IT is said that now only two more years were left of those which the dream-wife had said he had to live. And as time goes on, and Gisli is in Geirthiofsfirth, all his dreams come back on him, and he has hard struggles in his sleep; and now the worse dream-wife comes oftener and oftener to him, though the better visits him sometimes. So it fell one night, as Gisli dreamed that the better dream-wife came to him, and she seemed to ride on a gray horse, and bids him go with her to her abode, and he went gladly. So they came to a house which was almost as large as a hall, and she leads him into that house, and he thought there were pillows of down on the benches, and that it was well furnished in everything. She bade him stay there and be happy: “Hither shalt thou fare when thou diest, and pass thy time in bliss and ease.”
And now he wakes and chaunted these verses on what he had dreamt:
“Lo ! the goddess shows her power,
Sets me on her palfrey gray,
Makes me ride unto her bower,
Bids me welcome every day:
All her words some comfort bringing,
Vowing ever to befriend;
In my ears soft sounds are ringing,
Still that music knows no end.
“There was many a slumb’rous pillow,
Strewn on benches in that hall,
Soft I sate as swan on billow,
Ah! my heart remembers all:
More–that lovely woman laid me
On a bed of softest down:
Grateful for the cheer she made me,
Straight my face forgot to frown.
“Then outspoke that bounteous woman–
‘Mighty chief! thy foeman’s bane,
Hither hasten, chased by no man;
Death shall set thee free from pain:
Then shalt thou–her speech pursuing–
‘All these treasures call thine own;
Me, too, shalt thou win for wooing;
Happy we as birds new flown.'”
Now it is next to be said that Helgi the Spy was sent again round Geirthiofsfirth, and men deem it likely that Gisli is there. A man went with him whose name was Havard. He had come to Iceland from Norway the summer before, and was a kinsman of Gest the Wise. They gave out that they were sent into the wood to hew fuel for household use, but though this was the cloak of their journey, hidden under it was the design to hunt out Gisli, and see if they could find out his lurking-place. After they had been three nights in the wood spying about, on the last evening they see a fire burning in the cliffs and crags south of the river. That was just after sundown, and it was as dark as pitch. Then Havard asks Helgi what was to be done, “for thou must be more wont to these things than I can be.”
“There is but one thing to be done,” said Helgi, “and that is, to pile up a beacon on this hillock which we stand on, and then we shall find it when it is broad daylight, and then we shall see across from the beacon to the cliffs: ’tis but a short way to see.”
So they take that plan, and when they had piled up the beacon Havard said he was worn out, and so tired he could scarce keep his eyes open. So he lay down to sleep. But Helgi keeps awake, and heaps up what yet failed to the beacon; and when he had ended his work Havard wakes, and bids Helgi go to sleep and he would watch. So Helgi sleeps awhile, and while he sleeps Havard sets to work and carries off the whole beacon, so that he did not leave one stone upon another in the dark. When he had done that, he takes up a huge stone and dashes it down on the rock close to Helgi’s head, so that the earth shook again. Then Helgi jumps up, and is all of a quake and faint-hearted, and asks what ever is the matter.
“Well,” said Havard, “there’s a man in the wood, and very many such keepsakes have come hither during the night.”
“That must have been Gisli. He must have found us out; and know, good fellow, we shall have every bone in our bodies broken if such grit falls on us. There is naught to be done but to be off as fast as possible.”
Now Helgi runs off as fast as he can, but Havard follows him, and bids Helgi not to run away from him. But Helgi gave little heed, and ran as fast as he could lay legs to the ground.
At last they came to their boat, and jumped in, and dash the oars into the sea, and row like mad, and do not stay their course till they get to Otterdale, and then Helgi says he has found out where Gisli had hidden himself.
Eyjolf was up and stirring in a trice, and sets off at once with thirteen men, and both Helgi and Havard go with him. So they fare till they come to Geirthiofsfirth, and go through all the woods to search for the beacon and Gisli’s lair, and found them nowhere.
Now Eyjolf asks Havard whereabouts they had piled up the beacon.
“I’m sure I can’t tell,” he answers; “I was so dead tired that I can’t call to mind anything. Besides, Helgi piled up the beacon while I slept. Methinks ’tis not unlikely that Gisli was ware of us, and has carried away the beacon when it got light, and we had gone away.”
Then Eyjolf said: “Everything seems doomed to go against us in this quest. We may as well turn back;” and so they did; but before they went Eyjolf says he wishes to go and see Auda.
Now they come to the house, and go indoors, and Eyjolf sate him down to talk with Auda. And this was how he began:
“I will make a bargain with thee, Auda. Thou shalt tell me where Gisli is, and I will give thee three hundreds in silver; those very pieces which I have taken as the price of his head. Thou shalt not be bound to stand by while we take his life. Besides all this, I will get thee a match which shall be far better in every way than this bath been. Thou must look also to this–how cheerless it is to be in this barren firth, and be cut off for ever from thy kinsmen and belongings, all because of Gisli’s misdeeds.”
“As for that,” she says, “methinks it most unlikely we should ever agree upon a match which I should think as much worth as this; but still the old saw says: ‘Fee is best for a ‘fey’ man.’ Let me see then whether this fee is so much and fine as thou sayest.”
So he pours out the silver into her lap, and she touches it with her hand, while he tells it over and presses her hard. Then her foster-daughter, Gudrida, fell a-weeping, and goes out and meets Gisli, and says:
“My foster-mother has now lost her wits, and will betray thee.”
“Be of good heart,” says Gisli; “that will never be. My brave Auda will never betray me.”
With that he chaunted:
“What! the folk, with wicked whisper,
Say that she will me deceive?
Auda faithless to her husband
Never can my heart believe.
No! her heart is staunch as ever;
Auda plots no guile for me
Auda wrongs her Gisli never;
Vain the bribe of silver fee.”
After that the lassie went home, and says never a word as to where she had been. By this time Eyjolf had told the silver, and then Auda said:
“This fee is no whit better or worse than thou hast said and now thou wilt no doubt let me do with it as I like.”
Eyjolf jumped at that, and bade her do with it just as she chose.
So Auda takes the fee, and puts it into a big purse. After that she rises and runs to Eyjolf, and dashes the purse, silver and all, on Eyjolf’s nose, so that the blood gushed out all over him; and as she smote him she said:
“Take that for thy silliness, and bad luck go with it! Didst thou ween I would sell my husband into the hands of such a wretch as thee. Take that, I say, and shame and blame go with it. Thou shalt bear in mind, vile fellow, so long as thou livest, that a woman hath beaten thee, and know thou shalt never work thy will whatever happens.”
“Lay hands on,” called out Eyjolf, “and slay her, though she be but a weak woman.”
Then Havard spoke out and said: “Our journey is about as bad as it can be already without our doing this dastard’s deed. Up men, and do not let him work his will.”
“Sooth is the saw,” said Eyjolf, “There are no foes like those of one’s own house.”‘
But Havard had many friends, and many a man was ready to stand by hint in this matter, and at the same time to save Eyjolf from disgrace; so he had to swallow his shame, and goes away home. But ere Havard leaves the house Auda said: “The debt that Gisli owes thee must not be long unpaid. Here is a ring which I wish thee to take.”
“I would not have looked for this,” says Havard.
“But for all that I will repay thee,” says Auda. So she gave him the gold down on the nail for his help. So Havard takes horse and fares south to the Strand to Gest the Wise, for he will stay no longer with Eyjolf. As for Eyjolf, he fares home to Otterdale, and is ill-pleased with his journey; and this last seemed to men the most shameful of all.
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
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