THE SAGA OF VIGA-GLUM – An Ancient Viking Saga – CHAPTER’s XI & XII

CHAPTER XI

 WE must now bring into the story the man named Arnor, who was called “Red-cheek,” the son of Steinolf, the son of Ingiald and first cousin of Glum. He had been long abroad, but was highly esteemed, and constantly with Glum when he was in Iceland. He suggested to Glum to get him a wife. Glum asked him what woman he wished to woo? He replied, “Thordis, the daughter of Gizor, who was refused to Thorgrim, the son of Thorir.” “Well,” said Glum, “that seems to me a hopeless proposal, for there is nothing to choose betwixt you two personally; but Thorgrim has a good establishment, plenty of money, and many kinsmen to back him, whereas you, on the other hand, have no household and not much property. I do not want to offer an unequal match to Gizor, so as to prevent him doing the best for his daughter, as he wishes, for Gizor deserves well at my hands.” Arnor answered him, “I get the benefit of having good friends, if I make a better match in consequence of your urging my suit. Promise him your friendship, and then he will give me the girl. Indeed, it might have been called a fair match enough, if she had not been already refused to so good a man as Thorgrim.” Glum allowed himself to be persuaded and went with Arnor to Gizor and pressed the matter on his behalf. Gizor’s answer was, “It may be, Glum, that people will say I have made a mistake, if I give to Arnor, your kinsman, my daughter, whom I did not choose to give to Thorgrim.” “Well,” said Glum, “there is some reason in that; but it may also be said, if you will give proper weight to what I say, that my hearty friendship is to be thrown into the balance.” Gizor replied, “Yes; but, on the other side, I suspect there will be the emnity of other people.” “Well,” said Glum, “you see your way before you; but I tell you that what you do makes a great difference in my disposition towards you.” Then said Gizor, “You shall not go away this time without succeeding;” so he gave him his hand, and the girl was betrothed to Arnor. Glum insisted on one condition–that the bridal was to be at Thverá in the autumn; and they parted on this understanding.
Now Arnor had some malt out at Gásar, and he himself and one of his men were to fetch it.1 Thorgrim, son of Thorir, went to the warm spring on the very day on which they were expected in with the malt, and he was at the bath at Hrafnagil with six of his own men in his company. So when Arnor was coming up and wanted to cross the river, Thorgrim exclaimed, “Is not this a lucky hit, now, to stumble on Arnor? Do not let us miss the malt, at any rate, if we have missed the lady.” They went at them with their swords uplifted, and Arnor, when he saw what the difference in their number was, jumped right into the river and got across; but his pack-horses remained on the west side of the stream. “Ah!” exclaimed Thorgrim, “we are not altogether out of luck; we shall drink the ale, if they get the wife.” So he rode off to South Espihole. Thorir was then quite blind, and Thorgrim’s companions were very merry and laughed aloud. Then Thorir asked what seemed so laughable to them. They said they did not know which party would have thier feast first; and they told him what they had got, and how the owners of the malt had been driven off, and how the bridegroom had jumped into the water. When Thorir heard the story he said, “Do you think you have made a good business of it now, that you laugh so heartily? How do you suppose you will get out of it? Do you imagine you will sleep quietly here to-night and want nothing else? Do you not know what Glum’s disposition will be, if he approves of his kinsman’s journey? I say it is good counsel to get our men together; it is most probable that Glum has already assembled a good many of his.”
There was at that time a ford in the river at the place where now there is none. In the course of the night they collected some eighty good men, and stationed them on the edge of the rising ground, because the ford was just at that very point. On the other hand, it is to be told how Arnor found Glum and gave him an account of his expedition. “Yes,” answered Glum, “this is pretty much what I expected; I did not think they would be quiet; and the matter is somewhat difficult to handle. If we do nothing there is disgrace for us, and the honour is not so clear if we try to set it right. However, we must get our men together.” So when day broke Glum came to the river with sixty men and wanted to ride across, but the men of Espihole pelted them with stones, so that they did not advance; and Glum turned back whilst they fought with stones and missiles across the water. A good many men were wounded, but their names are not recorded. When the men of the district became aware of what was going on they came up in the course of the day and interfered, and the two parties came to a parley about terms. The men of Espihole were asked what satisfaction they would make for the insult offered to Arnor, and they said that no satisfaction was due from them, though Arnor had run away from his malt-sacks. Then a proposal was made that Glum should take part in asking, on behalf of Thorgrim, for Herpruda, the other daughter of Gizor, and that the marriage of Arnor and Thordis should take place only on condition of Glum’s getting this second match agreed to. In fact, the one who was to be married to Thogrim was thought to have the best bargain. In consequence of the intervention of so many people, Glum promised his assistance in this matter, and he went to Gizor and spoke to him upon it. “It may seem,” he said, “to be officiousness on my part, if I take on myself to woo a wife for my own kinsman and for the men of Espihole too; but in order to stop disturbances in our district, I think I am bound to pledge my faith and friendship to you, if you will do as I wish.” Gizpr replied, “It seems best to me that you should have you way, inasmuch as the offer to my daughter is a good one;” and so both matches were agreed on. Arnor went to live at Upsal, and Thorgrim at Mödrufell. Shortly after this Gizor died, and Saldis moved her household to Upsal. Arnor had a son by Thordis, who was called Steinolf, and Thorgrim had one who was named Arngrim, and was, as he grew up, a promising lad.


Footnotes

1 Malt had to be imported into Iceland from Denmark or from England. See Laing, Heimskringla, i. p. 58. This malt apparently had been landed, and was waiting to be carried up the country.


CHAPTER XII

 SALDIS invited both her grandsons to stay with her. Arngrim was two winters older than Steinolf; there was not in the whole of the Eyjafirth any boys of a better disposition or greater promise, and they were very fond of each other. When one was four years old and the other six, they were one day playing together, and Steinolf asked Arngrim to lend him the little brass horse which he had. Arngrim answered, “I will give it you, for looking to my age, it is more fit for your plaything than mine.” Steinolf went and told his foster-mother what a fair gift he had got, and she said it was quite right that they should be on such good terms with one another.
There was a woman who went about in that part of the country, named Oddbiörg, who amused people by story-telling, and was a “spaewife.” A feeling existed that it was of some consequence for the mistress of the house to receive her well, for that what she said depended more or less on how she was entertained. She came to Upsal, and Saldis asked her to spae something, and that something good, of those boys. Her answer was, “Hopeful are these lads; but what their future luck may be it is difficult for me to discern.” Saldis exclaimed, “If I am to judge by this unsatisfactory speech of yours, I suppose you are not pleased with your treatment here.” “You must not,” said Oddbiörg, “let this affect your hospitality, nor need you be so particular about a word of this kind.” “The less you say the better,” replied Saldis, “if you can tell us nothing good.” “I have not yet said too much,” she answered; “but I do not think this love of theirs will last long.” Then Saldis said, “I should have thought my good treatment of you deserved some other omen; and if you deal with evil bodings, you will have a chance of being turned out of doors.” “Well,” said Oddbiörg, “since you are so angry about nothing, I see no need for sparing you, and I shall never trouble you again. But, take it as you will, I can tell you that these boys will hereafter be the death each of the other, and one mischief worse than another for this district will spring from them.” So Oddbiörg is out of our story.

 ———————

From: The Story/Saga of Viga Glum

TRANSLATED FROM THE ICELANDIC, WITH NOTES AND AN INTRODUCTION, BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR EDMUND HEAD, BART., K.C.B

 ISBN: 978-1-907256-45-5

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_vg.html

 

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