Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Story of Grettir The Strong by Translated by Eirikr Magnusson and William Morris

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

withal to get Grettir away.


Thorbiorn Angle goes to Drangey to speak with Grettir.

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

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.


How Noise let the fire out on Drangey, and how Grettir must needs
go aland for more

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


Grettir at the home-stead of Reeks.

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

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.


Of Haring at Drangey, and the end of him.

That same summer a ship came to the Gangpass-mouth, and therein was a
man called Haering--a 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

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

In the spring died Snorri the Godi, and many matters befell in that
season that come not into this story.


Of the Talk at the Thing about Grettir's Outlawry.

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.


Thorbiorn Angle goes with his Foster-mother out to Drangey.

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 was--at
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
says--To 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

"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.


Of the Carline's evil Gift to Grettir.

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

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

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

"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."


Grettir sings of his Great Deeds.

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

"All will come to one end," said Grettir, and sang this song

"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."[18]

[Footnote 18: This song is obviously incomplete, and the second and
third stanzas speak of matters that do not come into this story.]

"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.


How Thorbiorn Angle gathered Force and set Sail for Drangey.

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

"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

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

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.


The Slaying of Grettir Asmundson.

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

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

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[19] is knocking hard at the door, brother," says Illugi.

[Footnote 19: 'Pied-belly,' the name of the tame ram told of before.]

"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

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

"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

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

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.


How Thorbiorn Angle claimed Grettir's Head-money.

"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

"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

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.


How Thorbiorn Angle brought Grettir's Head to Biarg.

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


Affairs at the Althing.

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

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.


Thorbiorn Angle goes to Norway, and thence to Micklegarth.

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.


How the Short-Sword was the easier known when sought for by reason
of the notch in the blade

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.


How the Lady Spes redeemed Thorstein from the Dungeon.

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

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

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

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.


Of the doings of Thorstein and the Lady Spes.

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

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

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

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

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

"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

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

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.


Of the Oath that Spes made before the Bishop.

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

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.


Thorstein and Spes come out to Norway.

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

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.


Thorstein Dromund and Spes leave Norway again.

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

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.


How Thorstein Dromund and Spes fared to Rome and died there.

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.



P. 29. The genealogy of Gamli of Meals, as here recorded, seems to be
peculiar to Grettir's saga. Yet its statements are inconsistent in
the matter, for it gives this twofold genealogy of the man. See Ed.
Kaupmannahoefn: 1853.

P. 22. Ranveig was the wife of Gamli, the son of Thorald, the
son of the Vendlander.

P. 70. And (Thorir of the Pass) sold the land at Meals to
Thorhalli, son of Gamli the Widelander. His son was
Gamli, who had to wife Ranveig, the daughter of Asmund Greyhaired.

According to 'Landnama,' this Gamli of Meals, Asmund's son-in-law,
was son of Thord, and great-great-grandson of Thorhrolf or Thorolf
Fasthaldi (Fastholding), who settled lands on the north coast of
Icefirth-deep (Isafjartethardjup), and farmed at Snowfells (Snaefjoell).
We have given Thorhall in our translation in both places as the
man's name. Perhaps Thoraldr is nothing but a corruption of Thorolfr
fasthaldi; and Thorhalli again a corruption of the first. But Gamli
the Vendlander or Widelander, we have no means of identifying.

P. 30. 'Now in those times there were wont to be large fire-halls
at the homesteads.' The hall, holl, skali, stofa, was the
principal room in every home. Elda-skali, or fire-hall, as
the one alluded to at Biarg, was so called from its serving as a
cooking-hall and a sitting-hall at once. The main features in the
construction of a hall were the following: it was generally built from
east to west, in an oblong form, having doors either at one or both
ends through the south-side wall, where it met the gable end. These
two entrances were called carles'-door and queens'-door (karldyrr,
), being respectively for the ingress and egress of
men and women. Sometimes the men's-door was adorned with the beaks
(brandar) of a hewn-up ship, as was the case with the hall of
Thorir of Garth, standing as door-posts on either side. The door led
to a front-hall (forkali, fortofa, and-dyri, framhus), which,
sometimes at least, seems to have been portioned off into an inner
room (klefi), or bay, and the vestibule proper. In the bay were
kept victuals, such as dried fish, flour, and sometimes, no doubt,
beer. Within, the hall fell into three main portions: the main hall,
or the nave, and the aisles on either side thereof (skot):
The plan of the hall was much like that of one of our regular-built
churches without chancel, say like a Suffolk church of the fifteenth
century, the nave being lighted by a clerestory, and the aisles
running the whole way along the nave, and communicating behind the
dais. These aisles were used for sleeping-places; so that along the
whole length of the hall, and behind the dais, all was partitioned
into bedsteads, open or locked,--open, that is to say, communicating
with the nave by a doorless aperture,--locked, that is, shut out of
view from the nave (lok-rekkja, lok-hvila).

On the wall between nave and aisles, which was covered with a
panelling on its inside at least, were hung the shields and weapons
of the chief and his retainers, or home-men. Sometimes it was painted
with mythic subjects, and adorned with fantastic carvings; on great
occasions it was covered with hangings. Along both side-walls ran a
row of seats, called benches (bekkr), the north-most of which,
or the one which faced the sun, was called the nobler bench (aeethri
), the south-most one, the less noble bench, (uoeethri
). In the middle of either bench was a seat, called the high
seat (oendvegi); that of the nobler bench being occupied by the
chief or head of the house, unless he had for his guest a man nobler
than himself, in which case the latter took it; that of the less noble
bench being allotted to the noblest among the guests. The nobler bench
was on ordinary occasions the bench for the chief and the household.
The less noble for the guests. In front of the chiefs high-seat were
the high-seat-poles which in the early ages of Paganism in the North
were objects of much veneration, and must always accompany the chief
if he moved his abode, and point out his new homestead, if he fared
for it over sea, by the spot where they drifted ashore, as, when land
was sighted, they were thrown overboard. In front of the seat-rows
just described were placed the tables whereon the meals were put
forth. And when the number of people exceeded the capacity of the
ordinary benches, a new row of benches was placed in front of the
tables, so that there were two rows of benches down along either
side of the hall with the tables between them. The last-named rows of
benches were called forsoeti; and their occupiers, when seated
at table, faced those of the upper and lower bench. In the centre of
the hall, if of the fashion, as it probably was in early times, of a
fire-hall, was a narrow oblong stone-pavement, probably as long as the
rows of the benches, whereon fires were lit for heating of the room,
for cooking of food in some cases, and for the purpose of lighting up
the hall. The smoke that rose from the burning fuel found its way out
through the luffer or louvre, in the middle of the ridge of the roof
(ljori); the reyk-beri, reek-bearer, seems to have been
a contrivance for creating draught to carry the smoke out through
the ljori. In that end of the hall which was opposite to the
entrance was the cross-bench, dais (pallr), occupied by the
women. Here was also a high seat (oendvegi a palli), which was
generally taken by the mistress of the house. In our saga it seems
that the hall of Sand-heaps made an exception to this general rule, as
it apparently had the dais immediately within the doorway.

P. 77 (cpr. 110). It is worth observing here, that Thorvald, son of
Asgeir Madpate the younger, dwells at As in Waterdale, about 1013,
when Thorgils Makson was slain. When Grettir played, as a youth, on
Midfirth-water (or cca. 1010), he dwelt at Asgeirsriver. We
mention this because there has been some confusion about the matter.
On the slight authority of the attr af Isleifi biskupi', Biskupa
Soegur I. 54, it has been maintained that he dwelt at Asgeirsriver
even as late as cca. 1035, when his daughter Dalla was wooed by
Isleif the Bishop. G. Vigfusson, Safn til Soegu Islands, I. 337. On
the other hand, the statement of Hungrvaka that he farmed at As
(i.e., at the Ridge), at the time aforesaid, has given rise
to the conjecture that thereby must be meant Valdar-As, a farm in

Book of the day: