WELL, they had a long and hard passage, and are out more than a hundred days: they made the north of the island, and coasted it westward along the Strand, and so on west off the firths. At last they ran their ship into Dyrafirth, at the mouth of the Hawkdale river. Then they unlade their ship and set up tents, and it was soon noised abroad that a ship had come. There was a man named Thorkel who dwelt at Alvidra, on the north side of Dyrafirth: he was a wealthy man of good birth. In Springdale, on the south side of the firth, dwelt another Thorkel, the son of Eric. At that time all the land round the west firths was settled. This Thorkel, Eric’s son, sold land in Hawkdale to Thorbjorn Soursop, for he was so called after he quenched the fire with the sour whey; the inner bight of the stream was already settled, and Thorgrim Bottlenose was the name of the man who lived there. Far up the dale dwelt another Thorkel, and his nickname was “Faulty.” He had a wife, and her name was Thorhalla; she was a sister of Thorgrim Bottlenose. Thorkel the Faulty was just what his nickname called him, but it could not be said that Thorhalla made any of his faults better, for she was worse than her husband. They had a son called Thorstein: he was tall and strong. In Tweendale, that turns aside from Hawkdale, dwelt a man whose name was Aunund: he was well to do, and a trustworthy man. So there, at Sæbol in Hawkdale, Thorbjorn, and Gisli, and Thorkel took up their abode, and Gisli built their house.
In the same neighbourhood dwelt Vestein, the son of Vestein. He was a seafaring man, but he had a house under Hest, a hill in Aunundarfirth. His sister’s name was Auda. Just about this time Thorbjorn Soursop and Isgerda his wife died, and were buried in a howe in Hawkdale. Thorkel and Gisli took the homestead at Sæbol after him. A little after, Thorkel looked out for a wife. There was a man named Thorbjorn Sealnip. He dwelt at Talknafirth. His wife’s name was Thordisa, and Asgerda was their daughter. Thorkel Soursop asked Asgerda to wife, and got her; but his brother Gisli wooed Auda, the sister of Vestein, and got her. So both of them went on living under the same roof at Sæbol in Hawkdale, and did not part their goods though they were married. The story goes on to say that one spring Thorkel of Alvidra had to make a journey south to Thorsness Thing, and Gisli and Thorkel, the Soursops, went with him. At that time Thorstein Codbiter dwelt on Thorsness. He was the son of Thorolf Mosttrarskegg. Thorgrim and Bork the Stout were the sons of Thorstein, and his daughter’s name was Thordisa. When Thorkel had got through his business at the Thing, Thorstein Codbiter asked him and the Soursops to come to his house, and gave them good gifts, and ere they parted they asked Thorstein’s sons to come and see them the spring after, west at the Dyrafirth Thing. So the winter passed over, and there were no tidings. Now the next spring comes, and the sons of Thorstein fared from home–Thorgrim and Bork and fourteen men more. When they came west to the Valsere Thing they met the Soursops there, and they asked the sons of Thorstein to come home with them after the Thing, for up to that time they had been guests of Thorkel of Alvidra. So they accepted the bidding, and fared home with the Soursops. But Thordisa, the sister of those brothers, seemed fair in the eyes of Thorgrim, and he lifted up his voice and asked for her, and she was then and there betrothed to Thorgrim, and the wedding-feast took place at once, and it was settled that she should have Sæbol for her dower, the farm where these brothers had dwelt before. Then Gisli and Thorkel went to Hol and set up their abode there; but Thorgrim took up his abode there in the west, and dwelt at Sæbol. Bork, his brother, had the management in Thorsness when his father Thorstein died, and there with him dwelt his nephews Quarrelsome Stein and Thorodd.
So those brothers-in-law dwell hard by as neighbours in Hawkdale, and are great friends. Thorkel. and Gisli built a fine house at Hol, so that it was soon no less a homestead than Sæbol: their lands touched and their friendship seemed likely to last. Thorgrim had the priesthood, and he was a great stay to those brothers. Now they fare in spring-time to the leet, forty men of them together and they were all in holiday clothes. There too, was Vestein, Gisli’s brother-in-law, and every man of the Soursops following. Gest, the son of Oddleif, the wisest man in Iceland, had also come to that leet, and he turned into the booth of Thorkel the Wealthy of Alvidra. The Hawkdalemen sit at drink, while the rest of the freemen were at the court, for it was a Thing for trying suits. All at once there came into the Hawkdale booth a great oaf, Arnor by name, who spoke and said: “You Hawkdalemen are strange fellows, who take heed for naught but drink, and never go near the court where your followers have suits to settle. This is what all think, though I alone utter it.”
Then Gisli said: “Let us go to the courts as soon as ever we can; maybe that others than Arnor utter this.”
Now they go to the courts, and Thorgrim asks if there were any there who stood in need of their help, “for we will leave nothing undone to help our men, and they shall never be shorn of their rights so long as we stand straight.”
Then Thorkel the Wealthy spoke and said: “This business that we have in hand is little worth. We will send and tell you as soon as we need your help.”
Now men fell to talking about their band, how brave it was in attire, and about Thorgrim’s haughty speech, and about his gallant bearing; and when men went home to their booths Thorkel the Wealthy said to Gest the Wise: “How long thinkest thou that the spirit of these Hawkdalemen will last? How long will they bear all before them?”
“They will not,” said Gest, “be all of one and the same mind as they are now three springs hence.”
But Arnor the oaf was by when Gest said this, and ran at once to the Hawkdale booth, and told these words which had passed between Thorkel and Gest.
Then Gisli answered: “He must have said this because all feel it; but let us beware that it does not turn out true, for Gest says sooth about many things; and now methinks I see a plan by which we may well guard against it.”
“What is that?”
“We shall bind ourselves by more lasting utterances than ever. Let us four take the oath of foster-brothers.”
Well, they all thought that good counsel; and after that they went out of their booth to the point of the “ere,” 1 and there cut up a sod of turf in such wise that both its ends were still fast to the earth, and propped it up by a spear scored with runes, so tall that a man might lay his hand on the socket of the spear-head. Under this yoke they were all four to pass–Thorgrim, Gisli, Thorkel, and Vestein. Now they breathe each a vein, and let their blood fall together on the mould whence the turf had been cut up, and all touch it; and afterwards they all fall on their knees and were to take hands, and swear to avenge each the other as though he were his brother, and to call all the gods to witness.
But now, just as they were going to take hands, Thorgrim said: “I shall have quite enough on my hands if I do this towards Thorkel and Gisli, my brothers-in-law; but towards Vestein I have no tie to bind me to so great a charge.” As he said this he drew back his hand.
“Then more will do the like,” says Gisli, and drew back his hand. “I will be bound by no tie to the man who will not be bound by the same tie to my brother-in-law Vestein.”
Now men began to think there was some weight in Gest’s spaedom. But Gisli said to Thorkel: “All this happened as I foreboded, and this which we have done is of no good, for I guess that fate rules in this too.”
Now men fare home from the leet, and all is still and tidingless.
1 “Ere,” old English for a sandy spit of land; from the Icelandic eyri.
From “THE STORY OF GISLI THE OUTLAW”