Heimskringla

The Chronicle of The Kings of Norway

by Snorri Sturlson | c.1179-1241 | 320,198 words

The "Heimskringla" of Snorri Sturlason is a collection of sagas concerning the various rulers of Norway, from about A.D. 850 to the year A.D. 1177....

Part 34 - Marriage Of Eirik

Eirik, Harald's son, was fostered in the house of the herse Thorer, son of Hroald, in the Fjord district. He was the most beloved and honoured by King Harald of all his sons. When Eirik was twelve years old, King Harald gave him five long-ships, with which he went on an expedition, — first in the Baltic; then southwards to Denmark, Friesland, and Saxland; on which expedition he passed four years.

He then sailed out into the West sea and plundered in Scotland, Bretland, Ireland, and Valland, and passed four years more in this way. Then he sailed north to Finmark, and all the way to Bjarmaland, where he had many a battle, and won many a victory. When he came back to Finmark, his men found a girl in a Lapland hut, whose equal for beauty they never had seen.

She said her name was Gunhild, and that her father dwelt in Halogaland, and was called Ozur Tote.

"I am here,"

she said,

"to learn sorcery from two of the most knowing Fins in all Finmark, who are now out hunting.

They both want me in marriage. They are so skilful that they can hunt out traces either upon the frozen or the thawed earth, like dogs; and they can run so swiftly on skees that neither man nor beast can come near them in speed.

They hit whatever they take aim at, and thus kill every man who comes near them. When they are angry the very earth turns away in terror, and whatever living thing they look upon then falls dead. Now ye must not come in their way; but I will hide you here in the hut, and ye must try to get them killed."

They agreed to it, and she hid them, and then took a leather bag, in which they thought there were ashes which she took in her hand, and strewed both outside and inside of the hut.

Shortly after the Fins came home, and asked who had been there; and she answered,

"Nobody has been here."

"That is wonderful,"

said they,

"we followed the traces close to the hut, and can find none after that."

Then they kindled a fire, and made ready their meat, and Gunhild prepared her bed. It had so happened that Gunhild had slept the three nights before, but the Fins had watched the one upon the other, being jealous of each other.

"Now,"

she said to the Fins,

"come here, and lie down one on each side of me."

On which they were very glad to do so. She laid an arm round the neck of each and they went to sleep directly. She roused them up; but they fell to sleep again instantly, and so soundly the she scarcely could waken them. She even raised them up in the bed, and still they slept.

Thereupon she too two great seal-skin bags, and put their heads in them, and tied them fast under their arms; and then she gave a wink to the king's men. They run forth with their weapons, kill the two Fins, and drag them out of the hut. That same night came such a dreadful thunder-storm that the could not stir.

Next morning they came to the ship, taking Gunhild with them, and presented her to Eirik. Eirik and his followers then sailed southwards to Halogaland and he sent word to Ozur Tote, the girl's father, to meet him. Eirik said he would take his daughter in marriage, to which Ozur Tote consented, and Eirik took Gunhild and went southwards with her (A.D. 922).