THE STORY OF THE ERE-DWELLERS
The End Of Katla And Odd.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #33
Now Geirrid, the goodwife at Mewlithe, sent word to Lairstead that she was ware of this, that Odd Katlason had stricken off the hand from Aud; she said that she had Aud's own word therefor, and that Odd had made boast of it before his friends.
But when Arnkel and Thorarin heard this, they rode from home out to Mewlithe, twelve men all told, and were there through the night; but in the morning they rode out to Holt, from whence their going was seen.
Now at Holt was no man at home but Odd. Katla sat on the dais, and span yarn. She bade Odd sit beside her; "and be thou as near to me as thou may'st." She bade her women sit in their seats, "and be ye silent," quoth she, "and I will have words with them."
So when Arnkel and his folk came, they went in there, and when they came into the chamber, Katla greeted Arnkel and asked for tidings. Arnkel said he had nought to tell, and asked where was Odd. Katla said he had gone south to Broadwick. "Nor would he have foregone meeting thee if he had been at home, for that we trust thee well for thy manliness."
"That may be," said Arnkel, "but we will have a ransacking here."
"That shall be as ye will," said Katla, and bade her cookmaid bear light before them and unlock the meat bower, "that is the only locked chamber in the stead."
Now they saw, how Katla span yarn from her rock, and they searched through the house and found not Odd; and thereafter they fared away.
But when they were come a short space from the garth, Arnkel stood still and said:
"Whether now has Katla cast a hood over our heads, and was Odd her son there whereas we saw but a rock?"
"She is not unlike to have so done," said Thorarin, "so let us fare back." And that they did.
But when it was seen from Holt that they turned back, then said Katla to her women:
"Ye shall still sit in your seats, but I will go with Odd out into the fore-chamber." So when they were come out through the chamber door, she went into the porch over against the outer door, and combed Odd her son, and sheared his hair.
Then Arnkel and his folk fall in at the door, and saw where Katla was, and played with a he-goat of hers, and stroked his head and beard, and combed out his fell. Arnkel and his men went into the stove and saw Odd nowhere, but there lay Katla's rock on the bench, and thereby they deemed that Odd could never have been there.
Thereafter they went out and fared away. But when they came nigh to where they had turned before, Arnkel said: "Is it not in your mind that Odd was there in the likeness of that he-goat?"
"I wot not," said Thorarin, "but if we turn back now, then shall we lay hands on Katla."
"We will try once more then," said Arnkel, "and see what will happen;" and therewith they turned again.
But when their faring was seen, Katla asked Odd to come with her; and when they came out, she went to the ash-heap, and bade Odd lie down thereunder, "and abide thou there, whatsoever may come to pass."
Now when those of Arnkel came to the house, they ran in, and so into the chamber, and there sat Katla on the dais and span. She greeted them, and said that their visits came thick and fast. Arnkel said it was so; and therewith his fellows took the rock and hewed it asunder.
Then said Katla: "Ye will not have to say at home this eve that ye had no errand at Holt, since ye have slaughtered my rock."
Then went Arnkel and his folk and sought for Odd within and without, and saw nought quick save a house-boar that Katla owned, which lay under the ash-heap; and thereafter they fared away.
But when they were come halfway to Mewlithe, came Geirrid to meet them, with a workman of hers, and asked, how they had fared. Thorarin told her all about it. She said they had ill sought for Odd: "But I will that ye turn back again once more, and I will fare with you; nought will it avail to sail with leaf-sails whereas Katla is."
With that they turned back. Geirrid had a blue mantle over her; and when their coming was seen from Holt, Katla was told that now they were fourteen folk altogether, and one of them in coloured raiment.
Then said Katla: "Must not Geirrid the troll be coming there? Then may glamour only nowise be brought to bear."
With that she got up from the dais, and took the seat from under her, and there was a lid under that, and the dais was hollow within; therein she made Odd to go, and set everything right as it was before, and sat thereover; but she said withal that she felt somewhat uncouth.
But when those folk came into the chamber, it came to no greetings between them. Geirrid cast off her cloak and went up to Katla, and took a sealskin bag which she had had with her, and did it over Katla's head; and then her fellows bound it fast beneath. Then bade Geirrid break open the dais, and there was Odd found, and bound sithence; and after that those twain were brought up to Buland's-head.
There was Odd hanged, and as he spurned the gallows Arnkel said: "Ill is thy lot from thy mother; and so it is that thou hast verily had an ill mother."
Katla said: "True it may be that he has had no good mother, but the ill lot that he has had from me has not been by my will; but it is my will that all ye may have ill hap from me, and I hope withal that that may come to pass; nor shall it be hidden from you that I wrought that harm to Gunnlaug Thorbiornson wherefrom all these troubles have arisen.
"But thou, Arnkel," said she, "may'st have no ill hap from thy mother, because thou hast none alive; but herein were I fain that my spell may stand fast, that from thy father thou mightest have a lot as much the worse than Odd has had from me, as thou hast the more to risk than he; and I hope that this may be said before all is over, that thou hast an ill father."
Thereafter they stoned her with stones that she died under the Head there; and fared afterwards to Mewlithe, and were there through the night; but the next day they rode home. Now were all these tidings known at one time, and of that tale no folk thought harm: and so the winter wore.