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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


The Story of Glam. The Foul Fords.


There was a man named Thorhall, who lived at Thorhall-stead in Forsaela-dala, which lies in the north of Iceland. He was a fairly wealthy man, especially in cattle, so that no one round about had so much live-stock as he had. He was not a chief, however, but an honest and worthy yeoman.

"Now this man's place was greatly haunted, so that he could scarcely get a shepherd to stay with him, and although he asked the opinion of many as to what he ought to do, he could find none to give him advice of any worth.

"One summer at the Althing, or yearly assembly of the people, Thorhall went to the booth of Skafti, the law man, who was the wisest of men and gave good counsel when his opinion was asked. He received Thorhall in a friendly way, because he knew he was a man of means, and asked him what news he had.

"'I would have some good advice from you,' said Thorhall.

'"I am little able to give that,' said Skafti; 'but what is the matter?'

"'This is the way of it,' said Thorhall, 'I have had very bad luck with my shepherds of late. Some of them get injured, and others will not serve out their time; and now no one that knows how the case stands will take the place at all.'

"'Then there must be some evil spirit there,' said Skafti, 'when men are less willing to herd your sheep, than those of others. Now since you have asked my advice, I will get a shepherd for you. Glam is his name, he belongs to Sweden, and came out here last summer. He is big and strong, but not very well liked by most people.'

"Thorhall said that he did not mind that, if he looked well after the sheep. Skafti answered that there was no hope of other men doing it, if Glam could not, seeing he was so strong and stout-hearted. Their talk ended there, and Thorhall left the booth.

"This took place just at the breaking up of the assembly. Thorhall missed two of his horses, and went to look for them in person, from which it may be seen that he was no proud man. He went up to the mountain ridge, and south along the fell that is called Armann's fell. There he saw a man coming down from the wood, leading a horse laden with bundles of brushwood. They soon met each other and Thorhall asked his name. He said he was called Glam. He was tall of body, and of strange appearance; his eyes were blue and staring, and his hair wolf-grey in colour. Thorhall was a little startled when he saw him, and was certain that this was the man he had been told about.

"'What work are you best fitted for?' he asked. Glam said that he was good at keeping sheep in winter.

"'Will you look after _my_ sheep?' said Thorhall. 'Skafti has put you into my hands.'

"'On this condition only will I take service with you,' said Glam, 'that I have my own free will, for I am ill-tempered if anything does not please me.'

"'That will not harm me,' said Thorhall, 'and I should like you to come to me.'

"'I will do so,' said Glam; 'but is there any trouble at your place?'

"'It is believed to be haunted,' said Thorhall.

"'I am not afraid of such bug-bears,' said Glam, 'and think that it will be all the livelier for that.'