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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang

CHAPTER XIII

The people of the house were going to bed by daylight, and after they were in bed a great noise was heard in the kitchen. Some went to see whether thieves had not broken in, and when they reached the kitchen they saw there a tall woman. She was quite naked, with no clothes whatever upon her, and was busy preparing food. Those who saw her were so terrified that they dared not go near her at all. When the funeral party heard of this they went thither, and saw what the matter was--Thorgunna had come there, and it seemed advisable to them all not to meddle with her. When she had done all that she wanted, she brought the food into the room, set the tables and laid the food upon them. Then the funeral party said to the farmer: "It may happen in the end, before we part, that you will think it dearly bought that you would show us no hospitality". Both the farmer and the housewife answered: "We will willingly give you food, and do you all other services that you require".

As soon as the farmer had offered them this, Thorgunna passed out of the room into the kitchen, and then went outside, nor did she show herself again. Then a light was kindled in the room, and the wet clothes of the guests were taken off, and dry ones given them in their place. After this they sat down at table, and blessed their food, while the farmer had holy water sprinkled over all the house. The guests ate their food, and it harmed no man, although Thorgunna had prepared it. They slept there that night, and were treated with great hospitality.

In the morning they continued their journey, and things went very smoothly with them; wherever this affair was heard of, most people thought it best to do them all the service that they required, and of their journey no more is to be told. When they came to Skalholt, they handed over the precious things which Thorgunna had sent thither: the ring and other articles, all of which the priests gladly received. Thorgunna was buried there, while the funeral party returned home, which they all reached in safety.

At Froda there was a large hall with a fireplace in the midde, and a bed-closet at the inner end of it, as was then the custom. At the outer end were two store-closets, one on each side; dried fish were piled in one of these, and there was meal in the other. In this hall fires were kindled every evening, as was the custom, and folk sat round these fires for a long while before they went to supper. On that evening on which the funeral party came home, while the folk at Froda were sitting round the fires, they saw a half-moon appear on the panelling of the hall, and it was visible to all those who were present. It went round the room backwards and against the sun's course, nor did it disappear so long as they sat by the fires. Thorodd asked Thorir Wooden-leg what this might portend. "It is the Moon of Fate," said Thorir, "and deaths will come after it." This went on all that week that the Fate-Moon came in every evening.

The next tidings that happened at Froda were that the shepherd came in and was very silent; he spoke little, and that in a frenzied manner. Folk were most inclined to believe that he had been bewitched, because he went about by himself, and talked to himself. This went on for some time, but one evening, when two weeks of winter had passed, the shepherd came home, went to his bed, and lay down there. When they went to him in the morning he was dead, and was buried at the church.

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