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Guide The Story of Gunnlaug the Worm-Tongue and Raven the Skald

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He said he was not going to pay it. Well, I am ready to go. But thou shalt follow my rede; here is a sword I will give thee—with that thou shalt fight, but before the battle show him another.

Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu

Now when they were ready for the holm, Thororm asked what sort of a sword it was that he had. The king thanked him for this work, and he got much fame therefor, both in England and far and wide elsewhere. In the spring, when ships sailed from land to land, Gunnlaug prayed King Ethelred for leave to sail somewhither; the king asks what he was about then.

Thereafter Gunnlaug sailed from England with chapmen north to Dublin. Gunnlaug went before the king, and greeted him well and worthily. The king received him as was meet.

CHAPTER II. Of Thorsteins Dream

So the king gave him his own raiment of new scarlet, a gold-embroidered kirtle, and a cloak lined with choice furs, and a gold ring which weighed a mark. Gunnlaug thanked him well. Now Gunnlaug greeted the earl well, and said he had a song to bring him.

The earl said he would listen thereto, since he was of such great kin in Iceland. Then Gunnlaug brought the song; it was a shorter lay, and well done. The earl gave him for lay-reward a broad axe, all inlaid with silver, and bade him abide with him. Gunnlaug thanked him both for his gift and his offer, but said he was bound east for Sweden; and thereafter he went on board ship with chapmen who sailed to Norway.

Gunnlaug went before him, and told him he had made a song on him; the earl gave a willing ear hereto, and Gunnlaug brought the song, which was a shorter lay. The earl thanked him, and rewarded the song well, and bade him abide there that winter. Earl Sigurd had a great Yule-feast in the winter, and on Yule-eve came thither men sent from Earl Eric of Norway, twelve of them together, and brought gifts to Earl Sigurd.

The earl made them good cheer, and bade them sit by Gunnlaug through the Yule-tide; and there was great mirth at drinks. Now the Gothlanders said that no earl was greater or of more fame than Earl Sigurd; but the Norwegians thought that Earl Eric was by far the foremost of the two. Hereon would they bandy words, till they both took Gunnlaug to be umpire in the matter. Both sides were content with his finding, but the Norwegians the best. But after Yule-tide those messengers left with gifts of goodly things, which Earl Sigurd sent to Earl Eric.

What the earl had said came thereafter to the ears of Gunnlaug. He was a mighty king and renowned, and full fain of fame. Gunnlaug came to Upsala towards the time of the Thing of the Swedes in spring-tide; and when he got to see the king, he greeted him. The king took his greeting well, and asked who he was. He said he was an Iceland-man. Now Gunnlaug and Raven fell a-talking together, and each told each of his travels.

Raven said that he had gone the summer before from Iceland to Norway, and had come east to Sweden in the forepart of winter. They soon got friendly together. But one day, when the Thing was over, they were both before the king, Gunnlaug and Raven. Whereto, but nowhere? Let the king rule here. Then Gunnlaug set forth the song which he had made to King Olaf, and when it was at an end the king spake.

But why didst thou make a short song on the king, Raven? Didst thou perchance deem him unworthy of a long one? This the king granted him. Nowhere are we likely to come where I shall be thought less worthy than thou. Now this spring Raven came from the east to Thrandheim, and fitted out his ship, and sailed in the summer to Iceland. He brought his ship to Leiruvag, below the Heath, and his friends and kinsmen were right fain of him.

That winter he was at home with his father, but the summer after he met at the Althing his kinsman, Skapti the law-man. And far too wanton is he withal, that he should hold or heed it aught. Thereafter they went with many men to the booth of Thorstein Egilson, and he greeted them well. Thou knowest well his blood, his wealth, and his good manners, his many mighty kinsmen and friends. Thereon they parted. And men rode home from the Althing. The next summer, at the Althing, Skapti and his folk pushed the wooing eagerly, and said that Thorstein was free as to all matters with Gunnlaug.

Now I will first see Illugi the Black. Little can I say herein, as I do not know clearly what Gunnlaug is about. Then Thorstein went to Skapti, and a bargain was struck that the wedding should be at Burg, about winter-nights, if Gunnlaug did not come out that summer; but that Thorstein should be free from all troth with Raven if Gunnlaug should come and fetch his bride.

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But Helga thought evilly of all these redes. Now it is to be told of Gunnlaug that he went from Sweden the same summer that Raven went to Iceland, and good gifts he had from King Olaf at parting. King Ethelred welcomed Gunnlaug worthily, and that winter he was with the king, and was held in great honour.

The Story of Gunnlaug The Worm-Tongue and Raven The Skald

And at that time there was a great army of Danish men west there, whose chief was Heming, the son of Earl Strut-Harald, and brother to Earl Sigvaldi, and he held for King Knut that land that Svein had won. Now this summer went by, and the next winter, but no Danes came; and after midsummer Gunnlaug got his leave to depart from the king, and went thence east to Norway, and found Earl Eric in Thrandheim, at Hladir, and the earl greeted him well, and bade him abide with him.

Gunnlaug thanked him for his offer, but said he would first go out to Iceland, to look to his promised maiden. Then Earl Eric had Gunnlaug rowed put to Hallfred, who greeted him with joy; and forthwith a fair wind bore them from land, and they were right merry. Gunnlaug said he had heard thereof but dimly.

Hallfred tells him all he knew of it, and therewith, too, that it was the talk of many men that Raven was in nowise less brave a man than Gunnlaug. Then Gunnlaug sang this stave:—. So Raven rode at us with sixty men, and cut the moorings of the ship, and she was driven up on the shallows, and we were bound for a wreck. Then I had to give selfdoom to Raven, and a whole mark I had to pay; and that is the tale of my dealings with him. Then they two talked together alone of Helga the Fair, and Gunnlaug praised her much for her goodliness; and Gunnlaug sang:—.

They made land north by Fox-Plain, in Hraunhaven, half a month before winter, and there unshipped their goods. He fell to wrestling with the chapmen, and they mostly got worsted at his hands. Then a wrestling was settled between him and Gunnlaug. The night before Thord made vows to Thor for the victory; but the next day, when they met, they fell-to wrestling. Then Gunnlaug tripped both feet from under Thord, and gave him a. I was anigh at the Thing when that was settled last summer. Now the foot was swathed, and put into joint again, and it swelled mightily; but he and Hallfred ride twelve in company till they come to Gilsbank, in Burg-firth, the very Saturday night when folk sat at the wedding at Burg.


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Illugi was fain of his son Gunnlaug and his fellows; but Gunnlaug said he would ride then and there down to Burg. Illugi said it was not wise to do so, and to all but Gunnlaug that seemed good. But Gunnlaug was then unfit to walk, because of his foot, though he would not let that be seen. Therefore there was no faring to Burg. On the morrow Hallfred rode to Hreda-water, in North-water dale, where Galti, his brother and a brisk man, managed their matters. But this new thing befell at the feast, that Hungerd, the daughter of Thorod and Jofrid, was wooed by a man named Sverting, the son of Hafr-Biorn, the son of Mold-Gnup, and the wedding was to come off that winter after Yule, at Skaney, where dwelt Thorkel, a kinsman of Hungerd, and son of Torn Valbrandsson; and the mother of Torn was Thorodda, the sister of Odd of the Tongue.

Now Raven went home to Mossfell with Helga his wife. When they had been there a little while, one morning early before they rose up, Helga was awake, but Raven slept, and fared ill in his sleep. And when he woke Helga asked him what he had dreamt. Then Raven sang:—. Now men get ready for the winter-wedding. Thorkel of Skaney bade Illugi the Black and his sons.

But when master Illugi got ready, Gunnlaug sat in the hall, and stirred not to go. Make as if thou knewest nought of it, for women thou wilt never lack. The women sat on the dais, and Helga the Fair sat next to the bride. Gunnlaug was well arrayed, and had on him that goodly raiment that King Sigtrygg had given him; and now he was thought far above all other men, because of many things, both strength, and goodliness, and growth.

There was little mirth among folk at this wedding. But on the day when all men were making ready to go away the women stood up and got ready to go home. Then went Gunnlaug to talk to Helga, and long they talked together: but Gunnlaug sang:—. Then Gunnlaug went out, and by that time riding-horses had been brought home and saddled, and among them were many very good ones; and they were all tied up in the road. Gunnlaug leaps on to a horse, and rides a hand-gallop along the homefield up to a place where Raven happened to stand just before him; and Raven had to draw out of his way.

Then Gunnlaug said,—.

The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue

Skapti yet held the spokesmanship-at-law. One day at the Thing, as men went thronging to the Hill of Laws, and when the matters of the law were done there, then Gunnlaug craved silence, and said:—. Now for this I bid thee to holm here at the Thing, in the holm of the Axe-water, when three nights are gone by. Now the kin of each deemed this a very ill thing. But, at that time it was lawful for him who thought himself wronged by another to call him to fight on the holm. So when three nights had gone by they got ready for the holmgang, and Illugi the Black followed his son thither with a great following.

But Skapti, the lawman, followed Raven, and his father and other kinsmen of his. Whoso should be wounded was to ransom himself from the holm with three marks of silver. But on the second day after this it was made law in the law-court that, henceforth, all holmgangs should be forbidden; and this was done by the counsel of all the wisest men that were at the Thing; and there, indeed, were all the men of most counsel in all the land. And this was the last holmgang fought in Iceland, this, wherein Gunnlaug and Raven fought.

Now, one morning, as the brothers Hermund and Gunnlaug went to Axe-water to wash, on the other side went many women towards the river, and in that company was Helga the Fair. Then said Hermund,—. Therewith they crossed the river, and Helga and Gunnlaug spake awhile together, and as the brothers crossed the river eastward back again, Helga stood and gazed long after Gunnlaug. Now after these things were gone by men rode home from the Thing, and Gunnlaug dwelt at home at Gilsbank.

On a morning when he awoke all men had risen up, but he alone still lay abed; he lay in a shut-bed behind the seats. Now the kinsmen of both sore misliked them of this, but could in no wise undo it, because of the wrath of Gunnlaug and Raven; and, after all, that must betide that drew towards. All the kinsmen of Raven thought it great scathe when he went away, but he said he had challenged Gunnlaug to the holmgang because he could have no joy soever of Helga; and he said, withal, that one must fall before the other. So Raven put to sea, when he had wind at will, and brought his ship to Thrandheim, and was there that winter and heard nought of Gunnlaug that winter through; there lie abode him the summer following: and still another winter was he in Thrandheim, at a place called Lifangr.

Gunnlaug Worm-tongue took ship with Hallfred Troublous-Skald, in the north at The Plain; they were very late ready for sea. They sailed into the main when they had a fair wind, and made Orkney a little before the winter. Earl Sigurd Lodverson was still lord over the isles, and Gunnlaug went to him and abode there that winter, and the earl held him of much account. Earl Sigurd went back home early in the summer, but Gunnlaug took ship with chapmen, sailing for Norway, and he and Earl Sigurd parted in great friendship.

Gunnlaug fared north to Thrandheim, to Hladir, to see Earl Eric, and dwelt there through the early winter; the earl welcomed him gladly, and made offer to Gunnlaug to stay with him, and Gunnlaug agreed thereto. The earl had heard already how all had befallen between Gunnlaug and Raven, and he told Gunnlaug that he laid ban on their fighting within his realm; Gunnlaug said the earl should be free to have his will herein. But on a day in spring Gunnlaug was walking abroad, and his kinsman Thorkel with him; they walked away from the town, till on the meads.

Gunnlaug saw the great mocking hereunder, and much jeering was brought into the play; and withal he went away silent. So a little while after he said to the earl that he had no mind to bear any longer the jeers and mocks of his courtiers about his dealings with Raven, and therewith he prayed the earl to give him a guide to Lifangr: now before this the earl had been told that Raven had left Lifangr and gone east to Sweden; therefore, he granted Gunnlaug leave to go, and gave him two guides for the journey.

Now Gunnlaug went from Hladir with six men to Lifangr; and, on the morning of the very day whereas Gunnlaug came in in the evening, Raven had left Lifangr with four men. Thence Gunnlaug went to Vera-dale, and came always in the evening to where Raven had been the night before. So Gunnlaug went on till he came to the uppermost farm in the valley, called Sula, wherefrom had Raven fared in the morning; there he stayed not his journey, but kept on his way through the night.

Then in the morning at sun-rise they saw one another. There on the ness Raven and his fellows, five together, took their stand. With Raven were his kinsmen, Grim and Olaf. So they set on, and fought dauntlessly, all of them. Grim and Olaf went both against Gunnlaug alone, and so closed their dealings with him that Gunnlaug slew them both and got no wound. This proves Thord Kolbeinson in a song that he made on Gunnlaug the Wormtongue:—.

Then they two alone fought together with fierce onsets and mighty strokes, which they dealt each the other, falling on furiously without stop or stay. At last Gunnlaug dealt a mighty blow at Raven, and cut his leg from under him; but none the more did Raven fall, but swung round up to a tree-stem, whereat he steadied the stump. Thereat they fought on, recking of nought; but the end of it was that Gunnlaug overcame Raven, and there Raven lost his life..

After that they buried the dead, and got Gunnlaug on to his horse thereafter, and brought him right down to Lifangr. There he lay three nights, and got all his rights of a priest, and died thereafter, and was buried at the church there. All men thought it great scathe of both of these men, Gunnlaug and Raven, amid such deeds as they died. Now this summer, before these tidings were brought out hither to Iceland, Illugi the Black, being at home at Gilsbank, dreamed a dream: he thought that Gunnlaug came to him in his sleep, all bloody, and he sang in the dream this stave before him; and Illugi remembered the song when he woke, and sang it before others:—.

This portent befel south at Mossfell, the self-same night, that Onund dreamed how Raven came to him, covered all over with blood, and sang:—. Now the second summer after this, Illugi the Black spoke at the Althing from the Hill of Laws, and said:—.

The Saga of Gunnlaug the Worm Tongue and Raven the Skald Full Audiobook

Yet will I not ask atonement of thee for my son. A tale from Iceland, years ago. In a dream of quarrels and death The birth of fair Helga is told Cross the north seas ventured for fame At the call of kings, hearth bereft Wounded pride, spawn'd of a sensed slight When tongues fail, sharper blades prevail Falcon soothes the cloak wrapt wound Fair one pines and fades from the light. If you are not in the USA, please verify the copyright status of these works in your own country before downloading, otherwise you may be violating copyright laws.

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Play Of Thorstein Eglison and his Kin. Of Thorstein's Dream. Of the Birth and Fostering of Helga the Fair. Of Gunnlaug Worm-tongue and his Kin. Of Raven and his Kin. How Helga was vowed to Gunnlaug, and of Gunnlaug's faring abroad.