NOW after that Ingibjorga longed to get away from Surnadale, and went home to her father with her goods. As for Thorbjorn, he looked about for a wife, and went east across the Keel to Fressey, and wooed a woman named Isgerda, and got her. After that he went back home to Surnadale and set up housekeeping with his father. Thorkel Goldhelm lived but a little while afterwards ere he fell sick and died, and Thorbjorn took all the heritage after his father. He was afterwards called Thorbjorn Soursop, and he dwelt at Stock in Surnadale. He and Isgerda had children. Their eldest son was Thorkel, the second Gisli, and the third Ari, but he was sent at once to be fostered at Fressey, and he is little heard of in this story. Their daughter’s name was Thordisa. She was their eldest child. Thorkel was a tall man and fair of face, of huge strength, and the greatest dandy. Gisli was swarthy of hue, and as tall as the tallest: ’twas hard to tell how strong he was. He was a man who could turn his hand to anything, and was ever at work-mild of temper too. Their sister Thordisa was a fair woman to look on, high-minded, and rather hard of heart. She was a dashing, forward woman.
At that time there were two young men in Surnadale, whose names were Bard and Kolbein. They were both well-to-do, and though they were not akin, they had each a little before lost their father on a cruise to England. Hella was the name of Bard’s house, and Granskeid was where Kolbein dwelt. They were much about the same age as Thorbjorn’s sons, and they were all full of mirth and frolic. This was just about the time when Hacon Athelstane’s foster-child was king of Norway.
Well, we must go on to say that this Kolbein, of whom we have spoken, grew very fond of coming to Thorbjorn’s house, and when there thought it best sport of all to talk with Thordisa. Before long other folk began to talk about this; and so much was said about it that it came to her father’s ears, and he thought he saw it all as clear as day. Then Thorbjorn spoke to his sons, and bade them find a cure for this. Gisli said it was easy enough to cure things in which there was no harm.
“If we are to speak, don’t say things which seem as though you wanted to pick a quarrel.”
“I see,” said Thorbjorn, “that this has got wind far too widely, and that it will be out of our power to smother it. Nevertheless, too, it seems much more likely that thou and thy brother are cravens, with little or no feeling of honour.”
Gisli went on to say, “Don’t fret thyself, father, about his coming. I will speak to him to stop his visits hither.”
“Ah!” cried out Thorbjorn, “thou art likelier to go and beg and pray him not to come hither, and be so eager as even to thank him for so doing, and to show thyself a dastard in every way, and after all to do nothing if he does not listen to thy words!’
Now Gisli goes away, and he and his father stayed their talk; but the very next time that Kolbein came thither, Gisli went with him on his way home when he left, and spoke to him, and says he will not suffer him to come thither any longer; “for my father frets himself about thy visits: for folks say that thou beguilest my sister Thordisa, and that is not at all to my father’s mind. As for me, I will do all I can, if thou dost as I wish, to bring mirth and sport into thy house.”
“What’s the good;” said Kolbein, “of talking of things which thou knowest can never be? I know not whether is more irksome to me, thy father’s fretfulness, or the thought of giving way to his wish. ‘Verily the words of the weak are little worth.'”
“That is not the way to take it,” answers Gisli. “The end of this will be, that at last when it comes to the push I will set most store by my father’s will. Methought now it was worth trying whether thou wouldest do this for my word’s sake; then thou mightest have asked as much from me another time; but I am afraid that we shall not like it, if thou art bent on being cross-grained.”
To that Kolbein said little, and so they parted. Then Gisli went home, and so things rested for a while, and Kolbein’s visits were somewhat fewer and farther between than they had been. At last he thinks it dull at home, and goes oftener to Thorbjorn’s house. So one day when he had come thither Gisli sat in the hall and smithied, and his father and his brother and sister were there too. Thorkel was the cheeriest towards Kolbein; and these three–Thorkel, and Thordisa, and Kolbein–all sat on the cross-bench. But when the day was far spent, and evening fell, they rose up and went out. Thorbjorn and Gisli were left behind in the hall, and Thorbjorn began to say:
“Thy begging and praying has not been worth much; for both thy undertaking was girlish, and indeed I can scarce say whether I am to reckon thee and thy brother as my sons or my daughters. ’Tis hard to learn, when one is old, that one has sons who have no more manly thoughts than women had in olden times, and ye two are utterly unlike my brothers Gisli and Ari.”
“Thou hast no need,” answered Gisli, “to take it so much to heart; for no one can say how a man will behave till he is tried.”
With this Gisli could not bear to listen longer to his father’s gibes, and went out. Just then Thorkel and Kolbein were going out at the gate, and Thordisa had turned back for the hall. Gisli went out after them, and so they all walked along together. Again Gisli besought Kolbein to cease his visits, but Kolbein said he weened that no good would come of that. Then Gisli said:
“So you set small store by my words, and now we shall Jay down our companionship in a worse way than I thought.”
“I don’t see how I can help that,” said Kolbein.
“Why,” said Gisli, “one of two things must happen: either that thou settest some store by my words, or if thou dost not, then I will forsake all the friendship that has been between us.”
“Thou must settle that as thou pleasest,” says Kolbein; “but for all that I cannot find it in my heart to break off my visits.”
At that Gisli drew his sword and smote at him, and that one stroke was more than enough for Kolbein.
Thorkel was very vexed at the deed, but Gisli bade his brother be soothed. “Let us change swords,” he said; “and take thou that with the keenest edge.” This he said, mocking; but Thorkel was soothed, and sate down by Kolbein.
Then Gisli went home to his father’s hall, and Thorbjorn asked:
“Well, how has thy begging and praying sped?”
“Well,” says Gisli, “I think I may say that it has well sped; because we settled ere we parted just now that Kolbein should cease his visits, that they might not anger thee.”
“That can only be,” said Thorbjorn, “if he be dead.”
“Then be all the better pleased,” says Gisli, “that thy will hath been done in this matter.”
“Good luck to thy hand,” said Thorbjorn. “Maybe after all that I have not daughters alone to my children.”
From “The Saga of Gisli the Outlaw”