IT came out, too, at that feast that Gisli was restless at night, two nights together. He would not say what dreams he had, though men asked him.
Now comes the third night, and men go to their beds, and when they had slumbered a while a whirlwind fell on the house with such strength that it tore all the roof off on one side, and in a little while all the rest of the roof followed. Then rain fell from heaven in such a flood the like was never seen before, and the house began to drip and drip, as was likely when the roof was off Gisli sprang out of bed and called on his men to show their mettle, and save the hay-stacks from being washed away; and so he left the house, and every man with him, except a thrall, whose name was Thord the Hareheart, who was nearly as tall as Gisli. Vestein wanted to go with Gisli, but Gisli would not suffer it. So when they were all gone Auda and Vestein draw their beds from the wall, where the water dripped down on them, and turn them end on to the benches in the midst of the hall. The thrall too stayed in the house, for he had not heart enough to go out of doors in such a storm.
And a little before dawn someone stole softly into the hall, and stood over against Vestein’s bed. He was then awake, and a spear was thrust then and there into his chest, right through his body. But when Vestein got the thrust, he sprang up and called out: “Stabbed! stabbed!” and with that he fell dead on the floor.
But the man passed out at the door.
Meanwhile Auda awakes, and sees what work was being done. Now Thord the Hareheart comes up, and she told him to pluck the weapon out of the wound, for in those days it was a settled thing that the man was bound to avenge the slain who took the weapon out of the wound, and it was called secret slaying, but not murder, if, when the deed was done, the weapon were left behind. But Thord was so afraid of the dead that he did not so much as dare to come nigh the spot. Then Gisli came in, and Spoke to the thrall, and bade him let it alone; and then Gisli went up and took the spear away, and cast it, all bloody as it was, into a chest, and let no man see it. After that he sat down on the bedside, and laid out the body as was the wont; and Gisli thought he had suffered a great loss, and many others with him.
Then Gisli said to Gudrida, his foster-child:
“Thou must go over to Sæbol, and find out what men are about there; and I send thee because I trust thee best of all in this and in all other things.”
So she went to Sæbol, and found them already risen when she got there, and they were all sitting with their weapons.
There were both the Thorgrims and Thorkel. They were slow to greet her, for most of them had scarce a word to say. At last they ask her what news, and she tells them that Vestein was slain or murdered.
“We should have thought that great news once,” said Thorkel.
Then Thorgrim went on: “We are bound to bury Vestein as worthily as we can. We will come and help to lay him in his howe. Tell Gisli we will come, too, this very day. Sooth to say, such a man’s death is a great loss.”
After that she went home, and tells Gisli that Thorgrim the priest sat with his helm on his head and his sword at his belt, and all his war-gear, when she went in; that Thorgrim Bottlenose had a pole-axe in his hand, and that Thorkel had a sword in his hand half-drawn. All men were up and about, and some of them armed, when she reached Sæbol.
“Just as I thought,” said Gisli.
Now Gisli made ready to lay Vestein in his howe, and they meant to lay him in the sandhill which looks down on the tarn just below Sæbol, and as they were on their way with the body Thorgrim. came up with many men to meet them. And when they had heaped up the howe, and were going to lay the body in it, Thorgrim the priest goes up to Gisli, and says, “’Tis the custom, brother-in-law, to bind the hellshoe on men, so that they may walk on them to Valhalla, and I will now do that by Vestein.”
And when he had done it, he said
“I know nothing about binding on hellshoon if these loosen.”
Then they sat down outside the howe and talked, and Gisli asks if any one thought he knew who had done that deed, but all thought it most unlikely that any there knew who had done this crime.
Thorkel asks Gisli: “How Auda bore her brother’s death? Does she weep much?”
“I should think thou knowest well how she bears it. She shows it little and feels it much. I dreamed a dream,” says Gisli, “the night before last, and last night too, but I will not tell it, nor say who did this slaying, but my dreams all point to it. Methought I dreamt the first night that an adder crept out of a house I know, and stung Vestein to death. And last night I dreamt that a wolf ran from the same house and tore Vestein to death; but I told neither dream up to this time, because I did not wish that any one should interpret them.” Then he chaunted a song:
“Twice I dreamt it! thrice I could not
Vestein, Woden’s darling, would not
Have been wakened thus I ween,
When we sat in Vibjorg drinking,
Never from the wine-cup shrinking,
No man sitting us between.”
Again Thorkel asks: “How bore Auda her brother’s death? Does she weep sore?”
“Oft askest thou the same thing, kinsman,” said Gisli, “and thou art very eager to know this.”
Again Gisli chaunted a song:
“Deep beneath her golden veil
Rides her grief that lady pale
Still down fields where roses blush
Streams from slumber’s fountain gush.
From her heart dim mists arise,
Filling all her beauteous eyes,
Down her cheeks tears chase each other:
Thus Auda mourneth for her brother.”
And again he chaunted:
“She the goddess, ring-bestowing,
Sets the waves of sorrow flowing;
From her golden eyebrows pressed,
Down they dash upon her breast.
Vestein’s voice no longer singeth,
Pearl on pearl his sister stringeth;
Gems that round her dark eyes glisten
My song is o’er–no longer listen!”
Now these brothers go away both together, and as they went Thorkel said:
“These have been great tidings, and to thee they must seem more mournful than to us; but after all, everyone must bear his own burden, for every one walks farthest with his own self. Now I would, brother, that thou dost not let this take such hold on thee that men should fall to wondering about it; and so my wish is, that we take to some sports, and that now everything should be with us as it hath been when we were the best friends.
“That is well spoken,” said Gisli, “and I will willingly do that–only with this bargain, that if anything ever befalls thee which thou feelest as much as I do this, then thou shalt give me thy word to behave just as thou askest me to behave now.”
To that Thorkel agreed, and after that they each go home, and Vestein’s ale of heirship was brewed and drunk, and when that was done each man went to his own home, and all was quiet.
But men say that all that great storm was the work of Thorgrim Bottlenose, with his sorcery and witchcraft, and that he had so framed his spells as to get a good chance at Vestein while Gisli was not near him; for they did not dare to fall on him if Gisli were by. But after the storm Thorgrim, the priest of Frey, did the deed, and slew Vestein, as we have already said.
So now the sports were set afoot as though nothing had happened. Those brothers-in-law, Thorgrim and Gisli, were very often matched against each other, and men could not make up their minds which was the stronger, but most thought Gisli had most strength. They were playing at the ball on the tarn called Sedgetarn. On it there was ever a crowd. It fell one day when there was a great gathering that Gisli bade them share the sides as evenly as they could for a game.
“That we will with all our hearts,” said Thorkel; “but we also wish thee not to spare thy strength against Thorgrim, for the story runs that thou sparest him; but as for me I love thee well enough to wish that thou shouldst get all the more honour if thou art the stronger.”
“We have not put that yet to the proof,” says Gisli maybe the time may come for us to try our strength.”
Now they began the game, and Thorgrim could not hold his own. Gisli threw him and bore away the ball. Again Gisli wished to catch the ball, but Thorgrim runs and holds him and will not let him get near it. Then Gisli turned and threw Thorgrim such a fall on the slippery ice that he could scarce rise. The skin came off his knuckles, and the flesh off his knees, and blood gushed from his nostrils. Thorgrim was very slow in rising. As he did so he looked towards Vestein’s howe, and chaunted:
“Right through his ribs,
My spear-point went crashing;
Why should I worry?
’Twas well worth this thrashing.”
Gisli caught the ball on the bound, and hurled it between Thorgrim’s shoulders so that he tumbled forwards, and threw his heels up in the air, and Gisli chaunted:
“Bump on his back
My big ball went dashing;
Why should I worry?
’Twas I gave the thrashing.”
Thorkel jumps up and says: “Now we can see who is the strongest or is the best player. Let us break off the game.” And so they did.
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