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C.     --- BRIAN'S BATTLE.


(From the Saga of Thorstein Hall of the Side's Son.)


         Thorstein fared abroad and came to the Orkneys.  Earl Sigurd Hlödver's son then ruled over the isles.  He gave Thorstein a hearty welcome and asked him to stay with him, and he was with the earl that winter in much esteem.  And when the spring came, then the earl asked Thorstein whether he would fare with him a sea roving, or whether he would stay behind.  Thorstein chose to fare, and was bowman on the earl's ship, and was the ablest man in the ship, as though he had been wont to that work.  Thorstein was a man of good counsel and wise and bold;  and the earl asked him to stay long with him after he learned the stock whence he sprang, and knew the kinship that was between them --- for Thorey Özur's daughter was the mother of Hall of the Side, but Özur was the son of Hrollaug, the son of Rögnvald of Mæren, and the father of earl Thorfinn skullsplitter, the father of earl Hlödver, the father of earl Sigurd. --- But earl Sigurd harried far and wide during the summer about Scotland, and no man challenged Thorstein's dash and daring.  Both these things pleaded Thorstein's cause, his kindred and his sturdiness.  The earl slew many savage folk, but some fled away to the woods;  and the earl fared far and wide about the Western lands, and burnt.  Late in the autumn he fared home to the Orkneys, and then had rest for three months, and then he gave his friends good gifts.  Then the earl spake to Thorstein and said, "Good following hast thou shown me and like a man, and now take of me this axe inlaid with gold;  it beseems thee to bear it."  Thorstein thanks the earl, for that was the greatest treasure.  That autumn came Burning-Flosi to the Orkneys and his men.  And those dealings took place between them and earl Sigurd, as is said in Njals Saga.

2.            This winter earl Sigurd busked him for Ireland.  And then he fought with king Brian, and that battle has been the most famous across the western sea, both for the host of men (who fought) and the great tidings that happened there.  And when the earl busked him from home he asked Thorstein whether he would fare too.  Thorstein said that nothing else beseemed him than to fare and follow him in danger, "when we think it good to lead a quiet life of ease with you in peace."  The earl thanked him for his words.  After that they fared to Ireland and fought with king Brian, and there many tidings happened at the same time.  As is said in his Saga.  There fell three banner-bearers of earl Sigurd;  and then the earl bade Thorstein to bear the banner.  Then Thorstein said, "Bear thine own crow (1) thyself, earl."  Then a man (2) spoke and said:  "Thou doest right, Thorstein, for from it I have lost three of my sons."  The earl took the banner from the staff and hid it among his clothing and then fought on most daringly.  And a little after men heard it said up aloft:  "If earl Sigurd will have victory, then let him make for Dumaz-hill with his men."  That (3) .................... ever followed the earl, and so it was then.  There fell the earl in that onslaught, and much folk with him.  and just then Brodir slew king Brian;  but Ospak his brother took him and tore out his entrails, and led him round and round the trunk of a tree, and so he died.  Then great tidings happened afterwards in loss of life.  Thorstein and some few of them together took their stand by the woodside.  Then a man said, "Why fleest thou not, Thorstein?"  He answers, "Because I cannot reach home this evening, even though I do fly."  Peace was given to Thorstein.  And he fared back to the Orkneys and thence to Norway  ..................  But when he had been three winters abroad and had grown very famous then he fared out hither (to Iceland).  Thorstein was then twenty when he was in Brian's battle.




1.            "Crow," in allusion to the raven which was worked on the banner.  Comp. Orkn. S. Ch. 12.  Njala reads "thy devil."

2.            "Amundi the white" according to Njala.

3.            Here there is a blank space for a word or two which has been left in the MS.



Next: Appendix D. Helgi and Wolf (from the Flatey Book)