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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


Thorodd answered: "There seems to me great likelihood that your forebodings will come true; and therefore," said he, "I shall promise to you not to depart from your instructions".

"These are my arrangements," said Thorgunna, "that I will have myself taken to Skalholt if I die of this sickness, for my mind forbodes me that that place will some time or other be the most glorious spot in this land. I know also that by now there are priests there to sing the funeral service over me. So I ask you to have me carried thither, and for that you shall take so much of my property that you suffer no loss in the matter. Of my other effects, Thurid shall have the scarlet cloak that I own, and I give it her so that she may readily consent to my disposing of all the rest as I please. I have a gold ring, and it shall go to the church with me; but as for my bed and bed-hangings, I will have them burned with fire, because they will be of service to no one. I do not say this because I grudge that any one should possess these treasures, if I knew that they would be of use to them; rather am I so earnest in the matter, because I should be sorry for folk to fall into such trouble for me, as I know will be the case if my words are not heeded."

Thorodd promised to do as she asked him, and after this Thorgunna's sickness increased, so that she lay but few days before she died. The body was first taken to the church, and Thorodd had a coffin made for it. On the following day Thorodd had all the bed-clothes carried out into the open air, and made a pile of wood beside them. Then Thurid the housewife came up, and asked what he was going to do with the bed- clothes. He answered that he was to burn them with fire, as Thorgunna had directed him. "I will not have such treasures burned," said Thurid. Thorodd answered: "She declared strongly that it would not do to depart from what she said". "That was mere jealousy," said Thurid; "she grudged any other person the use of them, and that was why she gave these orders; but nothing terrible will happen though her words are set aside." "I doubt," said he, "whether it will be well to do otherwise than as she charged me."

Then Thurid laid her arms round his neck, and besought him not to burn the furnishings of the bed, and so much did she press him in this that his heart gave way to her, and she managed it so that Thorodd burned the mattresses and pillows, while she took for herself the quilt and coverlets and all the hangings. Yet neither of them was well pleased.

After this the funeral was made ready; trustworthy men were sent with the body, and good horses which Thorodd owned. The body was wrapped in linen, but not sewed up in it, and then laid in the coffin. After this they held south over the heath as the paths go, and went on until they came to a farm called Lower Ness, which lies in the Tongues of Staf-holt. There they asked leave to stay over night, but the farmer would give them no hospitality. However, as it was close on nightfall, they did not see how they could go on, for they thought it would be dangerous to deal with the White River by night. They therefore unloaded their horses, and carried the body into an out- house, after which they went into the sitting-room and took off their outer clothes, intending to stay there over night without food.