Sagas & Legends
Thorstein goes to a feast.
There was a man named Thorgeir, a kinsman and friend of Thorstein: he dwelt then at Swan-ness. Thorgeir was wont to have a harvest feast every autumn. He went to Thorstein Egil's son and asked him to his house. Thorstein promised to come, and Thorgeir went home. But on the appointed day Thorstein made him ready to go: it wanted then four weeks of winter. With Thorstein went an Easterling, his guest, and two house-carles. There was a son of Thorstein named Grim, who was then ten years old; he too went with Thorstein, thus they were five in all. And they rode out to Foss, there they crossed Long-river, then out, as the road lay, to Aurrida-river. On the outer bank of that river Steinar was at work, and Aunund, and their house-carles. And when they perceived Thorstein they ran to their weapons, then pursued his party. On seeing Steinar's pursuit, these rode outside Long-holt. There is a hillock, high and bare of wood. Thorstein's party dismounted there, and climbed the hillock. Thorstein bade the boy Grim go into the wood, and not be present at the encounter. As soon as Steinar and his company came to the hillock they set upon Thorstein's party, and there was a fight. There were in Steinar's band six grown men in all, and a seventh was Steinar's son, ten years old. This encounter was seen by those who were on the meadows from other farms, and they ran to part them. But by the time they were parted both Thorstein's house-carles had lost their lives, one house-carle of Steinar's had fallen, and several were wounded.
After they were parted Thorstein sought for Grim. And they found him sore wounded, while Steinar's son lay there by him dead. And when Thorstein leapt on his horse, then Steinar called after him, 'You run now, Thorstein the white.' Thorstein answered, 'You shall run further ere a week be out.'
Then Thorstein with his company rode out over the moor, taking with them the boy Grim. And when they came to the holt that is there, the boy died; and they buried him there in the holt, called since Grimsholt. And the place where they fought is called Battle-hillock.
Thorstein rode to Swan-ness that evening, as he had intended, and sat there at the feast three nights, after which he made him ready to go home. Men offered to go with him, but he would not; so he and his Easterling friend rode two together.
That same day Steinar, expecting that Thorstein would be riding home, rode out along the shore. But when he came to the dunes below Lamba-stead he lay in wait there. He had the sword named Skrymir, an excellent weapon. He stood there on the sandhill with drawn sword and eyes turned one way, for he saw Thorstein riding out on the sand. Lambi, who dwelt at Lamba-stead, saw what Steinar was doing. He left the house and went down the back, and, when he came to Steinar, he gripped him behind between the shoulders. Steinar tried to shake him off, but Lambi held fast, and so they went from the sandhill on to the level, and just then Thorstein and his friend rode by on the path below. Steinar had ridden thither on his stallion, which was now galloping inwards along the seashore. Thorstein and his friend saw this, and wondered, for they had perceived nothing of Steinar's coming. Then Steinar turned to regain the bank (for he saw not that Thorstein had ridden by). And as they came on the edge of the bank, Lambi suddenly threw Steinar from the sandhill down on to the flat sand, and himself ran home. As soon as he could get to his feet Steinar ran after Lambi. But when Lambi reached his house-door, he dashed in and slammed the door after him, Steinar aiming a blow after him so that the sword stuck in the wood of the door. There they parted, and Steinar went home.
But when Thorstein came home, he sent next day a house-carle out to Leiru-brook to bid Steinar move house beyond Borgar-hraun, else would he take advantage of this against Steinar when he had more power on his side, 'and you will then,' said he, 'have no choice of migration.' So Steinar prepared to go out to Snæfells-strand, and there he set up his household at a place called Ellida. And thus ended the dealings between him and Thorstein Egil's son.
Thorgeir Blund dwelt at Anabrekka. He proved a bad neighbour to Thorstein in every way that he could do so. On one occasion, when Egil and Thorstein met, they talked much about Thorgeir Blund their kinsman, and they both agreed about him. Then Egil sang:
'Steinar my word erewhile
Stript of his fruitful acres:
So did I hope to help
The heir of Geir and Kettle.
False, though he promised fair,
My sister's son hath failed me.
Blund now (whereat I wonder)
Withholds him not from ill.'
Thorgeir Blund left Anabrekka, and went south to Floka-dale; for Thorstein saw he could not get on with him, and yet wished to be forbearing. Thorstein was a man with no trickery, just, and never aggressive on others, but he held his own if others attacked him. But it proved disastrous to most to match their force with him.
Odd was then head-man in Borgar-firth, south of White-river. He was temple-priest, and ruled over that temple, to which all paid tribute within Skards-heath.
Next: CHAPTER XC. Death of Egil Skallagrim's son.