Sacred Texts  Legends & Sagas  Index  Previous  Next 


ONE day, when men had got together at the warm bath of Hrafnagil, Thorvard came thither. He was a merry fellow, and amused himself in many ways. "What men," he asked, "have you got here who can entertain us with some fresh stories?" "There is plenty of amusement and fun where you are," they said. "Well," he replied, "nothing amuses me more than reciting Glum’s verses; but I keep thinking over what can be the faulty reckoning he speaks of in one of his stanzas, when he says he did not get credit for all the people he had killed. What are we to suppose to be the real state of the case? Which is more likely, that Gudbrand killed Thorvald, or that Glum did it?" This view seemed to many men worth consideration, and Thorvard rode to meet Thorarin, and said to him, "I have been thinking the matter out, and I am convinced that the truth has not been known about the death of Thorvald the crooked. You will find in Glum’s verses, that he says he has not got credit for all the men he has killed." Thorarin answered, "I can hardly take the case up again, though you should be right, and so things shall remain as they are." Thorvard rejoined, "That is not a proper course, although if the matter had not been revived, all might have gone on quietly; no I shall talk of it publicly, and there will fall on you disgrace greater than any which has yet ensued in this affair." "Well," said Thorarin, "it seems to me an awkward matter to carry this cause to the Althing, in the face of the power of Glum and his kinsmen." Thorvard replied," I can give you a piece of advice on that point. Summon him to the Hegranes Thing: you have plenty of kinsmen there, and he will find it hard to defend the case." "That we will do," said Thorarin, an so they parted.
        The spring was a bad one, and everything became difficult to procure. At that time Thorarin set on foot the suit as against Glum at Hegranes Thing, inasmuch as all the priests of the different division in the district who belonged to that Thing, were bound to Thorarin by the ties of kindred. It was scarcely possible to get across the moors with horses, on account of the snow. So Glum adopted the plan of putting a large vessel into the charge of his brother, Thorstein, who was to sail in her to the westward, and convey arms and provisions to the Thing. When, however, they came off Ulfsdal, the ship went to pieces, and all the men and property on board her were lost. Glum got to the Thing with a hundred and twenty men, but he could not encamp nearer to the place itself than in the outer circle, or "verge" of the court.  1 Einar, the son of Eyiolf, with the men of Espihole, was already there. Word was sent to Glum that he was to present himself to the court, and produce his plea in answer to the indictment. Glum went accordingly, but the men were drawn up on both sides in such a way that there was not more space than would allow of one man passing, and Glum was desired to go into the enclosure if he wanted to get to the court. He did not think this an advisable course, so he said to his men, "It is easy to see that they think they have got our affair in their own hands now. Well, it may be so, but I should like you to fall back and change your order. I will march first, then two men following me in a line, and then four in a line after them, and so on; and we will march right at them, keeping our spears before us, and this sort of wedge must make its way in if you follow close up. They did this, and pushed without interruption right into the ring which was cleared for the court, but it was night long before they could be got of the ground again, so as to allow the court to sit; so great was the crush and press. At last it was brought about that the court was reconstituted, and they were proceeding to sum up the case when Glum came forward on the bank were the court was held, and called his witnesses to the fact that the sun had risen again on the field of the Thing; then he protested solemnly against any judgment being given in the case before them. It followed from this protest that every suit before the court at once discontinued and fell to the ground. Men rode away, and the people of Espihole were very ill pleased with what had happened.  2
        Thorarin declared that Glum had dealt vexatiously with them, but Einar replied, "The matter does not appear to me to be so very ugly, for the suit may be taken up again at the point where it left off." Afterwards the men of Espihole rode to the Althing with Einar, and with many of their friends who had promised them their support against glum. Glum’s kinsmen gave him their help also in securing the benefit of the point of law, and the matter was settled by the advice of skilled men, on condition that Glum would take an oath in the case to the effect that he did not kill Thorvald the crooked. So when many men interceded, they compounded the matter on these terms--that Glum should swear he had not slain him; and the time was appointed when the oath should be taken, that is to say, in the autumn, five weeks before winter. They followed up the suit with such vigour that they were determined to bring it on again, if he did not take the necessary oath in three temples on the Eyjafirth, and if it were not done at the prescribed time the right to clear himself by the oath was to be forfeited. There was much talk about this business, and what Gum’s oaths would be, and how he would get on with them.


1 I believe that the word in the original "Fiörbaugsgardr’ occurs only twice in the sense of the verge or ring round the ground on which the Thing met. Mr. Dasent speaks of it as "an enclosed space near a court, a ‘verge’, or ‘liberty,’ within which the Fiörbaugsmadr (that is one liable to the lesser outlawry) was safe." See preface to the Nial’s Saga, p. clxii.

2 The reason for this seems to be that the defendant was summoned to answer on a certain day, and when the sun rose again before he was formally called on, that day was over, and the whole proceedings were avoided.

Next: Chapter XXV