Part 67 - Account Of Their Reconciliation
The bondes in Viken spoke with each other about there being nothing for it but that the kings should make peace and a league with each other, and insisted upon it that they were badly used by the kings going to war; but nobody was so bold as to bring these murmurs before the king.
At last they begged Bjorn the marshal to bring this matter before the king, and entreat him to send messengers to the Swedish king to offer peace on his side. Bjorn was disinclined to do this, and put it off from himself with excuses; but on the entreaties of many of his friends, he promised at last to speak of it to the king; but declared, at the same time, that he knew it would be taken very ill by the king to propose that he should give way in anything to the Swedish king.
The same summer (A.D. 1017) Hjalte Skeggjason came over to Norway from Iceland, according to the message sent him by King Olaf, and went directly to the king. He was well received by the king, who told him to lodge in his house, and gave him a seat beside Bjorn the marshal, and Hjalte became his comrade at table. There was good-fellowship immediately between them.
Once, when King Olaf had assembled the people and bondes to consult upon the good of the country, Bjorn the marshal said,
"What think you, king, of the strife that is between the Swedish king and you? Many people have fallen on both sides, without its being at all more determined than before what each of you shall have of the kingdom.
You have now been sitting in Viken one winter and two summers, and the whole country to the north is lying behind your back unseen; and the men who have property or udal rights in the north are weary of sitting here. Now it is the wish of the lendermen, of your other people, and of the bondes that this should come to an end.
There is now a truce, agreement, and peace with the earl, and the West Gautland people who are nearest to us; and it appears to the people it would be best that you sent messengers to th"e Swedish king to offer a reconciliation on your side; and, without doubt, many who are about the Swedish king will support the proposal, for it is a common gain for those who dwell in both countries, both here and there."
This speech of Bjorn's received great applause.
Then the king said,
"It is fair, Bjorn, that the advice thou hast given should be carried out by thyself.
Thou shalt undertake this embassy thyself, and enjoy the good of it, if thou hast advised well; and if it involve any man in danger, thou hast involved thyself in it. Moreover, it belongs to thy office to declare to the multitude what I wish to have told."
Then the king stood up, went to the church, and had high mass sung before him; and thereafter went to table.
The following day Hjalte said to Bjorn,
"Why art thou so melancholy, man? Art thou sick, or art thou angry at any one?"
Bjorn tells Hjalte his conversation with the king, and says it is a very dangerous errand.
"It is their lot who follow kings that they enjoy high honours, and are more respected than other men, but stand often in danger of their lives: and they must understand how to bear both parts of their lot.
The king's luck is great; and much honour will be gained by this business, if it succeed."
"Since thou makest so light of this business in thy speech, wilt thou go with me? The king has promised that I shall have companions with me on the journey."
"I will follow thee, if thou wilt: for never again shall I fall in with such a comrade if we part."