OLAF'S FIGHT WITH HAVARD
T another time Harald said:
"Tell me of a fight, Olaf. I want to hear about the
music of swords."
Olaf's eyes blazed.
"I will tell you of our fight with King Havard," he
"One dark night we had landed at a farm. We left our
'Waverunner' in the water with three men to guard her.
The rest of us went into the house. The farmer met us
at the door, but he died by Thorkel's sword. The others
we shut into their beds.
The door at each end of the
hall we had barred on the inside so that nobody could
surprise us. We were busy going through the cupboards
and shouting at our good luck. But suddenly we heard a
" 'Thor and Havard!'
"Then there was a great beating at the doors.
 " 'He has two hundred fighters with him,' said Grim;
'for we saw his ships last night. Thirty against two
hundred! We shall all drink in Valhalla to-night.'
" 'Well,' I cried, 'Odin shall have no unwilling guest
" 'Nor in me,' cried Hakon.
" 'Nor in me,' shouted Thorkel.
"And that shout went all around, and we drew out our
swords and caught up our shields.
" 'Hot work is ahead of us,' said Hakon. 'Besides, we
must leave none of this mead for Havard. Lend a hand
"Then he and another pulled out a great tub that sat on
the floor of the cupboard.
" 'I drink to Valhalla to-night,' cried Thorkel the
Thirsty, and he plunged his horn deep into the tub.
"When he brought it up, his sleeve was dripping and the
sweet mead was running over from the horn.
" 'Sloven!' cried Hakon, and he struck Thorkel with his
fist and knocked him over into the cupboard.
 "He fell against the wooden wall at the back, and a
carved panel swung open behind him. He dropped down
head first. In a minute he put his head out of the hole
again. We all stood staring.
" 'I think it is a secret passage,' he said.
" 'We will try it,' I answered in a whisper. 'Throw dirt
on the fire. It must be dark.'
"So we dug up dirt from the earth floor and smothered
the fire. All this time there was a terrible shouting
and hammering at the doors, but they were of heavy logs
" 'I with four more will guard this door,' I said,
pointing to the east end.
"Immediately four men stepped to my side.
" 'And I will guard the other,' Hakon said, and four
went with him.
" 'The rest of you, down the hole!' I said. 'Close the
door after you. If luck is with us we will meet at the
ships. Now Thor and our good swords help us! Quick! The
doors are giving way.'
"So we ten men stood at the doors
 and held back the
king's soldiers. It was dark in the room, and the
people out of doors could not tell how many were
inside. Few were eager to be the first in.
" 'Thirty swords are waiting in there to eat up the
first man,' we heard some one say.
"We chuckled at that.
"But the king stood in the very doorway and fought. Our
five swords held him back for a long time, but at last
he pushed in, and his men poured after him. We ran back
and hid behind some tubs in a dark corner. The king's
men went groping about and calling, but they did not
find us. The room was full of shouting and running and
sword-clashing; for in the dark and the noise the men
could not tell their own soldiers. More than one fell
by his friend's sword. When it was less crowded about
the doorway, I whispered:
" 'Follow me in double line. We will make for the ships.
Keep close together.'
"So that double line of men, with swords swinging from
both sides, ran out
 through the dark. Swords struck out
at us, and we struck back. Men ran after us shouting,
but our legs were as good as theirs. But I and Hakon
and one other were all that reached the ship. There we
saw our 'Waverunner' with sail up and bow pointing to
open sea. We swam out to her and climbed aboard. Then
the men swung the sail to the wind, and we moved off.
Even as we went, a spear whizzed through the air, and
Hakon fell dead; for the king and all his men were
running to the shore.
" 'After them!' they were shouting.
"Then we heard the king call, to the men in his boats
lying out in the water:
" 'Row to shore and take us in.'
"Thorkel was standing by my side. At that he laughed
" 'They do not answer. He left but a handful to guard
his ships. They tasted our swords. And we went aboard
and broke the oars and threw the sails into the water.
It will be slow going for Havard to-night.'
"Then he turned to the shore and sang out loudly"
"Then he turned to the shore and sang out loudly:
" 'King Havard's ships are dead:
Olaf's dragon flies,
King Havard stamps the shore:
Olaf skims the waves.
King Havard shakes his fist:
Olaf turns and laughs.'
"That was the end of our meeting with King Havard."