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 66 - King Svein's Flight

Earl Hakon lay behind with his ships, while the king and the rest of the forces were pursuing the fugitives; for the earls' ships could not get forward on account of the ships which lay in the way before him. Then a man came rowing in a boat to the earl's ship and lay at the bulwarks. The man was stout and had on a white hat. He hailed the ship,

"Where is the earl?"

said he.

The earl was in the fore-hold, stopping a man's blood.

The earl cast a look at the man in the hat and asked what his name was. He answered,

"Here is Vandrad: speak to me, earl."

The earl leant over the ship's side to him.

Then the man in the boat said,

"Earl, I will accept of my life from thee, if thou wilt give it."

Then the earl raised himself up, called two men who were friends dear to him, and said to them,

"Go into the boat; bring Vandrad to the land; attend him to my friend's Karl the bonde; and tell Karl, as a token that these words come from me, that he let Vandrad have the horse which I gave to him yesterday, and also his saddle, and his son to attend him."

Thereupon they went into the boat and took the oars in hand, while Vandrad steered. This took place just about daybreak, while the vessels were in movement, some rowing towards the land, some towards the sea, both small and great. Vandrad steered where he thought there was most room between the vessels; and when they came near to Norway's ships the earl's men gave their names and then they all allowed them to go where they pleased. Vandrad steered along the shore, and only set in towards the land when they had come past the crowd of ships.

They then went up to Karl the bonde's farm, and it was then beginning to be light. They went into the room where Karl had just put on his clothes. The earl's men told him their message and Karl said they must first take some food; and he set a table before them and gave them water to wash with.

Then came the housewife into the room and said,

"I wonder why we could get no peace or rest all night with the shouting and screaming."

Karl replies,

"Dost thou not know that the kings were fighting all night?"

She asked which had the better of it.

Karl answered,

"The Northmen gained."


said she,

"our king will have taken flight."

"Nobody knows,"

says Karl,

"whether he has fled or is fallen."

She says,

"What a useless sort of king we have! He is both slow and frightened."

Then said Vandrad,

"Frightened he is not; but he is not lucky."

Then Vandrad washed his hands; but he took the towel and dried them right in the middle of the cloth. The housewife snatched the towel from him, and said,

"Thou hast been taught little good; it is wasteful to wet the whole cloth at one time.

Vandrad replies,

"I may yet come so far forward in the world as to be able to dry myself with the middle of the towel."

Thereupon Karl set a table before them and Vandrad sat down between them. They ate for a while and then went out. The horse was saddled and Karl's son ready to follow him with another horse. They rode away to the forest; and the earl's men returned to the boat, rowed to the earl's ship and told the success of their expedition.

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