The Story of Grettir the Strong, by William Morris

Chap. lxvii.

Grettir driven from Sand-heaps to the West.

But when the priest met Grettir he asked him closely about what had happed; so he told him all the tale of his doings, and said withal that the priest had been unfaithful to him in the matter of the rope-holding; and the priest must needs say that so it was.

Now men deemed they could see that these evil wights had wrought the loss of the men there in the dale; nor had folk hurt ever after from aught haunting the valley, and Grettir was thought to have done great deeds for the cleansing of the land. So the priest laid those bones in earth in the churchyard.

But Grettir abode at Sand-heaps the winter long, and was hidden there from all the world.

But when Thorir of Garth heard certain rumours of Grettir being in Bard-dale, he sent men for his head; then men gave him counsel to get him gone therefrom, so he took his way to the west.

Now when he came to Maddervales to Gudmund the Rich, he prayed Gudmund for watch and ward; but Gudmund said he might not well keep him. "But that only is good for thee," said he, "to set thee down there, whereas thou shouldst have no fear of thy life."

Grettir said he wotted not where such a place might be.

Gudmund said, "An isle there lies in Skagafirth called Drangey; so good a place for defence it is, that no man may come thereon unless ladders be set thereto. If thou mightest get there, I know for sure that no man who might come against thee, could have good hope while thou wert on the top thereof, of overcoming thee, either by weapons or craft, if so be thou shouldst watch the ladders well."

"That shall be tried," said Grettir, "but so fearsome of the dark am I grown, that not even for the keeping of my life may I be alone."

Gudmund said, "Well, that may be; but trust no man whatsoever so much as not to trust thyself better; for many men are hard to see through."

Grettir thanked him for his wholesome redes, and then fared away from Maddervales, nor made stay before he came to Biarg; there his mother and Illugi his brother welcomed him joyfully, and he abode there certain nights.

There he heard of the slaying of Thorstein Kuggson, which had befallen the autumn before Grettir went to Bard-dale; and he deemed therewithal that felling went on fast enough.

Then Grettir rode south to Holtbeacon-heath, and was minded to avenge Hallmund if he might meet Grim; but when he came to Northriverdale, he heard that Grim had been gone two winters ago, as is aforesaid; but Grettir had heard so late of these tidings because he had gone about disguised those two winters, and the third winter he had been in Thorirs-dale, and had seen no man who might tell him any news. Then he betook himself to the Broadfirth-dales, and dwelt in Eastriverdale, and lay in wait for folk who fared over Steep-brent; and once more he swept away with the strong hand the goods of the small bonders. This was about the height of summer-tide.

Now when the summer was well worn, Steinvor of Sand-heaps bore a man-child, who was named Skeggi; he was first fathered on Kiartan, the son of Stein, the priest of Isle-dale-river. Skeggi was unlike unto his kin because of his strength and growth, but when he was fifteen winters old he was the strongest man in the north-country, and was then known as Grettir's son; men deemed he would be a marvel among men, but he died when he was seventeen years of age, and no tale there is of him.

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