Expect me here to-morrow morning, and have tools ready for digging."

"I won't allow you to have anything to do with it," said Audun, "because I know that it will bring Thorfinn's wrath down upon you."

Grettir said he would risk that.

The night passed; Grettir appeared early the next morning, and the bondi, who had got all the tools for digging ready, went with Grettir to the howe. Grettir broke open the grave, and worked with all his might, never stopping until he came to wood, by which time the day was already spent. He tore away the woodwork; Audun implored him not to go down, but Grettir bade him attend to the rope, saying that he meant to find out what it was that dwelt there. Then he descended into the howe. It was very dark and the odour was not pleasant. He began to explore how it was arranged, and found the bones of a horse. Then he knocked against a sort of throne in which he was aware of a man seated. There was much treasure of gold and silver collected together, and a casket under his feet, full of silver. Grettir took all the treasure and went back towards the rope, but on his way he felt himself seized by a strong hand. He left the treasure to close with his aggressor and the two engaged in a merciless struggle. Everything about them was smashed. The howedweller made a ferocious onslaught. Grettir for some time gave way, but found that no holding back was possible. They did not spare each other. Soon they came to the place where the horse's bones were lying, and here they struggled for long, each in turn being brought to his knees. At last it ended in the howedweller falling backwards with a horrible crash, whereupon Audun above bolted from the rope, thinking that Grettir was killed. Grettir then drew his sword Jokulsnaut, cut off the head of the howedweller and laid it between his thighs. Then he went with the treasure to the rope, but finding Audun gone he had to swarm up the rope with his hands. First he tied the treasure to the lower end of the rope, so that he could haul it up after him. He was very stiff from his struggle with Kar, but he turned his steps towards Thorfinn's house, carrying the treasure along with him. He found them all at supper. Thorfinn cast a severe glance at him and asked what he had found so pressing to do that he could not keep proper hours like other men.

"Many a trifle happens at eve," he replied.

Then he brought out all the treasure which he had taken from the howe and laid it on the table. One thing there was upon which more than anything else Grettir cast his eyes, a short sword, which he declared to be finer than any weapon which he had ever seen. It was the last thing that he showed. Thorfinn opened his eyes when he saw the sword, for it was an heirloom of his family and had never been out of it.

"Whence came this treasure?" he asked.

Grettir then spake a verse:


"Scatterer of gold! 'twas the lust of wealth
that urged my hand to ravish the grave.
This know; but none hereafter, I ween,
will be fain to ransack Fafnir's lair."


Thorfinn said: "You don't seem to take it very seriously; no one ever before had any wish to break open the howe. But since I know that all treasure which is hidden in the earth or buried in a howe is in a wrong place I hold you guilty of no misdeed, especially since you have brought it to me."

Grettir answered:


"The monster is slain! in the dismal tomb
I have captured a sword, dire wounder of men.
Would it were mine I a treasure so rare
I never would suffer my hand to resign."


"You have spoken well," Thorfinn answered. "But before I can give you the sword you must display your prowess in some way. I never got it from my father whilst he lived."

Grettir said: "No one knows to whom the greatest profit will fall ere all is done."

Thorfinn took the treasure and kept the sword in his own custody near his bed. The winter came on bringing Yule-tide, and nothing more happened that need be told of.


19.   Now the summer before these things Earl Eric Hakonson made ready to go from his land west to England, to see King Knut the Mighty, his brother-in-law, but left behind him in the rule of Norway Hakon, his son, and gave him into the hands of Earl Svein, his brother, for the watching and warding of his realm, for Hakon was a child in years.

But before Earl Eric went away from the land, he called together lords and rich bonders, and many things they spoke on laws and the rule of the land, for Earl Eric was a man good at rule. Now men thought it an exceeding ill fashion in the land that runagates or bearserks called to holm high-born men for their fee or womankind, in such wise, that whosoever should fall before the other should lie unatoned; hereof many got both shame and loss of goods, and some lost their lives withal; and therefore Earl Eric did away with all holm-gangs and outlawed all bearserks who fared with raids and riots.

In the making of this law, the chief of all, with Earl Eric, was Thorfinn Karrson, from Haramsey, for he was a wise man, and a dear friend of the Earls.

Two brothers are named as being of the worst in these matters, one hight Thorir Paunch, the other Ogmund the Evil; they were of Halogaland kin, bigger and stronger than other men. They wrought the bearserks'-gang and spared nothing in their fury; they would take away the wives of men and hold them for a week or a half-month, and then bring them back to their husbands; they robbed wheresoever they came, or did some other ill deeds. Now Earl Eric made them outlaws through the length and breadth of Norway, and Thorfinn was the eagerest of men in bringing about their outlawry, therefore they deemed that they owed him ill-will enow.

So the Earl went away from the land, as is said in his Saga; but Earl Svein bore sway over Norway. Thorfinn went home to his house, and sat at home till just up to Yule, as is aforesaid; but at Yule he made ready to go to his farm called Slysfirth, which is on the mainland, and thither he had bidden many of his friends. Thorfinn's wife could not go with her husband, for her daughter of ripe years lay ill a-bed, so they both abode at home. Grettir was at home too, and eight house-carles. Now Thorfinn went with thirty freedmen to the Yule-feast, whereat there was the greatest mirth and joyance among men.

Now Yule-eve comes on, and the weather was bright and calm; Grettir was mostly abroad this day, and saw how ships fared north and south along the land, for each one sought the other's home where the Yule drinking was settled to come off. By this time the goodman's daughter was so much better that she could walk about with her mother, and thus the day wore on.

Now Grettir sees how a ship rows up toward the island; it was not right big, but shield-hung it was from stem to stern, and stained all above the sea: these folk rowed smartly, and made for the boat-stands of goodman Thorfinn, and when the keel took land, those who were therein sprang overboard. Grettir cast up the number of the men, and they were twelve altogether; he deemed their guise to be far from peaceful. They took up their ship and bore it up from the sea; thereafter they ran up to the boat-stand, and therein was that big boat of Thorfinn, which was never launched to sea by less than thirty men, but these twelve shot it in one haul down to the shingle of the foreshore; and thereon they took up their own bark and bore it into the boat-stand.

Now Grettir thought that he could see clear enough that they would make themselves at home. But he goes down to meet them, and welcomes them merrily, and asks who they were and what their leader was hight; he to whom these words were spoken answered quickly, and said that his name was Thorir, and that he was called Paunch, and that his brother was Ogmund, and that the others were fellows of theirs.

"I deem," said Thorir, "that thy master Thorfinn has heard tell of us; is he perchance at home?"

Grettir answered, "Lucky men are ye, and hither have come in a good hour, if ye are the men I take you to be; the goodman is gone away with all his home-folk who are freemen, and will not be home again till after Yule; but the mistress is at home, and so is the goodman's daughter; and if I thought that I had some ill-will to pay back, I should have chosen above all things to have come just thus; for here are all matters in plenty whereof ye stand in need both beer, and all other good things."

Thorir held his peace, while Grettir let this tale run on, then he said to Ogmund

"How far have things come to pass other than as I guessed? and now am I well enough minded to take revenge on Thorfinn for having made us outlaws; and this man is ready enough of tidings, and no need have we to drag the words out of him."

"Words all may use freely," said Grettir, "and I shall give you such cheer as I may; and now come home with me."

They bade him have thanks therefor, and said they would take his offer.

But when they came home to the farm, Grettir took Thorir by the hand and led him into the hall; and now was Grettir mightily full of words. The mistress was in the hall, and had had it decked with hangings, and made all fair and seemly; but when she heard Grettir's talk, she stood still on the floor, and asked whom he welcomed in that earnest wise.

He answered, "Now, mistress, is it right meet to welcome these guests merrily, for here is come goodman Thorir Paunch and the whole twelve of them, and are minded to sit here Yule over, and a right good hap it is, for we were few enough before."

She answered, "Am I to number these among bonders and goodmen, who are the worst of robbers and ill-doers? a large share of my goods had I given that they had not come here as at this time; and ill dost thou reward Thorfinn, for that he took thee a needy man from shipwreck and has held thee through the winter as a free man."

Grettir said, "It would be better to take the wet clothes off these guests than to scold at me; since for that thou mayst have time long enough."

Then said Thorir, "Be not cross-grained, mistress; nought shall thou miss thy husband's being away, for a man shall be got in his place for thee, yea, and for thy daughter a man, and for each of the home-women."

"That is spoken like a man," said Grettir, "nor will they thus have any cause to bewail their lot."

Now all the women rushed forth from the hall smitten with huge dread and weeping; then said Grettir to the bearserks, "Give into my hands what it pleases you to lay aside of weapons and wet clothes, for the folk will not be yielding to us while they are scared."

Thorir said he heeded not how women might squeal; "But," said he, "thee indeed we may set apart from the other home-folk, and methinks we may well make thee our man of trust."

"See to that yourselves," said Grettir, "but certes I do not take to all men alike."

Thereupon they laid aside the more part of their weapons, and thereafter Grettir said

"Methinks it is a good rede now that ye sit down to table and drink somewhat, for it is right likely that ye are thirsty after the rowing."

They said they were ready enough for that, but knew not where to find out the cellar; Grettir asked if they would that he should see for things and go about for them. The bearserks said they would be right fain of that; so Grettir fetched beer and gave them to drink; they were mightily weary, and drank in huge draughts, and still he let them have the strongest beer that there was, and this went on for a long time, and meanwhile he told them many merry tales. From all this there was din enough to be heard among them, and the home-folk were nowise fain to come to them.

Now Thorir said, "Never yet did I meet a man unknown to me, who would do us such good deeds as this man; now, what reward wilt thou take of us for thy work?"

Grettir answered, "As yet I look to no reward for this; but if we be even such friends when ye go away, as it looks like we shall be, I am minded to join fellowship with you; and though I be of less might than some of you, yet shall I not let any man of big redes."

Hereat they were well pleased, and would settle the fellowship with vows.

Grettir said that this they should not do, "For true is the old saw, Ale is another man, nor shall ye settle this in haste any further than as I have said, for on both sides are we men little meet to rule our tempers."

They said that they would not undo what they had said.

Withal the evening wore on till it grew quite dark; then sees Grettir that they were getting very heavy with drink, so he said

"Do ye not find it time to go to sleep?"

Thorir said, "Time enough forsooth, and sure shall I be to keep to what I have promised the mistress."

Then Grettir went forth from the hall, and cried out loudly

"Go ye to your beds, women all, for so is goodman Thorir pleased to bid."

They cursed him for this, and to hear them was like hearkening to the noise of many wolves. Now the bearserks came forth from the hall, and Grettir said

"Let us go out, and I will show you Thorfinn's cloth bower."

They were willing to be led there; so they came to an out-bower exceeding great; a door there was to it, and a strong lock thereon, and the storehouse was very strong withal; there too was a closet good and great, and a shield panelling between the chambers; both chambers stood high, and men went up by steps to them. Now the bearserks got riotous and pushed Grettir about, and he kept tumbling away from them, and when they least thought thereof, he slipped quickly out of the bower, seized the latch, slammed the door to, and put the bolt on. Thorir and his fellows thought at first that the door must have got locked of itself, and paid no heed thereto; they had light with them, for Grettir had showed them many choice things which Thorfinn owned, and these they now noted awhile. Meantime Grettir made all speed home to the farm, and when he came in at the door he called out loudly, and asked where the goodwife was; she held her peace, for she did not dare to answer.

He said, "Here is somewhat of a chance of a good catch; but are there any weapons of avail here?"

She answers, "Weapons there are, but how they may avail thee I know not."

"Let us talk thereof anon," says he, "but now let every man do his best, for later on no better chance shall there be."

The good wife said, "Now God were in garth if our lot might better: over Thorfinn's bed hangs the barbed spear, the big one that was owned by Karr the Old; there, too, is a helmet and a byrni, and the short-sword, the good one; and the arms will not fail if thine heart does well."

Grettir seizes the helmet and spear, girds himself with the short-sword, and rushed out swiftly; and the mistress called upon the house-carles, bidding them follow such a dauntless man, four of them rushed forth and seized their weapons, but the other four durst come nowhere nigh. Now it is to be said of the bearserks that they thought Grettir delayed his coming back strangely; and now they began to doubt if there were not some guile in the matter. They rushed against the door and found it was locked, and now they try the timber walls so that every beam creaked again; at last they brought things so far that they broke down the shield-panelling, got into the passage, and thence out to the steps. Now bearserks'-gang seized them, and they howled like dogs. In that very nick of time Grettir came up and with both hands thrust his spear at the midst of Thorir, as he was about to get down the steps, so that it went through him at once. Now the spear-head was both long and broad, and Ogmund the Evil ran on to Thorir and pushed him on to Grettir's thrust, so that all went up to the barb-ends; then the spear stood out through Thorir's back and into Ogmund's breast, and they both tumbled dead off the spear; then of the others each rushed down the steps as he came forth; Grettir set on each one of them, and in turn hewed with the sword, or thrust with the spear; but they defended themselves with logs that lay on the green, and whatso thing they could lay hands on, therefore the greatest danger it was to deal with them, because of their strength, even though they were weaponless.

Two of the Halogalanders Grettir slew on the green, and then came up the house-carles; they could not come to one mind as to what weapons each should have; now they set on whenever the bearserks gave back, but when they turned about on them, then the house-carles slunk away up to the houses. Six vikings fell there, and of all of them was Grettir the bane. Then the six others got off and came down to the boat-stand, and so into it, and thence they defended themselves with oars. Grettir now got great blows from them, so that at all times he ran the risk of much hurt; but the house-carles went home, and had much to say of their stout onset; the mistress bade them espy what became of Grettir, but that was not to be got out of them. Two more of the bearserks Grettir slew in the boat-stand, but four slipped out by him; and by this, dark night had come on; two of them ran into a corn-barn, at the farm of Windham, which is aforenamed: here they fought for a long time, but at last Grettir killed them both; then was he beyond measure weary and stiff, the night was far gone, and the weather got very cold with the drift of the snow. He was fain to leave the search of the two vikings who were left now, so he walked home to the farm. The mistress had lights lighted in the highest lofts at the windows that they might guide him on his way; and so it was that he found his road home whereas he saw the light.

But when he was come into the door, the mistress went up to him, and bade him welcome.

"Now," she said, "thou hast reaped great glory, and freed me and my house from a shame of which we should never have been healed, but if thou hadst saved us."

Grettir answered, "Methinks I am much the same as I was this evening, when thou didst cast ill words on me."

The mistress answered, "We wotted not that thou wert a man of such prowess as we have now proved thee; now shall all things in the house be at thy will which I may bestow on thee, and which it may be seeming for thee to take; but methinks that Thorfinn will reward thee better still when he comes home."

Grettir answered, "Little of reward will be needed now, but I keep thine offer till the coming of the master; and I have some hope now that ye will sleep in peace as for the bearserks."

Grettir drank little that evening, and lay with his weapons about him through the night. In the morning, when it began to dawn, people were summoned together throughout the island, and a search was set on foot for the bearserks who had escaped the night before; they were found far on in the day under a rock, and were by then dead from cold and wounds; then they were brought unto a tidewashed heap of stones and buried thereunder.

After that folk went home, and the men of that island deemed themselves brought unto fair peace.

Now when Grettir came back to the mistress, he sang this stave


"By the sea's wash have we made
Graves, where twelve spear-groves are laid;
I alone such speedy end,
Unto all these folk did send.
O fair giver forth of gold,
Whereof can great words be told,
'Midst the deeds one man has wrought,
If this deed should come to nought?"


The good wife said, "Surely thou art like unto very few men who are now living on the earth."

So she set him in the high seat, and all things she did well to him, and now time wore on till Thorfinn's coming home was looked for.


19.   Berserks at Haramarsey
The following summer jarl Eirik the son of Hakon was preparing to leave his country and sail to the West to join his brother-in-law King Knut the Great in England, leaving the government of Norway in the hands of Hakon his son, who, being an infant, was placed under the government and regency of Eirik's brother, jarl Sveinn.

Before leaving Eirik summoned all his Landmen and the larger bondis to meet him. Eirik the jarl was an able ruler, and they had much discussion regarding the laws and their administration. It was considered a scandal in the land that pirates and berserks should be able to come into the country and challenge respectable people to the holmgang for their money or their women, no weregild being paid whichever fell. Many had lost their money and been put to shame in this way; some indeed had lost their lives. For this reason jarl Eirik abolished all holmgang in Norway and declared all robbers and berserks who disturbed the peace outlaws. Thorfinn the son of Kar of Haramarsey, being a man of wise counsel and a close friend of the jarl, was present at the meeting.

The worst of these ruffians were two brothers named Thorir Paunch and Ogmund the Bad. They came from Halogaland and were bigger and stronger than other men. When angry they used to fall into the berserk's fury, and nothing escaped that was before them. They used to carry off men's wives, keep them for a week or two and then send them back. Wherever they came they committed robberies and other acts of violence. Jarl Eirik had declared them outlaws throughout Norway. The man who had been most active in getting them outlawed was Thorfinn, and they were determined to pay him out in full for his hostility.

The jarl's expedition is told of in his saga, and the government of Norway was left in the hands of jarl Sveinn, with the regency.

Thorfinn returned home and remained there until about Yule-tide, as has already been told. Towards Yule-tide he made ready to go on a journey to his farm called Slysfjord on the mainland, whither he had invited a number of his friends. He could not take his wife with him, because their grown-up daughter was lying sick, so they both had to stay at home. Grettir and eight of the serving men remained with them. Thorfinn went with thirty freemen to the Yule festival, at which there was much gladness and merriment.

Yule-eve set in with bright and clear weather. Grettir, who was generally abroad in the daytime, was watching the vessels which came along the coast, some from the North, some from the South, meeting at the places agreed upon for their drinking-bouts. The bondi's daughter was then better and could go out with her mother. So the day passed. At last Grettir noticed a ship rowing up to the island, not large, covered with shields amidships and painted above the water-line. They were rowing briskly and making for Thorfinn's boat-houses. They ran the boat on to the beach and all sprang ashore. Grettir counted the men; there were twelve in all, and their aspect did not look peaceful.

After hauling up their boat out of the water they all made for the boat-house where Thorfinn's great boat, mentioned already, was stowed. She always required thirty men to put her to sea, but the twelve shoved her along the beach at once. Then they brought their own boat into the boat-house. It was very evident to Grettir that they did not mean to wait for an invitation, so he went up to them, and greeting them in a friendly way asked who they were and who was their captain. The man whom he addressed answered him at once, saying his name was Thorir, called Paunch; the others were his brother Ogmund with their companions. "I think," he added, "that your master Thorfinn has heard our names mentioned. But is he at home?"

"You must be men who have luck," said Grettir, "you have come most opportunely, if you are the people I take you for. The bondi has gone from home with all his freedmen and will not be back until after Yule. The goodwife is at home with her daughter, and if I had any grudge to repay, I would come just as you do, for there is everything here which you want, ale to drink and other delights."

Thorir was silent while Grettir went on talking. Then he turned to Ogmund and said: "Has anything not happened as I said it would? I should not be sorry to punish Thorfinn for having got us outlawed. This man seems ready to tell us everything; we don't have to drag the words out of his mouth."

"Every one is master of his own words," said Grettir. "If you will come home with me I will give you what entertainment I can."

They thanked him and said they would accept his invitation. When they reached the house Grettir took Thorir by the hand and led him into the hall. He was very talkative. The mistress was in the hall decorating it and putting all in order. On hearing what Grettir said, she came to the door and asked who it was that Grettir was welcoming so warmly.

Grettir answered: "It will be advisable, mistress, to be civil to these men who have come. They are the bondi Thorir Paunch and his followers, and have come, all twelve of them, to spend Yule-tide here. It is fortunate for us, for we have had little company till now."

She said: "I don't call them bondis, nor are they decent men, but arrant robbers and malefactors. I would gladly pay a large portion of my property for them not to have come just at this time. It is an ill return that you make to Thorfinn for having saved you from shipwreck and kept you this winter like a free man, destitute as you were."

"You would do better," said Grettir, "if you first took off the wet clothes from your guests instead of casting reproaches upon me. You will have plenty of time for that."

Then Thorir said: "Don't be angry, mistress! You shall lose nothing by your husband being away, for you shall have a man in his place and so shall your daughter and all the other women."

"That is spoken like a man," said Grettir. "The women shall be quite contented with what they get."

Then all the women fled and began to weep, being overcome by terror. Grettir said to the berserks: "Give me all the things which you want to lay aside, your weapons and your wet clothes, for the men will not obey us while they are frightened."

Thorir said he cared little for the women's whining. "But," he said, "we mean to treat you in a different way from the other men of the house. It seems to me that we may make a comrade of you."

"See to that yourselves," said Grettir. "But I do not look upon all men alike."

Then they laid aside most of their weapons. Grettir said: "I think now you had better sit down at the table and have some drink. You must be thirsty after your rowing."

They said they were quite ready for a drink, but did not know where the cellar was. Grettir asked whether they would let him arrange for their entertainment, which they willingly agreed to. So Grettir went and fetched some ale which he gave them to drink. They were very tired and drank enormously. He kept them well plied with the strongest ale there was, and they sat there for a long time whilst he told them funny stories. There was a tremendous din amongst them all, and the servants had no wish to approach them.

Thorir said: "I never yet met with a stranger who treated me like this man. What reward shall we give you for all that you have done, Grettir?"

Grettir replied: "I don't expect any reward for my services at present. But if when you depart we are still as good friends as we seem to be now, I should very much like to join your company, and though I may not be able to do as much work as any of you, I will not be a hindrance in any doughty undertaking."

They were delighted, and wanted to swear fellowship with him at once. Grettir said that could not be, "for," he added, "there is truth in the saying that Ale is another man, and such a thing should not be done hastily, so let it remain at what I said; we are both little in the habit of restraining ourselves."

They declared that they did not mean to go back. The night was now coming on and it was getting very dark. Grettir noticed that they were rather fuddled, and asked whether they did not think it was time to go to bed. Thorir said: "So it is; but I have to fulfil my promise to the mistress." Grettir then went out and called out loud: "Go to bed, women! Such is the will of Thorir the bondi."

The women execrated him and could be heard howling like wolves. The berserks then left the room. Grettir said: "Let us go outside; I will show you the room in which Thorfinn keeps his clothes."

They were agreeable and all went out to an enormous outhouse, which was very strongly built, and had a strong lock on the outer door. Adjoining it was a large and well-built privy, with only a wooden partition between it and the room of the outhouse, which was raised above the ground and had to be reached by steps. The berserks then began skylarking and pushing Grettir about. He fell down the in steps, as if in sport, and in a moment was out of the house, had pulled the bolt, slammed the door to, and locked it. Thorir and his mates thought at first that the door had swung to of itself, and paid little attention; they had a light with them by which Grettir had been showing them all Thorfinn's treasures, and they continued looking at them for some time.

Grettir went off to the homestead, and on reaching the door cried out very loud, asking where the mistress was. She was silent, being afraid to answer. He said: "Here is rather good sport to be had. Are there any arms which are good for anything?"

"There are arms," she said; "but I don't know for what purpose you want them."

"We will talk about that afterwards; but now let each do what he can; it is the last chance."

"Now indeed were God in the dwelling," she said, "if anything should happen to save us. Over Thorfinn's bed there hangs the great halberd which belonged to Kar the Old; there, too, is a helmet and a corselet and a good short sword. The weapons will not fail if your heart holds firm."

Grettir took the helmet and spear, girt the sword about him and went quickly out. The mistress called to her men and bade them follow their brave champion. Four of them rushed to their arms, but the other four durst not go near them.

Meantime the berserks thought that Grettir was a long time away and began to suspect some treachery. They rushed to the door and found it locked. They strained at the woodwork till every timber groaned. At last they tore down the wooden partition and so gained the passage where the privy was, and thence the steps. Then the berserks' fury fell upon them and they howled like dogs.

At that moment Grettir returned, and taking his halberd in both hands he thrust it right through Thorir's body just as he was about to descend the steps. The blade was very long and broad. Ogmund the Bad was just behind pushing him on, so that the spear passed right up to the hook, came out at his back between the shoulderblades and entered the breast of Ogmund. They both fell dead, pierced by the spear. Then all the others dashed down as they reached the steps. Grettir tackled them each in turn, now thrusting with the spear, now hewing with the sword, while they defended themselves with logs lying on the ground or with anything else which they could get. It was a terrible trial of a man's prowess to deal with men of their strength, even unarmed.

Grettir slew two of the Halogaland men there in the enclosure. Four of the serving-men then came up. They had not been able to agree upon which arms each should take, but they came out to the attack directly the berserks were running away; when these turned against them they fell back on the house. Six of the ruffians fell, all slain by Grettir's own hand; the other six then fled towards the landing place and took refuge in the boat-house, where they defended themselves with oars. Grettir received a severe blow from one of them and narrowly escaped a serious hurt.

The serving-men all went home and told great stories of their own exploits. The lady wanted to know what had become of Grettir, but they could not tell her. Grettir slew two men in the boat- house, but the other four got away, two in one direction, two in another. He pursued those who were nearest to him. The night was very dark. They ran to Vindheim, the place spoken of before, and took refuge in a barn, where they fought for a long time until at last Grettir killed them. By this time he was terribly stiff and exhausted. The night was far spent; it was very cold and there were driving snow-storms. He felt little inclination to go after the two who yet remained, so he went back home. The goodwife kindled a light and put it in a window in the loft at the top of the house, where it served him as a guide, and he was able to find his way home by the light. When he came to the door the mistress came to meet him and bade him welcome.

"You have earned great glory," she said, "and have saved me and my household from a disgrace never to be redeemed if you had not delivered us."

"I think I am much the same person as I was last evening when you spoke so roughly to me," said Grettir.

"We knew not then the might that was in you," she said, "as we know it now. Everything in the house shall be yours, so far as it is fitting for me to bestow and right for you to receive. I doubt not that Thorfinn will reward you in a better way when he comes home."

"There is little that I want as a reward at present," said Grettir. "But I accept your offer until your husband returns. I think now that you will be able to sleep in peace undisturbed by the berserks."

Grettir drank little before he retired and lay all night in his armour. In the morning, directly the day broke, all the men of the island were called together to go forth and search for the two berserks who had escaped. They were found at the end of the day lying under a rock, both dead from cold and from their wounds; they were carried away and buried in a place on the shore beneath the tide, with some loose stones over them, after which the islanders returned home, feeling that they could live in peace. When Grettir came back to the house and met the mistress he spoke a verse:


"Near the surging sea the twelve lie buried.
I stayed not my hand but slew them alone.
Great lady! what deed that is wrought by a man
shall be sung of as worthy if this be deemed small."


She answered: "Certainly you are very unlike any other man now living." She set him in the high seat and gave him the best of everything. So it remained until Thorfinn returned.


20.   After Yule Thorfinn made ready for coming home, and he let those folk go with good gifts whom he had bidden to his feast. Now he fares with his following till he comes hard by his boat-stands; they saw a ship lying on the strand, and soon knew it for Thorfinn's bark, the big one. Now Thorfinn had as yet had no news of the vikings, he bade his men hasten landward, "For I fear," said he, "that friends have not been at work here."

Thorfinn was the first to step ashore before his men, and forthwith he went up to the boat-stand; he saw a keel standing there, and knew it for the bearserks' ship. Then he said to his men, "My mind misgives me much that here things have come to pass, even such as I would have given the whole island, yea, every whit of what I have herein, that they might never have happed."

They asked why he spake thus. Then he said, "Here have come the vikings, whom I know to be the worst of all Norway, Thorir Paunch and Ogmund the Evil; in good sooth they will hardly have kept house happily for us, and in an Icelander I have but little trust."

Withal he spoke many things hereabout to his fellows.

Now Grettir was at home, and so brought it about, that folk were slow to go down to the shore; and said he did not care much if the goodman Thorfinn had somewhat of a shake at what he saw before him; but when the mistress asked him leave to go, he said she should have her will as to where she went, but that he himself should stir nowhither. She ran swiftly to meet Thorfinn, and welcomed him cheerily. He was glad thereof, and said, "Praise be to God that I see thee whole and merry, and my daughter in likewise. But how have ye fared since I went from home?"

She answered, "Things have turned out well, but we were near being overtaken by such a shame as we should never have had healing of, if thy winter-guest had not holpen us."

Then Thorfinn spake, "Now shall we sit down, but do thou tell us these tidings."

Then she told all things plainly even as they had come to pass, and praised greatly Grettir's stoutness and great daring; meanwhile Thorfinn held his peace, but when she had made an end of her tale, he said, "How true is the saw, Long it takes to try a man. But where is Grettir now?"

The goodwife said, "He is at home in the hall."

Thereupon they went home to the farm.

Thorfinn went up to Grettir and kissed him, and thanked him with many fair words for the great heart which he had shown to him; "And I will say to thee what few say to their friends, that I would thou shouldst be in need of men, that then thou mightest know if I were to thee in a man's stead or not; but for thy good deed I can never reward thee unless thou comest to be in some troublous need; but as to thy abiding with me, that shall ever stand open to thee when thou willest it; and thou shalt be held the first of all my men."

Grettir bade him have much thank therefor. "And," quoth he, "this should I have taken even if thou hadst made me proffer thereof before."

Now Grettir sat there the winter over, and was in the closest friendship with Thorfinn; and for this deed he was now well renowned all over Norway, and there the most, where the bearserks had erst wrought the greatest ill deeds.

This spring Thorfinn asked Grettir what he was about to busy himself with: he said he would go north to Vogar while the fair was. Thorfinn said there was ready for him money as much as he would. Grettir said that he needed no more money at that time than faring-silver: this, Thorfinn said, was full-well due to him, and thereupon went with him to ship.

Now he gave him the short-sword, the good one, which Grettir bore as long as he lived, and the choicest of choice things it was. Withal Thorfinn bade Grettir come to him whenever he might need aid.

But Grettir went north to Vogar, and a many folk were there; many men welcomed him there right heartily who had not seen him before, for the sake of that great deed of prowess which he had done when he saw the vikings; many high-born men prayed him to come and abide with them, but he would fain go back to his friend Thorfinn. Now he took ship in a bark that was owned of a man hight Thorkel, who dwelt in Salft in Halogaland, and was a high-born man. But when Grettir came to Thorkel he welcomed him right heartily, and bade Grettir abide with him that winter, and laid many words thereto.

This offer Grettir took, and was with Thorkel that winter in great joyance and fame.


20.   Thorfinn's return. Grettir visits the North
When Yule-tide was past, Thorfinn made ready for his homeward journey and dismissed his many guests with gifts. He sailed with all his men and landed near the place where the boat-houses were.

They saw a ship lying on the sand which they at once recognised as his great boat. Thorfinn had heard nothing of the vikings and told his men to put him on shore, "for I suspect," he said, "that they are not friends who have been at work here."

Thorfinn was the first to land, and went straight to the boat- house, where he saw a craft which he knew at once to be that of the berserks. He said to his men: "I suspect that things have taken place here such that I would give the whole island and everything that is in it for them not to have happened."

They asked how that was.

"Vikings have been here, men whom I know as the worst in all Norway, namely Thorir Paunch and Ogmund the Bad. They will not have dealt gently with us. I mistrust that Icelander."

Then he spoke many things to his men. Grettir was at home and detained the men from going down to the shore. He said he did not care if the bondi got a little fright from what he saw. The goodwife asked his leave to go down, and he said she was mistress of her own ways, but that he was not going. So she hurried away to greet Thorfinn and embraced him joyfully. He was rejoiced to see her and said: "God be praised that I see you well and my daughter too. But what has happened to you since I left?"

"It has ended well," she said. "But we were nigh to suffering a disgrace which could never have been wiped out, had not your winter-guest aided us."

Thorfinn said: "Let us sit down and you shall tell me everything."

Then she told him fully all that had happened, praising highly Grettir's courage and resourcefulness. Thorfinn was silent while she was speaking, and when she had finished he said: "True indeed is the word, `Long shall a man be tried'. But where is Grettir?"

"He is at home in the hall," she answered.

Then they went up to the house. Thorfinn went to Grettir and turned towards him and thanked him with the fairest words for his courageous conduct.

"I will say a word to you," he said, "which few would say to their friend. I would it might happen that you should need the help of a man, for you to know whether I count for anything or not; I cannot repay what you have done for me as long as you are not in straits. You shall have in my house whatever you desire, and shall be in the highest honour in my household."

Grettir thanked him and said he would have accepted his offer even if he had made it earlier.

Grettir stayed there the rest of the winter in high favour with Thorfinn. The fame of his deed spread through all Norway, especially in those parts where the berserks had ravaged most mercilessly. In the spring Thorfinn asked him what he would like to do. He said he would go North to Vagar while the fair was on there. Thorfinn said that any money which he required should be at his service; Grettir said he did not want more just then than enough to pay for his living. Thorfinn said that was his due, and brought him to a ship, where he gave him the excellent short sword. Grettir kept it as long as he lived; it was a most precious possession. Thorfinn bade him come to him if ever he wanted any help.

Grettir then travelled to Vagar, which was crowded with people. Many whom he had never set eyes on before greeted him warmly because of his exploit in killing the vikings, and several of the leading men invited him to stay with them, but he preferred to return to his friend Thorfinn. So he took his passage in a trading ship belonging to one Thorkell, a man of some consideration in Salfti in Halogaland. Grettir went to visit Thorkell in his home, where he received a hearty welcome and a very pressing invitation to stay there for the winter. Grettir accepted the invitation and stayed the winter with Thorkell, who treated him with great honour.


21.   There was a man, hight Biorn, who was dwelling with Thorkel; he was a man of rash temper, of good birth, and somewhat akin to Thorkel; he was not well loved of men, for he would slander much those who were with Thorkel, and in this wise he sent many away. Grettir and he had little to do together; Biorn thought him of little worth weighed against himself, but Grettir was unyielding, so that things fell athwart between them. Biorn was a mightily boisterous man, and made himself very big; many young men gat into fellowship with him in these things, and would stray abroad by night. Now it befell, that early in winter a savage bear ran abroad from his winter lair, and got so grim that he spared neither man nor beast. Men thought he had been roused by the noise that Biorn and his fellows had made. The brute got so hard to deal with that he tore down the herds of men, and Thorkel had the greatest hurt thereof, for he was the richest man in the neighbourhood.

Now one day Thorkel bade his men to follow him, and search for the lair of the bear. They found it in sheer sea-rocks; there was a high rock and a cave before it down below, but only one track to go up to it: under the cave were scarped rocks, and a heap of stones down by the sea, and sure death it was to all who might fall down there. The bear lay in his lair by day, but went abroad as soon as night fell; no fold could keep sheep safe from him, nor could any dogs be set on him: and all this men thought the heaviest trouble. Biorn, Thorkel's kinsman, said that the greatest part had been done, as the lair had been found. "And now I shall try," said he, "what sort of play we namesakes shall have together." Grettir made as if he knew not what Biorn said on this matter.

Now it happened always when men went to sleep anights that Biorn disappeared: and one night when Biorn went to the lair, he was aware that the beast was there before him, and roaring savagely. Biorn lay down in the track, and had over him his shield, and was going to wait till the beast should stir abroad as his manner was. Now the bear had an inkling of the man, and got somewhat slow to move off. Biorn waxed very sleepy where he lay, and cannot wake up, and just at this time the beast betakes himself from his lair; now he sees where the man lies, and, hooking at him with his claw, he tears from him the shield and throws it down over the rocks. Biorn started up suddenly awake, takes to his legs and runs home, and it was a near thing that the beast gat him not. This his fellows knew, for they had spies about Biorn's ways; in the morning they found the shield, and made the greatest jeering at all this.

At Yule Thorkel went himself, and eight of them altogether, and there was Grettir and Biorn and other followers of Thorkel. Grettir had on a fur-cloak, which he laid aside while they set on the beast. It was awkward for an onslaught there, for thereat could folk come but by spear-thrusts, and all the spear-points the bear turned off him with his teeth. Now Biorn urged them on much to the onset, yet he himself went not so nigh as to run the risk of any hurt. Amid this, when men looked least for it, Biorn suddenly seized Grettir's coat, and cast it into the beast's lair. Now nought they could wreak on him, and had to go back when the day was far spent. But when Grettir was going, he misses his coat, and he could see that the bear has it cast under him. Then he said, "What man of you has wrought the jest of throwing my cloak into the lair?"

Biorn says, "He who is like to dare to own to it."

Grettir answers, "I set no great store on such matters."

Now they went on their way home, and when they had walked awhile, the thong of Grettir's leggings brake. Thorkel bid them wait for him; but Grettir said there was no need of that. Then said Biorn, "Ye need not think that Grettir will run away from his coat; he will have the honour all to himself, and will slay that beast all alone, wherefrom we have gone back all eight of us; thus would he be such as he is said to be: but sluggishly enow has he fared forth to-day."

"I know not," said Thorkel, "how thou wilt fare in the end, but men of equal prowess I deem you not: lay as few burdens on him as thou mayst, Biorn."

Biorn said, that neither of them should pick and choose words from out his mouth.

Now, when a hill's brow was between them, Grettir went back to the pass, for now there was no striving with others for the onset. He drew the sword, Jokul's gift, but had a loop over the handle of the short-sword, and slipped it up over his hand, and this he did in that he thought he could easier have it at his will if his hand were loose. He went up into the pass forthwith, and when the beast saw a man, it rushed against Grettir exceeding fiercely, and smote at him with that paw which was furthest off from the rock; Grettir hewed against the blow with the sword, and therewith smote the paw above the claws, and took it off; then the beast was fain to smite at Grettir with the paw that was whole, and dropped down therewith on to the docked one, but it was shorter than he wotted of, and withal he tumbled into Grettir's arms. Now he griped at the beast between the ears and held him off, so that he got not at him to bite. And, so Grettir himself says, that herein he deemed he had had the hardest trial of his strength, thus to hold the brute. But now as it struggled fiercely, and the space was narrow, they both tumbled down over the rock; the beast was the heaviest of the two, and came down first upon the stone heap below, Grettir being the uppermost, and the beast was much mangled on its nether side. Now Grettir seized the short-sword and thrust it into the heart of the bear, and that was his bane. Thereafter he went home, taking with him his cloak all tattered, and withal what he had cut from the paw of the bear. Thorkel sat a-drinking when he came into the hall, and much men laughed at the rags of the cloak Grettir had cast over him. Now he threw on to the table what he had chopped off the paw.

Then said Thorkel, "Where is now Biorn my kinsman? never did I see thy irons bite the like of this, Biorn, and my will it is, that thou make Grettir a seemly offer for this shame thou hast wrought on him."

Biorn said that was like to be long about, "and never shall I care whether he likes it well or ill."

Then Grettir sang


"Oft that war-god came to hall
Frighted, when no blood did fall,
In the dusk; who ever cried
On the bear last autumn-tide;
No man saw me sitting there
Late at eve before the lair;
Yet the shaggy one to-day
From his den I drew away."


"Sure enough," said Biorn, "thou hast fared forth well to-day, and two tales thou tellest of us twain therefor; and well I know that thou hast had a good hit at me."

Thorkel said, "I would, Grettir, that thou wouldst not avenge thee on Biorn, but for him I will give a full man-gild if thereby ye may be friends."

Biorn said he might well turn his money to better account, than to boot for this; "And, methinks it is wisest that in my dealings with Grettir one oak should have what from the other it shaves."

Grettir said that he should like that very well. But Thorkel said, "Yet I hope, Grettir, that thou wilt do this for my sake, not to do aught against Biorn while ye are with me."

"That shall be," said Grettir.

Biorn said he would walk fearless of Grettir wheresoever they might meet.

Grettir smiled mockingly, but would not take boot for Biorn. So they were here that winter through.


21.   Adventure with a bear
There was a man named Bjorn who was then on a visit to Thorkell. He was of a somewhat violent character of good family and related in some way to Thorkell. He was not generally liked, because he was too much given to talking against the men who were about Thorkell and drove many away from him. He and Grettir did not get on at all. Bjorn thought him of small account compared to himself; Grettir paid him little deference, and it became an open feud. Bjorn was a boisterous swaggering man, and many of the younger men imitated him, loitering about outside in the evenings.

It happened at the beginning of the winter that a savage brown bear broke out of its den and raged about destroying men and cattle. Every one declared that it had been provoked by the noise which Bjorn and his company made. The beast became most mischievous, attacking the flocks in the very face of the men themselves. Thorkell, being the wealthiest man of that part, suffered most. One day he called up his men to come with him and search out the bear's den. They found it in a cliff by the sea where there was a cave under an overhanging rock, with a narrow path leading to the entrance. Below was a sheer precipice down to the beach, threatening certain death to any one who stumbled. In this den the bear lay in the daytime, going abroad at night. Fences were of no avail against him, nor could the dogs do anything, so that all were in the utmost distress. Thorkell's kinsman Bjorn declared that the main thing was gained now that they had found the den. "Now we shall see," he said, "how the game will go with me and my namesake." Grettir pretended not to hear what he said.

In the evenings when the others retired to bed, Bjorn used generally to go out. One night he went to the bear's den and found the creature inside, growling horribly. He lay down in the path, placing his shield over him, intending to wait until the beast came out as usual. Bruin, however, got wind of him and was rather slow in coming out. Bjorn got very sleepy where he was lying and could not keep awake; in the meantime out came the bear from his den and saw a man lying there. He clawed at him, dragged off his shield and threw it down the cliff. Bjorn woke up, not a little startled, took to his heels and ran off home, narrowly escaping the bear's clutches. His friends knew all about it, having watched his movements; on the next morning they found the shield and made great game of his adventure.

At Yule-time Thorkell himself went out to the den with Bjorn, Grettir and others of his men, a party of eight in all. Grettir had on a fur cape which he put off when they were attacking the bear. It was rather difficult to get at him, since they could only reach him with spear-thrusts, which he parried with his teeth. Bjorn kept urging them on to tackle him, but himself did not go near enough to be in any danger. At last, when no one was looking out, he took Grettir's fur cloak and threw it in to the bear. They did not succeed in getting the bear out, and when night came on turned to go home. Grettir then missed his cloak and saw that the bear had got it into his grip.

"Who has been playing tricks on me?" he cried. "Who threw my cloak into the cave?"

Bjorn answered: "He who did it will not be afraid to say so."

"Things of that sort do not trouble me much," said Grettir.

Then they started on their way home. After they had gone a little way Grettir's garter broke. Thorkell told them to wait for him, but Grettir said it was not necessary. Then Bjorn said: "There is no need to suppose that Grettir will run away from his cloak. He wants to have the honour of killing the beast all alone, and he will say that we eight men went away. Then he would appear to be what he is said to be. He has been backward enough all day."

"I don't know how you stand in that matter," said Thorkell. "You and he are not equal in valour; do not make any to-do about him."

Bjorn said that neither he nor Grettir should choose the words out of his mouth.

There was a hill between them and Grettir, who had turned back along the footpath. Now he had no others to reckon with in making the attack. He drew his sword Jokulsnaut and tied a loop round the handle which he passed over his wrist, because he thought that he could carry out his plans better if his hand were free. He went along the path. When the bear saw a man coming, he charged savagely, and struck at him with the paw that was on the side away from the precipice. Grettir aimed a blow at him with his sword and cut off his paw just above the claws. Then the creature tried to strike him with his sound paw, but to do so he had to drop on the stump, which was shorter than he expected, and over he fell into Grettir's embraces. Grettir seized the beast by the ears and held him off so that he could not bite. He always said that he considered this holding back the bear the greatest feat of strength that he ever performed. The beast struggled violently; the space was very narrow, and they both fell over the precipice. The bear being the heavier came down first on the beach; Grettir fell on the top of him, and the bear was badly mauled on the side that was down. Grettir got his sword, ran it into the heart of the bear and killed him. Then he went home, after fetching his cloak which was torn to pieces. He also took with him the bit of the paw which he had cut off.

Thorkell was sitting and drinking when Grettir entered. They all laughed at the ragged cloak which he was wearing. Then he laid the piece of the paw upon the table. Thorkell said: "Where is my kinsman Bjorn? I never saw iron bite like that in your hands. Now I would like you to show Grettir some honour to make up for the shame which you cast upon him."

Bjorn said that could wait, and that it mattered little to him whether Grettir was pleased or not. Grettir then spoke a verse:


"Oft returned the watcher at night
trembling home, but sound in limb.
None ever saw me sit in the dusk
at the cave; yet now I am home returned."


"It is true," said Bjorn, "that you have fought well; and also true that our opinions differ. I suppose you think that your taunts hurt me."

Thorkell said: "I should be glad, Grettir, if you would not revenge yourself upon Bjorn. I will pay the full weregild of a man for you to be reconciled."

Bjorn said he might invest his money better than in paying for that; and that it would be better for him and Grettir to go on bickering since "each oak has that which it scrapes from the other." Thorkell said: "But I ask you, Grettir, to do so much for my sake as not to attack Bjorn while you are both with me."

"That I promise," said Grettir.

Bjorn said that he would walk without fear of Grettir wherever they met. Grettir grinned, and would accept no money on account of Bjorn. They stayed there the winter.


22.   In the spring Grettir went north to Vogar with chapmen. He and Thorkel parted in friendship; but Biorn went west to England, and was the master of Thorkel's ship that went thither. Biorn dwelt thereabout that summer and bought such things for Thorkel as he had given him word to get; but as the autumn wore on he sailed from the west. Grettir was at Vogar till the fleet broke up; then he sailed from the north with some chapmen until they came to a harbour at an island before the mouth of Drontheimfirth, called Gartar, where they pitched their tents. Now when they were housed, a ship came sailing havenward from the south along the land; they soon saw that it was an England farer; she took the strand further out, and her crew went ashore; Grettir and his fellows went to meet them. But when they met, Grettir saw that Biorn was among those men, and spake

"It is well that we have met here; now we may well take up our ancient quarrel, and now I will try which of us twain may do the most."

Biorn said that was an old tale to him, "but if there has been aught of such things between us, I will boot for it, so that thou mayst think thyself well holden thereof."

Then Grettir sang


"In hard strife I slew the bear,
Thereof many a man doth hear;
Then the cloak I oft had worn,
By the beast to rags was torn;
Thou, O braggart ring-bearer,
Wrought that jest upon me there,
Now thou payest for thy jest,
Not in words am I the best?"


Biorn said, that oft had greater matters than these been atoned for.

Grettir said, "That few had chosen hitherto to strive to trip him up with spite and envy, nor ever had he taken fee for such, and still must matters fare in likewise. Know thou that we shall not both of us go hence whole men if I may have my will, and a coward's name will I lay on thy back, if thou darest not to fight."

Now Biorn saw that it would avail nought to try to talk himself free; so he took his weapons and went aland.

Then they ran one at the other and fought, but not long before Biorn got sore wounded, and presently fell dead to earth. But when Biorn's fellows saw that, they went to their ship, and made off north along the land to meet Thorkel and told him of this hap: he said it had not come to pass ere it might have been looked for.

Soon after this Thorkel went south to Drontheim, and met there Earl Svein. Grettir went south to Mere after the slaying of Biorn, and found his friend Thorfinn, and told him what had befallen. Thorfinn gave him good welcome, and said

"It is well now that thou art in need of a friend; with me shalt thou abide until these matters have come to an end."

Grettir thanked him for his offer, and said he would take it now.

Earl Svein was dwelling in Drontheim, at Steinker, when he heard of Biorn's slaying; at that time there was with him Hiarandi, the brother of Biorn, and he was the Earl's man; he was exceeding wroth when he heard of the slaying of Biorn, and begged the Earl's aid in the matter, and the Earl gave his word thereto.

Then he sent men to Thorfinn and summoned to him both him and Grettir. Thorfinn and Grettir made ready at once at the Earl's bidding to go north to Drontheim to meet him. Now the Earl held a council on the matter, and bade Hiarandi to be thereat; Hiarandi said he would not bring his brother to purse; "and I shall either fare in a like wise with him, or else wreak vengeance for him." Now when the matter was looked into, the Earl found that Biorn had been guilty towards Grettir in many ways; and Thorfinn offered weregild, such as the Earl deemed might be befitting for Biorn's kin to take; and thereon he had much to say on the freedom which Grettir had wrought for men north there in the land, when he slew the bearserks, as has been aforesaid.

The Earl answered, "With much truth thou sayest this, Thorfinn, that was the greatest land-ridding, and good it seems to us to take weregild because of thy words; and withal Grettir is a man well renowned because of his strength and prowess."

Hiarandi would not take the settlement, and they broke up the meeting. Thorfinn got his kinsman Arnbiorn to go about with Grettir day by day, for he knew that Hiarandi lay in wait for his life.


22.   Grettir kills Bjorn and is summoned before Jarl Sveinn
In the spring Grettir went North to Vagar with Thorkell's men. They parted with friendship. Bjorn went West to England in Thorkell's ship, of which he was master, staying there for the summer and transacting the business which Thorkell had entrusted to him. In the end of the autumn he returned from the western parts. Grettir stayed in Vagar till the trading ships left, and then sailed South with some of the traders, as far as the port of Gartar at the mouth of the Thrandheim's Fjord, where he set up the awnings to make a stay. When they were settled down a ship came up along the coast from the South, which they at once recognised as one of the ships from England. She made fast further out off the coast and her crew landed. Grettir went out with his companions to visit them. On their meeting Grettir found Bjorn amongst the company and said: "It is well that we meet here, for now we can continue our former quarrel. I should like to try which of us is the better man."

Bjorn said that was all past now, as far as he was concerned. "But," he said, "if there has been anything between us I will pay you such compensation that you shall be satisfied." Grettir spoke a verse:


"Time was when the bear was slain by my hand;
my cloak in tatters was torn.
A rascally knave was the cause of it all
but now he shall make me amends."


Bjorn said that weightier matters than this had been settled by payment. Grettir said that few men had any reason to act maliciously towards him; he had accepted no money-atonement, nor would he do so now; that if he had his way they should not both go away unhurt, and that if Bjorn refused to fight he would brand him as a coward. Bjorn saw that excuses would not avail him, so he took his arms and went out. They rushed at each other and fought; soon Bjorn was wounded and then he fell dead to the ground. On seeing that, his men went on board their ship, sailed away to the North along the coast to Thorkell's place and told him what had happened. He said it had not come sooner than he expected. Directly afterwards he sailed to the South to Thrandheim where he found jarl Sveinn.

Grettir, after slaying Bjorn, went to More to his friend Thorfinn and told him exactly what had happened. Thorfinn received him in a most friendly way. "I am glad," he said, "that you will now have need of a friend. You must stay with me until this affair is finished."

Grettir thanked him for his invitation and said he would accept it.

Jarl Sveinn was staying at Steinker in Thrandheim when he heard of the Slaying of Bjorn. With him was a brother of Bjorn named Hjarrandi, as one of his bodyguard. On hearing of Bjorn's death he became very angry and begged the jarl for his support in the matter, which the jarl promised that he should have. He sent messengers to Thorfinn to summon both him and Grettir to appear before him. Immediately on receiving the jarl's commands they both made ready and came to Thrandheim. The jarl held a council on the matter and ordered Hjarrandi to be present. Hjarrandi said he was not going to weigh his brother against his purse, and that he must either follow him or avenge him.

When the case was looked into, it became evident that Bjorn had given Grettir many provocations. Thorfinn offered to pay a fine such as the jarl thought suitable to the position of his kinsman, and dwelt at length upon Grettir's achievement in killing the berserks, and how he had delivered the men in the North from them.

The jarl answered: "Truth do you speak, Thorfinn! that was indeed a cleansing! It would befit us well to accept the compensation for your sake. Grettir, too, is a fine fellow, and noted for his strength and valour."

Hjarrandi, however, would accept no compensation, and the meeting came to an end. Thorfinn appointed one of his kinsmen, Arnbjorn, to accompany Grettir every day, for he knew that Hjarrandi was plotting against his life.


23.   It happened one day that Grettir and Arnbiorn were walking through some streets for their sport, that as they came past a certain court gate, a man bounded forth therefrom with axe borne aloft, and drave it at Grettir with both hands; he was all unawares of this, and walked on slowly; Arnbiorn caught timely sight of the man, and seized Grettir, and thrust him on so hard that he fell on his knee; the axe smote the shoulder-blade, and cut sideways out under the arm-pit, and a great wound it was. Grettir turned about nimbly, and drew the short-sword, and saw that there was Hiarandi. Now the axe stuck fast in the road, and it was slow work for Hiarandi to draw it to him again, and in this very nick of time Grettir hewed at him, and the blow fell on the upper arm, near the shoulder, and cut it off; then the fellows of Hiarandi rushed forth, five of them, and a fight forthwith befell, and speedy change happed there, for Grettir and Arnbiorn slew those who were with Hiarandi, all but one, who got off, and forthwith went to the Earl to tell him these tidings.

The Earl was exceeding wroth when he heard of this, and the second day thereafter he had a Thing summoned. Then they, Thorfinn and Grettir, came both to the Thing. The Earl put forth against Grettir the guilt for these manslaughters; he owned them all, and said he had had to defend his hands.

"Whereof methinks I bear some marks on me," says Grettir, "and surely I had found death if Arnbiorn had not saved me."

The Earl answered that it was ill hap that Grettir was not slain.

"For many a man's bane wilt thou be if thou livest, Grettir."

Then came to the Earl, Bessi, son of Skald-Torfa, a fellow and a friend to Grettir; he and Thorfinn went before the Earl had prayed him respite for Grettir, and offered, that the Earl alone should doom in this matter, but that Grettir might have peace and leave to dwell in the land.

The Earl was slow to come to any settlement, but suffered himself to be led thereto because of their prayers. There respite was granted to Grettir till the next spring; still the Earl would not settle the peace till Gunnar, the brother of Biorn and Hiarandi, was thereat; now Gunnar was a court-owner in Tunsberg.

In the spring, the Earl summoned Grettir and Thorfinn east to Tunsberg, for he would dwell there east while the most sail was thereat. Now they went east thither, and the Earl was before them in the town when they came. Here Grettir found his brother, Thorstein Dromond, who was fain of him and bade him abide with him: Thorstein was a court-owner in the town. Grettir told him all about his matters, and Thorstein gave a good hearing thereto, but bade him beware of Gunnar. And so the spring wore on.


23.   Grettir kills Hjarrand
One day Grettir and arnbjorn were walking along the road for their diversion when they passed a gate, whence a man rushed out holding an axe aloft with both hands and struck at Grettir, who was not on his guard and was moving slowly. arnbjorn, however, saw the man coming, seized Grettir and pushed him aside with such force that he fell on his knee. the axe struck him in the shoulder-blade and cut down to below the arm, inflicting a severe wound. Grettir turned quickly and drew his sword; he saw that it was hjarrandi who had attacked him. the axe had stuck fast in the road, and hjarrandi was slow in recovering it. Grettir struck at him and cut off his arm at the shoulder. then there came running up five of hjarrandi's followers and a battle began with them. they were soon routed; Grettir and arnbjorn killed the five who were with hjarrandi; one man escaped and bore the tale to the jarl forthwith. the jarl was very angry indeed, and summoned the assembly for the next day. thorfinn and his party appeared thereat. the jarl brought a charge of manslaughter against Grettir, who admitted it and said that he had been obliged to defend himself. "i bear the marks of it," he said. "i should have been killed if arnbjorn had not defended me."

The jarl said it was a pity he had not been killed, for this affair would lead to many a man being slain if he lived.

There had come to the jarl's court Bersi the son of Skaldtorfa, Grettir's comrade and friend. He and Thorfinn stepped before the jarl and begged for pardon for Grettir. They asked that the jarl should decide the matter himself as he thought best, only that Grettir should have his life and the freedom of the country. The jarl was averse to any terms being granted to him, but gave way to their entreaties. He granted immunity to Grettir until the spring, but not absolutely until Gunnar the brother of Bjorn and Hjarrandi should be present. Gunnar was a landed proprietor in Tunsberg.

In the spring the jarl ordered Grettir and Thorfinn to appear at Tunsberg, where he himself intended to be while the shipping was assembled. So thither they went, and found the jarl was already in the town. There Grettir met his brother Thorsteinn Dromund, who greeted him joyfully and invited him to be his guest. He was a landowner in the town. Grettir told him all about his case, and Thorsteinn took his view of it, but told him to beware of Gunnar. So the spring passed.


24.   Now Gunnar was in the town, and lay in wait for Grettir always and everywhere. It happened on a day that Grettir sat in a booth a-drinking, for he would not throw himself in Gunnar's way. But, when he wotted of it the least, the door was driven at so that it brake asunder, four men all-armed burst in, and there was Gunnar and his fellows.

They set on Grettir; but he caught up his weapons which hung over him, and then drew aback into the corner, whence he defended himself, having before him the shield, but dealing blows with the short-sword, nor did they have speedy luck with him. Now he smote at one of Gunnar's fellows, and more he needed not; then he advanced forth on the floor, and therewith they were driven doorward through the booth, and there fell another man of Gunnar's; then were Gunnar and his fellows fain of flight; one of them got to the door, struck his foot against the threshold and lay there grovelling and was slow in getting to his feet. Gunnar had his shield before him, and gave back before Grettir, but he set on him fiercely and leaped up on the cross-beam by the door. Now the hands of Gunnar and the shield were within the door, but Grettir dealt a blow down amidst Gunnar and the shield and cut off both his hands by the wrist, and he fell aback out of the door; then Grettir dealt him his death-blow.

But in this nick of time got to his feet Gunnar's man, who had lain fallen awhile, and he ran straightway to see the Earl, and to tell him these tidings.

Earl Svein was wondrous wroth at this tale, and forthwith summoned a Thing in the town. But when Thorfinn and Thorstein Dromond knew this, they brought together their kin and friends and came thronging to the Thing. Very cross-grained was the Earl, and it was no easy matter to come to speech with him. Thorfinn went up first before the Earl and said, "For this cause am I come hither, to offer thee peace and honour for these man-slayings that Grettir has wrought; thou alone shall shape and settle all, if the man hath respite of his life."

The Earl answered sore wroth: "Late wilt thou be loth to ask respite for Grettir; but in my mind it is that thou hast no good cause in court; he has now slain three brothers, one at the heels of the other, who were men so brave that they would none bear the other to purse. Now it will not avail thee, Thorfinn, to pray for Grettir, for I will not thus bring wrongs into the land so as to take boot for such unmeasured misdeeds."

Then came forward Bessi, Skald-Torfa's son, and prayed the Earl to take the offered settlement. "Thereto," he said, "I will give up my goods, for Grettir is a man of great kin and a good friend of mine; thou mayst well see, Lord, that it is better to respite one man's life and to have therefor the thanks of many, thyself alone dooming the fines, than to break down thine own honour, and risk whether thou canst seize the man or not."

The Earl answered, "Thou farest well herein, Bessi, and showest at all times that thou art a high-minded man; still I am loth thus to break the laws of the land, giving respite to men of foredoomed lives."

Then stepped forth Thorstein Dromond and greeted the Earl, and made offers on Grettir's behalf, and laid thereto many fair words. The Earl asked for what cause he made offers for this man. Thorstein said that they were brothers. The Earl said that he had not known it before: "Now it is but the part of a man for thee to help him, but because we have made up our mind not to take money for these man-slayings, we shall make all men of equal worth here, and Grettir's life will we have, whatsoever it shall cost and whensoever chance shall serve."

Thereat the Earl sprang up, and would listen in nowise to the offered atonements.

Now Thorfinn and his folk went home to Thorstein's court and made ready. But when the Earl saw this he bade all his men take weapons, and then he went thither with his folk in array. But before he came up Thorfinn and his men ordered themselves for defence before the gate of the court. Foremost stood Thorfinn and Thorstein and Grettir, and then Bessi, and each of them had a large following of men with him.

The Earl bade them to give up Grettir, nor to bring themselves into an evil strait; they made the very same offer as before. The Earl would not hearken thereto. Then Thorfinn and Thorstein said that the Earl should have more ado yet for the getting of Grettir's life, "For one fate shall befall us all, and it will be said thou workest hard for one man's life, if all we have to be laid on earth therefor."

The Earl said he should spare none of them, and now they were at the very point to fight.

Then went to the Earl many men of goodwill, and prayed him not to push matters on to such great evils, and said they would have to pay heavily before all these were slain. The Earl found this rede to be wholesome, and became somewhat softened thereat.

Thereafter they drew up an agreement to which Thorstein and Thorfinn were willing enough, now that Grettir should have respite of his life. The Earl spake: "Know ye," quoth he, "that though I deal by way of mean words with these man-slayings at this time, yet I call this no settlement, but I am loth to fight against my own folk; though I see that ye make little of me in this matter."

Then said Thorfinn, "This is a greater honour for thee, Lord, for that thou alone wilt doom the weregild."

Then the Earl said that Grettir should go in peace, as for him, out to Iceland, when ships fared out, if so they would; they said that they would take this. They paid the Earl fines to his mind, and parted from him with little friendship. Grettir went with Thorfinn; he and his brother Thorstein parted fondly.

Thorfinn got great fame for the aid he had given Grettir against such overwhelming power as he had to deal with: none of the men who had helped Grettir were ever after well loved of the Earl, save Bessi.

So quoth Grettir


"To our helping came
The great of name;
Thorfinn was there
Born rule to bear;
When all bolts fell
Into locks, and hell
Cried out for my life
In the Tunsberg strife.
The Dromund fair
Of red seas was there,
The stone of the bane
Of steel-gods vain:
From Bylest's kin
My life to win,
Above all men
He laboured then.



Then the king's folk
Would strike no stroke
To win my head;
So great grew dread;
For the leopard came
With byrni's flame,
And on thoughts-burg wall
Should that bright fire fall."


Grettir went back north with Thorfinn, and was with him till he gat him to ship with chapmen who were bound out to Iceland: he gave him many fair gifts of raiment, and a fair-stained saddle and a bridle withal. They parted in friendship, and Thorfinn bade him come to him whensoever he should come back to Norway.


24.   Grettir kills Gunnar. His friends rally round him and save him from the vengeance of the Jarl
Gunnar was in the town and was plotting against Grettir's life. Wherever he went Gunnar dogged his steps wherever he found a chance of getting near him. One day Grettir was sitting in a booth and drinking, because he wanted to keep out of Gunnar's way. Suddenly there was a bang at the door, so hard that it broke in pieces, and in rushed four men armed and attacked Grettir. They were Gunnar with his followers. Grettir seized his arms which were hanging above his head and ran into a corner, where he defended himself, holding his shield before him, and hewing with his sword. They made little way against him. One blow he succeeded in delivering upon one of Gunnar's followers, who needed nothing more. Then Grettir advanced, driving them before him out of the booth, and killing another of them. Gunnar would fain have got away with his men, but on reaching the door he caught his foot on the doorstep, fell over and was not able to recover himself at once. He held his shield before him and retreated as Grettir pressed him hard. Then Grettir sprang on to the crossbenches near the door. Gunnar's hands and the shield were still inside the door, and Grettir struck down between him and the shield, cutting off both his hands at the wrist. He fell backwards out of the door, and Grettir gave him his death-blow. Then the man who was behind him got on his feet and ran off at once to tell the jarl what had happened. Sveinn was furious, and called the assembly to meet there and then in the town. When Thorfinn and Thorsteinn Dromund heard the news, they called all their followers and friends together and went to the meeting in force. The jarl was very wroth, and it was no easy matter to get speech with him. Thorfinn was the first to come before the jarl, and he said: "I have come to offer an honourable atonement for the man who has been slain by Grettir. The judgment shall remain with you alone if you but spare his life."

The jarl replied in great wrath: "It is too late to beg for Grettir's life, and you have no case that I can see. He has killed three brothers, one at the feet of the other; men of noble minds who would not weigh each other against their purses. Now, Thorfinn, it will not avail you to beg for Grettir; I will not do such a wrong in the land as to accept atonement for such a crime as this."

Then Bersi the son of Skaldtorfa came up and begged the jarl to accept blood-money. "Grettir," he said, "is a man of high birth and is my good friend. I offer you what I possess. May you see, my lord, that it is better by sparing one man to earn the goodwill of many and to fix the penalty yourself than to refuse honourable terms and risk whether you can arrest the man or not."

The jarl replied: "You do right, Bersi; and herein as ever you show your worth. But I do not mean to break the laws of the land by granting life to a man who has forfeited it."

Then Thorsteinn Dromund came forward, and he, too, offered blood-money on behalf of Grettir, adding many fair words thereto.

The jarl asked what moved him to offer blood-money for the man. Thorsteinn said Grettir was his brother. The jarl said he had not known that.

"It shows a manly spirit in you," he said, "that you want to help him. But as I am determined not to accept blood-money in this case, I must treat the requests of all of you alike. I must have Grettir's life whatever it cost, directly I can get him."

Then the jarl rose quickly up and refused to hear any more about atonement. They all went home with Thorsteinn and made their preparations, whereupon the jarl ordered all the men of his guard under arms and went forth with a large force. Before they came up, Grettir's friends had made ready to defend the house. Thorfinn, Thorsteinn, Grettir himself, and Bersi were in the forefront, each with a large force of followers behind him. The jarl summoned them to give up Grettir, and not to bring trouble on themselves. They repeated their former offers, but the jarl would not listen to them. Thorfinn and Thorsteinn said that more was at stake for the jarl than the taking of Grettir's life. "One fate shall fall upon us all," they cried, "and men shall say that you have given much for the life of one man when we are all laid low with the ground."

The jarl said he would spare none of them, and they were on the very verge of a battle when many of the well-disposed men came up to him and begged him not to land himself in such a difficulty. He should bear in mind that these men would work great havoc among his own followers before they fell. The jarl thought this counsel was wise and let himself be somewhat appeased. Then the terms of atonement were settled. Thorfinn and Thorsteinn were ready to pay so long as Grettir's life was spared. The jarl said: "You must know that although I agree to this compromise, I do not consider it a full amnesty. Only I have no mind to fight against my own men, although they appear to hold me of little account in the matter."

Thorfinn said: "Yours is all the greater honour, my lord, that you will have the fixing of the penalty yourself."

The jarl said that Grettir should have leave from him to depart from the country in peace for Iceland, directly there was a ship leaving, if so it seemed good to them. They agreed and paid the money to the jarl to his satisfaction. They parted with little friendship. Grettir went with Thorfinn after bidding an affectionate farewell to his brother Thorsteinn.

Thorfinn earned great honour for the support which he had given Grettir against such odds as he had to deal with. Not one of the men who had helped Grettir was ever received into favour again with the jarl, excepting Bersi.

Grettir then spoke:


"Comrade of Odin, Thorfinn was born
to rescue my life from the fangs of Hel.
No less was Thorsteinn Dromund's aid
when I was doomed to the realm of the dead."


And again:


"The prince's retainers withdrew in fear
when Bersi threatened their hearts to pierce."


Grettir returned with Thorfinn to the North and stayed with him until he found a ship with some traders who were bound for Iceland. Thorfinn gave him many valuable garments and a coloured saddle with a bridle. They parted with friendship, and Thorfinn invited him to come and see him if ever he returned to Norway.


25.   Asmund the Greyhaired lived on at Biarg, while Grettir was abroad, and by that time he was thought to be the greatest of bonders in Midfirth. Thorkel Krafla died during those seasons that Grettir was out of Iceland. Thorvald Asgeirson farmed then at the Ridge in Waterdale, and waxed a great chief. He was the father of Dalla whom Isleif had to wife, he who afterwards was bishop at Skalholt.

Asmund had in Thorvald the greatest help in suits and in many other matters. At Asmund's grew up a man, hight Thorgils, called Thorgils Makson, near akin to Asmund. Thorgils was a man of great strength and gained much money by Asmund's foresight.

Asmund bought for Thorgils the land at Brookmeet, and there he farmed. Thorgils was a great store-gatherer, and went a-searching to the Strands every year, and there he gat for himself whales and other gettings; and a stout-hearted man he was.

In those days was at its height the waxing of the foster-brothers, Thorgeir Havarson and Thormod Coalbrowskald; they had a boat and went therein far and wide, and were not thought men of much even-dealing. It chanced one summer that Thorgils Makson found a whale on the common drift-lands, and forthwith he and his folk set about cutting it up.

But when the foster-brothers heard thereof they went thither, and at first their talk had a likely look out. Thorgils offered that they should have the half of the uncut whale; but they would have for themselves all the uncut, or else divide all into halves, both the cut and the uncut. Thorgils flatly refused to give up what was cut of the whale; and thereat things grew hot between them, and forthwithal both sides caught up their weapons and fought. Thorgeir and Thorgils fought long together without either losing or gaining, and both were of the eagerest. Their strife was both fierce and long, but the end of it was, that Thorgils fell dead to earth before Thorgeir; but Thormod and the men of Thorgils fought in another place; Thormod had the best of that strife, and three of Thorgils' men fell before him. After the slaying of Thorgils, his folk went back east to Midfirth, and brought his dead body with them. Men thought that they had the greatest loss in him. But the foster-brothers took all the whale to themselves.

This meeting Thormod tells of in that drapa that he made on Thorgeir dead. Asmund the Greyhaired heard of the slaying of Thorgils his kinsman; he was suitor in the case for Thorgils' slaying, he went and took witnesses to the wounds, and summoned the case before the Althing, for then this seemed to be law, as the case had happened in another quarter. And so time wears on.


25.   Events in Iceland. Thorgils Maksson attacked by the foster- brothers and slain
Asmund Longhair was in Bjarg whilst Grettir was away, and was much respected as a bondi in Midfjord. Thorkell Krafla had died during Grettir's absence. Thorvald Asgeirsson dwelt in Ass in Vatnsdal and was a great chief. He was the father of Dalla who married Isleif, afterwards bishop in Skalaholt. Asmund had great support from Thorvald in legal suits and in other matters.

There grew up in Asmund's household a youth named Thorgils Maksson, a near kinsman of his. Thorgils was a strong man of his body and made much money under Asmund's guidance; he dwelt at Laekjamot, on a property which Asmund had bought for him. Thorgils was a good manager and went to Strandir every year, where he obtained whales and other things. He was a man of great courage, and went as far as the eastern Almenningar. At that time the two foster-brothers Thorgeir Havarsson and Thormod Coalbrow-Skald were very much to the front; they kept a boat, gathering what they wanted from the country around, and had not the reputation of dealing fairly.

One summer Thorgils Maksson found a whale at the Almenningar and went out at once with his men to cut it up. When the two foster-brothers heard of it they went there too, and at first it seemed as if matters would be settled peaceably. Thorgils proposed that they should share equally that part of the whale which was yet uncut, but they wanted to have all the uncut part or else to share the entire whale. Thorgils positively refused to give up any portion of what had already been cut. They began to use threats and at last took to their arms and fought. Thorgeir and Thorgils fought each of them desperately together without either prevailing. After a long and furious battle Thorgils fell slain by Thorgeir. In another place Thormod was fighting with the followers of Thorgils, and he overcame them, killing three. Those who remained of Thorgils' party went off after he fell to Midfjord, taking his body with them and feeling that they had suffered a great loss. The foster-brothers took possession of the whole whale. The affair is referred to in the memorial poem which Thormod composed upon Thorgeir.

News of the death of his kinsman was brought to Asmund Longhair, on whom as nearest of kin the blood-feud devolved. He went to the spot, called witnesses to testify to the wounds and brought the case before the All-Thing, which appeared to be the proper course in this case where the act had been committed in another quarter. Some time was passed over this.


26.   There was a man called Thorstein, he was the son of Thorkel Kugg, the son of Thord the Yeller, the son of Olaf Feilan, the son of Thorstein the Red, the son of Aud the Deeply-wealthy. The mother of Thorstein Kuggson was Thurid the daughter of Asgeir Madpate, Asgeir was father's brother of Asmund the Greyhaired.

Thorstein Kuggson was suitor in the case about Thorgils Makson's slaying along with Asmund the Greyhaired, who now sent word to Thorstein that he should come to meet him. Thorstein was a great champion, and the wildest-tempered of men; he went at once to meet his kinsman Asmund, and they talked the blood-suit over together. Thorstein was mightily wroth and said that no atonement should be for this, and said they had strength of kin enough to bring about for the slaying either outlawry or vengeance on men. Asmund said that he would follow him in whatsoever he would have done. They rode north to Thorvald their kinsman to pray his aid, and he quickly gave his word and said yea thereto. So they settled the suit against Thorgeir and Thormod; then Thorstein rode home to his farmstead, he then farmed at Liarskogar in Hvamsveit. Skeggi farmed at Hvam, he also joined in the suit with Thorstein. Skeggi was the son of Thorarinn Fylsenni, the son of Thord the Yeller; the mother of Skeggi was Fridgerd, daughter of Thord of Head.

These had a many men with them at the Thing, and pushed their suit with great eagerness.

Asmund and Thorvald rode from the north with six tens of men, and sat at Liarskogar many nights.


26.   Feud with the foster-brothers is taken up by Asmund and Thorsteinn Kuggason
There was a man named Thorsteinn; he was the son of Thorkell Kuggi, the son of Thord Yeller, the son of Olaf Feilan, the son of Thorsteinn the Red, the son of Aud the Deep-Minded. Thorsteinn Kuggason's mother was Thurid, daughter of Asgeir Hothead. Asgeir was the brother of Asmund Longhair's father. Thorsteinn Kuggason was equally responsible in the blood-feud over Thorgils' death with Asmund Longhair, who now sent for him. Thorsteinn was a great warrior and very masterful. He came at once to his kinsman Asmund and they had a talk together about the suit. Thorsteinn was for extreme measures. He said that no blood-money should be accepted; that with their connections they were powerful enough to carry through a sentence of either banishment or death on the slayer. Asmund said he would support any measures whatever that he chose to adopt. They rode then North to Thorvald their kinsman and asked for his support, which he at once promised them. So the suit was begun against Thorgeir and Thormod. Thorsteinn then rode home to his dwelling at Ljarskogar in the Hvamm district. Skeggi in Hvamm also joined Thorsteinn. He was a son of Thorarin Fylsenni, a son of Thord the Yeller. His mother was Fridgerd, a daughter of Thord from Hofdi. They had a large following at the All-Thing and pressed their suit valiantly. Asmund and Thorvald rode from the North with sixty men, halting several days at Ljarskogar.


27.   A man hight Thorgils abode at Reek-knolls in those days, he was the son of Ari, the son of Mar, the son of Atli the Red, the son of Ulf the Squinter, who settled at Reekness; the mother of Thorgils Arisen was Thorgerd, the daughter of Alf a-Dales; another daughter of Alf was Thorelf, mother of Thorgeir Havarson. There had Thorgeir good kinship to trust in, for Thorgils was the greatest chief in the Westfirthers' quarter. He was a man of such bountifulness, that he gave food to any free-born man as long as he would have it, and therefore there was at all times a throng of people at Reek-knolls; thus had Thorgils much renown of his house-keeping. He was a man withal of good will and foreknowledge. Thorgeir was with Thorgils in winter, but went to the Strands in summer.

After the slaying of Thorgils Makson, Thorgeir went to Reek-knolls and told Thorgils Arisen these tidings; Thorgils said that he was ready to give him harbour with him, "But, methinks," he says, "that they will be heavy in the suit, and I am loth to eke out the troubles. Now I shall send a man to Thorstein and bid weregild for the slaying of Thorgils; but if he will not take atonement I shall not defend the case stiffly."

Thorgeir said he would trust to his foresight. In autumn Thorgils sent a man to Thorstein Kuggson to try settling the case, but he was cross-grained to deal with as to the taking money for the blood-suit of Thorgils Makson; but about the other man-slayings, he said he would do as wise men should urge him. Now when Thorgils heard this, he called Thorgeir to him for a talk, and asked him what kind of aid he now deemed meetest for him; Thorgeir said that it was most to his mind to go abroad if he should be outlawed. Thorgils said that should be tried. A ship lay up Northriver in Burgfirth; in that keel Thorgils secretly paid faring for the foster-brothers, and thus the winter passed. Thorgils heard that Asmund and Thorstein drew together many men to the Althing, and sat in Liarskogar. He drew out the time of riding from home, for he would that Asmund and Thorstein should have ridden by before him to the south, when he came from the west; and so it fell out. Thorgils rode south, and with him rode the foster-brothers. In this ride Thorgeir killed Bundle-Torfi of Marswell, and Skuf withal, and Biarni in Dog-dale; thus says Thormod in Thorgeir's-Drapa


"Mighty strife the warrior made,
When to earth was Makson laid,
Well the sword-shower wrought he there,
Flesh the ravens got to tear;
Then when Skuf and Biarni fell,
He was there the tale to tell;
Sea-steed's rider took his way
Through the thickest of the fray."


Thorgils settled the peace for the slaying of Skuf and Biarni then and there in the Dale, and delayed no longer than his will was before; Thorgeir went to ship, but Thorgils to the Althing, and came not thither until men were going to the courts.

Then Asmund the Greyhaired challenged the defence for the blood-suit on the slaying of Thorgils Makson. Thorgils went to the court and offered weregild for the slaying, if thereby Thorgeir might become free of guilt; he put forth for defence in the suit whether they had not free catch on all common foreshores. The lawman was asked if this was a lawful defence. Skapti was the lawman, and backed Asmund for the sake of their kinship. He said this was law if they were equal men, but said that bonders had a right to take before batchelors. Asmund said that Thorgils had offered an even sharing to the foster-brothers in so much of the whale as was uncut when they came thereto; and therewith that way of defence was closed against them. Now Thorstein and his kin followed up the suit with much eagerness, and nought was good to them but that Thorgeir should be made guilty.

Thorgils saw that one of two things was to be done, either to set on with many men, not knowing what might be gained thereby, or to suffer them to go on as they would; and, whereas Thorgeir had been got on board ship, Thorgils let the suit go on unheeded.

Thorgeir was outlawed, but for Thormod was taken weregild, and he to be quit. By this blood-suit Thorstein and Asmund were deemed to have waxed much. And now men ride home from the Thing.

Some men would hold talk that Thorgils had lightly backed the case, but he heeded their talk little, and let any one say thereon what he would.

But when Thorgeir heard of this outlawry, he said

"Fain am I that those who have made me an outlaw should have full pay for this, ere all be over."

There was a man called Gaut Sleitason, who was akin to Thorgils Makson. Gaut had made ready to go in this same ship wherein Thorgeir was to sail. He bristled up against Thorgeir, and showed mighty ill-will against him and went about scowling; when the chapmen found this out, they thought it far from safe that both should sail in one ship. Thorgeir said he heeded not how much soever Gaut would bend his brows on him; still it was agreed that Gaut should take himself off from the ship, whereupon he went north into the upper settlements, and that time nought happed between him and Thorgeir, but out of this sprang up between them ill blood, as matters showed after.


27.   Sentences on the foster-brothers
There dwelt at Reykjaholar a man named Thorgils, the son of Ari, the son of Mar, the son of Atli the Red, the son of Ulf Squint- Eye, the first settler at Reykjanes. Thorgils' mother was Thorgerd the daughter of Alf of Dalir. Alf had another daughter named Thorelf, who was the mother of Thorgeir the son of Havar. Thorgeir, therefore, had a very strong backing through his connections, for Thorgils was the most powerful chief in the Vestfirding quarter. He was very open-handed and gave hospitality to any free-man for as long as he would. There was consequently always a crowd at Reykjaholar, and he lived in great grandeur. He was both kindly and wise. Thorgeir stayed with him in the winter and went to Strandir in the summer.

After slaying Thorgils the son of Mak, Thorgeir went to Reykjaholar and told Thorgils Arason what had happened. Thorgils told him his house was open to him. "But," he said, "they will press the matter vigorously, and I am most unwilling to involve myself in difficulties. I will send a man now to Thorsteinn and offer him blood-money for the Thorgils affair; if he will not accept it I will not adopt any violent measures."

Thorgeir declared that he would submit to his wisdom. In the autumn Thorgils sent a messenger to Thorsteinn Kuggason to try and arrange a settlement. Thorsteinn was very disinclined to accept any money in atonement for the slaying of Thorgils, although for the others he was willing to follow the advice of men of counsel. Thorgils on receiving the report of his messenger called Thorgeir to a consultation with him and asked him what support he thought was proper. Thorgeir said that if a sentence of banishment were passed upon him he would go. Thorgils said that his resolve would be put to the trial.

There came a ship into the Nordra river in Borgarfjord, and Thorgils secretly took a passage in her for the two foster-brothers. The winter now passed, and Thorgils heard that Thorsteinn and his party had assembled in great force for the All-Thing and were then in Ljarskogar. So he put off his departure, intending that they should arrive from the North before he came up from the West. So it came to pass. Thorgils and Thorgeir then rode towards the South, Thorgeir killing one Boggul-Torfi on the way at Marskelda and two other men named Skuf and Bjarni at Hundadal. Thormod sings about this affair in his Thorgeir's drapa:


"The hem slew the son of Mak;
there was storm of swords and raven's food.
Skuf and Bjarni he also felled;
gladly he bathed his hands in blood."


Thorgils settled for the slaying of Skuf and Bjarni there and then in the dale, and was delayed by the affair longer than he intended. Thorgeir embarked on the ship and Thorgils went to the Thing, where he did not arrive before they were proceeding to judgment in Thorgils Maksson's case. Asmund Longhair then called for the defence. Thorgils appeared before the court and offered blood-money in atonement on condition of Thorgeir not being sentenced to banishment. He endeavoured to meet the charge by pleading that finds in the Almenningar were free to all. The question whether this was a valid defence or not was referred to the Lawman, who at that time was Skapti. He upheld Asmund's view on account of their kinship together. He declared that this was indeed the law in the case of men equal in position, but that a bondi had precedence over a vagrant. Asmund further urged that Thorgils had offered to share the uncut portion of the whale with the foster-brothers when they arrived. The defendants were non-suited on that point. Then Thorsteinn and his party pressed their suit resolutely and said they would not be satisfied with any sentence short of banishment upon Thorgeir. Thorgils saw that no choice was left to him but either to call up his men and try to carry his case with violence, the issue of which would be uncertain, or else to submit to the sentence demanded by the opposite party, and since Thorgeir was already on board his ship Thorgils had no desire to press the case further. Thorgeir was banished, but Thormod was discharged upon payment of blood-money.

Asmund and Thorsteinn gained great glory by this case. The men rode home from the Thing. There were some who said that Thorgils had not taken much trouble in the case, but he paid little attention and let them say what they pleased.

When Thorgeir heard that he was banished, he said that if he had his way, those who had brought it about should be repayed in full before it was over.

There was a man named Gaut, called the son of Sleita, a kinsman of Thorgils Maksson. He was intending to travel in the same ship with Thorgeir, with whom he was on very bad terms, and frowned on him. The traders thought it would never do to have them both together in the ship. Thorgeir said he did not care what Gaut did with his eyebrows. Nevertheless they decided that Gaut should leave the ship. He went into the northern districts and for that time nothing happened, but the affair brought about a feud between them which broke out later.


28.   This summer Grettir Asmundson came out to Skagafirth: he was in those days so famed a man for strength and prowess, that none was deemed his like among young men. He rode home to Biarg forthwith, and Asmund welcomed him meetly. At that time Atli managed the farming matters, and well things befell betwixt the brothers.

But now Grettir waxed so overbearing, that he deemed that nought was too much for him to do. At that time had many men grown into full manhood who were young in the days when Grettir was wont to play with them on Midfirth-water before he went abroad; one of these was Audun, who then dwelt at Audunstead, in Willowdale; he was the son of Asgeir, the son of Audun, the son of Asgeir Madpate; of all men he was the strongest north there; but he was thought to be the gentlest of neighbours. Now it came into Grettir's mind that he had had the worst of Audun in that ball-play whereof is told before; and now he would fain try which of the twain had ripened the most since then. For this cause Grettir took his way from home, and fared unto Audunstead. This was in early mowing tide; Grettir was well dight, and rode in a fair-stained saddle of very excellent workmanship, which Thorfinn had given him; a good horse he had withal, and all weapons of the best. Grettir came early in the day to Audunstead, and knocked at the door. Few folk were within; Grettir asked if Audun was at home. Men said that he had gone to fetch victuals from the hill-dairy. Then Grettir took the bridle off his horse; the field was unmowed, and the horse went whereas the grass was the highest. Grettir went into the hall, sat down on the seat-beam, and thereon fell asleep. Soon after Audun came home, and sees a horse grazing in the field with a fair-stained saddle on; Audun was bringing victuals on two horses, and carried curds on one of them, in drawn-up hides, tied round about: this fashion men called curd-bags. Audun took the loads off the horses and carried the curd-bags in his arms into the house.

Now it was dark before his eyes, and Grettir stretched his foot from out the beam so that Audun fell flat down head-foremost on to the curd-bag, whereby the bonds of the bag brake; Audun leaped up and asked who was that rascal in the way. Grettir named himself.

Then said Audun, "Rashly hast thou done herein; what is thine errand then?"

Grettir said, "I will fight with thee."

"First I will see about my victuals," said Audun.

"That thou mayst well do," said Grettir, "if thou canst not charge other folk therewith."

Then Audun stooped down and caught up the curd-bag and dashed it against Grettir's bosom, and bade him first take what was sent him; and therewith was Grettir all smothered in the curds; and a greater shame he deemed that than if Audun had given him a great wound.

Now thereon they rushed at one another and wrestled fiercely; Grettir set on with great eagerness, but Audun gave back before him. Yet he feels that Grettir has outgrown him in strength. Now all things in their way were kicked out of place, and they were borne on wrestling to and fro throughout all the hall; neither spared his might, but still Grettir was the toughest of the twain, and at last Audun fell, having torn all weapons from Grettir.

Now they grapple hard with one another, and huge cracking was all around them. Withal a great din was heard coming through the earth underneath the farmstead, and Grettir heard some one ride up to the houses, get off his horse, and stride in with great strides; he sees a man come up, of goodly growth, in a red kirtle and with a helmet on his head. He took his way into the hall, for he had heard clamorous doings there as they were struggling together; he asked what was in the hall.

Grettir named himself, "But who asks thereof?" quoth he.

"Bardi am I hight," said the new comer.

"Art thou Bardi, the son of Gudmund, from Asbiornsness?"

"That very man am I," said Bardi; "but what art thou doing?"

Grettir said, "We, Audun and I, are playing here in sport."

"I know not as to the sport thereof," said Bardi, "nor are ye even men either; thou art full of unfairness and overbearing, and he is easy and good to deal with; so let him stand up forthwith."

Grettir said, "Many a man stretches round the door to the lock; and meseems it lies more in thy way to avenge thy brother Hall than to meddle in the dealings betwixt me and Audun."

"At all times I hear this," said Bardi, "nor know I if that will be avenged, but none the less I will that thou let Audun be at peace, for he is a quiet man."

Grettir did so at Bardi's bidding, nathless, little did it please him. Bardi asked for what cause they strove.

Grettir sang


"Prithee, Audun, who can tell,
But that now thy throat shall swell;
That from rough hands thou shalt gain
By our strife a certain pain.
E'en such wrong as I have done,
I of yore from Audun won,
When the young, fell-creeping lad
At his hands a choking had."


Bardi said that certes it was a matter to be borne with, if he had had to avenge himself.

"Now I will settle matters between you," quoth Bardi; "I will that ye part, leaving things as they are, that thereby there may be an end of all between you."

This they let hold good, but Grettir took ill liking to Bardi and his brothers.

Now they all rode off, and when they were somewhat on their way, Grettir spake

"I have heard that thou hast will to go to Burgfirth this summer, and I now offer to go south with thee; and methinks that herein I do for thee more than thou art worthy of."

Hereat was Bardi glad, and speedily said yea thereto, and bade him have thanks for this; and thereupon they parted. But a little after Bardi came back and said

"I will have it known that thou goest not unless my foster-father Thorarin will have it so, for he shall have all the rule of the faring."

"Well mightest thou, methinks, have full freedom as to thine own redes," said Grettir, "and my faring I will not have laid under the choice of other folk; and I shall mislike it if thou easiest me aside from thy fellowship."

Now either went their way, and Bardi said he should let Grettir know for sure if Thorarin would that he should fare with him, but that otherwise he might sit quiet at home. Grettir rode home to Biarg, but Bardi to his own house.


28.   Grettir's visit to Audun in Vididal; offers his services to Bard
In the course of that summer Grettir Asmundsson returned to Skagafjord. He had such a reputation for strength that none of the younger men was supposed to be his equal. He soon came to his home in Bjarg, and Asmund gave him a fitting welcome. Atli was then managing the property and the brothers agreed well together, but Grettir became so over-weening that he thought nothing was beyond his powers.

Many of the youths with whom Grettir had played at Midfjordsvatn before he left were now grown up. Audun, the son of Asgeir, the son of Audun, was now living at Audunarstad in Vididal. He was a good bondi and a kindly man, and was the strongest of all the men in the northern parts, as well as the most modest.

Grettir had not forgotten how he had seemingly been worsted by Audun at the ball-play, as related above, and he was anxious to try which of them had gained most since. With this object he went at the beginning of the hay-harvest to Audunarstad. Grettir put on all his finery and rode with the coloured and richly ornamented saddle which Thorfinn had given him, on a splendid horse and in his best armour to Audun's place, where he arrived early in the day and knocked at the door. Few of the men were in the house, and to Grettir's question whether Audun was at home, they replied that he had gone to the hill-dairy to bring home some produce. Grettir took the bridle off his horse. The hay had not been mown in the meadow and the horse went for the part where the grass was thickest. Grettir entered the room and sat down on the bench, where he fell asleep. Soon Audun returned home and saw a horse in the meadow with a coloured saddle on its back. He was bringing two horses loaded with curds in skins tied at the mouth--so-called "curd-bags." Audun took the skins off the horses and was carrying them in his arms so that he could not see in front of him. Grettir's leg was stretched out before him and Audun stumbled over it, falling on the curd-bags which broke at the neck. Audun sprang up and asked what rascal that was in his house. Grettir told him his name.

"That was very awkward of you," said Audun. "But what do you want here?"

"I want to fight with you."

"First I must look after my dairy produce," Audun said.

"You can do that," answered Grettir, "if you have no one else to do it for you."

Audun bent down, gathered up the skin and threw it right into Grettir's breast, telling him to take what he sent him. Grettir was all covered with curds, and felt more disgusted than at any wound which Audun could have given him. Then they went for each other and wrestled pretty smartly. Grettir rushed at him, but Audun escaped his grasp. He saw, however, that Grettir had gained upon him. They drove up and down the room, overthrowing everything that was near them. Neither of them spared himself, but Grettir had the advantage, and at last Audun fell, after tearing off all Grettir's weapons. They struggled hard and the din was terrific.

Then there was a loud noise below. Grettir heard a man ride up to the house, get off his horse and come quickly inside. He saw a handsome man in a red jacket wearing a helmet. Hearing the commotion going on in the room where they were wrestling, he came in and asked what was in the room. Grettir told him his name; "but who is it that wants to know?" he asked.

"My name is Bardi," answered the stranger.

"Are you Bardi the son of Gudmund from Asbjarnarnes?"

"The same," he replied. "But what are you after?"

Grettir said: "I and Audun are playing here."

"I don't know about your play," said Bardi. "But you are not alike. You are overbearing and insolent, while he is modest and good-natured. Let him get up at once."

Grettir said: "Many a man seizes the lock for the door. You would do better to avenge your brother Hall than to come between me and Audun when we are contending."

"I am always hearing that," said Bardi, "and I don't know whether I shall ever obtain my vengeance. But I want you to leave Audun in peace, for he is a quiet man."

Grettir said he was willing to do so because of Bardi's intercession, though he did not like it much. Bardi asked what they were contending about. Grettir replied in a verse:


"I know not if for all your pride
he may not try your throat to squeeze.
Thus when within my home I dwelt
did he once belabour me."


Bardi said there was certainly some excuse if he was taking revenge. "Let me now settle it between you," he said. "Let matters remain as they are and cease your strife."

So they consented, for they were kinsmen. But Grettir had little liking for Bardi or his brothers. They all rode away together. On the way Grettir said: "I hear, Bardi, that you intend to go South to Borgarfjord this summer; I propose that I shall go with you, which I think is more than you deserve."

Bardi was very pleased with this offer, and at once accepted it most thankfully. Then they parted. Bardi then turned back and said to Grettir: "I would like it to be understood that you only come with me if it meets with Thorarin's approval, since all the arrangements for the expedition are with him."

"I thought," said Grettir, "you were competent to make your arrangements for yourself. I do not leave my affairs to other people to settle. I shall take it very ill if you refuse me."

Then each went his own way. Bardi promised to send Grettir word "if Thorarin wished him to go." Otherwise he could remain quietly at home. Grettir then rode to Bjarg and Bardi to his own home.


29.   That summer was settled to be a great horse-fight at Longfit, below Reeks. Thither came many men. Atli of Biarg had a good horse, a black-maned roan of Keingala's kin, and father and son had great love for that horse. The brothers, Kormak and Thorgils of Meal, had a brown horse, trusty in fight. These were to fight their horse against Atli of Biarg. And many other good horses were there.

Odd, the Foundling-skald, of Kormak's kin, was to follow the horse of his kinsman through the day. Odd was then growing a big man, and bragged much of himself, and was untameable and reckless. Grettir asked of Atli his brother, who should follow his horse.

"I am not so clear about that," said he.

"Wilt thou that I stand by it?" said Grettir.

"Be thou then very peaceable, kinsman," said Atli, "for here have we to deal with overbearing men."

"Well, let them pay for their own insolence," said Grettir, "if they know not how to hold it back."

Now are the horses led out, but all stood forth on the river-bank tied together. There was a deep hollow in the river down below the bank. The horses bit well at each other, and the greatest sport it was.

Odd drave on his horse with all his might, but Grettir held back, and seized the tail with one hand, and the staff wherewith he goaded the horse he held in the other. Odd stood far before his horse, nor was it so sure that he did not goad Atli's horse from his hold. Grettir made as if he saw it not. Now the horses bore forth towards the river. Then Odd drave his staff at Grettir, and smote the shoulder-blade, for that Grettir turned the shoulder towards him: that was so mighty a stroke, that the flesh shrank from under it, but Grettir was little scratched.

Now in that nick of time the horses reared up high, and Grettir ran under his horse's hocks, and thrust his staff so hard at the side of Odd that three ribs brake in him, but he was hurled out into deep water, together with his horse and all the horses that were tied together. Then men swam out to him and dragged him out of the river; then was a great hooting made thereat; Kormak's folk ran to their weapons, as did the men of Biarg in another place. But when the Ramfirthers and the men of Waterness saw that, they went betwixt them, and they were parted and went home, but both sides had ill-will one with the other, though they sat peacefully at home for a while.

Atli was sparing of speech over this, but Grettir was right unsparing, and said that they would meet another time if his will came to pass.


29.   Horse-fight at Langafit
That summer there was a great horse-fight at Langafit below Reykir, whither a great many people came together. Atli of Bjarg had a good stallion of Keingala's race; grey with a dark stripe down his back. Both father and son valued the horse highly. The two brothers Kormak and Thorgils in Mel had a very mettlesome brown stallion, and they arranged to match it against that of Atli from Bjarg. Many other excellent stallions were brought. Odd the Needy-Skald, Kormak's kinsman, had the charge of their horse on the day. He had grown into a strong man and had a high opinion of himself; he was surly and reckless. Grettir asked Atli who should have charge of his stallion.

"That is not so clear to me," said Atli.

"Would you like me to back him?"

"Then you must keep very cool, kinsman," he said. "We have men to deal with who are rather overbearing."

"Let them pay for their bluster," he said, "if they cannot control it."

The stallions were led out and the mares tethered together in the front on the bank of the river. There was a large pool just beyond the bank. The horses fought vigorously and there was excellent sport. Odd managed his horse pluckily and Grettir gave way before him, holding the tail of his horse with one hand and with the other the stick with which he pricked it on. Odd stood in the front by his horse, and one could not be sure that he was not pricking off Atli's horse from his own. Grettir pretended not to notice it. The horses then came near the river. Then Odd thrust with his pointed stick at Grettir and caught him in the shoulder-blade which Grettir was turning towards him. He struck pretty hard, and the flesh swelled up, but Grettir was little hurt. At the same moment the horses reared. Grettir ducked beneath the flank of his horse and drove his stick into Odd's side with such violence that three of his ribs were broken and Odd fell into the pool with his horse and all the mares that were tethered there by the bank. Some people swam out and rescued them. There was great excitement about it. Kormak's men on one side and those of Bjarg on the other seized their arms, but the men of Hrutafjord and Vatnsnes came between them and parted them.

They all went home in great wrath, but kept quiet for a time. Atli said very little, but Grettir rather swaggered and said that they should meet again if he had his way.


30.   Thorbiorn was the name of a man who dwelt at Thorodstead in Ramfirth; he was the son of Arnor Hay-nose, the son of Thorod, who had settled Ramfirth on that side out as far as Bank was on the other.

Thorbiorn was the strongest of all men; he was called Oxmain. Thorod was the name of his brother, he was called Drapa-Stump; their mother was Gerd, daughter of Bodvar, from Bodvars-knolls. Thorbiorn was a great and hardy warrior, and had many men with him; he was noted as being worse at getting servants than other men, and barely gave he wages to any man, nor was he thought a good man to deal with. There was a kinsman of his hight Thorbiorn, and bynamed Tardy; he was a sailor, and the namesakes were partners. He was ever at Thorodstead, and was thought to better Thorbiorn but little. He was a fault-finding fellow, and went about jeering at most men.

There was a man hight Thorir, the son of Thorkel of Boardere. He farmed first at Meals in Ramfirth; his daughter was Helga, whom Sleita-Helgi had to wife, but after the man-slaying in Fairslope Thorir set up for himself his abode south in Hawkdale, and farmed at the Pass, and sold the land at Meals to Thorhall, son of Gamli the Vendlander. His son was Gamli, who had to wife Ranveig, daughter of Asmund the Greyhaired, and Grettir's sister. They dwelt at that time at Meals, and had good hap. Thorir of the Pass had two sons, one hight Gunnar, the other Thorgeir; they were both hopeful men, and had then taken the farm after their father, yet were for ever with Thorbiorn Oxmain, and were growing exceeding unruly.

The summer after that just told, Kormak and Thorgils and Narfi their kinsman rode south to Northriverdale, on some errand of theirs. Odd the Foundling-skald fared also with them, and by then was gotten healed of the stiffness he gained at the horse-fight. But while they were south of the heath, Grettir fared from Biarg, and with him two house-carles of Atli's. They rode over to Bowerfell, and thence over the mountain neck to Ramfirth, and came to Meals in the evening.

They were there three nights; Ranveig and Gamli welcomed Grettir well, and bade him abide with them, but he had will to ride home.

Then Grettir heard that Kormak and his fellows were come from the south, and had guested at Tongue through the night. Grettir got ready early to leave Meals; Gamli offered him men to go with him. Now Grim was the name of Gamli's brother; he was of all men the swiftest; he rode with Grettir with another man; they were five in all. Thus they rode on till they came to Ramfirth-neck, west of Bowerfell. There stands a huge stone that is called Grettir's heave; for he tried long that day to lift that stone, and thus they delayed till Kormak and his fellows were come. Grettir rode to meet them, and both sides jumped off their horses. Grettir said it was more like free men now to deal blows of the biggest, than to fight with staves like wandering churles. Then Kormak bade them take the challenge in manly wise, and do their best. Thereafter they ran at one another and fought. Grettir went before his men, and bade them take heed, that none came at his back. Thus they fought a while, and men were wounded on both sides.

Now Thorbiorn Oxmain had ridden that day over the neck to Bowerfell, and when he rode back he saw their meeting. There were with him then Thorbiorn the Tardy, and Gunnar and Thorgeir, Thorir's sons, and Thorod Drapa-Stump. Now when they came thereto, Thorbiorn called on his men to go between them. But the others were by then so eager that they could do nought. Grettir broke forth fiercely, and before him were the sons of Thorir, and they both fell as he thrust them from him; they waxed exceeding furious thereat, insomuch that Gunnar dealt a death-blow at a house-carle of Atli; and when Thorbiorn saw that, he bade them part, saying withal that he would aid which side soever should pay heed to his words. By then were fallen two house-carles of Kormak, but Grettir saw, that it would hardly do if Thorbiorn should bring aid to them against him, wherefore now he gave up the battle, and all were wounded who had been at that meeting. But much it misliked Grettir that they had been parted.

Thereafter either side rode home, nor did they settle peace after these slayings. Thorbiorn the Tardy made much mocking at all this, therefore things began to worsen betwixt the men of Biarg and Thorbiorn Oxmain, so that therefrom fell much ill-will as came to be known after. No boot was bidden to Atli for his house-carle, but he made as if he knew it not. Grettir sat at home at Biarg until Twainmonth. Nor is it said in story that he and Kormak met ever again after these things betid.


30.   Thorbjorn Oxmain and the fray at Hrutafjardarhals
There was living in Thoroddsstad in Hrutafjord a man named Thorbjorn. He was the son of Arnor Downy-Nose, the son of Thorodd who had settled in that side of Hrutafjord which lies opposite to Bakki. Thorbjorn was of all men the strongest, and was called Oxmain. He had a brother named Thorodd, called Drapustuf. Their mother was Gerd, daughter of Bodvar from Bodvarsholar. Thorbjorn was a great swashbuckler and kept a large troop of followers. He was noted for being worse at getting servants than other men, and scarcely paid them any wages. He was not a man easy to deal with. There was a kinsman of his, also named Thorbjorn, called Slowcoach. He was a mariner, and the two namesakes were in partnership together. He was always at Thoroddsstad and people did not think he made Thorbjorn any better. He liked to talk scandal and spoke offensively of several men.

There was a man named Thorir, a son of Thorkell, at Bordeyr. He first lived at Melar in Hrutafjord, and had a daughter named Helga who married Sleitu-Helgi. After the Fagrabrekka affair Thorir went South to Haukadal and lived in Skard, selling the property at Melar to Thorhall the Winelander, the son of Gamli. Thorhall's son Gamli married Rannveig, the daughter of Asmund Longhair, Grettir's sister. They lived at that time in Melar and had a good establishment. Thorir of Skard had two sons, Gunnar and Thorgeir, both promising men, who took over the property from their father, but were always with Thorbjorn Oxmain, and became very overbearing.

In the summer of that year Kormak and Thorgils rode with a kinsman of theirs named Narfi South to Nordrardal on some business. Odd the Needy-Skald had recovered from the hurts which he had received at the horse-fight and was of the party. While they were south of the heath Grettir was journeying from his home at Bjarg with two of Atli's men. They rode to Burfell and then across the neck to Hrutafjord, reaching Melar in the evening, where they spent three nights. Rannveig and Gamli gave Grettir a friendly reception and invited him to stay, but he wanted to return home. Then Grettir learned of Kormak's company having come from the South, and that they were staying at Tunga at night. He prepared to leave Melar at once, and Gamli offered to send some of his men with him. Gamli's brother Grim, who was very smart and active, and another rode with Grettir. The party, five in number, came to Hrutafjardarhals to the west of Burfell, where the great stone called Grettishaf lies; he struggled a long time with that stone, trying to lift it, and delayed his journey thereby until Kormak's party came up. Grettir went towards them and both alighted from their horses. Grettir said it would be more seemly for free men to set to work with all their might instead of fighting with sticks like tramps. Kormak told them to take up the challenge like men and to do their best. So they went for each other. Grettir was in front of his men and told them to see that nobody got behind him. They fought for a time and both were hurt.

On the same day Thorbjorn Oxmain had ridden across the neck to Burfell, and as he returned with Thorbjorn Slowcoach, Gunnar and Thorgeir, the sons of Thorir, and Thorodd Drapustuf, he saw the fight going on. On coming up, Thorbjorn called upon his men to go between them, but they were struggling so furiously that nobody could get at them. Grettir was making a clean sweep of everything round him. Before him were the sons of Thorir. He pushed them back and they both fell over. This made them furious, and the consequence was that Gunnar gave a blow to one of Atli's men which killed him. Thorbjorn on seeing that ordered them to separate, saying that he would give his support to whichever side obeyed him. By then two of Kormak's men had fallen. Grettir saw that it would scarcely do if Thorbjorn joined the opposite side, so he gave up the battle. All those who had fought were wounded. Grettir was much disgusted at their being separated, but both parties rode home and were not reconciled on this occasion.

Thorbjorn Slowcoach made great game of all this, and the relations between the men of Bjarg and Thorbjorn Oxmain became strained in consequence, until at last there was a regular feud, which however broke out later. No compensation was offered to Atli for his man, and he went on as if he knew nothing of it. Grettir stayed at Bjarg till the Tvi-month. It is not known that he and Kormak ever met again; at least it is not mentioned anywhere.


31.   Bardi, the son of Gudmund, and his brothers, rode home to Asbiornsness after their parting with Grettir.

They were the sons of Gudmund, the son of Solmund. The mother of Solmund was Thorlaug, the daughter of Saemund, the South-Island man, the foster-brother of Ingimund the Old, and Bardi was a very noble man.

Now soon he rode to find Thorarin the Wise, his foster-father. He welcomed Bardi well, and asked what gain he had got of followers and aid, for they had before taken counsel over Bardi's journey. Bardi answered that he had got the aid of that man to his fellow, whose aid he deemed better than that of any other twain. Thorarin got silent thereat, and then said,

"That man will be Grettir Asmundson."

"Sooth is the sage's guess," said Bardi; "that is the very man, foster-father."

Thorarin answered, "True it is, that Grettir is much before any other man of those who are to choose in our land, and late will he be won with weapons, if he be hale, yet it misdoubts me how far he will bring thee luck; but of thy following all must not be luckless, and enough ye will do, though he fare not with thee: nowise shall he go if I may have my will."

"This I could not have deemed, foster-father," said he, "that thou wouldst grudge me the aid of the bravest of men, if my need should be hard. A man cannot foresee all things when he is driven on as methinks I am."

"Thou wilt do well," said Thorarin; "though thou abidest by my foresight."

Now thus must things be, even as Thorarin would, that no word more was sent to Grettir, but Bardi fared south to Burgfirth, and then befell the Heath-slayings.

Grettir was at Biarg when he heard that Bardi had ridden south; he started up in anger for that no word had been sent to him, and said that not thus should they part. He had news of them when they were looked for coming from the south, and thereat he rode down to Thorey's-peak, for the waylaying of Bardi's folk as they came back from the south: he fared from the homestead up on to the hill-side, and abode there. That same day rode Bardi and his men north over Twodaysway, from the Heath-slayings; they were six in all, and every man sore wounded; and when they came forth by the homestead, then said Bardi

"A man there is up on the hill-side; a big man, armed. What man do ye take him to be?"

They said that they wotted not who he was.

Bardi said, "Methinks there," quoth he, "is Grettir Asmundson; and if so it is, there will he meet us. I deem that it has misliked him that he fared not with us, but methinks we are not in good case, if he be bent on doing us harm. I now shall send after men to Thorey's-peak, and stake nought on the chance of his ill-will."

They said this was a good rede, and so was it done.

Thereafter Bardi and his folk rode on their way. Grettir saw where they fared, and went in the way before them, and when they met, either greeted other.

Grettir asked for tidings, but Bardi told them fearlessly, even as they were. Grettir asked what men were in that journey with him. Bardi said that there were his brothers, and Eyulf his brother-in-law.

"Thou hast now cleared thyself from all blame," said Grettir; "but now is it best that we try between us who is of most might here."

Said Bardi, "Too nigh to my garth have deeds of hard need been, than that I should fight with thee without a cause, and well methinks have I thrust these from me."

"Thou growest soft, methinks, Bardi," said Grettir, "since thou durst not fight with me."

"Call that what thou wilt," said Bardi; "but in some other stead would I that thou wreak thine high-handedness than here on me; and that is like enough, for now does thy rashness pass all bounds."

Grettir thought ill of his spaedom, and now doubted within himself whether he should set on one or other of them; but it seemed rash to him, as they were six and he one: and in that nick of time came up the men from Thorey's-peak to the aid of Bardi and his folk; then Grettir drew off from them, and turned aside to his horse. But Bardi and his fellows went on their way, nor were there farewells between them at parting.

No further dealings between Bardi and Grettir are told of after these things betid.

Now so has Grettir said that he deemed himself well matched to fight with most men, though they were three together, but he would have no mind to flee before four, without trying it; but against more would he fight only if he must needs defend his hand, as is said in this stave


"My life trust I 'gainst three
Skilled in Mist's mystery;
Whatso in Hilda's weather
Shall bring the swords together;
If over four they are
My wayfaring that bar
No gale of swords will I
Wake with them willingly."


After his parting with Bardi, Grettir fared to Biarg, and very ill he it thought that he might nowhere try his strength, and searched all about if anywhere might be somewhat wherewith he might contend.


31.   Grettir's vain endeavour to provoke Bard
Bardi the son of Gudmund and his brothers rode home to Asbjarnarnes when they left Grettir. They were the sons of Gudmund the son of Solmund. Solmund's mother was Thorlaug, daughter of Saemund the Southerner, the foster-brother of Ingimund the Old. Bardi was a man of great distinction. Soon he went to see his foster-father Thorarin the Wise, who welcomed him and asked what help he had been able to obtain, for Bardi's journey had been arranged beforehand by them both. Bardi answered that he had engaged a man whose help he thought worth more than that of two others. Thorarin was silent for a moment and then said: "That must be Grettir the son of Asmund."

"The guess of the wise is truth," said Bardi. "That is the very man, my foster-father."

Thorarin answered: "It is true that Grettir is beyond all other men of whom there is now choice in the country; nor will he be easily subdued by arms so long as he is sound. But great arrogance is in him now, and I have misgivings as to his luck. It is important for you that all your men on your expedition are not men of an evil star. It is enough if he does not fare with you. He shall not come if my counsel is followed."

"I did not expect, my foster-father," said he, "that you would deny me the man who is bravest in all that he undertakes. A man in such straits as I seem to be in cannot provide against everything."

"It will be better for you," he replied, "to let me provide."

So it came about that as Thorarin desired, word was not sent to Grettir. Bardi went to the South and the battle of the Heath was fought.

Grettir was at Bjarg when he received the news that Bardi had started on his expedition. He was very angry that word had not been sent to him, and said it should not end there. He found out when they were expected back from the South, and rode off to Thoreyjargnup, where he meant to lie in wait for Bardi and his men as they rode back. He left the homestead behind and remained at the cliffs. On that day rode Bardi back from the battle of the Heath from Tvidaegra; there were six of them in his party, all sorely wounded. When they came to the homestead Bardi said: "There is a man up there on the cliff, very tall and armed. Whom do you take him for?"

They could not say who he was. Bardi said: "I believe it is Grettir the son of Asmund. If it is, he will be wanting to meet us, for I expect he is little pleased at not having been with us. It seems to me that we are not in a very fit condition if he wants to annoy us. I will send home to Thoreyjargnup for some men and not allow myself to be put out by his evil intentions."

They said that was the best thing he could do, and it was done. Bardi's party rode on; Grettir watched where they were going and went there too. They met and greeted each other. Grettir asked what the news was, and Bardi told him without hesitation. Grettir asked who had been with them. Bardi answered that his brothers and Eyjvolf his brother-in-law had been with him.

"You have wiped out your disgrace," said Grettir. "Now the next thing is for us two here to try which is the stronger."

"I have more urgent business," said Bardi, "than to fight with you about nothing. I think I may be excused that now."

"It seems to me that you are afraid, Bardi; that is the reason why you dare not fight me."

"Call it what you please. If you wish to bully, find some one else; that seems to be what you want, for your insolence passes all bounds."

Grettir thought luck was against him. He hesitated now whether he should attack any of them; it seemed rather rash as they were six and he was only one. Then the men from Thoreyjargnup came up and joined Bardi's party, so he left them and went back to his horse. Bardi and his men went on, and there was no greeting between them when they parted. We are not told that any strife arose between Bardi and Grettir after this.

Grettir once said that he would trust himself to fight with most men if there were not more than three against him. Even with four he would not give way without trying, but more he would not attempt, except in self-defence. Thus he says in a verse:


"Oh skilled in war! When three are before me
I yet will endeavour to fight with them all.
But more than four I dare not encounter
in the clashing of arms, if the choice is with me."


On leaving Bardi, Grettir returned to Bjarg, and was much aggrieved at finding nothing to try his strength on. He sought everywhere for something to fight with.


32.   There was a man hight Thorhall, who dwelt at Thorhall-stead, in Shady-vale, which runs up from Waterdale. Thorhall was the son of Grim, son of Thorhall, the son of Fridmund, who settled Shady-vale. Thorhall had a wife hight Gudrun. Grim was their son, and Thurid their daughter; they were well-nigh grown up.

Thorhall was a rich man, but mostly in cattle, so that no man had so much of live-stock as he. He was no chief, but an honest bonder he was. Much was that place haunted, and hardly could he get a shepherd that he deemed should serve his turn. He sought counsel of many men as to what he might do therewith, but none gave him a rede that might serve him. Thorhall rode each summer to the Thing, and good horses he had. But one summer at the Althing, Thorhall went to the booth of Skapti Thorodson the Lawman. Skapti was the wisest of men, and wholesome were his redes when folk prayed him for them. But he and his father differed thus much, that Thorod was foretelling, and yet was called under-handed of some folk; but Skapti showed forth to every man what he deemed would avail most, if it were not departed from, therefore was he called "Father-betterer."

Now Thorhall went into Skapti's booth, and Skapti greeted him well, for he knew that he was a man rich in cattle, and he asked him what were the tidings.

Thorhall answered, "A wholesome counsel would I have from thee."

"Little am I meet for that," said Skapti; "but what dost thou stand in need of?"

Thorhall said, "So is the matter grown to be, that but a little while do my shepherds avail me; for ever will they get badly hurt; but others will not serve to the end, and now no one will take the job when he knows what bides in the way."

Skapti answered, "Some evil things shall be there then, since men are more unwilling to watch thy sheep than those of other men. Now, therefore, as thou hast sought rede of me, I shall get thee a shepherd who is hight Glam, a Swede, from Sylgsdale, who came out last summer, a big man and a strong, though he is not much to the mind of most folk."

Thorhall said he heeded that little if he watched the sheep well.

Skapti said that little would be the look out for others, if he could not watch them, despite his strength and daring.

Then Thorhall went out from him, and this was towards the breaking up of the Thing. Thorhall missed two dun horses, and fared himself to seek for them; wherefore folk deem that he was no great man. He went up to Sledgehill, and south along the fell which is called Armansfell; then he saw how a man fared down from Godi's-wood, and bore faggots on a horse. Soon they met together, and Thorhall asked him of his name. He said that he was called Glam. This man was great of growth, uncouth to look on; his eyes were grey and glaring, and his hair was wolf-grey.

Thorhall stared at him somewhat when he saw this man, till he saw that this was he to whom he had been sent.

"What work hast thou best will to do?" said Thorhall.

Glam said, "That he was of good mind to watch sheep in winter."

"Wilt thou watch my sheep?" said Thorhall. "Skapti has given thee to my will."

"So only shall my service avail thee, if I go of my own will, for I am evil of mood if matters mislike me," quoth Glam.

"I fear no hurt thereof," said Thorhall, "and I will that thou fare to my house."

"That may I do," said Glam, "perchance there are some troubles there?"

"Folk deem the place haunted," said Thorhall.

"Such bugs will not scare me," quoth Glam; "life seems to me less irksome thereby."

"It must needs seem so," said Thorhall, "and truly it is better that a mannikin be not there."

Thereafter they struck bargain together, and Glam is to come at winter nights: then they parted, and Thorhall found his horses even where he had just been searching. Thorhall rode home, and thanked Skapti for his good deed.

Summer slipped away, and Thorhall heard nought of his shepherd, nor did any man know aught about him; but at the appointed time he came to Thorhall-stead. The bonder greeted him well, but none of the other folk could abide him, and the good wife least of all.

Now he took to the sheep-watching, and little trouble it seemed to give him; he was big-voiced and husky, and all the beasts would run together when he whooped. There was a church at Thorhall-stead, but nowise would Glam come therein; he was a loather of church-song, and godless, foul-tempered, and surly, and no man might abide him.

Now passed the time till it came to Yule-eve; then Glam got up and straightway called for his meat. The good wife said

"No Christian man is wont to eat meat this day, be-. cause that on the morrow is the first day of Yule," says she, "wherefore must men first fast to-day."

He answers, "Many follies have ye, whereof I see no good come, nor know I that men fare better now than when they paid no heed to such things; and methinks the ways of men were better when they were called heathens; and now will I have my meat, and none of this fooling."

Then said the housewife, "I know for sure that thou shall fare ill to-day, if thou takest up this evil turn."

Glam bade her bring food straightway, and said that she should fare the worse else. She durst do but as he would, and so when he was full, he went out, growling and grumbling.

Now the weather was such, that mirk was over all, and the snow-flakes drave down, and great din there was, and still all grew much the worse, as the day slipped away.

Men heard the shepherd through the early morning, but less of him as the day wore; then it took to snowing, and by evening there was a great storm; then men went to church, and thus time drew on to nightfall; and Glam came not home; then folk held talk, as to whether search should not be made for him, but, because of the snow-storm and pitch darkness, that came to nought.

Now he came not home on the night of Yule-eve; and thus men abide till after the time of worship; but further on in the day men fared out to the search, and found the sheep scattered wide about in fens, beaten down by the storm, or strayed up into the mountains. Thereafter they came on a great beaten place high up in the valley, and they thought it was as if strong wrestling had gone on there; for that all about the stones had been uptorn and the earth withal; now they looked closely and saw where Glam lay a little way therefrom; he was dead, and as blue as hell, and as great as a neat.

Huge loathing took them, at the sight of him, and they shuddered in their souls at him, yet they strove to bring him to church, but could get him only as far as a certain gil-edge a little way below.

Then they fared home to the farm, and told the bonder what had happed. He asked what was like to have been Glam's bane. They said they had tracked steps as great as if a cask-bottom had been stamped down, from there where the beaten place was, up to beneath sheer rocks which were high up the valley, and there along went great stains of blood. Now men drew from this, that the evil wight which had been there before had killed Glam, but had got such wounds as had been full enough for him, for of him none has since been ware.

The second day of Yule men went afresh to try to bring Glam to church; drag horses were put to him, but could move him nowhere where they had to go on even ground and not down hill; then folk had to go away therefrom leaving things done so far.

The third day the priest fared with them, and they sought all day, but found not Glam. The priest would go no more on such search, but the herdsman was found whenso the priest was not in their company. Then they let alone striving to bring him to church, and buried him there whereto he had been brought.

A little time after men were ware that Glam lay not quiet. Folk got great hurt therefrom, so that many fell into swoons when they saw him, but others lost their wits thereby. But just after Yule men thought they saw him home at the farm. Folk became exceeding afeard thereat, and many fled there and then. Next Glam took to riding the house-roofs at night, so that he went nigh to breaking them in. Now he walked well-nigh night and day. Hardly durst men fare up into the dale, though they had errands enough there. And much scathe the men of the country-side deemed all this.


32.   Spook at Thorhallsstad. Glam the Shepherd killed by a fiend. His ghost walks
There was a man named Thorhall living in Thorhallsstad in Forsaeludal, up from Vatnsdal. He was the son of Grim, the son of Thorhall, the son of Fridmund, who was the first settler in Forsaeludal. Thorhall's wife was named Gudrun; they had a son named Grim and a daughter named Thurid who were just grown up. Thorhall was fairly wealthy, especially in live-stock. His property in cattle exceeded that of any other man. He was not a chief, but an honest bondi nevertheless. He had great difficulty in getting a shepherd to suit him because the place was haunted. He consulted many men of experience as to what he should do, but nobody gave him any advice which was of any use. Thorhall had good horses, and went every summer to the Thing. On one occasion at the All-Thing he went to the booth of the Lawman Skapti the son of Thorodd, who was a man of great knowledge and gave good counsel to those who consulted him. There was a great difference between Thorodd the father and Skapti the son in one respect. Thorodd possessed second sight, but was thought by some not to be straight, whereas Skapti gave to every man the advice which he thought would avail him, if he followed it exactly, and so earned the name of Father-betterer.

So Thorhall went to Skapti's booth, where Skapti, knowing that he was a man of wealth, received him graciously, and asked what the news was.

"I want some good counsel from you," said Thorhall.

"I am little fit to give you counsel," he replied; "but what is it that you need?"

"It is this: I have great difficulty in keeping my shepherds. Some get injured and others cannot finish their work. No one will come to me if he knows what he has to expect."

Skapti answered: "There must be some evil spirit abroad if men are less willing to tend your flocks than those of other men. Now since you have come to me for counsel, I will get you a shepherd. His name is Glam, and he came from Sylgsdale in Sweden last summer. He is a big strong man, but not to everybody's mind."

Thorhall said that did not matter so long as he looked after the sheep properly. Skapti said there was not much chance of getting another if this man with all his strength and boldness should fail. Then Thorhall departed. This happened towards the end of the Thing.

Two of Thorhall's horses were missing, and he went himself to look for them, which made people think he was not much of a man. He went up under Sledaass and south along the hill called Armannsfell. Then he saw a man coming down from Godaskog bringing some brushwood with a horse. They met and Thorhall asked him his name. He said it was Glam. He was a big man with an extraordinary expression of countenance, large grey eyes and wolfgrey hair. Thorhall was a little startled when he saw him, but soon found out that this was the man who had been sent to him.

"What work can you do best?" he asked.

Glam said it would suit him very well to mind sheep in the winter.

"Will you mind my sheep?" Thorhall asked. "Skapti has given you over to me."

"My service will only be of use to you if I am free to do as I please," he said. "I am rather crossgrained when I am not well pleased."

"That will not hurt me," said Thorhall. "I shall be glad if you will come to me."

"I can do so," he said. "Are there any special difficulties?"

"The place seems to be haunted."

"I am not afraid of ghosts. It will be the less dull."

"You will have to risk it," said Thorhall. "It will be best to meet it with a bold face."

Terms were arranged and Glam was to come in the autumn. Then they parted. Thorhall found his horses in the very place where he had just been looking for them. He rode home and thanked Skapti for his service.

The summer passed. Thorhall heard nothing of his shepherd and no one knew anything about him, but at the appointed time he appeared at Thorhallsstad. Thorhall treated him kindly, but all the rest of the household disliked him, especially the mistress. He commenced his work as shepherd, which gave him little trouble.

He had a loud hoarse voice. The beasts all flocked together whenever he shouted at them. There was a church in the place, but Glam never went to it. He abstained from mass, had no religion, and was stubborn and surly. Every one hated him.

So the time passed till the eve of Yule-tide. Glam rose early and called for his meal. The mistress said: "It is not proper for Christian men to eat on this day, because to-morrow is the first day of Yule and it is our duty to fast to-day."

"You have many superstitions," he said; "but I do not see that much comes of them. I do not know that men are any better off than when there was nothing of that kind. The ways of men seemed to me better when they were called heathen. I want my food and no foolery."

"I am certain," she said, "that it will fare ill with you to-day if you commit this sin."

Glam told her that she should bring his food, or that it would be the worse for her. She did not dare to do otherwise than as he bade her. When he had eaten he went out, his breath smelling abominably. It was very dark; there was driving snow, the wind was howling and it became worse as the day advanced. The shepherd's voice was heard in the early part of the day, but less later on. Blizzards set in and a terrific storm in the evening. People went to mass and so the time passed. In the evening Glam did not return. They talked about going out to look for him, but the storm was so violent and the night so dark that no one went. The night passed and still he had not returned; they waited till the time for mass came. When it was full day some of the men set forth to search. They found the animals scattered everywhere in the snow and injured by the weather; some had strayed into the mountains. Then they came upon some well-marked tracks up above in the valley. The stones and earth were torn up all about as if there had been a violent tussle. On searching further they came upon Glam lying on the ground a short distance off. He was dead; his body was as black as Hel and swollen to the size of an ox. They were overcome with horror and their hearts shuddered within them. Nevertheless they tried to carry him to the church, but could not get him any further than the edge of a gully a short way off. So they left him there and went home to report to the bondi what had happened. He asked what could have caused Glam's death. They said they had tracked him to a big place like a hole made by the bottom of a cask thrown down and dragged along up below the mountains which were at the top of the valley, and all along the track were great drops of blood. They concluded that the evil spirit which had been about before must have killed Glam, but that he had inflicted wounds upon it which were enough, for that spook was never heard of again. On the second day of the festival they went out again to bring in Glam's body to the church. They yoked oxen to him, but directly the downward incline ceased and they came to level ground, they could not move him; so they went home again and left him. On the third day they took a priest with them, but after searching the whole day they failed to find him. The priest refused to go again, and when he was not with them they found Glam. So they gave up the attempt to bring him to the church and buried him where he was under a cairn of stones.

It was not long before men became aware that Glam was not easy in his grave. Many men suffered severe injuries; some who saw him were struck senseless and some lost their wits. Soon after the festival was over, men began to think they saw him about their houses. The panic was great and many left the neighbourhood. Next he began to ride on the house-tops by night, and nearly broke them to pieces. Almost night and day he walked, and people would scarcely venture up the valley, however pressing their business. The district was in a grievous condition.


33.   In the spring Thorhall got serving-men, and set up house at his farm; then the hauntings began to go off while the sun was at its height; and so things went on to midsummer. That summer a ship came out to Hunawater, wherein was a man named Thorgaut. He was an outlander of kin, big and stout, and two men's strength he had. He was unhired and single, and would fain do some work, for he was moneyless. Now Thorhall rode to the ship, and asked Thorgaut if he would work for him. Thorgaut said that might be, and moreover that he was not nice about work.

"Be sure in thy mind," said Thorhall, "that mannikins are of small avail there because of the hauntings that have been going on there for one while now; for I will not draw thee on by wiles."

Thorgaut answers, "I deem not myself given up, though I should see some wraithlings; matters will not be light when I am scared, nor will I give up my service for that."

Now they come speedily to a bargain, and Thorgaut is to watch the sheep when winter comes. So the summer wore on, and Thorgaut betook himself to the shepherding at winter nights, and all liked him well. But ever came Glam home and rode the house-roofs; this Thorgaut deemed sport enough, and quoth he

"The thrall must come nigher to scare me."

Thorhall bade him keep silence over that. "Better will it be that ye have no trial together."

Thorgaut said, "Surely all might is shaken out of you, nor shall I drop down betwixt morn and eve at such talk."

Now so things go through the winter till Yule-tide. On Yule eve the shepherd would fare out to his sheep. Then said the good wife

"Need is it that things go not the old way."

He answered, "Have no fear thereof, goodwife; something worth telling of will betide if I come not back."

And thereafter he went to his sheep; and the weather was somewhat cold, and there was much snow. Thorgaut was wont to come home when twilight had set in, and now he came not at that time. Folk went to church as they were wont. Men now thought things looked not unlike what they did before; the bonder would have search made for the shepherd, but the church-goers begged off, and said that they would not give themselves into the hands of trolls by night; so the bonder durst not go, and the search came to nought.

Yule-day, when men were full, they fared out and searched for the shepherd; they first went to Glam's cairn, because men thought that from his deeds came the loss of the herdsman. But when they came nigh to the cairn, there they saw great tidings, for there they found the shepherd, and his neck was broken, and every bone in him smashed. Then they brought him to church, and no harm came to men from Thorgaut afterwards.

But Glam began afresh to wax mighty; and such deeds he wrought, that all men fled away from Thorhall-stead, except the good man and his goodwife. Now the same neatherd had long been there, and Thorhall would not let him go, because of his good will and safe ward; he was well on in years, and was very loth to fare away, for he saw that all things the bonder had went to nought from not being watched.

Now after midwinter one morning the housewife fared to the byre to milk the cows after the wonted time; by then was it broad daylight, for none other than the neatherd would trust themselves out before day; but he went out at dawn. She heard great cracking in the byre, with bellowing and roaring; she ran back crying out, and said she knew not what uncouth things were going on in the byre.

The bonder went out and came to the cows, which were goring one another; so he thought it not good to go in there, but went in to the hay-barn. There he saw where lay the neatherd, and had his head in one boose and his feet in the other; and he lay cast on his back. The bonder went up to him, and felt him all over with his hand, and finds soon that he was dead, and the spine of him broken asunder; it had been broken over the raised stone-edge of a boose.

Now the goodman thought there was no abiding there longer; so he fled away from the farm with all that he might take away; but all such live stock as was left behind Glam killed, and then he fared all over the valley and destroyed farms up from Tongue. But Thorhall was with his friends the rest of the winter.

No man might fare up the dale with horse or hound, because straightway it was slain. But when spring came, and the sun-light was the greatest, somewhat the hauntings abated; and now would Thorhall go back to his own land; he had no easy task in getting servants, nathless he set up house again at Thorhall-stead; but all went the same way as before; for when autumn came, the hauntings began to wax again; the bonder's daughter was most set on, and fared so that she died thereof. Many redes were sought, but nought could be done; men thought it like that all Waterdale would be laid waste if nought were found to better this.


33.   Doings of Glam's ghost. Awful condition of Vatnsdal
In the spring Thorhall procured servants and built a house on his lands. As the days lengthened out the apparitions became less, until at midsummer a ship sailed up the Hunavatn in which was a man named Thorgaut. He was a foreigner, very tall and powerful; he had the strength of two men. He was travelling on his own account, unattached, and being without money was looking out for employment. Thorhall rode to the ship, saw him and asked if he would take service with him. Thorgaut said he would indeed, and that there would be no difficulties.

"You must be prepared," said Thorhall, "for work which would not be fitting for a weak-minded person, because of the apparitions which have been there lately. I will not deceive you about it."

"I shall not give myself up as lost for the ghostlings," he said.

"Before I am scared some others will not be easy. I shall not change my quarters on that account."

The terms were easily arranged and Thorgaut was engaged for the sheep during the winter. When the summer had passed away he took over charge of them, and was on good terms with everybody. Glam continued his rides on the roofs. Thorgaut thought it very amusing and said the thrall must come nearer if he wished to frighten him. Thorhall advised him not to say too much, and said it would be better if they did not come into conflict.

Thorgaut said: "Surely all the spirit has gone out of you. I shall not fall dead in the twilight for stories of that sort."

Yule was approaching. On the eve the shepherd went out with his sheep. The mistress said: "Now I hope that our former experiences will not be repeated."

"Have no fear for that, mistress," he said. "There will be something worth telling of if I come not back."

Then he went out to his sheep. The weather was rather cold and there was a heavy snowstorm. Thorgaut usually returned when it was getting dark, but this time he did not come. The people went to church as usual, but they thought matters looked very much as they did on the last occasion. The bondi wanted them to go out and search for the shepherd, but the churchgoers cried off, and said they were not going to trust themselves into the power of trolls in the night; the bondi would not venture out and there was no search. On Yule day after their meal they went out to look for the shepherd, and first went to Glam's cairn, feeling sure that the shepherd's disappearance must be due to him. On approaching the cairn they saw an awful sight; there was the shepherd, his neck broken, and every bone in his body torn from its place. They carried him to the church and no one was molested by Thorgaut.

Glam became more rampageous than ever. He was so riotous that at last everybody fled from Thorhallsstad, excepting the bondi and his wife.

Thorhall's cowherd had been a long time in his service and he had become attached to him; for this reason and because he was a careful herdsman he did not want to part with him. The man was very old and thought it would be very troublesome to have to leave; he saw, too, that everything the bondi possessed would be ruined if he did not stay to look after them. One morning after midwinter the mistress went to the cow-house to milk the cows as usual. It was then full day, for no one would venture out of doors till then, except the cowherd, who went directly it was light. She heard a great crash in the cow-house and tremendous bellowing. She rushed in, shouting that something awful, she knew not what, was going on in the cow-house. The bondi went out and found the cattle all goring each other. It seemed not canny there, so he went into the shed and there saw the cowherd lying on his back with his head in one stall and his feet in the other.

He went up and felt him, but saw at once that he was dead with his back broken. It had been broken over the flat stone which separated the two stalls. Evidently it was not safe to remain any longer on his estate, so he fled with everything that he could carry away. All the live-stock which he left behind was killed by Glam. After that Glam went right up the valley and raided every farm as far as Tunga, while Thorhall stayed with his friends during the rest of the winter. No one could venture up the valley with a horse or a dog, for it was killed at once. As the spring went on and the sun rose higher in the sky the spook diminished somewhat, and Thorhall wanted to return to his land, but found it not easy to get servants. Nevertheless, he went and took up his abode at Thorhallsstad. Directly the autumn set in, everything began again, and the disturbances increased. The person most attacked was the bondi's daughter, who at last died of it. Many things were tried but without success. It seemed likely that the whole of Vatnsdal would be devastated unless help could be found.


34.   Now we take up the story where Grettir Asmundson sat at Biarg through the autumn after they parted, he and Slaying-Bardi at Thoreys-peak; and when the time of winter-nights had well-nigh come, Grettir rode from home north over the neck to Willowdale, and guested at Audunstead; he and Audun made a full peace, and Grettir gave Audun a good axe, and they talked of friendship between them. Audun dwelt long at Audunstead, and was a man of many and hopeful kin; his son was Egil, who married Ulfheid, daughter of Eyulf Gudmundson, and their son was Eyulf, who was slain at the Althing, he was the father of Orm, who was the chaplain of Bishop Thorlak.

Grettir rode north to Waterdale, and came to see his kin at Tongue. In those days dwelt there Jokull, the son of Bard, the mother's brother of Grettir: Jokull was a big man and a strong, and the most violent of men; he was a seafaring man, very wild, and yet a man of great account.

He greeted Grettir well, and he was there three nights. There were so many words about Glam's hauntings, that nought was so much spoken of as of that. Grettir asked closely about all things that had happed. Jokull said that thereof was told no more than the very truth; "And, perchance, thou art wishful to go there, kinsman?"

Grettir said that so it was.

Jokull bade him do it not, "Because it is a great risk for thy good luck, and thy kinsmen have much to hazard where thou art," said he, "for of young men we think there is none such as thou; but from ill cometh ill whereas Glam is; and far better it is to deal with men than with such evil wights."

Grettir said, "That he had a mind to go to Thorhall-stead and see how things went there."

Said Jokull, "Now I see it is of no avail to let thee; but so it is, as men say, Good luck and goodliness are twain."

"Woe is before one's own door when it is inside one's neighbour's; think how it may fare with thyself ere things are ended," said Grettir.

Jokull answered, "Maybe we may both see somewhat of things to come, but neither may help aught herein."

They parted thereafter, and neither thought well of the other's foretelling.


34.   Grettir visits his Uncle Jokull
We have now to return to Grettir, who was at home in Bjarg during the autumn which followed his meeting with Warrior-Bardi at Thoreyjargnup. When the winter was approaching, he rode North across the neck to Vididal and stayed at Audunarstad. He and Audun made friends again; Grettir gave him a valuable battle-axe and they agreed to hold together in friendship. Audun had long lived there, and had many connections. He had a son named Egill, who married Ulfheid the daughter of Eyjolf, the son of Gudmund; their son Eyjolf, who was killed at the All-Thing, was the father of Orin the chaplain of Bishop Thorlak.

Grettir rode to the North to Vatnsdal and went on a visit to Tunga, where dwelt his mother's brother, Jokull the son of Bard, a big strong man and exceedingly haughty. He was a mariner, very cantankerous, but a person of much consideration. He welcomed Grettir, who stayed three nights with him. Nothing was talked about but Glam's walking, and Grettir inquired minutely about all the particulars. Jokull told him that no more was said than had really happened.

"Why, do you want to go there?" he asked.

Grettir said that it was so. Jokull told him not to do it.

"It would be a most hazardous undertaking," he said. "Your kinsmen incur a great risk with you as you are. There does not seem to be one of the younger men who is your equal. It is ill dealing with such a one as Glam. Much better fight with human men than with goblins of that sort."

Grettir said he had a mind to go to Thorhallsstad and see how things were. Jokull said: "I see there is no use in dissuading you. The saying is true that Luck is one thing, brave deeds another."

"Woe stands before the door of one but enters that of another," answered Grettir. "I am thinking how it may fare with you yourself before all is done."

"It may be," said Jokull, "that we both see what is before us, and yet we may not alter it."

Then they parted, neither of them well pleased with the other's prophetic saying.


35.   Grettir rode to Thorhall-stead, and the bonder gave him good welcome; he asked whither Grettir was minded to fare, but Grettir said he would be there that night if the bonder would have it so.

Thorhall said that he thanked him therefor, "But few have thought it a treat to guest here for any time; thou must needs have heard what is going on here, and I fain would that thou shouldest have no trouble from me: but though thou shouldest come off whole thyself, that know I for sure, that thou wilt lose thy horse, for none keeps his horse whole who comes here."

Grettir said that horses were to be had in plenty whatsoever might hap to this. Then Thorhall was glad that Grettir was to be there, and gave him a hearty welcome.

Now Grettir's horse was locked up in a strong house, and they went to sleep; and so the night slipped by, and Glam came not home.

Then said Thorhall, "Things have gone well at thy coming, for every night is Glam wont to ride the house-roofs, or break open doors, as thou mayest well see."

Grettir said, "Then shall one of two things be, either he shall not hold himself back for long, or the hauntings will abate for more than one night; I will bide here another night and see how things fare."

Thereafter they went to Grettir's horse, and nought had been tried against it; then all seemed to the bonder to go one way.

Now is Grettir there another night, and neither came the thrall home; that the farmer deemed very hopeful; withal he fared to see after Grettir's horse. When the farmer came there, he found the house broken into, but the horse was dragged out to the door, and every bone in him broken to pieces. Thorhall told Grettir what had happed there, and bade him save himself, "For sure is thy death if thou abidest Glam."

Grettir answered, "I must not have less for my horse than a sight of the thrall."

The bonder said it was no boon to see him, for he was unlike any shape of man; "but good methinks is every hour that thou art here."

Now the day goes by, and when men should go to sleep Grettir would not put off his clothes, but lay down on the seat over against the bonder's lock-bed. He had a drugget cloak over him, and wrapped one skirt of it under his feet, and twined the other under his head, and looked out through the head-opening; a seat-beam was before the seat, a very strong one, and against this he set his feet. The door-fittings were all broken from the outer door, but a wrecked door was now bound thereby, and all was fitted up in the wretchedest wise. The panelling which had been before the seat athwart the hall, was all broken away both above and below the cross-beam; all beds had been torn out of place, and an uncouth place it was.

Light burned in the hall through the night; and when the third part of the night was passed, Grettir heard huge din without, and then one went up upon the houses and rode the hall, and drave his heels against the thatch so that every rafter cracked again.

That went on long, and then he came down from the house and went to the door; and as the door opened, Grettir saw that the thrall stretched in his head, which seemed to him monstrously big, and wondrous thick cut.

Glam fared slowly when he came into the door and stretched himself high up under the roof, and turned looking along the hall, and laid his arms on the tie-beam, and glared inwards over the place. The farmer would not let himself be heard, for he deemed he had had enough in hearing himself what had gone on outside. Grettir lay quiet, and moved no whit; then Glam saw that some bundle lay on the seat, and therewith he stalked up the hall and griped at the wrapper wondrous hard; but Grettir set his foot against the beam, and moved in no wise; Glam pulled again much harder, but still the wrapper moved not at all; the third time he pulled with both hands so hard, that he drew Grettir upright from the seat; and now they tore the wrapper asunder between them.

Glam gazed at the rag he held in his hand, and wondered much who might pull so hard against him; and therewithal Grettir ran under his hands and gripped him round the middle, and bent back his spine as hard as he might, and his mind it was that Glam should shrink thereat; but the thrall lay so hard on Grettir's arms, that he shrank all aback because of Glam's strength.

Then Grettir bore back before him into sundry seats; but the seat-beams were driven out of place, and all was broken that was before them. Glam was fain to get out, but Grettir set his feet against all things that he might; nathless Glam got him dragged from out the hall; there had they a wondrous hard wrestling, because the thrall had a mind to bring him out of the house; but Grettir saw that ill as it was to deal with Glam within doors, yet worse would it be without; therefore he struggled with all his might and main against going out-a-doors.

Now Glam gathered up his strength and knit Grettir towards him when they came to the outer door; but when Grettir saw that he might not set his feet against that, all of a sudden in one rush he drave his hardest against the thrall's breast, and spurned both feet against the half-sunken stone that stood in the threshold of the door; for this the thrall was not ready, for he had been tugging to draw Grettir to him, therefore he reeled aback and spun out against the door, so that his shoulders caught the upper door-case, and the roof burst asunder, both rafters and frozen thatch, and therewith he fell open-armed aback out of the house, and Grettir over him.

Bright moonlight was there without, and the drift was broken, now drawn over the moon, now driven from off her; and, even as Glam fell, a cloud was driven from the moon, and Glam glared up against her. And Grettir himself says that by that sight only was he dismayed amidst all that he ever saw.

Then his soul sank within him so, from all these things both from weariness, and because he had seen Glam turn his eyes so horribly, that he might not draw the short-sword, and lay well-nigh 'twixt home and hell.

But herein was there more fiendish craft in Glam than in most other ghosts, that he spake now in this wise

"Exceeding eagerly hast thou wrought to meet me, Grettir, but no wonder will it be deemed, though thou gettest no good hap of me; and this must I tell thee, that thou now hast got half the strength and manhood, which was thy lot if thou hadst not met me: now I may not take from thee the strength which thou hast got before this; but that may I rule, that thou shalt never be mightier than now thou art; and nathless art thou mighty enow, and that shall many an one learn. Hitherto hast thou earned fame by thy deeds, but henceforth will wrongs and man-slayings fall on thee, and the most part of thy doings will turn to thy woe and ill-hap; an outlaw shalt thou be made, and ever shall it be thy lot to dwell alone abroad; therefore this weird I lay on thee, ever in those days to see these eyes with thine eyes, and thou wilt find it hard to be aloneand that shall drag thee unto death."

Now when the thrall had thus said, the astonishment fell from Grettir that had lain on him, and therewith he drew the short-sword and hewed the head from Glam, and laid it at his thigh.

Then came the farmer out; he had clad himself while Glam had his spell going, but he durst come nowhere nigh till Glam had fallen.

Thorhall praised God therefor, and thanked Grettir well for that he had won this unclean spirit. Then they set to work and burned Glam to cold coals, thereafter they gathered his ashes into the skin of a beast, and dug it down whereas sheep-pastures were fewest, or the ways of men. They walked home thereafter, and by then it had got far on towards day; Grettir laid him down, for he was very stiff: but Thorhall sent to the nearest farm for men, and both showed them and told them how all things had fared.

All men who heard thereof deemed this a deed of great worth, and in those days it was said by all that none in all the land was like to Grettir Asmundson for great heart and prowess.

Thorhall saw off Grettir handsomely, and gave him a good horse and seemly clothes, for those were all torn to pieces that he had worn before; so they parted in friendly wise. Grettir rode thence to the Ridge in Waterdale, and Thorvald received him well, and asked closely about the struggle with Glam. Grettir told him all, and said thereto that he had never had such a trial of strength, so long was their struggle.

Thorvald bade him keep quiet, "Then all will go well with thee, else wilt thou be a man of many troubles."

Grettir said that his temper had been nowise bettered by this, that he was worse to quiet than before, and that he deemed all trouble worse than it was; but that herein he found the greatest change, in that he was become so fearsome a man in the dark, that he durst go nowhither alone after nightfall, for then he seemed to see all kinds of horrors.

And that has fallen since into a proverb, that Glam lends eyes, or gives Glamsight to those who see things nowise as they are.

But Grettir rode home to Biarg when he had done his errands, and sat at home through the winter.


35.   Fight with Glam's ghost
Grettir rode to Thorhallsstad where he was welcomed by the bondi.

He asked Grettir whither he was bound, and Grettir said he wished to spend the night there if the bondi permitted. Thorhall said he would indeed be thankful to him for staying there.

"Few," he said, "think it a gain to stay here for any time. You must have heard tell of the trouble that is here, and I do not want you to be inconvenienced on my account. Even if you escape unhurt yourself, I know for certain that you will lose your horse, for no one can keep his beast in safety who comes here."

Grettir said there were plenty more horses to be had if anything happened to this one.

Thorhall was delighted at Grettir's wishing to remain, and received him with both hands. Grettir's horse was placed securely under lock and key and they both went to bed. The night passed without Glam showing himself.

"Your being here has already done some good," said Thorhall. "Glam has always been in the habit of riding on the roof or breaking open the doors every night, as you can see from the marks."

"Then," Grettir said, "either he will not keep quiet much longer, or he will remain so more than one night. I will stay another night and see what happens."

Then they went to Grettir's horse and found it had not been touched. The bondi thought that all pointed to the same thing. Grettir stayed a second night and again the thrall did not appear. The bondi became hopeful and went to see the horse. There he found the stable broken open, the horse dragged outside and every bone in his body broken. Thorhall told Grettir what had occurred and advised him to look to himself, for he was a dead man if he waited for Glam.

Grettir answered: "I must not have less for my horse than a sight of the thrall."

The bondi said there was no pleasure to be had from seeing him: "He is not like any man. I count every hour a gain that you are here."

The day passed, and when the hour came for going to bed Grettir said he would not take off his clothes, and lay down on a seat opposite to Thorkell's sleeping apartment. He had a shaggy cloak covering him with one end of it fastened under his feet and the other drawn over his head so that he could see through the neck-hole. He set his feet against a strong bench which was in front of him. The frame-work of the outer door had been all broken away and some bits of wood had been rigged up roughly in its place. The partition which had once divided the hall from the entrance passage was all broken, both above the cross-beam and below, and all the bedding had been upset. The place looked rather desolate. There was a light burning in the hall by night.

When about a third part of the night had passed Grettir heard a loud noise. Something was going up on to the building, riding above the hall and kicking with its heels until the timbers cracked again. This went on for some time, and then it came down towards the door. The door opened and Grettir saw the thrall stretching in an enormously big and ugly head. Glam moved slowly in, and on passing the door stood upright, reaching to the roof. He turned to the hall, resting his arms on the cross-beam and peering along the hall. The bondi uttered no sound, having heard quite enough of what had gone on outside. Grettir lay quite still and did not move. Glam saw a heap of something in the seat, came farther into the hall and seized the cloak tightly with his hand. Grettir pressed his foot against the plank and the cloak held firm. Glam tugged at it again still more violently, but it did not give way. A third time be pulled, this time with both hands and with such force that he pulled Grettir up out of the seat, and between them the cloak was torn in two. Glam looked at the bit which he held in his hand and wondered much who could pull like that against him. Suddenly Grettir sprang under his arms, seized him round the waist and squeezed his back with all his might, intending in that way to bring him down, but the thrall wrenched his arms till he staggered from the violence. Then Grettir fell back to another bench. The benches flew about and everything was shattered around them. Glam wanted to get out, but Grettir tried to prevent him by stemming his foot against anything he could find. Nevertheless Glam succeeded in getting him outside the hall. Then a terrific struggle began, the thrall trying to drag him out of the house, and Grettir saw that however hard he was to deal with in the house, he would be worse outside, so he strove with all his might to keep him from getting out. Then Glam made a desperate effort and gripped Grettir tightly towards him, forcing him to the porch. Grettir saw that he could not put up any resistance, and with a sudden movement he dashed into the thrall's arms and set both his feet against a stone which was fastened in the ground at the door. For that Glam was not prepared, since he had been tugging to drag Grettir towards him; he reeled backwards and tumbled hind-foremost out of the door, tearing away the lintel with his shoulder and shattering the roof, the rafters and the frozen thatch. Head over heels he fell out of the house and Grettir fell on top of him. The moon was shining very brightly outside, with light clouds passing over it and hiding it now and again. At the moment when Glam fell the moon shone forth, and Glam turned his eyes up towards it. Grettir himself has related that that sight was the only one which ever made him tremble. What with fatigue and all else that he had endured, when he saw the horrible rolling of Glam's eyes his heart sank so utterly that he had not strength to draw his sword, but lay there well-nigh betwixt life and death. Glam possessed more malignant power than most fiends, for he now spoke in this wise:

"You have expended much energy, Grettir, in your search for me. Nor is that to be wondered at, if you should have little joy thereof. And now I tell you that you shall possess only half the strength and firmness of heart that were decreed to you if you had not striven with me. The might which was yours till now I am not able to take away, but it is in my power to ordain that never shall you grow stronger than you are now. Nevertheless your might is sufficient, as many shall find to their cost. Hitherto you have earned fame through your deeds, but henceforward there shall fall upon you exile and battle; your deeds shall turn to evil and your guardian-spirit shall forsake you. You will be outlawed and your lot shall be to dwell ever alone. And this I lay upon you, that these eyes of mine shall be ever before your vision. You will find it hard to live alone, and at last it shall drag you to death."

When the thrall had spoken the faintness which had come over Grettir left him. He drew his short sword, cut off Glam's head and laid it between his thighs. Then the bondi came out, having put on his clothes while Glam was speaking, but he did not venture to come near until he was dead. Thorhall praised God and thanked Grettir warmly for having laid this unclean spirit. Then they set to work and burned Glam to cold cinders, bound the ashes in a skin and buried them in a place far away from the haunts of man or beast. Then they went home, the day having nearly broken.

Grettir was very stiff and lay down to rest. Thorhall sent for some men from the next farms and let them know how things had fared. They all realised the importance of Grettir's deed when they heard of it; all agreed that in the whole country side for strength and courage and enterprise there was not the equal of Grettir the son of Asmund.

Thorhall bade a kindly farewell to Grettir and dismissed him with a present of a fine horse and proper clothes, for all that he had been wearing were torn to pieces. They parted in friendship. Grettir rode to Ass in Vatnsdal and was welcomed by Thorvald, who asked him all about his encounter with Glam. Grettir told him everything and said that never had his strength been put to trial as it had been in their long struggle. Thorvald told him to conduct himself discreetly; if he did so he might prosper, but otherwise he would surely come to disaster. Grettir said that his temper had not improved, that he had even less discretion than before, and was more impatient of being crossed. In one thing a great change had come over him; he had become so frightened of the dark that he dared not go anywhere alone at night. Apparitions of every kind came before him. It has since passed into an expression, and men speak of "Glam's eyes" or "Glam visions" when things appear otherwise than as they are.

Having accomplished his undertaking Grettir rode back to Bjarg and spent the winter at home.


36.   Thorbiorn Oxmain held a great autumn feast, and many men came thither to him, and that was while Grettir fared north to Waterdale in the autumn; Thorbiorn the Tardy was there at the feast, and many things were spoken of there. There the Ramfirthers asked of those dealings of Grettir on the neck the summer before.

Thorbiorn Oxmain told the story right fairly as towards Grettir, and said that Kormak would have got the worst of it, if none had come there to part them.

Then spake Thorbiorn the Tardy, "Both these things are true," said he: "I saw Grettir win no great honour, and I deem withal that fear shot through his heart when we came thereto, and right blithe was he to part, nor did I see him seek for vengeance when Atli's house-carle was slain; therefore do I deem that there is no heart in him if he is not holpen enow."

And thereat Thorbiorn went on gabbling at his most; but many put in a word, and said that this was worthless fooling, and that Grettir would not leave things thus, if he heard that talk.

Nought else befell worth telling of at the feast, and men went home; but much ill-will there was betwixt them that winter, though neither set on other; nor were there other tidings through the winter.


36.   Thorbjorn Slowcoach at home
Thorbjorn Oxmain gave a great feast in the autumn at which many were assembled, whilst Grettir was in the North in Vatnsdal. Thorbjorn Slowcoach was there and many things were talked about. The Hrutafjord people inquired about Grettir's adventure on the ridge in the summer. Thorbjorn Oxmain praised Grettir's conduct, and said that Kormak would have had the worst of it if no one had come to part them. Then Thorbjorn Slowcoach said: "What I saw of Grettir's fighting was not famous; and he seemed inclined to shirk when we came up. He was very ready to leave off, nor did I see him make any attempt to avenge the death of Atli's man. I do not believe there is much heart in him, except when he has a sufficient force behind him."

Thorbjorn went on jeering at him in this way. Many of the others had something to say about it, and they thought that Grettir would not leave it to rest if he heard what Thorbjorn was saying.

Nothing more happened at the festivities; they all went home, and there was a good deal of ill-will between them all that winter, though no one took any action. Nothing more happened that winter.


37.   Early the spring after came out a ship from Norway; and that was before the Thing; these folk knew many things to tell, and first that there was change of rulers in Norway, for Olaf Haraldson was come to be king, and Earl Svein had fled the country in the spring after the fight at Ness. Many noteworthy matters were told of King Olaf, and this withal, that he received such men in the best of ways who were of prowess in any deeds, and that he made such his men.

Thereat were many young men glad, and listed to go abroad, and when Grettir heard the tidings he became much minded to sail out; for he, like others, hoped for honour at the king's hands.

A ship lay in Goose-ere in Eyjafirth, therein Grettir got him a berth and made ready for the voyage, nor had he yet much of faring-goods.

Now Asmund was growing very feeble with eld, and was well-nigh bedridden; he and Asdis had a young son who was called Illugi, and was the hopefullest of men; and, by this time, Atli tended all farming and money-keeping, and this was deemed to better matters, because he was a peaceable and foreseeing man.

Now Grettir went shipward, but in that same ship had Thorbiorn the Tardy taken passage, before folk knew that Grettir would sail therein. Now men would hinder Thorbiorn from sailing in the same ship with Grettir, but Thorbiorn said that he would go for all that. He gat him ready for the voyage out, and was somewhat late thereat, nor did he come to the north to Goose-ere before the ship was ready for sea; and before Thorbiorn fared from the west, Asmund the Greyhaired fell sick and was bedridden.

Now Thorbiorn the Tardy came late one day down to the sand; men were getting ready to go to table, and were washing their hands outside the booths; but when Thorbiorn rode up the lane betwixt the booths, he was greeted, and asked for tidings. He made as if there was nought to tell, "Save that I deem that Asmund, the champion of Biarg, is now dead."

Many men said that there where he went, departed a worthy goodman from the world.

"But what brought it about?" said they.

He answered, "Little went to the death of that champion, for in the chamber smoke was he smothered like a dog; nor is there loss therein, for he was grown a dotard."

"Thou speakest marvellously of such a man," said they, "nor would Grettir like thy words well, if he heard them."

"That must I bear," said Thorbiorn, "and higher must Grettir bear the sword than he did last summer at Ramfirth-neck, if I am to tremble at him."

Now Grettir heard full well what Thorbiorn said, and paid no heed thereto while he let his tale run on; but when he had made an end, then spake Grettir

"That fate I foretell for thee, Tardy," said he, "that thou wilt not die in chamber smoke, yet may be withal thou wilt not die of eld; but it is strangely done to speak scorn of sackless men."

Thorbiorn said, "I have no will to hold in about these things, and methinks thou didst not bear thyself so briskly when we got thee off that time when the men of Meals beat thee like a neat's head."

Then sang Grettir


"Day by day full over long,
Arrow-dealer, grows thy tongue;
Such a man there is, that thou
Mayst be paid for all words now;
Many a man, who has been fain,
Wound-worm's tower with hands to gain,
With less deeds his death has bought,
Than thou, Tardy-one, hast wrought."


Said Thorbiorn, "About as feign do I deem myself as before, despite thy squealing."

Grettir answered, "Heretofore my spaedom has not been long-lived, and so shall things go still; now beware if thou wilt, hereafter will no out-look be left."

Therewith Grettir hewed at Thorbiorn, but he swung up his hand, with the mind to ward the stroke from him, but that stroke came on his arm about the wrist, and withal the short-sword drave into his neck so that the head was smitten off.

Then said the chapmen that he was a man of mighty strokes, and that such should king's men be; and no scathe they deemed it though Thorbiorn were slain, in that he had been both quarrelsome and spiteful.

A little after they sailed into the sea, and came in late summer to Norway, south at Hordaland, and then they heard that King Olaf was north at Drontheim; then Grettir took ship in a trading keel to go north therefrom, because he would fain see the king.


37.   Grettir sails for Norway and kills Thorbjorn Slowcoach
Early in the spring, before the meeting of the Thing, there arrived a ship from Norway. There was much news to tell, above all of the change of government. Olaf the son of Harald was now king, having driven away jarl Sveinn from the country in the spring which followed the battle of Nesjar. Many noteworthy things were told of King Olaf. Men said that he took into favour all men who were skilled in any way and made them his followers. This pleased many of the younger men in Iceland and made them all want to leave home. When Grettir heard of it he longed to go too, deeming that he merited the king's favour quite as much as any of the others. A ship came up to Gasar in Eyjafjord; Grettir engaged a passage in her and prepared to go abroad. He had not much outfit as yet.

Asmund was now becoming very infirm and scarcely left his bed. He and Asdis had a young son named Illugi, a youth of much promise. Atli had taken over all the management of the farm and the goods, and things went much better, for he was both obliging and provident.

Grettir embarked on his ship. Thorbjorn Slowcoach had arranged to travel in the same vessel without knowing that Grettir would be in her. Some of his friends tried to dissuade him from travelling in Grettir's company, but he insisted upon going. He was rather a long time over his preparations and did not get to Gasar before the ship was ready to sail. Before he left home Asmund Longhair was taken ill and was quite confined to his bed. Thorbjorn Slowcoach arrived on the beach late in the day, when the men were going on board and were washing their hands outside near their booths. When he rode up to the rows of booths they greeted him and asked what news there was.

"I have nothing to tell," he said, "except that the valorous Asmund at Bjarg is now dead."

Some of them said that a worthy bondi had left the world and asked how it happened.

"A poor lot befell his Valour," he replied. "He was suffocated by the smoke from the hearth, like a dog. There is no great loss in him, for he was in his dotage."

"You talk strangely about such a man as he was," they said. "Grettir would not be much pleased if he heard you."

"I can endure Grettir's wrath," he said. "He must bear his axe higher than he did at Hrutafjardarhals if he wishes to frighten me."

Grettir heard every word that Thorbjorn said, but took no notice as long as he was speaking. When he had finished Grettir said:

"I prophesy, Slowcoach, that you will not die of the smoke from the hearth, and yet perhaps you will not die of old age either. It is strange conduct to say shameful things of innocent men."

Thorbjorn said: "I have nothing to unsay. I never thought you would fire up like this on the day when we got you out of the hands of the men of Mel who were belabouring you like an ox's head."

Then Grettir spoke a verse:


"Too long is the tongue of the spanner of bows.
Full often he suffers the vengeance due.
Slowcoach! I tell thee that many a man
has paid for less shameful speech with his life."


Thorbjorn said his life was neither more nor less in danger than it was before.

"My prophecies are not generally long-lived," said Grettir, "nor shall this one be. Defend yourself if you will; you never will have better occasion for it than now."

Grettir then struck at him. He tried to parry the blow with his arm, but it struck him above the wrist and glanced off on to his neck so that his head flew off. The sailors declared it was a splendid stroke, and that such were the men for the king. No one would grieve, they said, because a man so quarrelsome and scurrilous as Thorbjorn had been killed.

Soon after this they got under way and towards the end of the summer reached the south coast of Norway, about Hordland, where they learned that King Olaf was in the North at Thrandheim. Grettir took a passage thither with some traders intending to seek audience of the king.


38.   There was a man named Thorir, who lived at Garth, in Maindale, he was the son of Skeggi, the son of Botulf. Skeggi had settled Well-wharf up to Well-ness; he had to wife Helga, daughter of Thorkel, of Fishbrook; Thorir, his son, was a great chief, and a seafaring man. He had two sons, one called Thorgeir and one Skeggi, they were both hopeful men, and fully grown in those days. Thorir had been in Norway that summer, when King Olaf came east from England, and got into great friendship with the king, and with Bishop Sigurd as well; and this is a token thereof, that Thorir had had a large ship built in the wood, and prayed Bishop Sigurd to hallow it, and so he did. Thereafter Thorir fared out to Iceland and caused the ship to be broken up, when he grew weary of sailing, but the beaks of the ship, he had set up over his outer door, and they were there long afterwards, and were so full of weather wisdom, that the one whistled before a south wind, and the other before a north wind.

But when Thorir knew that King Olaf had got the sole rule over all Norway, he deemed that he had some friendship there to fall back on; then he sent his sons to Norway to meet the king, and was minded that they should become his men. They came there south, late in autumn, and got to themselves a row-barge, and fared north along the land, with the mind to go and meet the king.

They came to a haven south of Stead, and lay there some nights, and kept themselves in good case as to meat and drink, and were not much abroad when the weather was foul.

Now it is to be told that Grettir and his fellows fared north along the land, and often had hard weather, because it was then the beginning of winter; and when they bore down north on Stead, they had much foul weather, with snow and frost, and with exceeding trouble they make land one evening all much worn with wet; so they lay to by a certain dyke, and could thus save their money and goods; the chapmen were hard put to it for the cold, because they could not light any fire, though thereon they deemed well-nigh their life and health lay.

Thus they lay that evening in evil plight; but as the night wore on they saw that a great fire sprang up in the midst of the sound over against there whereas they had come. But when Grettir's shipmates saw the fire, they said one to the other that he would be a happy man who might get it, and they doubted whether they should unmoor the ship, but to all of them there seemed danger in that. Then they had a long talk over it, whether any man was of might enow to fetch that fire.

Grettir gave little heed thereto, but said, that such men had been as would not have feared the task. The chapmen said that they were not bettered by what had been, if now there was nought to take to.

"Perchance thou deemest thyself man enough thereto, Grettir," said they, "since thou art called the man of most prowess among the men of Iceland, and thou wottest well enough what our need is."

Grettir answered, "It seems to me no great deed to fetch the fire, but I wot not if ye will reward it according to the prayer of him who does it."

They said, "Why deemest thou us such shameful men as that we should reward that deed but with good?"

Quoth he, "I may try this if so be that ye think much lies on it, but my mind bids me hope to get nought of good thereby."

They said that that should never be, and bade all hail to his words; and thereafter Grettir made ready for swimming, and cast his clothes from off him; of clothes he had on but a cape and sail-cloth breeches; he girt up the cape and tied a bast-rope strongly round his middle, and had with him a cask; then he leaped overboard; he stretched across the sound, and got aland.

There he saw a house stand, and heard therefrom the talk of men, and much clatter, and therewith he turned toward that house.

Now is it to be said of those that were there before, that here were come the sons of Thorir, as is aforesaid; they had lain there many nights, and bided there the falling of the gale, that they might have wind at will to go north, beyond Stead. They had set them down a-drinking, and were twelve men in all; their ship rode in the main haven, and they were at a house of refuge for such men to guest in, as went along the coast.

Much straw had been borne into the house, and there was a great fire on the floor; Grettir burst into the house, and wotted not who was there before; his cape was all over ice when he came aland, and he himself was wondrous great to behold, even as a troll; now those first comers were exceeding amazed at him, and deemed he must be some evil wight; they smote at him with all things they might lay hold of, and mighty din went on around them; but Grettir put off all blows strongly with his arms, then some smote him with fire-brands, and the fire burst off over all the house, and therewith he got off with the fire and fared back again to his fellows.

They mightily praised his journey and the prowess of it, and said that his like would never be. And now the night wore, and they deemed themselves happy in that they had got the fire.

The next morning the weather was fair; the chapmen woke early and got them ready to depart, and they talked together that now they should meet those who had had the rule of that fire, and wot who they were.

Now they unmoored their ship, and crossed over the sound; there they found no hall, but saw a great heap of ashes, and found therein many bones of men; then they deemed that this house of refuge had been utterly burned up, with all those men who had been therein.

Thereat they asked if Grettir had brought about that ill-hap, and said that it was the greatest misdeed.

Grettir said, that now had come to pass even as he had misdoubted, that they should reward him ill for the fetching of the fire, and that it was ill to help unmanly men.

Grettir got such hurt of this, that the chapmen said, wheresoever they came, that Grettir had burned those men. The news soon got abroad that in that house were lost the aforenamed sons of Thorir of Garth, and their fellows; then they drave Grettir from their ship and would not have him with them; and now he became so ill looked on that scarce any one would do good to him.

Now he deemed that matters were utterly hopeless, but before all things would go to meet the king, and so made north to Drontheim. The king was there before him, and knew all or ever Grettir came there, who had been much slandered to the king. And Grettir was some days in the town before he could get to meet the king.


38.   Grettir fetches fire--the sons of Thorir are burnt
There was a man named Thorir dwelling in Gard in Adaldal. He was a son of Skeggi Bodolfsson, who had settled in Kelduhverfi, on lands extending right up to Keldunes, and had married Helga the daughter of Thorgeir at Fiskilaek. Thorir was a great chief, and a mariner. He had two sons whose names were Thorgeir and Skeggi, both men of promise, and pretty well grown up at that time. Thorir had been in Norway in the summer in which Olaf came East from England, and had won great favour with the king as well as with Bishop Sigurd. In token of this it is related that Thorir asked the bishop to consecrate a large sea-going ship he had built in the forest, and the bishop did so. Later he came out to Iceland and had his ship broken up because he was tired of seafaring. He set up the figures from her head and stem over his doors, where they long remained foretelling the weather, one howling for a south, the other for a north wind.

When Thorir heard that Olaf had become sole ruler of Norway he thought he might expect favour from him, so he dispatched his sons to Norway to wait upon the king, hoping that they would be received into his service. They reached the south coast late in the autumn and engaged a rowing vessel to take them up the coast to the North, intending to go to the king. They reached a port to the south of Stad, where they put in for a few days. They were well provided with food and drink, and did not go out much because of the bad weather.

Grettir also sailed to the North along the coast, and as the winter was just beginning he often fell in with dirty weather. When they reached the neighbourhood of Stad the weather became worse, and at last one evening they were so exhausted with the snow and frost that they were compelled to put in and lie under a bank where they found shelter for their goods and belongings. The men were very much distressed at not being able to procure any fire; their safety and their lives seemed almost to depend upon their getting some. They lay there in a pitiful condition all the evening, and as night came on they saw a large fire on the other side of the channel which they were in. When Grettir's companions saw the fire they began talking and saying that he who could get some of it would be a happy man. They hesitated for some time whether they should put out, but all agreed that it would be too dangerous. Then they had a good deal of talk about whether there was any man living doughty enough to get the fire. Grettir kept very quiet, but said that there probably had been men who would not have let themselves be baulked. The men said that they were none the better for what had been if there were none now.

"But won't you venture, Grettir? The people of Iceland all talk so much about your prowess, and you know very well what we want."

Grettir said: "It does not seem to me such a great thing to get the fire, but I do not know whether you will reward it any better than he requires who does it."

"Why," they said, "should you take us to be men of so little honour that we shall not reward you well?"

"Well," said Grettir, "if you really think it so necessary I will try it; but my heart tells me that no good will come to me therefrom."

They said it would not be so, and told him that he should have their thanks.

Then Grettir threw off his clothes and got ready to go into the water. He went in a cloak and breeches of coarse stuff. He tucked up the cloak, tied a cord of bast round his waist, and took a barrel with him. Then he jumped overboard, swam across the channel and reached the land on the other side. There he saw a house standing and heard sounds of talking and merriment issuing from it. So he went towards the house.

We have now to tell of the people who were in the house. They were the sons of Thorir who have been mentioned. They had been there some days waiting for a change of weather and for a wind to carry them to the North. There were twelve of them and they were all sitting and drinking. They had made fast in the inner harbour where there was a place of shelter set up for men who were travelling about the country, and they had carried in a quantity of straw. There was a huge fire on the ground. Grettir rushed into the house, not knowing who was there. His cloak had all frozen directly he landed, and he was a portentous sight to behold; he looked like a troll. The people inside were much startled, thinking it was a fiend. They struck at him with anything they could get, and a tremendous uproar there was. Grettir pushed them back with his arms. Some of them struck at him with firebrands, and the fire spread all through the house. He got away with his fire and returned to his companions, who were loud in praise of his skill and daring, and said there was no one like him. The night passed and they were happy now that they had fire.

On the next morning the weather was fine. They all woke early and made ready to continue their journey. It was proposed that they should go and find out who the people were who had had the fire, so they cast off and sailed across the channel. They found no house there, nothing but a heap of ashes and a good many bones of men amongst them. Evidently the house with all who were in it had been burned. They asked whether Grettir had done it, and declared it was an abominable deed. Grettir said that what he expected had come to pass, and that he was ill rewarded for getting the fire for them. He said it was thankless work to help such miserable beings as they were. He suffered much annoyance in consequence, for wherever the traders went they told that Grettir had burned the men in the house. Soon it became known that it was the sons of Thorir of Gard and their followers who had been burned. The traders refused to have Grettir on board their ship any longer and drove him away. He was so abhorred that scarcely any one would do him a service. His case seemed hopeless, and his only desire was at any cost to appear before the king. So he went North to Thrandheim where the king was, and had heard the whole story before Grettir came, for many had been busy in slandering him. Grettir waited several days in the town before he was able to appear before the king.


39.   Now on a day when the king sat in council, Grettir went before the king and greeted him well. The king looked at him and said, "Art thou Grettir the Strong?"

He answered, "So have I been called, and for that cause am I come to thee, that I hope from thee deliverance from the evil tale that is laid on me, though I deem that I nowise wrought that deed."

King Olaf said, "Thou art great enough, but I know not what luck thou mayest bear about to cast off this matter from thee; but it is like, indeed, that thou didst not willingly burn the men."

Grettir said he was fain to put from him this slander, if the king thought he might do so; the king bade him tell truthfully, how it had gone betwixt him and those men: Grettir told him all, even as has been said before, and this withal, that they were all alive when he came out with the fire

"And now I will offer to free myself in such wise as ye may deem will stand good in law therefor."

Olaf the king said, "We will grant thee to bear iron for this matter if thy luck will have it so."

Grettir liked this exceeding well; and now took to fasting for the iron; and so the time wore on till the day came whereas the trial should come off; then went the king to the church, and the bishop and much folk, for many were eager to have a sight of Grettir, so much as had been told of him.

Then was Grettir led to the church, and when he came thither, many of those who were there before gazed at him and said one to the other, that he was little like to most folk, because of his strength and greatness of growth.

Now, as Grettir went up the church-floor, there started up a lad of ripe growth, wondrous wild of look, and he said to Grettir

"Marvellous is now the custom in this land, as men are called Christians therein, that ill-doers, and folk riotous, and thieves shall go their ways in peace and become free by trials; yea, and what would the evil man do but save his life while he might? So here now is a misdoer, proven clearly a man of misdeeds, and has burnt sackless men withal, and yet shall he, too, have a trial to free him; ah, a mighty ill custom!"

Therewith he went up to Grettir and pointed finger, and wagged head at him, and called him mermaid's son, and many other ill names.

Grettir grew wroth beyond measure hereat, and could not keep himself in; he lifted up his fist, and smote the lad under the ear, so that forthwith he fell down stunned, but some say that he was slain there and then. None seemed to know whence that lad came or what became of him, but men are mostly minded to think, that it was some unclean spirit, sent thither for Grettir's hurt.

Now a great clamour rose in the church, and it was told the king, "He who should bear the iron is smiting all about him;" then King Olaf went down the church, and saw what was going on, and spake

"A most unlucky man art thou," said he, "that now the trial should not be, as ready as all things were thereto, nor will it be easy to deal with thine ill-luck."

Grettir answered, "I was minded that I should have gained more honour from thee, Lord, for the sake of my kin, than now seems like to be;" and he told withal how men were faring to King Olaf, as was said afore, "and now I am fain," said he, "that thou wouldest take me to thee; thou hast here many men with thee, who will not be deemed more like men-at-arms than I?"

"That see I well," said the king, "that few men are like unto thee for strength and stoutness of heart, but thou art far too luckless a man to abide with us: now shall thou go in peace for me, wheresoever thou wilt, the winter long, but next summer go thou out to Iceland, for there will it be thy fate to leave thy bones."

Grettir answered, "First would I put from me this affair of the burning, if I might, for I did not the deed willingly."

"It is most like," said the king; "but yet, because the trial is now come to nought for thy heedlessness' sake, thou will not get this charge cast from thee more than now it is, For ill-heed still to ill doth lead, and if ever man has been cursed, of all men must thou have been."

So Grettir dwelt a while in the town thereafter, but dealt no more with the king than has been told.

Then he fared into the south country, and was minded east for Tunsberg, to find Thorstein Dromond, his brother, and there is nought told of his travels till he came east to Jadar.


39.   Grettir appears before the King and fails to undergo the ordeal
One day when the king was sitting in judgment Grettir came before him and saluted him respectfully. The king looked at him and said:

"Are you Grettir the Strong?"

"So I have been called," he replied, "and I have come here in the hope of obtaining deliverance from the slanders which are being spread about me, and to say that I did not do this deed."

The king said: "You are worthy enough; but I know not what fortune you will have in defending yourself. It is quite possible that you did not intend to burn the men in the house."

Grettir said that he was most anxious to prove his innocence if the king would permit him. Then the king bade him relate faithfully all that had happened. Grettir told him everything exactly as it was, and declared that they were all alive when he escaped with his fire; he was ready to undergo any ordeal which the king considered that the law required.

King Olaf said: "I decree that you shall bear iron, if your fate so wills it."

Grettir was quite content with that, and began his fast for the ordeal. When the day for the ceremony arrived the king and the bishop went to the church together with a multitude of people who came out of curiosity to see a man so much talked about as Grettir. At last Grettir himself was led to the church. When he entered many looked at him and remarked that he excelled most men in strength and stature. As he passed down the aisle there started up a very ill-favoured, overgrown boy and cried to him:

"Wondrous are now the ways in a land where men should call themselves Christians, when evil-doers and robbers and thieves walk in peace to purge themselves. What should a wicked man find better to do than to preserve his life so long as he may? Here is now a malefactor convicted of guilt, one who has burnt innocent men in their houses, and yet is allowed to undergo purgation. Such a thing is most unrighteous."

Then he went at Grettir, pointing at him with his finger, making grimaces and calling him son of a sea-ogress, with many other bad names. Then Grettir lost his temper and his self-control. He raised his hand and gave him a box on the ear so that he fell senseless, and some thought he was dead. No one seemed to know whence the boy had come nor what became of him afterwards, but it was generally believed that he was some unclean spirit sent forth for the destruction of Grettir.

There arose an uproar in the church; people told the king that the man who had come to purge himself was fighting with those around him. King Olaf came forward into the church to see what was going on, and said:

"You are a man of ill luck, Grettir. All was prepared for the ordeal, but it cannot take place now. It is not possible to contend against your ill-fortune."

Grettir said: "I expected, oh king, more honour from you for the sake of my family than I now seem likely to obtain."

Then he told again the story as he had done before of what had taken place with the men. "Gladly," he said, "would I enter your service; there is many a man with you who is not my better as a warrior."

"I know," said the king, "that few are your equals in strength and courage, but your luck is too bad for you to remain with me. You have my leave to depart in peace whithersoever you will for the winter, and then in the summer you may return to Iceland, where you are destined to lay your bones."

"First I should like to clear myself of the charge of burning, if I may," said Grettir; "for I did not do it intentionally."

"Very likely it is so," said the king; "but since the purgation has come to naught through your impatience you cannot clear yourself further than you have done. Impetuosity always leads to evil. If ever a man was doomed to misfortune you are."

After that Grettir remained for a time in the town, but he got nothing more out of Olaf. Then he went to the South, intending after that to go East to Tunsberg to find his brother Thorsteinn Dromund. Nothing is told of his journey till he came to Jadar.


40.   At yule came Grettir to a bonder who was called Einar, he was a rich man, and was married and had one daughter of marriageable age, who was called Gyrid; she was a fair woman, and was deemed a right good match; Einar bade Grettir abide with him through Yule, and that proffer he took.

Then was it the wont far and wide in Norway that woodmen and misdoers would break out of the woods and challenge men for their women, or they took away men's goods with violence, whereas they had not much help of men.

Now it so befell here, that one day in Yule there came to Einar the bonder many ill-doers together, and he was called Snoekoll who was the head of them, and a great bearserk he was. He challenged goodman Einar to give up his daughter, or to defend her, if he thought himself man enough thereto; but the bonder was then past his youth, and was no man for fighting; he deemed he had a great trouble on his hands, and asked Grettir, in a whisper, what rede he would give thereto: "Since thou art called a famous man." Grettir bade him say yea to those things alone, which he thought of no shame to him.

The bearserk sat on his horse, and had a helm on his head, but the cheek-pieces were not made fast; he had an iron-rimmed shield before him, and went on in the most monstrous wise.

Now he said to the bonder, "Make one or other choice speedily, or what counsel is that big churl giving thee who stands there before thee; is it not so that he will play with me?"

Grettir said, "We are about equal herein, the bonder and I, for neither of us is skilled in arms."

Snoekoll said, "Ye will both of you be somewhat afraid to deal with me, if I grow wroth."

"That is known when it is tried," said Grettir.

Now the bearserk saw that there was some edging out of the matter going on, and he began to roar aloud, and bit the rim of his shield, and thrust it up into his mouth, and gaped over the corner of the shield, and went on very madly. Grettir took a sweep along over the field, and when he came alongside of the bearserk's horse, sent up his foot under the tail of the shield so hard, that the shield went up into the mouth of him, and his throat was riven asunder, and his jaws fell down on his breast. Then he wrought so that, all in one rush, he caught hold of the helmet with his left hand, and swept the viking off his horse; and with the other hand drew the short-sword that he was girt withal, and drave it at his neck, so that off the head flew. But when Snoekoll's fellows saw that, they fled, each his own way, and Grettir had no mind to follow, for he saw there was no heart in them.

The bonder thanked him well for his work and many other men too; and that deed was deemed to have been wrought both swiftly and hardily.

Grettir was there through Yule, and the farmer saw him off handsomely: then he went east to Tunsberg, and met his brother Thorstein; he received Grettir fondly, and asked of his travels and how he won the bearserk. Then Grettir sang a stave


"There the shield that men doth save
Mighty spurn with foot I gave.
Snoekoll's throat it smote aright,
The fierce follower of the fight,
And by mighty dint of it
Were the tofts of tooth-hedge split;
The strong spear-walk's iron rim,
Tore adown the jaws of him."


Thorstein said, "Deft wouldst thou be at many things, kinsman, if mishaps went not therewith."

Grettir answered, "Deeds done will be told of."


40.   Adventure with the berserk Snaekoll
At Yule Grettir came to a bondi named Einar, a man of wealth who had a wife and a marriageable daughter named Gyrid. She was a beautiful maiden and was considered an excellent match. Einar invited Grettir to stay over Yule, and he accepted.

It was no uncommon thing throughout Norway that robbers and other ruffians came down from the forest and challenged men to fight for their women, or carried off their property with violence if there was not sufficient force in the house to protect them. One day at Yule-tide there came a whole party of these miscreants to Einar's house. Their leader was a great berserk named Snaekoll. He challenged Einar to hand over his daughter to him or else to defend her, if he felt himself man enough to do so. Now the bondi was no longer young, and no fighter. He felt that he was in a great difficulty, and asked Grettir privately what help he would give him, seeing that he was held to be so famous a man. Grettir advised him to consent only to what was not dishonourable. The berserk was sitting on his horse wearing his helmet, the chin-piece of which was not fastened. He held before him a shield bound with iron and looked terribly threatening. He said to the bondi:

"You had better choose quickly: either one thing or the other. What does that big fellow standing beside you say? Would he not like to play with me himself?"

"One of us is as good as the other," said Grettir, "neither of us is very active."

"All the more afraid will you be to fight with me if I get angry."

"That will be seen when it is tried," said Grettir.

The berserk thought they were trying to get off by talking. He began to howl and to bite the rim of his shield. He held the shield up to his mouth and scowled over its upper edge like a madman. Grettir stepped quickly across the ground, and when he got even with the berserk's horse he kicked the shield with his foot from below with such force that it struck his mouth, breaking the upper jaw, and the lower jaw fell down on to his chest. With the same movement he seized the viking's helmet with his left hand and dragged him from his horse, while with his right hand he raised his axe and cut off the berserk's head. Snaekoll's followers when they saw what had happened fled, every man of them. Grettir did not care to pursue them for he saw that there was no heart in them. The bondi thanked him for what he had done, as did many other men, for the quickness and boldness of his deed had impressed them much. Grettir stayed there for Yule and was well taken care of till he left, when the bondi dismissed him handsomely. Then Grettir went East to Tunsberg to visit his brother Thorsteinn, who received him joyfully and asked him about his adventures. Grettir told him how he had killed the berserk, and composed a verse:


"The warrior's shield by my foot propelled
in conflict came with Snaekoll's mouth.
His nether jaw hung down on his chest,
wide gaped his mouth from the iron ring."


"You would be very handy at many things," said Thorsteinn, "if misfortune did not follow you."

"Men will tell of deeds that are done," said Grettir.


41.   Now Grettir was with Thorstein for the rest of the winter and on into the spring; and it befell one morning, as those brothers, Thorstein and Grettir, lay in their sleeping-loft, that Grettir had laid his arms outside the bed-clothes; and Thorstein was awake and saw it. Now Grettir woke up a little after, and then spake Thorstein:

"I have seen thine arms, kinsman," said he, "and I deem it nowise wonderful, though thy strokes fall heavy on many, for no man's arms have I seen like thine."

"Thou mayst know well enough," said Grettir, "that I should not have brought such things to pass as I have wrought, if I were not well knit."

"Better should I deem it," said Thorstein, "if they were slenderer and somewhat luckier withal."

Grettir said, "True it is, as folk say, No man makes himself; but let me see thine arms," said he.

Thorstein did so; he was the longest and gauntest of men; and Grettir laughed, and said,

"No need to look at that longer; hooked together are the ribs in thee; nor, methinks, have I ever seen such tongs as thou bearest about, and I deem thee to be scarce of a woman's strength."

"That may be," said Thorstein; "yet shall thou know that these same thin arms shall avenge thee, else shall thou never be avenged; who may know what shall be, when all is over and done?"

No more is told of their talk together; the spring wore on, and Grettir took ship in the summer. The brothers parted in friendship, and saw each other never after.


41.   Thorsteinn Dromund's arms
Grettir stayed with Thorsteinn for the rest of the winter and on into the spring. One morning when Thorsteinn and Grettir were above in their sleepingroom Grettir put out his arm from the bed-clothes and Thorsteinn noticed it when he awoke. Soon after Grettir woke too, and Thorsteinn said: "I have been looking at your arms, kinsman, and think it is not wonderful that your blows fall heavily upon some. Never have I seen any man's arms that were like yours."

"You may know," said Grettir, "that I should not have done the deeds I have if I had not been very mighty."

"Yet methinks it would be of advantage," said Thorsteinn, "if your arm were more slender and your fortune better."

"True," said Grettir, "is the saying that no man shapes his own fortune. Let me see your arm."

Thorsteinn showed it to him. He was a tall lanky man. Grettir smiled and said:

"There is no need to look long at that; all your ribs are run together. I never saw such a pair of tongs as you carry about! Why, you are scarcely as strong as a woman!"

"It may be so," said Thorsteinn, "and yet you may know that these thin arms of mine and no others will avenge you some day;--if you are avenged."

"Who shall know how it will be when the end comes?" said Grettir; "but that seems unlikely."

No more is related of their conversation. The spring came and Grettir took a ship for Iceland in the summer. The brothers parted with friendship and never saw one another again.


42.   Now must the tale be taken up where it was left before, for Thorbiorn Oxmain heard how Thorbiorn Tardy was slain, as aforesaid, and broke out into great wrath, and said it would please him well that now this and now that should have strokes in his garth

Asmund the Greyhaired lay long sick that summer, and when he thought his ailings drew closer on him, he called to him his kin, and said that it was his will, that Atli should have charge of all his goods after his day.

"But my mind misgives me," said Asmund, "that thou mayst scarce sit quiet because of the iniquity of men, and I would that all ye of my kin should help him to the uttermost but of Grettir nought can I say, for methinks overmuch on a whirling wheel his life turns; and though he be a mighty man, yet I fear me that he will have to heed his own troubles more than the helping of his kin: but Illugi, though he be young, yet shall he become a man of prowess, if he keep himself whole."

So, when Asmund had settled matters about his sons as he would, his sickness lay hard on him, and in a little while he died, and was laid in earth at Biarg; for there had he let make a church; but his death his neighbours deemed a great loss.

Now Atli became a mighty bonder, and had many with him, and was a great gatherer of household-stuff. When the summer was far gone, he went out to Snowfellness to get him stockfish. He drave many horses, and rode from home to Meals in Ramfirth to Gamli his brother-in-law; and on this journey rode with him Grim Thorhallson, Gamli's brother, and another man withal. They rode west to Hawkdale Pass, and so on, as the road lay west to Ness: there they bought much stockfish, and loaded seven horses therewith, and turned homeward when they were ready.


42.   Death of Asmund Longhair
We have now to return to where we broke off before. Thorbjorn Oxmain when he heard of the death of Thorbjorn Slowcoach flew into a violent passion and said he wished that more men might deal blows in other people's houses. Asmund Longhair lay sick for some time in the summer. When he thought his end was nigh he called his kinsmen round him and said his will was that Atli should take over all the property after his day. "I fear," he said, "that the wicked will scarce leave you in peace. And I wish all my kinsmen to support him to the best of their power. Of Grettir I can say nothing, for his condition seems to me like a rolling wheel. Strong though he is, I fear he will have more dealing with trouble than with kinsmen's support. And Illugi, though young now, shall become a man of valiant deeds if he remain unscathed."

When Asmund had settled everything with his sons according to his wish his sickness grew upon him. He died soon after and was buried at Bjarg, where he had had a church built. All felt his loss deeply.

Atli became a great bondi and kept a large establishment. He was a great dealer in household provisions. Towards the end of the summer he went to Snaefellsnes to get dried fish. He drove several horses with him and rode from home to Melar in Hrutafjord to his brother-in-law, Gamli. Then Grim, the son of Thorhall, Gamli's brother, made ready to accompany him along with another man. They rode West by way of Haukadalsskard and the road which leads out to the Ness, where they bought much fish and carried it away on seven horses; when all was ready they turned homewards.


43.   Thorbiorn Oxmain heard that Atli and Grim were on a journey from home, and there were with him the sons of Thorir from the Pass, Gunnar and Thorgeir. Now Thorbiorn envied Atli for his many friendships, and therefore he egged on the two brothers, the sons of Thorir, to way-lay Atli as he came back from the outer ness. Then they rode home to the Pass, and abode there till Atli and his fellows went by with their train; but when they came as far as the homestead at the Pass, their riding was seen, and those brothers brake out swiftly with their house-carles and rode after them; but when Atli and his folk saw their faring, Atli bade them take the loads from the horses, "for perchance they will give me atonement for my house-carle, whom Gunnar slew last summer. Let us not begin the work, but defend ourselves if they be first to raise strife with us."

Now the brothers came up and leaped off their horses. Atli welcomed them, and asked for tidings: "Perchance, Gunnar, thou wilt give me some atonement for my house-carle."

Gunnar answered, "Something else is your due, men of Biarg, than that I should lay down aught good therefor; yea, atonement is due withal for the slaying of Thorbiorn, whom Grettir slew."

"It is not for me to answer thereto," said Atli; "nor art thou a suitor in that case."

Gunnar said he would stand in that stead none-the-less. "Come, let us set on them, and make much of it, that Grettir is not nigh them now."

Then they ran at Atli, eight of them altogether, but Atli and his folk were six.

Atli went before his men, and drew the sword, Jokul's gift, which Grettir had given him.

Then said Thorgeir, "Many like ways have those who deem themselves good; high aloft did Grettir bear his short-sword last summer on the Ramfirth-neck."

Atli answered, "Yea, he is more wont to deal in great deeds than I."

Thereafter they fought; Gunnar set on Atli exceeding fiercely, and was of the maddest; and when they had fought awhile, Atli said,

"No fame there is in thus killing workmen each for the other; more seeming it is that we ourselves play together, for never have I fought with weapons till now."

Gunnar would not have it so, but Atli bade his house-carles look to the burdens; "But I will see what these will do herein."

Then he went forward so mightily that Gunnar and his folk shrunk back before him, and he slew two of the men of those brothers, and thereafter turned to meet Gunnar, and smote at him, so that the shield was cleft asunder almost below the handle, and the stroke fell on his leg below the knee, and then he smote at him again, and that was his bane.

Now is it to be told of Grim Thorhallson that he went against Thorgeir, and they strove together long, for each was a hardy man. Thorgeir saw the fall of his brother Gunnar, and was fain to draw off. Grim ran after him, and followed him till Thorgeir stumbled, and fell face foremost; then Grim smote at him with an axe betwixt the shoulders, so that it stood deep sunken therein.

Then they gave peace to three of their followers who were left; and thereafter they bound up their wounds, and laid the burdens on the horses, and then fared home, and made these man-slayings known.

Atli sat at home with many men through the winter. Thorbiorn Oxmain took these doings exceedingly ill, but could do naught therein because Atli was a man well befriended. Grim was with him through the winter, and Gamli, his brother-in-law; and there was Glum, son of Uspak, another kinsman-in-law of his, who at that time dwelt at Ere in Bitra. They had many men dwelling at Biarg, and great mirth was thereat through the winter.


43.   Sons of Thorir of Skard are slain by Atli and gri
Thorbjorn Oxmain heard of Atli and Grim having left home just when Gunnar and Thorgeir, the sons of Thorir of Skard, were with him. Thorbjorn was jealous of Atli's popularity and egged on the two brothers, the sons of Thorir, to lie in wait for him as he returned from Snaefellsnes. They rode home to Skard and waited there for Atli returning with his loads. They could see the party from their house as they passed Skard, and made ready quickly to pursue them with their servants. Atli on seeing them ordered his horses to be unloaded.

"Perhaps," he said, "they want to offer me compensation for my man whom Gunnar slew last summer. We will not be the first to attack, but if they begin fighting us we will defend ourselves."

Then they came up and at once sprang off their horses. Atli greeted them and asked what news there was, and whether Gunnar desired to offer him some compensation for his servant. Gunnar answered:

"You men of Bjarg, you deserve something else than that I should pay compensation for him with my goods. Thorbjorn whom Grettir slew is worth a higher atonement than he."

"I have not to answer for that," said Atli, "nor are you the representative of Thorbjorn."

Gunnar said it would have to be so nevertheless. "And now," he cried, "let us go for them and profit by Grettir being away."

There were eight of them, and they set upon Atli's six. Atli led on his men and drew the sword Jokulsnaut which Grettir had given him. Thorgeir cried: "Good men are alike in many things. High did Grettir bear his sword last summer on Hrutafjardarhals."

Atli answered: "He is more accustomed to deeds of strength than I am."

Then they fought. Gunnar made a resolute attack on Atli, and fought fiercely. After they had battled for a time Atli said:

"There is nothing to be gained by each of us killing the other's followers. The simplest course would be for us to play together, for I have never fought with weapons before."

Gunnar, however, would not have it. Atli bade his servants look to the packs, and he would see what the others would do. He made such a vigorous onslaught that Gunnar's men fell back, and he killed two of them. Then he turned upon Gunnar himself and struck a blow that severed his shield right across below the handle, and the sword struck his leg below the knee. Then with another rapid blow he killed him.

In the meantime Grim, the son of Thorhall, was engaging Thorgeir, and a long tussle there was, both of them being men of great valour. When Thorgeir saw his brother Gunnar fall he wanted to get away, but Grim pressed upon him and pursued him until at last his foot tripped and he fell forward. Then Grim struck him with an axe between the shoulders, inflicting a deep wound. To the three followers who were left they gave quarter. Then they bound up their wounds, reloaded the packs on to the horses and went home, giving information of the battle. Atli stayed at home with a strong guard of men that autumn. Thorbjorn Oxmain was not at all pleased, but could do nothing, because Atli was very wary. Grim was with him for the winter, and his brother-in-law Gamli. Another brother-in-law, Glum the son of Ospak from Eyr in Bitra, was with them too. They had a goodly array of men settled at Bjarg, and there was much merriment there during the winter.


44.   Thorbiorn Oxmain took on himself the suit for the slaying of the sons of Thorir of the Pass. He made ready a suit against Grim and Atli, but they set forth for their defence onset and attack, to make those brothers fall unatoned. The suit was brought to the Hunawater Thing, and men came thronging to both sides. Atli had good help because he was exceeding strong of kin.

Now the friends of both stood forth and talked of peace, and all said that Atli's ways were good, a peaceful man, but stout in danger none-the-less.

Now Thorbiorn deemed that by nought would his honour be served better than by taking the peace offered. Atli laid down before-hand that he would have neither district outlawry nor banishment.

Then were men chosen for the judges. Thorvald, son of Asgeir, on Atli's side, and on Thorbiorn's, Solvi the Proud, who was the son of Asbrand, the son of Thorbrand, the son of Harald Ring, who had settled all Waterness from the Foreland up to Bond-maids River on the west, but on the east all up to Cross-river, and there right across to Berg-ridge, and all on that side of the Bergs down to the sea: this Solvi was a man of great stateliness and a wise man, therefore Thorbiorn chose him to be judge on his behoof.

Now they set forth their judgment, that half-fines should be paid for the sons of Thorir, but half fell away because of the onslaught and attack, and attempt on Atli's life, the slaying of Atli's house-carle, who was slain on Ramfirth-neck, and the slaying of those twain who fell with the sons of Thorir were set off one against the other. Grim Thorhallson should leave dwelling in the district, but Atli alone should pay the money atonement.

This peace pleased Atli much, but Thorbiorn misliked it, but they parted appeased, as far as words went; howsoever it fell from Thorbiorn that their dealings would not be made an end of yet, if things went as he would.

But Atli rode home from the Thing, and thanked Thorvald well for his aid. Grim Thorhallson went south to Burgfirth, and dwelt at Gilsbank, and was a great bonder.


44.   Settlement of the feud at the Hunavatn thing
Thorbfron Oxmain took up the suit arising from the death of Thorir's sons. He prepared his case against Grim and Atli, and they prepared their defence on the grounds that the brothers had attacked them wrongfully and were, therefore, "ohelgir." The case was brought before the Hunavatn Thing and both sides appeared in force. Atli had many connections, and was, therefore, strongly supported. Then those who were friends of both came forward and tried to effect a reconciliation; they urged that Atli was a man of good position and peacefully disposed, though fearless enough when driven into a strait. Thorbjorn felt that no other honourable course was open to him but to agree to a reconciliation. Atli made it a condition that there should be no sentence of banishment either from the district or the country. Then men were appointed to arbitrate: Thorvald Asgeirsson on behalf of Atli, and Solvi the Proud on behalf of Thorbjorn. This Solvi was a son of Asbrand, the son of Thorbrand, the son of Harald Ring who had settled in Vatnsnes, taking land as far as Ambattara to the West, and to the East up to the Thvera and across to Bjargaoss and the whole side of Bjorg as far as the sea. Solvi was a person of much display, but a man of sense, and therefore Thorbjorn chose him as his arbitrator.

The decree of the arbitrators was that half penalties should be paid for Thorir's sons and half should be remitted on account of the wrongful attack which they made and their designs on Atli's life. The slaying of Atli's man at Hrutafjardarhals should be set off against the two of theirs who had been killed. Grim the son of Thorhall was banished from his district and the penalties were to be paid by Atli. Atli was satisfied with this award, but Thorbjorn was not; they parted nominally reconciled, but Thorbjorn let drop some words to the effect that it was not over yet if all happened as he desired.

Atli rode home from the Thing after thanking Thorvald for his assistance. Grim the son of Thorhall betook himself to the South to Borgarfjord and dwelt at Gilsbakki, where he was known as a worthy bondi.


45.   There was a man with Thorbiorn Oxmain who was called Ali; he was a house-carle, a somewhat lazy and unruly man.

Thorbiorn bade him work better, or he would beat him. Ali said he had no list thereto, and was beyond measure worrying. Thorbiorn would not abide it, and drave him under him, and handled him hardly. Then Ali went off from his service, and fared over the Neck to Midfirth, and made no stay till he came to Biarg. Atli was at home, and asked whither he went. He said that he sought service.

"Art thou not Thorbiorn's workman?" said Atli.

"That did not go off so pleasantly," said Ali; "I was not there long, and evil I deemed it while I was there, and we parted, so that I deemed his song about my throat nowise sweet; and I will go to dwell there no more, whatso else may hap to me; and true it is that much unlike ye are in the luck ye have with servants, and now I would fain work with thee if I might have the choice."

Atli answered, "Enough I have of workmen, though I reach not out to Thorbiorn's hands for such men as he has hired, and methinks there is no gain in thee, so go back to him."

Ali said, "Thither I go not of my own free-will."

And now he dwells there awhile; but one morning he went out to work with Atli's house-carles, and worked so that his hands were everywhere, and thus he went on till far into summer. Atli said nought to him, but bade give him meat, for he liked his working well.

Now Thorbiorn hears that Ali is at Biarg; then he rode to Biarg with two men, and called out Atli to talk with him. Atli went out and welcomed him.

Thorbiorn said, "Still wilt thou take up afresh ill-will against me, and trouble me, Atli. Why hast thou taken my workman? Wrongfully is this done."

Atli answered, "It is not proven to me that he is thy workman, nor will I withhold him from thee, if thou showest proofs thereof, yet am I loth to drag him out of my house."

"Thou must have thy will now," said Thorbiorn; "but I claim the man, and forbid him to work here; and I will come again another time, and I know not if we shall then part better friends than now."

Atli said, "I shall abide at home, and take what may come to hand."

Then Thorbiorn rode home; but when the workmen come home in the evening, Atli tells all the talk betwixt him and Thorbiorn, and bids Ali go his way, and said he should not abide there longer.

Ali answered, "True is the old saw, over-praised and first to fail. I deemed not that thou wouldst drive me away after I had toiled here all the summer enough to break my heart, and I hoped that thou wouldst stand up for me somehow; but this is the way of you, though ye look as if good might be hoped from you. I shall be beaten here before thine eyes if thou givest me not some defence or help."

Atli altered his mind at this talk of his, and had no heart now to drive him away from him.

Now the time wore, till men began hay-harvest, and one day, somewhat before midsummer, Thorbiorn Oxmain rode to Biarg, he was so attired that he had a helm on his head, and was girt with a sword, and had a spear in his hand. A barbed spear it was, and the barbs were broad.

It was wet abroad that day. Atli had sent his house-carles to the mowing, but some of them were north at Horn a-fishing. Atli was at home, and few other men.

Thorbiorn came there about high-noon; alone he was, and rode up to the outer door; the door was locked, and no men were abroad. Thorbiorn smote on the door, and then drew aback behind the houses, so that none might see him from the door. The home-folk heard that the door was knocked at, and a woman went out. Thorbiorn had an inkling of the woman, and would not let himself be seen, for he had a mind to do something else.

Now the woman went into the chamber, and Atli asked who was come there. She said, "I have seen nought stirring abroad." And even as they spake Thorbiorn let drive a great stroke on the door.

Then said Atli, "This one would see me, and he must have some errand with me, whatever may be the gain thereof to me."

Then he went forth and out of the door, and saw no one without. Exceeding wet it was, therefore he went not out, but laid a hand on either door-post, and so peered about him.

In that point of time Thorbiorn swung round before the door, and thrust the spear with both hands amidst of Atli, so that it pierced him through.

Then said Atli, when he got the thrust, "Broad spears are about now," says he, and fell forward over the threshold.

Then came out women who had been in the chamber, and saw that Atli was dead. By then was Thorbiorn on horseback, and he gave out the slaying as having been done by his hand, and thereafter rode home.

The goodwife Asdis sent for her men, and Atli's corpse was laid out, and he was buried beside his father. Great mourning folk made for his death, for he had been a wise man, and of many friends.

No weregild came for the slaying of Atli, nor did any claim atonement for him, because Grettir had the blood-suit to take up if he should come out; so these matters stood still for that summer. Thorbiorn was little thanked for that deed of his; but he sat at peace in his homestead.


45.   Atli murdered by Thorbjorn Oxmain
There was dwelling with Thorbjorn Oxmain a man whose name was Ali, a servant, rather stubborn and lazy. Thorbjorn told him he must work better or he would be beaten. Ali said he had no mind for work and became abusive. Thorbjorn was not going to endure that, and got him down and handled him roughly. After that Ali ran away and went to the North across the neck to Midfjord; he did not stop till he reached Bjarg. Atli was at home and asked whither he was going. He said he was seeking an engagement.

"Are you not a servant of Thorbjorn?" Atli asked.

"We did not get on with our bargain. I was not there long, but it seemed to me a bad place while I was there. Our parting was in such a way that his song on my throat did not please me. I will never go back there, whatever becomes of me. And it is true that there is a great difference between you two in the way you treat your servants. I would be glad to take service with you if there is a place, for me."

Atli said: "I have servants enough without stretching forth my hands for those whom Thorbjorn has hired. You seem an impatient man and had better go back to him."

"I am not going there of my own free will," said Ali.

He stayed there for the night, and in the morning went out to work with Atli's men, and toiled as if he had hands everywhere. So he continued all the summer; Atli took no notice of him, but allowed him his food, for he was pleased with the man's work. Soon Thorbjorn learned that Ali was at Bjarg. He rode thither with two others and called to Atli to come out and speak with him. Atli went out and greeted him.

"You want to begin again provoking me to attack you, Atli," he said. "Why have you taken away my workman? It is a most improper thing to do."

Atli replied: "It is not very clear to me that he is your workman. I do not want to keep him if you can prove that he belongs to your household; but I cannot drive him out of my house."

"You must have your way now," said Thorbjorn; "but I claim the man and protest against his working for you. I shall come again, and it is not certain that we shall then part any better friends than we are now."

Atli rejoined: "I shall stay at home and abide whatever comes to hand."

Thorbjorn then went off home. When the workmen came back in the evening Atli told them of his conversation with Thorbjorn and said to Ali that he must go his own ways, for he was not going to be drawn into a quarrel for employing him.

Ali said: "True is the ancient saying: The over-praised are the worst deceivers. I did not think that you would have turned me off now after I had worked here till I broke in the summer. I thought that you would have given me protection. Such is your way, however you play the beneficent. Now I shall be beaten before your very eyes if you refuse to stand by me."

Atli's mind was changed after the man had spoken; he no longer wanted to drive him away.

So the time passed until the hay-harvest began. One day a little before midsummer Thorbjorn Oxmain rode to Bjarg. He wore a helmet on his head, a sword was girt at his side, and in his hand was a spear which had a very broad blade. The weather was rainy; Atli had sent his men to mow the hay, and some were in the North at Horn on some work. Atli was at home with a few men only. Thorbjorn arrived alone towards midday and rode up to the door. The door was shut and no one outside. Thorbjorn knocked at the door and then went to the back of the house so that he could not be seen from the door. The people in the house heard some one knocking and one of the women went out. Thorbjorn got a glimpse of the woman, but did not let himself be seen, for he was seeking another person. She went back into the room and Atli asked her who had come. She said she could see nobody outside. As they were speaking Thorbjorn struck a violent blow on the door. Atli said:

"He wants to see me; perhaps he has some business with me, for he seems very pressing."

Then he went to the outer door and saw nobody there. It was raining hard, so he did not go outside, but stood holding both the door-posts with his hands and peering round. At that moment Thorbjorn sidled round to the front of the door and thrust his spear with both hands into Atli's middle, so that it pierced him through. Atli said when he received the thrust: "They use broad spear-blades nowadays."

Then he fell forward on the threshold. The women who were inside came out and saw that he was dead. Thorbjorn had then mounted his horse; he proclaimed the slaying and rode home. Asdis, the mistress of the house, sent for men; Atli's body was laid out and he was buried beside his father. There was much lamentation over his death, for he was both wise and beloved. No blood-money was paid for his death, nor was any demanded, for his representative was Grettir, if he should ever return to Iceland. The matter rested there during the summer. Thorbjorn gained little credit by this deed, but remained quietly at home.


46.   This summer, whereof the tale was telling e'en now, a ship came out to Goose-ere before the Thing. Then was the news told of Grettir's travels, and therewithal men spake of that house-burning; and at that story was Thorir of Garth mad wroth, and deemed that there whereas Grettir was he had to look for vengeance for his sons. He rode with many men and set forth at the Thing the case for the burning, but men deemed they knew nought to say therein, while there was none to answer.

Thorir said that he would have nought, but that Grettir should be made an outlaw throughout the land for such misdeeds.

Then answered Skapti the Lawman, "Surely an ill deed it is, if things are as is said; but a tale is half told if one man tells it, for most folk are readiest to bring their stories to the worser side when there are two ways of telling them; now, therefore, I shall not give my word that Grettir be made guilty for this that has been done."

Now Thorir was a man of might in his district and a great chief, and well befriended of many great men; and he pushed on matters so hard that nought could avail to acquit Grettir; and so this Thorir made Grettir an outlaw throughout all the land, and was ever thenceforth the heaviest of all his foes, as things would oft show.

Now he put a price on his head, as was wont to be done with other wood-folk, and thereafter rode home.

Many men got saying that this was done rather by the high hand than according to law; but so it stood as it was done; and now nought else happed to tell of till past midsummer.


46.   Sentence of outlawry passed upon Grettir at the All-Thing
In that same summer before the assembly of the Thing there came a ship out to Gasar bringing news of Grettir and of his house-burning adventure. Thorir of Gard was very angry when he heard of it and bethought himself of vengeance for his sons upon Grettir. Thorir rode with a large retinue to the Thing and laid a complaint in respect of the burning, but men thought nothing could be done as long as there was no one to answer the charge. Thorir insisted that he would be content with nothing short of banishment for Grettir from the whole country after such a crime.

Then Skapti the Lawman said: "It certainly was an evil deed if all really happened as has been told. But One man's tale is but half a tale. Most people try and manage not to improve a story if there is more than one version of it. I hold that no judgment should be passed for Grettir's banishment without further proceedings."

Thorir was a notable person and possessed great influence in the district; many powerful men were his friends. He pressed his suit so strongly that nothing could be done to save Grettir. Thorir had him proclaimed an outlaw throughout the country, and was ever afterwards the most bitter of his opponents, as he often found. Having put a price upon his head, as it was usual to do with other outlaws, he rode home. Many said that the decree was carried more by violence than by law, but it remained in force. Nothing more happened until after midsummer.


47.   When summer was far spent came Grettir Asmundson out to Whiteriver in Burgfirth; folk went down to the ship from thereabout, and these tidings came all at once to Grettir; the first, that his father was dead, the second, that his brother was slain, the third, that he himself was made an outlaw throughout all the land. Then sang Grettir this stave:


"Heavy tidings thick and fast
On the singer now are cast;
My father dead, my brother dead,
A price set upon my head;
Yet, O grove of Hedin's maid,
May these things one day be paid;
Yea upon another morn
Others may be more forlorn."


So men say that Grettir changed nowise at these tidings, but was even as merry as before.

Now he abode with the ship awhile, because he could get no horse to his mind. But there was a man called Svein, who dwelt at Bank up from Thingness, he was a good bonder and a merry man, and often sang such songs as were gamesome to hear; he had a mare black to behold, the swiftest of all horses, and her Svein called Saddle-fair.

Now Grettir went one night away from the wolds, but he would not that the chapmen should be ware of his ways; he got a black cape, and threw it over his clothes, and so was disguised; he went up past Thingness, and so up to Bank, and by then it was daylight. He saw a black horse in the homefield and went up to it, and laid bridle on it, leapt on the back of it, and rode up along Whiteriver, and below Bye up to Flokedale-river, and then up the tracks above Kalfness; the workmen at Bank got up now and told the bonder of the man who had got on his mare; he got up and laughed, and sang


"One that helm-fire well can wield
Rode off from my well-fenced field,
Helm-stalk stole away from me
Saddle-fair, the swift to see;
Certes, more great deeds this Frey
Yet shall do in such-like way
As this was done; I deem him then
Most overbold and rash of men."


Then he took horse and rode after him; Grettir rode on till he came up to the homestead at Kropp; there he met a man called Hall, who said that he was going down to the ship at the Wolds; Grettir sang a stave


"In broad-peopled lands say thou
That thou sawest even now
Unto Kropp-farm's gate anigh,
Saddle-fair and Elm-stalk high;
That thou sawest stiff on steed
(Get thee gone at greatest speed),
One who loveth game and play
Clad in cape of black to-day."


Then they part, and Hall went down the track and all the way down to Kalfness, before Svein met him; they greeted one another hastily, then sang Svein


"Sawest thou him who did me harm
On my horse by yonder farm?
Even such an one was he,
Sluggish yet a thief to see;
From the neighbours presently
Doom of thief shall he abye
And a blue skin shall he wear,
If his back I come anear."


"That thou mayst yet do," said Hall, "I saw that man who said that he rode on Saddle-fair, and bade me tell it over the peopled lands and settlements; great of growth he was, and was clad in a black cape."

"He deems he has something to fall back on," said the bonder, "but I shall ride after him and find out who he is."

Now Grettir came to Deildar-Tongue, and there was a woman without the door; Grettir went up to talk to her, and sang this stave


"Say to guard of deep-sea's flame
That here worm-land's haunter came;
Well-born goddess of red gold,
Thus let gamesome rhyme be told.
'Giver forth of Odin's mead
Of thy black mare have I need;
For to Gilsbank will I ride,
Meed of my rash words to bide.'"


The woman learned this song, and thereafter Grettir rode on his way; Svein came there a little after, and she was not yet gone in, and as he came he sang this


"What foreteller of spear-shower
E'en within this nigh-passed hour,
Swift through the rough weather rode
Past the gate of this abode?
He, the hound-eyed reckless one,
By all good deeds left alone,
Surely long upon this day
From my hands will flee away."


Then she told him what she had been bidden to; he thought over the ditty, and said, "It is not unlike that he will be no man to play with; natheless, I will find him out."

Now he rode along the peopled lands, and each man ever saw the other's riding; and the weather was both squally and wet.

Grettir came to Gilsbank that day, and when Grim Thorhallson knew thereof, he welcomed him with great joy, and bade him abide with him. This Grettir agreed to; then he let loose Saddle-fair, and told Grim how she had been come by. Therewith came Svein, and leapt from his horse, and saw his own mare, and sang this withal


"Who rode on my mare away?
What is that which thou wilt pay?
Who a greater theft has seen?
What does the cowl-covered mean?"


Grettir by then had doft his wet clothes, and he heard the stave, and answered


"I did ride thy mare to Grim
(Thou art feeble weighed with him),
Little will I pay to thee,
Yet good fellows let us be."


"Well, so be it then," said the farmer, "and the ride is well paid for."

Then each sang his own songs, and Grettir said he had no fault to find, though he failed to hold his own; the bonder was there that night, and the twain of them together, and great game they made of this: and they called all this Saddle-fair's lays. Next morning the bonder rode home, and he and Grettir parted good friends.

Now Grim told Grettir of many things from the north and Midfirth, that had befallen while he was abroad, and this withal, that Atli was unatoned, and how that Thorbiorn Oxmain waxed so great, and was so high-handed, that it was not sure that goodwife Asdis might abide at Biarg if matters still went so.

Grettir abode but few nights with Grim, for he was fain that no news should go before him north over the Heaths. Grim bade him come thither if he should have any need of safeguard.

"Yet shall I shun being made guilty in law for the harbouring of thee."

Grettir said he did well. "But it is more like that later on I may need thy good deed more."

Now Grettir rode north over Twodaysway, and so to Biarg, and came there in the dead of night, when all folk were asleep save his mother. He went in by the back of the house and through a door that was there, for the ways of the house were well known to him, and came to the hall, and got to his mother's bed, and groped about before him.

She asked who was there, and Grettir told her; then she sat up and kissed him, and sighed withal, heavily, and spake, "Be welcome; son," she said, "but my joyance in my sons is slipping from me; for he is slain who was of most avail, and thou art made an outlaw and a guilty man, and the third is so young; that he may do nought for me."

"An old saw it is," said Grettir, "Even so shall bale be bettered, by biding greater bale; but there are more things to be thought of by men than money atonements alone, and most like it is that Atli will be avenged; but as to things that may fall to me, many must even take their lot at my hand in dealing with me, and like it as they may."

She said that was not unlike. And now Grettir was there a while with the knowledge of few folk; and he had news of the doings of the folk of the country-side; and men knew not that Grettir was come into Midfirth: but he heard that Thorbiorn Oxmain was at home with few men; and that was after the homefield hay-harvest.


47.   Grettir returns to Bjarg-Sveinn and his horse Saddle-head
Later in the summer Grettir the son of Asmund came back to Iceland, landing in the Hvita in Borgarfjord. People about the district went down to the ship and all the news came at once upon Grettir, first that his father was dead, then that his brother was slain, and third that he was declared outlaw throughout the land. Then he spoke this verse:


"All fell at once upon the bard,
exile, father dead and brother.
Oh man of battle! Many an one
who breaks the swords shall smart for this."


It is told that Grettir changed his manner no whit for these tidings, but was just as merry as before. He remained on board his ship for a time because he could not get a horse to suit him.

There was a man named Sveinn who dwelt at Bakki up from Thingnes.

He was a good bondi and a merry companion; he often composed verses which it was a delight to listen to. He had a brown mare, the swiftest of horses, which he called Saddle-head. Once Grettir left Vellir in the night because he did not wish the traders to know of it. He got a black cape and put it over his clothes to conceal himself. He went up past Thingnes to Bakki, by which time it was light. Seeing a brown horse in the meadow he went up and put a bridle on it, mounted on its back and rode up along the Hvita river below Baer on to the river Flokadalsa and up to the road above Kalfanes. The men working at Bakki were up by then, and told the bondi that a man was riding his horse. He got up and laughed and spoke a verse:


"There rode a man upon Saddle-head's back;
close to the garth the thief has come.
Frey of the Odin's cloud, dreadful of aspect,
appears from his strength to be busy with mischief."


Then he took a horse and rode after him. Grettir rode on till he came to the settlement at Kropp, where he met a man named Halli who said he was going down to the ship at Vellir. Grettir then spoke a verse:


"Tell, oh tell in the dwellings abroad
tell thou hast met with Saddle-head.
The handler of dice in sable cowl
sat on his back; hasten, oh Halli!"


Then they parted. Halli went along the road as far as Kalfanes before he met Sveinn. They greeted each other hurriedly and Sveinn said:


"Saw you that loafer ride from the dwellings?
Sorely he means my patience to try.
The people about shall deal with him roughly;
blue shall his body be if I meet him."


"You can know from what I tell you," said Halli, "that I met the man who said he was riding Saddle-head, and he told me to spread it abroad in the dwellings and the district. He was a huge man in a black cloak."

"Well, he seems to think something of himself," said the bondi. "I mean to know who he is."

Then he went on after him. Grettir came to Deildartunga and found a woman outside. He began to talk to her and spoke a verse:


"Mistress august! Go tell of the jest
that the serpent of earth has past on his way.
The garrulous brewer of Odin's mead
will come to Gilsbakki before he will rest."


The woman learned the verse and Grettir rode on. Soon after Sveinn rode up; she was still outside, and when he came he spoke the verse:


"Who was the man who a moment ago
rode past on a dusky horse in the storm?
The hound-eyed rascal, practised in mischief.
This day I will follow his steps to the end."


She told him as she had been taught. He considered the lines and said: "It is not unlikely that this man is no play-fellow for me. But I mean to catch him."

He then rode along the cultivated country. Each could see the other's path. The weather was stormy and wet. Grettir reached Gilsbakki that day, where Grim the son of Thorhall welcomed him warmly and begged him to stay, which he did. He let Saddle-head run loose and told Grim how he had come by her. Then Sveinn came up, dismounted and saw his horse. Then he said:


"Who has ridden on my mare?
Who will pay me for her hire?
Who ever saw such an arrant thief?
What next will be the cowl-man's game?"


Grettir had then put off his wet clothes, and heard the ditty. He said:


"Home I rode the mare to Grim's,
a better man than the hovel-dweller!
Nothing will I pay for hire!
Now we may be friends again."


"Just so shall it be," said the bondi. "Your ride on the horse is fully paid for."

Then they each began repeating verses, and Grettir said he could not blame him for looking after his property. The bondi stayed there the night and they had great jokes about the matter. The verses they made were called "Saddle-head verses." In the morning the bondi rode home, parting good friends with Grettir. Grim told Grettir of many things that had been done in Midfjord in the North during his absence, and that no blood-money had been paid for Atli. Thorbjorn Oxmain's interest, he said, was so great that there was no certainty of Grettir's mother, Asdis, being allowed to remain at Bjarg if the feud continued.

Grettir stayed but a few nights with Grim, for he did not want it to become known that he was about to travel North across the Heath. Grim told him to come back to visit him if he needed protection. "Yet," he said, "I would gladly avoid the penalty of being outlawed for harbouring you."

Grettir bade him farewell and said: "It is more likely that I shall need your good services still more later on."

Then Grettir rode North over the Tvidaegra Heath to Bjarg, where he arrived at midnight. All were asleep except his mother. He went to the back of the house and entered by a door which was there, for he knew all the ways about. He entered the hall and went to his mother's bed, groping his way. She asked who was there. Grettir told her. She sat up and turned to him, heaving a weary sigh as she spoke:

"Welcome, my kinsman! My hoard of sons has quickly passed away. He is killed who was most needful to me; you have been declared an outlaw and a criminal; my third is so young that he can do nothing."

"It is an ancient saying," said Grettir, "that one evil is mended by a worse one. There is more in the heart of man than money can buy; Atli may yet be avenged. As for me, there will be some who think they have had enough in their dealings with me."

She said that was not unlikely. Grettir stayed there for a time, but few knew of it, and he obtained news of the movements of the men of the district. It was not known then that he had come to Midfjord. He learned that Thorbjorn Oxmain was at home with few men. This was after the hay-harvest.


48.   On a fair day Grettir rode west over the Necks to Thorodstead, and came there about noon, and knocked at the door; women came out and welcomed him, but knew him not; he asked for Thorbiorn, but they said he was gone to the meadow to bind hay, and with him his son of sixteen winters, who was called Arnor; for Thorbiorn was a very busy man, and well-nigh never idle.

So when Grettir knew this, he bade them well betide, and went his way on the road toward Reeks, there a marsh stretches down from the hill-side, and on it was much grass to mow, and much hay had Thorbiorn made there, and now it was fully dry, and he was minded to bind it up for home, he and the lad with him, but a woman did the raking.

Now Grettir rode from below up into the field, but the father and son were higher up, and had bound one load, and were now at another; Thorbiorn had set his shield and sword against the load, and the lad had a hand-axe beside him.

Now Thorbiorn saw a man coming, and said to the lad, "Yonder is a man riding toward us, let us leave binding the hay, and know what he will with us."

So did they, and Grettir leapt off his horse; he had a helm on his head, and was girt with the short-sword, and bore a great spear in his hand, a spear without barbs, and the socket inlaid with silver. Now he sat down and knocked out the socket-nail, because he would not that Thorbiorn should cast the spear back.

Then said Thorbiorn, "He is a big man, and no man in field know I, if that is not Grettir Asmundson, and he must needs think he has enough against us; so let us meet him sharply, and let him see no signs of failing in us. We shall deal cunningly; for I will go against him in front, and take thou heed how matters go betwixt us, for I will trust myself against any man if I have one alone to meet; but do thou go behind him, and drive the axe at him with both hands atwixt his shoulders; thou needest not fear that he will do thee hurt, as his back will be turned to thee."

Neither Thorbiorn nor his son had a helm.

Now Grettir got into the mead, and when he came within spear-throw of them, he cast his spear at Thorbiorn, but the head was looser on the shaft than he deemed it would be, and it swerved in its flight, and fell down from the shaft to the earth: then Thorbiorn took his shield, and put it before him, but drew his sword and went against Grettir when he knew him; then Grettir drew his short-sword, and turned about somewhat, so that he saw how the lad stood at his back, wherefore he kept himself free to move here or there, till he saw that the lad was come within reach of him, and therewith he raised the short-sword high aloft, and sent it back against Arnor's head so mightily that the skull was shattered, and that was his bane. Then Thorbiorn ran against Grettir and smote at him, but he thrust forth his buckler with his left hand, and put the blow from him, and smote with the short-sword withal, and cleft the shield of Thorbiorn, and the short-sword smote so hard into his head that it went even unto the brain, and he fell dead to earth beneath that stroke, nor did Grettir give him any other wound.

Then he sought for his spear-head, and found it not; so he went to his horse and rode out to Reeks, and there told of the slayings. Withal the woman who was in the meadow saw the slayings, and ran home full of fear, and said that Thorbiorn was slain, and his son both; this took those of the house utterly unawares, for they knew nought of Grettir's travelling. So were men sent for to the next homestead, and soon came many folk, and brought the bodies to church. Thorod Drapa-Stump took up the blood-suit for these slayings and had folk a-field forthwith.

But Grettir rode home to Biarg, and found his mother, and told her what had happed; and she was glad thereat, and said that now he got to be like unto the Waterdale kin. "Yet will this be the root and stem of thine outlawry, and I know for sooth that thou mayest not abide here long because of the kin of Thorbiorn; but now may they know that thou mayest be angered."

Grettir sang this stave thereupon


"Giant's friend fell dead to earth
On the grass of Wetherfirth,
No fierce fighting would avail,
Oxmain in the Odin's gale.
So, and in no other wise,
Has been paid a fitting price
For that Atli, who of yore,
Lay dead-slain anigh his door."


Goodwife Asdis said that was true; "But I know not what rede thou art minded to take?"

Grettir said that he would seek help of his friends and kin in the west; "But on thee shall no trouble fall for my sake," said he.

So he made ready to go, and mother and son parted in love; but first he went to Meals in Ramfirth, and told Gamli his brother-in-law all, even as it had happed, concerning the slaying of Thorbiorn.

Gamli told him he must needs depart from Ramfirth while Thorbiorn's kin had their folk about; "But our aid in the suit for Atli's slaying we shall yield thee as we may."

So thereafter Grettir rode west over Laxdale-heath, and stayed not till he came to Liarskogar to Thorstein Kuggson, where he dwelt long that autumn.


48.   Death of Thorbjorn Oxmain
One fine day Grettir rode to the West across the ridge to Thoroddsstad, where he arrived about noon and knocked at the door. Some women came out and greeted him, not knowing who he was. He asked for Thorbjorn, and they told him that he was gone out into the fields to bind hay with his sixteen-year-old son Arnor. Thorbjorn was a hard worker and was scarcely ever idle. Grettir on hearing that bade them farewell and rode off North on the road to Reykir. There is some marsh-land stretching away from the ridge with much grass-land, where Thorbjorn had made a quantity of hay which was just dry. He was just about to bind it up for bringing in with the help of his son, while a woman gathered up what was left. Grettir rode to the field from below, Thorbjorn and his son being above him; they had finished one load and were beginning a second. Thorbjorn had laid down his shield and sword against the load, and his son had his hand-axe near him.

Thorbjorn saw a man coming and said to his son: "There is a man riding towards us; we had better stop binding the hay and see what he wants."

They did so; Grettir got off his horse. He had a helmet on his head, a short sword by his side, and a great spear in his hand without barbs and inlaid with silver at the socket. He sat down and knocked out the rivet which fastened the head in order to prevent Thorbjorn from returning the spear upon him.

Thorbjorn said: "This is a big man. I am no good at judging men if that is not Grettir the son of Asmund. No doubt he thinks that he has sufficient business with us. We will meet him boldly and show him no signs of fear. We must act with a plan. I will go on ahead towards him and see how we get on together, for I will trust myself against any man if I can meet him alone. Do you go round and get behind him; take your axe with both hands and strike him between the shoulders. You need not fear that he will hurt you, for his back will be turned towards you."

Neither of them had a helmet. Grettir went along the marsh and when he was within range launched his spear at Thorbjorn. The head was not so firm as he had intended it to be, so it got loose in its flight and fell off on to the ground. Thorbjorn took his shield, held it before him, drew his sword and turned against Grettir directly he recognised him. Grettir drew his sword, and, turning round a little, saw the boy behind him; so he kept continually on the move. When he saw that the boy was within reach he raised his sword aloft and struck Arnor's head with the back of it such a blow that the skull broke and he died. Then Thorbjorn rushed upon Grettir and struck at him, but he parried it with the buckler in his left hand and struck with his sword a blow which severed Thorbjorn's shield in two and went into his head, reaching the brain. Thorbjorn fell dead. Grettir gave him no more wounds; he searched for the spear-head but could not find it. He got on to his horse, rode to Reykir and proclaimed the slaying.

The woman who was out in the field with them witnessed the battle. She ran home terrified and told the news that Thorbjorn and his son were killed. The people at home were much taken aback, for no one was aware of Grettir's arrival. They sent to the next homestead for men, who came in plenty and carried the body to the church. The blood-feud then fell to Thorodd Drapustuf, who at once called out his men.

Grettir rode home to Bjarg and told his mother what had happened.

She was very glad and said he had now shown his kinship to the Vatnsdal race. "And yet," she said, "this is the root and the beginning of your outlawry; for certain I know that your dwelling here will not be for long by reason of Thorbjorn's kinsmen, and now they may know that they have the means of annoying you."

Grettir then spoke a verse:


"Atli's death was unatoned;
fully now the debt is paid."


Asdis said it was true: "but I know not what counsel you now mean to take."

Grettir said he meant now to visit his friends and kinsmen in the western regions, and that she should have no unpleasantness on his account. Then he made ready to go, and parted with much affection from his mother. First he went to Melar in Hrutafjord and recounted to his brother-in-law Gamli all his adventure with Thorbjorn. Gamli begged him to betake himself away from Hrutafjord while the kinsmen of Thorbjorn were abroad with their men, and said they would support him in the suit about Atli's slaying to the best of their power. Then Grettir rode to the West across the Laxardal Heath and did not stop before he reached Ljarskogar, where he stayed some time in the autumn with Thorsteinn Kuggason.


49.   Thorod Drapa-Stump sought tidings of this who might have slain Thorbiorn and his son, and when he came to Reeks, it was told him that Grettir had been there and given out the slayings as from his hand. Now, Thorod deemed he saw how things had come to pass; so he went to Biarg, and there found many folk, but he asked if Grettir were there.

The goodwife said he had ridden away, and that she would not slip him into hiding-places if he were there.

"Now ye will be well pleased that matters have so been wrought; nor was the slaying of Atli over-avenged, though this was paid for it. Ye asked not then what grief of heart I had; and now, too, it is well that things are even so."

Therewith they rode home, and found it not easy to do aught therein.

Now that spear-head which Grettir lost was not found till within the memory of men living now; it was found in the latter days of Sturla Thordson the lawman, and in that marsh where Thorbiorn fell, which is now called Spear-mead; and that sign men have to show that Thorbiorn was slain there, though in some places it is said that he was slain on Midfit.

Thorod and his kin heard that Grettir abode at Liarskogar; then they gathered men, and were minded to go thither; but when Gamli of Meals was ware thereof, he made Thorstein and Grettir sure of the farings of the Ramfirthers; and when Thorstein knew it, he sent Grettir in to Tongue to Snorri Godi, for then there was no strife between them, and Thorstein gave that counsel to Grettir that he should pray Snorri the Godi for his watch and ward; but if he would not grant it, he made Grettir go west to Reek-knolls to Thorgils Arisen, "and he will take thee to him through this winter, and keep within the Westfirths till these matters are settled."

Grettir said he would take good heed to his counsels; then he rode into Tongue, and found Snorri the Godi, and talked with him, and prayed him to take him in.

Snorri answered, "I grow an old man now, and loth am I to harbour outlawed men if no need drive me thereto. What has come to pass that the elder put thee off from him?"

Grettir said that Thorstein had often done well to him; "But more shall I need than him alone, if things are to go well."

Said Snorri, "My good word I shall put in for thee if that may avail thee aught, but in some other place than with me must thou seek a dwelling."

With these words they parted, and Grettir turned west to Reekness; the Ramfirthers with their band got as far as Samstead, and there they heard that Grettir had departed from Liarskogar, and thereat they went back home.


49.   Grettir visits Thorsteinn Kuggason and Snorri god
Thorodd Drapustuf now made inquiries who it was who had killed Thorbjorn and his son. They went to Reykir, where they were told that Grettir had proclaimed the slaying. Thorodd then saw how matters stood and went to Bjarg, where he found many people and asked whether Grettir was there. Asdis said that he was gone, and that he would not hide if he were at home.

"You can be well content to leave things as they are. The vengeance for Atli was not excessive, if it be reckoned up. No one asked what I had to suffer then, and now it were well for it to rest."

Then they rode home, and it seemed as if there were nothing to be done. The spear which Grettir had lost was never found until within the memory of men now living. It was found in the later days of Sturla the Lawman, the son of Thord, in the very marsh where Thorbjorn fell, now called Spearmarsh. This is the proof that he was killed there and not in Midfitjar, as has been elsewhere asserted.

Thorbjorn's kinsmen learned of Grettir's being in Ljarskogar and called together their men with the purpose of going there. Gamli heard of this at Melar and sent word to Thorsteinn and Grettir of their approach. Thorsteinn sent Grettir on to Tunga to Snorri the Godi, with whom he was then at peace, and advised Grettir to ask for his protection, and if it were refused to go West to Thorgils the son of Ari in Reykjaholar, "who will surely take you in for the winter. Stay there in the Western fjords until the affair is settled."

Grettir said he would follow his counsel. He rode to Tunga where he found Snorri and asked to be taken in. Snorri answered: "I am now an old man, and have no mind to harbour outlaws, unless in a case of necessity. But what has happened that the old man should have turned you out?"

Grettir said that Thorsteinn had often shown him kindness; "but we shall need more than him alone to do any good."

Snorri said: "I will put in my word on your behalf, if it will be of any use to you. But you must seek your quarters elsewhere than with me."

So they parted. Grettir then went West to Reykjanes. The men of Hrutafjord came with their followers to Samsstad, where they heard that Grettir had left Ljarskogar, and went back home.


50.   Now Grettir came to Reek-knolls about winter-nights, and prayed Thorgils for winter abode; Thorgils said, that for him as for other free men meat was ready; "but the fare of guests here is nowise choice." Grettir said he was not nice about that.

"There is yet another thing here for thy trouble," said Thorgils: "Men are minded to harbour here, who are deemed somewhat hard to keep quiet, even as those foster-brothers, Thorgeir and Thormod; I wot not how meet it may be for you to be together; but their dwelling shall ever be here if they will it so: now mayst thou abide here if thou wilt, but I will not have it that either of you make strife with the other."

Grettir said he would not be the first to raise strife with any man, and so much the less as the bonder's will was such.

A little after came those foster-brothers home; things went not merrily betwixt Thorgeir and Grettir, but Thormod bore himself well. Goodman Thorgils said to the foster-brothers even as he had said to Grettir; and of such worth they held him, that neither cast an untoward word at the other although their minds went nowise the same way: and so wore the early winter.

Now men say that Thorgils owned those isles, which are called Olaf's-isles, and lie out in the firth a sea-mile and a half off Reekness; there had bonder Thorgils a good ox that he might not fetch home in the autumn; and he was ever saying that he would fain have him against Yule. Now, one day those foster-brothers got ready to seek the ox, if a third man could be gotten to their aid: Grettir offered to go with them, and they were well pleased thereat; they went, the three of them, in a ten-oared boat: the weather was cold, and the wind shifting from the north, and the craft lay up on Whaleshead-holm.

Now they sail out, and somewhat the wind got up, but they came to the isle and got hold of the ox; then asked Grettir which they would do, bear the ox aboard or keep hold of the craft, because the surf at the isle was great; then they bade him hold the boat; so he stood amidships on that side which looked from shore, and the sea took him up to the shoulder-blades, yet he held her so that she moved nowise: but Thorgeir took the ox behind and Thormod before, and so hove it down to the boat; then they sat down to row, and Thormod rowed in the bows, Thorgeir amidships, and Grettir aft, and therewith they made out into the open bay; but when they came off Goat-rock, a squall caught them, then said Thorgeir, "The stern is fain to lag behind."

Then said Grettir, "The stern will not be left if the rowing afore be good."

Thereat Thorgeir fell to rowing so hard that both the tholes were broken: then said he, "Row on, Grettir, while I mend the thole-pins."

Then Grettir pulled mightily while Thorgeir did his mending, but when Thorgeir took to rowing again, the oars had got so worn that Grettir shook them asunder on the gunwale.

"Better," quoth Thormod, "to row less and break nought."

Then Grettir caught up two unshapen oar beams that lay in the boat and bored large holes in the gunwales, and rowed withal so mightily that every beam creaked, but whereas the craft was good, and the men somewhat of the brisker sort, they reached Whaleshead-holm.

Then Grettir asked whether they would rather go home with the ox or haul up the boat; they chose to haul up the boat, and hauled it up with all the sea that was in it, and all the ice, for it was much covered with icicles: but Grettir led home the ox, and exceeding stiff in tow he was, and very fat, and he grew very weary, and when they came up below Titling-stead could go no more.

The foster-brothers went up to the house, for neither would help the other in his allotted work; Thorgils asked after Grettir, but they told him where they had parted; then he sent men to meet him, and when they came down to Cave-knolls they saw how there came towards them a man with a neat on his back, and lo, there was Grettir come, bearing the ox: then all men wondered at his great might.

Now Thorgeir got very envious of Grettir's strength, and one day somewhat after Yule, Grettir went alone to bathe; Thorgeir knew thereof, and said to Thormod, "Let us go on now, and try how Grettir will start if I set on him as he comes from his bathing."

"That is not my mind," said Thormod, "and no good wilt thou get from him."

"I will go though," says Thorgeir; and therewith he went down to the slope, and bore aloft an axe.

By then was Grettir walking up from the bath, and when they met, Thorgeir said; "Is it true, Grettir," says he, "that thou hast said so much as that thou wouldst never run before one man?"

"That I know not for sure," said Grettir, "yet but a little way have I run before thee."

Thorgeir raised aloft the axe, but therewith Grettir ran in under Thorgeir and gave him an exceeding great fall: then said Thorgeir to Thormod, "Wilt thou stand by and see this fiend drive me down under him?"

Thormod caught hold of Grettir's feet, and was minded to pull him from off Thorgeir, but could do nought thereat: he was girt with a short-sword and was going to draw it, when goodman Thorgils came up and bade them be quiet and have nought to do with Grettir.

So did they and turned it all to game, and no more is told of their dealings; and men thought Thorgils had great luck in that he kept such reckless men in good peace.

But when spring came they all went away; Grettir went round to Codfirth, and he was asked, how he liked the fare of the winter abode at Reek-knolls; he answered, "There have I ever been as fain as might be of my meals when I got at them."

Thereafter he went west over the heaths.


50.   Grettir winters with Thorgils at Reykjaholar in company with the foster-brothers
Grettir came to Reykjaholar towards the beginning of the winter and asked Thorgils to let him stay the winter with him. Thorgils said he was welcome to his entertainment, like other free men; "but," he said, "we do not pay much attention to the preparation of the food."

Grettir said that would not trouble him.

"There is another little difficulty," Thorgils continued. "Some men are expected here who are a little hot-headed, namely, the foster-brothers Thorgeir and Thormod. I do not know how it will suit you to be together with them. They shall always have entertainment here whenever they wish for it. You may stay here if you will, but I will not have any of you behaving ill to the others."

Grettir said that he would not be the first to raise a quarrel with any man, more especially since the bondi had expressed his wish to him.

Soon after the foster-brothers came up. Thorgeir and Grettir did not take very kindly to one another, but Thormod behaved with propriety. Thorgils said to them what he had said to Grettir, and so great was the deference paid to him that none of them spoke an improper word to the other, although they did not always think alike. In this way the first part of the winter was passed.

Men say that the islands called Olafseyjar, lying in the fjord about a mile and a half from Reykjanes, belonged to Thorgils. He had there a valuable ox, which he had not brought away in the autumn. He was always saying that he wanted him to be brought in before Yule. One day the foster-brothers prepared to go and fetch the ox, but wanted a third man to help them. Grettir offered to go with them and they were very glad to have him. So the three set out in a ten-oared boat. The weather was cold and the wind from the North; the boat was lying at Hvalshausholm. When they left the wind had freshened a little; they reached the island and caught the ox. Grettir asked whether they preferred to ship the ox or to hold the boat, for there was a high surf running on the shore. They told him to hold the boat. He stood by her middle on the side away from the land, the sea reaching right up to beneath his shoulders, but he held the boat firmly so that she could not drift. Thorgeir took the ox by the stern and Thormod by the head, and so they hove him into the boat. Then they started heading for the bay, Thormod taking the bow-oars with Thorgeir amidships and Grettir in the stern. By the time they reached Hafraklett the wind was very high. Thorgeir said: "The stern is slackening."

Grettir said: "The stern will not be left behind if the rowing amidships is all right."

Thorgeir then bent his back to the oars and pulled so violently that both the rowlocks carried away. He said:

"Pull on, Grettir, whilst I mend the rowlocks."

Grettir pulled vigorously whilst Thorgeir mended the rowlocks. But when Thorgeir was about to take over the oars again they were so damaged that on Grettir giving them a shake on the gunwale they broke. Thormod said it would be better to row less and not to break the ship. Then Grettir took two spars which were on board, bored two holes in the gunwale, and rowed so energetically that every timber creaked. As the boat was well found and the men in good condition they reached Hvalshausholm. Grettir asked whether they would go on home with the ox or whether they would beach the boat. They preferred to beach the boat, and they did so with all the water that was in her all frozen. Grettir got off the ox, which was very stiff in its limbs and very fat and tired; when they got to Titlingsstad it could go no more. The foster-brothers went home, for none of them would help the other at his job. Thorgils asked after Grettir; they told him how they had parted, and he sent men out to him. When they came below Hellisholar they saw a man coming towards them with an ox on his back; it was Grettir carrying the ox. They all admired his great feat, but Thorgeir became rather jealous of Grettir's strength.

One day soon after Yule Grettir went out alone to bathe. Thorgeir knew of it and said to Thormod: "Let us go out now and see what Grettir does if I attack him as he comes out of the water."

"I don't care to do that," Thormod said; "and I do not think you will get any good from him."

"I mean to go," Thorgeir said.

He went down to the bank, carrying his axe aloft. Grettir was just coming out of the water, and when they met Thorgeir said: "Is it true, Grettir, that you once said you would not run away from any single person."

"I don't know whether I did," Grettir said; "but I have scarcely run away from you."

Thorgeir raised his axe. In a moment Grettir ran at him and brought him over with a heavy fall. Thorgeir said to Thormod: "Are you going to stand there while this devil knocks me down?"

Thormod then got Grettir by the leg and tried to drag him off Thorgeir but could not. He was wearing a short sword, and was just about to draw it when Thorgils came up and told them to behave themselves and not to fight with Grettir. They did as he bade and made out that it was all play. They had no more strife, so far as has been told, and men thought Thorgils blessed by fortune in having been able to pacify men of such violent tempers.

When the spring set in they all departed. Grettir went on to Thorskafjord. When some one asked him how he liked his entertainment at Reykjaholar he answered: "Our fare was such that I enjoyed my food very much--when I could get it." Then he went West over the heath.


51.   Thorgils Arison rode to the Thing with many men; and thither came all the great men of the land. Now Thorgils and Skapti the Lawman soon met, and fell to talking.

Then said Skapti, "Is it true, Thorgils, that thou hast harboured those three men through the winter who are deemed to be the wildest of all men; yea, and all of them outlawed withal, and yet hast kept them so quiet, that no one of them has done hurt to the other?"

Thorgils said it was true enough.

Skapti said that great might over men it showed forth in him; "But how goes it, thinkest thou, with the temper of each of them; and which of them thinkest thou the bravest man?"

Thorgils said, "I deem they are all of them full stout of heart; but two of them I deem know what fear is, and yet in unlike ways; for Thormod is a great believer and fears God much; but Grettir is so fearsome in the dark, that he dares go nowhither after dusk has set in, if he may do after his own mind. But my kinsman Thorgeir I deem knows not how to fear."

"Yea, so it is with their minds as thou sayest," said Skapti; and with that they left talking.

Now, at this Althing Thorod Drapa-Stump brought forward a suit for the slaying of Thorbiorn Oxmain, which he had not brought to a hearing at the Hunawater Thing, because of the kin of Atli, and he deemed that here his case would be less like to be thrown over. The kinsmen of Atli sought counsel of Skapti about the case; and he said he saw in it a lawful defence, so that full atonement would be forthcoming therefor. Then were these matters laid unto umpiredom, and most men were minded that the slayings of Atli and Thorbiorn should be set one against the other.

But when Skapti knew that, he went to the judges, and asked whence they had that? They said that they deemed the slain men were bonders of equal worth.

Then Skapti asked, which was the first, the outlawry of Grettir or the slaying of Atli? So, when that was reckoned up, there was a week's space betwixt Grettir's outlawry at the Althing and the slaying of Atli, which befell just after it.

Then said Skapti, "Thereof my mind misgave me, that ye had made an oversight in setting on foot the suit in that ye made him a suitor, who was outlawed already, and could neither defend nor prosecute his own case. Now I say that Grettir has nought to do with the case of the slaying, but let him take up the blood-suit, who is nighest of kin by law."

Then said Thorod Drapa-Stump, "And who shall answer for the slaying of Thorbiorn my brother?"

"See ye to that for yourselves," said Skapti; "but the kin of Grettir will never pour out fee for him or his works, if no peace is to be bought for him."

Now when Thorvald Asgeirson was aware that Grettir was set aside from following the blood-suit, he and his sought concerning who was the next of kin; and that turned out to be Skeggi, son of Gamli of Meals, and Uspak, son of Glum of Ere in Bitra; they were both of them exceeding zealous and pushing.

Now must Thorod give atonement for Atli's slaying, and two hundreds in silver he had to pay.

Then spake Snorri the Godi, "Will ye now, Ramfirthers," says he, "that this money-fine should fall away, and that Grettir be made sackless withal, for in my mind it is that as a guilty man he will be sorely felt?"

Grettir's kin took up his word well, and said that they heeded the fee nought if he might have peace and freedom. Thorod said that he saw Grettir's lot would be full of heavy trouble, and made as if he would take the offer, for his part. Then Snorri bade them first know if Thorir of Garth would give his leave to Grettir being made free; but when Thorir heard thereof he turned away exceeding wroth, and said that Grettir should never either get out of his outlawry or be brought out of it: "And the more to bring that about," said he, "a greater price shall be put on his head than on the head of any outlaw or wood-man yet."

So, when he took the thing so ill, the freeing of Grettir came to nought, and Gamli and his fellows took the money to them, and kept it in their ward; but Thorod Drapa-Stump had no atonement for his brother Thorbiorn.

Now Thorir and Thorod set each of them on Grettir's head three marks of silver, and that folk deemed a new thing, for never had any greater price been laid down to such an end before than three marks in all.

Snorri said it was unwisely done to make a sport of keeping a man in outlawry who might work so much ill, and that many a man would have to pay for it.

But now men part and ride home from the Thing.


51.   Grettir's case overborne at the All-Thing
Thorgils, the son of Ari, rode to the Thing with a large following. All the magnates were there from all parts of the country, and he soon met with Skapti the Lawman and had some talk with him. Skapti said:

"Is it true, Thorgils, that you have been giving winter entertainment to three of the most unruly men in the country, all three of them outlaws, and that you kept order so well that none of them did any harm to the other?"

Thorgils said it was true.

Skapti said: "Well, I think it shows what authority you possess. But how did their characters appear to you? Who is the most valorous among them?"

"They are all entirely valiant," he answered, "but of two of them I will not say that they never fear; only there is a difference. Thormod fears God, and is a man of great piety; and Grettir fears the dark. He will not, if he may follow his own inclination, venture anywhere after nightfall. But Thorgeir, my kinsman, he I think cannot fear."

"They must be each of them as you say," said Skapti, and there their conversation ended.

At the Thing Thorodd Drapustuf laid his complaint in the matter of the slaying of Thorbjorn Oxmain, for he had failed in the Hunavatn Thing through the influence of Atli's kinsmen. Here he thought that there was less likelihood of his case being overborne. Atli's party sought counsel of Skapti the Lawman; he said that their defence appeared to him a good one, and that full blood-money would have to be paid for Atli. Then the case was brought before the judges, and the opinion of the majority was that the slaying of Atli was set off by that of Thorbjorn. Skapti when he heard of it went to the judges and asked them on what grounds their decision rested; they said that the two slain bondis were of equal rank.

Skapti asked: "Which happened first, the outlawing of Grettir or the death of Atli?"

They reckoned up and found that a week had elapsed between the two events. Grettir was outlawed at the All-Thing and Atli was killed just after it.

"That was what I expected," Skapti said. "You have overlooked the facts; you have treated as a party to the suit a man who was an outlaw, a man who was stopped from appearing either as plaintiff or defendant. I maintain that Grettir has no standing in the case, and that it must be brought by the kinsmen of the deceased who are nearest at law."

Thorodd Drapustuf said: "Who then is to answer for the slaying of my brother Thorbjorn?"

"See to that yourself," said Skapti. "Grettir's kinsmen are not liable to pay for his deeds unless his sentence be removed."

When Thorvald the son of Asgeir learned of Grettir's status in court having been disallowed, inquiry was made for Atli's nearest of kin, and these were found to be Skeggi the son of Gamli at Melar and Ospak the son of Glum of Eyr in Bitra. Both were valiant and strenuous men. Thorodd was then mulcted in blood-money for the slaying of Atli and had to pay two hundreds of silver.

Then Snorri the Godi spoke:

"Men of Hrutafjord! Are you willing now to agree to the remission of the fine in consideration of Grettir's sentence being commuted? I expect that as an outlaw he will bite you sorely."

Grettir's kinsmen welcomed this proposal, and said they did not care about the money if Grettir could have peace and freedom. Thorodd said he saw that his case was beset with difficulties, and that for his part he was willing to accept the proposal. Snorri said that inquiry must first be made whether Thorir of Gard would agree to Grettir being freed. When Thorir heard of it he was furious, and said that never should Grettir either go or come out of his outlawry. So far from consenting to his being amnestied, he would put a higher price upon his head than was put upon any other outlaw.

When they knew that he would take it so ill, nothing more was said about the amnesty. Ospak and Skeggi took the money that was paid and kept it, while Thorodd Drapustuf got no compensation for his brother Thorbjorn. He and Thorir each offered a reward of three marks of silver for Grettir's head; this seemed to men to be an innovation, for never before had more than three marks in all been offered. Snorri said it was very unwise to make such efforts to keep a man outlawed who could do so much mischief, and that many would suffer for it. Then they parted and men rode home from the Thing.


52.   When Grettir came over Codfirth-heath down into Longdale, he swept up unsparingly the goods of the petty bonders, and had of every man what he would; from some he took weapons, from some clothes; and these folk gave up in very unlike ways; but as soon as he was gone, all said they gave them unwillingly.

In those days dwelt in Waterfirth Vermund the Slender, the brother of Slaying-Styr; he had to wife Thorbiorg, the daughter of Olaf Peacock, son of Hoskuld. She was called Thorbiorg the Big; but at the time that Grettir was in Longdale had Vermund ridden to the Thing.

Now Grettir went over the neck to Bathstead. There dwelt a man called Helgi, who was the biggest of bonders thereabout: from there had Grettir a good horse, which the bonder owned, and thence he went to Giorvidale, where farmed a man named Thorkel. He was well stored with victuals, yet a mannikin withal: therefrom took Grettir what he would, nor durst Thorkel blame him or withhold aught from him.

Thence went Grettir to Ere, and out along the side of the firth, and had from every farm victuals and clothes, and dealt hardly with many; so that most men deemed him a heavy trouble to live under.

Now he fared fearlessly withal, and took no keep of himself, and so went on till he came to Waterfirth-dale, and went to the mountain-dairy, and there he dwelt a many nights, and lay in the woods there, and took no heed to himself; but when the herdsmen knew that, they went to the farm, and said that to that stead was a fiend come whom they deemed nowise easy to deal with; then the farmers gathered together, and were thirty men in all: they lurked in the wood, so that Grettir was unaware of them, and let a shepherd spy on Grettir till they might get at him, yet they wotted not clearly who the man was.

Now so it befell that on a day as Grettir lay sleeping, the bonders came upon him, and when they saw him they took counsel how they should take him at the least cost of life, and settled so that ten men should leap on him, while some laid bonds on his feet; and this they did, and threw themselves on him, but Grettir broke forth so mightily that they fell from off him, and he got to his knees, yet thereby they might cast the bonds over him, and round about his feet; then Grettir spurned two of them so hard about the ears that they lay stunned on the earth. Now one after the other rushed at him, and he struggled hard and long, yet had they might to overcome him at the last, and so bound him.

Thereafter they talked over what they should do with him, and they bade Helgi of Bathstead take him and keep him in ward till Vermund came home from the Thing. He answered

"Other things I deem more helpful to me than to let my house-carles sit over him, for my lands are hard to work, nor shall he ever come across me."

Then they bade Thorkel of Giorvidale take and keep him, and said that he was a man who had enow.

But Thorkel spake against it, and said that for nought would he do that: "Whereas I live alone in my house with my Carline, far from other men; nor shall ye lay that box on me," said he.

"Then, Thoralf of Ere," said they, "do thou take Grettir and do well to him till after the Thing; or else bring him on to the next farm, and be answerable that he get not loose, but deliver him bound as now thou hast him."

He answers, "Nay, I will not take Grettir, for I have neither victuals nor money to keep him withal, nor has he been taken on my land, and I deem it more trouble than honour to take him, or to have aught to do with him, nor shall he ever come into my house."

Thereafter they tried it with every bonder, but one and all spake against it; and after this talk have merry men made that lay which is hight Grettir's-faring, and added many words of good game thereto for the sport of men.

So when they had talked it over long, they said, with one assent, that they would not make ill hap of their good-hap; so they went about and straightway reared up a gallows there in the wood, with the mind to hang Grettir, and made great clatter thereover.

Even therewith they see six folk riding down below in the dale, and one in coloured clothes, and they guessed that there would goodwife Thorbiorg be going from Waterfirth; and so it was, and she was going to the mountain-dairy. Now she was a very stirring woman, and exceeding wise; she had the ruling of the neighbourhood, and settled all matters, when Vermund was from home. Now she turned to where the men were gathered, and was helped off her horse, and the bonders gave her good welcome.

Then said she, "What have ye here? or who is the big-necked one who sits in bonds yonder?"

Grettir named himself, and greeted her.

She spake again, "What drove thee to this, Grettir," says she, "that thou must needs do riotously among my Thing-men?"

"I may not look to everything; I must needs be somewhere," said he.

"Great ill luck it is," says she, "that these milksops should take thee in such wise that none should fall before thee. What are ye minded to do with him?"

The bonders told her that they were going to tie him up to the gallows for his lawlessness.

She answers, "Maybe Grettir is guilty enough therefor, but it is too great a deed for you, Icefirthers, to take his life, for he is a famous man, and of mighty kin, albeit he is no lucky man; but now what wilt thou do for thy life, Grettir, if I give it thee?"

He answered, "What sayest thou thereto?"

She said, "Thou shalt make oath to work no evil riots here in Icefirth, and take no revenge on whomsoever has been at the taking of thee."

Grettir said that she should have her will, and so he was loosed; and he says of himself that at that time of all times did he most rule his temper, when he smote them not as they made themselves great before him.

Now Thorbiorg bade him go home with her, and gave him a horse for his riding; so he went to Waterfirth and abode there till Vermund came home, and the housewife did well to him, and for this deed was she much renowned far and wide in the district.

But Vermund took this ill at his coming home, and asked what made Grettir there? Then Thorbiorg told him how all had gone betwixt Grettir and the Icefirthers.

"What reward was due to him," said Vermund, "that thou gavest him his life?"

"Many grounds there were thereto," said Thorbiorg; "and this, first of all, that thou wilt be deemed a greater chief than before in that thou hast a wife who has dared to do such a deed; and then withal surely would Hrefna his kinswoman say that I should not let men slay him; and, thirdly, he is a man of the greatest prowess in many wise."

"A wise wife thou art withal," said Vermund, "and have thou thanks therefor."

Then he said to Grettir, "Stout as thou art, but little was to be paid for thee, when thou must needs be taken of mannikins; but so ever it fares with men riotous."

Then Grettir sang this stave


"Ill luck-to me
That I should be
On sea-roof-firth
Borne unto earth;
Ill luck enow
To lie alow,
This head of mine
Griped fast by swine."


"What were they minded to do to thee," said Vermund, "when they took thee there?"

Quoth Grettir


"There many men
Bade give me then
E'en Sigar's meed



For lovesome deed;
Till found me there
That willow fair,
Whose leaves are praise,
Her stems good days."


Vermund asked, "Would they have hanged thee then, if they alone had had to meddle with matters?"

Said Grettir


"Yea, to the snare
That dangled there
My head must I
Soon bring anigh;
But Thorbiorg came
The brightest dame,
And from that need
The singer freed."


Then said Vermund, "Did she bid thee to her?"

Grettir answered


"Sif's lord's good aid,
My saviour, bade
To take my way
With her that day;
So did it fall;
And therewithal
A horse she gave;
Good peace I have."


"Mighty will thy life be and troublous," said Vermund; "but now thou hast learned to beware of thy foes; but I have no will to harbour thee, and gain therefor the ill-will of many rich men; but best is it for thee to seek thy kinsmen, though few men will be willing to take thee in if they may do aught else; nor to most men art thou an easy fellow withal."

Now Grettir was in Waterfirth a certain space, and then fared thence to the Westfirths, and sought shelter of many great men; but something ever came to pass whereby none of them would harbour him.


52.   Grettir is captured by farmers and released by Thorbjorg
Grettir went over the Thorskafjord Heath to Langadal, where he let his hands sweep over the property of the smaller cultivators, taking what he wanted from every one. From some he got weapons, from others clothes. They gave up their property very variously, but when he was gone all said that they had been compelled to do it.

There dwelt on the Vatnsfjord one Vermund the Slender, a brother of Viga-Styr, who had married Thorbjorg the daughter of Olaf Peacock, the son of Hoskuld, called Thorbjorg the Fat. At the time when Grettir was in Langadal Vermund was away at the Thing. He went across the ridge to Laugabol where a man named Helgi was living, one of the principal bondis. Thence Grettir took a good horse belonging to the bondi and rode on to Gervidal, where dwelt a man named Thorkell. He was well provided but in a small way of business. Grettir took from him what he wanted, Thorkell daring neither to withhold anything nor to protest. Thence Grettir went to Eyr and on to the coast of the fjord, obtaining food and clothes from every homestead and making himself generally disagreeable, so that men found it hard to live while he was about.

Grettir went boldly on, taking little care of himself. He went on until he came to Vatnsfjardardal and entered a dairy shelter, where he stayed several nights. There he lay sleeping in the forest, fearing for nothing. When the shepherds learned of it they reported in the homesteads that a fiend had come into the place who they thought would be hard to deal with. All the farmers came together and a band of thirty of them concealed themselves in the forest where Grettir could not know of them. They set one of the shepherds to watch for an opportunity of seizing him, without however knowing very clearly who the man was.

One day when Grettir was lying asleep the farmers came up to him.

They considered how they should take him with least danger to themselves, and arranged that ten should fall upon him while others laid bonds round his feet. They threw themselves on to him, but Grettir struggled so violently that he threw them all off and came down on his hands and knees. Then they threw ropes round his feet. Grettir kicked two of them in the ears and they fell senseless. One came on after the other; long and hard he struggled, but at last they succeeded in getting him down and binding him. Then they began to ask themselves what they were going to do with him. They asked Helgi of Laugabol to take him over and look after him until Vermund returned from the Thing.

He said: "I have something better to do than to keep my men guarding him. I have labour enough with my lands, and he shall not come in my way."

Then they asked Thorkell of Gervidal to take him and said he had sufficient means. He objected strongly and said he had no accommodation for him, "I lie at home with my wife, far from other men. You shall not bring your basket to me."

"Then you, Thoralf of Eyr," they said; "you take Grettir and look after him well while the Thing lasts, or else hand him on to the next farm; only be answerable for his not escaping. Give him over bound, just as you receive him."

He said: "I am not going to take Grettir. I have neither means nor money to keep him, nor was he captured on my property. So far as I can see much more trouble than credit is to be got by taking him or having anything to do with him. He shall not enter my house."

Each of the bondis was asked, but all refused. Some witty person wrote a poem about these confabulations and called it "Grettir's Faring," adding many jests of his own for the dilectification of men. After parleying for a long time they all came to an agreement that they would not throw away their luck, and set to work to raise a gallows there and then in the forest upon which Grettir should hang. Their delight over this proposal was uproarious.

Then they saw three people riding along the valley from below, one of them in a dyed dress. They guessed that it must be Thorbjorg the mistress of Vatnsfjord on her way to the dairy, and so it was. Thorbjorg was a person of great magnificence, and tremendously wise. She was the leading personage of the district and managed everything when Vermund was away. She came up to where the crowd was gathered and was lifted from her horse; the bondis saluted her respectfully. She said:

"What is your meeting about? Who is this thick-necked man sitting there in bonds?"

Grettir told his name and saluted her.

"What has moved you, Grettir," she said, "to commit violence upon my Thing-men?"

"I cannot overlook everything," he said. "I must be somewhere."

"You are indeed unfortunate," she said, "that a pack of churls like these should have captured you and that none of them should have paid for it. What are you men going to do with him?"

The bondis said that they were going to hoist him on to a gallows for his misdeeds.

She said: "It may be that Grettir has deserved it, but it will bring trouble upon you men of Isafjord if you take the life of a man so renowned and so highly connected as Grettir, ill-starred though he be. Now what will you do for your life, Grettir, if I give it to you?"

"What do you wish me to do?"

"You shall swear never to commit any violence here in Isafjord; nor shall you take revenge upon those who have had a hand in capturing you."

Grettir said it should be as she desired, and he was released. He said it was the greatest effort of self-restraint that he ever made that he did not thrash the men who were there triumphing over him. Thorbjorg told him to come home with her and gave him a horse to ride on. So he went to Vatnsfjord and stayed there well cared for by the mistress until Vermund returned. She gained great renown from this deed through the district. Vermund was very much put out when he got home and asked why Grettir was there. Thorbjorg told him everything which had happened with the Isafjord men.

"To what does he owe it that you gave him his life?" he asked.

"Many reasons there were," she said. "The first is that you might be the more respected as a chief for having a wife who would dare to do such a thing. Next, his kinswoman Hrefna will surely say that I could not let him be slain; and thirdly, because he is in many respects a man of the highest worth."

"You are a wise woman," he said, "in most things. I thank you for what you have done."

Then he said to Grettir: "You have sold yourself very cheap, such a man of prowess as you are, to let yourself be taken by churls. This is what always happens to those who cannot control themselves."

Grettir then spoke a verse:


"Full was my cup in Isafjord
when the old swine held me at ransom."


"What were they going to do with you when they took you?" Vermund asked.


"To Sigar's lot my neck was destined
when noble Thorbjorg came upon them."


"Would they have hanged you then if they had been left to themselves?"


"My neck would soon have been in the noose,
had she not wisely saved the bard."


"Did she invite you to her home?"


"She bade me home with her to fare.
A steed she gave me, life and peace."


"Great will your life be and troublous," said Vermund; "but now you have learnt to beware of your foes. I cannot keep you here, for it would rouse the enmity of many powerful men against me. Your best way is to seek your kinsmen; there are not many who will be willing to take you in if they can do anything else; nor are you one who will easily follow the will of another man."

Grettir remained for a time in Vatnsfjord and went thence to the Western fjords and tried several of the leading men there, but something always happened to prevent their taking him in.


53.   When the autumn was somewhat spent, Grettir turned back by the south, and made no stay till he came to Liarskogar to Thorstein Kuggson, his kinsman, and there had he good welcome, for Thorstein bade him abide there through the winter, and that bidding he agreed to. Thorstein was a busy man and a good smith, and kept men close to their work; but Grettir had little mind to work, wherefore their tempers went but little together.

Thorstein had let make a church at his homestead; and a bridge he had made out from his house, wrought with great craft; for in the outside bridge, under the beams that held it up, were rings wrought all about, and din-bells, so that one might hear over to Scarf-stead, half a sea-mile off, if aught went over the bridge, because of the shaking of the rings. Thorstein had much to do over this work, for he was a great worker of iron; but Grettir went fiercely at the iron-smiting, yet was in many minds thereover; but he was quiet through the winter, so that nought befell worthy telling. But when the Ramfirthers knew that Grettir was with Thorstein, they had their band afoot as soon as spring came. So when Thorstein knew that, he bade Grettir seek some other shelter than his house, "For I see thou wilt not work, and men who will do nought are not meet men for me."

"Where wouldst thou have me go, then?" said Grettir.

Thorstein bade him fare to the south country, and find his kin, "But come to me if they avail thee not."

Now so Grettir wrought that he went south to Burgfirth, to Grim Thorhallson, and dwelt there till over the Thing. Then Grim sent him on to Skapti the Lawman at Hjalli, and he went south by the lower heaths and stayed not till he came to Thorhall, son of Asgrim, son of Ellida-grim, and went little in the peopled lands. Thorhall knew Grettir because of his father and mother, and, indeed, by then was the name of Grettir well renowned through all the land because of his great deeds.

Thorhall was a wise man, and he did well to Grettir, but would not let him abide there long.


53.   Grettir winters in Ljarskogar with Thorsteinn Kuggason
During the autumn Grettir returned to the South and did not stop till he came to his kinsman Thorsteinn Kuggason in Ljarskogar, who welcomed him. He accepted Thorsteinn's invitation to stay the winter with him. Thorsteinn was a man who worked very hard; he was a smith, and kept a number of men working for him. Grettir was not one for hard work, so that their dispositions did not agree very well. Thorsteinn had had a church built on his lands, with a bridge from his house, made with much ingenuity. Outside the bridge, on the beam which supported it, rings were fastened and bells, which could be heard from Skarfsstadir half a sea-mile distant when any one walked over the bridge. The building of the bridge had cost Thorsteinn, who was a great worker in iron, much labour. Grettir was a first-rate hand at forging the iron, but was not often inclined to work at it. He was very quiet during the winter so that there is not much to relate.

The men of Hrutafjord heard that Grettir was with Thorsteinn, and gathered their forces in the spring. Thorsteinn then told Grettir that he must find some other hiding-place for himself, since he would not work. Men who did nothing did not suit him.

"Where do you mean me to go to?" asked Grettir.

Thorsteinn told him to go South to his kinsmen, but to return to him if he found them of no use.

Grettir did so. He went to Borgarfjord in the South to visit Grim the son of Thorhall, and stayed with him till the Thing was over. Grim sent him on to Skapti the Lawman at Hjalli. He went South over the lower heaths and did not stop before he reached Tunga, where he went to Thorhall, the son of Asgrim the son of Ellidagrim, and paid few visits to the farms around. Thorhall knew of Grettir through the relations which had been between their ancestors; indeed Grettir's name was well known throughout the country because of his exploits. Thorhall was a wise man and treated Grettir well, but did not want to keep him there for very long.


54.   Now Grettir fared from Tongue up to Hawkdale, and thence north upon the Keel, and kept about there long that summer; nor was there trust of him that he would not take men's goods from them, as they went from or to the north over the Keel, because he was hard put to it to get wares.

Now on a day, when as Grettir would keep about the north at Doveness-path, he saw a man riding from the north over the Keel; he was huge to behold on horseback, and had a good horse, and an embossed bridle well wrought; another horse he had in tow and bags thereon; this man had withal a slouched hat on his head, nor could his face be clearly seen.

Now Grettir looked hard at the horse and the goods thereon, and went to meet the man, and greeting him asked his name, but he said he was called Air. "I wot well what thou art called," said he, "for thou shalt be Grettir the Strong, the son of Asmund. Whither art thou bound?"

"As to the place I have not named it yet," said Grettir; "but as to my errand, it is to know if thou wilt lay down some of the goods thou farest with."

Said Air, "Why should I give thee mine own, or what wilt thou give me therefor?"

Grettir answers, "Hast thou not heard that I take, and give no money again? and yet it seems to most men that I get what I will."

Said Air, "Give such choice as this to those who deem it good, but not thus will I give up what I have; let each of us go his own way."

And therewithal he rode forth past Grettir and spurred his horse.

"Nay, we part not so hastily," said Grettir, and laid hold of the reins of Air's horse in front of his hands, and held on with both hands.

Said Air, "Go thy ways, nought thou hast of me if I may hold mine own."

"That will now be proven," said Grettir.

Now Air stretched his hands down the head-gear and laid hold of the reins betwixt Grettir's hands and the snaffle-rings and dragged at them so hard that Grettir's hands were drawn down along the reins, till Air dragged all the bridle from him.

Grettir looked into the hollow of his hands, and saw that this man must have strength in claws rather than not, and he looked after him, and said, "Whither art thou minded to fare?"

Air answered and sang


"To the Kettle's side
Now will I ride,
Where the waters fall
From the great ice-wall;
If thou hast mind
There mayest thou find
With little stone
Fist's land alone."


Grettir said, "It is of no avail to seek after thine abode if thou tellest of it no clearer than this."

Then Air spake and sang


"I would not hide
Where I abide,
If thou art fain
To see me again;
From that lone weald,
Over Burgfirth field,
That ye men name
Balljokul, I came."


Thereat they parted, and Grettir sees that he has no strength against this man; and therewithal he sang a stave


"Too far on this luckless day,
Atli, good at weapon-play,
Brisk Illugi were from me;
Such-like oft I shall not be
As I was, when I must stand
With the reins drawn through my hand
By the unflinching losel Air.
Maids weep when they know I fear."


Thereafter Grettir went to the south from the Keel; and rode to Hjalli and found Skapti, and prayed for watch and ward from him.

Skapti said, "It is told me that thou farest somewhat lawlessly, and layest hand on other men's goods; and this beseems thee ill, great of kin as thou art. Now all would make a better tale, if thou didst not rob and reive; but whereas I have to bear the name of lawman in the land, folk would not abide that I should take outlawed men to me, and break the laws thereby. I will that thou seek some place wherein thou wilt not have need to take men's goods from them."

Grettir said he would do even so, yet withal that he might scarcely be alone because he so feared the dark.

Skapti said that of that one thing then, which he deemed the best, he might not avail himself; "But put not such trust in any as to fare as thou didst in the Westfirths; it has been many a man's bane that he has been too trustful."

Grettir thanked him for his wholesome redes, and so turned back to Burgfirth in the autumn, and found Grim Thorhallson, his friend, and told him of Skapti's counsels; so Grim bade him fare north to Fishwater lakes on Ernewaterheath; and thus did he.


54.   Adventure with Lopt
Grettir went from Tunga up the Haukadal valley northwards to Kjol and was there for some time in the summer. For men travelling either to the North or to the South there was no certainty of their not being stripped of what they had on them, for he was hard pressed for the means of living.

One day when Grettir was keeping to the North near Dufunesskeid he saw a man riding South along the Kjol valley. He was a tall man on horseback, riding a good horse with a studded bridle, and was leading another horse loaded with sacks. He had a slouched hat on his head, so that his face was not clearly seen. Grettir was very pleased to see his horse and his property, and went to meet him and asked him his name. He said it was Lopt, and added: "I know what your name is; you are Grettir the Strong, son of Asmund. Whither are you going?"

"I have not made up my mind yet about that," said Grettir. "My present business is to know whether you will lay off some of the property which you are travelling with."

"Why should I give you what belongs to me? What will you give me for the things?"

"Have you not heard that I never pay anything? And yet it seems to most people that I get what I want."

Lopt said: "Make this offer to those who seem good to you; I am not going to give my property away for nothing. Let us each go our own way." Then he whipped on his horse and was about to ride away from Grettir.

"We shall not part so quickly as that," said Grettir, and seized the bridle of Lopt's horse in front of his hands, pulled it from him and held it with both hands.

"Go your own way," said Lopt; "you will get nothing from me as long as I am able to hold it."

"That shall now be tried," said Grettir.

Lopt reached down along the cheek-strap and got hold of the reins between the end ring and Grettir's hands, pulling with such force that Grettir let go, and at last Lopt wrenched the whole bridle away from him. Grettir looked at his palms and thought that this man must have strength in his claws rather than not. Then he looked at him and said: "Where are you going to now?"

He answered:


"To the storm-driven den, over ice-clad heights,
I ride to the rock and the rest of the hand."


Grettir said: "There is no certainty to be had from asking where your dwelling is if you do not speak more clearly." Then Lopt spake and said:


"I seek not to hide thy ways from thy ken.
'Tis the place which the Borgfirdings Balljokull call."


Then they parted. Grettir saw that he had no strength against this man. Then he spoke a verse:


"Illugi brave and Atli were far.
Never again may such hap be mine!
The bridle was torn away from my hand.
Her tears will flow when I am afeared."


After this Grettir left Kjol and went South to Hjalli where he asked Skapti for shelter. Skapti said: "I am told that you are acting with violence and are robbing men of their property; that ill becomes a man so highly connected as you are. It would be easier to negotiate if you gave up robbing. Now as I am called Lawman of this country, it would not be seemly for me to break the law by harbouring outlaws. I would like you to betake yourself somewhere where you do not need to commit robbery."

Grettir said he would be very glad to, but that he could scarcely live alone owing to his fear of the dark. Skapti said he would have to content himself with something short of the best: "And trust no one so fully that what happened to you in the Western fjords may be repeated. Many have been brought to death by over-confidence."

Grettir thanked him for his good advice and turned back to Borgarfjord in the autumn, when he went to his friend Grim, the son of Thorhall, and told him what Skapti had said. Grim advised him to go to the North to Fiskivotn in the Arnarvatn Heath, and he did so.


55.   Grettir went up to Ernewaterheath and made there a hut for himself (whereof are yet signs left) and dwelt there, for now was he fain to do anything rather than rob and reive; he got him nets and a boat and caught fish for his food; exceeding dreary he deemed it in the mountains, because he was so fearsome of the dark.

But when other outlaws heard this, that Grettir was come down there, many of them had a mind to see him, because they thought there was much avail of him. There was a man called Grim, a Northlander, who was an outlaw; with him the Northlanders made a bargain that he should slay Grettir, and promised him freedom and gifts of money, if he should bring it to pass; so he went to meet Grettir, and prayed him to take him in.

Grettir answers, "I see not how thou art the more holpen for being with me, and troublous to heed are ye wood-folk; but ill I deem it to be alone, if other choice there were; but I will that such an one only be with me as shall do whatso work may befall."

Grim said he was of no other mind, and prayed hard that he might dwell there; then Grettir let himself be talked round, and took him in; and he was there on into the winter, and watched Grettir, but deemed it no little matter to set on him. Grettir misdoubted him, and had his weapons by his side night and day, nor durst Grim attack him while he was awake.

But one morning whenas Grim came in from fishing, he went into the hut and stamped with his foot, and would know whether Grettir slept, but he started in nowise, but lay still; and the short-sword hung up over Grettir's head.

Now Grim thought that no better chance would happen, so he made a great noise, that Grettir might chide him, therefore, if he were awake, but that befell not. Now he thought that Grettir must surely be asleep, so he went stealthily up to the bed and reached out for the short-sword, and took it down, and unsheathed it. But even therewith Grettir sprang up on to the floor, and caught the short-sword just as the other raised it aloft, and laid the other hand on Grim betwixt the shoulders, and cast him down with such a fall, that he was well-nigh stunned; "Ah, such hast thou shown thyself," said he, "though thou wouldest give me good hope of thee." Then he had a true story from him, and thereafter slew him.

And now Grettir deemed he saw what it was to take in wood-folk, and so the winter wore; and nothing Grettir thought to be of more trouble than his dread of the dark.


55.   Grettir in the Arnarvatn heath. Death of Grim the Forest-man
Grettir went up to the Arnarvatn Heath and built himself a hut there of which the remains are still to be seen. He went there because he wanted to do anything rather than rob, so he got himself a net and a boat and went out fishing to support himself.

It was a weary time for him in the mountains because of his fear of the dark. Other outlaws heard of his having come there and wanted to go and see him, thinking that he would be a great protection to them.

There was an outlaw from the North named Grim. This man was bribed by those of Hrutafjord to kill Grettir. They promised him pardon and money if he succeeded. He went to visit Grettir and asked for his hospitality.

Grettir said: "I do not see how you will be holpen by coming to me, and you men of the forest are untrustworthy. But it is ill to live alone; I have no choice. Only he shall be with me who is willing to work at whatever comes to hand."

Grim said that was just what he wished and pressed Grettir much, until Grettir let himself be persuaded and took him in. He stayed there right into the winter, and watched Grettir closely, but it seemed no easy matter to attack him, for Grettir was suspicious and kept his weapons at hand night and day; when he was awake the man would not venture to approach him.

One morning Grim came home from fishing and went into the hut stamping with his feet and wanting to know whether Grettir was asleep. Grettir lay still and did not move. There was a short sword hanging above his head. Grim thought he would never have a better opportunity. He made a loud noise to see whether Grettir took any notice, but he did not, so Grim felt sure that he was asleep. He crept stealthily to the bed, reached up to the sword, took it down and raised it to strike. Just at the moment when he raised it Grettir sprang up on to the floor, and, seizing the sword with one hand, Grim with the other, hurled him over so that he fell nearly senseless. "This is how you have proved yourself with all your friendly seeming," he said. Then he got the whole truth out of him and killed him. He learned from this what it was to take in a forest-man. So the winter passed. The hardest thing of all to bear was his fear of the dark.


56.   Now Thorir of Garth heard where Grettir had set himself down, and was fain to set afoot some plot whereby he might be slain. There was a man called Thorir Redbeard; he was the biggest of men, and a great man-slayer, and therefore was he made outlaw throughout the land. Thorir of Garth sent word to him, and when they met he bade him go on an errand of his, and slay Grettir the Strong. Redbeard said that was no easy task, and that Grettir was a wise man and a wary.

Thorir bade him make up his mind to this; "A manly task it is for so brisk a fellow as thou; but I shall bring thee out of thine outlawry, and therewithal give thee money enough."

So by that counsel Redbeard abode, and Thorir told him how he should go about the winning of Grettir. So thereafter he went round the land by the east, for thus he deemed his faring would be the less misdoubted; so he came to Ernewaterheath when Grettir had been there a winter. But when he met Grettir, he prayed for winter dwelling at his hands.

Grettir answered, "I cannot suffer you often to play the like play with me that he did who came here last autumn, who bepraised me cunningly, and when he had been here a little while lay in wait for my life; now, therefore, I have no mind to run the risk any more of the taking in of wood-folk."

Thorir answered, "My mind goes fully with thine in that thou deemest ill of outlawed men: and thou wilt have heard tell of me as of a man-slayer and a misdoer, but not as of a doer of such foul deeds as to betray my master. Now, ill it is ill to be, for many deem others to do after their own ways; nor should I have been minded to come hither, if I might have had a choice of better things; withal I deem we shall not easily be won while we stand together; thou mightest risk trying at first how thou likest me, and let me go my ways whenso thou markest ill faith in me."

Grettir answered, "Once more then will I risk it, even with thee; but wot thou well, that if I misdoubt me of thee, that will be thy bane."

Thorir bade him do even so, and thereafter Grettir received him, and found this, that he must have the strength of twain, what work soever he took in hand: he was ready for anything that Grettir might set him to, and Grettir need turn to nothing, nor had he found his life so good since he had been outlawed, yet was he ever so wary of himself that Thorir never got a chance against him.

Thorir Redbeard was with Grettir on the heath for two winters, and now he began to loathe his life on the heath, and falls to thinking what deed he shall do that Grettir will not see through; so one night in spring a great storm arose while they were asleep; Grettir awoke therewith, and asked where was their boat. Thorir sprang up, and ran down to the boat, and brake it all to pieces, and threw the broken pieces about here and there, so that it seemed as though the storm had driven them along. Then he went into the hut, and called out aloud,

"Good things have not befallen us, my friend," said he; "for our boat is all broken to pieces, and the nets lie a long way out in the water."

"Go and bring them in then," said Grettir, "for methinks it is with thy goodwill that the boat is broken."

Thorir answered, "Among manly deeds swimming is the least handy to me, but most other deeds, I think, I may do against men who are not marvellous; thou mayest wot well enough that I was minded that thou shouldst not have to work while I abode here, and this I would not bid if it were in me to do it."

Then Grettir arose and took his weapons, and went to the water-side. Now the land was so wrought there that a ness ran into the water, and a great creek was on the other side, and the water was deep right up to the shore.

Now Grettir spake: "Swim off to the nets, and let me see how skilled a man thou art."

"I told thee before," said Thorir, "that I might not swim; and now I know not what is gone with thy manliness and daring."

"Well, the nets I may get in," said Grettir, "but betray thou me not, since I trust in thee."

Said Thorir, "Deem me not to be so shamed and worthless."

"Thou wilt thyself prove thyself, what thou art," said Grettir, and therewith he put off his clothes and weapons, and swam off for the nets. He swept them up together, and brought them to land, and cast them on to the bank; but when he was minded to come aland, then Thorir caught up the short-sword and drew it hastily, and ran therewith swiftly on Grettir, and smote at him as he set foot on the bank; but Grettir fell on his back down into the water, and sank like a stone; and Thorir stood gazing out on to the water, to keep him off from the shore if he came up again; but Grettir dived and groped along the bottom as near as he might to the bank, so that Thorir might not see him till he came into the creek at his back, and got aland; and Thorir heeded him not, and felt nought till Grettir heaved him up over his head, and cast him down so hard that the short-sword flew out of his hand; then Grettir got hold of it and had no words with him, but smote off his head straightway, and this was the end of his life.

But after this would Grettir never take outlaws to him, yet hardly might he bear to be alone.


56.   Treachery and death of Thorir Redbeard
Thorir of Gard now heard where Grettir had taken up his abode and meant to leave no stone unturned to get him slain. There was a man named Thorir Redbeard, a stout man and a great fighter, on which account he had been declared outlaw throughout the country.

Thorir of Gard sent word to him, and when they met asked Redbeard to undertake the business of slaying Grettir. Redbeard said that was no easy task, as Grettir was very wide awake and very cautious. Thorir told him to try it, saying: "It would be a splendid deed for a valiant man like you; I will get your outlawing removed and give you sufficient money as well."

So Redbeard agreed and Thorir told him how he should go to work to deal with Grettir. Redbeard then went away into the East in order that Grettir might not suspect where he came from. Thence he came to the Arnarvatn Heath, where Grettir had then been for one winter, found Grettir and asked him for entertainment. He said: "I cannot allow people to play with me again as the man did who came here last autumn, pretending to be very friendly; before he had been here very long he began plotting against my life. I cannot risk taking in anymore forest-men."

"I think you have reason," Thorir said, "to mistrust forest-men. It may be you have heard tell of me as a man of blood and a disturber of peace, but never did you hear of such a monstrous deed of me as that I betrayed my host. Ill is the lot of him who has an ill name; for men think of him but as such; nor would I have come here if I had had any better choice. All is not lost for us if we stand together. You might venture so much to begin with as to try how you like me, and then if you find any unfitness in me turn me away."

"Well," said Grettir, "I will risk it with you; but know of a surety that if I suspect you of any treachery it will be your death."

Thorir agreed. Grettir took him in and found that in whatever he did he had the strength of two men. He was ready for anything that Grettir gave him to do. Nothing did Grettir need to do for himself, and he had never lived so comfortably since he had become an outlaw. Nevertheless he was so wary that Thorir got no chance. Two years was Thorir Redbeard with Grettir on the Heath, and at last he began to weary of it. He thought over what he could do to take Grettir off his guard.

One night in the spring a heavy gale sprang up while they were asleep. Grettir awoke and asked where their boat was. Thorir sprang up, ran to the boat, broke her all in pieces, and threw the fragments about so that it looked as if the storm had wrecked her. Then he returned to the hut and said aloud: "You have had bad luck, my friend. Our boat is all broken in pieces and the nets are lying far out in the lake."

"Get them back then," said Grettir. "It seems to me to be your doing that the boat is smashed."

"Of all things which I can do," said Thorir, "swimming is that which suits me least. In almost anything else I think I can hold my own with any ordinary man. You know very well that I have been no burden to you since I came here; nor would I ask you to do this if I were able to do it myself."

Grettir then arose, took his arms and went to the lake. There was a point of land running out into the lake with a large bay on the further side of it. The water was deep up to the shore. Grettir said: "Swim out to the nets and let me see what you are able to do."

"I told you before," Thorir said, "that I cannot swim. I do not know now where all your boldness and daring are gone to."

"I could get the nets," he said; "but betray me not if I trust you."

"Do not think such shameful and monstrous things of me," said Thorir.

"You will prove yourself what you are," Grettir said.

Then he threw off his clothes and his weapons and swam out to the nets. He gathered them together, returned to the shore and cast them up on to the bank. Just as he was about to land Thorir quickly seized his short sword and drew it. He ran towards Grettir as he stepped on to the bank and aimed a blow at him. Grettir threw himself down backwards into the water and sank like a stone. Thorir stood by the shore intending to guard it until he came up. Grettir swam beneath the water, keeping close to the bank so that Thorir could not see him, and so reached the bay behind him, where he landed without letting himself be seen. The first Thorir knew of it was when Grettir lifted him up over his head and dashed him down with such violence that the sword fell out of his hand. Grettir got possession of it and without speaking a word cut off his head. So his life ended. After that Grettir refused to take in any forest-men, and yet he could not live alone.


57.   At the Althing Thorir of Garth heard of the slaying of Thorir Redbeard, and now he thought he saw that he had no light task to deal with; but such rede he took that he rode west over the lower heathlands from the Thing with well-nigh eighty men, and was minded to go and take Grettir's life: but when Grim Thorhallson knew thereof he sent Grettir word and bade him beware of himself, so Grettir ever took heed to the goings of men. But one day he saw many men riding who took the way to his abode; so he ran into a rift in the rocks, nor would he flee because he had not seen all the strength of those folk.

Then up came Thorir and all his men, and bade them smite Grettir's head from his body, and said that the ill-doer's life would be had cheaply now.

Grettir answered, "Though the spoon has taken it up, yet the mouth has had no sup. From afar have ye come, and marks of the game shall some have ere we part."

Then Thorir egged on his men busily to set on him; but the pass was narrow, and he could defend it well from one side; yet hereat he marvelled, that howsoever they went round to the back of him, yet no hurt he got thereby; some fell of Thorir's company, and some were wounded, but nothing might they do.

Then said Thorir, "Oft have I heard that Grettir is a man of marvel before all others for prowess and good heart, but never knew I that he was so wise a wizard as now I behold him; for half as many again fall at his back as fall before him; lo, now we have to do with trolls and no men."

So he bid them turn away and they did so. Grettir marvelled how that might be, for withal he was utterly foredone.

Thorir and his men turn away and ride toward the north country, and men deemed their journey to be of the shame fullest; eighteen men had they left there and many were wounded withal.

Now Grettir went up into the pass, and found there one great of growth, who sat leaning against the rock and was sore wounded. Grettir asked him of his name, and he said he was hight Hallmund.

"And this I will tell thee to know me by, that thou didst deem me to have a good hold of the reins that summer when we met on the Keel; now, methinks, I have paid thee back therefor."

"Yea, in sooth," said Grettir, "I deem that thou hast shown great manliness toward me; whenso I may, I will reward thee."

Hallmund said, "But now I will that thou come to my abode, for thou must e'en think time drags heavily here on the heaths."

Grettir said he was fain thereof; and now they fare both together south under Balljokul, and there had Hallmund a huge cave, and a daughter great of growth and of high mind; there they did well to Grettir, and the woman healed the wounds of both of them, and Grettir dwelt long there that summer, and a lay he made on Hallmund, wherein is this


"Wide and high doth Hallmund stride
In the hollow mountain side."


And this stave also is therein


"At Ernewater, one by one,
Stole the swords forth in the sun,



Eager for the road of death
Swept athwart by sharp spears' breath;
Many a dead Wellwharfer's lands
That day gave to other hands.
Hallmund, dweller in the cave,
Grettir's life that day did save."


Men say that Grettir slew six men in that meeting, but Hallmund twelve.

Now as the summer wore Grettir yearned for the peopled country, to see his friends and kin; Hallmund bade him visit him when he came to the south country again, and Grettir promised him so to do; then he went west to Burgfirth, and thence to the Broadfirth Dales, and sought counsel of Thorstein Kuggson as to where he should now seek for protection, but Thorstein said that his foes were now so many that few would harbour him; "But thou mightest fare south to the Marshes and see what fate abides thee there."

So in the autumn Grettir went south to the Marshes.


57.   Attack on Grettir by Thorir of Gard with eighty men repulsed with the aid of Hallmund
At the All-Thing Thorir of Gard learned of Thorir Redbeard having been killed. It was evident that the matter was not so easy to deal with. He now determined to ride from the Thing in a westerly direction through the lower heath, and with the aid of about eighty men whom he had with him to take Grettir's life. Grim the son of Thorhall heard of his plans and sent word to Grettir, bidding him beware of himself. Grettir therefore continued closely to watch the movements of men who came and went.

One day he saw a number of men coming in the direction of his place of dwelling. He went into a gorge between two rocks, but did not go right away because he did not see the whole of the troop. Thorir then came up with his whole party and bade them go between his head and his body, saying that the scoundrel had but a poor chance now.

"A filled cup is not yet drunk," answered Grettir. "You have come far to seek me, and some of you shall bear the marks of our game before we part."

Thorir urged his men on to attack him. The gorge was very narrow so that he could easily defend it from one end, and he wondered much that they did not get round to his rear to hurt him. Some of Thorir's men fell and some were wounded, but they effected nothing. Then Thorir said: "I always heard that Grettir was distinguished for his courage and daring, but I never knew that he was so skilled in magic as I now see he is; for there fall half as many again behind his back as before his face, and I see that we have to do with a troll instead of a man."

So he bade his men retire, and they did so. Grettir wondered what the explanation could be, but was terribly exhausted. Thorir and his men withdrew and rode into the northern parts. Their expedition was considered very disgraceful. Thorir had left eighteen men on the ground and had many wounded.

Grettir then went up the gorge and found there a man of huge stature sitting up against the rock and sorely wounded. Grettir asked his name, and he said it was Hallmund, adding: "That you may recognise me I may remind you that you thought I gripped the reins rather tightly when I met you in Kjol last summer. I think I have now made that good."

"Indeed," said Grettir, "I think you have done me a manly service; whenever I can I will repay it."

"Now I wish," said Hallmund, "that you may come to my home, for it must seem wearisome to you here on the Heath."

Grettir said he would come willingly, and they both went together to the foot of the Balljokull, where Hallmund had a large cave. There they found his daughter, a fine and well-grown maiden. They treated Grettir well, and the daughter nursed both the wounded men to health again. Grettir stayed there some time that summer. He composed an ode on Hallmund in which the line occurs:

"Hallmund steps from his mountain hall";

further:


"The war-fain sword in Arnarvatn
went forth to hew its bloody path.
Heroes inherit Kelduhverfi.
Hallmund the brave came forth from his den."


It is said that at that encounter Grettir slew six men and Hallmund twelve.

As the summer passed Grettir began to long for the habitations of men, and to see his friends and kinsmen. Hallmund told him to visit him when he returned to the South and Grettir promised to do so. He went westwards to Borgarfjord and thence to Breidafjardardalir and sought counsel of Thorsteinn Kuggason as to where he should go next. Thorsteinn said that his enemies were now becoming so numerous that few would care to take him in; but told him to go to Myrar and see what he found there. So in the autumn he went to Myrar.


58.   In those days dwelt at Holm Biorn the Hitdale-Champion, who was the son of Arngeir, the son of Berse the Godless, the son of Balk, who settled Ramfirth as is aforesaid; Biorn was a great chief and a hardy man, and would ever harbour outlawed men.

Now Grettir came to Holm, and Biorn gave him good cheer, for there had been friendship between the earlier kin of both of them; so Grettir asked if he would give him harbourage; but Biorn said that he had got to himself so many feuds through all the land that men would shun harbouring him so long as to be made outlaws therefor: "But some gain will I be to thee, if thou lettest those men dwell in peace who are under my ward, whatsoever thou dost by other men in the country-side."

Grettir said yea thereto. Then said Biorn, "Well, I have thought over it, and in that mountain, which stretches forth outside of Hitriver, is a stead good for defence, and a good hiding-place withal, if it be cunningly dealt with; for there is a hollow through the mountain, that is seen from the way below; for the highway lies beneath it, but above is a slip of sand and stones so exceeding steep, that few men may come up there if one hardy man stand on his defence above in the lair. Now this seems to me the best rede for thee, and the one thing worth talking of for thine abode, because, withal, it is easy to go thence and get goods from the Marshes, and right away to the sea."

Grettir said that he would trust in his foresight if he would give him any help. Then he went up to Fairwoodfell and made his abode there; he hung grey wadmal before the hole in the mountain, and from the way below it was like to behold as if one saw through. Now he was wont to ride for things needful through the country-side, and men deemed a woful guest had come among them whereas he went.

Thord Kolbeinson dwelt at Hitness in those days, and a good skald he was; at that time was there great enmity betwixt him and Biorn; and Biorn was but half loth, though Grettir wrought some ill on Thord's men or his goods.

Grettir was ever with Biorn, and they tried their skill in many sports, and it is shown in the story of Biorn that they were deemed equal in prowess, but it is the mind of most that Grettir was the strongest man ever known in the land, since Orm the son of Storolf, and Thoralf the son of Skolm, left off their trials of strength. Grettir and Biorn swam in one spell all down Hitriver, from the lake right away to the sea: they brought those stepping-stones into the river that have never since been washed away either by floods, or the drift of ice, or glacier slips.

So Grettir abode in Fairwoodfell for one winter, in such wise, that none set on him, though many lost their goods at his hands and could do nought therefor, for a good place for defence he had, and was ever good friend to those nighest to him.


58.   Grettir visits Bjorn the Hitdale warrior and takes refuge in the Fagraskogafjall
There lived in Holm Bjorn the Hitdale Warrior, who was the son of Arngeir, the son of Bersi the Godless, the son of Balki, who was the first settler in Hrutafjord, as has already been told. Bjorn was a great chief and a valiant man, always ready to take in outlaws. He received Grettir well when he came to Holm on account of the friendship which had existed between their former kinsmen. Grettir asked if he would give him shelter, and Bjorn said that he had so many quarrels throughout the land that men would be reluctant to take him in for fear of being outlawed themselves. "But," he said, "I will give you some help if you will leave the men who are under my protection in peace, whatever you do to others in this part."

Grettir promised that he would, and Bjorn continued: "I have thought of something. In the mountain which stretches away from the Hitara river there is a good position for defence, and likewise a good hiding-place if it is skilfully managed. There is a hole through the mountain from which you can see down upon the high road that lies immediately beneath it, and a sandy slope down to the road so steep that few could get up it if it were defended above by one doughty man up in the hollow. It may, I think, be worth your while to consider whether you can stay there; it is easy to go down from there to the Myrar to get your supplies, and to reach the sea."

Grettir said he would trust to his foresight if he would help him a little. Then he went to Fagraskogafjall and made himself a home there. He hung some grey wadmal in front of the hole, and it looked from the road below as if one could see through. Then he began to get in his supplies, but the Myramen thought they had an unhappy visitor in Grettir.

Thord the son of Kolbeinn was an excellent poet who dwelt in Hitarnes. There was a great feud between him and Bjorn at that time, and Bjorn thought it would be more than half useful to him if Grettir were to busy himself with Thord's men or his cattle. Grettir was a great deal with Bjorn and they had many games of strength. It is related in Bjorn's saga that they were considered equal in strength, but the opinion of most people is that Grettir was the strongest man that had been in the land since the days when Orin Storolfsson and Thoralf Skolmsson ceased their trials of strength. Grettir and Bjorn swam in one course the whole length of the Hitara from the lake at its head down to the sea. They brought the stepping-stones into the river which neither floods nor freezing nor icedrifts have since moved from their places. Grettir stayed a year in Fagraskogafjall without any attack being made upon him, and yet many lost their property through his means and got nothing for it, because his position was strong for defence and he was always in good friendship with those who were nearest to him.


59.   There was a man hight Gisli, the son of that Thorstein whom Snorri Godi had slain. Gisli was a big man and strong, a man showy in weapons and clothes, who made much of himself, and was somewhat of a self-praiser; he was a seafaring man, and came one summer out to Whiteriver, whenas Grettir had been a winter on the fell. Thord, son of Kolbein, rode to his ship, and Gisli gave him good welcome, and bade him take of his wares whatso he would; thereto Thord agreed, and then they fell to talk one with the other, and Gisli said:

"Is that true which is told me, that ye have no counsel that avails to rid you of a certain outlaw who is doing you great ill?"

Thord said, "We have not tried aught on him yet, but to many he seems a man hard to deal with, and that has been proven on many a man."

"It is like, methinks, that you should find Biorn a heavy trouble, if ye may not drive away this man: luckless it is for you withal, that I shall be too far off this winter to better matters for you."

"Thou wilt be better pleased to deal with him by hearsay."

"Nay, no need to tell me of Grettir," said Gisli; "I have borne harder brunts when I was in warfare along with King Knut the Mighty, and west over the Sea, and I was ever thought to hold my own; and if I should have a chance at him I would trust myself and my weapons well enough."

Thord said he would not work for nought if he prevailed against Grettir; "For there is more put upon his head than on the head of any other of wood-folk; six marks of silver it was; but last summer Thorir of Garth laid thereto yet three marks; and men deem he will have enough to do therefor whose lot it is to win it."

"All things soever will men do for money," says Gisli, "and we chapmen not the least; but now shall we keep this talk hushed up, for mayhap he will be the warier," says he, "if he come to know that I am with you against him: now I am minded to abide this winter at Snowfellsness at Wave-ridge. Is his lair on my way at all? for he will not foresee this, nor shall I draw together many men against him."

Thord liked the plot well, he rode home therewith and held his peace about this; but now things went according to the saw, a listening ear in the holt is anear; men had been by at the talk betwixt Thord and Gisli, who were friends to Biorn of Hitdale, and they told him all from end to end; so when Biorn and Grettir met, Biorn showed forth the whole matter to him, and said that now he might prove how he could meet a foe.

"It would not be bad sport," said he, "if thou wert to handle him roughly, but to slay him not, if thou mightest do otherwise."

Grettir smiled thereat, but spake little.

Now at the folding time in the autumn Grettir went down to Flysia-wharf and got sheep for himself; he had laid hold on four wethers; but the bonders became ware of his ways and went after him; and these two things befell at the same time, that he got up under the fell-side, and that they came upon him, and would drive the sheep from him, yet bare they no weapon against him; they were six altogether, and stood thick in his path. Now the sheep troubled him and he waxed wroth, and caught up two of those men, and cast them down over the hill-side, so that they lay stunned; and when the others saw that, they came on less eagerly; then Grettir took up the sheep and locked them together by the horns, and threw them over his shoulders, two on each side, and went up into his lair.

So the bonders turned back, and deemed they had got but ill from him, and their lot misliked them now worse than before.

Now Gisli abode at his ship through the autumn till it was rolled ashore. Many things made him abide there, so he was ready late, and rode away but a little before winter-nights. Then he went from the south, and guested under Raun on the south side of Hitriver. In the morning, before he rode thence, he began a talk with his fellows:

"Now shall we ride in coloured clothes to-day, and let the outlaw see that we are not like other wayfarers who are drifted about here day by day."

So this they did, and they were three in all: but when they came west over the river, he spake again to them:

"Here in these bents, I am told, lurks the outlaw, and no easy way is there up to him; but may it not perchance seem good to him to come and meet us and behold our array?"

They said that it was ever his wont so to do. Now that morning Grettir had risen early in his lair; the weather was cold and frosty, and snow had fallen, but not much of it. He saw how three men rode from the south over Hitriver, and their state raiment glittered and their inlaid shields. Then it came into his mind who these should be, and he deems it would be good for him to get some rag of their array; and he was right wishful withal to meet such braggarts: so he catches up his weapons and runs down the slip-side. And when Gisli heard the clatter of the stones, he spake thus:

"There goes a man down the hill-side, and somewhat big he is, and he is coming to meet us: now, therefore, let us go against him briskly, for here is good getting come to hand."

His fellows said that this one would scarce run into their very hands, if he knew not his might; "And good it is that he bewail who brought the woe."

So they leapt off their horses, and therewith Grettir came up to them, and laid hands on a clothes-bag that Gisli had tied to his saddle behind him, and said

"This will I have, for oft I lowt for little things."

Gisli answers, "Nay, it shall not be; dost thou know with whom thou hast to do?"

Says Grettir, "I am not very clear about that; nor will I have much respect for persons, since I am lowly now, and ask for little."

"Mayhap thou thinkest it little," says he, "but I had rather pay down thirty hundreds; but robbery and wrong are ever uppermost in thy mind methinks; so on him, good fellows, and let see what he may do."

So did they, and Grettir gave back before them to a stone which stands by the way and is called Grettir's-Heave, and thence defended himself; and Gisli egged on his fellows eagerly; but Grettir saw now that he was no such a hardy heart as he had made believe, for he was ever behind his fellows' backs; and withal he grew aweary of this fulling business, and swept round the short-sword, and smote one of Gisli's fellows to the death, and leaped down from the stone, and set on so fiercely, that Gisli shrank aback before him all along the hill-side: there Gisli's other fellow was slain, and then Grettir spake:

"Little is it seen in thee that thou hast done well wide in the world, and in ill wise dost thou part from thy fellows."

Gisli answers, "Hottest is the fire that lies on oneselfwith hell's-man are dealings ill."

Then they gave and took but a little, before Gisli cast away his weapons, and took to his heels out along the mountain. Grettir gave him time to cast off whatso he would, and every time Gisli saw a chance for it he threw off somewhat of his clothes; and Grettir never followed him so close but that there was still some space betwixt them. Gisli ran right past that mountain and then across Coldriver-dale, and then through Aslaug's-lithe and above by Kolbeinstead, and then out into Burgh-lava; and by then was he in shirt and breech alone, and was now exceeding weary. Grettir still followed after him, and there was ever a stone's throw between them; and now he pulled up a great bush. But Gisli made no stay till he came out at Haf-firth-river, and it was swollen with ice and ill to ford; Gisli made straightway for the river, but Grettir ran in on him and seized him, and then the strength of either was soon known: Grettir drave him down under him, and said,

"Art thou that Gisli who would fain meet Grettir Asmundson?"

Gisli answers, "I have found him now, in good sooth, nor do I know in what wise we shall part: keep that which thou hast got, and let me go free."

Grettir said, "Nay, thou art scarce deft enow to learn what I have to teach thee, so needs must I give thee somewhat to remember it by."

Therewith he pulls the shirt up over his head and let the twigs go all down his back, and along both sides of him, and Gisli strove all he might to wriggle away from him; but Grettir flogged him through and through, and then let him go; and Gisli thought he would learn no more of Grettir and have such another flogging withal; nor did he ever again earn the like skin-rubbing.

But when he got his legs under him again, he ran off unto a great pool in the river, and swam it, and came by night to a farm called Horseholt, and utterly foredone he was by then. There he lay a week with his body all swollen, and then fared to his abode.

Grettir turned back, and took up the things Gisli had cast down, and brought them to his place, nor from that time forth gat Gisli aught thereof.

Many men thought Gisli had his due herein for the noise and swagger he had made about himself; and Grettir sang this about their dealings together


"In fighting ring where steed meets steed,
The sluggish brute of mongrel breed,



Certes will shrink back nothing less
Before the stallion's dauntlessness,
Than Gisli before me to-day;
As, casting shame and clothes away,
And sweating o'er the marsh with fear,
He helped the wind from mouth and rear."


The next spring Gisli got ready to go to his ship, and bade men above all things beware of carrying aught of his goods south along the mountain, and said that the very fiend dwelt there.

Gisli rode south along the sea all the way to his ship, and never met Grettir again; and now he is out of the story.

But things grew worse between Thord Kolbeinson and Grettir, and Thord set on foot many a plot to get Grettir driven away or slain.


59.   Chastisement of Gisli
There was a man named Gisli; he was the son of that Thorsteinn whom Snorri the Godi had caused to be slain. He was a big strong man, very ostentatious in his dress and in his armour, a man with a high opinion of himself and very boastful. He was a mariner, and landed at the Hvita river in the summer after Grettir had spent a winter in the mountains. Thord the son of Kolbeinn rode to his ship and was welcomed by Gisli, who offered him of his wares whatever he cared to have. Thord accepted his offer and they began to have some talk together. Gisli asked: "Is it true what I hear that you are in difficulty how to rid yourself of a forest-man who is doing you much hurt?"

"We have made no attempt yet," said Thord, "because a great many think he is difficult to reach, and have found it so."

"It seems likely that you will have trouble with Bjorn, unless you drive him away. All the worse it is that I must be too far away next winter to give you any help."

"It is better for you to know of him only by hearsay."

"Don't talk to me about Grettir," said Gisli. "I have been in much greater straits in my campaigns with King Knut the Mighty and in the western seas, where I was always considered to have held my own. Only let me come within reach of him and I will trust myself and my armour."

Thord answered that he should not do it for nothing if he killed Grettir: "There is more money on his head than on that of any other outlaw. First there were six marks of silver, this summer Thorir of Gard added three more, and men think that he who wins it will have had enough trouble."

"Everything will be attempted for money," said Gisli: "especially with us traders. But we must keep quiet about what we have been saying, for Grettir will be more on his guard if he hears that you have taken me into your counsels. I intend next winter to be at Olduhrygg; is there any hiding-place of his on my way there? He will not be prepared for this, and I shall not take many men with me to attack him."

Thord approved of his proposal. He rode home soon after and kept very quiet about it. And now was proved what has often been said, that: Off in the woods is a listener nigh. Men who were friends of Bjorn in Hitardal overheard their conversation and reported it accurately to him. Bjorn told Grettir of it when they met, and said now he should see how to encounter him. "It would be no bad joke," he said, "if you were to injure him in some way without killing him if you can."

Grettir grinned but said little. Towards the time of gathering in the cattle Grettir went down to Flysjuhverfi to get some sheep and got four wethers. The bondis heard of his having come and went after him. They came up just at about the moment when he reached the foot of his mountain and wanted to drive the sheep away from him. But they would not attack him with weapons. There were six of them and they stood across his path to bar his way. He was concerned about his sheep, got angry, seized three of them and threw them down the hill so that they lay senseless. The others when they saw it went at him, but rather halfheartedly. Grettir took the sheep, fastened them together by the horns, threw two over each shoulder and carried them off. Then he went up into his den. The bondis turned back feeling they had had the worst of it, and were more discontented with their lot than ever.

Gisli stayed with his ship that autumn until she was ready to be hauled up. Several things happened to delay him, so that he was late in getting away and rode off very little before the winter nights. Then he rode North and stayed at Hraun on the south bank of the Hitara. Next morning before he rode out he said to his servants: "Now we will ride in red clothes and let the forest-man see that we are not like the other travellers who beat about here every day."

There were three of them and they did as he bade. When they had crossed the river he said: "Here I am told dwells the forest-man, up in that peak; but the way is not an easy one. Would it not please him to come to us and see our array?" They said this was always his habit.

That morning Grettir had got up early. The weather was cold, it was freezing and some snow had fallen, but very little. He saw three men riding from the South across the Hitara, and the light shone from their apparel and from their enamelled shields. It occurred to Grettir who it might be, and he thought he would relieve them of some of their accoutrements. He was very curious to meet a man who went about so ostentatiously. So he took his weapons and hurried down the hillside. Gisli when he heard the clattering of the stones said: "A man, rather tall, is coming down the hill and wants to meet us. Let us act boldly and we shall have good sport." His men said that this fellow had great confidence in himself to run into their hands; but that he who asked should have. Then they got off their horses. Grettir came up to them and laid hold of a bag of clothes which Gisli had behind him on his saddle, saying:

"I must have this; I often stoop to little things."

Gisli said: "You shall not; do not you know with whom you have to do?"

Grettir said: "No; that is not so clear to me. Nor do I make much difference between one man and another since I claim so little."

"May be it seems little to you," said Gisli; "but I would sooner part with thirty hundred ells of wadmal. It seems that extortion is your way. Go for him, boys! Let us see what he can do."

They obeyed. Grettir fell back a little and reached a stone which is still standing by the side of the way and is called Grettishaf, where he stood at bay. Gisli urged on his men, and Grettir saw that he was not quite so valiant as he pretended to be, for he kept well behind them. Grettir got tired of being hemmed in, so he made a lunge with his sword and killed one of Gisli's men, sprang from his stone and assailed them so vigorously that Gisli fell back all along the foot of the hill. Then his other man was killed.

Grettir said: "One would scarcely see that you have achieved much in the world abroad, and you have shamefully forsaken your comrades."

Gisli answered: "The fire is hottest to him who is in it; it is ill dealing with men from Hel."

They had exchanged few more blows when Gisli threw away his arms and bolted right away along the foot of the mountain. Grettir gave him time to throw away whatever he liked, and at every opportunity he threw off something more of his clothes. Grettir never followed him so closely that there was not some distance between them. He ran right away from the mountains, across Kaldardal, round Aslaug's Cliff, above Kolbeinsstad and out to Borgarhraun.

By that time he had nothing left on him but his shirt, and was terribly exhausted. Grettir still followed, keeping now within reach of him. He pulled off a great branch. Gisli did not stop till he reached Haffjardara river, which was all swollen and difficult to ford. Gisli was going right out into the river when Grettir pressed forward and seized him and showed him the difference in their strength.

Grettir got him down, sat on the top of him and asked: "Are you the Gisli who wanted to meet Grettir?"

"I have found him now," he answered; "but I know not how I shall part with him. Keep what you have taken and let me go free."

Grettir said: "You will not understand what I am going to tell you, so I must give you something to remember it by." Then he pulled up Gisli's shirt over his head and let the rod play on both sides of his back. Gisli struggled to get away, but Grettir gave him a sound whipping and then let him go. Gisli thought that he would sooner not learn anything from Grettir than have another such flogging, nor did he do anything more to earn it. Directly he got his feet under him again he ran off to a large pool and swam across the river. In the evening he reached the settlement called Hrossholt, very exhausted. There he lay for a week, his body covered with blisters, and afterwards went on to his own place.

Grettir turned back, gathered up all the things which Gisli had thrown away and took them home. Gisli never got them back again; many thought be had only got what he deserved for his noisy boasting. Grettir made a verse about their encounter:


"The horse whose fighting teeth are blunted
runs from the field before his foe.
With many an afterthought ran Gisli.
Gone is his fame, his glory lost!"


In the spring after this Gisli prepared to go on board his ship and forbade in the strongest terms anything which belonged to him being carried South by the way of the mountains; for he said that the Fiend himself was there. Gisli when he went South to join his ship kept all the way along the coast and he never met Grettir again. Nobody considered him worth thinking about, nor do we hear any more of him in this saga. Grettir's relations with Thord the son of Kolbeinn became worse than ever, and Thord tried every means to get Grettir driven away or killed.


60.   When Grettir had been two winters at Fairwoodfell, and the third was now come, he fared south to the Marshes, to the farm called Brook-bow, and had thence six wethers against the will of him who owned them. Then he went to Acres and took away two neat for slaughtering, and many sheep, and then went up south of Hitriver.

But when the bonders were ware of his ways, they sent word to Thord at Hitness, and bade him take in hand the slaying of Grettir; but he hung back, yet for the prayers of men got his son Arnor, who was afterwards called Earls' Skald, to go with them, and bade them withal to take heed that Grettir escaped not.

Then were men sent throughout all the country-side. There was a man called Biarni, who dwelt at Jorvi in Flysia-wharf, and he gathered men together from without Hitriver; and their purpose was that a band should be on either bank of the river.

Now Grettir had two men with him; a man called Eyolf, the son of the bonder at Fairwood, and a stout man; and another he had besides.

First came up Thorarin of Acres and Thorfinn of Brook-bow, and there were nigh twenty men in their company. Then was Grettir fain to make westward across the river, but therewith came up on the west side thereof Arnor and Biarni. A narrow ness ran into the water on the side whereas Grettir stood; so he drave the beasts into the furthermost parts of the ness, when he saw the men coming up, for never would he give up what he had once laid his hands on.

Now the Marsh-men straightway made ready for an onslaught, and made themselves very big; Grettir bade his fellows take heed that none came at his back; and not many men could come on at once.

Now a hard fight there was betwixt them, Grettir smote with the short-sword with both hands, and no easy matter it was to get at him; some of the Marsh-men fell, and some were wounded; those on the other side of the river were slow in coming up, because the ford was not very near, nor did the fight go on long before they fell off; Thorarin of Acres was a very old man, so that he was not at this onslaught. But when this fight was over, then came up Thrand, son of Thorarin, and Thorgils Ingialdson, the brother's son of Thorarin, and Finnbogi, son of Thorgeir Thorhaddson of Hitdale, and Steinulf Thorleifson from Lavadale; these egged on their men eagerly to set on, and yet another fierce onslaught they made. Now Grettir saw that he must either flee or spare himself nought; and now he went forth so fiercely that none might withstand him; because they were so many that he saw not how he might escape, but that he did his best before he fell; he was fain withal that the life of such an one as he deemed of some worth might be paid for his life; so he ran at Steinulf of Lavadale, and smote him on the head and clave him down to the shoulders, and straightway with another blow smote Thorgils Ingialdson in the midst and well-nigh cut him asunder; then would Thrand run forth to revenge his kinsman, but Grettir smote him on the right thigh, so that the blow took off all the muscle, and straightway was he unmeet for fight; and thereafter withal a great wound Grettir gave to Finnbogi.

Then Thorarin cried out and bade them fall back, "For the longer ye fight the worse ye will get of him, and he picks out men even as he willeth from your company."

So did they, and turned away; and there had ten men fallen, and five were wounded to death, or crippled, but most of those who had been at that meeting had some hurt or other; Grettir was marvellously wearied and yet but a little wounded.

And now the Marsh-men made off with great loss of men, for many stout fellows had fallen there.

But those on the other side of the river fared slowly, and came not up till the meeting was all done; and when they saw how ill their men had fared, then Arnor would not risk himself, and much rebuke he got therefor from his father and many others; and men are minded to think that he was no man of prowess.

Now that place where they fought is called Grettir's-point to-day.


60.   Battle with the Myramen
When Grettir had been two winters in Fagraskogafjall and the third winter had set in, he went South into Myrar to the farm called Laekjarbug, where he took six wethers without their owner's permission. Then he went down to Akrar and drove off two oxen for slaughter with several sheep, and went up South to the Hitara. When the bondis heard of his exploits they sent word to Thord at Hitarnes and asked him to take the lead in the slaying of Grettir. He was rather reluctant, but as they had asked him he sent his son Arnor, afterwards called Jarlsbard, to go with them, and told them not to let Grettir escape. Messengers were then sent round to all the farms.

There was a man named Bjarni who dwelt in Jorvi in Flysjuhverfi. He collected men on the other side of the Hitara; the intention was that each band should keep on its own side. Grettir had two men with him, one named Eyjolf, a stout man, the son of a bondi in Fagraskogar, and another. The party came on, about twenty in number, under Thorarin from Akrar and Thorfinn of Laekjarbug. Grettir tried to get out across the river, but was met by Arnor and Bjarni coming from the coast. There was a narrow point jutting out into the river on Grettir's side, and when he saw the men approaching he drove his animals on to it, for he never would let go anything of which he had once got possession. The Myramen prepared to attack in good order and Grettir told his companions to guard his rear. They could not all come on at once. There was a hard struggle between them; Grettir used his short sword with both hands and they found it not easy to get at him. Some of the Myramen fell and some were wounded. The men on the other side of the river were rather slow in coming up because there was no ford near. Before they had been fighting very long they fell back. Thorarin of Akrar was a very old man and not able to join in the fighting. When the battle was over there came up his son Thrand, his brother Ingjald's son Thorgils, Finnbogi the son of Thorgeir, the son of Thorhadd of Hitardal, and Steinolf the son of Thorleif of Hraundal. They set on their men and there was a hard struggle.

Grettir saw that there was no choice left but either to flee or else to do his utmost and not spare himself. He pressed on hard and nothing could hold against him, for his foes were so numerous that there was no chance of escaping except by fighting to the last before he fell. He tried always to engage those who seemed most courageous; first he went for Steinolf of Hraundal and cleft his skull down to his shoulders; then he struck at Thorgils the son of Ingjald and almost cut him in two. Then Thrand tried to spring forward and avenge his kinsmen, and Grettir hewed at his right thigh, cutting out all the muscles so that he could fight no more. Next he gave Finnbogi a severe wound. Then Thorarin ordered them off. "The longer you fight," he said, "the worse you will get from him and the more will he choose out the men from your company."

They obeyed and fell back. Ten had fallen; five were wounded to death or crippled, and nearly all who had been in the battle were hurt. Grettir was terribly fatigued but little wounded. The Myramen drew off, having suffered heavy losses, for many a good man had fallen. Those who were beyond the river came over slowly and did not arrive till the fight was over, and when they saw the plight of their men Arnor would not risk himself any further, for which he was much blamed by his father and by others. Men thought he was not much of a warrior. The place where they fought is now called Grettisoddi.

Grettir and his companions were all wounded; they took their horses and rode back along the foot of the mountain. When they reached Fagraskogar Eyjolf was behind. There was a bondi's daughter there and she asked for their tidings, which Grettir told her fully and spoke a verse:


"Goddess of horn-floods! Steinolf's wounds
are such that scarcely may be healed.
Of Thorgils' life is little hope;
his bones are smashed; eight more are dead."


Then Grettir went to his retreat and spent the winter there.


61.   But Grettir and his men took horse and rode up to the fell, for they were all wounded, and when they came to Fairwood there was Eyolf left; the farmer's daughter was out of doors, and asked for tidings; Grettir told all as clearly as might be, and sang a stave withal


"O thou warder of horn's wave,
Not on this side of the grave
Will Steinulf s head be whole again;
Many more there gat their bane;
Little hope of Thorgils now
After that bone-breaking blow:
Eight Gold-scatterers more they say,
Dead along the river lay."


Thereafter Grettir went to his lair and sat there through the winter; but when he and Biorn met, Biorn said to him, that he deemed that much had been done; "and no peace thou wilt have here in the long run: now hast thou slain both kin and friends of mine, yet shall I not cast aside what I have promised thee whiles thou art here."

Grettir said he must needs defend his hands and life, "but ill it is if thou mislikest it."

Biorn said that things must needs be as they were.

A little after came men to Biorn who had lost kinsmen at Grettir's hands, and bade him not to suffer that riotous man to abide there longer in their despite; and Biorn said that it should be as they would as soon as the winter was over.

Now Thrand, the son of Thorarin of Acres, was healed; a stout man he was, and had to wife Steinun, daughter of Rut of Combeness; Thorleif of Lavadale, the father of Steinulf, was a very mighty man, and from him are come the men of Lavadale.

Now nought more is told of the dealings of Grettir with the Marsh-men while he was on the mountain; Biorn still kept up his friendship with him, though his friends grew somewhat the fewer for that he let Grettir abide there, because men took it ill that their kin should fall unatoned.

At the time of the Thing, Grettir departed from the Marsh-country, and went to Burgfirth and found Grim Thorhallson, and sought counsel of him, as to what to do now. Grim said he had no strength to keep him, therefore fared Grettir to find Hallmund his friend, and dwelt there that summer till it wore to its latter end.

In the autumn Grettir went to Goatland, and waited there till bright weather came on; then he went up to Goatland Jokul, and made for the south-east, and had with him a kettle, and tools to strike fire withal. But men deem that he went there by the counsel of Hallmund, for far and wide was the land known of him.

So Grettir went on till he found a dale in the jokul, long and somewhat narrow, locked up by jokuls all about, in such wise that they overhung the dale. He came down somehow, and then he saw fair hill-sides grass-grown and set with bushes. Hot springs there were therein, and it seemed to him that it was by reason of earth-fires that the ice-cliffs did not close up over the vale.

A little river ran along down the dale, with level shores on either side thereof. There the sun came but seldom; but he deemed he might scarcely tell over the sheep that were in that valley, so many they were; and far better and fatter than any he had ever seen.

Now Grettir abode there, and made himself a hut of such wood as he could come by. He took of the sheep for his meat, and there was more on one of them than on two elsewhere: one ewe there was, brown with a polled head, with her lamb, that he deemed the greatest beauty for her goodly growth. He was fain to take the lamb, and so he did, and thereafter slaughtered it: three stone of suet there was in it, but the whole carcase was even better. But when Brownhead missed her lamb, she went up on Grettir's hut every night, and bleated in suchwise that he might not sleep anight, so that it misliked him above all things that he had slaughtered the lamb, because of her troubling.

But every evening at twilight he heard some one hoot up in the valley, and then all the sheep ran together to one fold every evening.

So Grettir says, that a half-troll ruled over the valley, a giant hight Thorir, and in trust of his keeping did Grettir abide there; by him did Grettir name the valley, calling it Thorir's-dale. He said withal that Thorir had daughters, with whom he himself had good game, and that they took it well, for not many were the new-comers thereto; but when fasting time was, Grettir made this change therein, that fat and livers should be eaten in Lent.

Now nought happed to be told of through the winter. At last Grettir found it so dreary there, that he might abide there no longer: then he gat him gone from the valley, and went south across the jokul, and came from the north, right against the midst of Shieldbroadfell.

He raised up a flat stone and bored a hole therein, and said that whoso put his eye to the hole in that stone should straightway behold the gulf of the pass that leads from Thorir's-vale.

So he fared south through the land, and thence to the Eastfirths; and in this journey he was that summer long, and the winter, and met all the great men there, but somewhat ever thrust him aside that nowhere got he harbouring or abode; then he went back by the north, and dwelt at sundry places.


61.   Grettir winters under the Geitland glacier
The next time that Bjorn met Grettir he told him that this was a very serious affair, and that he would not be able to stay there in peace much longer. "You have killed kinsmen and friends of mine, but I will not depart from my promise to you so long as you are here."

Grettir said he was sorry to have given him offence, but that he had to defend his hands and his life. Bjorn said it would have to remain so. Soon there came to him some of the men who had lost their kinsmen through Grettir and petitioned him not to allow such a ruffian as he was to stay there any longer and molest them. Bjorn said he would do as they desired directly the winter was over.

Thrand the son of Thorarin of Akrar had now recovered from his wound. He was a man of much worth, and had married Steinunn the daughter of Hrut of Kambsnes. Steinolf's father Thorleif of Hraundal was a great man; from him are sprung the Hraundal men.

No more meetings are told of between Grettir and the Myramen while he was in the mountains. Bjorn continued in friendship with him, but some of Bjorn's other friends fell away from him because of his allowing Grettir to remain there, for they were annoyed at getting no compensation for the slaying of their kinsmen. When the Thing assembled Grettir left the Myrar district and went to Borgarfjord, where he visited Grim the son of Thorhall and sought counsel of him where he should move to next. Grim said he was not powerful enough to keep him there, so Grettir went off to his friend Hallmund and stayed there till the end of the summer.

In the autumn Grettir went to Geitland, where he stayed till bright weather set in. Then he ascended the Geitlandsjokull and turned his steps South-east along the glacier, taking with him a kettle and fuel. It is supposed that he went there by the counsel of Hallmund, who knew the country far and wide. He went on till he came to a long and rather narrow valley in the glacier, shut in on every side by the ice which overhung the valley. He went about everywhere, and found fair grass-grown banks and brushwood. There were hot springs, and it seemed as if volcanic fires had kept the ice from closing in above the valley.

A little stream flowed down the dale with smooth banks on either side. Little did the light of the sun enter there, and the number of sheep in the valley seemed to him countless. They were much better and fatter than any which he had ever seen.

Grettir stayed there and built himself a hut out of logs which he found about. He caught a sheep to eat, and it was better for slaughter than two in other places. There was a ewe there with her lamb; she had a brown head and excelled all the others in size. He was anxious to have the lamb, so he caught it and slaughtered it and got half a measure of suet out of it, and it was better in every way. When Brownhead missed her lamb she came up every night to Grettir's hut and bleated so that he never could get any sleep. He regretted much having killed the lamb on account of the disturbance which she caused him. Every evening when the twilight set in he heard a voice calling in the valley, and then the sheep used to run together into a place of shelter. Grettir has told us that a blending ruled over the valley, a giant named Thorir, under whose protection he remained. Grettir called the valley after him Thorisdal. He said that Thorir had daughters with whom he had some play, and that they were very pleased, because not many people came there. And when the days of fasting came Grettir remembered to tell them that fat and liver should be eaten in Lent. Nothing particular occurred that winter, and Grettir found it so dull that he could not stay there any longer. He left the valley and went to the South through the glacier, reaching the middle of Skjaldbreid from the North. There he took up a stone, cut a hole in it and said that if a man put his eye to the hole he could see into the gully which flows out of Thorisdal. Then he went across the country South and reached the eastern fjords. He spent the summer and the winter on this journey and visited all the great men, but found them all against him so that nowhere could he get lodging or shelter. So he returned to the North and stayed in various places.


62.   A little after Grettir had gone from Ernewaterheath, there came a man thither, Grim by name, the son of the widow at Kropp. He had slain the son of Eid Skeggison of the Ridge, and had been outlawed therefor; he abode whereas Grettir had dwelt afore, and got much fish from the water. Hallmund took it ill that he had come in Grettir's stead, and was minded that he should have little good hap how much fish soever he caught.

So it chanced on a day that Grim had caught a hundred fish, and he bore them to his hut and hung them up outside, but the next morning when he came thereto they were all gone; that he deemed marvellous, and went to the water; and now he caught two hundred fish, went home and stored them up; and all went the same way, for they were all gone in the morning; and now he thought it hard to trace all to one spring. But the third day he caught three hundred fish, brought them home and watched over them from his shed, looking out through a hole in the door to see if aught might come anigh. Thus wore the night somewhat, and when the third part of the night was gone by, he heard one going along outside with heavy footfalls; and when he was ware thereof, he took an axe that he had, the sharpest of weapons, for he was fain to know what this one was about; and he saw that the new-comer had a great basket on his back. Now he set it down, and peered about, and saw no man abroad; he gropes about to the fishes, and deems he has got a good handful, and into the basket he scoops them one and all; then is the basket full, but the fishes were so big that Grim thought that no horse might bear more. Now he takes them up and puts himself under the load, and at that very point of time, when he was about to stand upright, Grim ran out, and with both hands smote at his neck, so that the axe sank into the shoulder; thereat he turned off sharp, and set off running with the basket south over the mountain.

Grim turned off after him, and was fain to know if he had got enough. They went south all the way to Balljokul, and there this man went into a cave; a bright fire burnt in the cave, and thereby sat a woman, great of growth, but shapely withal. Grim heard how she welcomed her father, and called him Hallmund. He cast down his burden heavily, and groaned aloud; she asked him why he was all covered with blood, but he answered and sang


"Now know I aright,
That in man's might,
And in man's bliss,
No trust there is;
On the day of bale
Shall all things fail;
Courage is o'er,
Luck mocks no more."


She asked him closely of their dealings, but he told her all even as it had befallen.

"Now shall thou hearken," said he, "for I shall tell of my deeds and sing a song thereon, and thou shall cut it on a staff as I give it out."

So she did, and he sung Hallmund's song withal, wherein is this


"When I drew adown
The bridle brown
Grettir's hard hold,
Men deemed me bold;
Long while looked then
The brave of men
In his hollow hands,
The harm of lands.



"Then came the day
Of Thorir's play
On Ernelakeheath,
When we from death
Our life must gain;
Alone we twain
With eighty men
Must needs play then.



"Good craft enow
Did Grettir show
On many a shield
In that same field;
Natheless I hear
That my marks were
The deepest still;
The worst to fill.



"Those who were fain
His back to gain
Lost head and hand,
Till of the band,
From the Well-wharf-side,
Must there abide
Eighteen behind
That none can find.



"With the giant's kin
Have I oft raised din;
To the rock folk
Have I dealt out stroke;
Ill things could tell
That I smote full well;
The half-trolls know
My baneful blow.



"Small gain in me
Did the elf-folk see,
Or the evil wights
Who ride anights."


Many other deeds of his did Hallmund sing in that song, for he had fared through all the land.

Then spake his daughter, "A man of no slippery hand was that; nor was it unlike that this should hap, for in evil wise didst thou begin with him: and now what man will avenge thee?"

Hallmund answered, "It is not so sure to know how that may be; but, methinks, I know that Grettir would avenge me if he might come thereto; but no easy matter will it be to go against the luck of this man, for much greatness lies stored up for him."

Thereafter so much did Hallmund's might wane as the song wore, that well-nigh at one while it befell that the song was done and Hallmund dead; then she grew very sad and wept right sore. Then came Grim forth and bade her be of better cheer, "For all must fare when they are fetched. This has been brought about by his own deed, for I could scarce look on while he robbed me."

She said he had much to say for it, "For ill deed gains ill hap."

Now as they talked she grew of better cheer, and Grim abode many nights in the cave, and got the song by heart, and things went smoothly betwixt them.

Grim abode at Ernewaterheath all the winter after Hallmund's death, and thereafter came Thorkel Eyulfson to meet him on the Heath, and they fought together; but such was the end of their play that Grim might have his will of Thorkel's life, and slew him not. So Thorkel took him to him, and got him sent abroad and gave him many goods; and therein either was deemed to have done well to the other. Grim betook himself to seafaring, and a great tale is told of him.


62.   Hallmund is killed by a forest-man named Grim
Soon after Grettir had left the Arnarvatn Heath there came a man there named Grim, the son of a widow at Kropp. He had killed the son of Eid of Ass, the son of Skeggi, and been outlawed for it. So there he stayed where Grettir had been before him and got plenty of fish out of the lake. Hallmund was not at all pleased at Grim being there instead of Grettir, and said that he should have little advantage from his great catches of fish. One morning Grim had caught a hundred fish, which he brought to the hut and arranged outside. The next morning when he went there every fish was gone. He thought it very strange, but returned to the lake and caught this time two hundred. He carried them home and arranged them; again everything happened as before; in the morning all were gone, evidently through the same agency as before. The third day he caught three hundred, carried them home and kept a watch on his hut. He looked out through a hole in the door to see if any one came, and so he remained for a time. When about one third of the night had passed he heard some one walking near and stepping rather heavily; so he immediately took his axe, which was very sharp, and wanted to know what was the matter. There came a man with a big basket on his back; he put it down and looked round, but saw no one outside. He rummaged about among the fish and seemed to think that they would do for him to lay hands upon. He threw them all into his basket and they quite filled it. The fishes were so large that Grim thought no horse would be able to carry more. This man then took the load and got beneath it. Just as he was about to rise Grim rushed out and taking his axe in both hands struck a blow at his neck which went through the skin. He started in surprise and then ran off towards the south of the hill with his basket. Grim went after him to see whether he had got him. They went south along the foot of the Balljokull where the man entered a cave. There was a bright fire in the cave and a woman standing in it, very tall but shapely. Grim heard her greet her father, calling him Hallmund. He flung down his load and heaved a great sigh. She asked why he was covered with blood. He answered in a verse:


"No man, I see, may trust his might.
His luck and heart will fail at death."


Then she pressed him to say what had happened, and he told her everything.

"Hear now," he said, "what I tell you of my adventure. I will tell it to you in verse, and you shall cut it in runes on a staff."

She did so, and he spoke the Hallmundarkvida, in which the following occurs:


"I was strong when Grettir's bridle I seized
I saw him gazing long at his palms.
Then Thorir came on the Heath with his men.
'Gainst eighty we two had play with our spears.
Grettir's hands knew how to strike;
much deeper the marks that were left by mine.
Arms and heads then flew as they tried
to gain my rear; eighteen of them fell.
The giant-kind and the grim rock-dwellers,
demons and blendings fell before me,<br elves and devils have felt my hand."


Many exploits of his did Hallmund recount in the lay, for he had been in every land.

The daughter said: "That man was not going to let his catch slip away from him. It was only to be expected, for you treated him very badly. But who is going to avenge you?"

"It is not certain that anybody will, but I think that Grettir would avenge me if he were able. It will not be easy to go against this man's luck; he is destined to great things." Then as the lay continued his strength began to fail. Hallmund died almost at the moment when he finished the song. She grieved much for him and wept sorely. Then Grim came forward and bade her be comforted. "All," he said, "must depart when their fate calls. It was partly his own fault, for I could not look on and see myself robbed."

She said he might speak much about that: "The unjust man prospers ill."

She was somewhat cheered by the talk with him. Grim stayed several nights in the cave and learned the lay; all went well with them. Grim was in the Arnarvatn Heath all the winter after Hallmund's death. Afterwards Thorkell the son of Eyjolf came to the heath and fought with him. The meeting ended by Grim having Thorkell's life in his power, but he would not kill him. Thorkell then took him in, sent him abroad and supplied him with means; each was considered to have acted generously towards the other. Grim became a great traveller and there is a long saga about him.


63.   Now the story is to be taken up where Grettir came from the firths of the east-country; and now he fared with hidden-head for that he would not meet Thorir, and lay out that summer on Madderdale-heath and in sundry places, and at whiles he was at Reek-heath.

Thorir heard that Grettir was at Reek-heath, so he gathered men and rode to the heath, and was well minded that Grettir should not escape this time.

Now Grettir was scarce aware of them before they were on him; he was just by a mountain-dairy that stood back a little from the wayside, and another man there was with him, and when he saw their band, speedy counsel must he take; so he bade that they should fell the horses and drag them into the dairy shed, and so it was done.

Then Thorir rode north over the heath by the dairy, and missed friend from stead, for he found nought, and so turned back withal.

But when his band had ridden away west, then said Grettir, "They will not deem their journey good if we be not found; so now shall thou watch our horses while I go meet them, a fair play would be shown them if they knew me not."

His fellow strove to let him herein, yet he went none-the-less, and did on him other attire, with a slouched hat over his face and a staff in his hand, then he went in the way before them. They greeted him and asked if he had seen any men riding over the heath.

"Those men that ye seek have I seen; but little was wanting e'ennow but that ye found them, for there they were, on the south of yon bogs to the left."

Now when they heard that, off they galloped out on to the bogs, but so great a mire was there that nohow could they get on, and had to drag their horses out, and were wallowing there the more part of the day; and they gave to the devil withal the wandering churl who had so befooled them.

But Grettir turned back speedily to meet his fellow, and when they met he sang this stave


"Now make I no battle-field
With the searching stems of shield.
Rife with danger is my day,
And alone I go my way:
Nor shall I go meet, this tide,
Odin's storm, but rather bide
Whatso fate I next may have;
Scarce, then, shall thou deem me brave.



"Thence where Thorir's company
Thronging ride, I needs must flee;
If with them I raised the din,
Little thereby should I win;
Brave men's clashing swords I shun,
Woods must hide the hunted one;
For through all things, good and ill,
Unto life shall I hold still."


Now they ride at their swiftest west over the heath and forth by the homestead at Garth, before ever Thorir came from the wilderness with his band; and when they drew nigh to the homestead a man fell in with them who knew them not.

Then saw they how a woman, young and grand of attire, stood without, so Grettir asked who that woman would be. The new-comer said that she was Thorir's daughter. Then Grettir sang this stave


"O wise sun of golden stall,
When thy sire comes back to hall,
Thou mayst tell him without sin
This, though little lies therein,



That thou saw'st me ride hereby,
With but two in company,
Past the door of Skeggi's son,
Nigh his hearth, O glittering one."


Hereby the new-comer thought he knew who this would be, and he rode to peopled parts and told how Grettir had ridden by.

So when Thorir came home, many deemed that Grettir had done the bed well over their heads. But Thorir set spies on Grettir's ways, whereso he might be. Grettir fell on such rede that he sent his fellow to the west country with his horses; but he went up to the mountains and was in disguised attire, and fared about north there in the early winter, so that he was not known.

But all men deemed that Thorir had got a worse part than before in their dealings together.


63.   Grettir's meeting with Thorir on the Reykja heath
We now return to Grettir, who came from the eastern fjords, travelling in disguise and hiding his head because he did not wish to meet Thorir. That summer he spent in Modrudal Heath and other places. For a time too he was on Reykja Heath. Thorir heard of his being on Reykja Heath, gathered his men and rode thither, determined not to let him escape. Grettir scarcely knew of their plans before they came upon him. He was in a hill-dairy a little off the road with another man, and when they saw the troop they had to lay their plans quickly. Grettir said they should make their horses lie down inside the house, and they did so. Thorir rode forward across the heath in a northerly direction, missed the place, did not find Grettir and turned back home. When the troop had ridden round to the West, Grettir said: "They will not be pleased with their expedition if they do not meet me. You stay and mind the horses while I go after them. It would be a good jest if they did not recognise me."

His companion tried to dissuade him, but he would go. He changed his dress, put on a wide hat which came down over his face and took a stick in his hand. Then he went along the road towards them. They addressed him and asked whether he had seen any men riding over the heath.

"I have seen the men whom you are seeking," he said, "you very nearly came upon them; they were on your left hand just south of the marshes."

On hearing this they galloped off towards the marshes, which were so swampy that they could not get through and had to spend a great part of the day dragging their horses out. They swore much at the supposed traveller for playing a practical joke upon them.

Grettir returned speedily home to his companion, and when they met spoke a verse:


"I will not ride to the warriors' arms;
too great the danger is.
I dare not meet the storm of Vidri;
but homeward turn my steps."


They rode off as fast as they could westwards towards the homestead in Gard before Thorir could come there with his company. When they were near the place they met a man on the road who did not know them. There was a young woman standing outside, very much dressed up, and Grettir asked who she was. The man who had come up said she was Thorir's daughter. Then Grettir spoke a verse:


"Maiden, when thy father comes
tell him, little though it please him,
how I rode his dwelling past;
only two who with me rode."


From this the man learnt who it was, and rode to the house to tell them that Grettir had come round. When Thorir returned many men thought that he had been bamboozled by Grettir. He then set spies to watch Grettir's movements. Grettir took the precaution of sending his companion to the western districts with his horse, while he himself went North into the mountains at the beginning of the winter, muffling up his face so that no one should recognise him. Every one thought that Thorir had fared no better but even worse than at their former encounter.


64.   There was a priest called Stein, who dwelt at Isledale-river, in Bard-dale; he was good at husbandry and rich in beasts; his son was Kiartan, a brisk man and a well grown. Thorstein the White was the name of him who dwelt at Sand-heaps, south of Isledale-river; his wife was called Steinvor, a young woman and merry-hearted, and children they had, who were young in those days. But that place men deemed much haunted by the goings of trolls.

Now it befell two winters before Grettir came into the north country that Steinvor the goodwife of Sand-heaps fared at Yule-tide to the stead of Isledale-river according to her wont, but the goodman abode at home. Men lay down to sleep in the evening, but in the night they heard a huge crashing about the bonder's bed; none durst arise and see thereto, for very few folk were there. In the morning the goodwife came home, but the goodman was gone, and none knew what had become of him.

Now the next year wears through its seasons, but the winter after the goodwife would fain go to worship, and bade her house-carle abide behind at home; thereto was he loth, but said nathless that she must rule; so all went the same way and the house-carle vanished; and marvellous men deemed it; but folk saw certain stains of blood about the outer door; therefore they deemed it sure that an evil wight had taken them both.

Now that was heard of wide through the country-side, and Grettir withal was told thereof; so he took his way to Bard-dale, and came to Sand-heaps at Yule-eve, and made stay there, and called himself Guest. The goodwife saw that he was marvellous great of growth, but the home-folk were exceeding afeard of him; he prayed for guesting there; the mistress said that there was meat ready for him, "but as to thy safety see to that thyself."

He said that so he should do: "Here will I abide, but thou shalt go to worship if thou wilt."

She answered, "Meseems thou art a brave man if thou durst abide at home here."

"For one thing alone will I not be known," said he.

She said, "I have no will to abide at home, but I may not cross the river."

"I will go with thee," says Guest.

Then she made her ready for worship, and her little daughter with her. It thawed fast abroad, and the river was in flood, and therein was the drift of ice great: then said the goodwife,

"No way across is there either for man or horse."

"Nay, there will be fords there," said Guest, "be not afeard."

"Carry over the little maiden first," said the goodwife; "she is the lightest."

"I am loth to make two journeys of it," said Guest, "I will bear thee in my arms."

She crossed herself, and said, "This will not serve; what wilt thou do with the maiden?"

"A rede I see for that," said he, and therewith caught them both up, and laid the little one in her mother's lap, and set both of them thus on his left arm, but had his right free; and so he took the ford withal, nor durst they cry out, so afeard were they.

Now the river took him up to his breast forthwith, and a great ice-floe drave against him, but he put forth the hand that was free and thrust it from him; then it grew so deep, that the stream broke on his shoulder; but he waded through it stoutly, till he came to the further shore, and there cast them aland: then he turned back, and it was twilight already by then he came home to Sand-heaps, and called for his meat.

So when he was fulfilled, he bade the home-folk go into the chamber; then he took boards and loose timber, and dragged it athwart the chamber, and made a great bar, so that none of the home-folk might come thereover: none durst say aught against him, nor would any of them make the least sound. The entrance to the hall was through the side wall by the gable, and dais was there within; there Guest lay down, but did not put off his clothes, and light burned in the chamber over against the door: and thus Guest lay till far on in the night.

The goodwife came to Isledale-river at church-time, and men marvelled how she had crossed the river; and she said she knew not whether a man or a troll had brought her over.

The priest said he was surely a man, though a match for few; "But let us hold our peace hereon," he said; "maybe he is chosen for the bettering of thy troubles." So the goodwife was there through the night.


64.   Ghosts in Bardardal
There was dwelling at Eyjardalsa in Bardardal a priest named Steinn, a good farmer and wealthy. His son Kjartan was grown up and was now a fine young man. Thorsteinn the White was a man who dwelt at Sandhaugar to the south of Eyjardalsa; his wife Steinvor was young and of a merry disposition. They had children who at this time were yet young. Their place was generally thought to be much haunted by trolls. Two winters before Grettir came North into those parts, Steinvor the mistress of Sandhaugar went as usual to spend Yule at Eyjardalsa, while her husband stayed at home. Men lay down to sleep in the evening, and in the night they heard a great noise in the room near the bondi's bed. No one dared to get up to see what was the matter because there were so few of them. The mistress of the house returned home the next morning, but her husband had disappeared and no one knew what had become of him. So the next season passed. The following winter the mistress wanted to go to mass, and told her servant to stay at home; he was very unwilling but said she should be obeyed. It happened just as before; this time the servant disappeared. People thought it very strange and found some drops of blood upon the outer door, so they supposed that some evil spirit must have carried off both the men. The story spread all through the district and came to the ears of Grettir, who being well accustomed to deal with ghosts and spectres turned his steps to Bardardal and arrived at Yule-eve at Sandhaugar. He retained his disguise and called himself Gest. The lady of the house saw that he was enormously tall, and the servants were terribly afraid of him. He asked for hospitality; the mistress told him that food was ready for him but that he must see after himself. He said he would, and added: "I will stay in the house while you go to mass if you would like it."

She said: "You must be a brave man to venture to stay in the house."

"I do not care for a monotonous life," he said.

Then she said: "I do not want to remain at home, but I cannot get across the river."

"I will come with you," said Gest. Then she made ready to go to mass with her little daughter. It was thawing outside; the river was flooded and was covered with ice. She said: "It is impossible for either man or horse to cross the river."

"There must be fords," said Gest; "do not be afraid."

"First carry the maiden over," she said; "she is lighter."

"I don't want to make two journeys of it," said he; "I will carry you in my arms."

She crossed herself and said: "That is impossible; what will you do with the girl?"

"I will find a way," he said, taking them both up and setting the girl on her mother's knee as he bore them both on his left arm, keeping his right arm free. So he carried them across. They were too frightened to cry out. The river came up to his breast, and a great piece of ice drove against him, which he pushed off with the hand that was free. Then the stream became so deep that it broke over his shoulder, but he waded on vigorously till he reached the other bank and put them on shore. It was nearly dark by the time he got home to Sandhaugar and called for some food. When he had eaten something he told the servants to go to the other end of the hall. Then he got some boards and loose logs and laid them across the hall to make a great barricade so that none of the servants could get across. No one dared to oppose him or to object to anything. The entrance was in the side wall of the hall under the back gable, and near it was a cross bench upon which Grettir laid himself, keeping on his clothes, with a light burning in the room. So he lay till into the night.

The mistress reached Eyjardalsa for mass and every one wondered how she had crossed the river. She said she did not know whether it was a man or a troll who had carried her over. The priest said it was certainly a man though unlike other men. "Let us keep silence over it; may be that he means to help you in your difficulties."

She stayed there the night.


65.   Now it is to be told of Guest, that when it drew towards midnight, he heard great din without, and thereafter into the hall came a huge troll-wife, with a trough in one hand and a chopper wondrous great in the other; she peered about when she came in, and saw where Guest lay, and ran at him; but he sprang up to meet her, and they fell a-wrestling terribly, and struggled together for long in the hall. She was the stronger, but he gave back with craft, and all that was before them was broken, yea, the cross-panelling withal of the chamber. She dragged him out through the door, and so into the outer doorway, and then he betook himself to struggling hard against her. She was fain to drag him from the house, but might not until they had broken away all the fittings of the outer door, and borne them out on their shoulders: then she laboured away with him down towards the river, and right down to the deep gulfs.

By then was Guest exceeding weary, yet must he either gather his might together, or be cast by her into the gulf. All night did they contend in such wise; never, he deemed, had he fought with such a horror for her strength's sake; she held him to her so hard that he might turn his arms to no account save to keep fast hold on the middle of the witch.

But now when they came on to the gulf of the river, he gives the hag a swing round, and therewith got his right hand free, and swiftly seized the short-sword that he was girt withal, and smote the troll therewith on the shoulder, and struck off her arm; and therewithal was he free, but she fell into the gulf and was carried down the force.

Then was Guest both stiff and weary, and lay there long on the rocks, then he went home, as it began to grow light, and lay down in bed, and all swollen and blue he was.

But when the goodwife came from church, she thought her house had been somewhat roughly handled: so she went to Guest and asked what had happed that all was broken and down-trodden. He told her all as it had befallen: she deemed these things imported much, and asked him what man he was in good sooth. So he told her the truth, and prayed that the priest might be fetched, for that he would fain see him: and so it was done.

But when Stein the priest came to Sand-heaps, he knew forthwith, that thither was come Grettir Asmundson, under the name of Guest.

So the priest asked what he deemed had become of those men who had vanished; and Grettir said that he thought they would have gone into the gulf: the priest said that he might not trow that, if no signs could be seen thereof: then said Grettir that later on that should be known more thoroughly. So the priest went home.

Grettir lay many nights a-bed, and the mistress did well to him, and so Yule-tide wore.

Now Grettir's story is that the troll-wife cast herself into the gulf when she got her wound; but the men of Bard-dale say that day dawned on her, while they wrestled, and that she burst, when he cut the arm from her; and that there she stands yet on the cliff, a rock in the likeness of a woman.

Now the dale-dwellers kept Grettir in hiding there; but in the winter after Yule, Grettir fared to Isledale-river, and when he met the priest, he said, "Well, priest, I see that thou hadst little faith in my tale; now will I, that thou go with me to the river, and see what likelihood there is of that tale being true."

So the priest did; and when they came to the force-side, they saw a cave up under the cliff; a sheer rock that cliff was, so great that in no place might man come up thereby, and well-nigh fifty fathoms was it down to the water. Now they had a rope with them, but the priest said:

"A risk beyond all measure, I deem it to go down here."

"Nay," said Grettir, "it is to be done, truly, but men of the greatest prowess are meetest therefor: now will I know what is in the force, but thou shall watch the rope."

The priest bade him follow his own rede, and drave a peg down into the sward on the cliff, and heaped stones up over it, and sat thereby.


65.   Adventure with a troll-woman
We return now to tell of Gest. Towards midnight he heard a loud noise outside, and very soon there walked a huge troll-wife into the room. She carried a trough in one hand and a rather large cutlass in the other. She looked round the room as she entered, and on seeing Gest lying there she rushed at him; he started up and attacked her furiously. They fought long together; she was the stronger but he evaded her skilfully. Everything near them and the panelling of the back wall were broken to pieces. She dragged him through the hall door out to the porch, where he resisted vigorously. She wanted to drag him out of the house, but before that was done they had broken up all the fittings of the outer door and borne them away on their shoulders. Then she strove to get to the river and among the rocks. Gest was terribly fatigued, but there was no choice but either to brace himself or be dragged down to the rocks. All night long they struggled together, and he thought he had never met with such a monster for strength. She gripped him so tightly to herself that he could do nothing with either hand but cling to her waist. When at last they reached a rock by the river he swung the monster round and got his right hand loose. Then he quickly seized the short sword which he was wearing, drew it and struck at the troll's right shoulder, cutting off her right arm and releasing himself. She sprang among the rocks and disappeared in the waterfall. Gest, very stiff and tired, lay long by the rock.

At daylight he went home and lay down on his bed, blue and swollen all over.

When the lady of the house came home she found the place rather in disorder. She went to Gest and asked him what had happened, and why everything was broken to pieces. He told her everything just as it had happened. She thought it a matter of great moment and asked him who he was. He told her the truth, said that he wished to see a priest and asked her to send for one. She did so; Steinn came to Sandhaugar and soon learnt that it was Grettir the son of Asmund who had come there under the name of Gest. The priest asked him what he thought had become of the men who had disappeared; Grettir said he thought that they must have gone among the rocks. The priest said he could not believe his word unless he gave some evidence of it. Grettir said that later it would be known, and the priest went home. Grettir lay many days in his bed and the lady did all she could for him; thus Yule-tide passed. Grettir himself declared that the trollwoman sprang among the rocks when she was wounded, but the men of Bardardal say that the day dawned upon her while they were wrestling; that when he cut off her arm she broke, and that she is still standing there on the mountain in the likeness of a woman. The dwellers in the valley kept Grettir there in hiding.

One day that winter after Yule Grettir went to Eyjardalsa and met the priest, to whom he said: "I see, priest, that you have little belief in what I say. Now I wish you to come with me to the river and to see what probability there is in it."

The priest did so. When they reached the falls they saw a cave up under the rock. The cliff was there so abrupt that no one could climb it, and nearly ten fathoms down to the water. They had a rope with them. The priest said: "It is quite impossible for any one to get down to that."

Grettir answered: "It is certainly possible; and men of high mettle are those who would feel themselves happiest there. I want to see what there is in the fall. Do you mind the rope."

The priest said he could do so if he chose. He drove a stake into the ground and laid stones against it.


66.   Now it is to be told of Grettir that he set a stone in a bight of the rope and let it sink down into the water.

"In what wise hast thou mind to go?" said the priest.

"I will not go bound into the force," said Grettir; "such things doth my heart forebode."

With that he got ready for his journey, and was lightly clad, and girt with the short-sword, and had no weapon more.

Then he leapt off the cliff into the force; the priest saw the soles of his feet, and knew not afterwards what was become of him. But Grettir dived under the force, and hard work it was, because the whirlpool was strong, and he had to dive down to the bottom, before he might come up under the force. But thereby was a rock jutting out, and thereon he gat; a great cave was under the force, and the river fell over it from the sheer rocks. He went up into the cave, and there was a great fire flaming from amidst of brands; and there he saw a giant sitting withal, marvellously great and dreadful to look on. But when Grettir came anigh, the giant leapt up and caught up a glaive and smote at the new-comer, for with that glaive might a man both cut and thrust; a wooden shaft it had, and that fashion of weapon men called then, heft-sax. Grettir hewed back against him with the short-sword, and smote the shaft so that he struck it asunder; then was the giant fain to stretch aback for a sword that hung up there in the cave; but therewithal Grettir smote him afore into the breast, and smote off well-nigh all the breast bone and the belly, so that the bowels tumbled out of him and fell into the river, and were driven down along the stream; and as the priest sat by the rope, he saw certain fibres all covered with blood swept down the swirls of the stream; then he grew unsteady in his place, and thought for sure that Grettir was dead, so he ran from the holding of the rope, and gat him home. Thither he came in the evening and said, as one who knew it well, that Grettir was dead, and that great scathe was it of such a man.

Now of Grettir must it be told that he let little space go betwixt his blows or ever the giant was dead; then he went up the cave, and kindled a light and espied the cave. The story tells not how much he got therein, but men deem that it must have been something great. But there he abode on into the night; and he found there the bones of two men, and bore them together in a bag; then he made off from the cave and swam to the rope and shook it, and thought that the priest would be there yet; but when he knew that the priest had gone home, then must he draw himself up by strength of hand, and thus he came up out on to the cliff.

Then he fared home to Isledale-river, and brought into the church porch the bag with the bones, and therewithal a rune-staff whereon this song was marvellous well cut


"There into gloomy gulf I passed,
O'er which from the rock's throat is cast
The swirling rush of waters wan,
To meet the sword-player feared of man.
By giant's hall the strong stream pressed
Cold hands against the singer's breast;
Huge weight upon him there did hurl
The swallower of the changing whirl."


And this other one withal


"The dreadful dweller of the cave
Great strokes and many 'gainst me drave;
Full hard he had to strive for it,
But toiling long he wan no whit;
For from its mighty shaft of tree
The heft-sax smote I speedily;
And dulled the flashing war-flame fair
In the black breast that met me there."


Herein was it said how that Grettir had brought those bones from the cave; but when the priest came to the church in the morning he found the staff and that which went with it, but Grettir was gone home to Sand-heaps.


66.   Grettir slays a giant
Grettir now fastened a stone in a loop at the end of the rope, and lowered it from above into the water.

"Which way do you mean to go?" asked the priest.

"I don't mean to be bound when I come into the fall," Grettir said. "So my mind tells me."

Then he prepared to go; he had few clothes on and only a short sword; no other arms. He jumped from a rock and got down to the fall. The priest saw the soles of his feet but after that did not know what had become of him. Grettir dived beneath the fall.

It was very difficult swimming because of the currents, and he had to dive to the bottom to get behind the fall. There was a rock where he came up, and a great cave under the fall in front of which the water poured. He went into the cave, where there was a large fire burning and a horrible great giant most fearful to behold sitting before it. On Grettir entering the giant sprang up, seized a pike and struck at him, for he could both strike and thrust with it. It had a wooden shaft and was of the kind called "heptisax." Grettir struck back with his sword and cut through the shaft. Then the giant tried to reach up backwards to a sword which was hanging in the cave, and at that moment Grettir struck at him and cut open his lower breast and stomach so that all his entrails fell out into the river and floated down the stream. The priest who was sitting by the rope saw some debris being carried down all covered with blood and lost his head, making sure that Grettir was killed. He left the rope and ran off home, where he arrived in the evening and told them for certain that Grettir was dead, and said it was a great misfortune to them to have lost such a man.

Grettir struck few more blows at the giant before he was dead. He then entered the cave, kindled a light and explored. It is not told how much treasure he found there, but there is supposed to have been some. He stayed there till late into the night and found the bones of two men, which he carried away in a skin. Then he came out of the cave, swam to the rope and shook it, thinking the priest was there; finding him gone he had to swarm up the rope and so reached the top. He went home to Eyjardalsa and carried the skin with the bones in it into the vestibule of the church together with a rune-staff, upon which were most beautifully carved the following lines:


"Into the fall of the torrent I went;
dank its maw towards me gaped.
The floods before the ogress' den
Mighty against my shoulder played";


and then:


"Hideous the friend of troll-wife came.
Hard were the blows I dealt upon him.
The shaft of Heptisax was severed.
My sword has pierced the monster's breast."


There too it was told how Grettir had brought the bones from the cave. The priest when he came to the church on the next morning found the staff and all that was with it and read the runes. Grettir had then returned home to Sandhaugar.


67.   But when the priest met Grettir he asked him closely about what had happed; so he told him all the tale of his doings, and said withal that the priest had been unfaithful to him in the matter of the rope-holding; and the priest must needs say that so it was.

Now men deemed they could see that these evil wights had wrought the loss of the men there in the dale; nor had folk hurt ever after from aught haunting the valley, and Grettir was thought to have done great deeds for the cleansing of the land. So the priest laid those bones in earth in the churchyard.

But Grettir abode at Sand-heaps the winter long, and was hidden there from all the world.

But when Thorir of Garth heard certain rumours of Grettir being in Bard-dale, he sent men for his head; then men gave him counsel to get him gone therefrom, so he took his way to the west.

Now when he came to Maddervales to Gudmund the Rich, he prayed Gudmund for watch and ward; but Gudmund said he might not well keep him. "But that only is good for thee," said he, "to set thee down there, whereas thou shouldst have no fear of thy life."

Grettir said he wotted not where such a place might be.

Gudmund said, "An isle there lies in Skagafirth called Drangey; so good a place for defence it is, that no man may come thereon unless ladders be set thereto. If thou mightest get there, I know for sure that no man who might come against thee, could have good hope while thou wert on the top thereof, of overcoming thee, either by weapons or craft, if so be thou shouldst watch the ladders well."

"That shall be tried," said Grettir, "but so fearsome of the dark am I grown, that not even for the keeping of my life may I be alone."

Gudmund said, "Well, that may be; but trust no man whatsoever so much as not to trust thyself better; for many men are hard to see through."

Grettir thanked him for his wholesome redes, and then fared away from Maddervales, nor made stay before he came to Biarg; there his mother and Illugi his brother welcomed him joyfully, and he abode there certain nights.

There he heard of the slaying of Thorstein Kuggson, which had befallen the autumn before Grettir went to Bard-dale; and he deemed therewithal that felling went on fast enough.

Then Grettir rode south to Holtbeacon-heath, and was minded to avenge Hallmund if he might meet Grim; but when he came to Northriverdale, he heard that Grim had been gone two winters ago, as is aforesaid; but Grettir had heard so late of these tidings because he had gone about disguised those two winters, and the third winter he had been in Thorirs-dale, and had seen no man who might tell him any news. Then he betook himself to the Broadfirth-dales, and dwelt in Eastriverdale, and lay in wait for folk who fared over Steep-brent; and once more he swept away with the strong hand the goods of the small bonders. This was about the height of summer-tide.

Now when the summer was well worn, Steinvor of Sand-heaps bore a man-child, who was named Skeggi; he was first fathered on Kiartan, the son of Stein, the priest of Isle-dale-river. Skeggi was unlike unto his kin because of his strength and growth, but when he was fifteen winters old he was the strongest man in the north-country, and was then known as Grettir's son; men deemed he would be a marvel among men, but he died when he was seventeen years of age, and no tale there is of him.


67.   Visit to Gudmund the Mighty
When the priest met Grettir again he asked him to say exactly what had happened, and Grettir told him all about where he had been. He said that the priest had held the rope very faithlessly, and the priest admitted that it was true. Men felt no doubt that these monsters were responsible for the disappearance of the men in the valley, nor was there any haunting or ghost-walking there afterwards; Grettir had evidently cleared the land of them. The bones were buried by the priest in the churchyard. Grettir stayed the winter in Bardardal, but unknown to the general public.

Thorir of Gard heard rumours of Grettir being in Bardardal and set some men on to take his life. Men thereupon advised him to depart, and he went into the West to Modruvellir, where he met Gudmund the Mighty and asked him for protection. Gudmund said it would not be convenient for him to take him in.

"You must," he said, "find a place to settle in where you need be in no fear for your life."

Grettir said he did not know where such a place was.

"There is an island," Gudmund said, "in Skagafjord, called Drangey. It is excellent for defence; no one can get up to it without a ladder. If once you can reach it there is no chance of any one attacking you there with arms or with craft, so long as you guard the ladder well."

"That shall be tried," said Grettir. "But I am in such dread of the dark that even for the sake of my life I cannot live alone."

"It may be that it is so," said Gudmund; "but trust no man so well that you trust not yourself better. Many are unfit to be trusted."

Grettir thanked him for his excellent advice and departed from Modruvellir. He went on straight to Bjarg, where his mother and Illugi greeted him joyfully. He stayed there several days and heard of Thorsteinn Kuggason having been slain in the autumn before he went to Bardardal. Fate, he thought, was striking hard against him. Then he rode South to Holtavarda Heath, intending to revenge the death of Hallmund if he could meet with Grim. On reaching Nordrardal he learnt that Grim had left two or three years before, as has already been related. Grettir had not received news of it because he had been in hiding there for two years and a third in Thorisdal and had met no one to tell him of what had happened. Then he turned his steps towards the Breidafjord valleys and waylaid those who passed over Brattabrekka. He continued to let his hands sweep over the property of the small farmers during the height of the summer season.

When the summer was passing away, Steinvor at Sandhaugar gave birth to a son who was named Skeggi. He was at first fathered on Kjartan, the son of Steinn the priest at Eyjardalsa. Skeggi was unlike all his family in his strength and stature. When he was fifteen years old he was the strongest man in the North, and then they put him down to Grettir. There seemed a prospect of his growing into something quite extraordinary, but he died when he was seventeen and there is no saga about him.


68.   After the slaying of Thorstein Kuggson, Snorri Godi would have little to do with his son Thorod, or with Sam, the son of Bork the Fat; it is not said what they had done therefor, unless it might be that they had had no will to do some great deed that Snorri set them to; but withal Snorri drave his son Thorod away, and said he should not come back till he had slain some wood-dweller; and so must matters stand.

So Thorod went over to the Dales; and at that time dwelt at Broadlair-stead in Sokkolfsdale a widow called Geirlaug; a herdsman she kept, who had been outlawed for some onslaught; and he was a growing lad. Now Thorod Snorrison heard thereof, and rode in to Broadlair-stead, and asked where was the herdsman; the goodwife said that he was with the sheep.

"What wilt thou have to do with him?"

"His life will I have," says Thorod, "because he is an outlaw, and a wood-wight."

She answers, "No glory is it for such a great warrior as thou deemest thyself, to slay a mannikin like that; I will show thee a greater deed, if thine heart is so great that thou must needs try thyself."

"Well, and what deed?" says he.

She answers, "Up in the fell here, lies Grettir Asmundson; play thou with him, for such a game is more meet for thee."

Thorod took her talk well; "So shall it be," says he, and therewith he smote his horse with his spurs, and rode along the valley; and when he came to the hill below Eastriver, he saw where was a dun horse, with his saddle on, and thereby a big man armed, so he turned thence to meet him.

Grettir greeted him, and asked who he was. Thorod named himself, and said,

"Why askest thou not of my errand rather than of my name?"

"Why, because," said Grettir, "it is like to be such as is of little weight: art thou son to Snorri Godi?"

"Yea, yea," says Thorod; "but now shall we try which of us may do the most."

"A matter easy to be known," says Grettir; "hast thou not heard that I have ever been a treasure-hill that most men grope in with little luck?"

"Yea, I know it," said Thorod; "yet must somewhat be risked."

And now he drew his sword therewith and set on Grettir eagerly; but Grettir warded himself with his shield, but bore no weapon against Thorod; and so things went awhile, nor was Grettir wounded.

At last he said, "Let us leave this play, for thou wilt not have victory in our strife."

But Thorod went on dealing blows at his maddest. Now Grettir got aweary of dealing with him, and caught him and set him down by his side, and said

"I may do with thee even as I will, nor do I fear that thou wilt ever be my bane; but the grey old carle, thy father, Snorri, I fear in good sooth, and his counsels that have brought most men to their knees: and for thee, thou shouldst turn thy mind to such things alone as thou mayst get done, nor is it child's play to fight with me."

But when Thorod saw that he might bring nought to pass, he grew somewhat appeased, and therewithal they parted. Thorod rode home to Tongue and told his father of his dealings with Grettir. Snorri Godi smiled thereat, and said,

"Many a man lies hid within himself, and far unlike were your doings; for thou must needs rush at him to slay him, and he might have done with thee even as he would. Yet wisely has Grettir done herein, that he slew thee not; for I should scarce have had a mind to let thee lie unavenged; but now indeed shall I give him aid, if I have aught to do with any of his matters."

It was well seen of Snorri, that he deemed Grettir had done well to Thorod, and he ever after gave his good word for Grettir.


68.   Fight with Thorodd the son of Snorri
After the death of Thorsteinn Kuggason, Snorri the Godi was on bad terms with his son Thorodd and with Sam the son of Bork the Fat. It is not clearly stated what they had done to displease him except that they had refused to undertake some important work which he had given them to do; what is known is that Snorri turned off his son Thorodd and told him not to come back until he had slain some forest-man, and so it remained. Thorodd then went to Dalir. There dwelt at Breidabolstad in Sokkolfsdal a certain widow named Geirlaug; she kept as her shepherd a grown-up youth who had been outlawed for wounding some one. Thorodd Snorrason heard of this, rode to Breidabolstad and asked where the shepherd was. The woman said he was with the sheep and asked what Thorodd wanted with him.

"I want to take his life," he said; "he is an outlaw and a forest-man."

She said: "Such a warrior as you has nothing to gain by killing a miserable creature like him. I will show you a much doughtier deed, should you have a mind to try it."

"What is that?" he asked.

"Up there in the mountains," she said, "is Grettir the son of Asmund; deal with him; that will be more fitting for you."

Thorodd liked the proposal and said he would do it. Then he put spurs to his horse and rode up along the valleys. On reaching the hills below the Austra river he saw a light-coloured horse saddled, with a big man in armour, and at once directed his steps towards them. Grettir hailed him and asked who he was. Thorodd told his name and asked: "Why do you not rather ask my business than my name?"

"Because," he said, "it is not likely to be very weighty. Are you a son of Snorri the Godi?"

"So it is indeed; we shall now try which of us is the stronger."

"That is easily done," said Grettir, "but have you not heard that I have not proved a mound of wealth to most of those who have had to do with me?"

"I know that; but I mean to risk something on it now."

Then he drew his sword and went valiantly for Grettir, who defended himself with his shield but would not use his weapons against Thorodd. They fought for a time without his being wounded. Grettir then said:

"Let us stop this play; you will not gain the victory in a battle with me."

Thorodd struck at him most furiously. Grettir was tired of it, so he took hold of him and set him down next to himself, saying: "I could do what I liked with you; but I have no fear of your killing me. I am much more afraid of your grey-headed father, Snorri the Godi, and of his counsels, which have brought many a man to his knees. You should take up tasks which you are able to accomplish; it is no child's play to fight with me."

When Thorodd saw that there was nothing to be done he quieted down, and then they parted. He rode home to Tunga and told his father of his encounter with Grettir. Snorri smiled and said: "Many a man has a high opinion of himself; but the odds against you were too great. While you were aiming blows at him he was doing what he pleased with you. But he was wise not to kill you, for it would not have been my purpose to leave you unavenged. I will now rather use my influence on his side if I ever have to do with his affairs."

Snorri showed his approval of Grettir's action towards Thorodd, for his counsels were always friendly to Grettir.


69.   Grettir rode north to Biarg a little after he parted with Thorod, and lay hid there yet awhile; then so great grew his fear in the dark, that he durst go nowhere as soon as dusk set in. His mother bade him abide there, but said withal, that she saw that it would scarce avail him aught, since he had so many cases against him throughout all the land. Grettir said that she should never have trouble brought on her for his sake.

"But I shall no longer do so much for the keeping of my life," says he, "as to be alone."

Now Illugi his brother was by that time about fifteen winters old, and the goodliest to look on of all men; and he overheard their talk together. Grettir was telling his mother what rede Gudmund the Rich had given him, and now that he should try, if he had a chance, to get out to Drangey, but he said withal, that he might not abide there, unless he might get some trusty man to be with him. Then said Illugi,

"I will go with thee, brother, though I know not that I shall be of any help to thee, unless it be that I shall be ever true to thee, nor run from thee whiles thou standest up; and moreover I shall know more surely how thou farest if I am still in thy fellowship."

Grettir answered, "Such a man thou art, that I am gladder in thee than in any other; and if it cross not my mother's mind, fain were I that thou shouldst fare with me."

Then said Asdis, "Now can I see that it has come to this, that two troubles lie before us: for meseems I may ill spare Illugi, yet I know that so hard is thy lot, Grettir, that thou must in somewise find rede therefor: and howsoever it grieves me, O my sons, to see you both turn your backs on me, yet thus much will I do, if Grettir might thereby be somewhat more holpen than heretofore."

Hereat was Illugi glad, for that he deemed it good to go with Grettir.

So she gave them much of her chattels, and they made them ready for their journey. Asdis led them from out the garth, and before they parted she spake thus:

"Ah, my sons twain, there ye depart from me, and one death ye shall have together; for no man may flee from that which is wrought for him: on no day now shall I see either of you once again; let one fate be over you both, then; for I know not what weal ye go to get for yourselves in Drangey, but there shall ye both lay your bones, and many will begrudge you that abiding place. Keep ye heedfully from wiles, yet none the less there shall ye be bitten of the edge of the sword, for marvellously have my dreams gone: be well ware of sorcery, for little can cope with the cunning of eld."

And when she had thus spoken she wept right sore.

Then said Grettir, "Weep not, mother, for if we be set on with weapons, it shall be said of thee, that thou hast had sons, and not daughters: live on, well and hale."

Therewithal they parted. They fared north through the country side and saw their kin; and thus they lingered out the autumn into winter; then they turned toward Skagafirth and went north through Waterpass and thence to Reekpass, and down Saemunds-lithe and so unto Longholt, and came to Dinby late in the day.

Grettir had cast his hood back on to his shoulders, for in that wise he went ever abroad whether the day were better or worse. So they went thence, and when they had gone but a little way, there met them a man, big-headed, tall, and gaunt, and ill clad; he greeted them, and either asked other for their names; they said who they were, but he called himself Thorbiorn: he was a land-louper, a man too lazy to work, and a great swaggerer, and much game and fooling was made with him by some folk: he thrust himself into their company, and told them much from the upper country about the folk there. Grettir had great game and merriment of him; so he asked if they had no need of a man who should work for them, "for I would fain fare with you," says he; and withal he got so much from their talk that they suffered him to follow them.

Much snow there was that day, and it was cold; but whereas that man swaggered exceedingly, and was the greatest of tomfools, he had a by-name, and was called Noise.

"Great wonder had those of Dinby when thou wentest by e'en now unhooded, in the foul weather," said Noise, "as to whether thou wouldst have as little fear of men as of the cold: there were two bonders' sons, both men of great strength, and the shepherd called them forth to go to the sheep-watching with him, and scarcely could they clothe themselves for the cold."

Grettir said, "I saw within doors there a young man who pulled on his mittens, and another going betwixt byre and midden, and of neither of them should I be afeared."

Thereafter they went down to Sorbness, and were there through the night; then they fared out along the strand to a farm called Reeks, where dwelt a man, Thorwald by name, a good bonder. Him Grettir prayed for watch and ward, and told him how he was minded to get out to Drangey: the bonder said that those of Skagafirth would think him no god-send, and excused himself therewithal.

Then Grettir took a purse his mother had given to him, and gave it to the bonder; his brows lightened over the money, and he got three house-carles of his to bring them out in the night time by the light of the moon. It is but a little way from Reeks out to the island, one sea-mile only. So when they came to the isle, Grettir deemed it good to behold, because it was grass-grown, and rose up sheer from the sea, so that no man might come up thereon save there where the ladders were let down, and if the uppermost ladder were drawn up, it was no man's deed to get upon the island. There also were the cliffs full of fowl in the summer-tide, and there were eighty sheep upon the island which the bonders owned, and they were mostly rams and ewes which they had mind to slaughter.

There Grettir set himself down in peace; and by then had he been fifteen or sixteen winters in outlawry, as Sturla Thordson has said.


69.   Grettir's last visit to Bjarg and journey with Illugi to Drangey
Soon after Thorodd left him Grettir rode North to Bjarg and remained there in hiding for a time. His fear of the dark grew so upon him that he dared go nowhere after dusk. His mother offered to keep him there, but said she saw that it would not do for him because of the feuds which he had throughout the land. Grettir said she should not fall into trouble through him, "but," he said, "I can no longer live alone even to save my life."

Illugi his brother was then fifteen years old and was a most goodly young man. He heard what they were saying. Grettir told his mother what Gudmund the Mighty had advised him to do, and declared he would try to get to Drangey if he could. Yet, he said, he could not go there unless he could find some faithful man to stay with him. Then Illugi said: "I will go with you, brother. I know not whether I shall be a support to you, but I will be faithful to you and will not run from you so long as you stand upright. And I shall know the better how it fares with you if I am with you."

Grettir answered: "You are such an one amongst men as I most rejoice in. And if my mother be not against it I would indeed that you should go with me."

Asdis then said: "It has now come to this, that I see two difficulties meeting each other. It is hard for me to lose Illugi, but I know that so much may be said for Grettir's condition that he will find some way out. And though it is much for one to bid farewell to both of you, yet I will consent to it if Grettir's lot is bettered thereby."

Illugi was pleased at her words, for his heart was set upon going with Grettir. She gave them plenty of money to take with them and they made ready for their journey. Asdis took them along the road, and before they parted she said: "Go forth now, my sons twain. Sad will be your death together, nor may any man escape that which is destined for him. I shall see neither of you again; let one fate befall you both. I know not what safety you seek in Drangey, but there shall your bones be laid, and many will begrudge you your living there. Beware of treachery; yet shall you be smitten with weapons, for strange are the dreams which I have had. Guard yourselves against witchcraft, for few things are stronger than the ancient spells."

Thus she spoke and wept much. Grettir said: "Weep not, my mother. It shall be said that you had sons and not daughters if we are attacked with arms. Live well, and farewell."

Then they parted. The two travelled North through the districts and visited their kinsmen while the autumn passed into winter. Then they turned their steps to Skagafjord, then North to Vatnsskard on to Reykjaskard below Saemundarhlid to Langholt, reaching Glaumbaer as the day was waning. Grettir had slung his hat over his shoulder; so he always went when out of doors whether the weather was good or bad. Thence they continued their journey, and when they had gone a short way they met a man with a big head, tall and thin and ill clad. He greeted them and each asked the other's name. They told theirs and he said his name was Thorbjorn. He was a vagrant, had no mind to work and swaggered much. It was the habit of some to make game of him or fool him. He became very familiar and told them much gossip about the district and the people therein. Grettir was much amused. He asked whether they did not want a man to work for them and said he would much like to go with them. So much he got from his talk that they let him join them. It was very cold and there was a driving snow-storm. As the man was so fussy and talkative they gave him a nickname and called him Glaum.

"The people in Glaumbaer," he said, "were much exercised about your going without a hat in this weather, and wanted to know whether you were any the braver for being proof against the cold. There were two sons of bondis there, men of great distinction; the shepherd told them to come out and mind the sheep with him, but they could scarcely get their clothes on for the cold."

Grettir said: "I saw a young man inside the door putting on his mittens, and another going between the cow-house and the dung- heap. Neither of them will frighten me."

Then they went on to Reynines and stayed the night there; then to the sea-shore to a farm called Reykir where a man, a good farmer, named Thorvald, lived. Grettir asked him for shelter and told him of his intention of going to Drangey. The bondi said that men of Skagafjord would not think his a very friendly visit and drew back. Then Grettir took the purse of money which his mother had given him and gave it to the bondi. The man's brows unbent when he saw the money and he told three of his servants to take them out in the night by the moonlight. From Reykir is the shortest distance to the island, about one sea-mile.

When they reached the island Grettir thought it looked quite pleasant; it was all overgrown with grass and had steep cliffs down to the sea so that no one could get on to it except where the ladders were. If the upper ladder was pulled up it was impossible for any one to get on to the island. There was also a large crag full of sea birds in the summer, and there were eighty sheep in the island belonging to the bondis, mostly rams and ewes, which were meant for slaughter.

There Grettir quietly settled down. He had been fifteen or sixteen years an outlaw, so Sturla the son of Thord has recorded.


70.   In the days when Grettir came to Drangey, these were chief men of the country side of Skagafirth. Hialti dwelt at Hof in Hialtidale, he was the son of Thord, the son of Hialti, the son of Thord the Scalp: Hialti was a great chief, a right noble man, and much befriended. Thorbiorn Angle was the name of his brother, a big man and a strong, hardy and wild withal. Thord, the father of these twain, had married again in his old age, and that wife was not the mother of the brothers; and she did ill to her step-children, but served Thorbiorn the worst, for that he was hard to deal with and reckless. And on a day Thorbiorn Angle sat playing at tables, and his stepmother passed by and saw that he was playing at the knave-game, and the fashion of the game was the large tail-game. Now she deemed him thriftless, and cast some word at him, but he gave an evil answer; so she caught up one of the men, and drave the tail thereof into Thorbiorn's cheek-bone wherefrom it glanced into his eye, so that it hung out on his cheek. He sprang up, caught hold of her, and handled her roughly, insomuch that she took to her bed, and died thereof afterwards, and folk say that she was then big with child.

Thereafter Thorbiorn became of all men the most riotous; he took his heritage, and dwelt at first in Woodwick.

Haldor the son of Thorgeir, who was the son of Head-Thord, dwelt at Hof on Head-strand, he had to wife Thordis, the daughter of Thord Hialtison, and sister to those brothers Hialti and Thorbiorn Angle. Haldor was a great bonder, and rich in goods.

Biorn was the name of a man who dwelt at Meadness in the Fleets; he was a friend to Haldor of Hof. These men held to each other in all cases.

Tongue-Stein dwelt at Stonestead; he was the son of Biorn, the son of Ufeigh Thinbeard, son of that Crow-Hreidar to whom Eric of God-dales gave the tongue of land down from Hall-marsh. Stein was a man of great renown.

One named Eric was the son of Holmgang-Starri, the son of Eric of God-dales, the son of Hroald, the son of Geirmund Thick-beard; Eric dwelt at Hof in God-dales.

Now all these were men of great account.

Two brothers there were who dwelt at a place called Broad-river in Flat-lithe, and they were both called Thord; they were wondrous strong, and yet withal peaceable men both of them.

All these men had share in Drangey, and it is said that no less than twenty in all had some part in the island, nor would any sell his share to another; but the sons of Thord, Hialti and Thorbiorn Angle, had the largest share, because they were the richest men.


70.   People of Skagafjord
When Grettir came to Drangey the following chiefs were in Skagafjord:

Hjalti lived at Hof in Hjaltadal, the son of Thord, the son of Hjalti, the son of Thord Skalp. He was a great chief, very distinguished and very popular. His brother was named Thorbjorn Angle, a big man, strong and hardy and rather quarrelsome. Thord their father had married in his old age, and his then wife was not the mother of these two. She was very much against her stepsons, especially Thorbjorn, because he was intractable and headstrong. One day when he was playing at "tables", his stepmother came up and saw that he was playing at "hnettafl"; they played with big peg pieces. She considered that very lazy of him and spoke some words to which he answered hastily. She took up the piece and struck him on the cheek bone with the peg, and it glanced into his eye which hung down on his cheek. He started up and handled her mercilessly so that she was confined to her bed and soon afterwards died; they say that she was pregnant at the time. After that he became a regular ruffian. He took over his property and went first to live in Vidvik.

Halldor the son of Thorgeir, the son of Thord of Hofdi, lived at Hof in Hofdastrand. He married Thordis the daughter of Thord, the sister of Hjalti and Thorbjorn Angle. Halldor was a worthy bondi and wealthy.

Bjorn was the name of a man who lived at Haganes in Fljot, a friend of Halldor of Hof, and the two held together in every dispute.

Tungu-Steinn dwelt at Steinsstadir. He was the son of Bjorn, the son of Ofeig Thinbeard, the son of Crow-Hreidar, to whom Eirik of Guddal gave Tunga below Skalamyr. He was a man of renown.

Eirik was the son of Holmgang-Starri, the son of Eirik of Guddal, the son of Hroald, the son of Geirmund Straightbeard. He lived at Hof in Guddal.

All these were men of high rank. Two brothers dwelt at a place called Breida in Slettahlid, both named Thord. They were very strong men, but peaceable.

All the men now named had a share in Drangey. It is said that the island was owned by no fewer than twenty men, and none of them would part with his share to the others. The largest share belonged to the sons of Thord since they were the richest.


71.   Now time wears on towards the winter solstice; then the bonders get ready to go fetch the fat beasts for slaughter from the island; so they manned a great barge, and every owner had one to go in his stead, and some two.

But when these came anigh the island they saw men going about there; they deemed that strange, but guessed that men had been shipwrecked, and got aland there: so they row up to where the ladders were, when lo, the first-comers drew up the ladders.

Then the bonders deemed that things were taking a strange turn, and hailed those men and asked them who they were: Grettir named himself and his fellows withal: but the bonders asked who had brought him there.

Grettir answered, "He who owned the keel and had the hands, and who was more my friend than yours."

The bonders answered and said, "Let us now get our sheep, but come thou aland with us, keeping freely whatso of our sheep thou hast slaughtered."

"A good offer," said Grettir, "but this time let each keep what he has got; and I tell you, once for all, that hence I go not, till I am dragged away dead; for it is not my way to let that go loose which I have once laid hand on."

Thereat the bonders held their peace, and deemed that a woeful guest had come to Drangey; then they gave him choice of many things, both moneys and fair words, but Grettir said nay to one and all, and they gat them gone with things in such a stead, and were ill content with their fate; and told the men of the country-side what a wolf had got on to the island.

This took them all unawares, but they could think of nought to do herein; plentifully they talked over it that winter, but could see no rede whereby to get Grettir from the island.


71.   Bondis claim their property in Drangey
Midwinter was passed, and the bondis prepared to bring in their animals from the island for slaughter. They manned a boat and each had a man of his own on board, some two.

When they reached the island they saw men on it moving about. They thought it very strange, but supposed that some one had been wrecked and had gone on shore there. So they rowed to where the ladders were. The people on the shore pulled the ladders up. This seemed very strange behaviour and they hailed the men and asked who they were. Grettir told his name and those of his companions. The bondis asked who had taken them out to the island.

Grettir answered: "He brought me out who took me here, and had hands, and was more my friend than yours."

The bondis said: "Let us take our animals and come to the land with us. You shall have freely whatever you have taken of our property."

Grettir said: "That is a good offer; but each of us shall have that which he has got. I may tell you at once that hence I go not, unless I am dead or dragged away; nor will I let go that which my hands have taken."

The bondis said no more, but thought that most unhappy visitors had come to Drangey. They offered money and made many fair promises, but Grettir refused them all, and so they had to return home much disgusted, having accomplished nothing. They told all the people of the district of the wolves who had come into the island. This had come upon them unawares and nothing could be done. They talked it over that winter but could think of no way of getting Grettir out of the island.


72.   Now the days wore till such time as men went to the Heron-ness Thing in spring-tide, and many came thronging there from that part of the country, wherefrom men had to go to that Thing for their suits. Men sat there long time both over the suits and over sports, for there were many blithe men in that country-side. But when Grettir heard that all men fared to the Thing, he made a plot with his friends; for he was in goodwill with those who dwelt nighest to him, and for them he spared nought that he could get. But now he said that he would go aland, and gather victuals, but that Illugi and Noise should stay behind. Illugi thought this ill counselled, but let things go as Grettir would.

So Grettir bade them watch the ladders well, for that all things lay thereon; and thereafter he went to the mainland, and got what he deemed needful: he hid himself from men whereso he came, nor did any one know that he was on the land. Withal he heard concerning the Thing, that there was much sport there, and was fain to go thither; so he did on old gear and evil, and thus came to the Thing, whenas men went from the courts home to their booths. Then fell certain young men to talking how that the day was fair and good, and that it were well, belike, for the young men to betake them to wrestling and merrymaking. Folk said it was well counselled; and so men went and sat them down out from the booths.

Now the sons of Thord, Hialti and Thorbiorn Angle, were the chief men in this sport; Thorbiorn Angle was boisterous beyond measure, and drove men hard and fast to the place of the sports, and every man must needs go whereas his will was; and he would take this man and that by the hands and drag him forth unto the playing-ground.

Now first those wrestled who were weakest, and then each man in his turn, and therewith the game and glee waxed great; but when most men had wrestled but those who were the strongest, the bonders fell to talking as to who would be like to lay hand to either of the Thords, who have been aforenamed; but there was no man ready for that. Then the Thords went up to sundry men, and put themselves forward for wrestling, but the nigher the call the further the man. Then Thorbiorn Angle looks about, and sees where a man sits, great of growth, and his face hidden somewhat. Thorbiorn laid hold of him, and tugged hard at him, but he sat quiet and moved no whit. Then said Thorbiorn,

"No one has kept his place before me to-day like thou hast; what man art thou?"

He answers, "Guest am I hight."

Said Thorbiorn, "Belike thou wilt do somewhat for our merriment; a wished-for guest wilt thou be."

He answered, "About and about, methinks, will things change speedily; nor shall I cast myself into play with you here, where all is unknown to me."

Then many men said he were worthy of good at their hands, if he, an unknown man, gave sport to the people. Then he asked what they would of him; so they prayed him to wrestle with some one.

He said he had left wrestling, "though time agone it was somewhat of a sport to me."

So, when he did not deny them utterly, they prayed him thereto yet the more.

He said, "Well, if ye are so fain that I be dragged about here, ye must do so much therefor, as to handsel me peace, here at the Thing, and until such time as I come back to my home."

Then they all sprang up and said that so they would do indeed; but Hafr was the name of him who urged most that peace should be given to the man. This Hafr was the son of Thorarin, the son of Hafr, the son of Thord Knob, who had settled land up from the Weir in the Fleets to Tongue-river, and who dwelt at Knobstead; and a wordy man was Hafr.

So now he gave forth the handselling grandly with open mouth, and this is the beginning thereof.


72.   Grettir visits the Thing at Hegranes
The time passed on until the spring, when men assembled at the Hegranes Thing. They came in great numbers from all the districts under its jurisdiction, and stayed there a long time, both palavering and merry-making, for there were many who loved merriment in the country round.

When Grettir heard that everybody had gone to the Thing he laid a plan with his friends, for he was always on good terms with those who were nearest to him, and for them he spared nothing which he was able to get. He said he would go to the land to get supplies and that Illugi and Glaum should remain behind. Illugi thought it very imprudent but he let Grettir have his way. He told them to guard the ladder well since everything depended upon that. Then he went to the land and obtained what he wanted. He kept his disguise wherever he went and no one knew that he had come. He heard of the festivities that were going on at the Thing and was curious to see them, so he put on some old clothes that were rather shabby and arrived just as they were going from the Logretta home to their booths. Some of the young men were talking about the weather, said it was good and fair, and that it would be a good thing to have some games and wrestling; they thought it a good proposal. So they sat down in front of their booths. The foremost men in the games were the sons of Thord. Thorbjorn Angle was very uppish and was arranging everything himself for the sports. Every one had to do as he bade, and he took them each by the shoulders and pushed them into the field. The wrestling was begun by the less strong ones in pairs, and there was great sport. When most of them had wrestled except the strongest, there was much talk as to who should tackle the two Thords mentioned above, and there was no one who would do it. They went round inviting men to wrestle, but the more they asked the more their invitation was declined. Thorbjorn Angle looked round and saw a big man sitting there, but could not clearly see his face. He seized hold of him and gave a violent tug, but the man sat still and did not move.

Thorbjorn said: "Nobody has held so firm against me to-day as you. But who is this fellow?"

"My name is Gest."

Thorbjorn said: "You will be wanting to play with us. You are a welcome Guest."

"Things may change quickly," he said. "I cannot join in your games for I have no knowledge of them."

Many of them said that they would take it kindly of him if he, a stranger, would play a little with the men. He asked what they wanted him to do, and they asked him to wrestle with some one. He said he had given up wrestling, though he once used to take pleasure in it. As he did not directly refuse they pressed him all the more.

"Well," he said, "if you want to drag me in you must do one thing for me and grant me peace here at the Thing until I reach my home."

They all shouted and said they would gladly do that. The man who was foremost in urging that peace should be given was one Haf the son of Thorarin, the son of Haf, the son of Thord Knapp, who had settled in the land between Stifla in Fljot and Tungua. He lived at Knappsstad and was a man of many words. He spoke in favour of the peace with great authority and said:

"Hereby do I declare PEACE between all men, in particular between this man here seated who is named Gest and all Godord's men, full bondis, all men of war and bearers of arms, all other men of this district of the Hegranes Thing whencesoever they have come, both named and unnamed. I declare PEACE and full Immunity in behoof of this newcomer to us unknown, Gest yclept, for the practice of games, wrestling and all kinds of sport, while abiding here, and during his journey home, whether he sail or whether he travel, whether by land or whether by sea. He shall have PEACE in all places, named and unnamed, for such time as he needeth to reach his home in safety, by our faith confirmed. And I establish this PEACE on the part of ourselves and of our kinsmen, our friends and belongings, alike of women and of men, bondsmen and thralls, youths and adults. Be there any truce-breaker who shall violate this PEACE and defile this faith, so be he rejected of God and expelled from the community of righteous men; be he cast out from Heaven and from the fellowship of the holy; let him have no part amongst mankind and become an outcast from society. A vagabond he shall be and a wolf in places where Christians pray and where heathen worship, where fire burneth, where the earth bringeth forth, where the child lispeth the name of mother, where the mother beareth a son, where men kindle fire, where the ship saileth, where shields blink, sun shineth, snow lieth, Finn glideth, fir-tree groweth, falcon flieth the live-long day and the fair wind bloweth straight under both her wings, where Heaven rolleth and earth is tilled, where the breezes waft mists to the sea, where corn is sown. Far shall he dwell from church and Christian men, from the sons of the heathen, from house and cave and from every home, in the torments of Hel. At PEACE we shall be, in concord together, each with other in friendly mind, wherever we meet, on mountain or strand, on ship or on snow-shoes, on plains or on glaciers, at sea or on horseback, as friends meet in the water, or brothers by the way, each at PEACE with other, as son with father, or father with son, in all our dealings.

"Our hands we lay together, all and every to hold well the PEACE and the words we have spoken in this our faith, in the presence of God and of holy men, of all who hear my words and here are present."

Many said that a great word had been spoken. Gest said: "You have declared and spoken well; if you go not back upon it, I will not delay to show that of which I am capable."

Then he cast off his hood and after that all his upper garments. Each looked at the other and woe spread over their lips; for they knew that it was Grettir who had come to them, by his excelling all other men in stature and vigour. All were silent and Haf looked foolish. The men of the district went two and two together, each blaming the other, and most of all blaming him who had declared the peace. Then Grettir said: "Speak plainly to me and declare what is in your minds, for I will not sit here long without my clothes. You have more at stake than I have, whether you hold the peace or not."

They answered little and sat themselves down. The sons of Thord and their brother-in-law Halldor then talked together. Some wished to uphold the peace and some not. Each nodded to the other. Then Grettir spoke a verse:


"Many a man is filled with doubt.
A twofold mask has the prover of shields.
The skilful tongue is put to shame.
They doubt if they shall hold the troth."


Then said Tungu-Steinn: "Think you so, Grettir? Which then will the chieftains do? But true it is that you excel all men in courage. See you not how they are putting their noses together?"

Grettir then said:


"Together they all their noses laid;
they wagged their beards in close converse.
They talked with each other by two and two,
regretting the peace they afore declared."


Then said Hjalti the son of Thord: "It shall not be so; we will hold the peace with you although our minds have altered. I would not that men should have the example of our having broken the peace which we ourselves gave and declared. Grettir shall depart unhindered whithersoever he will, and shall have peace till such time as he reach his home from this journey. And then this truce shall have expired whatever happen with us." They all thanked him for his speech, and thought he had acted as a chieftain should under such circumstances. Thorbjorn Angle was silent. Then it was proposed that one or the other of the Thords should close with Grettir, and he said that they might do as they chose.

One of the two brothers Thord then came forward. Grettir stood upright before him and Thord went for him with all his might, but Grettir never moved from his place. Then Grettir stretched over across his back and seizing his breeches tripped up his foot and cast him backwards over his head so that he fell heavily upon his shoulders. Then the people said that both the brothers should tackle him together, and they did so. There arose a mighty tussle, each in turn having the advantage, although Grettir always had one of them down. Now one, now the other was brought to his knees or met with a reverse. So fiercely they gripped that all of them were bruised and bloody. Everybody thought it splendid sport, and when they ceased thanked them for their wrestling. Those that were sitting near judged that the two together were no stronger than Grettir alone, although each had the strength of two strong men. They were so equal that when they strove together neither gained the advantage. Grettir did not stay long at the Thing. The bondis asked him to give up the island, but this he refused to do, and they accomplished nothing.

Grettir returned to Drangey where Illugi rejoiced much at seeing him again. They stayed there in peace and Grettir told them of his journeys; so the summer passed. All thought the men of Skagafjord had acted most honourably in upholding their peace, and from this may be seen what trusty men lived in those days, after all that Grettir had done against them. The less wealthy ones among the bondis began to talk amongst themselves and say that there was little profit in keeping a small share of the island, and now offered to sell their holdings to the sons of Thord, but Hjalti said he did not want to buy them. The bondis stipulated that any one who wanted to buy a share should either kill Grettir or get him away. Thorbjorn Angle said that he was ready to take the lead, and would spare no pains to attack Grettir if they would pay him for it. Hjalti his brother resigned to him his share of the island because Thorbjorn was the more violent and was unpopular. Several other bondis did the same, so that Thorbjorn Angle got a large part of the island at a small price, but he bound himself to get Grettir away.


73.   Says he, "Herewith I establish peace betwixt all men, but most of all betwixt all men and this same Guest who sits here, and so is named; that is to say, all men of rule, and goodly bonders, and all men young, and fit to bear arms, and all other men of the country-side of Heron-ness Thing, whencesoever any may have come here, of men named or unnamed. Let us handsel safety and full peace to that unknown new-comer, yclept Guest by name, for game, wrestling, and all glee, for abiding here, and going home, whether he has need to fare over water, or over land, or over ferry; safety shall he have, in all steads named and unnamed, even so long as needs be for his coming home whole, under faith holden. This peace I establish on behoof of us, and of our kin, friends, and men of affinity, women even as men, bondswomen, even as bonds-men, swains and men of estate. Let him be a shamed peace-breaker, who breaks the peace, or spills the troth settled; turned away and driven forth from God, and good men of the kingdom of Heaven, and all Holy ones. A man not to be borne of any man, but cast out from all, as wide as wolves stray, or Christian men make for Churches, or heathen in God's-houses do sacrifice, or fire burns, or earth brings forth, or a child, new-come to speech, calls mother, or mother bears son, or the sons of men kindle fire, or ships sweep on, or shields glitter, or the sun shines, or the snow falls, or a Finn sweeps on skates, or a fir-tree waxes, or a falcon flies the spring-long day with a fair wind under either wing, or the Heavens dwindle far away, or the world is built, or the wind turns waters seaward, or carles sow corn. Let him shun churches, and Christian folk, and heathen men, houses and caves, and every home but the home of Hell. Now shall we be at peace and of one mind each with the other, and of goodwill, whether we meet on fell or foreshore, ship or snow-shoes, earth or ice-mount, sea or swift steed, even as each found his friend on water, or his brother on broad ways; in just such peace one with other, as father with son, or son with father in all dealings together. Now we lay hands together, each and all of us, to hold well this say of peace, and all words spoken in our settled troth: As witness God and good men, and all those who hear my words, and nigh this stead chance to stand."


73.   Visit of Thorbjorn Angle to Drangey
At the end of the summer Thorbjorn Angle went with a boat fully manned to Drangey. Grettir and his party came forward on the cliff and they talked together. Thorbjorn begged Grettir to do so much for his asking as to quit the island. Grettir said there was not much hope of that. Thorbjorn said: "It may be that I can give you some assistance which will make it worth your while to do this. Many of the bondis have now given up the shares which they had in the island to me."

Grettir said: "Now for the very reason that you have just told me, because you own the greater part of the island, I am determined never to go hence. We may now divide the cabbage. It is true that I thought it irksome to have the whole of Skagafjord against me, but now neither need spare the other, since neither is suffocated with the love of his fellows. You may as well put off your journeys hither, for the matter is settled so far as I am concerned."

"All abide their time," he said, "and you abide evil."

"I must risk that," he said. And so they parted. Thorbjorn returned home again.


74.   Then many fell to saying that many and great words had been spoken hereon; but now Guest said,

"Good is thy say and well hast thou spoken it; if ye spill not things hereafter, I shall not withhold that which I have to show forth."

So he cast off his hood, and therewith all his outer clothes.

Then they gazed one on the other, and awe spread over their faces, for they deemed they knew surely that this was Grettir Asmundson, for that he was unlike other men for his growth and prowess' sake: and all stood silent, but Hafr deemed he had made himself a fool. Now the men of the country-side fell into twos and twos together, and one upbraided the other, but him the most of all, who had given forth the words of peace.

Then said Grettir; "Make clear to me what ye have in your minds, because for no long time will I sit thus unclad; it is more your matter than mine, whether ye will hold the peace, or hold it not."

They answered few words and then sat down: and now the sons of Thord, and Halldor their brother-in-law, talked the matter over together; and some would hold the peace, and some not; so as they elbowed one another, and laid their heads together. Grettir sang a stave


"I, well known to men, have been
On this morn both hid and seen;
Double face my fortune wears,
Evil now, now good it bears;
Doubtful play-board have I shown
Unto these men, who have grown
Doubtful of their given word;
Hafr's big noise goes overboard."


Then said Tongue-stein, "Thinkest thou that, Grettir? Knowest thou then what the chiefs will make their minds up to? but true it is thou art a man above all others for thy great heart's sake: yea, but dost thou not see how they rub their noses one against the other?"

Then Grettir sang a stave


"Raisers-up of roof of war,
Nose to nose in counsel are;
Wakeners of the shield-rain sit
Wagging beard to talk of it:
Scatterers of the serpent's bed
Round about lay head to head.



For belike they heard my name;
And must balance peace and shame."


Then spake Hialti the son of Thord; "So shall it not be," says he; "we shall hold to our peace and troth given, though we have been beguiled, for I will not that men should have such a deed to follow after, if we depart from that peace, that we ourselves have settled and handselled: Grettir shall go whither he will, and have peace until such time as he comes back from this journey; and then and not till then shall this word of truce be void, whatsoever may befall betwixt us meanwhile."

All thanked him therefor, and deemed that he had done as a great chief, such blood-guilt as there was on the other side: but the speech of Thorbiorn Angle was little and low thereupon.

Now men said that both the Thords should lay hand to Grettir, and he bade them have it as they would: so one of the brothers stood forth; and Grettir stood up stiff before him, and he ran at Grettir at his briskest, but Grettir moved no whit from his place: then Grettir stretched out his hand down Thord's back, over the head of him, and caught hold of him by the breeches, and tripped up his feet, and cast him backward over his head in such wise that he fell on his shoulder, and a mighty fall was that.

Then men said that both those brothers should go against Grettir at once; and thus was it done, and great swinging and pulling about there was, now one side, now the other getting the best of it, though one or other of the brothers Grettir ever had under him; but each in turn must fall on his knee, or have some slip one of the other; and so hard they griped each at each, that they were all blue and bruised.

All men thought this the best of sport, and when they had made an end of it, thanked them for the wrestling; and it was the deeming of those who sat thereby, that the two brothers together were no stronger than Grettir alone, though each of them had the strength of two men of the strongest: so evenly matched they were withal, that neither might get the better of the other if they tried it between them.

Grettir abode no long time at the Thing; the bonders bade him give up the island, but he said nay to this, nor might they do aught herein.

So Grettir fared back to Drangey, and Illugi was as fain of him as might be; and there they abode peacefully, and Grettir told them the story of his doings and his journeys; and thus the summer wore away.

All men deemed that those of Skagafirth had shown great manliness herein, that they held to their peace given; and folk may well mark how trusty men were in those days, whereas Grettir had done such deeds against them.

Now the less rich men of the bonders spake together, that there was little gain to them in holding small shares in Drangey; so they offered to sell their part to the sons of Thord; Hialti said that he would not deal with them herein, for the bonders made it part of the bargain, that he who bought of them should either slay Grettir or get him away. But Thorbiorn Angle said, that he would not spare to take the lead of an onset against Grettir if they would give him wealth therefor. So his brother Hialti gave up to him his share in the island, for that he was the hardest man, and the least befriended of the twain; and in likewise too did other bonders; so Thorbiorn Angle got the more part of the island for little worth, but bound himself withal to get Grettir away.


74.   Fire goes out in Drangey
Grettir had, it is said, been two years in Drangey, and they had slaughtered nearly all the sheep. One ram, it is told, they allowed to live; it was grey below and had large horns. They had much sport with it, for it was very tame and would stand outside and follow them wherever they went. It came to the hut in the evening and rubbed its horns against the door. They lived very comfortably, having plenty to eat from the birds on the island and their eggs, nor had they much trouble in gathering wood for fire. Grettir always employed the man to collect the drift, and there were often logs cast ashore there which he brought home for fuel. The brothers had no need to work beyond going to the cliffs, which they did whenever they chose. The thrall began to get very slack at his work; he grumbled much and was less careful than before. It was his duty to mind the fire every night, and Grettir bade him be very careful of it as they had no boat with them. One night it came to pass that the fire went out. Grettir was very angry and said it would only be right that Glaum should have a hiding. The thrall said he had a very poor life of it to have to lie there in exile and be ill-treated and beaten if anything went wrong. Grettir asked Illugi what was to be done, and he said he could think of nothing else but to wait until a ship brought them some fire.

Grettir said that would be a very doubtful chance to wait for. "I will venture it," he said, "and see whether I can reach the land."

"That is a desperate measure," said Illugi. "We shall be done for if you miscarry."

"I shall not drown in the channel," he said. "I shall trust the thrall less in future since he has failed in a matter of such moment to us."

The shortest passage from the island to the mainland is one sea-mile.


75.   Whenas summer was far spent, Thorbiorn Angle went with a well-manned barge out to Drangey, and Grettir and his fellows stood forth on the cliff's edge; so there they talked together. Thorbiorn prayed Grettir to do so much for his word, as to depart from the island; Grettir said there was no hope of such an end.

Then said Thorbiorn, "Belike I may give thee meet aid if thou dost this, for now have many bonders given up to me their shares in the island."

Grettir answered, "Now hast thou shown forth that which brings me to settle in my mind that I will never go hence, whereas thou sayest that thou now hast the more part of the island; and good is it that we twain alone share the kale: for in sooth, hard I found it to have all the men of Skagafirth against me; but now let neither spare the other, for not such are we twain, as are like to be smothered in the friendship of men; and thou mayst leave coming hither, for on my side is all over and done."

"All things bide their day," said Thorbiorn, "and an ill day thou bidest."

"I am content to risk it," said Grettir; and in such wise they parted, and Thorbiorn went home.


75.   Grettir swims to the mainland for fire
Grettir then prepared for his swim. He wore a cloak of coarse material with breeches and had his fingers webbed. The weather was fine; he left the island towards the evening. Illugi thought his journey was hopeless. Grettir had the current with him and it was calm as he swam towards the fjord. He smote the water bravely and reached Reykjanes after sunset. He went into the settlement at Reykir, bathed in the night in a warm spring, and then entered the hall, where it was very hot and a little smoky from the fire which had been burning there all day. He was very tired and slept soundly, lying on right into the day. When it was a little way on in the morning the servants rose, and the first to enter the room were two women, the maid with the bondi's daughter. Grettir was asleep, and his clothes had all fallen off on to the floor. They saw a man lying there and recognised him. The maid said:

"As I wish for salvation, sister, here is Grettir the son of Asmund come. He really is large about the upper part of his body, and is lying bare. But he seems to me unusually small below. It is not at all in keeping with the rest of him."

The bondi's daughter said: "How can you let your tongue run on so? You are more than half a fool! Hold your tongue!"

"I really cannot be silent, my dear sister," said the maid; "I would not have believed it if any one had told me."

Then she went up to him to look more closely, and kept running back to the bondi's daughter and laughing. Grettir heard what she said, sprang up and chased her down the room. When he had caught her he spoke a verse:

(VERSE MISSING IN MANUSCRIPT)

Soon afterwards Grettir went to the bondi Thorvald, told him his difficulty and asked him to take him out to the island again, which he did, lending him a ship and taking him over. Grettir thanked him for his courtesy. When it became known that Grettir had swum a sea-mile, every one thought his courage extraordinary both on sea and on land. The men of Skagafjord blamed Thorbjorn Angle much for not having ridded Drangey of Grettir, and all wanted their shares back again. That did not suit him and he asked them to have patience.


76.   So the tale tells, that by then they had been two winters on Drangey, they had slaughtered well-nigh all the sheep that were there, but one ram, as men say, they let live; he was piebald of belly and head, and exceeding big-horned; great game they had of him, for he was so wise that he would stand waiting without, and run after them whereso they went; and he would come home to the hut anights and rub his horns against the door.

Now they deemed it good to abide on the island, for food was plenty, because of the fowl and their eggs; but firewood was right hard to come by; and ever Grettir would let the thrall go watch for drift, and logs were often drifted there, and he would bear them to the fire; but no need had the brothers to do any work beyond climbing into the cliffs when it liked them. But the thrall took to loathing his work, and got more grumbling and heedless than he was wont heretofore: his part it was to watch the fire night by night, and Grettir gave him good warning thereon, for no boat they had with them.

Now so it befell that on a certain night their fire went out; Grettir was wroth thereat, and said it was but his due if Noise were beaten for that deed; but the thrall said that his life was an evil life, if he must lie there in outlawry, and be shaken and beaten withal if aught went amiss.

Grettir asked Illugi what rede there was for the matter, but he said he could see none, but that they should abide there till some keel should be brought thither: Grettir said it was but blindness to hope for that. "Rather will I risk whether I may not come aland."

"Much my mind misgives me thereof," said Illugi, "for we are all lost if thou comest to any ill."

"I shall not be swallowed up swimming," said Grettir; "but henceforward I shall trust the thrall the worse for this, so much as lies hereon."

Now the shortest way to the mainland from the island, was a sea-mile long.


76.   Adventure of Haering in Drangey
That summer a ship came to Gonguskardsos, on board of which was a man named Haering. He was a young man and very active; he could climb any cliff. He went to visit Thorbjorn Angle and stayed there into the autumn. He pressed Thorbjorn much to take him to Drangey, that he might see whether the cliff was so high that he could not get up there. Thorbjorn said it should not be for nothing if he succeeded in getting up on to the island and either killing or wounding Grettir; he made it appear attractive as a task for Haering to undertake.

One day they went to Drangey and he put the Easterner ashore in a certain place, telling him not to let himself be seen if he got to the top. Then they set up the ladder and began a conversation with Grettir's people. Thorbjorn asked him whether he would not leave the island. He said there was nothing on which he was so determined.

"You have played much with us," said Thorbjorn, "and we do not seem likely to have our revenge, but you have not much fear for yourself."

Thus they disputed for long, but came to no agreement.

We have now to tell of Haering. He climbed all about on the cliffs and got to the top in a place which no other man ever reached before or since. On reaching the top he saw the two brothers standing with their backs turned to him. He hoped in a short time to win money and glory from both. They had no inkling of his being there, and thought that nobody could get up except where the ladders were. Grettir was occupied with Thorbjorn's men, and there was no lack of derisive words on both sides. Then Illugi looked round and saw a man coming towards them, already quite close. He said: "Here is a man coming towards us with his axe in the air; he has a rather hostile appearance."

"You deal with him," said Grettir, "while I look after the ladder." Illugi then advanced against the Easterner, who on seeing him turned and ran about all over the island. Illugi chased him to the furthest end of the island; on reaching the edge he leaped down and broke every bone in his body; thus his life ended. The place where he perished was afterwards called Haering's leap. Illugi returned and Grettir asked him how he had parted with his man.

"He would not trust me to manage for him," he said. "He broke his neck over the cliff. The bondis may pray for him as for a dead man."

When Angle heard that he told his men to shove off. "I have now been twice to meet Grettir," he said. "I may come a third time, and if then I return no wiser than I am now, it is likely that they may stay in Drangey, so far as I am concerned. But methinks Grettir will not be there so long in the future as he has been in the past."

They then returned home and this journey seemed even worse than the one before. Grettir stayed in Drangey and saw no more of Thorbjorn that winter. Skapti the Lawman died during the winter, whereby Grettir suffered a great loss, for he had promised to press for a removal of his sentence when he had been twenty years an outlaw, and the events just related were in the nineteenth year. In the spring died Snorri the Godi, and much more happened during this winter season which does not belong to our saga.


77.   Now Grettir got all ready for swimming, and had on a cowl of market-wadmal, and his breeches girt about him, and he got his fingers webbed together, and the weather was fair. So he went from the island late in the day, and desperate Illugi deemed his journey. Grettir made out into the bay, and the stream was with him, and a calm was over all. He swam on fast, and came aland at Reekness by then the sun had set: he went up to the homestead at Reeks, and into a bath that night, and then went into the chamber; it was very warm there, for there had been a fire therein that evening, and the heat was not yet out of the place; but he was exceeding weary, and there fell into a deep sleep, and so lay till far on into the next day.

Now as the morning wore the home folk arose, and two women came into the chamber, a handmaid and the goodman's daughter. Grettir was asleep, and the bed-clothes had been cast off him on to the floor; so they saw that a man lay there, and knew him.

Then said the handmaiden: "So may I thrive, sister! here is Grettir Asmundson lying bare, and I call him right well ribbed about the chest, but few might think he would be so small of growth below; and so then that does not go along with other kinds of bigness."

The goodman's daughter answered: "Why wilt thou have everything on thy tongue's end? Thou art a measure-less fool; be still."

"Dear sister, how can I be still about it?" says the handmaid. "I would not have believed it, though one had told me."

And now she would whiles run up to him and look, and whiles run back again to the goodman's daughter, screaming and laughing; but Grettir heard what she said, and as she ran in over the floor by him he caught hold of her, and sang this stave


"Stay a little, foolish one!
When the shield-shower is all done,
With the conquered carles and lords,
Men bide not to measure swords:
Many a man had there been glad,
Lesser war-gear to have had.
With a heart more void of fear;
Such I am not, sweet and dear."


Therewithal he swept her up into the bed, but the bonder's daughter ran out of the place; then sang Grettir this other stave


"Sweet amender of the seam,
Weak and worn thou dost me deem:



O light-handed dear delight,
Certes thou must say aright.
Weak I am, and certainly
Long in white arms must I lie:
Hast thou heart to leave me then,
Fair-limbed gladdener of great men?"


The handmaid shrieked out, but in such wise did they part that she laid no blame on Grettir when all was over.

A little after, Grettir arose, and went to Thorvald the goodman, and told him of his trouble, and prayed bring him out; so did he, and lent him a boat, and brought him out, and Grettir thanked him well for his manliness.

But when it was heard that Grettir had swam a sea-mile, all deemed his prowess both on sea and land to be marvellous.

Those of Skagafirth had many words to say against Thorbiorn Angle, in that he drave not Grettir away from Drangey, and said they would take back each his own share; but he said he found the task no easy one, and prayed them be good to him, and abide awhile.


77.   Grettir's case before the All-Thing
That summer at the All-Thing Grettir's friends spoke much about his outlawry, and some held that his term was fulfilled when he had completed any portion of the twentieth year. This was disputed by the opposite party, who declared that he had committed many acts deserving of outlawry since, and that, therefore, his sentence ought to be all the longer. A new Lawman had been appointed, Steinn the son of Thorgest, the son of Steinn the Far-traveller, the son of Thorir Autumn-mist. The mother of Steinn the Lawman was Arnora, the daughter of Thord the Yeller. He was a wise man, and was asked for his opinion. He told them to make a search to find out whether this was the twentieth year of his outlawry, and they did so. Then Thorir of Gard went to work to put every possible difficulty in the way, and found out that Grettir had spent one year of the time in Iceland, during which he must be held to have been free of his outlawry. Consequently it had only lasted nineteen years.

The Lawman declared that no man could be outlawed for longer than twenty years in all, even though he committed an outlaw's acts during that time. But before that he would allow no man to be freed.

Thus the endeavour to remove his sentence broke down for the moment, but there seemed a certainty of his being freed in the following summer. The men of Skagafjord were little pleased at the prospect of Grettir being freed, and they told Thorbjorn Angle that he must do one of the two, resign his holding in the island or kill Grettir. He was in great straits, for he saw no way of killing Grettir, and yet he wanted to keep the island. He tried everything he could think of to get the better of Grettir by force or by fraud or in any other way that he could.


78.   That same summer a ship came to the Gangpass-mouth, and therein was a man called Haeringa young man he was, and so lithe that there was no cliff that he might not climb. He went to dwell with Thorbiorn Angle, and was there on into the autumn; and he was ever urging Thorbiorn to go to Drangey, saying that he would fain see whether the cliffs were so high that none might come up them. Thorbiorn said that he should not work for nought if he got up into the island, and slew Grettir, or gave him some wound; and withal he made it worth coveting to Haering. So they fared to Drangey, and set the eastman ashore in a certain place, and he was to set on them unawares if he might come up on to the island, but they laid their keel by the ladders, and fell to talking with Grettir; and Thorbiorn asked him if he were minded now to leave the place; but he said that to nought was his mind so made up as to stay there.

"A great game hast thou played with us," said Thorbiorn; "but thou seemest not much afeard for thyself."

Thus a long while they gave and took in words, and came nowise together hereon.

But of Haering it is to be told that he climbed the cliffs, going on the right hand and the left, and got up by such a road as no man has gone by before or since; but when he came to the top of the cliff, he saw where the brothers stood, with their backs turned toward him, and thought in a little space to win both goods and great fame; nor were they at all aware of his ways, for they deemed that no man might come up, but there whereas the ladders were. Grettir was talking with Thorbiorn, nor lacked there words of the biggest on either side; but withal Illugi chanced to look aside, and saw a man drawing anigh them.

Then he said, "Here comes a man at us, with axe raised aloft, and in right warlike wise he seems to fare."

"Turn thou to meet him," says Grettir, "but I will watch the ladders."

So Illugi turned to meet Haering, and when the eastman saw him, he turned and fled here and there over the island. Illugi chased him while the island lasted, but when he came forth on to the cliff's edge Haering leapt down thence, and every bone in him was broken, and so ended his life; but the place where he was lost has been called Haering's-leap ever since.

Illugi came back, and Grettir asked how he had parted from this one who had doomed them to die.

"He would have nought to do," says Illugi, "with my seeing after his affairs, but must needs break his neck over the rock; so let the bonders pray for him as one dead."

So when Angle heard that, he bade his folk make off. "Twice have I fared to meet Grettir, but no third time will I go, if I am nought the wiser first; and now belike they may sit in Drangey as for me; but in my mind it is, that Grettir will abide here but a lesser time than heretofore."

With that they went home, and men deemed this journey of theirs worser than the first, and Grettir abode that winter in Drangey, nor in that season did he and Thorbiorn meet again.

In those days died Skapti Thorodson the Lawman, and great scathe was that to Grettir, for he had promised to busy himself about his acquittal as soon as he had been twenty winters in outlawry, and this year, of which the tale was told e'en now, was the nineteenth year thereof.

In the spring died Snorri the Godi, and many matters befell in that season that come not into this story.


78.   Thorbjorn's foster-mother
Thorbjorn Angle had a foster-mother named Thurid. She was very old and of little use to mankind, but she had been very skilled in witchcraft and magic when she was young and the people were heathen. Now she seemed to have lost it all. Still, although the land was Christian, many sparks of heathendom remained. It was not forbidden by the law of the land to sacrifice or perform other heathen rites in private; only the one who performed them openly was sentenced to the minor exile. Now it happened to many as it is said: The hand turns to its wonted skill, and that which we have learned in youth is always most familiar to us. So Thorbjorn Angle, baffled in all his plans, turned for help to the quarter where it would have been least looked for most people, namely, to his foster-mother, and asked her what she could do for him.

She replied, "Now it seems to me to have come to this, as the saying is: Many go to the goat-house to get wool. What would I less than to think myself above the other men of the country, and then to be as nothing when it comes to the trial? I see not that it fares worse with me than with you, even though I scarce rise from my bed. If you will have my counsel then I must have my way in all that is done."

He consented, and said that she had long given him counsel for his good. The "double month" of the summer was now approaching. One fine day the old woman said to Angle: "The weather is now calm and bright; I will that you go to Drangey and pick a quarrel with Grettir. I will go with you and learn what caution is in his words. I shall have some surety when I see how far they are prospering, and then I will speak over them such words as I please."

Angle said: "Let us not go to Drangey. It is always worse in my mind when I leave that place than when I arrive."

The woman said: "I will not help you if you will not let me do as I like."

"Far be that from me, my foster-mother. I have said that I will go there a third time, that something may come of it for us."

"You may venture it," she said, "much labour will you have before Grettir is laid in the earth; often your lot will be doubtful and hard will it go with you before it is finished. And yet you are so bound that somehow you must get yourself out of it."

Then Thorbjorn Angle had a ten-oared boat manned and went on board with eleven men. The woman was with them and they rowed out to Drangey. When the brothers saw them coming they came forward to the ladder and began once more to talk about their case. Thorbjorn said he had come once more to hear their answer whether Grettir would leave the place. He said he would treat the destruction of his property and Grettir's stay there as a light thing, provided they parted in peace. Grettir said he had no intention of coming to any terms about his going away. "I have often told you," he said, "that there is no use in talking to me about it. You may do whatever you please; I mean to stay here and abide what happens."

Thorbjorn saw that his end would not be gained this time, and said: "I knew very well with what men of Hel I had to do. It is most likely that some days will pass before I come here again."

"It would not hurt me if you never came at all," said Grettir.

The woman was lying in the stern sheets covered up with clothes. Then she began to stir and said:

"These men are brave and unfortunate; there is much difference between you; you offer them good and they refuse everything. There are few more certain tokens of evil than not to know how to accept the good. Now I say this of you, Grettir, that you be deprived of health, of all good luck and fortune, of all protection and counsel, ever the more the longer you live. I wish that your days may be less happy in the future than they have been in the past."

When Grettir heard that he started violently and said: "What fiend is that in the ship with them?"

Illugi said: "I think that must be the old woman, Thorbjorn's foster-mother."

"Curse the hag!" he said. "I could have thought of nothing worse! Nothing that was ever said startled me more than her words, and I know that some evil will befall me from her and her spells. She shall have something to remind her of her visit here."

Then he took up an enormous stone and threw it down into the boat. It fell into the heap of clothes. Thorbjorn had not thought that any man could throw so far. A loud scream was heard, for the stone had struck her thigh and broken it.

Illugi said: "I wish you had not done that."

"Do not blame me for it," said Grettir. "I fear it has been just too little. One old woman would not have been too great a price for us two."

"How will she pay for us? That will be a small sum for the pair of us."

Thorbjorn then returned home; no greeting passed between them when he left. He spoke to the old woman and said: "It has happened as I expected. Little credit has the journey to the island brought you. You have been injured for the rest of your life, and we have no more honour than we had before; we have to endure unatoned one insult after another."

She answered: "This is the beginning of their destruction; I say that from this time onwards they will go downwards. I care not whether I live or not, if I do not have vengeance for the injury they have done me."

"You seem to be in high spirits, foster-mother," he said. Then they arrived home. The woman lay in bed for nearly a month before her leg was set and she was able to walk again. Men laughed much over the journey of Thorbjorn and the old woman. Little luck had come from the meetings with Grettir, first at the peace declaration at the Thing, next when Haering was killed, and now the third time when the woman's thigh was broken, while nothing had been done on their side. Thorbjorn Angle suffered much from their talk.


79.   That summer, at the Althing, the kin of Grettir spake many things concerning his outlawry, and some deemed he had outworn the years thereof, if he had come at all into the twentieth year; but they who had blood-suits against him would not have it so, and said, that he had done many an outlaw's deed since he was first outlawed, and deemed his time ought to last longer therefor.

At that time was a new lawman made, Stein, the son of Thorgest, the son of Stein the Far-sailing, the son of Thorir Autumn-mirk; the mother of Stein was Arnora, the daughter of Thord the Yeller; and Stein was a wise man.

Now was he prayed for the word of decision; and he bade them search and see whether this were the twentieth summer since Grettir was made an outlaw, and thus it seemed to be.

But then stood forth Thorir of Garth, and brought all into dispute again, for he found that Grettir had been one winter out here a sackless man, amidst the times of his outlawry, and then nineteen were the winters of his outlawry found to be. Then said the lawman that no one should be longer in outlawry than twenty winters in all, though he had done outlaw's deeds in that time.

"But before that, I declare no man sackless."

Now because of this was the acquittal delayed for this time, but it was thought a sure thing that he would be made sackless the next summer. But that misliked the Skagafirthers exceeding ill, if Grettir were to come out of his outlawry, and they bade Thorbiorn Angle do one of two things, either give back the island or slay Grettir; but he deemed well that he had a work on his hands, for he saw no rede for the winning of Grettir, and yet was he fain to hold the island; and so all manner of craft he sought for the overcoming of Grettir, if he might prevail either by guile or hardihood, or in any wise soever.


79.   Spell takes effect
The autumn passed and but three weeks remained till the winter. The old woman asked to be driven to the sea-shore. Thorbjorn asked what she was going to do.

"A small thing only," she said, "yet maybe the signal of greater things to come."

They did as she asked them. When they reached the shore she hobbled on by the sea as if directed to a spot where lay a great stump of a tree as large as a man could bear on his shoulder. She looked at it and bade them turn it over before her; the other side looked as if it had been burned and smoothed. She had a small flat surface cut on its smooth side; then she took a knife, cut runes upon it, reddened them with her blood and muttered some spells over it. After that she walked backwards against the sun round it, and spoke many potent words. Then she made them push the tree into the sea, and said it should go to Drangey and that Grettir should suffer hurt from it. Then she went back to Vidvik. Thorbjorn said he did not know what would come of it. The woman said he would know more clearly some day. The wind was towards the land up the fjord, but the woman's stump drifted against the wind, and not more slowly than would have been expected.

Grettir was sitting in Drangey with his companions very comfortably, as has been told. On the day following that on which the old woman had cast her spells upon the tree they went down from the hill to look for firewood. When they got to the western side of the island they found a great stump stranded there.

"Here is a fine log for fuel," cried Illugi, "let us carry it home." Grettir gave it a kick with his foot and said: "An ill tree and ill sent. We must find other wood for the fire."

He pushed it out into the sea and told Illugi to beware of carrying it home, for it was sent for their destruction. Then they returned to their hut and said nothing about the tree to the thrall. The next day they found the tree again, nearer to the ladder than on the day before. Grettir put it back into the sea and said he would never carry it home. That night passed and dirty weather set in with rain, so that they did not care to go out and told Glaum to fetch fuel. He grumbled very much and declared it was cruel to make him plague himself to death in every kind of weather. He descended the ladder and found there the woman's log. He thought himself lucky, laboured home with it to the hut and threw it down with a great noise which Grettir heard.

"Glaum has got something; I must go out and see what it is," he said, and went out, taking his wood-cutting axe with him.

"Let your cutting up of it be no worse than my carrying of it home!" said Glaum.

Grettir was irritated with the thrall; he used his axe with both hands and did not notice what tree it was. Directly the axe touched the tree it turned flat and glanced off into Grettir's right leg. It entered above his right knee and pierced to the bone, making a severe wound. Grettir turned to the tree and said: "He who meant me evil has prevailed; it will not end with this. This is the very log which I twice rejected. Two disasters have you now brought about, Glaum; first you let our fire go out, and now you have brought in this tree of ill-fortune. A third mistake will be the death of you and of us all."

Illugi then bound the wound. It bled little; Grettir slept well that night and three days passed without its paining him. When they opened the bandages the flesh had grown together and the wound was almost healed. Illugi said: "I do not think that you will suffer very long with this wound."

"That would be well," said Grettir; "it has happened strangely however it ends; but my mind tells me otherwise."


80.   Thorbiorn Angle had a foster-mother, Thurid by name, exceeding old, and meet for little, as folk deemed, very cunning she had been in many and great matters of lore, when she was young, and men were yet heathen; but men thought of her as of one, who had lost all that. But now, though Christ's law were established in the land, yet abode still many sparks of heathendom. It had been law in the land, that men were not forbidden to sacrifice secretly, or deal with other lore of eld, but it was lesser outlawry if such doings oozed out. Now in such wise it fared with many, that hand for wont did yearn, and things grew handiest by time that had been learned in youth.

So now, whenas Thorbiorn Angle was empty of all plots, he sought for help there, whereas most folk deemed it most unlike that help wasat the hands of his foster-mother, in sooth, and asked, what counsel was in her therefor.

She answered, "Now belike matters have come to this, even as the saw saysTo the goat-house for wool: but what could I do less than this, to think myself before folk of the country-side, but be a man of nought, whenso anything came to be tried? nor see I how I may fare worse than thou, though I may scarce rise from my bed. But if thou art to have my rede, then shall I have my will as to how and what things are done."

He gave his assent thereto, and said that she had long been of wholesome counsel to him.

Now the time wore on to Twainmonth of summer; and one fair-weather day the carline spake to Angle,

"Now is the weather calm and bright, and I will now that thou fare to Drangey and pick a quarrel with Grettir; I shall go with thee, and watch how heedful he may be of his words; and if I see them, I shall have some sure token as to how far they are befriended of fortune, and then shall I speak over them such words as seem good to me."

Angle answered, "Loth am I to be faring to Drangey, for ever am I of worser mind when I depart thence than when I come thereto."

Then said the carline, "Nought will I do for thee if thou sufferest me to rule in no wise."

"Nay, so shall it not be, foster-mother," said he; "but so much have I said, as that I would so come thither the third time that somewhat should be made of the matter betwixt us."

"The chance of that must be taken," said the carline "and many a heavy labour must thou have, or ever Grettir be laid to earth; and oft will it be doubtful to thee what fortune thine shall be, and heavy troubles wilt thou get therefrom when that is done; yet art thou so bounden here-under, that to somewhat must thou make up thy mind."

Thereafter Thorbiorn Angle let put forth a ten-oared boat, and he went thereon with eleven men, and the carline was in their company.

So they fell to rowing as the weather went, out to Drangey; and when the brothers saw that, they stood forth at the ladders, and they began to talk the matter over yet once more; and Thorbiorn said, that he was come yet again, to talk anew of their leaving the island, and that he would deal lightly with his loss of money and Grettir's dwelling there, if so be they might part without harm. But Grettir said that he had no words to make atwixt and atween of his going thence.

"Oft have I so said," says he, "and no need there is for thee to talk to me thereon; ye must even do as ye will, but here will I abide, whatso may come to hand."

Now Thorbiorn deemed, that this time also his errand was come to nought, and he said,

"Yea, I deemed I knew with what men of hell I had to do; and most like it is that a day or two will pass away ere I come hither again."

"I account that not in the number of my griefs, though thou never comest back," said Grettir.

Now the carline lay in the stern, with clothes heaped up about and over her, and with that she moved, and said,

"Brave will these men be, and luckless withal; far hast thou outdone them in manliness; thou biddest them choice of many goodly things, but they say nay to all, and few things lead surer to ill, than not to know how to take good. Now this I cast over thee, Grettir, that thou be left of all health, wealth, and good-hap, all good heed and wisdom: yea, and that the more, the longer thou livest; good hope I have, Grettir, that thy days of gladness shall be fewer here in time to come than in the time gone by."

Now when Grettir heard these words, he was astonied withal, and said, "What fiend is there in the boat with them?"

"Illugi answers, "I deem that it will be the carline, Thorbiorn's foster-mother."

"Curses on the witch-wight!" says Grettir, "nought worse could have been looked for; at no words have I shuddered like as I shuddered at those words she spake; and well I wot that from her, and her foul cunning, some evil will be brought on us; yet shall she have some token to mind her that she has sought us here."

Therewithal he caught up a marvellous great stone, and cast it down on to the boat, and it smote that clothes-heap; and a longer stone-throw was that than Thorbiorn deemed any man might make; but therewithal a great shriek arose, for the stone had smitten the carline's thigh, and broken it.

Then said Illugi, "I would thou hadst not done that!"

"Blame me not therefor," said Grettir, "I fear me the stroke has been too little, for certes not overmuch weregild were paid for the twain of us, though the price should be one carline's life."

"Must she alone be paid?" said Illugi, "little enough then will be laid down for us twain."

Now Thorbiorn got him gone homeward, with no greetings at parting. But he said to the carline,

"Now have matters gone as I thought, that a journey of little glory thou shouldst make to the island; thou hast got maimed, and honour is no nigher to us than before, yea, we must have bootless shame on bootless shame."

She answered, "This will be the springing of ill-hap to them; and I deem that henceforth they are on the wane; neither do I fear if I live, but that I shall have revenge for this deed they have thus done me."

"Stiff is thine heart, meseems, foster-mother," said Thorbiorn. With that they came home, but the carline was laid in her bed, and abode there nigh a month; by then was the hurt thigh-bone grown together again, and she began to be afoot once more.

Great laughter men made at that journey of Thorbiorn and the carline, and deemed he had been often enow out-played in his dealings with Grettir: first, at the Spring-Thing in the peace handselling; next, when Haering was lost, and now again, this third time, when the carline's thigh-bone was broken, and no stroke had been played against these from his part. But great shame and grief had Thorbiorn Angle from all these words.


80.   Spell continues to work
One evening they all went to bed, and about midnight Grettir began to toss about. Illugi asked him why he was so restless. Grettir said his leg was hurting him and he thought there must be some change in its appearance. They fetched a light, unbound the wound and found it swollen and blue as coal. It had opened again and was much worse than at first. He had much pain after that and could not keep quiet, nor would any sleep come to his eyes.

Grettir said: "We must be prepared for it. This illness of mine is not for nothing; there is witchcraft in it. The old woman has meant to punish me for the stone which I threw at her." Illugi said: "I told you that no good would come of that old woman."

"It will be all the same in the end," said Grettir, and spoke a verse:


"Often when men have threatened my life
I have known to defend it against the foe:
but now 'tis a woman has done me to death.
Truly the spells of the wicked are mighty."


"Now we must be on the watch; Thorbjorn Angle will not leave it to end here. You, Glaum, must in future guard the ladder every day and pull it up in the evening. Do this trustily, for much depends thereon. If you betray us your end will be a short one."

Glaum promised most faithfully. The weather now became severe. A north-easterly wind set in and it was very cold. Every evening Grettir asked if the ladder was drawn in.

"Are we now to look for men?" said Glaum. "Is any man so anxious to take your life that he will lose his own for it? This weather is much worse than impossible. Your warlike mood seems to have left you utterly if you think that everything is coming to kill you."

"You will always bear yourself worse than either of us," said Grettir, "whatever happens. But now you must mind the ladder however unwilling you may be."

They drove him out every morning, much to his disgust. The pain of the wound increased, and the whole leg was swollen; the thigh began to fester both above and below the wound, which spread all round, and Grettir thought he was likely to die. Illugi sat with him night and day, paying no heed to anything else. They were now in the second week of his illness.


81.   Now wore away the time of autumn till it wanted but three weeks of winter; then the carline bade bear her to the sea-shore. Thorbiorn asked what she would there.

"Little is my errand, yet maybe," she says, "it is a foreboding of greater tidings."

Now was it done as she bade, and when she came down to the strand, she went limping along by the sea, as if she were led thereto, unto a place where lay before her an uprooted tree, as big as a man might bear on his shoulder. She looked at the tree and bade them turn it over before her eyes, and on one side it was as if singed and rubbed; so there whereas it was rubbed she let cut a little flat space; and then she took her knife and cut runes on the root, and made them red with her blood, and sang witch-words over them; then she went backwards and widdershins round about the tree, and cast over it many a strong spell; thereafter she let thrust the tree forth into the sea, and spake in such wise over it, that it should drive out to Drangey, and that Grettir should have all hurt therefrom that might be. Thereafter she went back home to Woodwick; and Thorbiorn said that he knew not if that would come to aught; but the carline answered that he should wot better anon.

Now the wind blew landward up the firth, yet the carline's root went in the teeth of the wind, and belike it sailed swifter than might have been looked for of it.

Grettir abode in Drangey with his fellows as is aforesaid, and in good case they were; but the day after the carline had wrought her witch-craft on the tree the brothers went down below the cliffs searching for firewood, so when they came to the west of the island, there they found that tree drifted ashore.

Then said Illugi, "A big log of firewood, kinsman, let us bear it home."

Grettir kicked it with his foot and said, "An evil tree from evil sent; other firewood than this shall we have."

Therewithal he cast it out into the sea, and bade Illugi beware of bearing it home, "For it is sent us for our ill-hap." And therewith they went unto their abode, and said nought about it to the thrall. But the next day they found the tree again, and it was nigher to the ladders than heretofore; Grettir drave it out to sea, and said that it should never be borne home.

Now the days wore on into summer, and a gale came on with much wet, and the brothers were loth to be abroad, and bade Noise go search for firewood.

He took it ill, and said he was ill served in that he had to drudge and labour abroad in all the foulest weather; but withal he went down to the beach before the ladders and found the carline's tree there, and deemed things had gone well because of it; so he took it up and bore it to the hut, and cast it down thereby with a mighty thump.

Grettir heard it and said, "Noise has got something, so I shall go out and see what it is."

Therewithal he took up a wood-axe, and went out, and straightway Noise said,

"Split it up in as good wise as I have brought it home, then."

Grettir grew short of temper with the thrall, and smote the axe with both hands at the log, nor heeded what tree it was; but as soon as ever the axe touched the wood, it turned flatlings and glanced off therefrom into Grettir's right leg above the knee, in such wise that it stood in the bone, and a great wound was that. Then he looked at the tree and said,

"Now has evil heart prevailed, nor will this hap go alone, since that same tree has now come back to us that I have cast out to sea on these two days. But for thee, Noise, two slips hast thou had, first, when thou must needs let the fire be slaked, and now this bearing home of that tree of ill-hap; but if a third thou hast, thy bane will it be, and the bane of us all."

With that came Illugi and bound up Grettir's hurt, and it bled little, and Grettir slept well that night; and so three nights slipped by in such wise that no pain came of the wound, and when they loosed the swathings, the lips of the wound were come together so that it was well-nigh grown over again. Then said Illugi,

"Belike thou wilt have no long hurt of this wound."

"Well were it then," said Grettir, "but marvellously has this befallen, whatso may come of it; and my mind misgives me of the way things will take."


81.   Thorbjorn again visits Drangey
Thorbjorn Angle was now at home in Vidvik, much put out at not having been able to overcome Grettir. When about a week had passed from the day when the old woman had bewitched the log, she came to speak with Thorbjorn and asked whether he did not mean to visit Grettir. He said there was nothing about which he was more determined.

"But do you wish to meet him, foster-mother?" he asked.

"I have no intention of meeting him," she said; "I have sent him my greeting, which I expect he has received. But I advise you to set off at once and go quickly to see him, otherwise it will not be your fate to overcome him."

He replied: "I have made so many inglorious journeys there that I am not going again. This weather is reason enough; it would not be possible, however pressing it were."

"You are indeed without counsel if you see not through these wiles. Now, I will advise you. First go and collect men; ride to your brother-in-law Halldor in Hof and get help from him. Is it too wild a thing to suppose that I may have to do with this breeze that is now playing?"

Thorbjorn thought it might be that the woman saw further than he supposed, so he sent through the country for men. Answer came very quickly that none of those who had given up their shares would do anything to help him. They said that both the island and the Grettir affair were Thorbjorn's. Tungu-Steinn gave him two men, Hjalti his brother three, Eirik in Guddal sent him one. Of his own he had six. These twelve rode out from Vidvik to Hof, where Halldor invited them to stay and asked their news. Thorbjorn told him everything fully. Halldor asked who had done it all; he said his foster-mother had urged him much.

"That will lead to no good. She is a sorceress, and sorcery is now forbidden."

"I cannot overlook everything," said Thorbjorn; "I am determined that it shall now be brought to an end somehow. But how shall I go to work to get on to the island?"

"It seems to me," said Halldor, "that you are relying upon something, but I know not whether it is anything good. If you want to accomplish anything go out to my friend Bjorn in Haganes in Fljot. He has a good boat; ask him from me to lend it to you, and then you will be able to sail on to Drangey. It seems to me that if you find Grettir well and hearty your journey will have been in vain. One thing know for certain: do not slay him in open fight, for there are enough men to avenge him. Do not slay Illugi if you can help it. I fear that my counsel may not appear altogether Christian."

Halldor then gave him six men; one was named Kar, another Thorleif, the third Brand. The names of the others are not mentioned.

These eighteen men then went to Fljot, reached Haganes, and gave Halldor's message to Bjorn. He said it was his duty to do it for Halldor's sake, but that he was under no obligation to Thorbjorn.

He said it was an insane journey to make, and tried hard to dissuade them. They answered that they could not turn back, so they went down to the sea and launched the boat, which was ready with all her gear in the boat-house. Then they made ready to sail. All those who were standing on the shore thought it impossible to cross. They hoisted the sail and the boat was soon under way, far out in the fjord. When they got right out to sea the weather quieted and was no longer too heavy. In the evening as it was getting dark they reached Drangey.


82.   Now they lay them down that evening, but at midnight Grettir began to tumble about exceedingly. Illugi asked why he was so unquiet. Grettir said that his leg had taken to paining him, "And methinks it is like that some change of hue there be therein."

Then they kindled a light, and when the swathings were undone, the leg showed all swollen and coal-blue, and the wound had broken open, and was far more evil of aspect than at first; much pain there went therewith so that he might not abide at rest in any wise, and never came sleep on his eyes.

Then spake Grettir, "Let us make up our minds to it, that this sickness which I have gotten is not done for nought, for it is of sorcery, and the carline is minded to avenge her of that stone."

Illugi said, "Yea, I told thee that thou wouldst get no good from that hag."

"All will come to one end," said Grettir, and sang this song withal


"Doubtful played the foredoomed fate
Round the sword in that debate,
When the bearserks' outlawed crew,
In the days of yore I slew.
Screamed the worm of clashing lands
When Hiarandi dropped his hands
Biorn and Gunnar cast away,
Hope of dwelling in the day.



"Home again then travelled I;
The broad-boarded ship must lie,
Under Door-holm, as I went,
Still with weapon play content,
Through the land; and there the thane
Called me to the iron rain,
Bade me make the spear-storm rise,
Torfi Vebrandson the wise.



"To such plight the Skald was brought,
Wounder of the walls of thought,
Howsoever many men
Stood, all armed, about us then,
That his hand that knew the oar,
Grip of sword might touch no more;
Yet to me the wound who gave
Did he give a horse to have.



"Thorbiorn Arnor's son, men said,
Of no great deed was afraid,
Folk spake of him far and wide;
He forbade me to abide
Longer on the lovely earth;
Yet his heart was little worth,
Not more safe alone was I,
Than when armed he drew anigh.



"From the sword's edge and the spears
From my many waylayers,
While might was, and my good day,
Often did I snatch away;
Now a hag, whose life outworn
Wicked craft and ill hath borne,



Meet for death lives long enow,
Grettir's might to overthrow."


"Now must we take good heed to ourselves," said Grettir, "for Thorbiorn Angle must be minded that this hap shall not go alone; and I will, Noise, that thou watch the ladders every day from this time forth, but pull them up in the evening, and see thou do it well and truly, even as though much lay thereon, but if thou bewrayest us, short will be thy road to ill."

So Noise promised great things concerning this. Now the weather grew harder, and a north-east wind came on with great cold: every night Grettir asked if the ladders were drawn up.

Then said Noise, "Yea, certainly! men are above all things to be looked for now. Can any man have such a mind to take thy life, that he will do so much as to slay himself therefor? for this gale is far other than fair; lo now, methinks thy so great bravery and hardihood has come utterly to an end, if thou must needs think that all things soever will be thy bane."

"Worse wilt thou bear thyself than either of us," said Grettir, "when the need is on us; but now go watch the ladders, whatsoever will thou hast thereto."

So every morning they drave him out, and ill he bore it.

But Grettir's hurt waxed in such wise that all the leg swelled up, and the thigh began to gather matter both above and below, and the lips of the wound were all turned out, so that Grettir's death was looked for.

Illugi sat over him night and day, and took heed to nought else, and by then it was the second week since Grettir hurt himself.


82.   Last battle -- death of Grettir and Illugi
It has now to be told how Grettir became so ill that he could not stand on his feet. Illugi sat with him and Glaum had to hold watch. He still continued to object, and said they might think their lives were going to fall out of them, but there was no reason for it. He went out, but most unwillingly. When he came to the ladder he said to himself that there was no need to draw it up. He felt very sleepy, lay down and slept all day, and did not wake until Thorbjorn reached the island. They saw then that the ladder was not drawn up. Thorbjorn said: "The situation has changed from what it used to be; there are no men moving about, and the ladder is in its place. It may be that more will come of our journey than we expected at first. Now let us go to the hut and not let our courage slacken. If they are well we may know for certain that there will be need for each to do his very best."

They went up the ladder, looked round and saw close to the ascent a man lying and snoring aloud. Thorbjorn recognised Glaum, went up to the rascal and told him to wake up, striking his ear with the hilt of his sword and saying: "Truly he is in a bad case whose life is entrusted to your keeping."

Glaum looked up and said: "They are going on as usual. Do you think my freedom such a great thing while I am lying here in the cold?"

Angle said: "Have you lost your wits? Don't you see that your enemies are upon you and about to kill you all?"

Glaum said nothing, but on recognising the men cried out as loud as he could.

"Do one thing or the other," said Angle; "either be silent this moment and tell me all about your household, or be killed."

Glaum was as silent as if he had been dipped in water.

Thorbjorn said: "Are the brothers in the hut? Why are they not about?"

"That would not be so easy," said Glaum, "for Grettir is sick and nigh to death and Illugi is sitting with him."

Thorbjorn asked about his condition, and what had happened. Then Glaum told him all about Grettir's wound.

Angle laughed and said: "True is the ancient saying that Old friends are the last to break away, and also this, that It is ill to have a thrall for your friend--such a one as you, Glaum! You have shamefully betrayed your liege lord, though there was little good in him."

Then the others cast reproaches at him for his villainy; they beat him almost helpless and left him lying there. Then they went on to the hut and knocked violently at the door.

Illugi said: "Greybelly is knocking at the door, brother."

"He is knocking rather loud," said Grettir; "most unmercifully." Then the door broke in pieces. Illugi rushed to his arms and defended the door so that they could not get in. They assailed it long, but could get nothing in but the points of their spears, all of which Illugi severed from their shafts. Seeing that they could do nothing, they sprang on to the roof and began to break it in. Then Grettir got on to his feet, seized a spear and thrust it between the rafters. It struck Kar, Halldor's man from Hof, and went right through him. Angle told them to go to work warily and be careful of themselves. "We shall only overcome them," he said, "if we act with caution."

Then they laid open the end of one of the timbers and bore upon it until it broke. Grettir was unable to rise from his knees, but he seized the sword Karsnaut at the moment when they all sprang in from the roof, and a mighty fray began. Grettir struck with his sword at Vikar, a man of Hjalti the son of Thord, reaching his left shoulder as he sprang from the roof. It passed across his shoulder, out under his right arm, and cut him right in two. His body fell in two parts on the top of Grettir and prevented him from recovering his sword as quickly as he wished, so that Thorbjorn Angle was able to wound him severely between the shoulders. Grettir said: "Bare is his back who has no brother!"

Illugi threw his shield before Grettir and defended him so valiantly that all men praised his prowess.

Grettir said to Angle: "Who showed you the way to the island?"

"Christ showed us the way," he said.

"I guess," said Grettir, "that it was the wicked old woman, your foster-mother, who showed you; hers were the counsels that you relied upon."

"It shall now be all the same to you," said Angle, "upon whom I relied."

They returned to the attack; Illugi defended himself and Grettir courageously, but Grettir was unfit for fighting, partly from his wounds, partly from his illness. Angle then ordered them to bear Illugi down with their shields, saying he had never met with his like amongst older men than he. They did so, and pressed upon him with a wall of armour against which resistance was impossible. They took him prisoner and kept him. He had wounded most of those who were attacking him and killed three. Then they went for Grettir, who had fallen forward on his face. There was no resistance in him for he was already dead from his wounded leg; his thigh was all mortified up to the rectum. Many more wounds they gave him, but little or no blood flowed.

When they thought he was quite dead Angle took hold of his sword, saying he had borne it long enough, but Grettir's fingers were so tightly locked around the hilt that he could not loosen them. Many tried before they gave it up, eight of them in turn, but all failed. Angle then said: "Why should we spare a forest-man? Lay his hand upon the log."

They did so, and he hewed off the hand at the wrist. Then the fingers straightened and were loosed from the hilt. Angle took his sword in both hands and hewed at Grettir's head. So mighty was the blow that the sword could not hold against it, and a piece was broken out of the edge. When asked why he spoilt a good weapon, he replied: "It will be more easily known if there be any question."

They said this was unnecessary, as the man was dead before. "I will do more," he said, and struck two or three blows at Grettir's neck before he took off his head. Then he said:

"Now I know for certain that Grettir is dead; a great man of war have we laid even with the earth. We will take his head with us, for I have no wish to lose the money which was put upon it. There shall not be any doubt that it was I who slew Grettir."

They said he might do as he pleased, but they felt much disgusted, and thought his conduct contemptible.

Then Angle said to Illugi: "It is a great pity that a man so valiant as you should have committed such a folly as to cast in your lot with this outlaw and follow his evil ways, at last to die unatoned."

Illugi answered: "When the All-Thing is over next summer you shall know who are outlawed. Neither you nor the woman, your foster-mother, shall judge this case, for it is your spells and sorcery that have killed Grettir, though you bore your iron weapons against him when he was at the door of death. Many a base deed did you do over and above your witchcraft."

Angle said: "You speak bravely, but it shall not be so. I will show how I value you by sparing your life if you will swear by your honour to take no vengeance upon any person who has been with us on this occasion."

"I might have thought of it," he said, "if Grettir had been able to defend himself or if you had killed him in honourable battle. But now you need not hope that I will try to save my life by becoming a poltroon like you. I tell you at once that if I live no man shall be more burdensome to you than I. Long will it be before I forget how you have dealt with Grettir; far sooner will I choose to die."

Then Thorbjorn consulted with his companions whether they should allow Illugi to live. They said he should decide their doings himself, as he was the leader of the expedition. Angle said he was not going to have a man threatening his head who would not promise to hold faith. When Illugi knew that they intended to slay him he laughed and said: "Now you have resolved upon that which was nearest to my heart."

When the day broke they led him to the eastern side of the island and there slew him. All praised his courage, and said there was no man of his years who was like him. They buried both the brothers in the island, but took Grettir's head with all weapons and clothes which had any value away with them. His good sword Angle would not allow to come amongst the spoils for division, but bore it long himself. They took Glaum with them, still complaining and resisting. The weather had calmed down in the night, and in the morning they rowed to the mainland. Angle sailed for the most convenient place, and sent the ship on to Bjorn. When they came near to Osland, Glaum became so obstreperous that they refused to carry him any further and slew him there where he was, crying as loud as he could until he was killed. Angle went home to Vidvik and considered that on this journey he had been successful. They laid Grettir's head in salt and put it for the winter in the out-house called Grettisbur in Vidvik. Angle was much blamed for this affair when men came to know that Grettir had been overcome by sorcery. He remained quietly at home till after Yule. Then he went to seek Thorir in Gard and told him of the slayings, adding that he considered that he had a right to the money which had been put on Grettir's head.

Thorir said that he would not deny that he had brought about Grettir's sentence. "I have often suffered wrong from him; but I would not to take his life have become an evil-doer as you have done. I will not pay the money to you, for you seem to me as one who will be doomed to death for magic and witchcraft."

Angle said: "I think it is much more avarice and meanness on your part than any scruples about the way in which Grettir was killed."

Thorir said there was an easy way of settling it between them; they need only wait for the All-Thing and accept what seemed right to the Lawman. They then parted with nothing but ill-feeling between Thorir and Thorbjorn Angle.


83.   Thorbiorn Angle sat this while at home at Woodwick, and was ill-content in that he might not win Grettir; but when a certain space had passed since the carline had put the sorcery into the root, she comes to talk with Thorbiorn, and asks if he were not minded to go see Grettir. He answers, that to nought was his mind so made up as that he would not go; "perchance thou wilt go meet him, foster-mother," says Thorbiorn.

"Nay, I shall not go meet-him," says the carline; "but I have sent my greeting to him, and some hope I have that it has come home to him; and good it seems to me that thou go speedily to meet him, or else shalt thou never have such good hap as to overcome him."

Thorbiorn answered: "So many shameful journeys have I made thither, that there I go not ever again; moreover that alone is full enough to stay me, that such foul weather it is, that it is safe to go nowhither, whatso the need may be."

She answered: "Ill counselled thou art, not to see how to overcome herein. Now yet once again will I lay down a rede for this; go thou first and get thee strength of men, and ride to Hof to Halldor thy brother-in-law, and take counsel of him. But if I may rule in some way how Grettir's health goes, how shall it be said that it is past hope that I may also deal with the gale that has been veering about this while?"

Thorbiorn deemed it might well be that the carline saw further than he had thought she might, and straightway sent up into the country-side for men; but speedy answer there came that none of those who had given up their shares would do aught to ease his task, and they said that Thorbiorn should have to himself both the owning of the island and the onset on Grettir. But Tongue-Stein gave him two of his followers, and Hialti, his brother, sent him three men, and Eric of God-dales one, and from his own homestead he had six. So the twelve of them ride from Woodwick out to Hof. Halldor bade them abide there, and asked their errand; then Thorbiorn told it as clearly as might be. Halldor asked whose rede this might be, and Thorbiorn said that his foster-mother urged him much thereto.

"That will bear no good," said Halldor, "because she is cunning in sorcery, and such-like things are now forbidden."

"I may not look closely into all these matters before-hand," said Thorbiorn, "but in somewise or other shall this thing have an end if I may have my will. Now, how shall I go about it, so that I may come to the island?"

"Meseems," says Halldor, "that thou trustest in somewhat, though I wot not how good that may be. But now if thou wilt go forward with it, go thou out to Meadness in the Fleets to Biorn my friend; a good keel he has, so tell him of my word, that I would he should lend you the craft, and thence ye may sail out to Drangey. But the end of your journey I see not, if Grettir is sound and hale: yea, and be thou sure that if ye win him not in manly wise, he leaves enough of folk behind to take up the blood-suit after him. And slay not Illugi if ye may do otherwise. But methinks I see that all is not according to Christ's law in these redes."

Then Halldor gave them six men withal for their journey; one was called Karr, another Thorleif, and a third Brand, but the rest are not named.

So they fared thence, eighteen in company, out to the Fleets, and came to Meadness and gave Biorn Halldor's message, he said that it was but due for Halldor's sake, but that he owed nought to Thorbiorn; withal it seemed to him that they went on a mad journey, and he let them from it all he might.

They said they might not turn back, and so went down to the sea, and put forth the craft, and all its gear was in the boat-stand hard by; so they made them ready for sailing, and foul enow the weather seemed to all who stood on land. But they hoisted sail, and the craft shot swiftly far into the firth, but when they came out into the main part thereof into deep water, the wind abated in such wise that they deemed it blew none too hard.

So in the evening at dusk they came to Drangey.


83.   Thorbjorn visits Grettir's mother at Bjarg
The kinsmen of Grettir and Illugi were deeply grieved when they heard of their death. They held that Angle had done a dastardly deed in slaying a man at the point of death, and they also accused him of practising sorcery. They applied to the most learned men, and Angle's case was ill-spoken of.

Four weeks after the beginning of summer he rode Westwards to Midfjord. When Asdis heard of his being in the neighbourhood she gathered her men around her. She had many friends, Gamli and Glum, Skeggi, called Short-hand, and Ospak, who was mentioned before. So much beloved was she that the whole of Midfjord rose to help her, even those who had once been Grettir's enemies. Chief among these was Thorodd Drapustuf, who was joined by most of the Hrutafjord men.

Angle reached Bjarg with a following of twenty men, bringing Grettir's head with him. All those who had promised their support had not yet come in. Angle's party entered the room with the head and set it on the floor. The mistress of the house was there and several others; no greeting passed between them. Angle spoke a verse:


"Grettir's head I bring thee here.
Weep for the red-haired hero, lady.
On the floor it lies; 'twere rotten by this,
but I laid it in salt. Great glory is mine."


She sat silent while he spoke his verse; then she said:


"The swine would have fled like sheep from the fox
if Grettir had stood there hearty and strong.
Shame on the deeds that were done in the North!
Little the glory you gain from my lay."


Many said it was small wonder that she had brave sons, so brave was she herself before the insults which she had received. Ospak was outside and was talking with those of Angle's men who had not gone in. He asked about the fray, and they all praised Illugi for the defence that he had made. They also told of Grettir's firm grip on his sword after he was dead, and the men thought it marvellous. Then a number of men were seen riding from the West; they were the friends of Asdis with Gamli and Skeggi, who had come from Melar.

Angle had intended to have an execution against Illugi and to claim all his property, but when all these men came up he saw that it would not do. Ospak and Gamli were very forward in wanting to fight with Angle, but the wiser heads told them to get the advice of their kinsmen Thorvald and other chiefs, and said that the more men of knowledge occupied themselves with the affair the worse it would be for Angle. Through their intervention Angle got away and took with him Grettir's head, which he intended to produce at the All-Thing. He rode home thinking that matters were going badly for him, for nearly all the chiefs in the land were either relations or connections of Grettir and Illugi.

That summer Skeggi Short-hand married the daughter of Thorodd Drapustuf, who then took part in the case on the side of Grettir's kinsmen.


84.   Now it is to be told, that Grettir was so sick, that he might not stand on his feet, but Illugi sat beside him, and Noise was to keep watch and ward; and many words he had against that, and said that they would still think that life was falling from them, though nought had happed to bring it about; so he went out from their abode right unwillingly, and when he came to the ladders he spake to himself and said that now he would not draw them up; withal he grew exceeding sleepy, and lay down and slept all day long, and right on till Thorbiorn came to the island.

So now they see that the ladders are not drawn up; then spake Thorbiorn, "Now are things changed from what the wont was, in that there are none afoot, and their ladder stands in its place withal; maybe more things will betide in this our journey than we had thought of in the beginning: but now let us hasten to the hut, and let no man lack courage; for, wot this well, that if these men are hale, each one of us must needs do his best."

Then they went up on to the island, and looked round about, and saw where a man lay a little space off the landing-place, and snored hard and fast. Therewith Thorbiorn knew Noise, and went up to him and drave the hilt of his sword against the ear of him, and bade him, "Wake up, beast! certes in evil stead is he who trusts his life to thy faith and troth."

Noise looked up thereat and said, "Ah! now are they minded to go on according to their wont; do ye, may-happen, think my freedom too great, though I lie out here in the cold?"

"Art thou witless," said Angle, "that thou seest not that thy foes are come upon thee, and will slay you all?"

Then Noise answered nought, but yelled out all he might, when he knew the men who they were.

"Do one thing or other," says Angle, "either hold thy peace forthwith, and tell us of your abode, or else be slain of us."

Thereat was Noise as silent as if he had been thrust under water; but Thorbiorn said, "Are they at their hut, those brothers? Why are they not afoot?"

"Scarce might that be," said Noise, "for Grettir is sick and come nigh to his death, and Illugi sits over him."

Then Angle asked how it was with their health, and what things had befallen. So Noise told him in what wise Grettir's hurt had come about.

Then Angle laughed and said, "Yea, sooth is the old saw, Old friends are the last to sever; and this withal, Ill if a thrall is thine only friend, whereso thou art, Noise; for shamefully hast thou bewrayed thy master, albeit he was nought good."

Then many laid evil things to his charge for his ill faith, and beat him till he was well-nigh past booting for, and let him lie there; but they went up to the hut and smote mightily on the door.

"Pied-belly is knocking hard at the door, brother," says Illugi.

"Yea, yea, hard, and over hard," says Grettir; and therewithal the door brake asunder.

Then sprang Illugi to his weapons and guarded the door, in such wise that there was no getting in for them. Long time they set on him there, and could bring nought against him save spear-thrusts, and still Illugi smote all the spear-heads from the shafts. But when they saw that they might thus bring nought to pass, they leapt up on to the roof of the hut, and tore off the thatch; then Grettir got to his feet and caught up a spear, and thrust out betwixt the rafters; but before that stroke was Karr, a home-man of Halldor of Hof, and forthwithal it pierced him through.

Then spoke Angle, and bade men fare warily and guard themselves well, "for we may prevail against them if we follow wary redes."

So they tore away the thatch from the ends of the ridge-beam, and bore on the beam till it brake asunder.

Now Grettir might not rise from his knee, but he caught up the short-sword, Karr's-loom, and even therewith down leapt those men in betwixt the walls, and a hard fray befell betwixt them. Grettir smote with the short-sword at Vikar, one of the followers of Hialti Thordson, and caught him on the left shoulder, even as he leapt in betwixt the walls, and cleft him athwart the shoulder down unto the right side, so that the man fell asunder, and the body so smitten atwain tumbled over on to Grettir, and for that cause he might not heave aloft the short-sword as speedily as he would, and therewith Thorbiorn Angle thrust him betwixt the shoulders, and great was that wound he gave.

Then cried Grettir, "Bare is the back of the brotherless." And Illugi threw his shield over Grettir, and warded him in so stout a wise that all men praised his defence.

Then said Grettir to Angle, "Who then showed thee the way here to the island?"

Said Angle, "The Lord Christ showed it us."

"Nay," said Grettir, "but I guess that the accursed hag, thy foster-mother, showed it thee, for in her redes must thou needs have trusted."

"All shall be one to thee now," said Angle, "in whomsoever I have put my trust."

Then they set on them fiercely, and Illugi made defence for both in most manly wise; but Grettir was utterly unmeet for fight, both for his wounds' sake and for his sickness. So Angle bade bear down Illugi with shields, "For never have I met his like, amongst men of such age."

Now thus they did, besetting him with beams and weapons till he might ward himself no longer; and then they laid hands on him, and so held him fast. But he had given some wound or other to the more part of those who had been at the onset, and had slain outright three of Angle's fellows.

Thereafter they went up to Grettir, but he was fallen forward on to his face, and no defence there was of him, for that he was already come to death's door by reason of the hurt in his leg, for all the thigh was one sore, even up to the small guts; but there they gave him many a wound, yet little or nought he bled.

So when they thought he was dead, Angle laid hold of the short-sword, and said that he had carried it long enough; but Grettir's fingers yet kept fast hold of the grip thereof, nor could the short-sword be loosened; many went up and tried at it, but could get nothing done therewith; eight of them were about it before the end, but none the more might bring it to pass.

Then said Angle, "Why should we spare this wood-man here? lay his hand on the block."

So when that was done they smote off his hand at the wrist, and the fingers straightened, and were loosed from the handle. Then Angle took the short-sword in both hands and smote at Grettir's head, and a right great stroke that was, so that the short-sword might not abide it, and a shard was broken from the midst of the edge thereof; and when men saw that, they asked why he must needs spoil a fair thing in such wise.

But Angle answered, "More easy is it to know that weapon now if it should be asked for."

They said it needed not such a deed since the man was dead already.

"Ah! but yet more shall be done," said Angle, and hewed therewith twice or thrice at Grettir's neck, or ever the head came off; and then he spake,

"Now know I for sure that Grettir is dead."

In such wise Grettir lost his life, the bravest man of all who have dwelt in Iceland; he lacked but one winter of forty-five years whenas he was slain; but he was fourteen winters old when he slew Skeggi, his first man-slaying; and from thenceforth all things turned to his fame, till the time when he dealt with Glam, the Thrall; and in those days was he of twenty winters-; but when he fell into outlawry, he was twenty-five years old; but in outlawry was he nigh nineteen winters, and full oft was he the while in great trials of men; and such as his life was, and his needs, he held well to his faith and troth, and most haps did he foresee, though he might do nought to meet them.


84.   Thorbjorn is exiled at the Thing
Men now rode to the Thing. Angle's party was smaller than he had expected, because the matter had come to be badly spoken of. Halldor asked whether they were to take Grettir's head with them to the All-Thing. Angle said he meant to take it.

"That is an ill-advised thing to do," said Halldor; "there are quite enough men against you as it is, without your doing such a thing as that to re-awaken their grief."

They were then on the road, and meant to ride South by Sand, so Angle let him take the head and bury it in a sand-hill, which is now called Grettisthuf.

The Thing was very full. Angle brought forward his case, making the most of his own deeds. He told them how he had killed the forest-man on whose head the highest price had been laid, and he claimed the money. Thorir replied as before. Then the Lawman was asked for his opinion. He said that he wished to hear whether any counter-charge was made, by which Angle should forfeit the outlaw money; if not, the money offered for Grettir's head must be paid. Then Thorvald the son of Asgeir asked Short-hand to bring the case before the court, and he declared a first summons against Thorbjorn Angle for witchcraft and sorcery through which Grettir had met with his death, and a second for having killed a man who was half dead, crimes which he said were punishable with outlawry.

There was a great division of parties, but those who supported Thorbjorn were few. It went very unexpectedly for him, for Thorvald and his son-in-law Isleif held that to do a man to death by sorcery was a crime worthy of death. Finally, by the counsel of wise men sentence was passed that Thorbjorn was to leave Iceland that summer and not to return during the lifetime of any of the men concerned in the case on the side of Illugi and Grettir. It was enacted as a law that all sorcerers should be outlawed.

When Thorbjorn saw what his fate was going to be he got away from the Thing, for Grettir's friends were making preparations to attack him. None of the money that was set upon Grettir's head did he get; Steinn the Lawman would not allow it because of his dishonourable conduct; nor was any blood-money paid for the men who had fallen on his side in Drangey; they were set off against Illugi, an arrangement, however, with which Illugi's kinsmen were not at all pleased.

Men rode home from the Thing, and all the feuds which had arisen on Grettir's account were now at an end. Skeggi the son of Gamli, son-in-law of Thorodd Drapustuf and sister's son of Grettir, went North to Skagafjord with the assistance of Thorvald Asgeirsson and of his son-in-law Isleif, who afterwards became bishop of Skalaholt. After obtaining the consent of the whole community he took ship and went to Drangey, where he found the bodies of Grettir and Illugi and brought them to Reykir in Reykjastrand and buried them in the church. Testimony of Grettir lying there is in the fact that in the days of the Sturlungs, when the church at Reykir was moved to another place, Grettir's bones were dug up, and were found to be enormously big and strong. Illugi was buried later on the north side of the church, and Grettir's head was buried in the church at his home in Bjarg.

Asdis remained in Bjarg and was so beloved that no one molested her any more than they did while Grettir was an outlaw. The property at Bjarg passed after her death to Skeggi Short-hand, who became a great man. His son was Gamli, the father of Skeggi of Skarfsstad and of Alfdis the mother of Odd the Monk, from whom many are descended.


85.   "A great champion have we laid to earth here," said Thorbiorn; "now shall we bring the head aland with us, for I will not lose the money which has been laid thereon; nor may they then feign that they know not if I have slain Grettir."

They bade him do his will, but had few words to say hereon, for to all the deed seemed a deed of little prowess.

Then Angle fell to speaking with Illugi,

"Great scathe it is of such a brave man as thou art, that thou hast fallen to such folly, as to betake thee to ill deeds with this outlaw here, and must needs lie slain and unatoned therefore."

Illugi answered, "Then first when the Althing is over this summer, wilt thou know who are outlaws; but neither thou nor the carline, thy foster-mother, will judge in this matter, because that your sorcery and craft of old days have slain Grettir, though thou didst, indeed, bear steel against him, as he lay at death's door, and wrought that so great coward's deed there, over and above thy sorcery."

Then said Angle, "In manly wise speakest thou, but not thus will it be; and I will show thee that I think great scathe in thy death, for thy life will I give thee if thou wilt swear an oath for us here, to avenge thyself on none of those who have been in this journey."

Illugi said, "That might I have deemed a thing to talk about, if Grettir had been suffered to defend himself, and ye had won him with manliness and hardihood; but now nowise is it to be thought, that I will do so much for the keeping of my life, as to become base, even as thou art: and here I tell thee, once for all, that no one of men shall be of less gain to thee than I, if I live; for long will it be or ever I forget how ye have prevailed against Grettir.Yea, much rather do I choose to die."

Then Thorbiorn Angle held talk with his fellows, whether they should let Illugi live or not; they said that, whereas he had ruled the journey, so should he rule the deeds; so Angle said that he knew not how to have that man hanging over his head, who would neither give troth, nor promise aught.

But when Illugi knew that they were fully minded to slay him, he laughed, and spake thus,

"Yea, now have your counsels sped, even as my heart would."

So at the dawning of the day they brought him to the eastern end of the island, and there slaughtered him; but all men praised his great heart, and deemed him unlike to any of his age.

They laid both the brothers in cairn on the island there; and thereafter took Grettir's head, and bore it away with them, and whatso goods there were in weapons or clothes; but the good short-sword Angle would not put into the things to be shared, and he bare it himself long afterwards. Noise they took with them, and he bore himself as ill as might be.

At nightfall the gale abated, and they rowed aland in the morning. Angle took land at the handiest place, and sent the craft out to Biorn; but by then they were come hard by Oyce-land, Noise began to bear himself so ill, that they were loth to fare any longer with him, so there they slew him, and long and loud he greeted or ever he was cut down.

Thorbiorn Angle went home to Woodwick, and deemed he had done in manly wise in this journey; but Grettir's head they laid in salt in the out-bower at Woodwick, which was called therefrom Grettir's-bower; and there it lay the winter long. But Angle was exceeding ill thought of for this work of his, as soon as folk knew that Grettir had been overcome by sorcery.

Thorbiorn Angle sat quiet till past Yule; then he rode to meet Thorir of Garth, and told him of these slayings; and this withal, that he deemed that money his due which had been put on Grettir's head. Thorir said that he might not hide that he had brought about Grettir's outlawry,

"Yea, and oft have I dealt hardly with him, yet so much for the taking of his life I would not have done, as to make me a misdoer, a man of evil craft, even as thou hast done; and the less shall I lay down that money for thee, in that I deem thee surely to be a man of forfeit life because of thy sorcery and wizard-craft."

Thorbiorn Angle answers, "Meseems thou art urged hereto more by closefistedness and a poor mind, than by any heed of how Grettir was won."

Thorir said that a short way they might make of it, in that they should abide the Althing, and take whatso the Lawman might deem most rightful: and in such wise they parted that there was no little ill-will betwixt Thorir and Thorbiorn Angle.


85.   Thorbjorn goes to Norway and Constantinople
Thorbjorn Angle embarked at Gasar with as much of his own property as he was able to get. His lands went to his brother Hjalti, including Drangey, which Angle gave him. Hjalti became a great chief later on, but is not mentioned again in our story.

Angle went to Norway and still made himself very important. He was supposed to have done a great deed of valour in slaying Grettir, and many who did not know how it really happened honoured him accordingly; but there were some to whom Grettir's fame was known. He only told so much of the story as tended to his own glory, but whatever was less creditable to him he omitted. In the autumn his account reached Tunsberg and came to the ears of Thorsteinn Dromund, who kept very quiet, for he had been told that Angle was a very doughty man and valiant. He remembered the talk which he had had with Grettir in days long past about his arms, and obtained news of Angle's movements. They were both in Norway that winter, but Thorbjorn was in the North and Thorsteinn in Tunsberg, so that they did not see each other. Angle knew, however, that Grettir had a brother in Norway, and did not feel very secure in a strange country; so he asked advice as to what he had better do. In those days many of the Norsemen used to go to Mikligard to take service. Thorbjorn thought it would suit him very well to go there and earn wealth and glory instead of staying in the northern parts where there were relations of Grettir. So he made ready to leave Norway, embarked, and did not stop until he reached Constantinople, and obtained service there.


86.   The kin of Grettir and Illugi were exceeding ill-content when they heard of these slayings, and they so looked on matters as deeming that Angle had wrought a shameful deed in slaying a man at death's door; and that, besides that, he had become guilty of sorcery. They sought the counsel of the wisest men, and everywhere was Angle's work ill spoken of. As for him, he rode to Midfirth, when it lacked four weeks of summer; and when his ways were heard of, Asdis gathered men to her, and there came many of her friends: Gamli and Glum, her brothers-in-law, and their sons, Skeggi, who was called the Short-handed, and Uspak, who is aforesaid. Asdis was so well befriended, that all the Midfirthers came to aid her; yea, even those who were aforetime foes to Grettir; and the first man there was Thorod Drapa-Stump, and the more part of the Ramfirthers.

Now Angle came to Biarg with twenty men, and had Grettir's head with him; but not all those had come yet who had promised aid to Asdis; so Angle and his folk went into the chamber with the head, and set it down on the floor; the goodwife was there in the chamber, and many men with her; nor did it come to greetings on either side; but Angle sang this stave


"A greedy head I bring with me
Up from the borders of the sea;
Now may the needle-pliers weep,
The red-haired outlaw lies asleep;
Gold-bearer, cast adown thine eyes,
And see how on the pavement lies,
The peace-destroying head brought low,
That but for salt had gone ere now."


The goodwife sat silent when he gave forth the stave, and thereafter she sang


"O thou poor wretch, as sheep that flee
To treacherous ice when wolves they see,
So in the waves would ye have drowned
Your shame and fear, had ye but found
That steel-god hale upon the isle:
Now heavy shame, woe worth the while!
Hangs over the north country-side,
Nor I my loathing care to hide."


Then many said that it was nought wonderful, though she had brave sons, so brave as she herself was, amid such grief of heart as was brought on her.

Uspak was without, and held talk with such of Angle's folk as had not gone in, and asked concerning the slayings; and all men praised Illugi's defence; and they told withal how fast Grettir had held the short-sword after he was dead, and marvellous that seemed to men.

Amidst these things were seen many men riding from the west, and thither were coming many friends of the goodwife, with Gamli and Skeggi west from Meals.

Now Angle had been minded to take out execution after Illugi, for he and his men claimed all his goods; but when that crowd of men came up, Angle saw that he might do nought therein, but Gamli and Uspak were of the eagerest, and were fain to set on Angle; but those who were wisest bade them take the rede of Thorwald their kinsman, and the other chief men, and said that worse would be deemed of Angle's case the more wise men sat in judgment over it; then such truce there was that Angle rode away, having Grettir's head with him, because he was minded to bear it to the Althing.

So he rode home, and thought matters looked heavy enough, because well-nigh all the chief men of the land were either akin to Grettir and Illugi, or tied to them and theirs by marriage: that summer, moreover, Skeggi the Short-handed took to wife the daughter of Thorod Drapa-Stump, and therewithal Thorod joined Grettir's kin in these matters.


86.   Grettir's death avenged by his brother Thorsteinn Dromund
Thorsteinn Dromund was a wealthy man and highly thought of. On hearing of Angle's departure to Constantinople he handed over his property to his kinsmen and followed him, dogging his movements as he went, without Angle knowing. He reached Constantinople very soon after Angle, intending at all costs to kill him. Neither knew of the other.

Both wanted to be received into the Varangian Guards, and their offer was well received directly it was known that they were Norsemen. At that time Michael Catalactus was king over Constantinople. Thorsteinn Dromund watched for an opportunity of meeting Angle where he might recognise him, but failed amidst the crowd, so he kept on the watch, caring little for his own well-being and ever thinking how much he had lost.

The next thing that happened was that the Varangians were ordered on field service for the defence of the country. The custom and the law were that before they marched a review was held for the inspection of their weapons; this was done on the present occasion. On the day appointed for the review all the Varangians and all who were marching with them had to appear and show their arms. Thorsteinn and Angle both presented themselves. Thorbjorn was the first to show his weapons and he presented the sword Grettisnaut. As he showed it all marvelled and declared that it was indeed a noble weapon, but said it was a bad fault that a piece was out of the middle of the edge, and they asked how that had come about. Angle said that was a tale worth telling.

"The first thing I must tell you," he said, "is that out in Iceland I slew a hero named Grettir the Strong. He was a tremendous warrior and so valorous that no one could succeed in killing him until I came. But as I was destined to be his slayer, I overcame him, although he was many times stronger than I am. I cut off his head with this sword and broke a piece out of the edge."

Those who stood by said he must have had a hard skull, and they showed the sword round. From this Thorsteinn came to know which was Angle, and asked to be shown the sword with the others. Angle willingly showed it to him, for they were all praising his strength and courage, and he, having no notion of its being Thorsteinn or any relation of Grettir, thought he would do likewise. Dromund took the sword, at once raised it aloft and struck a blow at Angle. It came into his head with such force that it penetrated to his jaw and Thorbjorn fell dead to the ground. Thereupon all the men became silent. The officer of the place put Thorsteinn under arrest and asked him why he had committed such a breach of discipline in the sanctity of the Assembly. Thorsteinn said he was a brother of Grettir the Strong and that he had never been able to obtain his vengeance till that moment. Then many of them stood up for him and said there was much excuse for a man who had come such a long way to avenge his brother. The elders of the town thought that this might be true, but as there was no one present to bear out his word they fell back upon their own law, which declared that any man who slew another should lose nothing else than his life.

Judgment was quickly passed upon Thorsteinn, and it was rather hard. He was to sit in a dark chamber in a dungeon and there await his death unless some one came to pay a ransom for him. When he reached the dungeon he found a man who had been there a long time and was all but dead from misery. It was both foul and cold. Thorsteinn asked him: "How do you find your life?"

"Most evil," he replied; "no one will help me, for I have no kinsmen to pay a ransom."

"There are many ways out of a difficulty," said Thorsteinn, "let us be happy and do something to cheer ourselves."

The man said he had no joy in anything.

"We will try it," said Thorsteinn.

Then he began to sing songs. He was such a singer that it would be hard to find his like, and he spared nothing. The dungeon was close to the public road and Thorsteinn sang so loud that it resounded from the walls; the man who before was half dead had much joy therefrom. In this way he sang every evening.


87.   Now men rode to the Althing, and Angle's helpers were fewer than he had looked for, because that his case was spoken ill of far and wide.

Then asked Halldor whether they were to carry Grettir's head with them to the Althing.

Angle said that he would bear it with him.

"Ill-counselled is that," said Halldor; "for many enough will thy foes be, though thou doest nought to jog the memories of folk, or wake up their grief."

By then were they come on their way, and were minded to ride south over the Sand; so Angle let take the head, and bury it in a hillock of sand, which is called Grettir's Hillock.

Thronged was the Althing, and Angle put forth his case, and praised his own deeds mightily, in that he had slain the greatest outlaw in all the land, and claimed the money as his, which had been put on Grettir's head. But Thorir had the same answer for him as was told afore.

Then was the Lawman prayed for a decision, and he said that he would fain hear if any charges came against this, whereby Angle should forfeit his blood-money, or else he said he must have whatsoever had been put on Grettir's head.

Then Thorvald Asgeirson called on Skeggi the Short-handed to put forth his case, and he summoned Thorbiorn Angle with a first summons for the witch-craft and sorcery, whereby Grettir must have got his bane, and then with another summons withal, for that they had borne weapons against a half-dead man, and hereon he claimed an award of outlawry.

Now folk drew much together on this side and on that, but few they were that gave aid to Thorbiorn; and things turned out otherwise than he had looked for, because Thorvald, and Isleif, his son-in-law, deemed it a deed worthy of death to bring men to their end by evil sorcery; but through the words of wise men these cases had such end, that Thorbiorn should sail away that same summer, and never come back to Iceland while any such were alive, as had the blood-suit for Grettir and Illugi.

And then, moreover, was it made law that all workers of olden craft should be made outlaws.

So when Angle saw what his lot would be, he gat him gone from the Thing, because it might well hap that Grettir's kin would set on him; nor did he get aught of the fee that was put on Grettir's head, for that Stein the Lawman would not that it should be paid for a deed of shame. None of those men of Thorbiorn's company who had fallen in Drangey were atoned, for they were to be made equal to the slaying of Illugi, but their kin were exceeding ill content therewith.

So men rode home from the Thing, and all blood-suits that men had against Grettir fell away.

Skeggi, the son of Gamli, who was son-in-law of Thorod Drapa-Stump, and sister's son of Grettir, went north to Skagafirth at the instance of Thorvald Asgeirson, and Isleif his son-in-law, who was afterwards Bishop of Skalholt, and by the consent of all the people got to him a keel, and went to Drangey to seek the corpses of the brothers, Grettir and Illugi; and he brought them back to Reeks, in Reek-strand, and buried them there at the church; and it is for a token that Grettir lies there, that in the days of the Sturlungs, when the church of the Reeks was moved, Grettir's bones were dug up, nor were they deemed so wondrous great, great enough though they were. The bones of Illugi were buried afterwards north of the church, but Grettir's head at home in the church at Biarg.

Goodwife Asdis abode at home at Biarg, and so well beloved she was, that no trouble was ever brought against her, no, not even while Grettir was in outlawry.

Skeggi the Short-handed took the household at Biarg after Asdis, and a mighty man he was; his son was Gamli, the father of Skeggi of Scarf-stead, and Asdis the mother of Odd the Monk. Many men are come from him.


87.   Lady Spes
There was a very distinguished lady in that town, the owner of a large establishment, very rich and highly born. Her name was Spes. Her husband's name was Sigurd; he too was wealthy, but of lower birth than she was. She had been married to him for his money. There was not much love between them, and the marriage was thought an unhappy one. She was very proud, and had much dignity.

One evening when Thorsteinn was diverting himself she happened to pass along the street near the dungeon and heard singing so sweet that she declared she had never heard the like. She was walking with several retainers, and told them to go in and find out who it was that had such a magnificent voice. They called out and asked who was there in such close confinement. Thorsteinn told his name. Spes said:

"Are you as good at other things as you are at singing?"

He said there was not much in that.

"What have you done," she asked, "that they should torture you here to death?"

He said he had killed a man and avenged his brother; "but I have no witness to prove it," he said; "so I have been put here unless some one comes to release me, of which there seems little hope, since I have no relations here."

"A great loss would it be if you were killed," she said. "Was your brother then a man of such renown, he whom you avenged?"

Thorsteinn said he was half as good a man again as himself.

She asked what token there was of that. Then Thorsteinn spoke this verse:


"Goddess of rings! No eight could meet him,
or gain the sword from his vanquished hand.
Brave was Grettir; his foemen doughty
severed the hand of the ruler of ships."


Those who understood the song declared that it told of great nobility. When she heard that she asked:

"Will you receive your life at my hands if the choice is offered you?"

"Indeed I will," he said, "if this companion of mine sitting here is released along with me. If not, we must both remain sitting here together."

She answered: "I think you are more worth paying for than he is."

"However that may be," he said, "either we both of us come out from here together or neither of us comes out."

So she went to the Varangians' quarters and asked for the release of Thorsteinn, offering money. They agreed. With her interest and her wealth she brought it about that both of them were released. Directly Thorsteinn came out of the dungeon he went to pay his respects to the lady Spes. She welcomed him and kept him there secretly. From time to time he went campaigning with the Varangians, and was distinguished for his courage in all their engagements.


88.   Thornbiorn Angle took ship at Goose-ere, with whatso of his goods he might take with him; but Hialti his brother took to him his lands, and Angle gave him Drangey withal. Hialti became a great chief in aftertimes, but he has nought more to do with this tale.

So Angle fared out to Norway; he yet made much of himself, for he deemed he had wrought a great deed in the slaying of Grettir, and so thought many others, who knew not how all had come to pass, for many knew how renowned a man Grettir had been; withal Angle told just so much of their dealings together as might do him honour, and let such of the tale lie quiet as was of lesser glory.

Now this tale came in the autumn-tide east to Tunsberg, and when Thorstein Dromund heard of the slayings he grew all silent, because it was told him that Angle was a mighty man and a hardy; and he called to mind the words which he had spoken when he and Grettir talked together, long time agone, concerning the fashion of their arms.

So Thorstein put out spies on Angle's goings; they were both in Norway through the winter, but Thorbiorn was in the north-country, and Thorstein in Tunsberg, nor had either seen other; yet was Angle ware that Grettir had a brother in Norway, and thought it hard to keep guard of himself in an unknown land, wherefore he sought counsel as to where he should betake himself. Now in those days many Northmen went out to Micklegarth, and took war-pay there; so Thorbiorn deemed it would be good to go thither and get to him thereby both fee and fame, nor to abide in the North-lands because of the kin of Grettir. So he made ready to go from Norway, and get him gone from out the land, and made no stay till he came to Micklegarth, and there took war-hire.


88.   Adventures of Thorsteinn and Spes
At that time Harald the son of Sigurd was in Constantinople, and Thorsteinn became friendly with him. Thorsteinn was now a very great personage, for Spes kept him well supplied with money, and they became very much attached to one another. She was a great admirer of his skill. Her expenses were very great because she tried to keep up many friends. Her husband noticed a great change in her character and her behaviour, and especially that she had become very extravagant. Treasures of gold and other property which were in her keeping disappeared. One day her husband Sigurd spoke with her and said that he was much surprised at her conduct. "You pay no attention to our affairs," he said, "and squander money in many ways. You seem as if you were in a dream, and never wish to be where I am. I am certain that something is going on."

She replied: "I told you as I told my kinsmen when we married that I meant to be my own mistress in all matters which concern myself; that is why I do not spare your money. Or is there anything more than this that you wish to speak about with me? Do you accuse me of anything shameful?"

He said: "I am not without my suspicions that you are keeping some man whom you prefer to me."

"I do not know," she said, "that there would be very much in that; and yet of a surety there is no truth in what you say. I will not speak with you alone if you bring such improper accusations against me."

He dropped the subject for the time. She and Thorsteinn continued to carry on as before, and were not very heedful of the talk of evil-minded people; they relied upon her wits and her popularity. They were often sitting together and diverting themselves.

One evening when they were sitting in an upper room in which her treasures were kept she asked Thorsteinn to sing something, and thinking that her husband was as usual sitting at drink she fastened the door. When he had sung for a time there was a banging at the door, and some one called to them to open it. It was her husband with a number of his followers. The lady had opened a large chest to show Thorsteinn the treasures. When she knew who was outside she refused to open the door, and said to Thorsteinn: "Quickly! Jump into the chest and keep very quiet."

He did so. She locked the chest and sat upon it. Her husband then entered, having forced his way in. She said:

"What are you coming here for with all this uproar? Are there robbers after you?"

He said: "Now it is well that you yourself give proof of what you are. Where is the man who was letting his voice run on so grandly? No doubt you think his voice is better than mine."

"No man is a fool if he keeps silence," she said; "that applies to you. You think yourself very cunning, and would like to fasten your lies on to me, as in this case. Well, if you have spoken the truth, find the man. He will not escape through the walls or the roof."

He searched all through the room and found nothing.

"Why don't you take him," she said, "if you are so certain?"

He was silent and knew not how he could have been deceived. He asked his men whether they had not heard what he heard, but when they saw that the lady was displeased there was nothing to be got out of them; they said that one was often mistaken about sounds. He then went away, not doubting that he knew the truth, though he could not find the man. After that he ceased for some time to pry into his wife's concerns.

On another occasion, much later, Thorsteinn and Spes were sitting in a tiring-room where dresses were kept which belonged to them, both made up and in the piece. She showed many of the cloths to Thorsteinn and spread them out. When they were least expecting it her husband came up with a troop of men and broke into the room. While they were forcing their way in she covered Thorsteinn up with a bundle of clothes and leaned against the heap when they entered.

"Do you again deny," he said, "that there was a man here with you? There are those present here now who saw you both."

She told him not to be so violent. "You will not fail to catch him now," she said. "Only leave me in peace and do not push me about."

They searched the room, but finding nothing had to give it up.

"It is always good to have better proofs than people suppose. It was only to be expected that you would not find what was not there. Now, my husband, will you admit your folly and free me from this slanderous accusation?"

"By no means will I free you," he said, "for I know that what I have accused you of is true, and it will cost you an effort to free yourself of the charge."

She said she was quite ready to do that, and therewith they parted.

After this Thorsteinn remained entirely with the Varangians. Men say that he acted by the advice of Harald the son of Sigurd, and it is thought that they would not have got out of it as they did if they had not made use of him and his wits.

After a time Sigurd gave out that he was about to go abroad on some business. His wife did not try to dissuade him. When he was gone Thorsteinn came to Spes and they were always together. Her house was built on the very edge of the sea and there were some of the rooms under which the sea flowed.

Here it was that Spes and Thorsteinn always sat. There was a small trap-door in the floor, known to no one but these two, and it was kept open in case of its being wanted in a hurry.

Sigurd, it must be told, did not go away, but concealed himself so as to be able to watch his wife's doings. One evening when they were sitting unconcernedly in the room over the sea and enjoying themselves, in came her husband with a party of men, taking them by surprise. He had taken some of the men to the window of the room that they might see whether it was not as he had said. They all said that he had spoken truly, and that it must have been so too on the former occasions. Then they rushed into the room.

On hearing the noise Spes said to Thorsteinn: "You must go down here whatever it costs. Give me some sign that you have got away from the house."

He promised that he would, and descended through the floor. The lady closed the trap-door with her foot, and it fell back into its place so that no one could see any mark of the floor having been touched. Sigurd entered the room with his men, searched, and of course found nothing. The room was uninhabited and there was no furniture in it, but only the bare floor and a bed, on which the lady was sitting and twirling her fingers. She paid little attention to them and seemed as if their business did not concern her. Sigurd thought it altogether ridiculous and asked his followers if they had not seen the man. They declared that they had seen him most assuredly.

The lady said: "Now we may say as the proverb has it: All good things are in threes. This is your case, Sigurd. Three times you have disturbed me, if I remember rightly; and now are you any the wiser than you were in the beginning?"

"This time I am not alone to tell the story," he said. "For all that you will have to clear yourself, for on no terms will I allow your shameful deeds to go unpunished."

"It seems," she said, "that you require the very thing which I would myself propose. It will please me well to show the falsehood of this accusation, which has been so thoroughly aired that I shall be disgraced if I cannot refute it."

"At the same time," he said, "you will have to deny that you have expended my money and my property."

She replied: "At the time when I clear myself I will refute all the matters which you brought against me, and you may consider how it will all end. I mean to go at once, to-morrow morning, before the bishop that he may grant me full compurgation from this charge."

Her husband was satisfied with this and went away with his men.

In the meantime Thorsteinn had swum away from the house and landed at a convenient place, where he got a firebrand and held it aloft so that it could be seen from the lady's house. She stayed long outside in the evening and the night, for she was anxious to know whether Thorsteinn had reached the land. When she saw the light she knew that he had landed, for that was the signal which they had agreed upon.

The next morning Spes proposed to her husband that they should speak with the bishop on their matter. This he was quite ready to do, so they went before the bishop and Sigurd repeated his accusation. The bishop asked whether she had ever been accused of misbehaviour before, but nobody had heard of such a thing. Then he asked upon what evidence this charge was brought against her, and Sigurd produced the men who had seen her sitting in a room with the door locked and a man with her. Her husband said that this was ground enough for supposing that the man meant to seduce her.

The bishop said that she might very well purge herself from this accusation if she so desired. She replied that she desired it very much. "I hope," she said, "that I shall have many women to swear for me on this charge."

The form of the oath which she was to swear was then communicated to her and the day for the compurgation fixed. She returned home and was quite happy. She and Thorsteinn met and laid their plans.


89.   Thorstein Dromund was a mighty man, and of the greatest account; and now he heard that Thorbiorn Angle had got him gone from the land out to Micklegarth; speedy were his doings thereon, he gave over his lands into his kinsmen's hands, and betook himself to journeying and to search for Angle; and ever he followed after whereas Angle had gone afore, nor was Angle ware of his goings.

So Thorstein Dromund came out to Micklegarth a little after Angle, and was fain above all things to slay him, but neither knew the other. Now had they will to be taken into the company of the Varangians, and the matter went well as soon as the Varangians knew that they were Northmen; and in those days was Michael Katalak king over Micklegarth.

Thorstein Dromund watched for Angle, if in some wise he might know him, but won not the game because of the many people there; and ever would he lie awake, ill-content with his lot, and thinking how great was his loss.

Now hereupon it befell that the Varangians were to go on certain warfare, and free the land from harrying; and their manner and law it was before they went from home to hold a weapon-show, and so it was now done; and when the weapon-show was established, then were all Varangians to come there, and those withal who were minded to fall into their company, and they were to show forth their weapons.

Thither came both Thorstein and Angle; but Thorbiorn Angle showed forth his weapons first; and he had the short-sword, Grettir's-loom; but when he showed it many praised it and said that it was an exceeding good weapon, but that it was a great blemish, that notch in the edge thereof; and asked him withal what had brought that to pass.

Angle said it was a thing worthy to be told of, "For this is the next thing to be said," says he, "that out in Iceland I slew that champion who was called Grettir the Strong, and who was the greatest warrior and the stoutest-hearted of all men of that land, for him could no man vanquish till I came forth for that end; and whereas I had the good hap to win him, I took his life; though indeed he had my strength many times over; then I drave this short-sword into his head, and thereby was a shard broken from out its edge."

So those who stood nigh said, that he must have been hard of head then, and each showed the short-sword to the other; but hereby Thorstein deemed he knew now who this man was, and he prayed withal to see the short-sword even as the others; then Angle gave it up with good will, for all were praising his bravery and that daring onset, and even in such wise did he think this one would do; and in no wise did he misdoubt him that Thorstein was there, or that the man was akin to Grettir.

Then Dromund took the short-sword, and raised it aloft, and hewed at Angle and smote him on the head, and so great was the stroke that it stayed but at the jaw-teeth, and Thorbiorn Angle fell to earth dead and dishonoured.

Thereat all men became hushed; but the Chancellor of the town seized Thorstein straightway, and asked for what cause he did such an ill-deed there at the hallowed Thing.

Thorstein said that he was the brother of Grettir the Strong, and that withal he had never been able to bring vengeance to pass till then; so thereupon many put in their word, and said that the strong man must needs have been of great might and nobleness, in that Thorstein had fared so far forth into the world to avenge him: the rulers of the city deemed that like enough; but whereas there was none there to bear witness in aught to Thorstein's word, that law of theirs prevailed, that whosoever slew a man should lose nought but his life.

So then speedy doom and hard enow did Thorstein get; for in a dark chamber of a dungeon should he be cast and there abide his death, if none redeemed him therefrom with money. But when Thorstein came into the dungeon, there was a man there already, who had come to death's door from misery; and both foul and cold was that abode; Thorstein spake to that man and said,

"How deemest thou of thy life?"

He answered, "As of a right evil life, for of nought can I be holpen, nor have I kinsmen to redeem me."

Thorstein said, "Nought is of less avail in such matters than lack of good rede; let us be merry then, and do somewhat that will be glee and game to us."

The man said that he might have no glee of aught.

"Nay, then, but let us try it," said Thorstein. And therewithal he fell to singing; and he was a man of such goodly voice that scarcely might his like be found therefor, nor did he now spare himself.

Now the highway was but a little way from the dungeon, and Thorstein sang so loud and clear that the walls resounded therewith, and great game this seemed to him who had been half-dead erst; and in such wise did Thorstein keep it going till the evening.


89.   Ordeal
The day now arrived when Spes was to make oath. She invited all her friends and relations, and appeared in the finest clothes that she possessed, with many a fine lady in her train. It was raining heavily and the roads were flooded; on the way to the church there was a swamp to be passed. When Spes came with her company to the swamp there was a great crowd on the high road, and a multitude of poor people asking for alms, for all who knew her thought it a duty to give her a greeting and wish her well because of the kindnesses which they had often received from her.

Amongst these poor people there was a beggar very large of stature and with a long beard. The women halted at the swamp; being people of high rank they did not like to cross the dirty slough. The big beggar, seeing that Spes was better dressed than the other ladies, said to her: "Good lady, have the condescension to allow me to carry you over the swamp. It is the duty of us gaberlunzies to serve you in whatever way we can."

"How can you carry me," she said, "when you can scarcely carry yourself?"

"Nevertheless, it would be a great condescension. I cannot offer you more than I have, and you will prosper the better in other things for having had no pride with a poor man."

"Know then for a surety," she said, "that if you carry me not properly the skin shall be flayed from your back."

"Gladly will I venture upon that," he said, and waded out into the stream. She pretended to dislike very much being carried by him; nevertheless, she got upon his back. He staggered along very slowly, using two crutches, and when they reached the middle he was reeling in every direction. She told him to pull himself together. "If you drop me here," she said, "it shall be the worst journey that you ever made."

The poor wretch gathered up all his strength and still went on. By dint of a valiant effort he had all but reached the shore when he struck his foot against something and fell forwards, projecting her on to the bank while he himself fell into the mire up to his armpits. There as he lay he put out his hands, not on her clothes, but on her legs. She sprang up cursing and said she always suffered ill from low vagabonds. "It would only be right that you should have a good beating," she said, "were I not ashamed to beat such a miserable creature as you are."

He said: "Unequal is the lot of man. I thought to earn some benefit and to receive alms from you, and you only give me abuse and insult without any reward." And he pretended to be very much disgusted. Many felt pity for him, but she said he was a very cunning rascal. When they all began to beg for him she took out her purse, wherein was many a golden penny. She shook out the money, saying: "Take that, fellow! It would not be right that you should go unpaid for all my scoldings. You are now paid for what you have done."

He gathered up the money and thanked her for her liberality. Spes then went to the church, which was full of people. Sigurd proceeded with energy and told her to clear herself of the charge which he had brought against her.

"I pay no heed to your accusation," she said; "but I want to know what man it was whom you pretend to have seen in the room with me, because there is always some proper man near me; there is nothing to be ashamed of in that. But this I will swear, that to no man have I given money and that by no man has my body been defiled excepting by my husband and by that beggar, who put his muddy hands upon my leg to-day when I was carried over the ditch."

Many then were satisfied and declared that her oath was perfectly good and that she was in no way disgraced by a man having touched her unwittingly. She said she had to tell the story just as it happened, and then she swore the oath in the words appointed for her. Many said that she would be observing the saying that: Nothing should be omitted from an oath. But she replied that wise men would hold that there was no cause for suspicion. Then her relations began to talk with her and said that it was a great insult to a woman of high birth that such lies should be told about her and go unpunished, for they said it was an offence punishable with death if a woman were proved to have been unfaithful to her husband. So Spes asked the bishop to divorce her from Sigurd, saying that she would not endure the lies which he had told. Her kinsmen supported her, and with their help her request was granted. Sigurd got little of the property and had to leave the country. So it happened as usual that the weaker had to bow, nor could he accomplish anything although the right was on his side. Spes took all the money and was held in high esteem, but when men came to consider her oath they thought it was not altogether above suspicion, and they concluded that very skilful men had composed the Latin formula for her. They ferreted out that the beggar who carried her was Thorsteinn Dromund. But Sigurd got no redress.


90.   There was a great lady of a castle in that town called Spes, exceeding rich and of great kin; Sigurd was the name of her husband, a rich man too, but of lesser kin than she was, and for money had she been wedded to him; no great love there was betwixt them, for she thought she had been wedded far beneath her; high-minded she was and a very stirring woman.

Now so it befell, that, as Thorstein made him merry that night, Spes walked in the street hard by the dungeon, and heard thence so fair a voice, that she said she had never yet heard its like. She went with many folk, and so now she bade them go learn who had that noble voice. So they called out and asked who lay there in such evil plight; and Thorstein named himself.

Then said Spes, "Art thou a man as much skilled in other matters as in singing?"

He said there was but little to show for that.

"What ill-deed hast thou done," said she, "that thou must needs be tormented here to the death?"

He said that he had slain a man, and avenged his brother thereby, "But I could not show that by witnesses," said Thorstein, "and therefore have I been cast into ward here, unless some man should redeem me, nor do I hope therefor, for no man have I here akin to me."

"Great loss of thee if thou art slain! and that brother of thine whom thou didst avenge, was he a man so famed, then?"

He said that he was more mighty than he by the half; and so she asked what token there was thereof. Then sang Thorstein this stave


"Field of rings, eight men, who raise
Din of sword in clattering ways,
Strove the good short-sword in vain
From the strong dead hand to gain;
So they ever strained and strove,
Till at last it did behove,
The feared quickener of the fight,
From the glorious man to smite."


"Great prowess such a thing shows of the man," said those who understood the stave; and when she knew thereof, she spake thus,

"Wilt thou take thy life from me, if such a choice is given thee?"

"That will I," said Thorstein, "if this fellow of mine, who sits hereby, is redeemed along with me; or else will we both abide here together."

She answers, "More of a prize do I deem thee than him."

"Howsoever that may be," said Thorstein, "we shall go away in company both of us together, or else shall neither go."

Then she went there, whereas were the Varangians, and prayed for freedom for Thorstein, and offered money to that end; and to this were they right willing; and so she brought about by her mighty friendships and her wealth that they were both set free. But as soon as Thorstein came out of the dungeon he went to see goodwife Spes, and she took him to her and kept him privily; but whiles was he with the Varangians in warfare, and in all onsets showed himself the stoutest of hearts.


90.   Thorsteinn and Spes return to Norway
While the affair was being talked about Thorsteinn Dromund remained with the Varangians, where he was held in such high estimation that his prowess was considered to be beyond that of nearly every man who had come to them. Especially Harald the son of Sigurd did him honour, and claimed kinship with him; it was supposed to have been by his advice that Thorsteinn had acted.

Soon after Sigurd was driven from the country Thorsteinn proposed marriage to Spes; she was quite agreeable, but referred it to her kinsmen. There were family meetings and all agreed that she herself ought to decide. Matters were settled between them; their union was most prosperous and they had plenty of money. Thorsteinn was considered lucky to have got out of his difficulties in such a way. After they had lived together for two years in Constantinople, Thorsteinn told her that he would like to visit his property once more in Norway. She said he should do as he pleased, and he then sold his property so as to have some ready money. They left the country with a good company of followers and sailed all the way to Norway. Thorsteinn's kinsmen welcomed them both, and soon saw that Spes was both generous and noble; accordingly she quickly became very popular. They had three children, and remained on their property very well contented with their condition.

The king of Norway was at that time Magnus the Good. Thorsteinn soon went to meet him, and was well received because of the fame which he had earned through having avenged Grettir the Strong. Scarcely an example was known of a man from Iceland having been avenged in Constantinople, excepting Grettir the son of Asmund. It is said that Thorsteinn entered his bodyguard. Thorsteinn remained nine years in Norway, both he and his wife being in high honour. After that King Harald the son of Sigurd returned from Constantinople, and King Magnus gave him the half of Norway. Both kings were together in Norway for a time. After Magnus's death some who had been his friends were less contented, for he was beloved of all, but Harald was not easy to get on with, since he was hard and severe. Thorsteinn Dromund then began to grow old, but was still very vigorous. Sixteen winters had now passed since the death of Grettir.


91.   In those days was Harald Sigurdson at Micklegarth, and Thorstein fell into friendship with him. Of much account was Thorstein held, for Spes let him lack no money; and greatly they turned their hearts one to the other, Thorstein and Spes; and many folk beside her deemed great things of his prowess.

Now her money was much squandered, because she ever gave herself to the getting of great friends; and her husband deemed that he could see that she was much changed, both in temper and many other of her ways, but most of all in the spending of money; both gold and good things he missed, which were gone from her keeping.

So on a time Sigurd her husband talks with her, and says that she has taken to strange ways. "Thou givest no heed to our goods," says he, "but squanderest them in many wise; and, moreover, it is even as if I saw thee ever in a dream, nor ever wilt thou be there whereas I am; and I know for sure that something must bring this about."

She answered, "I told thee, and my kinsfolk told thee, whenas we came together, that I would have my full will and freedom over all such things as it was beseeming for me to bestow, and for that cause I spare not thy goods. Hast thou perchance aught to say to me concerning other matters which may be to my shame?"

He answers, "Somewhat do I misdoubt me that thou holdest some man or other whom thou deemest better than I be."

"I wot not," says she, "what ground there may be thereto; but meseems thou mayest speak with little truth; and yet, none-the-less, we two alone shall not speak on this matter if thou layest this slander on me."

So he let the talk drop for that time; she and Thorstein went on in the same way, nor were they wary of the words of evil folk, for she ever trusted in her many and wise friends. Oft they sat talking together and making merry; and on an evening as they sat in a certain loft, wherein were goodly things of hers, she bade Thorstein sing somewhat, for she thought the goodman was sitting at the drink, as his wont was, so she bolted the door. But, when he had sung a certain while, the door was driven at, and one called from outside to open; and there was come the husband with many of his folk.

The goodwife had unlocked a great chest to show Thorstein her dainty things; so when she knew who was there, she would not unlock the door, but speaks to Thorstein, "Quick is my rede, jump into the chest and keep silent."

So he did, and she shot the bolt of the chest and sat thereon herself; and even therewith in came the husband into the loft, for he and his had broken open the door thereof.

Then said the lady, "Why do ye fare with all this uproar? are your foes after you then?"

The goodman answered, "Now it is well that thou thyself givest proof of thyself what thou art; where is the man who trolled out that song so well e'en now? I wot thou deemest him of far fairer voice than I be."

She said: "Not altogether a fool is he who can be silent; but so it fares not with thee: thou deemest thyself cunning, and art minded to bind thy lie on my back. Well, then, let proof be made thereof! If there be truth in thy words, take the man; he will scarce have leapt out through the walls or the roof."

So he searched through the place, and found him not, and she said, "Why dost thou not take him then, since thou deemest the thing so sure?"

He was silent, nor knew in sooth amid what wiles he was come; then he asked his fellows if they had not heard him even as he had. But whereas they saw that the mistress misliked the matter, their witness came to nought, for they said that oft folk heard not things as they were in very sooth. So the husband went out, and deemed he knew that sooth well enough, though they had not found the man; and now for a long time he left spying on his wife and her ways.

Another time, long after, Thorstein and Spes sat in a certain cloth-bower, and therein were clothes, both cut and uncut, which the wedded folk owned; there she showed to Thorstein many kinds of cloth, and they unfolded them; but when they were least ware of it the husband came on them with many men, and brake into the loft; but while they were about that she heaped up clothes over Thorstein, and leaned against the clothes-stack when they came into the chamber.

"Wilt thou still deny," said the goodman, "that there was a man with thee, when such men there are as saw you both?"

She bade them not to go on so madly. "This time ye will not fail, belike; but let me be at peace, and worry me not."

So they searched through the place and found nought, and at last gave it up.

Then the goodwife answered and said, "It is ever good to give better proof than the guesses of certain folk; nor was it to be looked for that ye should find that which was not. Wilt thou now confess thy folly, husband, and free me from this slander?"

He said, "The less will I free thee from it in that I trow thou art in very sooth guilty of that which I have laid to thy charge; and thou wilt have to put forth all thy might in this case, if thou art to get this thrust from thee."

She said that that was in nowise against her mind, and therewithal they parted.

Thereafter was Thorstein ever with the Varangians, and men say that he sought counsel of Harald Sigurdson, and their mind it is that Thorstein and Spes would not have taken to those redes but for the trust they had in him and his wisdom.

Now as time wore on, goodman Sigurd gave out that he would fare from home on certain errands of his own. The goodwife nowise let him herein; and when he was gone, Thorstein came to Spes, and the twain were ever together. Now such was the fashion of her castle that it was built forth over the sea, and there were certain chambers therein whereunder the sea flowed; in such a chamber Thorstein and Spes ever sat; and a little trap-door there was in the floor of it, whereof none knew but those twain, and it might be opened if there were hasty need thereof.

Now it is to be told of the husband that he went nowhither, save into hiding, that he might spy the ways of the housewife; so it befell that, one night as they sat alone in the sea-loft and were glad together, the husband came on them unawares with a crowd of folk, for he had brought certain men to a window of the chamber, and bade them see if things were not even according to his word: and all said that he spake but the sooth, and that so belike he had done aforetime.

So they ran into the loft, but when Spes heard the crash, she said to Thorstein,

"Needs must thou go down hereby, whatsoever be the cost, but give me some token if thou comest safe from the place."

He said yea thereto, and plunged down through the floor, and the housewife spurned her foot at the lid, and it fell back again into its place, and no new work was to be seen on the floor.

Now the husband and his men came into the loft, and went about searching, and found nought, as was likely; the loft was empty, so that there was nought therein save the floor and the cross-benches, and there sat the goodwife, and played with the gold on her fingers; she heeded them little, and made as if there was nought to do.

All this the goodman thought the strangest of all, and asked his folk if they had not seen the man, and they said that they had in good sooth seen him.

Then said the goodwife, "Hereto shall things come as is said; thrice of yore have all things happed, and in likewise hast thou fared, Sigurd," says she, "for three times hadst thou undone my peace, meseems, and are ye any wiser than in the beginning?"

"This time I was not alone in my tale," said the goodman; "and now to make an end, shall thou go through the freeing by law, for in nowise will I have this shame unbooted."

"Meseems," says the goodwife, "thou biddest me what I would bid of thee, for good above all things I deem it to free myself from this slander, which has spread so wide and high, that it would be great dishonour if I thrust it not from off me."

"In likewise," said the goodman, "shalt thou prove that thou hast not given away or taken to thyself my goods."

She answers, "At that time when I free myself shall I in one wise thrust off from me all charges that thou hast to bring against me; but take thou heed whereto all shall come; I will at once free myself from all words that have been spoken here on this charge that thou now makest."

The goodman was well content therewith, and got him gone with his men.

Now it is to be told of Thorstein that he swam forth from under the chamber, and went aland where he would, and took a burning log, and held it up in such wise that it might be seen from the goodwife's castle, and she was abroad for long that evening, and right into the night, for that she would fain know if Thorstein had come aland; and so when she saw the fire, she deemed that she knew that Thorstein had taken land, for even such a token had they agreed on betwixt them.

The next morning Spes bade her husband speak of their matters to the bishop, and thereto was he fully ready. Now they come before the bishop, and the goodman put forward all the aforesaid charges against her.

The bishop asked if she had been known for such an one aforetime, but none said that they had heard thereof. Then he asked with what likelihood he brought those things against her. So the goodman brought forward men who had seen her sit in a locked room with a man beside her, and they twain alone: and therewith the goodman said that he misdoubted him of that man beguiling her.

The bishop said that she might well free herself lawfully from this charge if so she would. She said that it liked her well so to do, "and good hope I have," said Spes, "that I shall have great plenty of women to purge me by oath in this case."

Now was an oath set forward in words for her, and a day settled whereon the case should come about; and thereafter she went home, and was glad at heart, and Thorstein and Spes met, and settled fully what they should do.


91.   Absolution in Rome
There were many who urged Thorsteinn to visit King Harald and become his man, but he would not. Spes said to him: "I would not, Thorsteinn, that you go to Harald, for a larger debt remains unpaid to another King, whereto we must now turn our thoughts. Our youth is now passed; we are both becoming old, and we have lived more after our desires than after Christian doctrine or regard for righteousness. Now I know that neither kinsmen nor wealth may pay this debt if we pay it not ourselves. I would therefore that we now change our way of life and leave the country to betake ourselves to Pafagard. I have hope that so I shall be absolved from my sin."

Thorsteinn answered: "The matter of which you speak is as well known to me as it is to you. It is right that you should rule now, and most seemly, since you allowed me to rule when our matter was much less hopeful. And so shall it be now in all that you say."

This resolve of theirs took men by surprise. Thorsteinn was then two years past of sixty-five, but still vigorous in all that he undertook. He summoned all his kinsmen and connections to him and told them his plans. The wiser men approved of his resolve, while holding his departure a great misfortune for themselves. Thorsteinn said there was no certainty of his return. He said:

"I wish now to thank you all for the care of my goods which you took while I was absent. Now I ask you to take over my children along with my property, and to bring them up in your own ways; for I am now come to such an age that even if I live there is much doubt about whether I shall return. Manage all that I leave behind as if I should never return to Norway."

The men answered that matters would be more easily managed if his wife remained to look after them.

She answered: "I left my own country and came from Mikligard with Thorsteinn, I bade farewell to my kinsmen and my possessions, because I wished that one fate should befall us both. And now it has seemed pleasant to me here, but no desire have I to remain in Norway or in these Northern lands after he has departed. There has always been goodwill between us and no dissension. Now we must both depart together; for we ourselves know best about many things which have happened since we first met."

When they had thus dealt with their own condition, Thorsteinn appointed certain impartial men to divide his property in two parts. Thorsteinn's kinsmen took over the half which was to go to the children, and brought them up with their father's relations. They became in time men of the utmost valour, and a large posterity in the Vik is sprung from them. Thorsteinn and Spes divided their share, giving some to the church for the good of their souls and keeping some for themselves. So they set off for Rome, bearing the good wishes of many with them.


92.   Now that day past, and time wore on to the day when Spes should make oath, and she bade thereto all her friends and kin, and arrayed herself in the best attire she had, and many noble ladies went with her.

Wet was the weather about that time, and the ways were miry, and a certain slough there was to go over or ever they might come to the church; and whenas Spes and her company came forth anigh this slough, a great crowd was there before them, and a multitude of poor folk who prayed them of alms, for this was in the common highway, and all who knew her deemed it was their part to welcome her, and prayed for good things for her as for one who had oft holpen them well.

A certain staff-propped carle there was amidst those poor folk, great of growth and long-bearded. Now the women made stay at the slough, because that the great people deemed the passage across over miry, and therewith when that staff-carle saw the goodwife, that she was better arrayed than the other women, he spake to her on this wise,

"Good mistress," said he, "be so lowly as to suffer me to bear thee over this slough, for it is the bounden duty of us staff-carles to serve thee all we may."

"What then," says she, "wilt thou bear me well, when thou mayst not bear thyself?"

"Yet would it show forth thy lowliness," says he, "nor may I offer better than I have withal; and in all things wilt thou fare the better, if thou hast no pride against poor folk."

"Wot thou well, then," says she, "that if thou bearest me not well it shall be for a beating to thee, or some other shame greater yet."

"Well, I would fain risk it," said he; and therewithal he got on to his feet and stood in the slough. She made as if she were sore afeard of his carrying her, yet nathless she went on, borne on his back; and he staggered along exceeding slowly, going on two crutches, and when he got midmost of the slough he began to reel from side to side. She bade him gather up his strength.

"Never shalt thou have made a worse journey than this if thou easiest me down here."

Then the poor wretch staggers on, and gathers up all his courage and strength, and gets close to the dry land, but stumbles withal, and falls head-foremost in such wise, that he cast her on to the bank, but fell into the ditch up to his armpits, and therewithal as he lay there caught at the goodwife, and gat no firm hold of her clothes, but set his miry hand on her knee right up to the bare thigh.

She sprang up and cursed him, and said that ever would evil come from wretched gangrel churles: "and thy full due it were to be beaten, if I thought it not a shame, because of thy misery."

Then said he, "Meted in unlike ways is man's bliss; me-thought I had done well to thee, and I looked for an alms at thy hands, and lo, in place thereof, I get but threats and ill-usage and no good again withal;" and he made as if he were exceeding angry.

Many deemed that he looked right poor and wretched, but she said that he was the wiliest of old churles; but whereas many prayed for him, she took her purse to her, and therein was many a penny of gold; then she shook down the money and said,

"Take thou this, carle; nowise good were it, if thou hadst not full pay for the hard words thou hadst of me; now have I parted with thee, even according to thy worth."

Then he picked up the gold, and thanked her for her good deed. Spes went to the church, and a great crowd was there before her. Sigurd pushed the case forward eagerly, and bade her free herself from those charges he had brought against her.

She said, "I heed not thy charges; what man dost thou say thou hast seen in my chamber with me? Lo now oft it befalls that some worthy man will be with me, and that do I deem void of any shame; but hereby will I swear that to no man have I given gold, and of no man have I had fleshly defilement save of my husband, and that wretched staff-carle who laid his miry hand on my thigh when I was borne over the slough this same day."

Now many deemed that this was a full oath, and that no shame it was to her, though the carle had laid hand on her unwittingly; but she said that all things must be told even as they were.

Thereafter she swore the oath in such form as is said afore, and many said thereon that she showed the old saw to be true, swear loud and say little. But for her, she said that wise men would think that this was not done by guile.

Then her kin fell to saying that great shame and grief it was for high-born women to have such lying charges brought against them bootless, whereas it was a crime worthy of death if it were openly known of any woman that she had done whoredoms against her husband. Therewithal Spes prayed the bishop to make out a divorce betwixt her and her husband Sigurd, because she said she might nowise bear his slanderous lying charges. Her kinsfolk pushed the matter forward for her, and so brought it about by their urgency that they were divorced, and Sigurd got little of the goods, and was driven away from the land withal, for here matters went as is oft shown that they will, and the lower must lowt; nor could he bring aught about to avail him, though he had but said the very sooth.

Now Spes took to her all their money, and was deemed the greatest of stirring women; but when folk looked into her oath, it seemed to them that there was some guile in it, and were of a mind that wise men must have taught her that way of swearing; and men dug out this withal, that the staff-carle who had carried her was even Thorstein Dromund. Yet for all that Sigurd got no righting of the matter.


92.   End of Thorsteinn and Spes
They travelled then the whole way to Rome, and appeared before him who was appointed to hear confessions. They related truly all that had happened, all the cunning tricks wherewith they had achieved their union. They submitted with humility to the penances laid upon them, and by reason of their having voluntarily turned their hearts to desire absolution from their sins, without any pressure from the elders of the church, their penance was lightened so far as it was possible, and they were gently admonished to arrange their lives with wisdom for the well-being of their souls, and, after receiving absolution in full, to live henceforward in purity. They were declared to have acted wisely and well.

Then the lady Spes said: "Now, I think it has gone well; and now we have not suffered only misfortune together. It may be that foolish men will follow the example of our former lives. Let us now end in such way that we may be an example to the good. We will come to an agreement with some men skilled in building to erect for each of us a stone retreat, thus may we atone for all the offences which we have committed against God."

So Thorsteinn advanced money to stone-masons and such other persons as might be needed, that they might not be without the means of subsistence. When these works were completed and all matters were settled, a fitting time was chosen for them to part company with each other, each to live alone, in order more surely to partake of the eternal life in another world. They remained each in their own retreat, living as long as it pleased God to spare them, and thus ending their lives.

Most men consider Thorsteinn Dromund and Spes to have been most fortunate in escaping from the difficulties which they had fallen into. None of their children or posterity are mentioned as having come to Iceland.


93.   Thorstein Dromund was with the Varangians while the talk ran highest about these matters; so famed did he become that it was deemed that scarce had any man of the like prowess come thither; the greatest honours he gat from Harald Sigurdson, for he was of his kin; and after his counsels did Thorstein do, as men are minded to think.

But a little after Sigurd was driven from the land, Thorstein fell to wooing Spes to wife, and she took it meetly, but went to her kinsmen for rede; then they held meetings thereon, and were of one accord that she herself must rule the matter; then was the bargain struck, and good was their wedded life, and they were rich in money, and all men deemed Thorstein to be a man of exceeding good luck, since he had delivered himself from all his troubles.

The twain were together for two winters in Micklegarth, and then Thorstein said to his goodwife that he would fain go back to see his possessions in Norway. She said he should have his will, so they sold the lands they had there, and gat them great wealth of chattels, and then betook them from that land, with a fair company, and went all the way till they came to Norway. Thorstein's kin welcomed them both right heartily, and soon saw that Spes was bountiful and high-minded, and she speedily became exceeding well befriended. Some children they had between them, and they abode on their lands, and were well content with their life.

In those days was Magnus the Good king over Norway. Thorstein soon went to meet him, and had good welcome of him, for he had grown famous for the avenging of Grettir the Strong (for men scarce know of its happening that any other Icelander, save Grettir Asmundson, was avenged in Micklegarth); and folk say that Thorstein became a man of King Magnus, and for nine winters after he had come to Norway he abode in peace, and folk of the greatest honour were they deemed, he and his wife.

Then came home from Micklegarth king Harald Sigurdson, and King Magnus gave him half Norway, and they were both kings therein for a while; but after the death of King Magnus many of those who had been his friends were ill-content, for all men loved him; but folk might not abide the temper of King Harald, for that he was hard and was wont to punish men heavily.

But Thorstein Dromund was fallen into eld, though he was still the halest of men; and now was the slaying of Grettir Asmundson sixteen winters agone.


93.   Testimony of Sturla the Lawman

Sturla the Lawman has declared that no outlaw was ever so distinguished as Grettir the Strong. For this he assigns three reasons. First, that he was the cleverest, inasmuch as he was the longest time an outlaw of any man without ever being captured, so long as he was sound in health. Secondly, that he was the strongest man in the land of his age, and better able than any other to deal with spectres and goblins. Thirdly, that his death was avenged in Constantinople, a thing which had never happened to any other Icelander.

Further, he says that Thorsteinn Dromund was a man who had great luck in the latter part of his life.

Here endeth the story of Grettir the son of Asmund.

94.   At that time many urged Thorstein to go meet King Harald, and become his man; but he took not kindly to it.

Then Spes spake, "I will, Thorstein," says she, "that thou go not to meet Harald the king, for to another king have we much more to pay, and need there is that we turn our minds to that; for now we both grow old and our youth is long departed, and far more have we followed after worldly devices, than the teaching of Christ, or the ways of justice and uprightness; now wot I well that this debt can be paid for us neither by our kindred or our goods, and I will that we ourselves should pay it: now will I therefore that we change our way of life and fare away from this land and unto the abode of the Pope, because I well believe that so only may my case be made easy to me."

Thorstein said, "As well known to me as to thee are the things thou talkest of; and it is meet that thou have thy will herein, since thou didst ever give me my will, in a matter of far less hope; and in all things will we do as thou biddest."

This took men utterly unawares; Thorstein was by then sixty-seven years of age, yet hale in all wise.

So now he bid to him all his kindred and folk allied to him, and laid before them the things he had determined on. Wise men gave good words thereto, though they deemed of their departing as of the greatest loss.

But Thorstein said that there was nought sure about his coming back: "Now do I give thanks to all of you," says he, "for the heed ye paid to my goods when I was last away from the land; now I will offer you, and pray you to take to you my children's havings, and my children, and bring them up according to the manliness that is in you; for I am fallen so far into eld that there is little to say as to whether I may return or not, though I may live; but ye shall in such wise look after all that I leave behind me here, even as if I should never come back to Norway."

Then men answered, that good redes would be plenteous if the housewife should abide behind to look after his affairs; but she said

"For that cause did I come hither from the out-lands, and from Micklegarth, with Thorstein, leaving behind both kin and goods, for that I was fain that one fate might be over us both; now have I thought it good to be here; but I have no will to abide long in Norway or the North-lands if he goes away; ever has there been great love betwixt us withal, and nought has happed to divide us; now therefore will we depart together, for to both of us is known the truth about many things that befell since we first met."

So, when they had settled their affairs in this wise, Thorstein bade chosen folk divide his goods into halves; and his kin took the half which his children were to own, and they were brought up by their father's kin, and were in aftertimes the mightiest of men, and great kin in the Wick has come from them. But Thorstein and Spes divided their share of the goods, and some they gave to churches for their souls' health, and some they took with them. Then they betook themselves Romeward, and many folk prayed well for them.


95.   Now they went their ways till they came to Rome-town; and so when they came before him, who was appointed to hear the shrifts of men, they told him well and truly all things even as they had happed, and with what cunning and craft they had joined together in wedlock; therewithal they gave themselves up with great humility to such penance for the amending of their lives as he should lay on them; but because that they themselves had turned their minds to the atoning of their faults, without any urging or anger from the rulers of the church, they were eased of all fines as much as might be, but were bidden gently that they should now and henceforth concern themselves reasonably for their souls' health, and from this time forward live in chastity, since they had gotten them release from all their guilt; and herewith they were deemed to have fared well and wisely.

Then said Spes, "Now, meseems, our matters have gone well and are come to an end, and no unlucky life have we had together; yet maybe fools will do after the pattern of our former life; now therefore let us make such an end to all, that good men also may follow after us and do the like: so let us go bargain with those who are deft in stone-craft; that they make for each of us a cell of stone, that we may thereby atone for what we have done against God."

So Thorstein laid down money for the making of a stone cell for each of them, and for such-like other things as they might need, and might not be without for the keeping of their lives; and then, when the stone work was done, and the time was meet therefor and all things were ready, they departed their worldly fellowship of their own free will, that they might the more enjoy a holy fellowship in another world. And there they abode both in their stone cells, and lived as long as God would have it, and so ended their lives. And most men say that Thorstein Dromund and Spes his wife may be deemed to be folk of the greatest good luck, all things being accounted of; but neither his children or any of his issue have come to Iceland for a tale to be made of them.

Now Sturla the Lawman says so much as that he deems no outlawed man ever to have been so mighty as Grettir the Strong; and thereto he puts forth three reasons

And first in that he was the wisest of them all; for the longest in outlawry he was of any man, and was never won whiles he was hale.

And again, in that he was the strongest in all the land among men of a like age; and more fitted to lay ghosts and do away with hauntings than any other.

And thirdly, in that he was avenged out in Micklegarth, even as no other man of Iceland has been; and this withal, that Thorstein Dromund, who avenged him, was so lucky a man in his last days.

So here ends the story of Grettir Asmundson, our fellow-countryman. Thank have they who listened thereto; but thank little enow to him who scribbled out the tale.