Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 158

But although this offer was received with acclamation by the assembled warriors, Helgé scornfully demanded of Frithiof whether he had spoken with Ingeborg and so defiled the temple of Balder.

A shout of “Say nay, Frithiof! say nay!” broke [312]from the ring of warriors, but he proudly answered: “I would not lie to gain Valhalla. I have spoken to thy sister, Helgé, yet have I not broken Balder’s peace.”

Ingeborg watches her lover depart

Ingeborg watches her lover depart

Knut Ekwall

By Permission of F. Bruckmann, Munich

A murmur of horror passed through the ranks at this avowal, and when the harsh voice of Helgé was raised in judgment, none was there to gainsay the justice of the sentence.

This apparently was not a harsh one, but Helgé well knew that it meant death, and he so intended it.

Far westward lay the Orkney Islands, ruled by Jarl Angantyr, whose yearly tribute to Belé was withheld now that the old king lay in his cairn. Hard-fisted he was said to be, and heavy of hand, and to Frithiof was given the task of demanding the tribute face to face.

Before he sailed upon the judgment-quest, however, he once more sought Ingeborg, and implored her to elope with him to a home in the sunny South, where her happiness should be his law, and where she should rule over his subjects as his honoured wife. But Ingeborg sorrowfully refused to accompany him, saying that, since her father was no more, she was in duty bound to obey her brothers implicitly, and could not marry without their consent.

The fiery spirit of Frithiof was at first impatient under this disappointment of his hopes, but in the end his noble nature conquered, and after a heartrending parting scene, he embarked upon Ellida, and sorrowfully sailed out of the harbour, while Ingeborg, through a mist of tears, watched the sail as it faded and disappeared in the distance.

The vessel was barely out of sight when Helgé sent for two witches named Heid and Ham, bidding them by incantations to stir up a tempest at sea in which it would be impossible for even the god-given vessel Ellida to live, that so all on board should perish. The [313]witches immediately complied; and with Helgé’s aid they soon stirred up a storm the fury of which is unparalleled in history.

“Helgé on the strand

Chants his wizard-spell,

Potent to command

Fiends of earth or hell.

Gathering darkness shrouds the sky;

Hark, the thunder’s distant roll!

Lurid lightnings, as they fly,

Streak with blood the sable pole.

Ocean, boiling to its base,

Scatters wide its wave of foam;

Screaming, as in fleetest chase,

Sea-birds seek their island home.”

Tegnér, Frithiof Saga (Longfellow’s tr.).

“Then the storm unfetter’d wingeth

Wild his course; in Ocean’s foam

Now he dips him, now up-swingeth,

Whirling toward the God’s own home:

Rides each Horror-spirit, warning,

High upon the topmost wave—