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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 63

Howard leaves the house of Thorbiorn

Howard at the Thing

In the second year Biargey again urged Howard to try for a wergild. She suggested that he should follow Thorbiorn to the Thing and try to obtain justice, for men loathed Thorbiorn’s evil ways, and Howard would be sure to have many sympathizers. Howard was loath to go. “Thorbiorn, my son’s slayer, has mocked me once; shall he mock me again where all the chieftains are assembled? I will not go to endure such shame!”

To his surprise, Biargey urged her will, saying: “Thou wilt have friends, I know, since Guest will be there, and he is a just man, and will strive to bring about peace between thee and Thorbiorn. And hearken to me, and heed my words, husband! If Thorbiorn is condemned to pay thee money, and there is a large ring of assessors, it may be that when thou and he are [Pg 108] in the ring together he will do something to grieve thee sorely. Then look thou well to it! If thy heart be light, make thou no peace; I am somewhat foresighted, and I know that then Olaf shall be avenged. But if thou be heavy-hearted, then do thou be reconciled to Thorbiorn, for I know that Olaf shall lie unatoned for.”

Howard replied: “Wife, I understand thee not, nor thy words, but this I know: I would do and bear all things if I might but obtain due vengeance for Olaf’s death.”

At last Howard, impressed by his wife’s half-prophetic words, roused himself, and rode away to the Thing; here he found shelter with a great chieftain, Steinthor of Ere, who was kind to the old man, and gave Howard a place in his booth. Steinthor praised Olaf’s courage and manful defence, and bade his followers cherish the old man, and not arouse his grief for his dead son.


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