NOW all is quiet, and Gisli goes again to Thorgerda, and is with her another winter. But the summer after he goes back to Geirthiofsfirth, and is there till autumn draws near. Then he goes once more to his brother Thorkel and knocks at the door, but Thorkel will not go out of doors; so Gisli takes a staff and scores runes on it, and throws it in through a slit. Thorkel sees it and takes it up and looks at it. After that he arose and went out and greeted Gisli. “What news?” he asks, but Gisli says he has no news to tell.
“Now I am come to see thee, kinsman, for the last time; and now let me have some heartier help, and I will repay thee by never asking any more at thy hand.”
But Thorkel answers now as before; offers him horse or boat, but withdraws from all other help. Gisli chooses the boat, and bids Thorkel shove her down with him. He does so, and gives him six measures of food, and a hundred ells of wadmel.
And so when Gisli had got into the boat Thorkel stands on the shore. Then Gisli said:
“Now thou thinkest thou standest with all four feet in the crib, and that thou art the friend of many great chiefs, and dreadest nothing at all. But I am an outlaw, and have the feud of many men, and know not where to lay my head; but for all that I can tell thee thou wilt be slain before I am slain. And now we must part worse friends than we ought, and never see each other again; but know this, I would not deal so by thee. Shoulder to shoulder, we would both share the same doom.”
“I care not for thy ill-boding spaedom, nor how much thou braggest of thy bravery,” said Thorkel; and so they parted.
Gisli rows for Hergilsisle in Broadfirth. There he takes out the tholes, and thwarts, and oars, and all that was loose in the boat, and then upsets and lets her drive with the tide in towards Ness. And now men guess who see the boat that Gisli must be drowned, since the boat is shattered and driven on shore; and they think he must have taken it from his brother Thorkel.
Now Gisli goes up to the farm in Hergilsisle. There dwells a man named Ingialld, and his wife’s name was Thorgerda. Ingialld is Gisli’s cousin by kinship, and had come out to Iceland with him. When they met he offered Gisli all the help and aid which he could show him, and Gisli took it gladly, and was quiet there for a time.
In Ingialld’s household were a thrall and a woman slave. The man’s name was Swart, and the woman’s Bothilda. Ingialld had a son called Helgi, and he was an idiot, the biggest you ever saw, and utterly witless. He was so treated that a pierced stone was tied round his neck, and he grazed out of doors like a sheep, and he was called Ingialld’s idiot. He was tall of growth, almost like a giant. So Gisli is there that winter, and builds a boat for Ingialld and many other things. But all that he did was easy to ken, for he was handier than almost any other man. Men wondered and wondered how it was that everything was so well made that Ingialld had, for he was not a skilful carpenter himself. Every summer Gisli went to Geirthiofsfirth; and so things go on for three winters since he had first began to dream, and the help Ingialld gave him stood him in the greatest stead. At last men began to lay their heads together about all this, and made up their minds after all that Gisli must be still alive, and have lived with Ingialld, and not be drowned as had been said. It strengthened what they said when they saw that Ingialld had three boats, all of them well built. So this gossip comes to the ears of Eyjolf the Gray, and it is again Spy-Helgi’s lot to set off; and so he comes to Hergilsisle. Gisli is always in his earth-house whenever strangers come to the isle; but Ingialld is a good host, and offers Helgi shelter. So he stays there that night. Ingialld was a very busy man; he rowed out to sea every day that a boat would swim. So next morning, when he was ready to row away, he asks whether Helgi is not eager to be forwarded on his way, and why he lies a-bed. He says he is not quite himself, and puffs and blows, and rubs his forehead. Ingialld bade him lie there as still as he could, and goes off to sea, while Helgi groans and moans.
Now, it is said that Thorgerda goes to the earth-house and means to give Gisli his breakfast, but there was a panel between the larder and the room where Helgi lay. As soon as Thorgerda goes out of the larder Helgi climbs up to the top of the panel and sees that there is a meal of meat dished up for some one. Just then Thorgerda comes back, and Helgi turns him round as fast as he can, and topples down from the panel. Thorgerda asks why he behaves so, and why he clambers up to the roof like a thief, and cannot be still. He said he was so mad with pain that he couldn’t be still: “Be so good as to lead me to my bed! So she led him back to bed, and then she goes away with the dish of meat. But Helgi rises up straightway and follows her, and now he sees what is in the wind. Then he goes back, and lays him down again and sleeps in bed that day. Ingialld comes home at even, and goes to Helgi’s bed and asks whether he were easier. He said he was on the way to be well, and begged to be put over from the isle next morning. So he is put across to Flat Isle, and thence he fares south to Thorsness, and says he has found out that Gisli is harboured by Ingialld. After that, Bork sets out from home, and there are fifteen of them in all, and they get on board a sailing boat, and sail from the south over Broadfirth. That day Ingialld had rowed out to the deep-sea fishing and Gisli with him; but his thrall and his maid were in another boat, and they lay near some islands called Skutilisles.
Now Ingialld sees a boat sailing from the south, and said: “I see something to my mind. Yonder sails a boat, and I think in that ship must be Bork the Stout, for her sails are striped with red.”
“What’s to be done now?” asks Gisli. “I want to know whether thou art so deep-thoughted as thou art brave and manly.”
“My plan is soon made,” said Ingialld, “though I am no long-headed fellow. Let us row as hard as we can to the isle, and then go up to the top of Vadsteinberg, and stand at bay so long as we can keep our feet.”
“Just as I thought,” said Gisli . “I knew thou wouldst choose what would show thy bravery; but I shall be paying thee a worse meed for all thy help than I mean if for my sake thou art to lose thy life. That shall never be; we must think of something else. Thou shalt row to the island and the thrall with thee, and ye two shall climb the hill and make ready to hold your own, and then they who are sailing round the Ness from the south will think I am the second man. But I will change clothes with the thrall, as I did once before, and I will get into the boat with Bothilda.”
Then Ingialld did as Gisli advised, and he showed plainly enough that he was very wroth, and when they part Bothilda asked:
“What’s to be done next?” and Gisli sang a stave
“Maiden mine, what plan to take,
Since we Ingialld must forsake;
Now my tongue bursts forth in song,
Maid in black, of muscle strong
My heart is set to skim the seas,
To ply the oar, to hug the breeze
But know, whatever be my doom;
I care not whensoe’er it come.”
Now they row south to meet Bork and his men, and show no token of being in any strait. Then Gisli laid it down how they were to behave.
“Thou shalt say that here on board the boat is the idiot, but I will sit in the stern and mock what thou sayest, and wrap me up in the nets, and every now and then almost throw myself overboard, and behave as madly as I can, and as soon as ever they have got a little way from us I will row with all my might, and try to put as much water between us as I can.”
So now she rows to meet Bork and his men, and yet gave them a wide berth, and made as though she were seeking a fishing-bank. Now Bork calls out to her and asks if Gisli were on the isle.
“I don’t know,” she said, “but this I know, there is a man yonder who bears away the bell from all other men on the isle both in height and handicraft.”
“Say you so?” said Bork. “Is he there now?”
“He was when I left home,” she says.
“Pray, is Master Ingialld at home?” asked Bork.
“He rowed back to land long since,” she said, “and his thrall with him, as I thought.”
“That cannot have been,” said Bork; “it must have been Gisli. Let us row after them as fast as we can.”
“We think it fine fun,” they answered, “to look at the idiot and all his mad pranks.”
The men said she was in a sad plight when she had to lead such a fool about.
“I think so too,” said she, “but I feel hurt that you laugh at him, and give me little pity.”
“Have done with this stuff,” said Bork. “Let us get on our course, for the prey is almost in our hands.”
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