Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 66

Biargey and her Brethren

That summer, one day, as Biargey was rowed out to the fishing as usual, she saw Thorbiorn’s boat coming [Pg 112] up the firth, and bade her man take up the lines and go to meet him, and row round the cutter, while she talked with Thorbiorn. As Biargey’s little boat approached the cutter Thorbiorn stopped his vessel for he saw that she would speak with him, and her boat circled round the cutter while she asked his business, and learnt that he was going with Vakr to meet a brother and nephew of his, to bring them to Bathstead, and that he expected to be away from home for a week. The little skiff had now passed completely round the motionless cutter, and Olaf’s mother, having learnt all she wanted, bade her rower quit Thorbiorn; the little boat shot swiftly and suddenly away, leaving Thorbiorn with an uneasy sense of witchcraft. So disquieted did he feel that he would have pursued her and drowned “the old hag,” as he called her, had he not been prevented by Brand the Strong, who had been helped in his need by Olaf.

As the little craft shot away Biargey smiled mysteriously, and said to her rower: “Now I feel sure that Olaf my son will be avenged. I have work to do: let us not go home yet.”

“Where, then, shall we go?” asked the man.

“To my brother Valbrand.”


Now Valbrand was an old man who had been a mighty warrior in his youth, but had now settled down to a life of quiet and peace; he had, however, two promising sons, well-grown and manly youths. When Valbrand saw his sister he came to meet her, saying:

“Welcome, sister! Seldom it is that we see thee. Wilt thou abide with us this night, or is thine errand one that craves haste?”

“I must be home to-night,” she replied, and added [Pg 113] mysteriously: “But there is help I would fain ask of thee. Wilt thou lend me thy seal-nets? We have not enough to catch such fish as we need.”

Valbrand answered: “Willingly, and thou shalt choose for thyself. Here are three, one old and worn out, two new and untried; which wilt thou take?”

“I will have the new ones, but I do not need them yet; keep them ready for the day when I shall send and ask for them,” Biargey replied, and bade Valbrand farewell, and rowed away to her next brother.

Thorbrand and Asbrand

When Howard’s wife came to her brother Thorbrand she was well received by him and his two sons, and here she asked for the loan of a trout-net, since she had not enough to catch the fish. Thorbrand offered her her choice—one old and worn out, or two new and untried nets; and again Biargey chose the new ones, and bade them be ready when the messenger came.