Thirty-three years before his death, King Harald Hairfair divided his realm of Norway between his sons, and rave to each of them the title of King. Nevertheless he was himself still the supreme ruler, and they held their lands under him. But although Harald thus divided his kingdom, he was minded that at his death his favourite son, Eric, should be King of all Norway, as he himself had been.

And thirty years later, when he was eighty years old, and he was no longer able to fare through the land, King Harald led his son Eric to the high seat and gave him lordship over all the land and over all his brothers. And three years later King Harald Hairfair died.

Now some of the brothers had fallen in fight and some had come by their deaths in other ways, and Eric was minded to get all the land to him, even as his father had held it before he divided it between his sons. And of all his brothers that were left, Olaf gave him the most trouble, and Eric was ill content at his


might in the south-east of the land. So he gathered a great host of men and ships and went to the land of the Wick where Olaf held rule. And after a great battle Eric gat the victory and Olaf lay slain. And Eric subdued the people of the Wick, and took rule over them. But Olaf’s son, who was named Tryggvi, escaped from the land of the Wick and reached the Uplands.

Now it happened that King Harald Hairfair had had another son, named Hakon, born to him in his old age, long after he had divided the kingdom between his other sons. So Hakon had been given no lands, but he had been sent to Athelstan, the King of England,


and Athelstan had been his foster-father. And he had been brought up in the Christian faith and Athelstan and all men loved him dearly, for he was good at heart and courteous of bearing.

And when the news came to England of the death of King Harald Hairfair, Hakon besought King Athelstan that he might return to the land of his birth, and King Athelstan gave him men and goodly ships, and furnished him in princely fashion. Moreover, he gave him a sword, the hilt of which was of gold, but the blade was the better part. And with it Hakon cut into a quern, or mill-stone, up to the centre, and so it was called Quern-biter, and it was known afterwards as the best sword in Norway. And Hakon thanked him well, and arrayed him for departure.

And when he was come to Norway, he heard how his brother, King Eric, was in the Wick, and had overthrown Olaf there. And Hakon joined him to strong men and wise, for he was minded to become king of the land. Chief of these men was Earl Sigurd of Ladir, who ruled over Thrandheim. He was the greatest of Norway’s counsellors and a mighty man. And he gave Hakon his aid, and Hakon promised him high honour when he should come to rule. And to the men who held lands under a bond, he also made fair promises of free lands if they would become his men and help him to gain the kingdom.

Hakon was in that time fifteen winters old. Strong and comely he was to look upon, so that men said among themselves that King Harald Hairfair had come back again grown young. And all men were glad in


him, and the tidings of his good-will and bounty spread like fire through the land. And from one end to the other men thronged to him or sent messengers to him saying that they would be his men.

And many came to him complaining sorely against King Eric, and he redressed their grievances. Tryggvi, the son of Olaf, was one of these, and Hakon gave him the name of king and a portion of the land to rule for him. And these doings of Hakon touched the hearts of the people, and ever as he grew dearer to them did their hatred wax towards Eric.

Now when Eric saw the might of his brother Hakon, he fled west oversea, and Hakon took to him all Norway. And soon after Eric fell in battle, but he left many sons, and when they grew to manhood, they harried the land of Norway, and sore they troubled the realm. And at King Hakon’s death they took the kingdom, and their mother, Gunnhild, helped them in the rule. Therefore was she called Kings’ Mother. A woman of great cunning was Gunnhild, and skilled, it was said, in witchcraft.

But the people loved not these sons of Eric as they had loved King Hakon — Hakon the Good as they called him — but there was peace for a time, for the brothers were powerful, and the people had none to lead them. And the plenteous days which they had known under King Hakon soon came to an end, for now there were many kings whereas before there had been but one, and they were greedy of wealth, and they heeded not the good laws which King Hakon had made.


Now Earl Sigurd still ruled over Thrandheim, and Tryggvi, the son of Olaf, still ruled in the land which King Hakon had given him, and ill-content and jealous were the Kings and Gunnhild, Kings’ Mother, that this should be. And at last, on a time, Sigurd was secretly followed to a homestead where he was being entertained and the homestead was burnt to the ground, and the Earl and his followers were all burnt within it. And Tryggvi was treacherously slain by one of the brothers, who had come to him in seeming friendliness.

And when Astrid, the wife of Tryggvi, heard the news of her husband’s slaying, she fled, taking with her such valuables as she could. Some women, and a few trusty men of her household, and Thorolf, her foster-father, fled with her too. The men acted as spies for her, learning tidings of her foes and their whereabouts, but Thorolf ever guarded and cared for her, and never left her in all that time of danger.

And after the murder of Tryggvi, the brothers searched his steads for Astrid, but nowhere could they find her, or get tidings of her going. And Gunnhild, Kings’ Mother, and the Kings, her sons, waxed exceeding wrath that Astrid had escaped them.

Now the time came when a little child should be born to Astrid, and. for fear lest she should be taken by her enemies, Thorolf and the men rowed her and her women in a boat out to a small island. And some watched with her, and some watched on the mainland ready to defend her and her babe with their lives. They knew that if her babe should be a son, Gunnhild and the Kings would be still more wroth and anxious to

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Astrid fled taking with her such valuables as she could (P. 88)


destroy him, for in due time he would take vengeance on them for his father’s slaying.

And when Astrid’s little child was born in the island hiding-place, it was a son, and he was given the name of Tryggvi’s father, Olaf. All the summer Astrid and the little Olaf lay hidden, for they dared not venture forth in the long sunny days and light clear nights for fear of their enemies who were still seeking them. But when the winter drew nigh, and brought the short days and long dark nights, they ventured forth, being careful to journey through the peopled parts of the land only in the darkness.

And at last they reached the homestead of Eric, the father of Astrid, and he gave them good welcome and shelter, and spread a table for them with good cheer. And all the winter they abode with Eric, and no search was made for them by the Kings, for they were warring that time.

But when the spring came, Gunnhild, Kings’ Mother, bestirred herself, and sent spies over the land to find Astrid and her babe, and the spies came back, saying that it was likely that they would be found with Astrid’s father, Eric, and Gunnhild gathered thirty men and furnished them well with weapons and horses, and she sent them forth to Eric, bidding them carry off the son of Tryggvi and bring him to her.

But Astrid’s father got news of their coming, and without delay he prepared her for departure, and gave her men to guide her on her way. And he bade her go into Sweden to Hakon the Old, a man of might and a faithful friend to him. All the night they journeyed,


and all the next day, and at eve they came to a great homestead. Weary and travel-stained they were and disguised in poor raiment, but they went to the homestead and begged shelter for the night. And the holder of the stead was a rich man but churlish, and he denied them shelter, and drove them from his door.

So on they fared again till they came to a village, and there, one Thorstein gave them shelter and they rested and slept. But in the early morning they were roughly wakened by Thorstein, who bade them be gone. And they rose and prepared to fare forward again. Then Thorstein spoke more kindly and told them that news had been brought him that messengers from Gunnhild, Kings’ Mother, were seeking them, and were nigh upon them. And they begged for his help, and he gave them food and good guides to take them to a safe hiding-place of which he knew. And the guide brought them to a wood where there was a small lake, and in it an island, overgrown and well hidden by reeds. And they waded out to the island and lay hidden among the reeds.

And when Gunnhild’s messengers came to Thorstein, and questioned him as to whether any folk had come to him, he told them that folk had come to him but had now gone on their way into the wood. And he showed them the way into the wood, but he led them right away from the place where Astrid and her babe lay hidden. And Gunnhild’s men sought all day, and found no trace of them, so they went back to Gunnhild. Then Astrid came forth from her hiding-place and went on again, till she came into Sweden to Hakon the


Old. And he gave her good welcome, for the sake of Eric, her father, and she and the little Olaf abode with him a long while.

But very soon Gunnhild, Kings’ Mother, heard from her spies how Astrid and her son were in Sweden, and how they abode there with Hakon the Old. So she sent messengers to the King of that realm with rich presents and fair words. And the King was well pleased, and welcomed Gunnhild’s messengers heartily, and they abode with him. And after a while they brake to him of Gunnhild’s desire that he should prevail on Hakon the Old to send Olaf Tryggvison (the son of Tryggvi) back to Norway so that Gunnhild might


bring him up as her own son. So the King of Sweden gave them men who brought them unto Hakon the Old, and Gunnhild’s messengers spake fair words to him, and begged him to give them the boy.

But Hakon the Old answered them that the boy’s mother must rule in such a matter and Astrid said them nay, and nothing would turn her from her word, for well she knew that Gunnhild was a woman of deceit and treacherous cunning, and in nowise (lid she put faith in her smooth words. And the messengers rode away but came again with a greater company of men. And again they craved the boy and again did Astrid say them nay. And they waxed wroth and began to threaten till it seemed that Hakon’s men would strike them, and at that Gunnhild’s messengers oat them away as fast then could. And they fared back to Norway, and Gunnhild, Kings’ Mother, was sore displeased that they should bring her no more news than that they had seen Olaf Tryggvison and spoken with Astrid his mother.

Now Astrid had a brother named Sigurd, who dwelt in the land called Garthland (Russia). The name of the king of that land was Valdimar, and much honour had Sigurd of him. Now for two winters had Astrid and her son, Olaf, lodged with Hakon the Old, and Olaf was three years old, and Astrid was minded to fare forth again with him, and she bethought her of Sigurd her brother, and would fain go to him in Garthland. So she told her thought to Hakon the Old and he listened to her, and heeded her desire, and gave her men and goodly array for the journey. And he


placed her and her companions with certain merchants on a merchant ship. And when they were come into the Eastern Sea (the Baltic Sea) they met with Vikings from Estland (Eastern Europe) who took all their money and goods and slew some of them and shared the others between them for slaves. And when they reached Estland Olaf and Thorolf were parted from Astrid and sold to an Estlander. And Thorolf he slew for he was old and not able to do the work of a slave. But Olaf’ he sold again to a man named Klerk for a good he-goat, and Klerk sold him to another man named Reas for a goodly cloak.

And Astrid was also sold for a slave. And some time after it fell out on a day in summer that Lodin, a wealthy man of the Wick, in Norway, went with his ship full of merchandise trading in Estland. And in the market-place were many kinds of wares brought for sale, and among them were slaves, both men and women. And among the slaves Lodin saw Astrid, whom he had known in past years. Pale she was and lean, and poorly clad, and sorely changed since the time when he had seen her in their own land. Yet he knew her, and went to her and bade her tell him all that had happened to her. And she told him how she had been brought thither. “Sad is the tale to tell,” she said: “I am a slave; and am brought hither to be sold.” And she prayed him to buy her, and take her back with him to her own kin. And Lodin said he would take her back if she would wed him, and Astrid, knowing him to be a brave man and of good kin, said him yea.


And he took her to Norway, and there restored her to her friends, and after, they were wedded.

As for Olaf, he lived with Reas for six winters, and Reas loved him and would not put him to service, but taught him all manly exercises and gentle manners. clothed him well, and treated him in all ways as his own son.

Now on a day it chanced that Sigurd, the brother of Astrid, came to that place to collect the taxes from the people for King Valdimar of Garthland. A man of might and wealth was Sigurd, and he fared along with great state and a goodly company. And when he was come to the market-place he saw there a boy exceeding fair of face and noble of bearing, and different in many ways from the people born in that land. And Sigurd asked the boy of his name and of his parents. And the boy answered that his name was Olaf, that he was the son of Tryggvi Olafson, and that his mother’s name was Astrid. Then did Sigurd know that the boy was his sister’s son, and he bade him speak on and tell him what had brought him there, so far from the land of his birth and kin.

And Olaf told Sigurd the story of his father’s slaying, of his mother’s escape from her enemies, of his birth on the island, of their long journeying and of their separation when they were taken by Vikings and sold into slavery; and Sigurd bade Olaf lead him to Reas, his master, and when they were come to him Sigurd made known to Reas his desire to buy the boy from him. And Reas answered him: “So much do I love the boy that never will I sell him into bondage


Yet will I not refuse you if you will give me your word of truth that you will not part with him for money, and will treat him in no way worse than he has hitherto been treated by me.”

Thus did Sigurd promise, and he bought Olaf from Reas and took him back with him to Garthland. And he treated the boy in all things generously, but


as yet he said naught to any of his kingly birth. And Olaf was now nine years of age.

Now, it happened on a day that Olaf Tryggvison saw among a company of men the man who had slain Thorolf, his mother’s foster father. Full angry he was as he looked again upon the man. And he went up to him and smote him on the head with a little axe which he had in his hand. And the man fell dead. At which Olaf ran home to his kinsman, Sigurd, and told him of his deed. And Sigurd feared for him, because there was a law in Garthland that whoso slew a man who was not sentenced to death should himself be slain wheresoever he should be found.

So Sigurd took the boy to Queen Allogia, the wife of King Valdimar. And he told her of his deed, and prayed her to help him. And she looked kindly upon Olaf, and said that none should harm so fair a child. And she called for armed men to protect him. And now the people, searching for Olaf, heard that he was in the Queen’s house. And it seemed that there would be a fight between the avengers and the Queen’s men. But the King was told of the matter and he came and besought the people to keep the peace. And when he had heard the whole story he gave judgment that a fine should be paid, and the Queen Allogia paid the fine.

And after that time the Queen took Olaf into her house to live with her, and she loved him well. And Sigurd thought it meet that she should know of the boy’s kin, and he told her that he was the son of a King — Tryggvi, the son of Olaf, the son of the great


Harald Hairfair, first King of all Norway. Now in those days the wise men and seers in the realm of Garthland spake often of one who was young and a stranger in the land who should be great beyond all men. And long before this time the mother of King Valdimar, who had the power of foretelling things that should come to pass, had foretold the coming of a King’s son, who should become a great leader. And Queen Allogia was the wisest woman in the land, and she knew that it was to Olaf that the words of these seers pointed. And she told the King, her husband, of the boy’s parentage. And the King and Queen had him instructed in all feats of arms and chivalry, and manly exercises as well as princely behaviour, and they gave him all honourable treatment as was meet for a king’s son.

And Olaf grew fair and tall and strong. Full quick he was at all learning, generous with rewards, and brave beyond all other men. But never could he find it in his heart to bow down to the heathen gods, or offer them sacrifices. And King Valdimar was often sad at this, deeming it a fault. And on a day he begged Olaf to honour the gods and humble himself before them as did all other men in that realm. But Olaf answered him: “These gods neither hear, nor see, nor speak, neither have they reason; therefore I will never worship them, but I will do them no dishonour because I wish not to offend you.”

Now when Olaf was twelve years old, King Valdimar, at his requesting it, made him Captain of a host, and gave him ships of war. And he determined


to win back for King Valdimar all the cities and lands which had been taken from him by other chiefs and warriors. And forth he sailed and many battles he fought, and ever he conquered, till he had won back all those kingdoms which had been lost. And these he gave to King Valdimar, with many rare treasures, and gold, and precious stones, and costly raiment.

And with the wealth which the King gave him he himself maintained a body of warriors, and was ever faring forth with them, and giving to King Valdimar the spoils of his expeditions. And all his men served him truly and loved him well. Yet were there those about the King who envied Olaf his fame and power and the love that both the King and Queen bore him. And these spoke unto the King and said: “There is great risk in such a man lest he with his prowess and might, and the love that men bear him, do hurt thee or the realm.”

And King Valdimar began to fear lest their words should come to truth, and Olaf take the kingdom from him. And his fear made him cold and harsh unto Olaf until the young man felt the change in him. And it grieved him sorely. So he went unto the Queen and laid the matter before her and told her that he was fain to fare back to the land where aforetime his kin had ruled. And the Queen would not gainsay him, and she told him that wheresoever he should go he should be honoured as a noble man. And she bade him farewell.

And Olaf got ready his men and his ships and sailed across the East-salt-sea. Swift were his ships,


answering well to the wind, and each of them carried on both sides a row of shields. And they came to the island of Borgund. And Olaf Tryggvison fought with the people of the island and won the battle and took much wealth. And after the battle they lay off the island, and great storms and fierce winds beat upon them so that they were forced to sail farther south. And they reached the shores of Wendland, on the southern coast of the East-salt-sea, and there they found a good harbour, and gat good shelter, and abode in quiet.

And there ruled over that land a Queen named Geira, and she was told that strangers of most noble bearing had come upon her shores, faring in peace, and she sent a messenger to them bidding them in friendly wise to guest with her through the winter which was nigh upon them. And Olaf went unto the Queen and they looked upon each other, and were well pleased with what they saw. So Olaf said yea to the Queen’s bidding and he and his men abode in Wendland. And Queen Geira and Olaf Tryggvison talked often and long together in those days while he guested in her land, and they liked each other greatly, and it came to pass that Olaf wooed the Queen for his wife and Geira was of one mind with him in the matter and they were wedded.

And Olaf and Geira ruled that land together. And it came to Olaf’s knowledge that there were towns and districts round which had ceased to pay tribute to Queen Geira and had thrown off their obedience to her. So when the winter had passed and the spring


was come, Olaf fared out with a host and harried these towns and lands, and always he got the victory and took much wealth. And he ceased not till he had restored to Geira all that had been under her rule aforetime.

And afterwards he took ships and men and fared to many lands, and he came to Denmark, where Geira’s father, King Burislaf, and Otto, the lord of Saxland, fought against the Danes because they would not take the Christian Faith. And the fight was hard and fierce, but by Olaf’s wise counselling and great skill they were at last victorious, and the King of the Daneland took christening and all his host. And many wondrous sights did Olaf see at that time in that land, miracles that were performed by Christian men. And he pondered them carefully in his heart and he was ever greatly pleased at all that was told him of the one God of Heaven and his mighty deeds. And Olaf came to Saxland, and there was a priest named Thangbrand. And Thangbrand wore a shield which had been given him on a time when he visited the Bishop of Canterbury. And drawn upon the shield was the Holy Cross, with the figure of Jesus Christ upon it. And Olaf looked long at the figure on the shield. And he said to Thangbrand: “Who is the person in agony on the Cross whom you Christians worship?”

And Thangbrand answered and said: “’Tis our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“What evil did he that he should thus suffer?” asked Olaf.

And Thangbrand told him all the story of Jesus,


and Olaf listened to him and was much moved. And Thangbrand gave him the shield, and mightily pleased was Olaf at the gift, and he rewarded Thangbrand with the full value of the shield in money.

And Olaf returned to Wendland, and three winters passed away. And now Queen Geira fell ill and she died. And King Olaf Tryggvison mourned grievously for her, and no longer could he bear that land without her. So away he sailed with his war ships and fared to Friesland and Saxland and Flanders and England and many battles he fought in all three lands. Then farther north he fared to Scotland, and south again to the islands on the west coast, and to Man, and to Ireland. Then he made for Bretland (Wales) and the land of the Kymry (Cumberland), and then to Valland (France).

Thus did four winters pass away since his leaving of Wendland, and now he turned back towards England and came to the Scilly Isles. And while he lay in


harbour there he heard tell of a wise man who dwelt in the island, alone and apart from men. And it was said of him that he had knowledge of things yet to come to pass. And Olaf was fain to hear what things should befall him in the days to come. But first he was minded to put the man to a test. So he sent to him the fairest and goodliest of his men, in rich array, bidding him say that he was a king. Now Olaf was famed in all lands as the fairest and noblest of men, but none knew that he was a king and of kingly birth, neither did any know his true name, for in all his journeyings he had called himself Oli the Garthrealmer.

Now when Olaf’s messenger came unto the wise man, saying, “I am a king,” the wise man looked at him and made answer: “King art thou not, but my counsel to thee is that thou he true to thy King.”

And the messenger went back and told this saying to Olaf Tryggvison. And Olaf saw by this that the man was a sayer of truth, and he longed the more to go to him himself. And he went and asked him to tell him of what should happen in the days to come. And the wise man answered him: “A glorious king shalt thou be, and do glorious deeds.” And as a token of the truth of his saying he said again: “Hard by thy ship shalt thou fall into a snare of an host of men, and battle shalt thou do, and men shall fall on both sides, and thyself shalt be hurt; and of the wound thou shalt be like to die and thou shalt be borne to ship on shield; yet shalt thou be whole again within seven nights, and hereafter shalt thou be christened.”


And Olaf parted from the wise man and went with his men down to his ship, and as they went other men met them and fell upon them. And all befell as had been foretold by the wise man. Olaf was wounded, and borne to his ship on a shield, and at the end of seven nights he was whole again. And Olaf wondered greatly within himself and he betook him again to the lonely man on the island. And they talked long together. And Olaf asked him to tell him from whence came his wondrous knowledge of things to come. And the man of wisdom answered: “From the very God of christened men.” And he besought Olaf that he would be christened, and Olaf said him yea right heartily. And he and all his men were christened there, and they abode in that place a long time, and learned of the true faith.

And when the autumn came and they fared forth again, Olaf took with him from that island priests and learned men. And they sailed to a certain haven on the English coast, and abode there awhile doing no


violence. And none did violence to them for England was a Christian country and Christianity had taught the people more peaceful ways.

Now it happened that a certain Queen named Gyda ruled in this land. Young she was and fair and great of kin, being a king’s daughter of Ireland, and sister of Olaf Kuaran, King of Dublin. Her husband had been a mighty English earl, and now that he was dead she ruled in his place. And a great warrior named Alfwin desired her for his wife, but Gyda had no mind to wed him or any. But at last she gave it out that she would call an assembly of her people, and then she would choose for herself one of the men of her own realm to be her husband.

And the day came, and Alfwin was there decked out in his finest raiment, and many others all well arrayed, and right willing and hopeful was each that he should be chosen by the fair Queen Gyda. And Olaf was there too. He had heard of the matter so he went ashore and stood with his men a little apart, watching the great gathering of people. No rich attire had Olaf, but the wet weather garb which he had worn on his ship, covered by a hairy cape, and on his head was a hood pulled well over his face.


And Gyda went here and there among all the men looking at them and passing each one by without sign. And at last she came where Olaf stood among his men, and she regarded him long. Then she pushed back the hood from his face and looked up at him. And thus she stood for a while, and then she spoke and asked him who he was and what was his name.

And he answered that his name was Oli, and that he was a stranger in that land. Then said Queen Gyda, “If thou wilt have me I will choose thee for my husband.” And much talk they had together and at the end of it Olaf was well content that he should be chosen by Queen Gyda for her husband. But Alfwin was ill content at the way the matter had gone. And according to a custom in England in those days, Alfwin and Olaf met together with twelve men on each side, and fought. And Olaf had the victory. And he bade Alfwin depart from the land and never come back again, and Olaf took to him all Alfwin’s wealth. Then Olaf and Queen Gyda were wedded and they abode together, sometimes in England and sometimes in Ireland.

Now on a time when Olaf was in Ireland he took to his ship and went a-warring. And he and his men were in need of meat, so the men went ashore, and drove down to the strand what cattle they could find for slaughter. And a certain man who owned some of the beasts came to Olaf and prayed him to give him back his cows. Now all the beasts were together and numbered many hundreds. And Olaf laughed at the man’s request, but bade him take his cows if he


could find them. And the husbandman called to him a great dog and showed him the herd of cattle. And the dog ran all about them and drove out from the rest the cows belonging to the man, just that number which he had claimed. And Olaf saw that all these were marked with the same mark. And he and his men watched the dog and praised him and accounted him greatly wise. And Olaf would fain buy the dog for himself. And the husbandman said him yea, and the King thereupon gave him a gold ring and promised that he would be his friend. And the name of the dog was Vigi, and he was the best of all dogs, and Olaf loved him well and kept him for a long time.

Now all this time had Olaf Tryggvison been a wanderer from the land of his fathers and his birth. Yet often he thought thereon and sorely longed for his kin. Many changes had come about in the land of Norway. The sons of Eric and Gunnhild were either dead or fled from the land, and Earl Hakon held sway over all the realm. This Earl Hakon was the son of the great Earl Sigurd who had helped Hakon, the son of Harald Hairfair and the foster-son of Athelstan of England, to the kingship of Norway, and who had been burnt in a homestead where he was visiting, by the brother-kings. A great and mighty man was Earl Hakon, but such were his dealings with the people that they had no love for him, but waxed evermore in ill-content. Yet his power was such that none dared to speak or act otherwise than as he wished, and no other mighty man was there in the land in that day to help them.

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“If thou wilt have me I will choose thee for my husband,” said Queen Gyda (P. 107)


Now Earl Hakon heard tell of the great doings of a man called Oli in the Westlands, and the rumour went that he was of the blood of the Kings of Norway, albeit Oli himself spoke only of his coming from Garthland. And Earl Hakon remembered him that he had been told that a son of Tryggvi and Astrid had fared to Garthland and had lived at the court of King Valdimar, and that he had been called Olaf. And often the Earl had feared that this Olaf would return some day and take the land from him. And Earl Hakon deemed that this Oli was the man.

Now Earl Hakon had a great friend named Thorir Klakka, who was a viking and had much knowledge of many lands. And the Earl determined to send him to Dublin to find out if Oli of the Garthrealm were verily Olaf Tryggvison and if this were so to get him by deceitful words into his power. And Earl Hakon also summoned to him Jostein and Karlhead, two brothers of Astrid, the mother of Olaf. And these he would have go with Thorir, that Olaf might trust the story that should be told unto him, seeing they were his near kinsmen, and thus be betrayed into Earl Hakon’s hands. But the brothers said: “Never shall such shame befall us, that we so wickedly deceive our near kinsmen.” But Earl Hakon bade them do his bidding or prepare them for sore torments, and death. And under these threats they consented to go with Thorir, and Earl Hakon made them swear to use all their power to help Thorir in this treacherous plot against Olaf.

So Thorir and the brothers of Astrid fared unto


Ireland, and they learned that Oli was even then with his wife’s brother, King Olaf Kuaran. And Thorir went alone to the King’s court and found Olaf Tryggvison and they talked together. Now Thorir was cunning in speech, and when they had talked together many times Olaf had trust in him, and he began to speak of Norway and to ask concerning the rule of the land. And Thorir told him of the might of Earl Hakon and of the much ill-content of the people, who yet durst not contend against him.

“And yet,” saith he, “I know the mind of many mighty men, yea, of all the people, that they would be most fain and eager to have a king for the land come of the blood of Harald Hairfair, but none such have we to turn to.”

And often did they talk thus, till on a day, Olaf told Thorir his name and kin and besought him to tell him what he thought of the people taking him for King if he should fare to Norway. And Thorir praised him and told him that the name of Oli of Garthland was well famed in Norway, and that the truth of the matter was that he had been sent to Ireland by mighty chiefs and kinsmen of Olaf Tryggvison’s to find out who Oli of Garthland might be, and if he were that Olaf, the son of Tryggvi, who had been taken from the land in his childhood. And if this proved to be so, he was to beseech him to return and they would make him King of all Norway. “And to the end that you might know my story for truth,” said Thorir, “I have with me here two kinsmen of yours, your mother’s brothers, Jostein and Karlhead.”


With great joy did Olaf hear this, and he sent for his kinsmen and heartily welcomed them, though they on their part showed no joy in the meeting. Thereafter he talked to the three, and Thorir said again all that he had already said, but the brothers spoke little, save in consenting whenever Thorir asked their consent to his words.

And Olaf yearned to the land of his fathers and would fain be sailing thither. And at length he gat together five ships and sailed out from the west. And Thorir Klakka and his two kinsmen were with him. Cheerful of mood was Olaf, for he had no thought of danger and no suspicion of his companions. Thorir planned and advised and spoke ever in fair and honest seeming, but the brothers were silent and strange and Olaf wondered in his heart at the little joy they had shown even from the first in his company.

And at last they touched land at Most Isle, and there Olaf and his men sang praises to the One God, and afterwards was there a church raised upon that spot. And Olaf gave the charge of it to Thangbrand, the priest of Saxland, who had meanwhile left that land and taken service with Olaf.

And now Thorir advised Olaf to sail northwards where Far] Hakon was, with all speed. He was anxious to keep Olaf on the sea until such time as he could deliver him into Earl Hakon’s hand. He feared lest Olaf might get speech with any of the people, for he doubted not that his fame would make them eager to throng around him and thus Earl Hakon’s plot would be defeated.


So Olaf, deeming the advice of Thorir wise, fared northwards with all haste, thinking to fall upon the Earl before he should beware of his coming. And on a day they came to Agdaness. And they anchored their ships, and here they heard tidings that the men of that place and in all parts of the land had risen against Earl Hakon. Thorir was amazed at the news for right meet would he the time for Olaf to make himself known. So he summoned Jorstein and Karlhead to talk with him as to what was best to be done. And Thorir decided that Olaf must be slain. Two men were to hide the next morning at a certain spot on the shore, and Thorir was to bring Olaf to the appointed place, and there would the men fall upon him and kill him.

Now when the matter was settled, the two brothers waited till night fell and all on the ships were asleep. Then they went aboard the King’s ship secretly, and roused him, and besought him to go with them on shore, for they had sore need of quiet speech with him. And Olaf went with them right willingly. And they rowed to the shore and landed, and when they had walked a little, Olaf seated himself and bade them speak. And the brothers fell at his feet and told him all the treachery of Earl Hakon and Thorir, and of their own unwilling consent to it. And Olaf forgave them, and besought them now to help him. And they advised him to hold himself as he was used to Thorir, and to go with him on the morrow when he should ask his company to the shore. There would they hide and before Thorir and Olaf should reach the spot where


Thorir’s men were hidden, they would rush upon Thorir and slay him.

And Olaf went quietly back to his ship and in the morning all happened as the brothers had said. And when they were come ashore the brothers slew Thorir, and then rushed upon the two men who were in hiding and slew them too.

Thus was Olaf delivered from the treachery of Earl Hakon. And now he returned to his ships with Jostein and Karlhead and they sailed into the Frith from the open sea with five ships of war.

And Erland, the son of Earl Hakon, was rowing out with three ships at the same time, and Olaf bore down upon him and Erland turned and drave his ships ashore and leapt to the land. And Olaf, who followed close upon him, seized the tiller of his


ship and cast it at Erland, and it struck his head and he fell dead.

And Olaf learnt from Erland’s men that Earl Hakon had fled into hiding and that all his followers were scattered.

And the news was brought to Earl Hakon where he was in hiding that Olaf Tryggvison was come into the land, and had slain Erland his son. And he feared for his life and his thrall made him a secret place in a swine-sty, and they went in together, and the entrance was closed and covered with earth, and the swine were driven over it.

And Olaf sought the Earl far and wide, and at length he came to the place of his hiding, though he knew it not. And Olaf stood upon the very rock which overshadowed the swine-sty, and spoke to the men of that place, promising wealth and greatness to whomsoever should bring Earl Hakon to him. And when Olaf had departed, and night was come, and the Earl slept, his thrall drew his knife and killed him, and carried his head to Olaf, hoping for reward. But Olaf told him that death was the only reward for a thrall who was unfaithful to his master, and he ordered him to be put to death at once. And this was done.

And when the people heard the tidings of Earl Hakon’s death, they rejoiced greatly, and they went to the hiding-place and dragged forth the dead body and none there was to show it honour. But one and all named Hakon as the Evil Earl and for long was he remembered by this name.

And now Olaf Tryggvison called a Thing, a


gathering of the people, in Thrandheim, and all men thronged to it from far and near, and with right goodwill did they take Olaf for their King. And Olaf made a journey throughout the land, and called a Thing at every place, and all Norway turned to him, and he held sway over all the realm, even as his great ancestor, King Harald Hairfair, had done before him.

And now Olaf began the work of bringing his people to the Christian Faith. First, he visited his own kin, and right warmly they welcomed him. And he called together the men of his family, Lodin, his mother’s husband, his mother’s brothers, and the two husbands of Lodin and Astrid’s daughters. And he laid his desire before them most earnestly, and begged their aid. And they listened to him, and promised their help. Thereupon did King Olaf call a Thing in that part of the land, and when it was met he opened his mind to the people. And first his kinsmen were christened, and other mighty men, and their followers with them. And soon all men were christened in that part of the realm.

Then did Olaf fare through the country, and wheresoever he came he called a Thing and spoke unto the people even as he had done in the Wick. And when any refused he handled them sorely, or drave them from his land.

And in Hordland there were many noble and mighty men who heard of King Olaf’s doings, and of how he was marching through the country with a great host, and putting aside the ancient laws and the worship of the gods, and how he was forcing men by punishments and hard dealings to take to them a new


law and a new faith. And these mighty men gathered together and talked among themselves as to how best they could stand against these things. And they deemed it good that all their wise men and their followers should meet the King, who was even then near at hand, when he should call the Thing together, and they chose their three wisest men, the fairest of speech, to answer the King when he should bid them to christening.

And now King Olaf came unto the land and, as was his custom, he called the Thing together. And thither came the mighty men and their followers, all armed. And King Olaf spoke to the people in kindly wise, telling them of the Christian Faith and of his desire that they should put aside the heathen gods and worship the one true God, the God of the Christians.

And now upstood the first of the three who had been chosen to speak before the King. The fairest of all in speech was he and therefore had he been chosen to speak first. But lo, when he would make answer to the King he was seized with such coughing and choking that no word could he utter and down he sat again. Then upstood the second, full sure of his speech, but lo, no word could he speak for stammering till all fell to laughter, and he too sat down. And now upstood the third as ready as the second had been, but when he would speak, so hoarse and husky was he that none could tell what he would be saying. And down he sat too. And there was silence. And none stood to speak against the King’s will, and so it


came about that they all assented to the King’s desire, and were christened before he left the realm. And so he fared through the land and none could withstand him, so mighty was he, and such a great host fared along with him that all men feared him.

In Ladir he broke down the God-house and stripped it of all its rich adornments and its gods of their vestments. And from the door he took a great gold ring which Earl Hakon had had made and placed there. And thereafter King Olaf burned the God-house. And the people were angry and ill-content but they dared not show it to the King, and everywhere did he break up the images and burn down the temples of the heathen gods, and in their places he built churches, and put priests in charge of them.

And there was a great Queen of Sweden named Sigrid, whom men called the Proud, for she would not be wooed. But Olaf Tryggvison thought that it would be a good match for him if she could be brought to wed him. And he sent messengers to her, and Queen Sigrid listened to them, for Olaf was of mighty fame in the land of Sweden, and there was good hope of the marriage. Then Olaf sent her that great gold ring which he had taken from the door of the God-house in Ladir. And Sigrid was well pleased with the ring, and all who looked upon it praised it as a right noble and seemly gift.

Now it happened that two goldsmiths were in the company of the Queen while the ring was passed from one to the other, and these took the ring and handled it, and weighed it in their hands, and spoke


to one another in a low tone. And the Queen seeing their looks called them to her and bade them tell her their mind concerning the ring. But they spoke not. Then did the Queen command them to speak, wherehereupon they told her that there was false metal in the ring. And Queen Sigrid bade them break it asunder, and then was it seen to be inwardly but brass. And Queen Sigrid waxed wroth and said she deemed King Olaf would be false in other matters as with this.

And early in the spring-tide Olaf fared to Queen Sigrid as had been agreed between them, to talk over the matter of their wedding. And they met and talked, and all looked well. Then said Olaf that he would desire Queen Sigrid first to take christening and avow the true faith. But Queen Sigrid made answer: “I will not to depart from the faith that I have holden, and my fathers before me, but neither will I account it against thee that thou hold whatsoever God seemeth good to thee.”

And King Olaf waxed wroth at these words and said hotly: “What have I to do to wed with thee, thou heathen woman?” and he struck her in the face with the glove that he held in his hand. And they both stood up at these words hot and angry, and Sigrid the Proud said: “These words of thine, Olaf, may well be thy doom.” And they parted and went their ways and there was no more talk of their wedding.

Now did King Olaf fare forth again to remove from his land all that by their evil works strove against the faith of Christ. First, he gave out that all wizards


and workers in magic should get them gone from the realm, and after, wherever any such were found, he decreed death unto them. But not vet were all men at one about the taping of christening, albeit they assented to the King’s will, because of his great might. But often they complained among themselves.

And King Olaf sent Thangbrand the priest unto Iceland to speak to the people of the one true God, and to christen the land. And three winters he abode there and many chieftains and their households took christening at his hands, but many also withstood him.

And King Olaf fared unto Nidaros on the north-western coast, and there on the banks of the River Nid did he build a King’s house, and there did he build a town, and gave men land whereon they also built them houses. And in the autumn did the King send the wherewithal to furnish his house, and his will was to abide there in the winter season. And in that same autumn did he bring with him many smiths and there did he build


him a great long-ship on the strand. And he called this ship the Crane.

And. in the next spring-tide Olaf arrayed his ships and a mighty host, and himself sailed the Crane. Northwards they fared to Halogaland, and wheresoever they came aland, there did they call a Thing, and bid the folk to a christening, and none durst say him nay.

Two men there were who lived in a Firth in God-isle. One was Rand the Strong, and the other Thorir Hart, and both were great chieftains, and both were wise in wizardry. And they heard tell of King Olaf’s faring to Halogaland and they called out their men and ships and would fain meet Olaf and join battle with him. And Rand had a ship fashioned like a mighty dragon with its head all worked about in gold. Thirty benches it had for rowers and there was room for more yet. And Thorir Hart had also a great ship.

And they met the King’s fleet and fierce was the fight and many men fell on both sides. And Rand sailed out with his dragon ship and by his wizardry he raised a favourable wind, but none the less Olaf triumphed and Rand sailed away home in all haste. Thorir Hart and his men fled towards the land, and leapt ashore, and Olaf and his men followed them and chased them. And King Olaf was ever foremost in pursuit and he ran fleet of foot and saw where Thorir Hart ran, and Thorir was the fleetest footed of men. And King Olaf gave chase followed by his good dog, Vigi. And he cheered Vigi on to follow Thorir, crying: “On, Vigi, on: follow the Hart.” And Vigi ran

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Olaf shot a spear at Thorir, and it struck him (P. 125)


and leapt upon Thorir and Thorir thrust his sword at the King’s dog, and Vigi fell. But at the same moment Olaf shot a spear at Thorir, and it struck him so that he fell dead. Then did Olaf’s men carry the wounded Vigi to the ship, and the King gave him into the hands of a skilful healer, and after some days Vigi was sound again.

And now the King sailed up the Firth to find Rand, but Rand caused great storms to rise and driving winds to blow, so that Olaf’s ships could not get near to him. And for a week the King waited and then he talked over the matter with Sigurd, the English Bishop of his Court, who was with him on this expedition. And the Bishop said that he would try to overcome Rand’s fiendish acts, if God would strengthen him. And he lighted candles on the King’s ship and bore incense, and set up the Cross in the prow of the Crane, and read many prayers and sprinkled the ship all over with holy water. Then he bade the men row up the Firth, and the King called to the other ships to follow the Crane. And suddenly the winds ceased, and the sea grew calm around the ships, and they sailed on in safety. And for a whole day and night they sailed on in calm, and then as the dawn broke they saw before them Rand’s ship, the great dragon, lying off the shore.

And Olaf and his men went aland to Rand’s house, and bade him take christening. But Rand cried out against Christ, and Olaf in wrath put him to tortures and death. And Olaf took all his wealth of silver and gold and weapons, and many precious things.


And the dragon ship he took, too, and steered it himself, and it was even greater and goodlier than the Crane. The fairest ship it was in all Norway. And Olaf called it the Serpent. And all that land he brought unto christening and then he fared back to Nidaros, and abode there for the winter.

And now he built another great ship, greater than any other in the land. Many smiths were at the work, some to join, some to chip, some to smite rivets. Long was the ship, and broad of beam, and high of bulwark, and all things belonging to it were of the best. It was wrought after the manner of the serpent, with the head of a dragon at the fore, and the crooked tail at the aft, and the head and the tail were all worked over with gold. And King Olaf called it the Long Serpent, and his other ship, which he had taken from Rand, he called the Short Serpent, and the best ships they were in all Norway.

And at that same time there came out to Nidaros certain Icelanders, and among them Kiartan, the son of a great chieftain of Iceland, named Olaf. And Kiartan was called the likeliest and goodliest man that ever lived in Iceland. And when he and those of his comrades who were heathen heard that King Olaf was at Nidaros, they turned their ships to sail away, for they were told that he would force them to christening if they came ashore. But the wind drave them back to Nidaros, and King Olaf sent a messenger to them bidding them let their ships lie off the town. And so they did, and sold their merchandise by the King’s bridges to any who came to buy of them.


And the winter passed and the spring came and three times did they turn their ships homeward, and three times were they driven back again. And on a day when it was fair weather many men of Nidaros were swimming about the ships.

And Kiartan and his fellows stood up on their ships and watched them disporting themselves. And one man there was that outdid all the rest. And Kiartan bade one of his comrades try feats of swimming with the Northman, but he said him nay. So Kiartan said: “Then shall I try.” And he stripped himself of the scarlet kirtle which he wore and all his clothes, and leapt into the sea. And he struck out for the Northman, and when


he reached him he caught him by the foot, and they both went under together. Then up they came again but nought said, and down they went again and were much longer under water this time. But at length they came up again, and still nought was said between them. And the third time they went under, and for so long were they under that Kiartan deemed that he was in a sore strait. But when his strength was nearly spent, up they came again, and now they swam ashore, and each looked upon the other.

And the Northman asked Kiartan his name and Kiartan told him. “Thou art deft at swimming,” said the other. “Hast thou any mastery in other matters?” And Kiartan answered him: “Small mastery is this, I trow.” Then spoke the Northman again. “Dost thou ask nought of me?” And Kiartan answered: “Methinks it is nought to me who thou art, or how thou art called.” Then said the other: “I will tell thee, then. I am Olaf Tryggvison the King.” And Kiartan answered nothing, and having dressed himself would have gone on his way. But King Olaf bade him stay, and asked him of many things which Kiartan answered hastily, for he was minded to get him away as fast as he could. Then King Olaf took a rich cloak from his own shoulders and said: “Here is a cloak I will give thee, Kiartan.” And Kiartan took it and thanked him, and returned to his ship, and showed his fellows what the King had given him.

And the time wore on to the autumn and the Icelanders still lay at Nidaros, and on a night at Michaelmas, the King held a holy feast, and the bells


were rung and psalms of praise were sung. And the Icelanders heard the voice of the bells, and the sweet sound of the singing, and Kiartan and some of his comrades went to the feast and hearkened to the fair song of praise. And they went back to their ships and Kiartan was well pleased with the ways of the Christian men. But others laughed and mocked at them. And the King heard how Kiartan had spoken well of the new faith and he sent for him. And Kiartan went to the King and Olaf greeted him well, and spoke to him of the God of Christians, and besought him to take christening. And Kiartan answered that he would say yea right willingly if so he might hold the King’s friendship. And the King promised to be his good friend, and the next day was Kiartan christened, and many of his comrades with him. And they robed them in white and the King took them into his house and they abode with him, and King Olaf was full kind to them. And all men of that place deemed the Icelanders right noble men. And Kiartan became one of King Olaf’s bodyguard, and Olaf gave him a complete suit of scarlet clothes, which had been fashioned for himself. And right well did they become Kiartan for he and King Olaf were of equal height and proportions.

But now came Thangbrand the priest back from Iceland, and he told King Olaf of much hard treatment that had befallen him at the hands of the Icelanders. And he further said that he had small hope of the land ever taking christening. And at this King Olaf waxed wroth and gave order for the Iceland men


to be called together, saying that he would slay them every one. But Kiartan and others that had taken christening went to him and besought him to remember the promises of friendship which he had made, and that he would forgive them even those things which most angered him if they would forsake their heathen gods, and take christening from him. And Kiartan promised that all the Icelanders then in Norway should also take christening and that they would themselves do all they could on their return to Iceland that the Christian faith should prevail in the land. And King Olaf listened unto Kiartan, for he was ever fair and wise of speech. And his wrath passed away. And the Iceland men were christened, and Olaf sent certain of them back to Iceland to preach the new Faith, but Kiartan and three others he kept with him as hostages, they being the noblest of their company. And the errand of the Icelandmen so sped that that summer the faith of Christ was taken for law in that land, and all men were christened there. And Kiartan and his friends fared back to Iceland.

And King Olaf arrayed his ships and his men to sail forth from his winter home. He himself steered the Long Serpent, and his men were the best of his company, chosen for their strength and stoutness of heart. The Short Serpent followed with her crew of mighty men. And eleven other great ships had Olaf and many smaller ships. And he fared south along the land and many of his friends joined him bringing other ships, and they sailed south along Denmark and came to Wendland.


Now Queen Sigrid the Proud, of Sweden, had married King Svein, the Dane-King. The greatest foe was she of King Olaf Tryggvison, for that he had broken their marriage treaty, and had, moreover, struck her in the face. Sore at heart and full of hate was Sigrid towards Olaf since that day, and she ever stirred King Svein to meet Olaf and do battle with him. And King Svein fretted under her words till at last she brought it to pass that he was ready to do her bidding in the matter. And he joined to him, Olaf, the Swede-King, who was the son of Sigrid, and Earl Eric, the son of Earl Hakon of Ladir. Earl Eric had fled from the land of Norway when Olaf Tryggvison took the realm, and, going to Denmark, had married Svein’s daughter. And men of might were these three, and many ships they had. And they heard of King Olaf’s faring to Wendland, and they made their plans to bring all their ships together and waylay him on his way back to Norway.

And King Svein sent a certain mighty Earl named Sigvaldi to Wendland to spy on King Olaf and get knowledge of his plans. And Sigvaldi met King Olaf, who thought no guile in him, and received him in friendly wise, seeing that Sigvaldi had for wife Astrid, a sister of Queen Geira, whom Olaf had wedded long ago and whom death had taken from him. And when Olaf would fain sail away to Norway, Sigvaldi ever held him back till he should get tidings from the Dane-King that the host had met and that all was ready for falling upon Olaf.

And at last Sigvaldi received tidings that the ships


lay off the isle called Svoldr, and the three chieftains bade him so to bring it about that Olaf should sail under that isle into their hands.

And there were rumours abroad that the Dane-King had a great host and would join battle with King Olaf, but Sigvaldi cunningly put Olaf’s mind at rest, and said if war there was, then would he with eleven ships of his own fight on Olaf’s side. But Astrid, the wife of Sigvaldi, sought King Olaf and warned him of the plot against him. Yet Olaf would not alter his plans, saying that he was in God’s hands. Then Astrid besought him to accept her aid if he needed it, and Olaf promised her that he would, and they parted.

And the ships being ready they weighed anchor and departed from Wendland. Seventy-one ships in all had King Olaf that day; sixty were his own and eleven belonged to Earl Sigvaldi. And Sigvaldi led the way, saying that he knew the deepest waters for their big ships, and bidding them follow him. And when they neared the isle of Svoldr, a skiff rowed out to Sigvaldi’s ship, and a message was given to the Earl that the host lay waiting in the haven on the west of the isle. So the Earl struck sail and rowed in under the isle with ten of his ships. And the eleventh ship was Astrid’s ship and was manned by her own men, and she gave direction that it should hold apart and not follow the Earl’s ships.

And the Dane-King and the Swede-King and Earl Eric with all their lords and many men watched King Olaf’s ships as they sailed towards them in the sunshine. And they made no sign, and many of King


Olaf’s ships passed on and sailed right out to sea, all unmindful of the foe that lay hidden under the island of Svoldr. Then the watching chieftains saw how one ship greater than those they had already seen came sailing on alone. And they cried together:

“This will be the Long Serpent.” But as they looked there came another still greater, and again they cried: “This, then, is the ship of Olaf Tryggvison.” But after awhile they saw three more great ships, and King Svein was for falling upon them, but Earl Eric knew that they had yet to see the greatest of the ships and he counselled the two Kings to wait awhile. And even as they disputed as to what they should do, lo, four more great ships came a-sailing, and one was a dragon ship,


a mighty ship all done about with gold. And King Svein looked upon the ship and cried: “This night shall the Serpent bear me, and I will steer her.”

And the Kings bade their men board their ships, and they went down to the strand. Then the chiefs arranged the order of the battle and drew lots as to which should lead the attack on King Olaf’s ship. And the lot fell upon King Svein, and after him upon Olaf the Swede-King, and after him upon Eric the Earl, if there should be need. And now they saw three more mighty ships, and lo, a fourth mightier than all, with the head and tail of a dragon, all wrought about with gold, so that it gleamed far over the sea as the sun shone upon it. And they knew now that this ship was the Long Serpent and that sailing on it was King Olaf Tryggvison. And the first dragon ship was the Short Serpent.

And they took to their ships in haste, and arrayed them for battle, and rowed out even as King Olaf’s ships sailed in towards the island. And when the men on King Olaf’s ships saw the host that was come against them they besought the King to sail on. But King Olaf stood up on the deck of the Long Serpent and cried with a loud voice: “Strike sails! Let no men of mine think of flight! Never have I fled from battle. Let God look to my life, for I am no true King if ever I turn to flight!”

And the horn was blown- for the gathering of all the ships together, and there were now but eleven in all of King Olaf’s ships. A small host it was beside the great force of his foes, yet Olaf would not listen


to the counsel of many round him to sail on and take flight. But he arrayed his ships for battle, the Long Serpent in the midst, and the Short Serpent on one side and the Crane on the other.

And now the ship on which Astrid sailed came up swiftly to the King’s ship, and one on her decks spoke to the King and the King replied in a strange tongue so that none of those standing near understood what was said. Then the little Wendish ship sailed off again and was rowed close to shore, and there it cast anchor.

High on his ship stood King Olaf Tryggvison. Over his coat of mail he wore a short red silken kirtle, and his helmet and his shield were over-wrought with gold. And he asked who these were that had come against him and they told him. And he laughed in scorn of the Danes and Swedes, but of Earl Eric and his men, he said: “We may look for fierce fight from that folk, for they are Northmen as we be.”

And now fell the Kings to battle. King Svein brought his ship against the Long Serpent and the Swede-King was on his one hand and Earl Eric on his other. And then befell a fierce fight. First, arrows were shot from both crossbows and long bows, and then spears and javelins were thrown. And Olaf was the bravest of all in the battle. And it befell with the Dane-King and the Swede-King as King Olaf had said. And when they were driven back, Earl Eric laid his iron-beaked ship to the outermost ship of King Olaf, and speedily cleared it, and then to the next and the next until all were cleared but the Long Serpent.


And all King Olaf’s men who were still fit for fight clambered upon the Long Serpent.

And Earl Eric laid Iron Beak to the Long Serpent, and deadly was the fight. And. the Dane-King and the Swede-King seeing the Earl’s success brought back their war-ships and they lay all round about the Long Serpent. And spears and arrows flew upon her from all sides. Olaf’s men strove to fight hand to hand with their foes, heeding no more than if they fought upon the plain mead, and many fell between the ships and down they sank with their weapons.

High up in the fore-hold of his ship, Iron Beak, Earl Eric stood, and a certain man of King Olaf’s host named Einar Thambarskelfir marked him where he stood. And of all men Einar was the best shooter with the arrow. And he shot at Earl Eric, and the arrow went in just above his head, and then he shot another and that flew betwixt his arm and his side. And Earl Eric called to him the greatest of his bowmen, a Finn, and said: “Shoot me yonder big man.” And the Finn answered: “That can I not for he is not fated to die yet, but I will spoil his bow for him.”

So the bowman shot, and his arrow broke the bow of Einar in twain with a loud crash. And King Olaf heard the sound of the breaking of the bow and said: “What brake there so loud?” And Einar answered him, “Norway, King, from thine hands.”

“No such crash as that,” cried King Olaf, “my realm depends not upon your bow; it is in God’s hand; take my bow and shoot.” And Einar took the


bow, but it failed him, and he flung it away, crying, “Too weak, too weak, the great King’s bow.” Then he took his sword and shield and fought hand to hand with Earl Eric’s men. And all day long the King fought, now using his bow and now hurling javelins two at a time. And his friends and foes alike were awed before his fearlessness and courage. Always he stood out in the open, and where he stood there was always the greatest noise of swords. And he watched his men how they smote with their swords, but wounded none and slew not, and he went down into the hold of the ship, and unlocked a chest and took from it many bright and sharp swords, and gave them to his men. And his men saw as he stretched out his right hand to give them the swords that blood streamed down from under his ringed coat of mail, but they knew not where he was wounded.

And now the fight waxed hotter and hotter and once Earl Eric and some of his men sprang aboard the Long Serpent, and King Olaf’s men closed round them and drove them back on to Iron Beak. And once more the little Wendish ship rowed up to the Long Serpent and the men on her besought King Olaf that he would let them come on board with him, for they said they would gladly die with him there or fly with him if the Fates would have it so. But King Olaf said them nay and bade them go back to the spot where they had been anchored all day, and they obeyed him and returned to the shore and again lay at anchor.

And now Earl Eric rallied the Danes and Swedes


around him for a last attack, and whenas more men had fallen on the Long Serpent again did Earl Eric spring aboard her, and on every side did his men board her, and King Olaf’s men fell back before them, and rushed aft, where the King stood. And Earl Eric cheered on his men, and they fought around King Olaf, until few were left to ward off the blows and missiles that rained about him. Some said afterwards that suddenly a bright light spread about the King, so bright that none could look upon it, and that when the light passed King Olaf was nowhere to be seen. And others said that he leapt overboard and, swimming beneath the great ships, reached the little Wendish ship, and was taken on board by Astrid and her men, who then rowed rapidly away. And in after years many stories were told of his being seen and recognized by many persons in distant parts of the world. But however it was, certain it is that never more was Olaf Tryggvison seen in his realm of Norway.

And when King Olaf disappeared from his ship there went up a great cry of victory from Earl Eric’s men. And Earl Eric took the Long Serpent for himself and manned her with a mighty crew, and steered her himself. But it was only by their wondrous skill that they managed to bring the great ship into the Wick, for she was leaning to one side, and did not answer to the helm. And afterwards Earl Eric broke up the Long Serpent and burnt her.

Now when they reached the Wick one of Olaf’s men went to the spot where Olaf had fought out his last battle and there lay the dog Vigi. All through


the fight he had stood beside his master, and he had not stirred since. And the man went to Vigi and caressed him and said: “We’ve no Master now, Vigi,” and the dog sprang up with a loud yell as of anguish, and rushed from the ship on shore. And he lay down on the top of a mound, and would take no food. And tears flowed from his eyes, and he lay there till he died.

When the people of the land of Norway were told the dread story of Olaf, they sorely grieved. The longer men knew Olaf the more they loved him, and it was freely said that no such chief would ever again be born in Norway or elsewhere. Hear now what says Hallfred, the poet of Iceland, who had been at Nidaros with King Olaf:

Heaven and earth shall rend in twain ere this arise,
A King, alike in excellence to cheerful Olaf,
He was the best of mortal men,
flay Christ the Pure preserve the wise King’s soul
       above the earth.