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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


"Grettir answered: 'The least I can get for my horse is to see the thrall'. Thorhall replied that it would do him no good to see him, 'for he is unlike anything in human shape; but I am fain of every hour that you are willing to stay here'.

"The day wore on, and when it was bed-time Grettir would not take off his clothes, but lay down on the floor over against Thorhall's bed- closet. He put a thick cloak above himself, buttoning one end beneath his feet, and doubling the other under his head, while he looked out at the hole for the neck. There was a strong plank in front of the floored space, and against this he pressed his feet. The door- fittings were all broken off from the outer door, but there was a hurdle set up instead, and roughly secured. The wainscot that had once stretched across the hall was all broken down, both above and below the cross-beam. The beds were all pulled out of their places, and everything was in confusion.

"A light was left burning in the hall, and when the third part of the night was past Grettir heard loud noises outside. Then something went up on top of the house, and rode above the hall, beating the roof with its heels till every beam cracked. This went on for a long time; then it came down off the house and went to the door. When this was opened Grettir saw the thrall thrust in his head; ghastly big he seemed, and wonderfully huge of feature. Glam came in slowly, and raised himself up when he was inside the doorway, till he loomed up against the roof. Then he turned his face down the hall, laid his arms on the cross- beam, and glared all over the place. Thorhall gave no sign during all this, for he thought it bad enough to hear what was going on outside.

"Grettir lay still and never moved. Glam saw that there was a bundle lying on the floor, and moved further up the hall and grasped the cloak firmly. Grettir placed his feet against the plank, and yielded not the least. Glam tugged a second time, much harder than before, but still the cloak did not move. A third time he pulled with both his hands, so hard that he raised Grettir up from the floor, and now they wrenched the cloak asunder between them. Glam stood staring at the piece which he held in his hands, and wondering greatly who could have pulled so hard against him. At that moment Grettir sprang in under the monster's hands, and threw his arms around his waist, intending to make him fall backwards. Glam, however, bore down upon him so strongly that Grettir was forced to give way before him. He then tried to stay himself against the seat-boards, but these gave way with him, and everything that came in their path was broken.

"Glam wanted to get him outside, and although Grettir set his feet against everything that he could, yet Glam succeeded in dragging him out into the porch. There they had a fierce struggle, for the thrall meant to have him out of doors, while Grettir saw that bad as it was to deal with Glam inside the house it would be worse outside, and therefore strove with all his might against being carried out. When they came into the porch Glam put forth all his strength, and pulled Grettir close to him. When Grettir saw that he could not stay himself he suddenly changed his plan, and threw himself as hard as he could against the monster's breast, setting both his feet against an earth- fast stone that lay in the doorway. Glam was not prepared for this, being then in the act of pulling Grettir towards him, so he fell backwards and went crashing out through the door, his shoulders catching the lintel as he fell. The roof of the porch was wrenched in two, both rafters and frozen thatch, and backwards out of the house went Glam, with Grettir above him.