The Story of Gisli the Outlaw - A Viking Saga
THE SAGA OF GISLI THE OUTLAW
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THE EVENTS described in the saga of Gisli the Soursop reach from about the year AD930 to AD980. In a time when the law of Iceland had not yet been established, when men were ruled by their conscience, Gisli, a champion of Iceland, was outlawed for murder by the Chieftain Bork at the Thorsness Thing (council). But besides his sentence he was doomed, even before his birth. He and his kin were under a curse, for they had kept the broken bits of "Graysteel", the thrall's good sword, which came with a withering spaedom. So under sentence and under a curse Gisli went on the run. For fourteen years with the help of family, friends and those who really knew the truth, he managed to evade Borks men and bounty hunters alike.
As with many champions through the ages, Gisli was also a true poet and his verses have genuine thought and feeling lying underneath, as you will frequently find in this volume.
To the end Gisli fought hard, taking with him eight of the fourteen who eventually cornered him one snowy night on the crags. It has been said by many that there never was a more famous and honourable defence made by one man in times of which the truth is known. Even as death approached Gisli managed to compose and sing one final verse to his wife who stood nearby.
It has also been said that this is one of the finest, if it be not the very finest, of the lesser Sagas. When translating it is difficult to grasp the full spirit of the story, but here it has been accomplished with the detail of scenery and costume thoroughly mastered.
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Excerpt from THE SAGA OF GISLI THE OUTLAW
Then Gisli said to Auda his wife:
"I have not given fodder to Thorkel the Wealthy's horse. Come now with me and undo the locks at the gate, and watch while I am away, and undo the locks again when I come back."
He takes the spear "Graysteel" out of the chest, and is clad in a blue cape, and in his kirtle and linen breeks and shoes. So he goes to the brook which runs between the farms, whence each drew water for its cattle. He goes down to the brook by the path, and then wades along it to the other path that led up to the other farm. Gisli knew all the ins and outs of the house at Sæbol, for he had built it himself. There was a way from the water into the byre. That was where he got in. There in the byre stood thirty cows, back to back; he knots together the tails of the kine, and locks up the byre, and makes it so fast that it cannot be opened if any one came from the inside. After that he goes to the dwelling-house, and Geirmund had done his work well, for there was not a bolt to any of the doors. Now he goes in and shuts the door again, just as it had been locked the evening before. Now he takes his time, and stands and spies about if any were awake, and he is soon aware that all men are asleep. There were three lamps in the hall. Then he takes some of the sedge
from the floor, and makes a wisp of it, and throws it on one of the lights, and quenches it.
Again he stands awhile, and spies if any man had awoke, and cannot find that any are awake. Then he takes another wisp and throws it at that light which stood next, and quenches that. Then he became aware that all men cannot be asleep; for he sees now a young man's arm comes toward the third light, and pulls down the lamp; and puts out the light.
Now he goes farther in along the house till he comes to the shut bed where Thorgrim and his sister Thordisa slept. The lattice was ajar, and there they are both in bed. Then he goes thither, and puts out his hand to feel, and touches her breast; for she slept on the outside.
Then Thordisa said: "Why is thy hand so cold, Thorgrim?" and wakes him up.
"Wilt thou that I turn to thee?" asked Thorgrim.
She thought he had laid his hand on her.
Then Gisli bides awhile, and warms his hand in his shirt but they two fell asleep again.
Now he takes hold of Thorgrim gently, so that he woke and turned towards Thordisa, for he thought she had roused him.
Then Gisli lifts the clothes off them with one hand, while with the other he thrusts Thorgrim through the body with "Graysteel," and pins him to the bed.
Table of Contents for THE SAGA OF GISLI THE OUTLAW
|ILLUSTRATIONS & MAPS|
|CHRONOLOGY OF THE SAGA.|
|GISLI THE OUTLAW|
|CHAPTER I THE THRALL'S CURSE|
|CHAPTER II KOLBEIN'S KILLING|
|CHAPTER III THE BURNING OF THE OLD HOUSE|
|CHAPTER IV THE SOURSOPS IN ICELAND|
|CHAPTER V THE SOURSOPS ABROAD|
|CHAPTER VI GISLI AND THORKEL PART|
|CHAPTER VII VESTEIN COMES BACK TO ICELAND|
|CHAPTER VIII VESTEIN'S SLAYING|
|CHAPTER IX THORGRIM'S SLAYING|
|CHAPTER X GISLI BETRAYS HIMSELF|
|CHAPTER XI GISLI AN OUTLAW|
|CHAPTER XII GISLI BEGINS TO DREAM|
|CHAPTER XIII GISLI GOES TO INGIALLD|
|CHAPTER XIV GISLI SLIPS THROUGH BORK'S FINGERS|
|CHAPTER XV THORKEL'S SLAYING|
|CHAPTER XVI SPY-HELGI AND HAVARD|
|CHAPTER XVII GISLI'S EVIL DREAMS|
|CHAPTER XVIII GISLI'S SLAYING|
|CHAPTER XIX THORDISA'S WELCOME TO EYJOLF|
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