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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


"All this befell in the days of Grettir, the son of Asmund, who was the strongest man of his day in Iceland. He had been abroad at this time, outlawed for three years, and was only eighteen years of age when he returned. He had been at home all through the autumn, but when the winter nights were well advanced, he rode north to Water- dale, and came to Tongue, where lived his uncle Jokull. His uncle received him heartily, and he stayed there for three nights. At this time there was so much talk about Glam's walkings, that nothing was so largely spoken of as these. Grettir inquired closely about all that had happened, and Jokull said that the stories told no more than had indeed taken place; 'but are you intending to go there, kinsman?' said he. Grettir answered that he was. Jokull bade him not do so, 'for it is a dangerous undertaking, and a great risk for your friends to lose you, for in our opinion there is not another like you among the young men, and "ill will come of ill" where Glam is. Far better it is to deal with mortal men than with such evil spirits.'

"Grettir, however, said that he had a mind to fare to Thorhall-stead, and see how things had been going on there. Jokull replied: 'I see now that it is of no use to hold you back, but the saying is true that "good luck and good heart are not the same'". Grettir answered: '"Woe stands at one man's door when it has entered another's house". Think how it may go with yourself before the end.'

"'It may be,' said Jokull, 'that both of us see some way into the future, and yet neither of us can do anything to prevent it.'

"After this they parted, and neither liked the other's forebodings.

"Grettir rode to Thorhall-stead, and the yeoman received him heartily. He asked Grettir where he was going, who said that he wished to stay there all night if he would allow him. Thorhall said that he would be very glad if he would stay, 'but few men count it a gain to be guests here for long. You must have heard how matters stand, and I shall be very unwilling for you to come to any harm on my account. And even although you yourself escape safe and sound, I know for certain that you will lose your horse, for no man that comes here can keep that uninjured.' "Grettir answered that there were horses enough to be got, whatever might happen to this one. Thorhall was delighted that he was willing to stay, and gave him the heartiest reception. The horse was strongly secured in an out-house; then they went to sleep, and that night passed without Glam appearing.

"'Your coming here,' said Thorhall, 'has made a happy change, for Glam is in the habit of riding the house every night, or breaking up the doors, as you may see for yourself.'

"'Then one of two things will happen,' said Grettir; 'either he will not restrain himself for long, or the hauntings will cease for more than one night. I shall stay for another night, and see how things go.'

"After this they went to look at Grettir's horse, and found that he had not been meddled with, so the yeoman thought that everything was going on well, Grettir stayed another night, and still the thrall did not come about them. Thorhall thought that things were looking brighter, but when he went to look to Grettir's horse he found the out-house broken up, the horse dragged outside, and every bone in it broken. He told Grettir what had happened, and advised him to secure his own safety, 'for your death is certain if you wait for Glam'.