The Story of Grettir the Strong, by William Morris

Chap. lv.

Of Grettir on Ernewaterheath, and his dealings with Grim there.

Grettir went up to Ernewaterheath and made there a hut for himself (whereof are yet signs left) and dwelt there, for now was he fain to do anything rather than rob and reive; he got him nets and a boat and caught fish for his food; exceeding dreary he deemed it in the mountains, because he was so fearsome of the dark.

But when other outlaws heard this, that Grettir was come down there, many of them had a mind to see him, because they thought there was much avail of him. There was a man called Grim, a Northlander, who was an outlaw; with him the Northlanders made a bargain that he should slay Grettir, and promised him freedom and gifts of money, if he should bring it to pass; so he went to meet Grettir, and prayed him to take him in.

Grettir answers, "I see not how thou art the more holpen for being with me, and troublous to heed are ye wood-folk; but ill I deem it to be alone, if other choice there were; but I will that such an one only be with me as shall do whatso work may befall."

Grim said he was of no other mind, and prayed hard that he might dwell there; then Grettir let himself be talked round, and took him in; and he was there on into the winter, and watched Grettir, but deemed it no little matter to set on him. Grettir misdoubted him, and had his weapons by his side night and day, nor durst Grim attack him while he was awake.

But one morning whenas Grim came in from fishing, he went into the hut and stamped with his foot, and would know whether Grettir slept, but he started in nowise, but lay still; and the short-sword hung up over Grettir's head.

Now Grim thought that no better chance would happen, so he made a great noise, that Grettir might chide him, therefore, if he were awake, but that befell not. Now he thought that Grettir must surely be asleep, so he went stealthily up to the bed and reached out for the short-sword, and took it down, and unsheathed it. But even therewith Grettir sprang up on to the floor, and caught the short-sword just as the other raised it aloft, and laid the other hand on Grim betwixt the shoulders, and cast him down with such a fall, that he was well-nigh stunned; "Ah, such hast thou shown thyself," said he, "though thou wouldest give me good hope of thee." Then he had a true story from him, and thereafter slew him.

And now Grettir deemed he saw what it was to take in wood-folk, and so the winter wore; and nothing Grettir thought to be of more trouble than his dread of the dark.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 22:07