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The Saga of Ketil Trout

Chapter 3

About autumn, over Winter Nights, Ketil went to live in his boat. Hallbjorn asked what he intended to gain by that. Ketil said he expected to go on a fishing expedition. Hallbjorn said that he would be needed in the fields, -- "and you do this without my leave." Not much later, Ketil departed. When he had gone as far north as a certain firth, a violent gale seized his boat and dragged it away to sea, and he could find no harbour. He was swept away north to Finnmark, where he found land and safety. Then he dropped anchor and went to sleep. However, he awoke later when the ship began to shake. He stood up and saw a troll woman had taken hold of the prow and was shaking the ship. Ketil ran across the boat, grabbed a butter chest, then struck the fastenings, and went outside. The most violent gale was blowing. Then a whale laid into his ship amidst the wind, or so it seemed to his eyes, and he was swept away to a reef. He sailed away from there and weighed anchor by another reef. Then he did nothing until darkness descended. He lay there after his rest, then came to land and discovered a way up from the beach, where he found a farm. A man stood out there with skis on his feet looking over his animals. He was named Bruni. He welcomed Ketil and recited a verse:

"You are welcome, Trout!
Here you will be well received
and in all winters
guest with me.
You will pledge yourself to me,
unless you yield
to my daughter,
before the day comes."

Ketil said a verse:

"Here will I be well received!
I think the power
of the Lapps' magic
caused that terrible wind.
And throughout the day
I baled once against three waves.
But the whale calmed the ocean.
I will be received in your house ."

Then they went inside. Two women were within. Bruni asked Ketil if he wanted to lie beside his daughter or alone. She was named Hrafnhild and was very big and brave. It is said that her face was an ell wide. Ketil said he would lie beside Hrafnhild. Afterwards they went and slept together, and Bruni spread an oxhide over them. Ketil asked why he was doing this. "I have invited here some Lapps, friends of mine," said Bruni, "and I do not want them to see you. They shall now come for your butter chest."

The Lapps came and they were not narrow-faced. They said: "It is a great joy to have this butter." Afterwards they went away, but Ketil remained there and entertained himself with Hrafnhild. He often went to the archery range and did well. Sometimes he went hunting with Bruni. About winter, after Yule, Ketil wished to go outside, but Bruni said he could not because of the severe winter and bad weather, -- "and Gusir, king of the Lapps, lies out in the forest."

About spring, Bruni and Ketil prepared to go out on a journey. They passed many firths. When they were about to part, Bruni said: "Journey well, as I showed you, but do not go into the forest." He gave him some arrows, including one with a spiked head, and said that he could use them, if he wanted, in his need. Afterwards they parted, and Bruni went home. When he was alone Ketil said: "Why should I slink about in shame when I do not fear Bruni's bugbear?" Afterwards he went to the forest, and he saw a great sledge and a man coming with it, and it had two reindeer and a wagon. Ketil hailed him with a verse:

"You, skiing in your hand-sledge,
quiet with your reindeer,
out late in the evening,
tell me, how are you named?"

He said:

"Gusir they call me,
honoured by Lapps,
I am the leader
of all that tribe.
Who is that man,
who I meet as I sledge,
who skis like a wolf of the woods?
You will be afraid to speak,
if you go away
off to Thrumufirth,
to say that I spoke poorly."

They came over Ofara-Thrumu. Ketil replied with this verse:

"Trout I am named,
I come from Hrafnista,
land of Hallbjorn.
Why do you ski here, wretch?
Must I speak peaceful words
with a cowardly Lapp?
I would rather bend the bow
that Bruni gave me."

Gusir thought that now he knew the identity of this Trout, and that he was very famous. Gusir said this verse:

"How was your breath
at the beginning of the day,
eager for battle,
fierce in your heart?
With that shall you be tempted
to redden your arrows
in the breasts of others,
unless you pause to consider."

Ketil said:

"Call me Trout
by half my name,
I will give you
my full name soon.
You shall certainly know,
before we part,
what churls will be
bitten by the arrow."

Gusir said:

"Go now into
the bitter sword-clash,
hold your shield before you,
I will shoot hard,
I will turn you into raw meat.
You will die,
unless you yield to me
all of your wealth."

Ketil said:

"I will not yield
any of my wealth
and I will never run
away from you.
Before you hew
the shield over my breast,
let us see
how dark arrows flie."

Gusir said:

"If you do not give gold
or treasure,
you shall not ride home
with a whole heart.
Your death will come
quickly to hand,
if you go out
in the spear game."

Ketil said:

"I shall not deal
gold with Gusir,
and no more than previously
speak of peace.
It is much better
and more courageous
that I slay you
when you come here."

Afterwards he bent his bow and put the arrow to the string and shot, and so sent twelve arrows that missed. Then Gusir shot at him. Then Ketil took out his spike-headed arrow. Then Gusir took out a shaft that had a stone tip, and stepped on it. Ketil said:

"Fey is now
found the coward,
that he tramples under foot
the shaft that wrongs him."

Then they shot at each other, and no longer had regard for precious things, and the spike-headed arrow entered Gusir's breast. There he took his death. Bruni had given Gusir his stone-tipped arrows, because he was ruler of the nearest kingdom, thinking Gusir should need them, but soon thought himself wronged by these dealings. Gusir had owned the sword named Dragvendill, best of all swords. Ketil took that from Gusir's corpse and the arrows Flaug, Hremsu and Fifu. Then Ketil went to Bruni and told him what had happened. Bruni said to himself that his brother was dead. Ketil is said to have appointed Bruni over the kingdom. Later he went with Bruni to his dwelling, and they parted with many friendly words.

Nothing is said of Ketil's journey before he came home to Hrafnista. He met a farmer and asked whose ships were they that had gone to the islands. The man said there had gone the guests who would drink the funeral ale for Ketil, if they heard nothing of him. Ketil went in his ship to the islands and entered the hut, and his men grew joyful. Now the funeral ale turned into greeting ale to celebrate Ketil's return. He stayed home for three winters.

Then a ship came to the islands, and in it were Hrafnhild Brunisdaughter, and Ketil's son, who was named Grim. Ketil welcomed them. Hallbjorn said: "Why did you ask this troll to come here?" and he was very exasperated and annoyed at her coming. Hrafnhild said that would be much harm to her, - "and I will go outside immediately, but Grim, our son, shall be called Hairy-cheek after this." He was called that because one of his cheeks was hairy, and with that was he ugly. Iron had no effect on him.

Ketil asked Hrafnhild not be angry over this. She said they would see little of her anger. Afterwards she headed home and went north to land, but told Grim to be there in three winters' time, and said that she would come for him then.

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