The Story of Grettir the Strong, by William Morris

Chap. lxxxvii.

Affairs at the Althing.

Now men rode to the Althing, and Angle's helpers were fewer than he had looked for, because that his case was spoken ill of far and wide.

Then asked Halldor whether they were to carry Grettir's head with them to the Althing.

Angle said that he would bear it with him.

"Ill-counselled is that," said Halldor; "for many enough will thy foes be, though thou doest nought to jog the memories of folk, or wake up their grief."

By then were they come on their way, and were minded to ride south over the Sand; so Angle let take the head, and bury it in a hillock of sand, which is called Grettir's Hillock.

Thronged was the Althing, and Angle put forth his case, and praised his own deeds mightily, in that he had slain the greatest outlaw in all the land, and claimed the money as his, which had been put on Grettir's head. But Thorir had the same answer for him as was told afore.

Then was the Lawman prayed for a decision, and he said that he would fain hear if any charges came against this, whereby Angle should forfeit his blood-money, or else he said he must have whatsoever had been put on Grettir's head.

Then Thorvald Asgeirson called on Skeggi the Short-handed to put forth his case, and he summoned Thorbiorn Angle with a first summons for the witch-craft and sorcery, whereby Grettir must have got his bane, and then with another summons withal, for that they had borne weapons against a half-dead man, and hereon he claimed an award of outlawry.

Now folk drew much together on this side and on that, but few they were that gave aid to Thorbiorn; and things turned out otherwise than he had looked for, because Thorvald, and Isleif, his son-in-law, deemed it a deed worthy of death to bring men to their end by evil sorcery; but through the words of wise men these cases had such end, that Thorbiorn should sail away that same summer, and never come back to Iceland while any such were alive, as had the blood-suit for Grettir and Illugi.

And then, moreover, was it made law that all workers of olden craft should be made outlaws.

So when Angle saw what his lot would be, he gat him gone from the Thing, because it might well hap that Grettir's kin would set on him; nor did he get aught of the fee that was put on Grettir's head, for that Stein the Lawman would not that it should be paid for a deed of shame. None of those men of Thorbiorn's company who had fallen in Drangey were atoned, for they were to be made equal to the slaying of Illugi, but their kin were exceeding ill content therewith.

So men rode home from the Thing, and all blood-suits that men had against Grettir fell away.

Skeggi, the son of Gamli, who was son-in-law of Thorod Drapa-Stump, and sister's son of Grettir, went north to Skagafirth at the instance of Thorvald Asgeirson, and Isleif his son-in-law, who was afterwards Bishop of Skalholt, and by the consent of all the people got to him a keel, and went to Drangey to seek the corpses of the brothers, Grettir and Illugi; and he brought them back to Reeks, in Reek-strand, and buried them there at the church; and it is for a token that Grettir lies there, that in the days of the Sturlungs, when the church of the Reeks was moved, Grettir's bones were dug up, nor were they deemed so wondrous great, great enough though they were. The bones of Illugi were buried afterwards north of the church, but Grettir's head at home in the church at Biarg.

Goodwife Asdis abode at home at Biarg, and so well beloved she was, that no trouble was ever brought against her, no, not even while Grettir was in outlawry.

Skeggi the Short-handed took the household at Biarg after Asdis, and a mighty man he was; his son was Gamli, the father of Skeggi of Scarf-stead, and Asdis the mother of Odd the Monk. Many men are come from him.

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