The Story of Grettir the Strong, by William Morris

Chap. lxxviii.

Of Haring at Drangey, and the end of him.

That same summer a ship came to the Gangpass-mouth, and therein was a man called Haering — a young man he was, and so lithe that there was no cliff that he might not climb. He went to dwell with Thorbiorn Angle, and was there on into the autumn; and he was ever urging Thorbiorn to go to Drangey, saying that he would fain see whether the cliffs were so high that none might come up them. Thorbiorn said that he should not work for nought if he got up into the island, and slew Grettir, or gave him some wound; and withal he made it worth coveting to Haering. So they fared to Drangey, and set the eastman ashore in a certain place, and he was to set on them unawares if he might come up on to the island, but they laid their keel by the ladders, and fell to talking with Grettir; and Thorbiorn asked him if he were minded now to leave the place; but he said that to nought was his mind so made up as to stay there.

"A great game hast thou played with us," said Thorbiorn; "but thou seemest not much afeard for thyself."

Thus a long while they gave and took in words, and came nowise together hereon.

But of Haering it is to be told that he climbed the cliffs, going on the right hand and the left, and got up by such a road as no man has gone by before or since; but when he came to the top of the cliff, he saw where the brothers stood, with their backs turned toward him, and thought in a little space to win both goods and great fame; nor were they at all aware of his ways, for they deemed that no man might come up, but there whereas the ladders were. Grettir was talking with Thorbiorn, nor lacked there words of the biggest on either side; but withal Illugi chanced to look aside, and saw a man drawing anigh them.

Then he said, "Here comes a man at us, with axe raised aloft, and in right warlike wise he seems to fare."

"Turn thou to meet him," says Grettir, "but I will watch the ladders."

So Illugi turned to meet Haering, and when the eastman saw him, he turned and fled here and there over the island. Illugi chased him while the island lasted, but when he came forth on to the cliff's edge Haering leapt down thence, and every bone in him was broken, and so ended his life; but the place where he was lost has been called Haering's-leap ever since.

Illugi came back, and Grettir asked how he had parted from this one who had doomed them to die.

"He would have nought to do," says Illugi, "with my seeing after his affairs, but must needs break his neck over the rock; so let the bonders pray for him as one dead."

So when Angle heard that, he bade his folk make off. "Twice have I fared to meet Grettir, but no third time will I go, if I am nought the wiser first; and now belike they may sit in Drangey as for me; but in my mind it is, that Grettir will abide here but a lesser time than heretofore."

With that they went home, and men deemed this journey of theirs worser than the first, and Grettir abode that winter in Drangey, nor in that season did he and Thorbiorn meet again.

In those days died Skapti Thorodson the Lawman, and great scathe was that to Grettir, for he had promised to busy himself about his acquittal as soon as he had been twenty winters in outlawry, and this year, of which the tale was told e'en now, was the nineteenth year thereof.

In the spring died Snorri the Godi, and many matters befell in that season that come not into this story.

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