THE SAGA OF VIGA-GLUM – An Ancient Viking Saga – CHAPTER’s XIII & XIV

CHAPTER XIII

 

IT happened one summer, at the Althing, that the Northern men and those of the West-firths met one another on the wrestling ground in a match according to their districts. The Northerners had rather the worst of it, and their leader was Márr, the son of Glum. Now a certain man of the name of Ingolf, the son of Thorvald, came up, whose father lived at Rangavellir. Márr addressed him thus–“You are a strong-limbed fellow, and ought to be sturdy; do me the favour of going into the match and taking hold.” his answer was–“I will do so for your sake,” and forthwith the man he grappled with went down, and thus it was with the second, and the third, so that the Northerners were well pleased. Then said Márr, “If you want a good word on my part, I shall be ready to help you. What may be your plans?” “I have no plans,” he answered, “but I had an inclination to go northward and get work.” “Well,” rejoined Márr, “I should like you to go with me; I will get you a place.” Ingolf had a good horse of his own, which he called b the name of “Snækoll,” and he went northward to Thverá, after the Thing was over, and staid there some time. Márr asked him one day what he intended to do. “There is an over-looker wanted here, who ought to be somewhat handy; for instance, here is this sledge to be finished, and if you can do that you can do something worth having.” “I should be too glad of such a place,” said Ingolf, “but it has sometimes happened that my horses have caused trouble in the pastures of the cattle.” “No one will talk about that here,” answered Márr; so Ingiolf set to work on the sledge. Glum came up, and looked at what he was doing. “That is a good piece of work,” he observed. “What are your plans?” Ingolf answered, “I have no plans.” Glum replied, “I want an over-looker, are you used to that sort of business?” “Not much, in such a place as this, but I should be glad to stay with you.” “Why should it not be so?” said Glum; “for I see that you and Márr get on well together.” When Márr came home Ingolf told him what had passed. “I should like it much,” he answered, “if it turns out well, and I will take care, if anything displeases my father, to tell you of it three times; but if you do not set it right then I must stop.” So Ingolf took to his business, and Glum was pleased with him.
One day Glum and Ingolf, his over-looker, went to a horse-fight; the latter rode a mare, but the horse ran along by their side. The sport was good; Kálf, of Stockahlad was there, and he had an old working horse who beat all the others. He called out, “why don’t they bring into the ring that fine-jawed beast of the Thverá people?” “They are no fair match,” said Glum, “your cart-horse and that stallion.” “Ah!” exclaimed Kálf, “the real reason why you will not fight him is because he has no spirit in him. It may be the old proverb is proved true, ‘the cattle are like their master.’” “You know nothing about that,” answered Glum, “and I will not refuse on Ingolf’s part, but the fight must not go on longer than he chooses.” “He will probably know well enough, said Kálf, “that little will be done against your wishes,” The two horses were led out, and fought well, and all thought Ingolf’s horse had the best of it; Glum then chose to separate them, and they rode home. Ingolf remained that year in his place, and Glum was well satisfied with him.
Not long after this there was a meeting at Diupadal, whither Glum, and Ingolf with his horse, came; Kálf also was there. This last man was a friend of the people of Espihole, and he demanded that they should now let the horses fight it out. Glum said it depended on Ingolf, but that he himself was against it; howerer, he did not like to back out of it, and the horses were led out accordingly. Kálf spurred his horse on, but Ingolf’s horse had the best of it in every contest. Then Kálf struck Ingolf’s horse over the ears with his staff in such a way as to make him giddy, but immediately afterwards he went at his adversary again. Glum came up, and fair fighting was restore, till in the end Kálf’s horse bolted from the ring. Then there was a great shout, and at last Kálf smote Ingolf with his stick. People interfered, and Glum said, “Let us take no note of such a matter as this; this is the end of every horse-fight.” Márr, on the other hand, said to Ingolf, “Depend upon it, my father does not intend that any disgrace shall attach to you for this blow.”

 

CHAPTER XIV

 

THERE was a man named Thorkel, who lived at Hamar. Ingolf went thither, and met this man’s daughter, who was a handsome woman. Her father was well enough off, but he was not a person of much consideration in the country. Ingolf, however, attended properly to his duties as over-looker, but he did not work as a craftsman so much as he had done, and Márr spoke to him once about it saying, “I see that my father is not pleased at your being often away from home.” Ingolf gave a fair answer, but it came to the same thing again, and Márr warned him again a second and third time, but it was no use.
One evening it happened that he came home late, and when the men had had their supper Glum said, “Now let us amuse ourselves, and let each of us say what or whom he most relies on, and I will have first choice. Well, I choose three things on which I most rely; the first is my purse, the second is my axe, and the third is my larder.” Then one man after another made his choice, and Glum called out, “whom do you chose, Ingolf?” His answer was, “Thorkel, of Hamar.” Glum jumped up, held up a the hilt of his sword, and going up to him said, “A pretty sort of patron you have chosen.” All men saw that Glum was wroth. He went out, and Ingolf went with him, and then Glum said to him, “Go now to your patron and tell him you have killed Kálf.” “Why,” replied he, “how can I tell him this lie?” “You shall do as I please,” answered Glum, so they both went together, and Glum turned into the barn, where he saw a calf before him. “Cut it’s head off,” he cried, “and then go southward across the river and tell Thorkel that you look to him alone for protection, and show him your bloody sword as the token of the deed you have done.” Ingolf did this; went to Thorkel, and told him as news how he had not forgooten the blow Kálf had given him, and how he had killed him. The answer was, “You are a fool, and you have killed a good man; get you gone as quick as you can, I do not choose that you should be slain on my premises.” Then Ingolf came back again to meet Glum, who asked him “Well, how did your patron turn out?” “Not over well,” said he. “You will have trouble on your hands,” remarked Glum, “if Kálf, of Stockahlad should really be killed.”
Now Glum himself had killed Kálf, at Stöckahlad, whilst Ingolf was away, and had thus taken vengeance for him,1 and the following day Kálf’s death was publicly known. Thorkel said at once that a fellow had come thither who had taken the death on himself, so that everybody thought it was really so. The winter passed on, and Glum sent Ingolf northward, to the house of Einar, the son of Konál, and gave him nine hundred ells of cloth. “You have had no wages,” he said, “from me,” but with your saving habits you may turn this to good account, and as regards this matter which is laid to your charge I will take care of that. It shall not hurt you; I paid you off for your perverseness in this way, and when you come home you may come and pay me a visit.” Ingolf answered, “One thing I beg of you, do not let the woman be married to anyone else.” “This, I promise you,” said Glum. Ingolf’s horses were left where they were. Einar, the son of Konál, got Ingolf conveyed abroad, but Thorvald began a suit at the Hegranes Thing for the slaughter of Kálf, and it looked as if Ingolf would be found guilty. Glum was at the Thing, and some of Ingolf’s kinsmen came to him, and asked him to look after the case, professing their readiness to contribute to pay the fine for him. Glum told them, “I will se to the suit without any fine being paid.”
When the court went out to sit, and the defendant was called on for his defence, Glum stated that the suit was null and void, “for you have proceeded against the wrong man; I did the deed.” Then he named his witnesses, who were to certify that the suit was void; “for though Ingolf did kill the ’calf’ in the barn, I did not make any charge against him for that. Now, I will offer an atonement more according to the worth of the man killed, ant according to the pride of you men of Espihole.” So he did, and the people left the Thing.
Ingolf was abroad that winter, and could stand it no longer, but turned his cash into goods, and purchased valuable articles, and tapestry hangings of rare quality. Glum had given him a good cloak, and he exchanged that for a scarlet kirtle. The summer that he had sailed there came out to Iceland the man called Thiodolf, whose mother lived at Æsustad. He visited Hamar, and fell in with Helga. One day Glum was riding up to Hole, and a he went down the hill at Saurbæ, Thiodolf met him. Glum said to him, “I do not like your visits to Hamar; I mean myself to provide for Helga’s marriage, and if you do not give this up I shall challenge you to the ‘Holmgang.’” He answered that he was not going to math himself with Glum, and so he left off going thither.


Footnotes

1 This sentence appears to be as sort of gloss introduced in one of the transcripts from the original MS, but I have inserted it in the text, as it is essential to the understanding of this strange story. It should be observed that there is a double pun in the Icelandic which cannot be represented in a translation. Not only was the man’s name Kálf, but he lived at Stocka-Hlad, and the calf which Ingolf was made to kill was in the hlada, or barn.


 

———————

 

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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