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The Story of Rolf and the Viking's Bow by  Allen French


 

 

ROLF AND FRODI FARE ABROAD

[175]

R
OLF comes to Frodi where he works in his smithy, there at the head of Hvammfirth. Now the weather is rough, and a strong sea rages among the islands at the mouth of the firth, and the tide-rips are bad. Rolf comes into the smithy, and Frodi greets him well.

"How went thy suit at the Althing?" asks he.

Then Rolf tells him all, how he was now an outlaw, and how he escaped. "And men are out to catch me, for as I came down over the hill, I met one who said that armed men were at the ferry below, waiting for someone. Now lend [176] me thy boat, Frodi, that I may cross to Hvamm, and seek passage on that ship which is there outfitting."

"Remain with me overnight," answered Frodi, "for the wind is rough." But Rolf would not stay. "Then," said Frodi, "I will row with thee, to help against the wind, and coming back I can row easily alone."

"Thou wouldst thus come into danger for forwarding an outlaw," replied Rolf, and on no account would he suffer Frodi to go. So perforce Frodi lent him the boat, and they bade each other God-speed, and Rolf set out.

That was a hard row in the face of the wind, yet Rolf got safely to Hvamm. Then, desiring that his enemies should think him dead, he set the boat adrift, and the oars separately, and saw the waves carry them from the shore. Then he went on his way to the ship which was fitting [177] for the outward voyage; and because it was the law that no shipmaster might refuse passage to an outlaw, Rolf was sure of safety. As he went he met a man of Snorri the Priest, and Rolf sent by him a message to his master: "Forget not thy promise to keep my mother till my return." And so he came to the ship, and was sheltered.

But that boat drifted across the firth, and the wind and tide brought it again to Frodi's smithy, where it lay and beat upon the beach. Frodi went out and drew it up, and knew it as his own, and believed that Rolf was drowned. He went back to his smithy, and sat there weeping.

Then came that way men of Einar's, Hallvard and Hallmund, with Ondott Crafty; and seeing they were three, and Frodi so mild of temper, they went into the smithy to taunt him with the misfortunes of Rolf. Because he wept, they [178] fell to laughing, and asked him: "Why weepest thou, Whittle-Frodi?"

Frodi told them that Rolf was dead. "For he took my boat to row across the firth, and now is the boat come empty to land, without oars or thole-pins."

Then they laughed the more, and taunted him grievously, saying they were glad at the news, and mocking his weeping. So Hallmund came near, and put his hand on Frodi, calling him a fool. Frodi seized the hand, and rose, and they all saw his face was changed.

"Never in my life," said Frodi, "have I been angry till now!" He drew the man to him, and snapped the bones of his arm; then he raised him and cast him at Hallvard, so that the two fell, but Ondott remained standing.

"Now, Ondott," quoth Frodi, "here is the whittle which once thou badst me draw. Let us see if it will cut!" But when he [179] drew the whittle, Ondott fled, and the others scrambled together out of the smithy.

Then Frodi was afraid of the law, for he thought: "They will make me an outlaw for this assault." So he took his boat, and got new oars and thole-pins. Then he fetched his money from his sleeping loft, and fared across Hvammfirth to that same ship where Rolf was. Great was his joy when he saw Rolf.

"What dost thou here?" asked Rolf.

"I will go with thee," answered Frodi. Then he paid the shipmaster his faring, and paid Rolf's also. Two days thereafter they sailed down Broadfirth, and saw Cragness at a little distance. The cairn of Hiarandi was to be seen at the edge of the cliff, but many persons were at work in the field. Rolf knew that his enemies had already set up their household there; but the ship took him, heavy-hearted, east over the sea.


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