THE STORY OF THE ERE-DWELLERS
Of Snorri Thorgrimson.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #33
Snorri Thorgrimson was fourteen winters old when he fared abroad with his foster-brothers Thorleif Kimbi and Thorod. Bork the Thick gave him fifty hundreds in silver for his voyage. They had a good voyage, and came to Norway in harvest, and were the winter through in Rogaland.
Snorri abode (1) with Erling Skialgson at Soli, and Erling was good to him because of the ancient friendship between their former kinsmen, Horda-Karl and Thorolf Most-beard to wit.
The summer after they fared out to Iceland and were late-ready. They had a hard outing of it, and came a little before winter to Hornfirth; but when the Broadfirthers dight them from shipboard, far asunder showed the array of the twain, Snorri and Thorleif Kimbi. Thorleif bought the best horse he could get, and had withal a fair-stained saddle, and glittering and fair-dight sword, and gold-inlaid spear, and his shield was dark blue and much gilded about; and all his clothes were well wrought withal. He had spent thereon pretty much all his faring-money; but Snorri was clad in a black cape, and rode a black mare, a good one. He had an ancient trough-saddle, and his weapons were little wrought for show. But the array of Thorod was between the two.
They rode from the east over the Side, and then as the road lay, west to Burgfirth, and so west across the Flats, and guested at Swanfirth. Thereafter Snorri rode to Holyfell, and was minded to abide there the winter through. Bork, however, took that matter slowly, and folk had much laughter over his array. Bork let out so much as that he had done unhappily with the faring-money, since it was all gone.
But one day in the beginning of winter, at Holyfell in came twelve men all armed. And there was come Eyolf the Gray, a kinsman of Bork (2) and son of Thord the Yeller; he dwelt at Otterdale west in Ernfirth. But when folk asked for tidings, they said that they had slain Gisli Surson, and told of the men who were fallen before him or ever he fell. At these tidings was Bork exceeding glad, and bade Thordis and Snorri welcome Eyolf at their best, as a man who had thrust off so much shame from the hands of them and their kin.
Snorri let out little over those tidings, but Thordis said: "Cheer good enough for Gisli's bane if grout is given him."
Bork answered: "I meddle not with meals."
So Bork set Eyolf in the high-seat, and his fellows out from him, and they cast their weapons on the floor. Bork sat inside of Eyolf, and then Snorri Thordis bare in dishes of grout to the board, and had spoons withal; but when she set one before Eyolf, one of the spoons fell down for her. She stooped after it, and took Eyolf's sword therewith and drew it swiftly, and thrust it up under the board, and the thrust smote Eyolf's thigh, but the hilt caught against the board; yet was the hurt sore. Bork thrust the table away and smote at Thordis, but Snorri thrust Bork away, so that he fell over, and caught hold of his mother and set her down beside him, and said that enough were her heart-burnings though she were left unbeaten.
Then sprang up Eyolf and his men, and man caught hold of man; but such was the end of these matters that Bork handselled self-doom to Eyolf, and much fee he awarded himself for his hurt; and withal he fared away. But thereof waxed much ill-will betwixt the twain, Bork and Snorri.
Go to Chapter XIV
(1) "Snorri abode with Erling Skialgson," etc. Erling and Snorri were respectively great-grandsons of Horda-Kari and Thorolf Mostbeard. (2) "There was come Eyolf the Gray, a kinsman of Bork," etc. They were first cousins:
Olaf Feilan | ------------------------------- | | Thord the Yeller Thora (see genealogy of Thorsnessings) | | | ---------------- | | | Eyolf the Gray. Bork Thorgrim
Eyolf had avenged on Gisli the slaughter of a man who was his own first cousin, Bork's brother, and the first husband of Bork's wife, who herself was Gisli's sister. But Gisli had performed a duty of honour under a holy vow in slaying the slayer of his foster-brother, while Eyolf had done what by law it was Bork's duty to do, and wherein Eyolf was not strictly concerned, as long as the next of kin was living. One can hardly help interpreting the whole affair in this way, that Thordis, in order to try to avert revenge from a beloved brother, married the cowardly Bork, on whom, as first of kin, the high duty of revenge devolved, hoping thus to effect her purpose the more surely. It was after marrying Thordis that Bork bought his braver cousin to do the business for him.