GISLI made a feast, and bade his friends to it he wished to have a gathering, and so to welcome both the winter and his friends; but he had left off all heathen sacrifices since he had been in Viborg with Sigrhadd. He bade to the feast both the Thorkels and his cousins, the sons of Bjartmar. So that the day that the guests were looked for Gisli made ready his house. Then Auda, the housewife, spoke and said: “Now, methinks but one thing is wanting.”
“What is that?” asked Gisli.
“This alone,” said Auda, “that my brother Vestein is not here.”
“Well,” said Gisli, “we do not look at things in the same way. I would give much goods that he were not here, as I now ween he is.”
There was a man of whom we have spoken before, Thorgrim Bottlenose; he dwelt at Nebstead, in the inner bight of the river. He was full of witchcraft and sorcery, and he was a wizard and worker of spells. This man Thorgrim. and Thorkel asked to their feast, for they had as large a gathering as Gisli Thorgrim, the priest of Frey, was a man well skilled in forging iron. So those three went aside together–the two Thorgrims and Thorkel. Then Thorkel brings out the broken bits of “Graysteel,” which had fallen to his lot when they parted their heritage, and Thorgrim forged out of it a spear, and that spear was all ready by even and fitted to its haft. It was a great spear-head, and runes were on it, and it was fitted to a haft a span long.
And when this was being done there came Aunund of Tweendale to Gisli’s house; and took him aside to talk, and tells him that Vestein his brother-in-law has come into the land, and is now at his house under Hest, and that he will be with him that evening. Then Gisli called his two house-carles, Hallvard and Havard, and bids them go on a message north to Aunundarfirth.
“Find now my brother-in-law Vestein; I am told he has come home. Bear him my greeting, and bid him sit quietly at home till I come to see him; for my will is, that he should not come-to this feast.” Gisli gives them into their hands a purse, and in it half of the silver coin, for a token in case Vestein should not believe their story. Now the house-carles set off, and take ship out of Hawkdale, and row across to Brooksmouth. There they land, and go to a farmer named Bessi, who dwelt at Bessastead. To him Gisli had sent word that he should lend them two horses which he had, which were called “the Pair of Gloves.” They were the fleetest horses in all the firths. He lent them the horses, and they got on their backs and rode till they came to Mossvale. After that they turned and rode along the firth.
But at the same time Vestein had started from home, and had got as far as beneath the sandhill at Mossvale, and then on to Holt. But the house-carles had ridden the upper road, and so they rode by and missed each other. There was a man named Thorvard who lived at Holt, and his house-carles were quarrelling over their work, and were striking at one another with their scythes, and gave one another bad wounds. Then Vestein came up and made them good friends again, so that both sides were well pleased. Then he rode on for Dyrafirth, and two Easterlings with him. By this time Gisli’s house-carles had reached Hest. There they learn of Vestein’s journey-how he had left home; and now they turn back after him as fast as they can. And when they come to Mossvale they see a train of men riding in the midst of the dale, and then a jutting crag hid them from their view. So they ride on up the dale, and when they come to Arnkelsbrink both their horses were foundered.
But the house-carles run on on foot, and call out. Vestein and his men heard them cry, and by that time they had got up on Gemladaleheath. So Vestein waited there till the others come up. But when they meet, the house-carles tell him their errand and show him the token. Then he takes the other half of the coin out of his purse, and put the two bits together, and grew red, as he said:
“’Tis sooth every word of it, and I would have turned back had ye found me before; but now all the streams fall towards Dyrafirth, and I will ride thither, for I am eager to see my brother-in-law and my sister; ’tis long since we parted; but these Easterlings shall turn back. As for ye, ye shall go the shortest way, as ye are afoot; but tell Gisli and my sister that I am coming to them, for I hope to get there safe and sound.”
Now they cross the firth, and come to Hol, and tell Gisli all that had happened on their journey, and that Vestein was on his way thither.
“So it must be, then,” said Gisli.
Now Vestein rides the inner road round Dyrafirth, but the house-carles had a boat, as was said before, and so they were far quicker. Vestein comes to Luta, his kinswoman, in Lambdale–that is far up in the bight of the firth. She had him ferried across the top of the firth, and said to him:
“Beware of thyself, kinsman. Thou wilt need to take all care.”
He said he would do all he could. Thence he was ferried over to Thingere, where a man dwelt whose name was Thorhall. Vestein went up to his house, and he lent him a horse. Vestein had with him his saddle and saddle-cloth, and rode with a streamer to his spear. Thorhall went with him on the way as far as Sandmouth, and offers to go with him as far as Gisli’s house. Vestein said there was no need of that.
“Ah!” said Thorhall, “there have been many changes in Hawkdale since thou wert last here, and beware of thyself”
With these words they parted. Now Vestein rides till he comes to Hawkdale, and the evening was bright and starlit. But it so happened as he rode by Thorgrim’s house at Sæbol in the dusk that they were tethering the cattle–Geirmund the lad, the kinsman of Thorkel and Gisli, and along with him a woman whose name was Rannveiga. She makes up the beds for the cattle, while he drives them into her; and so as they were at that work there rides Vestein round the ‘town’ and meets Geirmund. Then Geirmund said: “Come not thou in here at Sæbol, but go to Gisli, and beware of thyself.”
Just then Rannveiga came out of the byre, and looked at the man and thought she knew him, for she had often seen Vestein. So when they had tethered the cattle in the byre they fell to wrangling about the stranger, who he could have been, and they were hard at it when they reached the house. Thorgrim and Thorkel were sitting before the fire when they came in-doors, and Thorgrim. asks if they had seen any one, and about what they were wrangling
“Oh!” said Rannveiga, “I thought I saw that Vestein rode here round our ‘town,’ and he had on a blue cape and held a big spear in his hand with a streamer fluttering on it.”
“What sayest thou to that, Geirmund?” asked Thorgrim.
“I did not see clearly,” he answered; “but I thought it was the house-carle of Aunund of Tweendale, and he had on Gisli’s cape, and rode one of his master’s horses, and in his hand he had a salmon-spear with a landing-net bound on it.”
“Now one of you must be telling lies,” said Thorgrim. “Go now over to Hol, Rannveiga, and find out what strangers have come thither.”
So she went and stood at the door. Outside the doorway was Gisli, who greeted her and asked her to stay there, but she said she must go back home.
“What’s thy errand?” he asked.
“I only wanted to have a word with Gudrida,” she answered.
So Gisli called Gudrida, but when she came Rannveiga had nothing to say to her. Then Rannveiga said: “Where is the mistress Auda?”
“She is here,” says Gisli, “inside the house. Auda, come and see Rannveiga,” he calls out.
Then Auda went out to see Rannveiga, and asked what she wanted. But she said it was only about a little thing, and still she could not say what that little thing was.
So Gisli bade her do one thing or the other–stay there or go away; “for,” he said, “’tis now getting so late that thou oughtest not to go back alone though the way be short.”
Then she went home and was half as silly as she had been before, and she could tell nothing of any stranger that had come to Gisli’s house.
Next morning Vestein made them bring in two bags which some of his lading was in, and which he had given over to Hallvard and Havard to bring. Out of these Vestein took seventy ells of hangings and a kerchief twenty ells long, all woven with a pattern of gold in three stripes. He also brought out two gilded basons. These treasures he took out, and to his sister he gave the kerchief, but to Gisli and Thorkel he gave the hangings and the basons between them, if Thorkel would take them. After that Gisli goes over to Sæbol, and both the Thorkels with him, to see his brother Thorkel; and now Gisli says that Vestein has come to stay with him, and he shows Thorkel the treasures, and tells him how they were given between them, and bade him take them; but Thorkel says:
“Thou art worthy to have them all alone, and I will not take them. It is not so very plain how I shall repay them.”
So Gisli goes home, and Thorkel will not touch the gifts; and Gisli thought that things all went in one and the same way.
From: The Story/Saga of Gisli the Outlaw
Translated From The Icelandic Sir George Webbe Dasent D.C.L. With Illustrations By C. E. St. John-Mildmay