THE SAGA OF VIGA-GLUM – An Ancient Viking Saga – CHAPTER’s XIX & XX

CHAPTER XIX

 

WHILST Bárd was away Halli took care of his property, and got some timber cut in a wood in Midárdal which belonged to him, and Bárd brought out a good deal of timber with him. Sometimes he stayed at his own home, and sometimes with his father. Bárd said he would go and fetch his timber home, when Halli remarked, “I would not have you go yourself, for it is not good to trust that father and son.” “Oh,” said Bárd, “nobody will know that I am going.” So he went, and a servant with him, to fetch the timber, and they took a good many horses with them, but his wife Una had gone to Vidines to see her sister Oddkatla, and Bárd went thither on his way. Hlenni begged him to send someone else into the wood, and to stay where he was himself; it seemed more prudent to do so, but Bárd answered there was no need of it.
The two sisters went with him out of the homestead, but when they were returning Una looked back at him over her shoulder, and fell down in a swoon. Her sister asked her what she had seen? “I saw dead men coming to meet Bárd,” said she; “he must be fey. We shall never see one another again.” Bárd and his men made their way into the wood, and when they were there, they got their loads of timber together, and tied up their horses, but a great mist had come on. Very early that morning the shepherd from Thverà had been a-foot, and Vigfuss met him and asked him for tidings, as he often did. “It is wonderful to me,” he said, “that you never fail to find your sheep in such a fog as there is now.” The shepherd answered, “It is a small matter for me to find my flock, but those men whom I saw in the wood in the morning had more trouble to find their horses, which were really standing close to them. They were fine looking fellows; one was in a green kirtle, and they had shields by their sides.” Vigfuss asked him if he knew the man? He said he thought it was Bárd, for he was the owner of the wood where they were. “Get my three horses,” said Vigfuss. There were two Easterlings staying there whom Vigfuss asked to ride with him, saying that he was going to the warm spring; but when he got out of the homestead he made as if he would ride southward over Laugardal. The Easterlings asked him, “Whither are you riding now?” “On some business of my own first,” said he, so he rode a good way in front of them, and they went southward above the enclosures, until they saw Bárd coming out of the wood with his loaded horses. Bárd’s servant saw someone riding after them, and remarked, “These men are riding sharp after us.” “Who is that?” said Bárd. “It is Vigfuss,” he replied, “and I think we had better get away from him. There is no disgrace in doing so, whilst we know nothing of their intentions.” Bárd said, “He will not set on me with three men, if you are not with me.” “I would sooner go with the horses,” answered the man, “and do you ride to Vidines. You cannot be blamed for going where you have business, and you do not know for a certainty what they who are riding after us want, thought Hlenni told you not to trust them.” Bárd told him then, “You shall ride on forward and, if I am delayed, tell our men what is going on, for it is likely that I and Vigfuss shall be some time about it, if we look one another fairly in the face; and he is too good a man to set on me with three against one. If, on the other hand, we are two and they are three, they will take the benefit of the difference in strength.”
The servant did what Bárd told him, and Bárd himself unstrapped his shield, and got ready in the best way he could. When they came up he asked what they wanted? Vigfuss said that both of them would not quit the meeting-place alive. Bárd replied that he was ready, if they two only were to play the game out; “but there is no manhood in it if three are to set on one.” The Easterlings then said they would have staid at home if they had known their errand, but that they could not take part unless, in consequence of Bárds companion having ridden off, men should come to his assistance. Vigfuss told them to see first how matters went. So he and Bárd fought for some time without either being wounded, but it looked worse for Vigfuss, inasmuch as he had to give ground every time without being able to make a single blow tell. Bárd had his sword, and defended himself admirable without being touched. In the mean time the Easterlings thought it would be a bad business if Vigfuss should be slain, while they stood by doing nothing, and if men should come up to help Bárd. They they rushed at him, so that he was dying when Hlenni and his men got there. Vigfuss and his friends rode home, but Glum was ill pleased with what they had done, and said that the difficulties in the district would be greatly increased. Halli went to his foster-son Einar, at Saurbæ, and asked him to take the case in hand, and he admitted that he was bound to avenge his kinsman and foster-brother. Then they rode to Thorarin, and asked for his support; he replied that he knew no man he would rather have to deal with than Vigfuss, and they confirmed with oaths their alliance with reference to that and all other matters. The cause went to the Thing, and attempts were made to compound it, but there was so much in the way that it was difficult to effect a compromise, as both the men of Mödrufell and those of Espihole, who resisted it, were bold in spirit, and well versed in the law. The case was closed by a verdict against the Easterlings, and by money being given to allow Vigfuss a safe conduct. He was to have three summers to get a passage out, and to have three places of refuge in each year, but he was an outlaw on peril of his life elsewhere, and not allowed to be at home on account of the sacredness of the place. However, he stayed long at Upsal, though people thought he was in other quarters of the island, and he would not go abroad within the period fixed. Then he became completely outlawed, and Glum kept him concealed, but outlawed men were not allowed to live there because Frey, who owned the temple, did not permit it. So matters went on for six winters.

CHAPTER XX

 

WE must now go back to the point where the foster-brothers Arngrim and Steinolf were growing up together. When Thorgrim of Mödrufell died, Arngrim went to his own house, and Steinolf remained with him, and there was as much affection between them as there had ever been. Arngrim took a wife, Thordis, the daughter of Biörn, and the sister of Arnor Kerlingarnef. Steinolf was at that time abroad, engaged in trading voyages, but when he was in Iceland he was at Arngrim’s house. It happened one summer, on his arrival in the Eyjafirth, that Arngrim did not invite him to his house, and though they met he did not speak to him, imputing to him that he had talked with his wife, Thordis, more than was proper; but the report of most men was that there was little or nothing in the matter. Then Glum asked Steinolf to visit him, and he was there for a year or two when he was in Iceland, and they regarded one another with much affection as kinsmen. Steinolf was an active merry fellow. One summer Glum did not ask him to his house, and said that he preferred that he should be with his father at Upsal, “and my reason is, I do not approve of men living in other people’s house, but if you are with your father then you can come over hither to Thverà, and I shall be glad to see you.” Vigfuss, for some winters, whilst he was an outlaw, was at Upsal with Arnor Red-cheek, and Steinolf was there also. One autumn a yeoman at Öxnafell married his daughter, and invited all those land-owners in Eyjafirth, who were of most consequence; Steinolf too was invited. He came over to Thverà, and wanted to go with Glum, bout Glum said he should not be at the wedding. Then Steinolf observed, “What I do not like is that you do not abide by what you say.” “Well,” said Glum, “my want of consistency will not do so much harm as your want of prudence, and I will not go. It is a piece of presumption at any rate, if there is no deeper design in it, for a yeoman to ask so many men of consequence to his house. But I suspect that something more is meant that appears, and that the yeoman did not get up this scheme himself, so I think it better that I and my friends should stay away.” Steinolf, however, and those who were asked, with the exception of Glum, went to the wedding. Einar, the son of Eyiolf, Thorvald, and Steingrim had a good deal of talk together. When people were going away, Einar made a long speech about the management of affairs in the district, and said it was fitting that when they met in any number they should talk over the matters of most urgency; that in this way things would get into a better state. “For instance,” he said, “there has long been a bad feeling among men of the highest spirit, and I allude particularly to the fact that there is a quarrel between the two kinsmen Arngrim and Steinolf, whilst we think that some lie or calumny is at the bottom of it all. Now Arngrim wishes to invite Steinolf to his house, and will receive him honourably if he choose to accept the invitation. So get rid of all unfriendly feeling between you.” Steinolf professed his readiness to accept the offer, and his unconsciousness of any cause of offence, and he added that he loved Arngrim above all men. The each man returned to his home, and Steinolf went back with Arngrim, and remained with him, for several nights with all honour.

 

 

———————

 

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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This site is about bringing the Ancient Norse & Viking sagas back to life. Each day a chapter or two from a saga will be posted enabling you to read the saga from beginning to end. If you like the saga, it is available to be purchased as a paperback or as an eBook. Abela Publishing is a social enterprise prublisher. By this we mean that a percentage of our profits is donated to charities.
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