THE SAGA OF VIGA-GLUM – An Ancient Viking Saga – CHAPTER’s XXI & XXII

CHAPTER XXI

 

ONE day Arngrim asked Steinolf if he would go down with him to Grund to a club-feast, and stay two or three nights. He replied, “I will stay at home now and go some other time when you are here.” Arngrim expressed a hope that he would wait for his return, if he would not accompany him, and he went on to Grund, but Steinolf stayed over the night. In the morning Steinolf was sitting by the fire, with some work in hand; it was a certain casket which belonged to the lady of the house. At that moment Arngrim returned home with Thorvald the crooked, and as they came into the sitting-room Steinolf was bending down over his work. Then Arngrim struck him on the head in such a way as to cause his death; but the mistress of the house came up to him and exclaimed, “Wretch that thou are to strike this blow! This is the work of wiser men than thou art; but from this day I will never be they wife.” She went to the house of Arnor Kerlingarnef and never came together with Arngrim again; but before she rode off she said, “It will be some consolation, Arngrim, that your days are to be few, for those which are to come will be worse for you.” Afterwards she became the wife of Asgrim, Ellidagrim’s son.

Arngrim and Thorvald rode to Espihole and told Thorarin what had happened, asking for his protection, and adding that whilst they had neither the wisdom nor the popularity to hold their own against Glum, he (Thorarin) had abundance of both. He replied to them and said that the deed seemed to be bad, and one from which apprehended evil consequences. Thorvald thought it was no use to find fault with what had been done, and that if he did not support them, he would soon have greater difficulties on his hands. They hoped to get other people to help them, if he would speak on their behalf. “My counsel,” says Thorarin, “is that you should both remove from Grund and Mödrufell, and that we should collect men as soon as we may, and join our households together, before Glum is informed of it.” They did this before Glum heard what had occurred; but when he learnt it he assembled his people, who proceeded to attack them. However, there was no opportunity for doing so with effect, as the men of Espihole had the larger force, and so they remained quiet for the winter. Glum, on the other hand, was never to be got at; he was so cautious about himself that he never slept in the bed which had been prepared for him. Very often he rested little at night, but he and Márr walked up and down and talked about lawsuits. One night Márr asked him how he had slept, and Glum answered by a stanza—

” ‘Mid all this strife and tumult now
Sleep doth mine eyelids flee.
These men will find it hard, I trow,
To make their peace with me,

Before upon their crests shall ring
My sword in battle-fray.
I’ve slain men for a small thing,
And why not these, I pray?

 

Now I will tell you of my dream. Methought I went out of the homestead here by myself and without arms, and Thorarin seemed to come at me with a large whetstone in his hand, and I felt ill prepared for our meeting; but whilst I was thinking about it I saw another whetstone lying close by me, so I cuaght it up and attacked him, and when we met either tried to strike the other, but the two stones came against one another and there was a tremendous crash.” “Was it such,” asked Márr, “as might be considered a conflict between the two houses?” “More than that,” replied Glum. “Did it seem that it might represent a conflict between the two districts?” “Yes,” said Glum, “the omen may well be reckoned such, for I thought the crash could be heard all over the district, and when I woke I sung as follows

 

“I thought this night to see in sleep
that chief, who o’er the sea
guides the fierce raven of the deep,
Smite with a stone at me.

“The lord of Limafirth’s broad strand
Came on in all his pride,
I met him fearless hand to hand
And dash’d the blow aside.

 

Márr observed it was very likely the old saying would come true, “Each of you will smite the other with and evil stone before it is over.” “Yes,” said Glum, “it is not improbable; there are many bodings tending that way. There is another dream to tell you. Methought I was standing out of doors, and that I saw two women who had a trough between them, and they took their stations at Hrisateig and sprinkled the whole district with blood. I woke up, and I think this portends something which is to happen. Then I sung these verses—

“The gods–methought, they swept along
Across the path of men.
the clash of swords and the javelin’s song
We shall hear full soon again.

“I saw the maids of carnage stand,
In grim and vengeful mood,
As the battle rag’d, and they drench’d the land
In slaughter’d warriors blood.”

 

That morning Márr rode to Mödrufell, with seventeen other men, to summon Arngrim for the death of Steinolf; but Glum remained at home with five men besides himself, and told them to be quick in getting back again. In the house with Glum were Jöd, and Eyiolf, the son of Thorleif the tall, Thorvald Tafalld, Glum’s nephew, and two thralls.

 

CHAPTER XXII

 

HELGA, Glum’s sister, who had been married to Steingrim of Sigluvik, had at that time come to Laugaland; she was the mother of Thorvald Tafalld, who was then eighteen years of age. There was a man named Thorvard, the son of Ornolf and of Yngvillda, who went by the name of “Everybody’s sister.” He lived at Krisnes, and had a son named Gudbrand, who was then twelve years old. Thorvard was a prudent man, and tolerably well inclined to help anyone, but he was then old. That morning he was early a-foot, and told his man to get his horses. Then they rode to Thverà, and when they got there Márr had just started. Glum welcomed Thorvard well, and the latter inquired if any attempt had been made to procure a settlement between the parties. Glum told him “None.” Thorvard asked, “Is the suit set on foot?” Glum said it was not. Then said the other, “A day like this would be a good one for this business: there is much mist, and no one would know what was going on, if one went quietly about it.” Glum went on to say how matters stood, and how six men only remained at home. Thorvard answered, “You have rather a small number with you, but the steps you have taken will no doubt be sufficient.” Then Thorvard rode to Espihole, and when he came thither the men were not up; but he found Thorarin, and inquired, “What do you intend to do? Do you intend to offer Glum any composition for the death?” Thorarin answered, “We do not think it an easy matter to offer to compound with Glum.” “Is the suit set on foot?” asked Thorvard. “I have not heard,” said Thorarin; “but what do you know about the matter?” “Oh,” replied he, “Márr rode off this morning with seventeen others to proceed with the suit, and Glum remained at home with five men; no doubt it would now be a famous chance for setting matters straight, but you fellows here never get the best of it, because you are not so sharp in your movements as Glum is.” “Well,” said Thorarin, “the fact is I do not like to set up mere gossip and nonsense on our side to meet this charge.” Thorvard answered, “Whether there was any sufficient cause or not is a point which ought to have been considered before Steinolf was killed. Did he not try to seduce Arngrim’s wife? Of a surety I think such a matter as that is not to be reckoned as nothing.” Thorarin persisted, “I do not like having to do with such a business.” “What do you mean,” said Thorvard, “by talking thus? Glum got something by that outlawry of your relative, Sigmund, and your clear course is not to let yourself be thus insulted by him.” “I am not sure,” said Thorarin, “whether that is or is not a wise course.”
After this conversation the people of the house got up, and Thorvald the crooked pressed that they should ride to Upsal and give notice of outlawry as against Steinolf for his conduct to Arngrim’s wife, so that he might be taken to have been rightly killed. Thorarin said, “That does not seem very advisable, but we will do it.” There were fifteen of them in all, of whom seven are named, that is to say, Thorarin, Thorvald the crooked, his son Ketill, Arngrim, Eystein the Berserker, Thord the son of Rafn, who lived as Stockahlad, and had married Vigdis, the daughter of Thorir and widow of Sigmund, and Eyvind, the Norwegian who was staying with Thord. They went to Upsal, but Thorvard rode to Öngulstad (where there lived a good yeoman, Halli the fat), and sent his son to Thverà, desiring him to tell Glum the purpose of the men of Espihole, “and afterwards,” he added, “you will ride back quickly to meet me.”
When Thorvard came to Öngulstad, Halli asked what news he had to tell. “Nothing as yet,” he replied; but then he told him what was the position of things, and Halli thought he saw pretty clearly that Thorvard had brought all this trouble on, and he told him that such men as he were born for mischief, inasmuch as he desired that every man should be at variance with his neighbour; and he added, “It would serve you right if you were killed.” Then Halli went in a great hurry with all the people, men and women, whom he had got, with the intention of interfering between the two parties, if it were necessary. Gudbrand, Thorvard’s son, got to Thverà, and said that his father had sent him thither; he told Glum what had occurred, and how “my father thought himself bound to tell you this which concerns you nearly, that the men of Espihole intend to give notice of outlawry as attaching to Steinolf.” Glum’s answer was, “Why did not your father come himself?” The lad said, “I consider it all the same which of us two came.” Glum replied, “Your father has done well in sending you hither, if we are in want of men:” so he made him dismount, and fastened up his horse. Gudbrand exclaimed, “My father told me I must get back quickly.” “Oh,” rejoined Glum, “it cannot be so; he was desirous, no doubt, that you should show your manhood to-day.”
In the meantime Thorvard began to say, “My son Gudbrand is late.” Halli inquired whither he had sent him. “I sent him to Thverà,” answered Thorvard. “It is well,” said Halli, “that you should meet with some cunning people, and it serves you right.”
The men of Espihole rode across the river with the intention of passing at the “Ship-ford.” Glum saw them riding, and remarked that Márr was somewhat too late. Then he ran out of the homestead with six men, of whom Gudbrand was one, and followed the other party. He had his shield and a halberd, with his sword by his side, and hastened on the road, with his men after him, to come up with them. When Thorarin saw them coming he had his people ride their own way, no faster and no slower on that account, “and no one can blame us for that.” Thord, the son of Rafn, asked Thorarin whether they with twenty men were to let themselves be chased by Glum with his six? Thorarin’s answer was, “Let us ride on, for Glum’s object is to delay us and to wait for his own people.” Thord said, “It is no wonder that when he stands on equal vantage-ground with us we often get the worst of it with Glum; seeing that now, when he has only a few men with him, you do not dare to wait for him; but he shall not make me run,” and so he dismounted. Eystein the Berserker said too that he would not ride away from Glum, “so that they should profess to have driven us off.” Thorarin observed that this course seemed to him inexpedient; but when Glum saw that they did not go on, he slackened his pace, and addressed Thorarin, asking what their errand was at Upsal. Thorarin replied that they had determined to proclaim Steinolf as liable to outlawry. Then Glum said, “Is not this rather too strong a measure? Should not some offer of satisfaction be tried first, and we might possibly hit upon some method for bringing this suit to a close.” Thorarin said that he wanted to delay them and had them ride on, and so they did. Glum asked them, “Will you stay a little bit longer?” but they rode away from him, and as they rode slower, so Glum slackened his pace and waited for his men, and said, “Your cause will not find much favour, if you rake up a parcel of lies, and it will end only in disgrace.” “We shall not look to that now,” replied Thorarin; “it is a hard matter to come to terms with you.” Whilst they rode on, Glum kept going forward alongside of them, talking with them, and thus delayed them. But when he saw he could not keep them back any longer, and felt sure of his own men coming up, then he threw his spear at Arngrim so that it went through the man’s thigh and the saddle-bow also, and Arngrim was disabled for the day. Eystein was the first who then rushed at Glum, but Thorvald Tafalld stood out to meet him, and they two fought with each other. Every other man thought he was well off in proportion as he kept away from them; for they were both full of courage and strength, and each of them dealt the other many and sore strokes. Thorvald the crooked attacked Glum sharply and many more with him, but Glum and his men got out of their way and protected themselves as well as they could. Thorarin did not get off his horse, for he thought that they were quite enough to set on one man.”

———————

 

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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