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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


"Outside there was bright moonshine and broken clouds, which sometimes drifted over the moon and sometimes left it clear. At the moment when Glam fell the cloud passed off the moon, and he cast up his eyes sharply towards it; and Grettir himself said that this was the only sight he ever saw that terrified him. Then Grettir grew so helpless, both by reason of his weariness and at seeing Glam roll his eyes so horribly, that he was unable to draw his dagger, and lay well-nigh between life and death.

"But in this was Glam's might more fiendish than that of most other ghosts, that he spoke in this fashion: 'Great eagerness have you shown to meet me, Grettir, and little wonder will it be though you get no great good fortune from me; but this I may tell you, that you have now received only half of the strength and vigour that was destined for you if you had not met with me. I cannot now take from you the strength you have already gained, but this I can see to, that you will never be stronger than you are now, and yet you are strong enough, as many a man shall feel. Hitherto you have been famous for your deeds, but henceforth you shall be a manslayer and an outlaw, and most of your deeds will turn to your own hurt and misfortune. Outlawed you shall be, and ever have a solitary life for your lot; and this, too, I lay upon you, ever to see these eyes of mine before your own, and then you will think it hard to be alone, and that will bring you to your death.'

"When Glam had said this the faintness passed off Grettir, and he then drew his dagger, cut off Glam's head, and laid it beside his thigh. Thorhall then came out, having put on his clothes while Glam was talking, but never venturing to come near until he had fallen. He praised God, and thanked Grettir for overcoming the unclean spirit. Then they set to work, and burned Glam to ashes, which they placed in a sack, and buried where cattle were least likely to pasture or men to tread. When this was done they went home again, and it was now near daybreak.

"Thorhall sent to the next farm for the men there, and told them what had taken place. All thought highly of the exploit that heard of it, and it was the common talk that in all Iceland there was no man like Grettir Asnundarson for strength and courage and all kinds of bodily feats. Thorhall gave him a good horse when he went away, as well as a fine suit of clothes, for the ones he had been wearing were all torn to pieces. The two then parted with the utmost friendship.

"Thence Grettir rode to the Ridge in Water-dale, where his kinsman Thorvald received him heartily, and asked closely concerning his encounter with Glam. Grettir told him how he had fared, and said that his strength was never put to harder proof, so long did the struggle between them last. Thorvald bade him be quiet and gentle in his conduct, and things would go well with him, otherwise his troubles would be many. Grettir answered that his temper was not improved; he was more easily roused than ever, and less able to bear opposition. In this, too, he felt a great change, that he had become so much afraid of the dark that he dared not go anywhere alone after night began to fall, for then he saw phantoms and monsters of every kind. So it has become a saying ever since then, when folk see things very different from what they are, that Glam lends them his eyes, or gives them glam-sight.