A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
They found Rainouart
entering a vessel whose sails were already spread, and all William's
entreaties would have availed nothing had not Gibourc herself implored
his forgiveness.

"I am your brother," cried Rainouart, throwing himself on her neck; "I
may confess it now, and for your sake I will pardon the Count's
ingratitude, and never more will I remind you of it."

There was great joy in Orange when William rode through the gates with
Rainouart beside him, and the next day the Count made him his
Seneschal, and he was baptised. Then William sent his brothers on an
embassy to the King in Paris, to beg that he would bestow the hand of
Princess Alix on Rainouart, son of King Desramé and brother of Lady
Gibourc. And when the embassy returned Alix returned with it, and the
marriage took place with great splendour; but to the end of his life,
whenever Rainouart felt cold, he warmed himself in the kitchen.




THE SWORD EXCALIBUR

King Arthur had fought a hard battle with the tallest Knight in all the
land, and though he struck hard and well, he would have been slain had
not Merlin enchanted the Knight and cast him into a deep sleep, and
brought the King to a hermit who had studied the art of healing, and
cured all his wounds in three days. Then Arthur and Merlin waited no
longer, but gave the hermit thanks and departed.

As they rode together Arthur said, "I have no sword," but Merlin bade
him be patient and he would soon give him one. In a little while they
came to a large lake, and in the midst of the lake Arthur beheld an arm
rising out of the water, holding up a sword. "Look!" said Merlin,
"that is the sword I spoke of." And the King looked again, and a
maiden stood upon the water. "That is the Lady of the Lake," said
Merlin, "and she is coming to you, and if you ask her courteously she
will give you the sword." So when the maiden drew near Arthur saluted
her and said, "Maiden, I pray you tell me whose sword is that which an
arm is holding out of the water. I wish it were mine, for I have lost
my sword."

[Illustration: Arthur meets the Lady of the Lake and gets the sword
Excalibur]

"That sword is mine, King Arthur," answered she, "and I will give it to
you, if you in return will give me a gift when I ask you."

"By my faith," said the King, "I will give you whatever gift you ask."
"Well," said the maiden, "get into the barge yonder, and row yourself
to the sword, and take it and the scabbard with you." For this was the
sword Excalibur. "As for _my_ gift, I will ask it in my own time."

Then King Arthur and Merlin dismounted from their horses and tied them
up safely, and went into the barge, and when they came to the place
where the arm was holding the sword Arthur took it by the handle, and
the arm disappeared. And they brought the sword back to land.

As they rode the King looked lovingly on his sword, which Merlin saw,
and, smiling, said, "Which do you like best, the sword or the
scabbard?" "I like the sword," answered Arthur. "You are not wise to
say that," replied Merlin, "for the scabbard is worth ten of the sword,
and as long as it is buckled on you, you will lose no blood, however
sorely you may be wounded."

So they rode into the town of Carlion, and Arthur's Knights gave them a
glad welcome, and said it was a joy to serve under a King who risked
his life as much as any common man.




HOW GRETTIR THE STRONG BECAME AN OUTLAW.


I

Now Grettir had a strong wish to go to Norway, for Earl Svein had fled
the country after being beaten in a battle, and Olaf the Saint held
sole rule as King.

There was also a man named Thorir of Garth who had been in Norway, and
was a friend of the King; this man was anxious to send out his sons to
become the King's men. The sons accordingly sailed, and came to a
haven at Stead, where they remained some days, during stormy weather.

Grettir also had sailed after them, and the crew bore down on Stead,
being hard put to it by reason of foul weather, snow and frost; and
they were all worn, weary and wet. To save expense they did not put
into the harbour, but lay to beside a dyke, where, though perished with
cold, they could not light a fire.

As the night wore on they saw that a great fire was burning on the
opposite side of the sound up which they had sailed, and fell to
talking and wondering whether any man might fetch that fire.

Grettir said little, but made ready for swimming; he had on but a cape
and sail-cloth breeches. He girt up the cape and tied a rope strongly
round his middle, and had with him a cask; then he leaped overboard and
swam across. There he saw a house, and heard much talking and noise,
so he turned towards it, and found it to be a house of refuge for
coasting sailors; twelve men were inside sitting round a great fire on
the floor, drinking, and these were the sons of Thorir.

When Grettir burst in he knew not who was there; he himself seemed huge
of bulk, for his cape was frozen all over into ice; therefore the men
took him to be some evil troll, and smote at him with anything that lay
to hand; but Grettir put all blows aside, snatched up some firebrands,
and swam therewith back to the ship. Grettir's comrades were mightily
pleased, and bepraised him and his journey and his prowess.

Next morning they crossed the sound, but found no house, only a great
heap of ashes, and therein many bones of men. They asked if Grettir
had done this misdeed; but he said it had happened even as he had
expected.

The men said wherever they came that Grettir had burnt those people;
and the news soon spread that the victims were the sons of Thorir of
Garth.

Grettir therefore now grew into such bad repute that he was driven from
the ship, and scarcely any one would say a good word for him. As
matters were so hopeless he determined to explain all to the King, and
offer to free himself from the slander by handling hot iron without
being burned.

His ill-luck still pursued him, for when all was ready in the Church
where the ceremony was about to take place, a wild-looking lad, or, as
some said, an unclean spirit, started up from no one knew where, and
spoke such impertinent words to Grettir that he felled him with a blow
of his fist.

After this the King would not allow the ceremony to go on: "Thou art
far too luckless a man to abide with us, and if ever man has been
cursed, of all men must thou have been," said he; and advised him to go
back to Iceland in the summer.

Meanwhile Asmund the Greyhaired died, and was buried at Biarg, and Atli
succeeded to his goods, but was soon afterwards basely murdered by a
neighbouring chief, who bore him ill-will for his many friendships, and
grudged him his possessions.

Thorir of Garth brought a suit at the Thing to have Grettir outlawed
for the burning of his sons; but Skapti the Lawman thought it scarcely
fair to condemn a man unheard, and spoke these wise words: "A tale is
half told if one man tells it, for most folk are readiest to bring
their stories to the worser side when there are two ways of telling
them."

Thorir, however, was a man of might, and had powerful friends; these
between them pushed on the suit, and with a high hand rather than
according to law obtained their decree. Thus was Grettir outlawed for
a deed of which he was innocent.

Next, Grettir's enemy Thorir of Garth heard of his whereabouts, and
prevailed upon one Thorir Redbeard to attempt to slay him.

So Redbeard laid his plans, with the object, as it is quaintly phrased,
of "winning" Grettir. He, however, declined to be "won," for Redbeard
fared no better than Grim.

[Illustration: Grettir overthrows Thorir Redbeard]

He tried to slay the outlaw while he was swimming back from his nets,
but Grettir sank like a stone and swam along the bottom, till he
reached a place where he could land unseen by Redbeard. He then came
on him from behind, while Redbeard was still looking for his appearance
out of the water; heaved him over his head, and caused him to fall so
heavily that his weapon fell out of his hand. Grettir seized it and
smote off his head.




DEATH OF GRETTIR THE STRONG.

About this time, Grettir having been so many years in outlawry, many
thought that the sentence should be annulled, and it was deemed certain
that he would be pardoned in the next ensuing summer; but they who had
owned the island were discontented at the prospect of his acquittal,
and urged Angle either to give back the island or slay Grettir.

Now Angle had a foster-mother, Thurid; she was old and cunning in
witchcraft, which she had learnt in her youth; for though Christianity
had now been established in the island, yet there remained still many
traces of heathendom.

Angle and she put out a ten-oared boat to pick a quarrel with Grettir,
of which the upshot was that the outlaw threw a huge stone into the
boat, where the witch lay covered up with wrappings, and broke her leg.
Angle had to endure many taunts at the failure of all his attempts to
outplay Grettir.

One day, Thurid was limping along by the sea, when she found a large
log, part of the trunk of a tree. She cut a flat space on it, carved
magic characters, or runes, on the root, reddened them with her blood,
and sang witch-words over them; then she walked backwards round it, and
widdershins--which means in a direction against the sun--and thrust the
log out to sea under many strong spells, in such wise that it should
drive out to Drangey.

In the teeth of the wind it went, till it came to the island, where
Illugi and Grettir saw it, but knowing it boded them ill, they thrust
it out from shore; yet next morning was it there again, nearer the
ladders than before; but again they drove it out to sea.

The days wore on to summer, and a gale sprang up with wet; the brothers
being short of firewood, Noise was sent down to the shore to look for
drift, grumbling at being ordered out in bad weather, when, lo! the log
was there again, and he fetched it up.

Grettir was angry with Noise, and not noticing what the log was, hewed
at it with his axe, which glanced from the wood and cut into his leg,
right down to the bone.

Illugi bound it up, and at first it seemed as though the wound was
healed.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.