WHEN Thorir died his son Thorarin set up his household to the north of Espihole and lived there. Glum had two children by his wife, of whom one was Márr, as has been said above, and the other was Vigfuss; both promising, but utterly unlike each other. Márr was quiet and silent, but Vigfuss was a dashing fellow, ready to do an unfair thing, strong and full of courage. There was a man living with Glum, who was called Hallvard, and was a freedman of his; he had brought Vigfuss up, and having got a good deal of property together by cheating in money matters , he had made over the reversion if it to his foster-child. Hallvard had a bad name, and went to live at a place called “The Tarns,” in the valley of the Eyjafirth: nor did his reputation impove on account of the spot where he dwelt, for he was sharp in dealing with the cattle in the common pastures up there. Vigfuss was a great traveller.
A man hight Halli lived at Jorunnarstad, who was called “Halli the white,” and he was the son of Thorbiörn, whilst his mother was Vigdis, the daughter of Andun the bald. Now Halli had fostered Einar, the son of Eyiolf, who then lived at Saurbæ. Halli was blind, and was mixed up in all the lawsuits in the country because he was both a wise man and sound in his judgment. His sons were Orm and Brusi the Skald, who lived at Törfufell, and Bárd, who lived at Skállstad. Bárd was a noisy, quarrelsome fellow, better able to fight than anybody, and reckless and abusive in his language; he had for a wife Una, the daughter of Oddkell, in Thiorsádal.
One autumn Halli missed some ten or twelve wethers out of the hill pastures, and they could not be found, so when Bárd and his father met, Halli asked his son what he thought had become of the wethers. Bárd replied, “I don’t wonder if sheep disappear, when a thief lives next door to you, ever since Hallvard came into the district. “Yes,” says Halli, “I should like you to set on foot a suit against him, and summon him for theft. I don’t think, if I make this charge against him, Glum will go the lengths of clearing him by the oath of twelve men.” “No,” answered Bárd, “it will be a difficult matter for him to get the oath of twelve men out of Glum and Vigfuss and their people.” 1
1 See the Supplementary Note at the end of the book.
THEN Bárd set his suit on foot, and when Vigfuss knew it, he told his father that he should not like proceedings for a theft to be commenced against his foster-father. Glum’s answer was, “You know he is not to be trusted, and it will not be a popular thing to swear him guiltless.” Vigfuss said, “Then I would rather that we had to deal with a matter of greater consequence.” Glum replied, “It seems to me better to pay something on his account and let him change his residence and come hither, than to risk my credit for a man of his character.”
When men came up to the Thing, the case was brought on in court, and Glum had to swear one way or the other with his twelve men. Vigfuss became aware of the fact that his father intended to find Hallvard guilty, so he went to the court and said that he would take care Glum should pay dearly for it, if his foster-father was declared guilty. It ended in Glum quashing the suit by swearing that Hallvard was innocent, and he got discredit by doing so. In the course of a winter or two it happened that Halli lost a pig of his, which was so fat that it could hardly get on its legs. Bárd came in one day and asked if he pig had been killed, and Halli said it had disappeared. Bárd replied, “he is gone, no doubt, to look for the sheep which were stolen last autumn.” “I suppose,” said Halli, “they are both gone the same way. Will you summon Hallvard?” “Well,” replied Bárd, “so it shall be, for I do not think Glum will this time swear Hallvard free; Vigfuss was the cause of he previous acquittal, and he is not now in the country.” Bárd took up the case and proceeded to serve the summons; but when he met Hallvard he made a short matter of the suit by cutting of his head, and went and told his father. Halli did not like it; he straightway found Glum, told him what had happened, and offered to leave the matter in his hands. Glum accepted the offer, assessed the damage at a small sum, and caused the pig and the sheep to be paid for, by doing which he was well spoken of. When Vigfuss returned he was displeased at Hallvard’s death; but his father said, “I shall not allow this settlement to be disturbed now it is made;” and when Vigfuss and Bárd met nothing passed between them.
The next summer there was a meeting appointed for a horse-fight, in which all the horses in that district were to be fought; those from the upper against those from the lower “rape,” 1 and either party were to select their man as umpire to decide which had the best of it. The judgment of the men thus chosen was to be abided by. From the upper “rape” Bárd was taken, and from the lower Vigfuss, the son of Glum. There were many horses, and the sport was good, but the fight was pretty equal, and many matches came off, with the result however that the number of those which fought well, and those which bolted was the same. so they agreed that it was an equal match; but Vigfuss said he had a horse which had not fought, which was the best on the ground that day. “Come,” said he, “do you match someone with him.” Bárd answered, “He looks a poor beast to us, we will not match any horse with him; let us say it is a tie.” “Oh,” replied Vigfuss, “the fact is you have none to meet him, but you do not choose to own that you have got the worst of it.” “Up to this time,” said Bárd, “You have acted impartially, but now the sky is clouding over. Now we see the truth, that you have stood by your mother at the dresser in the pantry, and talked about cooking oftener than you have been at horse-fights, and that is the reason why your beard has never got any colour in it.” Vigfuss and other people laughed at this joke.
Halli’s servant came home, and his mater asked him about the horse-fights. He said the match was held to be “a tie.” Then Halli asked, “Did Bárd and Vigfuss agree?” “Yes, pretty well, but Bárd said one thing to Vigfuss.” “What was that?” he inquired; then the servant repeated it, and Halli said, “That will lead to mischief.” The servant said, “Vigfuss laughed at it.” “Yes, but it is the way of Glum and his son to laugh when the fit for killing somebody comes upon them.”
When Halli and Bárd met, the former asked his son, “How came you to talk in that reckless way? I fear it will lead to great evil. You have but one thing to do, and that is to go abroad and get house timber; you must stay away three winters or your death is certain.” Bárd answered, “There is nothing in it if you were not a coward, but old age causes you to be afraid on account of your sons.” “You are no doubt a very brave fellow,” said Halli, “but you will find it difficult to stay in the district.” So Bárd took his father’s advice and went abroad, and Halli bribed a vagrant fellow to go into Skagafirth, or to the westward of it, and tell the story how Bárd was gone away; and how for the sake of one word, on account of Glum and his son, the only safe course for him had been to become an exile; and ho no one in the district dared to do anything which they disliked. This fellow did what Halli wished, and they had recourse to this plan in order that Bárd’s kinsmen might not be molested for his sake. Bárd stopped out one winter, and then returned to his home.
1 The Icelandic word is Hreppr–and I have translated it by the word still retained in “The Rape of Bramber.”
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