The Story of Grettir the Strong, by William Morris

Chap. lxxvi.

How Noise let the fire out on Drangey, and how Grettir must needs go aland for more.

So the tale tells, that by then they had been two winters on Drangey, they had slaughtered well-nigh all the sheep that were there, but one ram, as men say, they let live; he was piebald of belly and head, and exceeding big-horned; great game they had of him, for he was so wise that he would stand waiting without, and run after them whereso they went; and he would come home to the hut anights and rub his horns against the door.

Now they deemed it good to abide on the island, for food was plenty, because of the fowl and their eggs; but firewood was right hard to come by; and ever Grettir would let the thrall go watch for drift, and logs were often drifted there, and he would bear them to the fire; but no need had the brothers to do any work beyond climbing into the cliffs when it liked them. But the thrall took to loathing his work, and got more grumbling and heedless than he was wont heretofore: his part it was to watch the fire night by night, and Grettir gave him good warning thereon, for no boat they had with them.

Now so it befell that on a certain night their fire went out; Grettir was wroth thereat, and said it was but his due if Noise were beaten for that deed; but the thrall said that his life was an evil life, if he must lie there in outlawry, and be shaken and beaten withal if aught went amiss.

Grettir asked Illugi what rede there was for the matter, but he said he could see none, but that they should abide there till some keel should be brought thither: Grettir said it was but blindness to hope for that. "Rather will I risk whether I may not come aland."

"Much my mind misgives me thereof," said Illugi, "for we are all lost if thou comest to any ill."

"I shall not be swallowed up swimming," said Grettir; "but henceforward I shall trust the thrall the worse for this, so much as lies hereon."

Now the shortest way to the mainland from the island, was a sea-mile long.

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