Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 29

Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 29
Continued from Page 5. Arinbjorn thanked the king for his words. Then Arinbjorn and Egil went back to the house, and when they came in they two went into a small upper room and talked over this j matter. Arinbjorn said: “The king just now ;was very wroth, yet methought his mood rat- • her softened before the end, and fortune will now decide what may be the upshot. I know^ that Gunnhilda will set all her mind on marr- ing your cause. Now I would fain that we take his counsel: that you be awake through the night, and compose a song of praise about king Eric. I should think it had best be a poem of twenty stanzas, and you might recite it to-morrow when we come before the king. Thus did Bragi my kinsman, when he was under the wrath of Bjorn king of Sweden; he composed a poem of praise about him in one night, and for it received his head. Now may we also have the same luck with the king, that you may make your peace with him, if you can offer him the poem of praise”. Egil said: ”1 shall try this counsel that you, wish, but ’twas the last thing I ever meant, to sing king Eric’s praises”. Arinbjorn bade him try. Then Arinbjorn went away, and had food', and drink carried to the upper room. Egil was there alone for the night. Arinbjorn went to, his men, and they sate over drink till mid-" night. Then Arinbjorn and his men went to the sleeping chambers, but before undressing he went up to the room to Egil, and asked how he was getting on with the poem. Egil said that nothing was done. “Here”, said he, “has sate a swallow by the window and twittered all night, so that I have never got rest for that same”. Whereupon Arinbjorn went away and out by the door leading up to the house-roof, and he sate by the window of the upper room .where the bird had before sate. He saw that something of a shape witch-possest moved away from the roof. Arinbjorn sate there by the window all night till dawn. But after Ar- inbjorn had come there, Egil composed all the poem, and got it so by heart that he could recite it in the morning when he met Arin- bjorn. They watched for a fit time to go be- fore the king. King Eric went to table according to his wont, and much people were with him. And when Arinbjorn knew this, then went he with all his followers fully armed to the king’s pal- ace while the king sate at table. Arinbjorn craved entrance into the hall; it was granted. He and Egil went in with half of his follow- ers, but the other half stood without before the door. Arinbjorn saluted the king; the king recived him well. Arinbjorn spoke: “Here now is come Egil. He has not sought to run away in the night. Now would we fain know, my lord, what his lot is to be. I hope thou wilt let him get good from my words, for I think it a matter of great moment to me that Egil gain terms from thee. “If thou, O king, and thou Gunnhilda, if ye two have resolved that Egil shall here get no terms, then is the manly course, to give him respite and leave to go for a week, that he may look out for himself; of his own free will any way he came hither to seek you, and therefore hoped for peace. Thereafter, this done, let your dealings together end as they may”. Gunnhilda said, ‘Well can I see by this, Arin- bjorn, thou art more faithful to Egil than to king Eric. If Egil is to ride hence for a week, then will he in this time be come to king Athelstan. But king Eric cannot now hide this from himself, that every king is now stronger than is he, whereas a little while ago it had been deemed incredible that king Eric would not have the will and energy to avenge his wrongs on such an one as Egil”. Said Arinbjorn: “No one will call Eric a greater man for slaying a yeoman’s son, a foreigner, who has freely come into his pow- er. But if the king wishes to achieve greatness hereby, then will I help him in this, so that these tidings shall be thought more worthy of record; for I and Egil will now back each ot- her, so that we must both be met at once. CHRISTMAS IN ICELAND 27


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