Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 61

One day when Olaf had been seeking some lost sheep he made his way to Sigrid’s house, to talk with her as usual. As they stood near the house together and talked Sigrid looked suddenly anxious and said:

“I see Thorbiorn and Vakr coming in a boat over the firth with weapons beside them, and I see the gleam [Pg 104] of Thorbiorn’s great sword Warflame. I fear they have done, or will do, some evil deed, and therefore I pray thee, Olaf, not to stay and meet them. He has hated thee for a long time, and the help thou didst give me to leave Bathstead did not mend matters. Go thy way now, and do not fall in with them.”

“I am not afraid,” said Olaf. “I have done Thorbiorn no wrong, and I will not flee before him. He is only one man, as I am.”

“Alas!” Sigrid replied, “how canst thou, a stripling of eighteen, hope to stand before a grown man, a mighty champion, armed with a magic sword? Thy words and thoughts are brave, as thou thyself art, but the odds are too great for thee: they are two to one, since Vakr, ever spiteful and malicious, will not stand idle while thou art in combat with Thorbiorn.”

“Well,” said Olaf, “I will not avoid them, but I will not seek a contest. If it must be so, I will fight bravely; thou shalt hear of my deeds.”

“No, that will never be; I will not live after thee to ask of them,” said Sigrid.

“Farewell now; live long and happily!” said Olaf; and so they bade each other farewell, and Olaf left her there, and went down to the shore where his sheep lay. Thorbiorn and Vakr had just landed, and they greeted each other, and Olaf asked them their errand. “We go to my mother,” said Vakr.

“Let us go together,” replied Olaf, “for my way is the same in part. But I am sorry that I must needs drive my sheep home, for Icefirth sheep-drovers will become proud if a great man like thee should join the trade, Thorbiorn.”

“Nay, I do not mind that,” said Thorbiorn; so they all went on together; and as he went Olaf caught up a crooked cudgel with which to herd his sheep; he noticed, [Pg 105] too, that Thorbiorn and Vakr kept trying to lag behind him, and he took care that they all walked abreast.

The Combat

When the three came near the house of Thordis, Vakr’s mother, where the ways divided, Thorbiorn said: “Now, nephew Vakr, we need no longer delay what we would do.” And then Olaf knew that he had fallen into their snare. He ran up a bank beside the road, and the two set on him from below, and he defended himself at first manfully with the crooked cudgel; but Thorbiorn’s sword Warflame sliced this like a stalk of flax, and Olaf had to betake himself to his axe, and the fight went on for long.