Sagas & Legends
Of king Eric and Egil.
King Eric heard the concluding words of Egil that he spake last at the Thing, and his wrath waxed hot. But all men had gone weaponless to the Thing, therefore the king attempted no attack. He bade his men hasten to their ships, and they did as he bade. Then, when they came to the strand, the king summoned his household Thing, and told them his purpose.
'We must now,' said he, 'untent our ships and row after Arinbjorn and Egil, and this I will have you know, that we will take Egil's life if we get the chance, and spare no man who shall stand up for him.'
After that they went aboard, made all ready as speedily as might be, and pushed out the ships and rowed to the place where Arinbjorn's ships had been. These were now all gone. Then the king bade that they should row after them northwards by the sound. And when he came to Sogn-sea, then there was Arinbjorn's company rowing in towards Sheeping-sound, and thither the king turned in after them, and he came up with Arinbjorn's ship in the inner part of Sheeping-sound. At once the king made for it, and they exchanged words. The king asked whether Egil was in the ship. Arinbjorn answered.
'Egil is not here,' he said; 'that, O king, thou mayest at once see. Here on board on none but those whom thou knowest; and Egil will not be found down under the benches, though thou shouldst seek him there.'
The king asked Arinbjorn what he knew latest of Egil. He said that Egil was on a cutter with thirty men, and they took their way out to Stone-sound. Then the king told his men to row by the inner sound, and shape their course so as to meet Egil.
There was a man named Kettle Hod; he was of king Eric's guard, an Uplander by family. He was pilot on the king's ship, and steered the same. Kettle was a tall man and a handsome; he was near of kin to the king. And 'twas generally said that he and the king were like in appearance.
Now Egil, before going to the Thing, had had his ship launched and the cargo put on board. And after parting with Arinbjorn, he and his went their way to Stone-sound, till they came to his ship, which lay there afloat in the haven with tent overspread. Then they went up aboard the ship, but the cutter rode beside the rudder of the ship between the land and the ship, and the oars lay there in the loops.
Next morning, when day had hardly dawned, the watch were aware that some ships were rowing for them. But when Egil saw that it was an enemy, he stood up and bade that they should leap into the cutter. He armed himself at once, as did they all. Egil took up those chests of silver which king Athelstan gave him, and bore them with him. They leapt armed into the cutter, and rowed forward between the land and the long-ship that was advancing nearest to the land; this was king Eric's ship. But, as it happened suddenly and there was little light, the two ships ran past each other. And when the stern-castles were opposite, then Egil hurled a spear and smote in the middle the man who sat steering, Kettle Hod to wit, and at once he got his bane. Then king Eric called out and bade men row after Egil and his party, but as their vessels ran past Egil's merchant-ship, the king's men leapt aboard of that. And those of Egil's men who had been left behind, and not leapt into the cutter, were all slain who could be caught, but some escaped to land. Ten men of Egil's followers were lost there.
Some ships rowed after Egil, but some plundered the merchant-ship. All the booty on board was taken, and the ship burnt. But those who rowed after Egil pulled hard; two at each oar, and they could even so take the rowing by turns. For they had no lack of men on board, while Egil's crew was short, they being now but eighteen on the cutter. So the distance between them lessened. But inside of the island was a shallow sound between it and other islands. It was now low water. Egil and his rowers ran their cutter into that shallow sound, but the long-ships could not float there; thus pursuers and pursued were parted. The king then turned back southwards, but Egil went north to seek Arinbjorn. Then sang Egil a stave:
'Wakener of weapon-din,
The warlike prince, hath wrought
(Where I escaped scot-free)
Scathe on our gallant ten.
Yet sped my hand a spear,
Like springing salmon swift,
That rushed and Kettle's ribs
Rent sore with deathful wound.'
Egil came to Arinbjorn, and told him these tidings. Arinbjorn said that he could expect nothing better in dealing with king Eric. 'But you shall not want for money, Egil. I will make good the loss of your ship, and give you another, in which you can well sail to Iceland.' Asgerdr, Egil's wife, had remained at Arinbjorn's while they went to the Thing. Arinbjorn gave Egil a good sea-worthy ship, and had it laden with such things as Egil wished. This ship Egil got ready for sea, and again he had a crew of about thirty men. Then he and Arinbjorn parted in friendship. And Egil sang:
'Requite him, righteous gods,
For robbery of my wealth!
Hunt him away, be wroth,
High Odin, heavenly powers!
Foe of his folk, base king,
May Frey and Njord make flee!
Hate him, land-guardians, hate,
Who holy ground hath scorn'd!'
Next: CHAPTER LIX. King Eric slays his brothers.