HOW KING ROLF WON HIS BRIDE
 AT one time very many centuries ago, we cannot say just when, for this was in the days of the early
legends, there reigned over Upsala in Sweden a king named Erik. He had no son and only one daughter,
but this girl was worth a dozen sons and daughters of some kings. Torborg she was named, and there
were few women so wise and beautiful and few men so strong and valiant. She cared nothing for
women's work, but was the equal of any man of the court in riding, fighting with sword and shield,
and other athletic sports. This troubled King Erik very much, for he thought that the princess
should sit in her maiden chamber like other kings' daughters; but she told him that when she came to
succeed him on the throne she would need to know how to defend her kingdom, and now was the time for
her to learn.
That she might become the better fitted to rule, she asked him to give her some province to govern,
and this he did, making her queen of a third of his kingdom, and giving her an army of stout and
bold warriors. Her court was held at Ulleraker in Upland, and here she would not let any one treat
her as a woman, dressing always in men's clothing and bidding her men to call her King Torborg.
 To fail in this would be at risk of their heads. As her fame spread abroad, there were many who came
to court her, for she was at once very beautiful and the heiress of a great kingdom. But she treated
all such with laughter and contempt. It is even said that she put out the eyes of some, and cut off
the hands and feet of others, but this we do not like to believe. At any rate, she drove away those
who troubled her too much with lance and spear. So it was plain that only a strong and bold man
could win this warlike maiden for his wife.
At that time King Götrik who ruled in Gothland, a country in southern Sweden, had sent his younger
son Rolf to be brought up at the court of his foster-brother King Ring of Denmark. His elder son
Kettil he kept at home, but did not love him much on account of his pride and obstinacy. So it
happened that when Götrik was very old and like to die, he decided that Rolf, who was very tall and
strong, and very fit and able, should succeed him, though he was the younger son. All agreed to
this, even Kettil, so Rolf was sent for and made king of Gothland, which he ruled with skill and
One day Rolf and Kettil, who loved each other as brothers should, were talking together, and Kettil
said that one thing was wanting to the glory and honor of Rolf's rule, and that was a queen of noble
birth and goodly presence.
"And whom have you in mind?" asked Rolf.
"There is Torborg, the king of Upsala's daughter.
 If you can win her for wife it will be the greatest marriage in the north."
To this advice Rolf would not listen. He had heard of how the shrewish Torborg treated her suitors,
and felt that wooing her would be like taking a wild wolf by the ears. So he stayed unmarried for
several years more, though Kettil often spoke of the matter, and one day said to him contemptuously:
"Many a man has a large body with little courage, and I fear you are such a one; for though you
stand as a man, you do not dare to speak to a woman."
"I will show you that I am a man," said Rolf, very angry at these words.
He sent to Denmark for his foster-brother Ingiald, son of King Ring, and when he came the two set
out with sixty armed men for the court of King Erik in Upsala.
One morning, about this time, Queen Ingerd of Upsala awoke and told King Erik of a strange dream she
had dreamed. She had seen in her sleep a troop of wolves running from Gothland towards Sweden, a
great lion and a little bear leading them; but these, instead of being fierce and shaggy, were
smooth-haired and gentle.
"What do you think it means?" asked the king.
"I think that the lion is the ghost of a king, and that the white bear is some king's son, the
wolves being their followers. I fancy it means that Rolf of Gothland and Ingiald of Denmark are
 hither, bent on a mission of peace, since they appear so tame. Do you think that King Rolf is coming
to woo our daughter, Torborg?"
"Nonsense, woman; the king of so small a realm would show great assurance to seek for wife so great
a princess as our daughter."
So when Rolf and his followers came to Upsala King Erik showed his displeasure, inviting him to his
table but giving him no seat of honor at the feast. Rolf sat silent and angry at this treatment, but
when Erik asked him why he had come, he told him courteously enough the reason of his visit.
"I know how fond you Goths are of a joke," said Erik, with a laugh. "You have a way of saying one
thing when you mean another. But I can guess what brings you. Gothland is little and its revenues
are small and you have many people to keep and feed. Food is now scarce in Gothland, and you have
come here that you may not suffer from hunger. It was a good thought for you to come to Upsala for
help, and you are welcome to go about my kingdom with your men for a month; then you can return home
plump and well fed."
This jesting speech made Rolf very angry, though he said little in reply. But when the king told
Queen Ingerd that evening what he had said she was much displeased.
"King Rolf may have a small kingdom," she said, "but he has gained fame by his courage and ability,
and is as powerful as many kings with a wider rule. You did not well to mock him."
 The next day Erik, thus admonished, begged Rolf's pardon, saying that the ale had made him speak
foolishly, and thus he became reconciled with his guest. As for Rolf's desire to win his daughter,
he would first have to gain Torborg's consent, which would be no easy matter. The king promised not
to interfere but would do no more.
Soon after this Rolf and his men arrived at Ulleraker, reaching there when the whole of Torborg's
court were assembled in the great hall. Fearing a hostile reception, Rolf took wary precautions. He
choose twelve of his stoutest men, with himself and Ingiald at their head, to enter the court with
drawn swords in their hands. If they were attacked, they were to go out backward fighting, but they
were bidden to conduct themselves like men and let nothing alarm them. The others remained outside,
keeping the horses in readiness to mount.
When the party entered the hall, Rolf at their head, all there were struck with his great size and
noble aspect. No one assailed them and he walked up the hall, on whose high seat at the front he saw
what seemed a tall and finely formed man, dressed in royal robes. Knowing that this must be the
haughty princess whose hand he had come to seek, he took off his helmet, bowed low before her, and
began to tell what brought him to her court.
He had scarcely begun when she stopped him. She said that he must be joking; that she knew his real
errand was to get food and that this she would give
 him; but he must apply for it to the chief of the kitchen, not to her.
Rolf had not come so far to be laughed out of the court, and he sturdily went on with what he had to
say, speaking to her as a woman, and demanding her hand in marriage. At this she changed her jesting
manner, her cheeks grew red with anger, and springing up, she seized her weapons and called upon her
men to lay hold upon and bind the fool that had dared affront their monarch. Shouting and confusion
followed and a sharp attack was made on the intruders, but Rolf put on his helmet and bade his men
to retire, which they did in good order. He walked backward through the whole hall, shield on arm
and sword in hand, parrying and dealing blows, so that when he left the room, though no blade had
touched him, a dozen of the courtiers lay bleeding. But being greatly overmatched, he ordered his
men to mount, and they rode away unscathed.
Back to West Gothland they went and told Kettil how poorly they had fared.
"You have suffered a sore insult and affront at a woman's hand," said Kettil, "and my advice is that
it be speedily avenged," but Rolf replied that he was not yet ready to act.
Torborg had not taken the trouble to ask the name of her wooer, but when she learned who it was she
knew very well that the matter had not reached its end and that her would-be lover would return
stronger than before. As she did not want
 him or any man for husband she made great preparations for an attack, gathering a large body of
warriors and having a wall of great strength and the finest workmanship built round the town. It was
so high and thick that no battering ram could shake it, while water-cisterns were built into it to
put out the fire if any one sought to burn it. From this we may judge that the wall was of wood.
This done, Torborg made merry with her court, thinking that no lover in the wide world would now
venture to annoy her.
She did not know the kind of man she had to deal with in King Rolf. He had fought with men and
fancied he was fit to conquer a woman. The next summer he had a battle with Asmund, son of the king
of Scotland, and when it was over they became friends and foster-brothers and went on viking cruises
together. Next spring Rolf armed and manned six ships and, taking Kettil and Ingiald and Asmund with
him, set sail for Upsala. He proposed now to woo the warrior princess in another fashion.
Queen Ingerd about this time dreamed again, her dream being the same as before, except that this
time there were two white bears, and a hog which was small but spiteful, its bristles pointing
forward and its mouth snarling as if ready to bite anything that came before it. And the bears did
not look as gentle as before, but seemed irritated.
She interpreted this dream to mean that Rolf was coming again to avenge the affront he had
 received, and that the fierce hog must stand for Kettil, of whose character she had been told.
When Rolf now arrived King Erik received him with honor, and again agreed to remain his friend, no
matter how stormy a courtship he might have. From Upsala he set out for Ulleraker and sent a herald
to Princess Torborg, asking speech with her. She presented herself at the top of the wall,
surrounded by armed men. King Rolf renewed his suit, and told her plainly that if she did not accept
his proposal he had come to burn the town and slay every man within its walls.
"You shall first serve as a goatherd in West Gothland before you get any power over me and mine,"
answered Torborg haughtily.
Rolf lost no time in assailing the walls, but found them stoutly defended. The Swedes within poured
boiling water and hot pitch on their assailants, threw down stones and beams, and hurled spears and
arrows from the wall. For fourteen days the siege continued without effect, until the Goths, weary
of their hard fighting and the mockery of the defenders, began to complain and wanted to return
home. The townspeople derided them by showing costly goods from the ramparts and bidding them come
and take them, and ridiculed them in many other ways.
King Rolf now saw that he must take other measures. He had a cover constructed of boards and
brushwood and supported by stout beams, making a strong roof which was set against the wall
 and defied all the boiling water and missiles of the Swedes. Under its shelter a hole was dug
through the wall and soon the Goths were in the queen's citadel.
To their surprise they found it empty. Not a soul was to be seen, but in every room they found
well-cooked food and many articles of value.
"This is a fine capture," said Kettil. "Let us enjoy ourselves and divide the spoil."
"Not so," said Rolf. "It is a lure to draw us off. I will not rest till I have the princess in my
They sought the palace through and through, but no one was there. Finally a secret passage was
discovered, leading underground, and the king entered it, the others following. They emerged in a
forest where they found Torborg and all her men and where a sharp battle began. No warrior could
have fought more bravely than the man-like princess, and her men stood up for her boldly, but they
gradually gave way before the onset of Rolf and his tried warriors.
Rolf now bade Kettil to take Torborg prisoner, but not to wound her, saying that it would be
shameful to use arms against a woman. Kettil sprang forward and gave the princess a sharp blow with
the flat of his sword, reviling her at the same time with rude words. In return, Torborg gave him so
hard a blow on the ear with her battle-axe that he fell prostrate, with his heels in the air.
"That is the way we treat our dogs when they bark too loud," she said.
 Kettil sprang up, burning with anger, but at the same moment Rolf rushed forward and grasped the
warlike princess in his powerful arms, so that she was forced to surrender.
He told her that she was his prisoner, but that he did not wish to win a wife in the viking manner
and that he would leave it to her father to judge what should be done. Taken captive in his arms,
there was nothing else for her to do, and she went with him to Upsala, where King Erik was delighted
at Rolf's success. As for the warlike princess, she laid down her arms at her father's feet, put on
a woman's garments, and seemed glad enough to have been won as a bride in so warlike a manner and by
so heroic a wooer.
Soon after this the marriage took place, the festivities being the grandest the court could afford
and lasting for fourteen days, after which Rolf and his followers returned home, his new queen with
him. The sagas say, as we can well believe after so strenuous a wooing, that afterwards King Rolf
and Queen Torborg lived a long and happy life.
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