THE STORY OF THE ERE-DWELLERS
And How She Came To Frodis-Water.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #33
The same summer that Christ's faith was made law in Iceland, a ship came from over the sea to Snowfell-ness, a keel of Dublin, whose folk were Erse and South-islanders, and a few Northmen. They lay off the Reef long through the summer, biding a wind to sail in over the firth to Daymeal-ness; so many men of the Ness went to chaffer with them. Now among her folk was a South-island woman named Thorgunna, and of her the shipmen told that she had such things among her faring-goods that the like of them would be hard to get in Iceland; but when Thurid the goodwife of Frodis- water heard thereof, she became exceeding wishful to see those fair things, for she was very fain of glitter and show. So she fared to the ship and found Thorgunna, and asked her if she had any woman's attire, something out of the common way. She said that she had no goods for sale, but let out that she had certain fair things, which she might show without shame at feasts or other meetings of men. Thurid prayed to see her fair things, and she granted it to her; and the wares seemed good to Thurid, and exceeding well shaped, but not beyond price.
Thurid offered to deal for the goods, but Thorgunna would not sell them, so Thurid bade her come dwell with her, for she knew that Thorgunna was rich of raiment, and thought to get the goods at her leisure.
Thorgunna answered: "I have good will to go dwell with thee, but I give you to know that I am loth to pay much for myself, because I am exceeding handy at work, and willing enough thereto; but no wet work will I do; and I myself too shall rule what I am to pay for myself from the wealth that I have."
So Thorgunna talked it all over unyieldingly enough, but Thurid would that she should go thither none the less, and her goods were borne from the ship: a great locked ark and a light chest, and they were brought to the house at Frodis-water.
So when Thorgunna came there she prayed to have a bed, and a berth was given to her in the inward part of the hall. There she unlocked her ark, and drew thereout bed-clothes all excellently wrought.
She covered over the bed with English sheets and a silken quilt, and took from the ark bed-curtains and all other bed-gear withal; and so good an array that was, that men deemed that of such goods they had never seen the like.
Then said goodwife Thurid: "Put a price for me on thy bed-gear."
But Thorgunna answered: "Nay, I will not lie in straw for thee, courteous though thou be, and grand of array."
That™ misliked the goodwife, and never after did she bid for the goods.
Thorgunna worked at the weaving day by day when no haymaking was, but when it was dry she worked at the saving of hay in the home- mead, and let make for herself a rake, which she alone must handle.
Thorgunna was a woman great of growth, thick and tall, and right full of flesh; dark-browed and narrow-eyed; her hair dark-red and plenteous; of exceeding good manners was she in her daily ways, and she went every day to church before she went about her work; yet not easy of temper was she, or of many words in her daily conversation. Most men deemed that Thorgunna must have come into her sixth ten of years, yet was she the halest of women.
In those days was Thorir Wooden-leg come to be harboured at Frodis-water, and Thorgrima Witchface his wife with him, and things went somewhat ill betwixt her and Thorgunna. Kiartan the goodman's son was the one with whom Thorgunna would have most dealings, and she loved him much, yet was he cold to her, wherefore she was often cross-grained of mood. Kiartan was by then of thirteen or fourteen winters, and was both great of growth, and noble to look on.