Sagas & Legends
Of Eric Bloodaxe and Thorolf.
King Harold long held his residence in Hordaland or Rogaland, at those large estates that he owned, at Outstone or Augvalds-ness, or at Afreksted in Fitjar, or at Seaham in Lygra. But this winter the king was in the north part of the land.
Now, when Bjorn and Thorolf had been one winter in Norway and spring came, they made ready a ship and gathered men. And in the summer they went a-freebooting eastwards, and came home in the autumn, having won much wealth. But when they came home they heard that King Harold was in Rogaland and would remain there for the winter. King Harold was beginning to age much and fail in strength, but many of his sons were come to vigour. His son Eric, by-named Bloodaxe, was then quite young. He was being fostered with lord Thorir Hroaldsson. The king loved Eric above all his sons. Thorir was on most intimate terms with the king then.
Bjorn and Thorolf, when they came home, went first to Aurland, but afterwards turned their way northwards to visit lord Thorir at his home. They had a certain galley rowed by thirteen or fourteen oarsmen on either side, and they had about thirty men with them. This ship they had taken in their summer freebooting. It was gaily painted above the sea-line, and was very beautiful. But when they came to Thorir they were made welcome, and abode there some time; while the ship, tented over, floated opposite the house. It happened one day that, as Thorolf and Bjorn were going down to the ship, they saw that Eric, the king's son, was there; he went now out on to the ship, now up to the land, and stood there looking at the ship. Then said Bjorn to Thorolf:
'The king's son admires the ship much; do you offer it to him as a present, for I know it will much help us with the king if Eric be our pleader with him. I have heard it said that the king bears a heavy grudge against you for your father's sake.'
Thorolf said that this would be a good plan.
They then went down to the ship, and Thorolf spoke:
'Thou regardest the ship carefully, prince; how dost thou like it?'
'Right well,' said he, 'it is a perfect beauty.'
'Then will I give it thee,' said Thorolf, 'if thou wilt take the present.'
'Take it I will,' said Eric, 'and thou wilt deem it but poor payment therefor though I should offer thee my friendship; but this thou mayest look for if I live.'
Thorolf said that he thought the ship were thus far overpaid.
Then they separated. But thenceforward the king's son was right cheerful with Thorolf and his friend.
Bjorn and Thorolf, talking with Thorir, asked him whether he thought it true that the king bore a heavy grudge against Thorolf.
Thorir did not deny that he had heard so.
'Then I would fain,' said Bjorn, 'that you should go and plead Thorolf's cause before him, for one lot shall befall me and Thorolf; he did as much for me when I was in Iceland.'
The end was that Thorir promised to go to the king, and bade them try whether the king's son would go with him. But when Thorolf and Bjorn spake of this with Eric, he promised his influence with his father.
After that Thorolf and Bjorn went their way to Sogn. But Thorir and Eric the king's son set in order the newly-given galley, and went south to meet the king, and found him in Hordaland. He received them joyfully. They remained there for awhile, watching for a fit time to approach the king when he should be in a good humour. Then they opened this matter before the king, and said that a certain man had come named Thorolf, Skallagrim's son. 'We would pray thee,' they said, 'O king, to bear in mind this: that his kinsmen have done good to thee, and not to make him pay for what his father did in avenging his brother.'
Thorir spoke herein soft words, but the king answered rather shortly that to him and his much mischance had come from Kveldulf and his sons, and 'twas to be looked for that this Thorolf would be like-minded with his kin. 'They are all,' said he, 'overbearing men, who know no measure, and care not with whom they have to deal.'
Then Eric took the word. He said that Thorolf had made friends with him, and given him a noble present—that ship which they had there. 'I have,' said he, 'promised him my hearty friendship. There will be few to become friends with me if this man get nothing by it. Thou wilt not let it be so, father, with him who has been the first to give me such a treasure.'
The end was that the king promised them before they parted that Thorolf should be in peace with him. 'But I will not,' said he, ' that he come into my presence. And thou, Eric, mayst make him as close to thee as thou wilt, him or more of his kin. But one of two things will happen, either they will be softer to thee than to me, or thou wilt rue this thy intercession, and that thou lettest them be long in thy company.'
Thereafter went Eric Bloodaxe and Thorir home to the Firths; then they sent word to Thorolf how their errand to the king had sped. Thorolf and Bjorn were for that winter with Brynjolf. Many summers they were out a-freebooting, but the winters they spent with Brynjolf, or sometimes with Thorir.
Next: CHAPTER XXXVII. The journey to Bjarmaland.