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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 60

Olaf’s Second Fight with the Ghost

Brand the Strong, Thorbiorn’s shepherd, could not drive his sheep one day. Olaf met him trying to get his frightened wethers home: it seemed an impossible task, because an uncanny human form, with waving arms, stood in a narrow bend of the path and drove them back and scattered them. Brand told Olaf all the tale, and when the two went to look, Olaf saw that the enemy was the ghost of the dead wizard whom he had fought before. “Which wilt thou do,” said Olaf, “fight the wizard or gather thy sheep?”

“I have no wish to fight the ghost; I will find my scattered sheep,” said Brand; “that is the easier task.”

Then Olaf ran at the ghost, who awaited him at the top of a high bank, and he and the wizard wrestled again with each other till they fell from the bank into a snowdrift, and so down to the sea-shore. There Olaf, whose strength had been tried to the utmost, had the upper hand, and again broke the back of the dead wizard; but, seeing that that had been of no avail before, he took the body, swam out to sea with it, and sank it deep in the firth. Ever after men believed that this part of the coast was dangerous to ships.

Brand thanked the youth much for his help, and when he reached Bathstead related what Olaf had done for him. Thorbiorn said nothing, but Vakr sneered, and called Brand a coward for asking help of Olaf. [Pg 103] The strife grew keen between them, almost to blows, and was only settled by Thorbiorn, who forbade Brand to praise Olaf or to accept help from him. His ill-will grew so evident to all men that Howard the Halt decided, in spite of Olaf’s reluctance, to remove to a homestead on the other side of the firth, away from Thorbiorn’s neighbourhood.

Olaf Meets Thorbiorn

That summer Thorbiorn decided to marry. He wooed a maiden who was sister of the wise Guest, who dwelt at the Mead, and Guest agreed to the match, on condition that Thorbiorn should renounce his injustice and evil ways; to this Thorbiorn assented, and the wedding was held shortly after. Thorbiorn had said nothing to his household of his proposed marriage, and Sigrid first heard of it when the wedding was over, and the bridal party would soon be riding home to Bathstead. Sigrid was very wroth that she must give up her control of the household to another, and refused to stay to serve under Thorbiorn’s wife; accordingly she withdrew from Bathstead to a kinsman’s house, taking all her goods with her. Thorbiorn raged furiously on his return, when he found that she was gone, for her wealth made a great difference to his comfort, and threatened dire punishment to all who had helped her. Olaf continued his wooing of Sigrid, and went to see her often in her kinsman’s abode, and they loved each other greatly.


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