The Story of Grettir the Strong, by William Morris

Chap. lxiii.

How Grettir beguiled Thorir of Garth when he was nigh taking him.

Now the story is to be taken up where Grettir came from the firths of the east-country; and now he fared with hidden-head for that he would not meet Thorir, and lay out that summer on Madderdale-heath and in sundry places, and at whiles he was at Reek-heath.

Thorir heard that Grettir was at Reek-heath, so he gathered men and rode to the heath, and was well minded that Grettir should not escape this time.

Now Grettir was scarce aware of them before they were on him; he was just by a mountain-dairy that stood back a little from the wayside, and another man there was with him, and when he saw their band, speedy counsel must he take; so he bade that they should fell the horses and drag them into the dairy shed, and so it was done.

Then Thorir rode north over the heath by the dairy, and missed friend from stead, for he found nought, and so turned back withal.

But when his band had ridden away west, then said Grettir, "They will not deem their journey good if we be not found; so now shall thou watch our horses while I go meet them, a fair play would be shown them if they knew me not."

His fellow strove to let him herein, yet he went none-the-less, and did on him other attire, with a slouched hat over his face and a staff in his hand, then he went in the way before them. They greeted him and asked if he had seen any men riding over the heath.

"Those men that ye seek have I seen; but little was wanting e'ennow but that ye found them, for there they were, on the south of yon bogs to the left."

Now when they heard that, off they galloped out on to the bogs, but so great a mire was there that nohow could they get on, and had to drag their horses out, and were wallowing there the more part of the day; and they gave to the devil withal the wandering churl who had so befooled them.

But Grettir turned back speedily to meet his fellow, and when they met he sang this stave —

"Now make I no battle-field

With the searching stems of shield.

Rife with danger is my day,

And alone I go my way:

Nor shall I go meet, this tide,

Odin's storm, but rather bide

Whatso fate I next may have;

Scarce, then, shall thou deem me brave.

"Thence where Thorir's company

Thronging ride, I needs must flee;

If with them I raised the din,

Little thereby should I win;

Brave men's clashing swords I shun,

Woods must hide the hunted one;

For through all things, good and ill,

Unto life shall I hold still."

Now they ride at their swiftest west over the heath and forth by the homestead at Garth, before ever Thorir came from the wilderness with his band; and when they drew nigh to the homestead a man fell in with them who knew them not.

Then saw they how a woman, young and grand of attire, stood without, so Grettir asked who that woman would be. The new-comer said that she was Thorir's daughter. Then Grettir sang this stave —

"O wise sun of golden stall,

When thy sire comes back to hall,

Thou mayst tell him without sin

This, though little lies therein,

That thou saw'st me ride hereby,

With but two in company,

Past the door of Skeggi's son,

Nigh his hearth, O glittering one."

Hereby the new-comer thought he knew who this would be, and he rode to peopled parts and told how Grettir had ridden by.

So when Thorir came home, many deemed that Grettir had done the bed well over their heads. But Thorir set spies on Grettir's ways, whereso he might be. Grettir fell on such rede that he sent his fellow to the west country with his horses; but he went up to the mountains and was in disguised attire, and fared about north there in the early winter, so that he was not known.

But all men deemed that Thorir had got a worse part than before in their dealings together.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58