|The Story of Rolf and the Viking's Bow|
|by Allen French|
|Relates the thrilling exploits of Rolf in the land of the Vikings: how he becomes an outlaw, and a thrall, and at long last gains his freedom and avenges the unlawful slaying of his father. Through his trials Rolf is challenged to grow in manliness, developing courage, self-control, patriotism, and perseverance, and in the end rising above the feud that has consumed him for so long. The story, inspired by Icelandic sagas, serves as an excellent introduction to the prevailing values of the Viking era. Ages 11-14 |
OF WHAT HIARANDI SHOULD DO
IARANDI spoke not at all of the suits against him, yet he was
continually gloomy. And one day he said:
"Much better were it now, had I never
lighted the beacon that night."
"Thou knowest," responded Asdis,
"that thou didst right."
"Still," said Hiarandi, "summer gales
oft bring wrecks, and one ship might pay
the blood-fine for me."
"For all that," Asdis answered, "thou
hast not now the heart to stop lighting
Then on the second night thereafter
came a storm; but nothing was said,
 except that Hiarandi bade the beacon
be lighted. Yet he was gloomier than
One night Rolf asked him: "Why is
it that thou art to answer for that deed
which my uncle has done?"
"One must answer for a kinsman's
deed," answered his father, "when that
kinsman is dead."
"And what is the punishment," asked
Rolf, "for slaying?"
"A fine or outlawry," replied Hiarandi.
"Tell me of outlawry," begged Rolf.
"For I hear of outlaws who live and
work among men, and of those who flee
into hiding, and of those who go overseas."
"There are outlaws of many kinds,"
answered Hiarandi. "Some outlaws are
condemned not to leave a district, or even
a farm; but some must leave Iceland or
else defend their lives. But most
outlawries are like this, that a man must go
 abroad three winters, and then he is free
to return. If he stays, his enemies may
slay him if they can, and no man may
ask atonement. Thus they who burned
Njal in his house did fare abroad; but
on the other hand Gisli our ancestor lived
in hiding, and would not go. And Grettir
the Strong, as all men know, lives to-day
an outlaw, in one district or another; and
no man has taken him, though there is a
great price set upon his head."
"If thou art made outlaw," asked Rolf,
"what wilt thou do?"
"Ask me not," said Hiarandi. "For
the matter troubles me. If I go abroad,
how will ye all live? And it will profit
you nothing if I stay and am slain. Yet
if I am made outlaw, and go not, my goods
and the farm are forfeit."
As greatly as Hiarandi feared the
outcome of these suits, so were those at Fellstead
pleased by their hopes. And no
 one heard the carline Thurid, who sang to
herself when she heard Ondott boast:
"He laughs too soon
Who doth forget,
Binds kinsmen yet."
But Asdis thought rightly in the
matter. For she said to Hiarandi: "What
wilt thou do for thy defence at law? Is
there no lawyer to help thee?"
"Help is offered," answered her
husband, "to those who have money. And
I have none."
"Then wilt thou ask help of Snorri the
Priest? There is no other to give thee
"Not close," replied Hiarandi, "is the
tie of blood between us, and small is the
friendship. Moreover, Snorri draws ever
to those who wax in fortune, and such is
Einar; and he helps little those whose
fortunes wane, and such am I."
 "Now," cried Asdis, "be not as a man
who sees his own doom, and stirs not to
help himself. Where is thy manhood?
Bestir thyself for my sake and Rolf's,
and do what thou canst for our good!
Now promise me that thou wilt ask help
Thus she stirred Hiarandi to shake off
his gloom, so that he promised. And
when the time came for him to ride to
the Althing, he went with a better heart.
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