Sagas & Legends
Of Aunund Sjoni and Steinar his son.
Aunund Sjoni dwelt at Anabrekka, while Egil dwelt at Borg. Aunund married Thorgerdr daughter of Thorbjorn the Stout, of Snæfell-strand: the children of Aunund and his wife were a son Steinar, and a daughter Dalla. And when Aunund grew old and his sight was dim, then he gave up the housekeeping to Steinar his son. Father and son had much wealth.
Steinar was above other men tall and strong, ill-favoured, with a stoop, long in the legs, short in the body. He was a very quarrelsome man, vehement, overbearing, and obstinate, a most headstrong fellow. And when Thorstein Egil's son came to dwell at Borg, there was at once a coolness between him and Steinar. South of Hafs-brook lies a moor called Stack-moor. In winter this is under water, but in spring, when the ice breaks up, such good grazing for cattle is there, that it was deemed equal to stacked hay. Hafs-brook by old custom marked the boundary; but in spring Steinar's cattle encroached much on Stack-moor, when driven out to Hafs-brook, and Thorstein's house-carles complained of it. Steinar took no notice of this; and so matters went on for the first summer without anything happening. But in the second spring Steinar continued to take the pasturage; wherefore Thorstein spoke with him about it, but quietly, asking him to control the grazing of his kine, as had been the old usage. Steinar said the cattle should go where they would. He spoke on the whole matter with obstinacy, and he and Thorstein had words about it. Thorstein then had the cattle turned back to the moor beyond Hafs-brook. This when Steinar knew, he charged Grani his thrall to sit by the cattle on Stack-moor, and he sat there every day. This was in the latter part of the summer: all the pasture south of Hafs-brook had been grazed by then.
Now it happened one day that Thorstein had mounted a knoll to look round. He saw where Steinar's cattle were moving. Out he went on to the moor: it was late in the day. He saw that the cattle had now come far out on the fenny hollow. Thorstein ran out on the moor. And when Grani saw that, he drove the cattle away apace till they came to the milking-shed. Thorstein followed, and he and Grani met in the gate. Thorstein slew him there: and it has been called since Grani's gate: it is in the wall of the enclosure. Thorstein pulled down the wall over Grani, and so covered his body. Then he went home to Borg, but the women who came to the milking-shed found Grani where he lay. After that they carried him home to the house, and told Steinar these tidings. Steinar buried him up on the hillside, and soon got another thrall to go with the cattle, who name is not told. Thorstein made as though he knew nothing about the pasture for the remainder of the summer.
It now happened that Steinar in the early part of the winter went out to Snæfell-strand and stayed there awhile. There he saw a thrall named Thrand, who was tall and strong above other men. Steinar, wishing to buy him, bid a large sum: but his owner valued him at three marks of silver, which was twice the price of a common thrall, and at this sum the bargain was made. Steinar took Thrand home with him, and when they came home, then spoke Steinar with Thrand: 'Now stand matters so that I will have work of you. But as all the work is already arranged, I will put on you a task of but little trouble: you shall sit by my cattle. I make a great point of their being well kept at pasture. I would have you go by no man's rule but your own, take them wherever the pasture on the moor is best. I am no judge of a man's look if you have not courage and strength enough to hold your own against any house-carle of Thorstein's.'
Steinar delivered into Thrand's hand a large axe. whose blade was an ell long, it was keen as a razor. 'This I think of you, Thrand,' said Steinar, 'that you would not regard the priesthood of Thorstein if ye two were face to face.' Thrand answered: 'No duty do I, as I deem, owe to Thorstein; and methinks I understand what work you have laid before me. You think you risk little where I am; and I believe I shall come well out of it if I and Thorstein try our strength together.'
After this Thrand took charge of the cattle. He understood, ere he had been long there, whither Steinar had had his cattle taken, and he sat by them on Stack-moor. When Thorstein was aware of this, he sent a house-carle to seek Thrand, bidding him tell Thrand the boundary between his land and Steinar's. When the house-carle came to Thrand, he told him his errand, and bade him take the cattle otherwither, saying that the land on which they were belonged to Thorstein Egil's son. Thrand said, 'I care not a jot who owns the land; I shall take the cattle where I think the pasture is best.' Then they parted: the house-carle went home and told him the thrall's answer. Thorstein let the matter rest, and Thrand took to sitting by the cattle night and day.
Next: CHAPTER LXXXVI. Slaying of Thrand.