English translation by from the original Icelandic ‘Egils saga Skallagrímssonar’.
1893 translation to English from the original Icelandic text by W. C. Green.
Of Kveldulf and his sons.
There was a man named Ulf, son of Bjalf, and Hallbera, daughter of Ulf the fearless; she was sister of Hallbjorn Half-giant in Hrafnista, and he the father of Kettle Hæing. Ulf was a man so tall and strong that none could match him, and in his youth he roved the seas as a freebooter. In fellowship with him was one Kari of Berdla, a man of renown for strength and daring; he was a Berserk. Ulf and he had one common purse, and were the dearest friends.
But when they gave up freebooting, Kari went to his estate at Berdla, being a man of great wealth. Three children had Kari, one son named Eyvind Lambi, another Aulvir Hnuf, and a daughter Salbjorg, who was a most beautiful woman of a noble spirit. Her did Ulf take to wife, and then he too went to his estates. Wealthy he was both in lands and chattels; he took baron’s rank as his forefathers had done, and became a great man. It was told of Ulf that he was a great householder; it was his wont to rise up early, and then go round among his labourers or where his smiths were, and to overlook his stalk and fields, and at times he would talk with such as needed his counsel, and good counsel he could give in all things, for he was very wise. But everyday as evening drew on he became sullen, so that few could come to speak with him. He was an evening sleeper, and it was commonly said that he was very shape strong. He was called Kveldulf.
Kveldulf and his wife had two sons, the elder was named Thorolf, the younger Grim; these, when they grew up, were both tall men and strong, as was their father. But Thorolf was most comely as well as doughty, favoring his mother’s kin; very cheery was he, liberal, impetuous in everything, a good trader, winning the hearts of all men. Grim was swarthy, ill-favoured, like his father both in face and mind; he became a good man of business; skilful was he in wood and iron, an excellent smith. In the winter he often went to the herring fishing, and with him many house-carles.
But when Thorolf was twenty years old, then he made him ready to go a harrying. Kveldulf gave him a long-ship, and Kari of Berdla’s sons, Eyvind and Aulvir, resolved to go on that voyage, taking a large force and another long-ship; and they roved the seas in the summer, and got them wealth, and had a large booty to divide. For several summers they were out roving, but stayed at home in winter with their fathers. Thorolf brought home many costly things, and took them to his father and mother; thus they were well-to-do both for possessions and honour. Kveldulf was now well stricken in years, and his sons were grown men.
Of Aulvir Hnuf.
Audbjorn was then king over the Firthfolk; there was an earl of his named Hroald, whose son was Thorir. Atli the Slim was then an earl, he dwelt at Gaula; he had sons – Hallstein, Holmstein, and Herstein; and a daughter, Solveig the Fair. It happened one autumn that much people were gathered at Gaula for a sacrificial feast, then saw Aulvir Hnuf Solveig and courted her; he afterwards asked her to wife. But the earl thought him an unequal match and would not give her. Whereupon Aulvir composed many love-songs, and thought so much of Solveig that he left freebooting, but Thorolf and Eyvind Lambi kept it on.
The beginning of the rule of Harold Fairhair.
Harold, son of Halfdan Swarthy, was heir after his father. He had bound himself by this vow, not to let his hair be cut or combed till he were sole king over Norway, wherefore he was called Harold Shockhead. So first he warred with the kings nearest to him and conquered them, as is told at length elsewhere. Then he got possession of Upland; thence he went northwards to Throndheim, and had many battles there before he became absolute over all the Thronds. After that he purposed to go north to Naumdale to attack the brothers Herlaug and Hrollaug, kings of Naumdale. But when these brothers heard of his coming, Herlaug with twelve men entered the sepulchral mound which they had caused to be made (they were three winters at the making), and the mound then was closed after them. But king Hrollaug sank from royalty to earldom, giving up his kingdom and becoming a vassal of Harold. So Harold gained the Naumdalesmen and Halogaland, and he set rulers over his realm there. Then went he southwards with a fleet to Mæra and Raumsdale. But Solvi Bandy-legs, Hunthiof’s son, escaped thence, and going to king Arnvid, in South Mæra, he asked help, with these words:
‘Though this danger now touches us, before long the same will come to you; for Harold, as I ween, will hasten hither when he has enthralled and oppressed after his will all in North Mæra and Raumsdale. Then will the same need be upon you as was upon us, to guard your wealth and liberty, and to try everyone from whom you may hope for aid. And I now offer myself with my forces against this tyranny and wrong. But, if you make the other choice, you must do as the Naumdalesmen have done, and go of your own will into slavery, and become Harold’s thralls. My father though it victory to die a king with honour rather than become in his old age another king’s subject. Thou, as I judge, wilt think the same, and so will others who have any high spirit and claim to be men of valour.’
By such persuasion king Arnvid was determined to gather his forces and defend his land. He and Solvi made a league, and sent messengers to Audbjorn, king of the Firthfolk, that he should come and help them. Audbjorn, after counsel taken with friends, consented, and bade cut the war-arrow and send the war-summons throughout his realm, with word to his nobles that they should join him.
But when the king’s messengers came to Kveldulf and told him their errand, and that the king would have Kveldulf come to him with all his house-carles, then answered he:
‘It is my duty to the king to take the field with him if he have to defend his own land, and there be harrying against the Firthfolk; but this I deem clean beyond my duty, to go north to Mæra and defend their land. Briefly ye may say when ye meet your king that Kveldulf will sit at home during this rush to war, nor will he gather forces nor leave his home to fight with Harold Shockhead. For I think that he has a whole load of good-fortune where our king has not a handful.’
The messengers went back to the king, and told him how their errand had sped; but Kveldulf sat at home on his estates.
Battle of king Harold and Audbjorn.
King Audbjorn went with his forces northwards to Mæra; there he joined king Arnvid and Solvi Bandy-legs, and altogether they had a large host. King Harold also had come from the north with his forces, and the armies met inside Solskel. There was fought a great battle, with much slaughter in either host. Of the Mærian forces fell the kings Arnvid and Audbjorn, but Solvi escaped, and afterwards became a great sea-rover, and wrought much scathe on Harold’s kingdom, and was nicknamed Bandy-legs. On Harold’s side fell two earls, Asgaut and Asbjorn, and two sons of earl Hacon, Grjotgard and Herlaug, and many other great men. After this Harold subdued South Mæra. Vemund Audbjorn’s brother still retained the Firthfolk, being made king. It was now autumn, and king Harold was advised not to go south in autumn-tide. So he set earl Rognvald over North and South Mæra and Raumsdale, and kept a numerous force about himself.
That same autumn the sons of Atli set on Aulvir Hnuf at his home, and would fain have slain him. They had such a force that Aulvir could not withstand them, but fled for his life. Going northwards to Mæra, he there found Harold, and submitted to him, and went north with the king to Throndheim, and he became most friendly with him, and remained with him for a long time thereafter, and was made a skald.
In the winter following earl Rognvald went the inner way by the Eid-sea southwards to the Firths. Having news by spies of the movements of king Vemund, he came by night to Naust-dale, where Vemund was at a banquet, and, surrounding the house, burnt within it the king and ninety men. After that Karl of Berdla came to earl Rognvald with a long-ship fully manned, and they two went north to Mæra. Rognvald took the ships that had belonged to Vemund and all the chattels he could get. Kari of Berdla then went north to king Harold at Throndheim, and became his man.
Next spring king Harold went southwards along the coast with a fleet, and subdued firths and fells, and arranged for men of his own to rule them. Earl Hroald he set over the Firthfolk. King Harold was very careful, when he had gotten new peoples under his power, about barons and rich landowners, and all those whom he suspected of being at all likely to raise rebellion. Every such man he treated in one of two ways: he either made him become his liege-man, or go abroad; or (as a third choice) suffer yet harder conditions, some even losing life or limb. Harold claimed as his own through every district all patrimonies, and all land tilled or untilled, likewise all seas and freshwater lakes. All landowners were to be his tenants, as also all that worked in the forest, salt-burners, hunters and fishers by land and sea, all these owed him duty. But many fled abroad from this tyranny, and much waste land was then colonized far and wide, both eastwards in Jamtaland and Helsingjaland, and also the West lands, the Southern isles, Dublin in Ireland, Caithness in Scotland, and Shetland. And in that time Iceland was found.
The king’s message to Kveldulf.
King Harold lay with his fleet in the Firths, whence he sent messengers round the land to such as had not come to him, but with whom he thought he had business. The messengers came to Kveldulf, and were well received. They set forth their errand, said that the king would have Kveldulf come to him.
‘He has heard,’ said they, ‘that you are a man of renown and high family. You will get from him terms of great honour, for the king is very keen on this, to have with him such as he hears are men of mark for strength and bravery.’
Kveldulf answered that he was an old man, not fit for war or to be out in warships. ‘I will now,’ said he, ‘sit at home and leave serving kings.’
Upon this the messengers said, ‘Then let your son go to the king; he is a tall man and a likely warrior. The king will make you a baron,’ said they to Grim, ‘if you will serve him.’
‘I will be made baron under none,’ said Grim, ‘while my father lives; he, while he lives, shall be my liege-lord.’
The messengers went away, and when they came to the king told him all that Kveldulf had said before them. Whereat the king looked sullen, but he spoke little; these men, he said, were proud, or what were they aiming at? Aulvir Hnuf was standing near, and he bade the king not be wroth. ‘I will go,’ said he, ‘to Kveldulf; and he will consent to come to you, as soon as he knows that you think it a matter of moment.’
So Aulvir went to Kveldulf and told him that the king was wroth, and it would not go well unless one of the two, father or son, came to the king; he said, too, that he would get them great honour from the king if they would but pay homage. Further he told them at length, as was true, that the king was liberal to his men both in money and in honours.
Kveldulf said, ‘My foreboding is that I and my sons shall get no luck from this king: and I will not go to him. But if Thorolf returns this summer, he will be easily won to this journey, as also to be made the king’s man. Say you this to the king, that I will be his friend, and will keep to his friendship all who heed my words; I will also hold the same rule and authority from his hand that I held before from the former king, if he will that it continue so still, and I will see how I and the king agree.’
Then Aulvir went back and told the king that Kveldulf would send him his son, and he (said Aulvir) would suit better; but he was not then at home. The king let the matter rest. In the summer he went inland to Sogn, but in autumn made ready to go northwards to Throndheim.
Thorolf resolves to serve the king.
Thorolf Kveldulf’s son and Eyvind Lambi came home from sea-roving in the autumn. Thorolf went to his father, and father and son had some talk together. Thorolf asked what had been the errand of the men whom Harold sent thither. Kveldulf said the king had sent them with this message, that Kveldulf or else one of his sons should become his man.
‘How answeredst thou?’ said Thorolf.
‘I spake what was in my mind, that I would never take service with king Harold; and ye two will both do the same, if I may counsel: this I think will be the end, that we shall reap ruin from that king.’
‘That,’ said Thorolf, ‘is quite contrary to what my mind tells me, for I think I shall get from him much advancement. And on this I am resolved, to seek the king, and become his man; and this I have learnt for true, that his guard is made up of none but valiant men. To join their company, if they will have me, seems to me most desirable; these men are in far better case than all others in the land. And ’tis told me of the king that he is most generous in money gifts to his men, and not slow to give them promotion and to grant rule to such as he deems meet for it. Whereas I hear this about all that turn their backs upon him and pay him not homage with friendship, that they all become men of nought, some flee abroad, some are made hirelings. It seems wonderful to me, father, in a man so wise and ambitious as thou art, that thou wouldst not thankfully take the dignity which the king offered thee. But if thou thinkest that thou hast prophetic foresight of this, that we shall get misfortune from this king, and that he will be our enemy, then why didst thou not go to battle against him with that king in whose service thou wert before? Now, methinks it is most unreasonable neither to be his friend nor his enemy.’
‘It went,’ said Kveldulf, ‘just as my mind foreboded, that they marched not to victory who went northwards to fight with Harold Shockhead in Mæra; and equally true will this be, that Harold will work much scathe on my kin. But thou, Thorolf, wilt take thine own counsel in thine own business; nor do I fear, though thou enter into the company of Harold’s guards, that thou wilt not be thought capable and equal to the foremost in all proofs of manhood. Only beware of this, keep within bounds, nor rival thy betters; thou wilt not, I am sure, yield to others overmuch.’
But when Thorolf made him ready to go, Kveldulf accompanied him down to the ship and embraced him, with wishes for his happy journey and their next merry meeting.
Of Bjorgolf, Brynjolf, Bard, and Hildirida.
There was a man in Halogaland named Bjorgolf; he dwelt in Torgar. He was a baron, powerful and wealthy; in strength, stature, and kindred half hill-giant. He had a son named Brynjolf, who was like his father. Bjorgolf was now old, and his wife was dead; and he had given over into his son’s hands all business, and found him a wife, Helga, daughter of Kettle Hæing of Hrafnista. Their son was named Bard; he soon grew to be tall and handsome, and became a right doughty man.
One autumn there was a banquet where many men were gathered, Bjorgolf and his son being there the most honourable guests. In the evening they were paired off by lot to drink together, as the old custom was. Now, there was at the banquet a man named Hogni, owner of a farm in Leka, a man of great wealth, very handsome, shrewd, but of low family, who had made his own way. He had a most beautiful daughter, Hildirida by name; and it fell to her lot to sit by Bjorgolf. They talked much together that evening, and the fair maiden charmed the old man. Shortly afterwards the banquet broke up.
That same autumn old Bjorgolf journeyed from home in a cutter of his own, with thirty men aboard. He came to Leka, and twenty of them went up to the house, while ten guarded the ship. When they came to the farm, Hogni went out to meet him, and made him welcome, invited him and his comrades to lodge there, which offer Bjorgolf accepted, and they entered the room. But when they had doffed their travelling clothes and donned mantles, then Hogni gave orders to bring in a large bowl of beer; and Hildirida, the daughter of the house, bare ale to the guests.
Bjorgolf called to him Hogni the goodman, and said, ‘My errand here is this: I will have your daughter to go home with me, and will even now make with her a hasty wedding.’
Hogni saw no choice but to let all be as Bjorgolf would; so Bjorgolf bought her with an ounce of gold, and they became man and wife, and Hildirida went home with Bjorgolf to Torgar. Brynjolf showed him ill-pleased at this business. Bjorgolf and Hildirida had two sons; one was named Harek, the other Hærek.
Soon after this Bjorgolf died; but no sooner was he buried than Brynjolf sent away Hildirida and her sons. She went to her father at Leka, and there her sons were brought up. They were good-looking, small of stature, naturally shrewd, like their mother’s kin. They were commonly called Hildirida’s sons. Brynjolf made little count of them, and did not let them inherit aught of their father’s. Hildirida was Hogni’s heiress, and she and her sons inherited from him and dwelt in Leka, and had plenty of wealth. Bard, Brynjolf’s son, and Hildirida’s sons were about of an age.
Bjorgolf and his son Brynjolf had long held the office of going to the Finns, and collecting the Finns’ tribute.
Northwards, in Halogaland is a firth called Vefsnir, and in the firth lies an island called Alost, a large island and a good, and in this a farm called Sandness. There dwelt a man named Sigurd, the richest man thereabouts in the north; he was a baron, and wise of understanding. He had a daughter named Sigridr; she was thought the best match in Halogaland, being his only child and sole heiress to her father. Bard Brynjolf’s son journeyed from home with a cutter and thirty men aboard northwards to Alost, and came to Sigurd at Sandness. There he declared his business, and asked Sigridr to wife. This offer was well received and favourable answered, and so it came about that Bard was betrothed to the maiden. The marriage was to take place the next summer. Bard was then to come north for the wedding.
Of Bard and Thorolf.
King Harold had that summer sent word to the men of power that were in Halogaland, summoning to him such as had not come to him before. Brynjolf resolved to go, and with him Bard his son; and in the autumn they went southwards to Throndheim, and there met the king. He received them most gladly. Brynjolf was made a baron of the king’s; the king also gave him large grants beside what he had before. He gave him withal the right of journey to the Finns, with the king’s business on the fells and the Finn traffic. Then Brynjolf went away home to his estate, but Bard remained, and was made one of the king’s guard.
Of all his guard the king most prized his skalds; they occupied the second high seat. Of these Audun Ill-skald sat innermost, being the oldest; he had been skald to Halfdan Swarthy, king Harold’s father. Next to him sat Thorbjorn Raven, then Aulvir Hnuf, and next to him was placed Bard; he was there by-named Bard the White or Bard the Strong. He was in honour with everyone there, but between him and Aulvir Hnuf was a close friendship.
That same autumn came to king Harold Thorolf Kveldulf’s son and Eyvind Lambi, Kari of Berdla’s son, and they were well received. They brought thither a swift twenty-benched long-ship well manned, which they had before used in sea-roving. They and their company were placed in the guest-hall; but when they had waited there till they thought it a fit time to go before the king, Kari of Berdla and Aulvir Hnuf went in with them. They greeted the king. Then said Aulvir Hnuf, ‘Here is come Kveldulf’s son, whom I told thee in the summer Kveldulf would send. His promise to thee will now stand fast; for here thou canst see true tokens that he will be thy friend in all when he hath sent his son hither to take service with thee, a stalwart man as thou mayest see. Now, this is the boon craved by Kveldulf and by us all, that thou receive Thorolf with honour and make him a great man with thee.’
The king answered his words well, promising that so he would do, ‘If,’ said he, ‘Thorolf proves himself as accomplished in deed as he is right brave in look.’
After this Thorolf was made of the king’s household, and one of his guard.
But Kari of Berdla and his son Eyvind Lambi went back south in the ship which Thorolf had brought north, and so home to Kari’s farm. Thorolf remained with the king, who appointed him a seat between Aulvir Hnuf and Bard; and these three struck up a close friendship. And all men said of Thorolf and Bard that they were a well-matched pair for comeliness, stature, strength, and all doughty deeds. And both were in high favour with the king.
But when winter was past and summer came, then Bard asked leave to go and see to the marriage promised to him the summer before. And when the king knew that Bard’s errand was urgent, he allowed him to go home. Then Bard asked Thorolf to go north with him, saying (as was true) that he would meet there many of his kin, men of renown, whom he had not yet seen or known. Thorolf thought this desirable, so they got leave from the king for this; then they made them ready, took a good ship and crew, and went their way.
When they came to Torgar, they sent word to Sigurd that Bard would now see to that marriage on which they had agreed the summer before. Sigurd said that he would hold to all that they had arranged; so they fixed the wedding-day, and Bard with his party were to come north to Sandness. At the appointed time Brynjolf and Bard set out, and with them many great men of their kin and connexions. And it was as Bard had said, that Thorolf met there many of his kinsmen that he had not known before. They journeyed to Sandness, and there was held the most splendid feast. And when the feast was ended, Bard went home with his wife, and remained at home through the summer, and Thorolf with him.
In the autumn they came south to the king, and were with him another winter. During that winter Brynjolf died; and when Bard learnt that the inheritance there was open for him, he asked leave to go home. This the king granted, and before they parted Bard was made a baron, as his father had been, and held of the king all those same grants that Brynjolf had held. Bard went home to his estate, and at once became a great chief; but Hildirida’s sons got no more of the heritage than before. Bard had a son by his wife; he was named Grim. Meanwhile Thorolf was with the king, and in great honour.
Battle in Hafr’s Firth.
King Harold proclaimed a general levy, and gathered a fleet, summoning his forces far and wide through the land. He went out from Throndheim, and bent his course southwards, for he had heard that a large host was gathered throughout Agdir, Rogaland, and Hordaland, assembled from far, both from the inland parts above, and from the east out of Vik, and many great men were there met who purposed to defend their land from the king. Harold held on his way from the north, with a large force, having his guards on board. In the forecastle of the king’s ship were Thorolf Kveldulfsson, Bard the White, Kari of Berdla’s sons, Aulvir Hnuf and Eyvind Lambi, and in the prow were twelve Berserks of the king.
The fleets met south in Rogaland in Hafr’s Firth. There was fought the greatest battle that king Harold had had, with much slaughter in either host. The king set his own ship in the van, and there the battle was most stubborn, but the end was that king Harold won the victory. Thorir Longchin, king of Agdir, fell there, but Kjotvi the wealthy fled with all his men that could stand, save some that surrendered after the battle. When the roll of Harold’s army was called, many were they that had fallen, and many were sore wounded. Thorolf was badly wounded, Bard even worse; nor was there a man unwounded in the king’s ship before the mast, except those whom iron bit not to wit the Berserks.
Then the king had his men’s wounds bound up, and thanked them for their valour, and gave them gifts, adding most praise where he thought it most deserved. He promised them also further honour, naming some to be steersmen, others forecastle men, others bow-sitters. This was the last battle king Harold had within the land; after this none withstood him; he was supreme over all Norway.
The king saw to the healing of his men, whose wounds gave them hope of life, as also to the burial of the dead with all customary honours. Thorolf and Bard lay wounded. Thorolf’s wounds began to heal, but Bard’s proved mortal. Then Bard had the king called to him, and spoke thus:
‘If it so be that I die of these wounds, then I would ask this of thee, that I may myself name my heir.’
To this when the king assented, then said he:
‘I will that Thorolf my friend and kinsman take all my heritage, both lands and chattels. To him, also, will I give my wife and the bringing up of my son, because I trust him for this above all men.’
This arrangement he made fast, as the law was, with the leave of the king. Then Bard died, and was buried, and his death was much mourned. Thorolf was healed of his wounds, and followed the king, and had won great glory.
In the autumn the king went north to Throndheim. Then Thorolf asked to go north to Halogaland, to see after those gifts which he had received in the summer from his kinsman Bard. The king gave leave for this, adding a message and tokens that Thorolf should take all that Bard had given him, showing that the gift was with the counsel of the king, and that he would have it so. Then the king made Thorolf a baron, and granted him all the rights which Bard had had before, giving him the journey to the Finns on the same terms. He also supplied to Thorolf a good long-ship, with tackling complete, and had everything made ready for his journey thence in the best possible way. So Thorolf set out, and he and the king parted with great affection.
But when Thorolf came north to Torgar, he was well received. He told them of Bard’s death; also how Bard had left him both lands and chattels, and her that had been his wife; then he showed the king’s order and tokens. When Sigridr heard these tidings, she felt her great loss in her husband, but with Thorolf she was already well acquainted, and knew him for a man of great mark; and this promise of her in marriage was good, and besides there was the king’s command. So she and her friends saw it to be the best plan that she should be betrothed to Thorolf, unless that were against her father’s mind. Thereupon Thorolf took all the management of the property, and also the king’s business.
Soon after this Thorolf started with a long-ship and about sixty men, and coasted northwards, till one day at eventide he came to Sandness in Alost; there they moored the ship. And when they had raised their tent, and made arrangements, Thorolf went up to the farm buildings with twenty men. Sigurd received him well, and asked him to lodge there, for there had been great intimacy between them since the marriage connection between Sigurd and Bard. Then Thorolf and his men went into the hall, and were there entertained. Sigurd sat and talked with Thorolf, and asked tidings. Thorolf told of the battle fought that summer in the south, and of the fall of many men whom Sigurd knew well, and withal how Bard his son-in-law had died of wounds received in the battle. This they both felt to be a great loss. Then Thorolf told Sigurd what had been the covenant between him and Bard before he died, and he declared also the orders of the king, how he would have all this hold good, and this he showed by the tokens.
After this Thorolf entered on his wooing with Sigurd, and asked Sigridr, his daughter, to wife. Sigurd received the proposal well; he said there were many reasons for this; first, the king would have it so; next, Bard had asked it; and further he himself knew Thorolf well, and thought it a good match for his daughter. Thus Sigurd was easily won to grant this suit; whereupon the betrothal was made, and the wedding was fixed for the autumn at Torgar.
Then Thorolf went home to his estate, and his comrades with him. There he prepared a great feast, and bade many thereto. Of Thorolf’s kin many were present, men of renown. Sigurd also came thither from the north with a long-ship and a chosen crew. Numerously attended was that feast, and it was at once seen that Thorolf was free-handed and munificent. He kept about him a large following, whereof the cost was great, and much provision was needed; but the year was good, and needful supplies were easily found.
During that winter Sigurd died at Sandness, and Thorolf was heir to all his property; this was great wealth.
Now the sons of Hildirida came to Thorolf, and put in the claim which they thought they had on the property that had belonged to their father Bjorgolf. Thorolf answered them thus:
‘This I knew of Brynjolf, and still better of Bard, that they were men so generous that they would have let you have of Bjorgolf’s heritage what share they knew to be your right. I was present when ye two put in this same claim on Bard, and I heard what he thought, that there was no ground for it, for he called you illegitimate.’
Harek said that they would bring witnesses that their mother was duly bought with payment.
‘It is true that we did not at first treat of this matter with Brynjolf our brother it was a case of sharing between kinsmen, but of Bard we hoped to get our dues in every respect, though our dealings with him were not for long. Now however this heritage has come to men who are in nowise our kin, and we cannot be altogether silent about our wrong; but it may be that, as before, might will so prevail that we get not our right of thee in this, if thou refuse to hear the witness that we can bring to prove us honourably born.’
Thorolf then answered angrily:
‘So far am I from thinking you legitimate heirs that I am told your mother was taken by force, and carried home as a captive.’
After that they left talking altogether.
Thorolf in Finmark.
In the winter Thorolf took his way up to the fells with a large force of not less than ninety men, whereas before it had been the wont of the king’s stewards to have thirty men, and sometimes fewer. He took with him plenty of wares for trading. At once he appointed a meeting with the Finns, took of them the tribute, and held a fair with them. All was managed with goodwill and friendship, though not without fear on the Finns’ side. Far and wide about Finmark did he travel; but when he reached the fells eastward, he heard that the Kylfings were come from the east, and were there for trading with the Finns, but in some places for plunder also. Thorolf set Finns to spy out the movements of the Kylfings, and he followed after to search for them, and came upon thirty men in one den, all of whom he slew, letting none escape. Afterwards he found together fifteen or twenty. In all they slew near upon a hundred, and took immense booty, and returned in the spring after doing this.
Thorolf then went to his estates at Sandness, and remained there through the spring. He had a long-ship built, large, and with a dragon’s head, fitted out in the best style; this he took with him from the north. Thorolf gathered great stores of what there was in Halogaland, employing his men after the herrings and in other fishing; seal-hunting there was too in abundance, and egg-gathering, and all such provision he had brought to him. Never had he fewer freedmen about his home than a hundred; he was open-handed and liberal, and readily made friends with the great, and with all that were near him. A mighty man he became, and he bestowed much care on his ships, equipment, and weapons.
The king feasts with Thorolf.
King Harold went that summer to Halogaland, and banquets were made ready against his coming, both where his estates were, and also by barons and powerful landowners. Thorolf prepared a banquet for the king at great cost; it was fixed for when the king should come there. To this he bade a numerous company, the best men that could be found. The king had about three hundred men with him when he came to the banquet, but Thorolf had five hundred present. Thorolf had caused a large granary to be fitted up where the drinking should be, for there was no hall large enough to contain all that multitude. And all around the building shields were hung.
The king sate in the high seat; but when the foremost bench was filled, then the king looked round, and he turned red, but spoke not, and men thought they could see he was angry. The banquet was magnificent, and all the viands of the best. The king, however, was gloomy; he remained there three nights, as had been intended. On the day when the king was to leave Thorolf went to him, and offered that they should go together down to the strand. The king did so, and there, moored off the land, floated that dragon-ship which Thorolf had had built, with tent and tackling complete. Thorolf gave the ship to the king, and prayed the king to believe that he had gathered such numbers for this end, to show the king honour, and not to enter into rivalry with him. The king took Thorolf’s words well, and then became merry and cheerful. Many added their good word, saying (as was true) that the banquet was most splendid, and the farewell escort magnificent, and that the king gained much strength by such men. Then they parted with much affection.
The king went northwards through Halogaland as he had purposed, and returned south as summer wore on. He went to yet other banquets there that were prepared for him.
Hildirida’s sons talk with Harold.
Hildirida’s sons went to the king and bade him to a three nights’ banquet. The king accepted their bidding, and fixed when he would come. So at the appointed time he and his train came thither. The company was not numerous, but the feast went off very well, and the king was quite cheerful. Harek entered into talk with the king, and their talk turned on this, that he asked about the king’s journeys in those parts during the summer.
The king answered his questions, and said that all had received him well, each after his means.
‘Great will have been the difference,’ said Harek, ‘and at Torgar the company at the banquet will have been the most numerous.’
The king said that it was so.
Harek said: ‘That was to be looked for, because on that banquet most was spent; and thou, O king, hadst great luck in matters so turning out that thy life was not endangered. The end was as was likely; thou wert very wise and very fortunate; for thou at once suspectedst all was not for good on seeing the numerous company there gathered; but (as I am told) thou madest all thy men remain armed constantly and keep watch and ward night and day.’
The king looked at him and said: ‘Why speakest thou thus, Harek? What canst thou tell of this?’
Harek answered: ‘May I speak with permission what I please?’
‘Speak,’ said the king.
‘This I judge,’ said Harek, ‘that thou wouldst not deem it to be well, if thou, O king, heardest every one’s words, what men say when speaking their minds freely at home, how they think that it is a tyranny thou exercisest over all people. But the plain truth is, O king, that to rise against thee the people lack nothing but boldness and a leader. Nor is it wonderful in a man like Thorolf that he thinks himself above everyone; he wants not for strength and comeliness; he keeps a guard round him like a king; he has wealth in plenty, even though he had but what is truly his, but besides that he holds others’ property equally at his disposal with his own. Thou, too, hast bestowed on him large grants, and he had now made all ready to repay them with ill. For this is the truth that I tell thee: when it was learnt that thou wert coming north to Halogaland with no more force than three hundred men, the counsel of people here was that an army should assemble and take thy life, O king, and the lives of all thy force. And Thorolf was head of these counsels, and it was offered him that he should be king over the Halogalanders and Naumdalesmen. Then he went in and out of each firth and round all the islands, and got together every man he could find and every weapon, and it was no secret that this army was to muster for battle against king Harold. But the truth is, O king, that though thou hadst somewhat less force than those who met thee, yet the farmer folk took flight when they saw thy fleet. Then this counsel was adopted, to meet thee with friendly show and bid thee to a banquet: but it was intended, when thou wert well drunk and lying asleep, to attack thee with fire and weapon. And here is a proof whether I am rightly informed; ye were led into a granary because Thorolf was loth to burn up his new and beautiful hall; and a further proof is that every room was full of weapons and armour. But when all their devices against thee miscarried, then they chose the best course they could; they hushed up their former purpose. And I doubt not that all may deny this counsel, because few, methinks, know themselves guiltless, were the truth to come out. Now this is my counsel, O king, that thou keep Thorolf near thee, and let him be in thy guard, and bear thy standard, and be in the forecastle of thy ship; for this duty no man is fitter. Or if thou wilt have him to be a baron, then give him a grant southwards in the Firths, where are all his family: thou mayest then keep an eye on him, that he make not himself too great for thee. But the business here in Halogaland put thou into the hands of men who are moderate and will serve thee faithfully, and have kinsfolk here, men whose relatives have had the same work here before. We two brothers are ready and willing for such service as thou wilt use us in; our father long had the king’s business here, and it prospered in his hands. It is difficult, O king, to place men as managers here, because thou wilt seldom come hither thyself. The strength of the land is too little to need thy coming with an army, yet thou must not come hither again with few followers, for there are here many disloyal people.’
The king was very angry at these words, but he spoke quietly, as was always his wont when he heard tidings of great import. He asked whether Thorolf were at home at Torgar. Harek said this was not likely.
‘Thorolf,’ said he, ‘is too wise to be in the way of thy followers, O king, for he must guess that all will not be so close but thou wilt get to know these things. He went north to Alost as soon as he heard that thou wert on thy way south.’
The king spoke little about this matter before other men; but it was easy to see that he inclined to believe the words that had been spoken.
After this the king went his way, Hildirida’s sons giving him honourable escort with gifts at parting, while he promised them his friendship. The brothers made themselves an errand into Naumdale, and so went round about as to cross the king’s path now and again; he always received their words well.
Thorgils goes to the king.
There was a man named Thorgils Yeller, a house-carle of Thorolf’s, honoured above all the rest of his household; he had followed Thorolf in his roving voyages as fore-castle man and standard-bearer. He had been in Hafr’s Firth, in the fleet of king Harold, and was then steering the very ship that Thorolf had used in his roving. Thorgils was strong of body and right bold of heart; the king had bestowed on him friendly gifts after the battle, and promised him his friendship. Thorgils was manager at Torgar, and bore rule there when Thorolf was not at home.
Before Thorolf went away this time he had counted over all the king’s tribute that he had brought from the fells, and he put it in Thorgils’ hand, bidding him convey it to the king, if he himself came not home before the king returned south. So Thorgils made ready a large ship of burden belonging to Thorolf, and put the tribute on board, and taking about twenty men sailed southward after the king, and found him in Naumdale.
But when Thorgils met the king he gave him greeting from Thorolf, and said that he was come thither with the Finns’ tribute sent by Thorolf. The king looked at him, but answered never a word, and all saw that he was angry. Thorgils then went away, thinking to find a better time to speak with the king; he sought Aulvir Hnuf, and told him what had passed, and asked him if he knew what was the matter.
‘That do I not,’ said he; ‘but this I have marked, that, since we were at Leka, the king is silent every time Thorolf is mentioned, and I suspect he has been slandered. This I know of Hildirida’s sons, that they were long in conference with the king, and it is easy to see from their words that they are Thorolf’s enemies. But I will soon be certain about this from the king himself.’
Thereupon Aulvir went to the king, and said: ‘Here is come Thorgils Yeller thy friend, with the tribute which is thine; and the tribute is much larger than it has been before, and far better wares. He is eager to be on his way; be so good, O king, as to go and see it; for never have been seen such good gray furs.’
The king answered not, but he went to where the ship lay. Thorgils at once set forth the furs and showed them to the king. And when the king saw that it was true, that the tribute was much larger and better, his brows somewhat cleared, and Thorgils got speech with him. He brought the king some bearskins which Thorolf sent him, and other valuables besides, which he had gotten upon the fells. So the king brightened up, and asked tidings of the journey of Thorolf and his company. Thorgils told it all in detail.
Then said the king: ‘Great pity is it Thorolf should be unfaithful to me and plot my death.’
Then answered many who stood by, and all with one mind, that it was a slander of wicked men if such words had been spoken, and Thorolf would be found guiltless. The king said he would prefer to believe this. Then was the king cheerful in all his talk with Thorgils, and they parted friends.
But when Thorgils met Thorolf he told him all that had happened.
Thorolf again in Finmark.
That winter Thorolf went again to Finmark, taking with him about a hundred men. As before, he held a fair with the Finns, and travelled far and wide over Finmark. But when he reached the far east, and his coming was heard of, then came to him some Kvens, saying that they were sent by Faravid, king of Kvenland, because the Kiriales were harrying his land; and his message was that Thorolf should go thither and bear him help; and further that Thorolf should have a share of the booty equal to the king’s share, and each of his men as much as two Kvens. With the Kvens the law was that the king should have one-third as compared with his men when the booty was shared, and beyond that, as reserved for him, all bearskins and sables. Thorolf put this proposal before his men, giving them the choice to go or not; and the more part chose to venture it, as the prize was so great. This is was decided that they should go eastwards with the messengers.
Finmark is a wide tract; it is bounded westwards by the sea, wherefrom large firths run in; by sea also northwards and round to the east; but southwards lies Norway; and Finmark stretches along nearly all the inland region to the south, as also does Halogaland outside. But eastwards from Naumdale is Jamtaland, then Helsingjaland and Kvenland, then Finland, then Kirialaland; along all these lands to the north lies Finmark, and there are wide inhabited fell-districts, some in dales, some by lakes. The lakes of Finmark are wonderfully large, and by the lakes there are extensive forests. But high fells lie behind from end to end of the Mark, and this ridge is called Keels.
But when Thorolf came to Kvenland and met king Faravid, they made them ready for their march, being three hundred of the kings men and a fourth hundred Norsemen. And they went by the upper way over Finmark, and came where the Kiriales were on the fell, the same who had before harried the Kvens. These, when they were aware of the enemy, gathered themselves and advanced to meet them, expecting victory as heretofore. But, on the battle being joined, the Norsemen charged furiously forwards, bearing shields stronger than those of the Kvens; the slaughter turned to be in the Kiriales’ ranks many fell, some fled. King Faravid and Thorolf took there immense wealth of spoil, and returned to Kvenland, whence afterwards Thorolf and his men came to Finmark, he and Faravid parting in friendship.
Thorolf came down from the fell to Vefsnir; then went first to his farm at Sandness, stayed there awhile, and in spring went with his men north to Torgar.
But when he came there, it was told him how Hildirida’s sons had been that winter at Throndheim with king Harold, and that they would not spare to slander Thorolf with the king; and it was much questioned what grounds they had had for their slander. Thorolf answered thus: ‘The king will not believe this, though such lies be laid before him; for there are no grounds for my turning traitor to him, when he has done me much good and no evil. And so far from wishing to do him harm (though I had the choice), I would much rather be a baron of his than be called king, when some other fellow-countrymen might rise and make me his thrall.’
King Harold and Harek.
Hildirida’s sons had been that winter with king Harold, and in their company twelve men of their own household and neighbours. The brothers were often talking with the king, and they still spoke in the same way of Thorolf. Harek asked: ‘Didst thou like well, O king, the Finns’ tribute which Thorolf sent thee?’
‘I did,’ said the king.
‘Then wouldst thou have been surprised,’ said he, ‘if thou hadst received all that belonged to thee! But it was far from being so; Thorolf kept for himself the larger share. He sent thee three bearskins, but I know for certain that he kept back thirty that were by right thine; and I guess it was the same with other things. This will prove true, O king, that, if thou put the stewardship into the hand of myself and my brother, we shall bring thee more wealth.’
And to all that they said about Thorolf their comrades bore witness, wherefore the king was exceeding angry.
Thorolf and the king.
In the summer Thorolf went south to king Harold at Throndheim, taking with him all the tribute and much wealth besides, and ninety men well arrayed. When he came to the king, he and his were placed in the guest-hall and entertained magnificently.
On the morrow Aulvir Hnuf went to his kinsman Thorolf; they talked together, Aulvir saying that Thorolf was much slandered, and the king gave ear to such tales. Thorolf asked Aulvir to plead his cause with the king, ‘for,’ said he, ‘I shall be short-spoken before the king if he choose rather to believe the lies of wicked men than truth and honesty which he will find in me.’
The next day Aulvir came to see Thorolf, and told him he had spoken on his business with the king; ‘but,’ said he, ‘I know no more than before what is in his mind.’
‘Then must I myself go to him,’ said Thorolf.
He did so; he went to the king where he sat at meat, and when he came in he greeted the king. The king accepted his greeting, and bade them serve him with drink. Thorolf said that he had there the tribute belonging to the king from Finmark; ‘and yet a further portion of booty have I brought as a present to thee, O king. And what I bring will, I know, owe all its worth to this, that it is given out of gratitude to thee.’
The king said that he could expect nought but good from Thorolf, ‘because,’ said he, ‘I deserve nought else; yet men tell two tales of thee as to thy being careful to win my approval.’
‘I am not herein justly charged,’ said Thorolf, ‘if any say I have shown disloyalty to thee. This I think, and with truth: That they who speak such lying slanders of me will prove to be in nowise thy friends, but it is quite clear that they are my bitter enemies; ’tis likely, however, that they will pay dearly for it if we come to deal together.’
Then Thorolf went away.
But on the morrow Thorolf counted out the tribute in the king’s presence; and when it was all paid, he then brought out some bearskins and sables, which he begged the king to accept. Many of the bystanders said that this was well done and deserved friendship. The king said that Thorolf had himself taken his own reward. Thorolf said that he had loyally done all he could to please the king. ‘But if he likes it not,’ said he, ‘I cannot help it: the king knows, when I was with him and in his train, how I bore myself; it is wonderful to me if the king thinks me other now than he proved me to be then.’
The king answered: ‘Thou didst bear thyself well, Thorolf, when thou wert with us; and this, I think, is best to do still, that thou join my guard, bear my banner, be captain over the guard; then will no man slander thee, if I can oversee night and day what thy conduct is.’
Thorolf looked on either hand where stood his house-carles; then said he: ‘Loth were I to deliver up these my followers: about thy titles and grants to me, O king, thou wilt have thine own way, but my following I will not deliver up while my means last, though I manage at my own sole cost. My request and wish, O king, is this, that thou come and visit me at my home, and the hear word of men whom thou trustest, what witness they bear to me in this matter; thereafter do as thou findest proof to warrant.’
The king answered and said that he would not again accept entertainment from Thorolf; so Thorolf went out, and made ready to return home.
But when he was gone, the king put into the hands of Hildirida’s sons his business in Halogaland which Thorolf had before had, as also the Finmark journey. The king claimed ownership of the estate at Torgar, and of all the property that Brynjolf had had; and all this he gave into the keeping of Hildirida’s sons. The king sent messengers with tokens to Thorolf to tell him of this arrangement, whereupon Thorolf took the ships belonging to him, put on board all the chattels he could carry, and with all his men, both freedmen and thralls, sailed northwards to his farm at Sandness, where he kept up no fewer and no less state than before.
Hildirida’s sons in Finmark and at Harold’s court.
Hildirida’s sons took the business in Halogaland; and none gainsaid this because of the king’s power, but Thorolf’s kinsmen and friends were much displeased at the change. The two brothers went on the fell in the winter, taking with them thirty men. To the Finns there seemed much less honour in these stewards than when Thorolf came, and the money due was far worse paid.
That same winter Thorolf went up on the fell with a hundred men; he passed on at once eastwards to Kvenland and met king Faravid. They took counsel together, and resolved to go on the fell again as in the winter before; and with four hundred men they made a descent on Kirialaland, and attacked those districts for which they thought themselves a match in numbers, and harrying there took much booty, returning up to Finmark as the winter wore on. In the spring Thorolf went home to his farm, and then employed his men at the fishing in Vagar, and some in herring-fishing, and had the take of every kind brought to his farm.
Thorolf had a large ship, which was waiting to put to sea. It was elaborate in everything, beautifully painted down to the sea-line, the sails also carefully striped with blue and red, and all the tackling as elaborate as the ship. Thorolf had this ship made ready, and put aboard some of his house-carles as crew; he freighted it with dried fish and hides, and ermine and gray furs too in abundance, and other peltry such as he had gotten from the fell; it was a most valuable cargo. This ship he bade sail westwards for England to buy him clothes and other supplies that he needed; and they, first steering southwards along the coast, then stretching across the main, came to England. There they found a good market, laded the ship with wheat and honey and wine and clothes, and sailing back in autumn with a fair wind came to Hordaland.
That same autumn Hildirida’s sons carried tribute to the king. But when they paid it the king himself was present and saw. He said:
‘Is this tribute now paid all that ye took in Finmark?’
‘It is,’ they answered.
‘Less by far,’ said the king, ‘and much worse paid is the tribute now than when Thorolf gathered it; yet ye said that he managed the business ill.’
‘It is well, O king,’ said Harek, ‘that thou hast considered how large a tribute should usually come from Finmark, because thus thou knowest how much thou losest, if Thorolf waste all the tribute before thee. Last winter we were in Finmark with thirty men, as has been the wont of thy stewards heretofore. Soon after came Thorolf with a hundred men, and we learnt this, that he meant to take the lives of us two brothers and all our followers, his reason being that thou, O king, hadst handed over to us the business that he wished to have. It was then our best choice to shun meeting him, and to save ourselves: therefore we quickly left the settled districts, and went on the fell. But Thorolf went all round Finmark with his armed warriors; he had all the trade, the Finns paid him tribute, and he hindered thy stewards from entering Finmark. He means to be made king over the north there, both over Finmark and Halogaland: and the wonder is that thou wilt listen to him in anything whatever. Herein may true evidence be found of Thorolf’s ill-gotten gains from Finmark; for the largest merchant ship in Halogaland was made ready for sea at Sandness in the spring, and all the cargo on board was said to be Thorolf’s. It was laden mostly, I think, with gray furs, but there would be found there also bearskins and sables more than Thorolf brought to thee. And with that ship went Thorgils Yeller, and I believe he sailed westwards for England. But if thou wilt know the truth of this, set spies on the track of Thorgils when he comes eastwards; for I fancy that no trading-ship in our days has carried such store of wealth. And I am telling thee what is true, O king, when I say that to thee belongs every penny on board.’
All that Harek said his companions confirmed, and none there ventured to gainsay.
Thorolf’s ship is taken.
There were two brothers named Sigtrygg Swiftfarer and Hallvard Hardfarer, kinsmen of king Harold on the mother’s side; from their father, a wealthy man, they had inherited an estate in Hising. Four brothers there were in all; but Thord and Thorgeir, the two younger, were at home, and managed the estate. Sigtrygg and Hallvard carried all the king’s messages, both within and without the land, and had gone on many dangerous journeys, both for putting men out of the way and confiscating the goods of those whose homes the king ordered to be attacked. They kept about them a large following; they were not generally in favour, but the king prized them highly. None could match them at travelling, either on foot or on snow-shoes; in voyaging also they were speedier than others, valiant men they were, and very wary.
These two men were with the king when those things happened that have just been told. In the autumn the king went to a banquet in Hordaland. And one day he summoned to him the brothers Hallvard and Sigtrygg, and when they came he bade them go with their following and spy after the ship which Thorgils had taken westward to England in the summer.
‘Bring me,’ said he, ‘the ship and all that is in it, except the men; let them go their way in peace, if they do not try to defend the ship.’
The brothers made them ready for this, and, taking each one his long-ship, went to seek Thorgils, and learnt that he was come from the west, and had sailed northwards along the coast. Northwards after him went they, and found him in Fir Sound. They knew the ship at once, and laid one of their ships on the seaward side of her, while some of them landed, and thence went out on to the ship by the gangways. Thorgils’ crew, apprehending no danger, made no defence; they found out nothing till many armed men were aboard, and so they were all seized, and afterwards put on shore weaponless, with nothing but the clothes they wore. But Hallvard’s men drew out the gangways, loosed the cables, and towed out the ship; then turned them about, and sailed southwards along the coast till they met the king, to whom they brought the ship and all that was in it. And when the cargo was unloaded, the king saw that it was great wealth, and what Harek had said was no lie.
But Thorgils and his comrades got conveyance, and went to Kveldulf and his son, and told of the misadventure of their voyage, yet were they well received. Kveldulf said all was tending to what he had foreboded, that Thorolf would not in the end have good luck in his friendship with king Harold.
‘And I care little,’ said he, ‘for Thorolf’s money loss in this, if worse does not come after; but I misdoubt, as before, that Thorolf will not rightly rate his own means against the stronger power with which he has to deal.’
And he bade Thorgils say this to Thorolf:
‘My counsel is that you go away out of the land, for maybe you will do better for yourself if you serve under the king of England, or of Denmark, or of Sweden.’
Then he gave Thorgils a rowing-cutter with tackling complete, a tent also, and provisions, and all things needful for their journey. So they departed, and stayed not their journey till they came to Thorolf and told him all that had happened.
Thorolf took his loss cheerfully, and said that he should not be short of money; ”tis good,’ said he, ‘to be in partnership with a king.’ He then bought meal and all that he needed for the maintenance of his people; his house-carles must for awhile, he said, be less bravely attired than he had purposed. Some lands he sold, some he mortgaged, but he kept up all expenses as before; he had no fewer men with him than last winter, nay, rather more. And as to feasts and friends entertained at his house, he had more means for all this than before. He stayed at home all that winter.
When spring came, and the snow and ice were loosed, then Thorolf launched a large warship of his own, and he had it made ready, and equipped his house-carles, taking with him more than a hundred men; and a goodly company there were, and well weaponed. And when a fair wind blew, Thorolf steered southwards along the coast till he came to Byrda; then they held an outer course outside the islands, but at times through channels between hill-slopes. Thus they coasted on southwards, and had no tidings of men till they came eastwards to Vik. There they heard that king Harold was in Vik, meaning in the summer to go into Upland. The people of the country knew nothing of Thorolf’s voyage. With a fair wind he held on south to Denmark, and thence into the Baltic, where he harried through that summer, but got no good booty. In the autumn he steered back from the east to Denmark, at the time when the fleet at Eyrar was breaking up. In the summer there had been, as was usual, many ships from Norway. Thorolf let all these vessels sail past, and did not show himself. One day at eventide he sailed into Mostrarsound , where in the haven was a large ship of burden that had come from Eyrar. The steersman was named Thorir Thruma; he was a steward of king Harold’s, manager of his farm at Thruma, a large farm in which the king used to make a long stay when he was in Vik. Much provision was needed for this farm, and Thorir had gone to Eyrar for this, to buy a cargo, malt, wheat, and honey; and much wealth of the king’s had he for that end. Thorolf made for this ship, and offered Thorir and his crew the choice to defend themselves, but, as they had no force to make defence against such numbers, they yielded. The ship with all its freight Thorolf took, but Thorir he put out on an island.
Then he sailed northwards along the coast with both the ships; but when they came to the mouth of the Elbe, they lay there and waited for night. And when it was dark, they rowed their long-ship up the river and stood in for the farm-buildings belonging to Hallvard and Sigtrygg. They came there before daybreak, and formed a ring of men round the place, then raised a war-whoop and wakened those within, who quickly leapt up to their weapons. Thorgeir at once fled from his bedchamber. Round the farmhouse were high wooden palings: at these Thorgeir leapt, grasping with his hand the stakes, and so swung himself out of the yard. Thorgils Yeller was standing near; he made a sweep with his sword at Thorgeir, and cut off his hand along with the fence-stake. Then Thorgeir escaped to the wood, but Thord, his brother, fell slain there, and more than twenty men. Thorolf’s band plundered and burnt the house, then went back down the river to the sea.
With a fair wind they sailed north to Vik; there again they fell in with a large merchant-ship belonging to men of Vik, laden with malt and meal. For this ship they made; but those on board, deeming they had no means of defence, yielded, and were disarmed and put on shore, and Thorolf’s men, taking the ship and its cargo, went on their way.
Thorolf had now three ships, with which he sailed westwards by Fold. Then they took the high road of the sea to Lidandisness, going with all despatch, but making raid and lifting cattle on ness and shore. Northwards from Lidandisness they held a course further out, but pillaged wherever they touched land. But when Thorolf came over against the Firths, then he turned his course inward, and went to see his father Kveldulf, and there they were made welcome. Thorolf told his father what had happened in his summer voyage; he stayed there but a short time, and Kveldulf and his son Grim accompanied him to the ship.
But before they parted Thorolf and his father talked together, and Kveldulf said: ‘I was not far wrong, Thorolf, in telling thee, when thou wentest to join king Harold’s guard, that neither thou nor we thy kindred would in the long run get good-fortune therefrom. Now thou hast taken up the very counsel against which I warned thee; thou matchest thy force against king Harold’s. But though thou art well endowed with valour and all prowess, thou hast not luck enough for this, to play on even terms with the king – a thing wherein no one here in the land has succeeded, though others have had great power and large force of men. And my foreboding is that this is our last meeting: it were in the course of nature from our ages that thou shouldst overlive me, but I think it will be otherwise.’
After this Thorolf embarked and went his way. And no tidings are told of his voyage till he arrived home at Sandness, and caused to be conveyed to his farm all the booty he had taken, and had his ship set up upon land. There was now no lack of provision to keep his people through the winter. Thorolf stayed on at home with no fewer men than in the winter before.
There was a man named Yngvar, powerful and wealthy. He had been a baron of the former kings. But after Harold came to the throne, Yngvar sat at home and served not the king. Yngvar was married and had a daughter named Bera. Yngvar dwelt in the Firths. Bera was his only child and heiress. Grim Kveldulf’s son asked Bera to wife, and the match was arranged. Grim took Bera in the winter following the summer when Thorolf had parted from him and his father.
Grim was then twenty-five years old, and was now bald, wherefore he was henceforth called Skallagrim. He had then the management of all the farms belonging to his father and himself and of all the produce, though Kveldulf was yet a hale and strong man. They had many freedmen about them, and many men who had grown up there at home and were about Skallagrim’s equals in age. Men of prowess and strength they were mostly, for both father and son chose strong fellows to be their followers, and trained them after their mind. Skallagrim was like his father in stature and strength, as also in face and temper.