Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 6

Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 6
In 1940, the British came to Iceland. A little over a thousand years before, in the year 935 to be exact, a great Icelander came to England. The story is told in the saga of Egil Skallagrimsson. King Erik Blood-axe, son of Harald Fairhair of Norway, came to the throne of Norway in 934, but ruled only a year before he was deposed by this brother Haakon, and had to flee the country. With his wife Gunnhilda, his children and his fosterbrother and trusted friend Lord Arinbjorn, he sailed to England, causing much havoc on the way in the Orkneys, the Shetlands and in Scotland. When he came to England, he came up against King Athelstan, but instead of fighting they came to terms, and Athelstan granted Eric the governorship of Northumberland, where he settled down. Egil Skallagrimsson was living in Iceland at this time, but as he hardly ever stayed in onplace for long at a time, he decided to visit England. In the course of his adventurous life, Egil had many times visited Norway, and there, besides striking a firm friendship with Arinbjorn, he had gone to the other extreme and won the undying enmity of Eric Blood-axe and Gunn- hilda. He did not know of Eric’s presence in England, but it is doubtful if it would have made much difference if he had, for besides being one of Ice- land’s greatset poets, Egil swung a nifty battle-axe. It was late ere Egil was ready, and when he put to sea, the winds delayed him. Aut- umn then came on, and rough weather set in. They sailed past the north coast of the Orkneys. Egil would not put in there, for he thought king Eric’s power would be supreme all over the islands. Then they sailed south- wards past Scotland, and had great storms and cross winds. Weathering the Scotch coast they held on southwards along England; but on the evening of a day, as darkness came on, it blew a gale. Before they were aware, break- ers were both seaward and ahead. There was nothing for it but to make for land, and this they did. Under sail they ran ashore, and came to land at Humbermouth. All the men were saved, and most of the cargo, but as for the ship, that was broken to pieces. When they found men to speak with, they learnt these tidings, which Egil thought good, that with king Athelstan all was well and with his kingdom: but other tidings were there which Egil thought dangerous, to wit, that king Eric Bloodaxe was there and Gunn- hilda, and they had the government of the mce, and Eric was but a short way up the country in the town of York. This also Egil learnt, that lord Arinbjorn was there with the king, and in great friendship with him. And when Egil got to know these tidings, he resolved what to do. He thought he had flittle hope of escape, though he should try ’to conceal himself and to go disguised as long as he might till he were clear of Eric’s dom- inions. For he was at that time easily known by such as should see him. He thought also it were a mean man’s fate to be captured in such flight. So he took a bold hearth, and re- solved that at once, in that very night when they came there, he would get him a horse and ride to the town. He came there in the 4 CHRISTMAS IN ICELAND


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