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The Saga of Hrolf Kraki

43. Gram Versus the Sacrifice-Boar

They go to sleep then and wake up to hear such a great din outside that the it booms everywhere and the house in which they lay seemed to shake like swill.

Vogg spoke up then, "Now the boar will have come out, and it'll have been sent by King Adils to take retribution on you, and it's such a great troll that none may stand against it."

King Hrolf had a great hound who was called Gram. He was with them. He was outstanding in courage and strength. Next thing, the troll appears in the likeness of a boar, and it groans horribly like the troll it was. Bodvar sets the hound on the boar, and the dog doesn't flinch, but goes straight for the boar. A hard struggle ensues there now. Bodvar lends the hound a hand and hacks at the boar, but his sword won't bite into its back. The hound Gram is so tough he tears the ears off the boar and, along with them, all the skin of its cheeks, and all at once, the boar shot down back whence it came, and the King Adils comes to the house with many men and immediately set fire to the house. And at this, King Hrolf and his champions know that once again there will be no lack of fuel.

Bodvar said, "This will be a poor death, if we burn in here, and I'd chose rather to fall to weapons on a level field, and it will be a sorry end for King Hrolf, if that happens. I see nothing else for it than to ram the walls so hard the planks come loose and we can break out of the house then, if that works," but that was no child's play, the house was sturdily built, "and there'll be a man waiting for each of us, when we come out, but they'll soon lose heart, just as they did before."

"This is excellent advice," says King Hrolf, "and it will serve us very well."

44. Of Queen Yrsa and King Hrolf

Now they follow this advice, running at the planks so hard and crazily that they crack apart, and so they escape. The town street was covered in mail-clad warriors. A bitter battle breaks out there, and King Hrolf and his champions go fiercely forward. The enemy proves all too pathetic. They never meet any men too haughty or proud to fall before their mighty blows.

And in the middle of this hard fight, along comes King Hrolf's hawk flying out of the fortress and sits on King Hrolf's shoulder, looking for all the world like he had a great victory to boast of.

Bodvar said, "He's acting now as if he's won some fame."

The man whose job was to look after King Adils' hawks rushed to the loft where they were kept, and it seems strange to him that King Hrolf's hawk has gone, but he finds all the hawks of King Adils dead.

The battle ends with them having killed a mass of men, and none can stand against them. But King Adils has disappeared by then, and they don't know what's become of him. They beg for mercy, those still standing out of Adils' men, and they grant them that.

After this, they walk to the hall and into the hall bravely. Then Bodvar asks which bench King Hrolf will sit on.

King Hrolf answers, "On the king's own dais, that's where we'll sit, and I will take the high-seat."

King Adils did not come to the hall, and he thought he'd suffered gravely and earned great shame, with all the tricks he'd used. They sat for a while now in peace and quiet.

Then said Hjalti the Magnanimous, "Wouldn't it be a good idea for someone to go and visit our horses and see whether they're short of anything they need?"

So that's done, and as soon as he came back he said the horses had been treated shamefully and disgracefully and told how they had been treated, as was said earlier. King Hrolf didn't react to this, except to say that everything went one way with King Adils.

Queen Ysra comes into the hall now and walks up to King Hrolf and addressed him with grace and skill. He accepted her greeting well.

She said, "You have not been welcomed here as I would have wished, kinsman, nor as you should have been, and you mustn't stay here any longer, my son, in such an unwelcoming place, for there is a great mustering of troops all over Sweden, and King Adils aims to kill you all, as he has long wanted to, had he been able, but for now your luck is stronger than his spells. And now here is a silver horn which I want to give you, and inside are kept all of King Adils' best rings including the one called Sviagris, and which he values above all the others," and with that she gave him much gold and silver in other forms. This treasure was so great, all together, that one could hardly put a price on it.

Vogg was stood nearby and received much gold from King Hrolf for his trusty service.

The queen had twelve horses led forward, all red of hue except one, who was white as snow. He was for King Hrolf to ride. These were the best-proven out of all King Adils' horses, all of them fully armoured. She gave them shields and helms and armour and other good clothes, the best that could be found, since the fire had ruined their clothes and weapons. She kitted them out splendidly with everything they needed to have.

King Hrolf said, "Have you given me all the treasure I own by right and everything which belonged to my father?"

She says, "This is many times more than you had to claim, and you and your men have won much fame here. Now prepare yourselves as best you can, so that no-one can break through to you, for you will be tested yet."

After this, they mount their horses. King Hrolf speaks with fondness to his mother, and they part happily.

45. The Parting of Hrolf and King Adils

King Hrolf and his champions ride now on their way down from Uppsala, down to that place called Fyrisvellir Plains, and King Hrolf saw that a great golden ring shone in the road in front of them and it rattled as they ride over it.

"It's calling so loud," said King Hrolf, "because it's lonely," and he slips off a gold ring and drops it on the road beside that one and said, "it shall not be said that I pick up gold, even though it lies in my path, and let none of my men be so bold as to take it. For it has been thrown down here to delay our journey."

They promise him this. And at that moment, they hear the rasp of the lure-horns from all directions. They see an immeasurable army coming after them. This host is coming at a furious pace, each man spurring his horse on as fast as it can go. King Hrolf and his company keep riding right on at the same pace.

Bodvar said, "These fellows are following hard, and I'd certainly like to give them something to show for their mission, and they certainly want to meet us."

The king said, "Take no notice of that. They themselves will be delayed." He now reaches out his hand for the horn where the gold was, and Beigad rode alongside and held out the horn to him. The king took the horn and now he sowed gold all over the Fyrisvellir, so that the paths glowed like gold.

But when the pursuing army sees that, that gold glows all over the road, they leap from their saddles, competing to see who could pick it up quickest, and there was much snatching and scrapping, and the strongest got the most, and the pursuit was slowed.

And when King Adils sees this, he nearly goes out of his mind, and shouts at them with hard words and says they're picking up the little stuff, and letting the really big prize slip past them, and this foul dishonour will become known in every land, "that you should let twelve men escape from us, such an innumerable multitude as I've raked together from all the counties of Sweden."

King Adils races off ahead of them all now, as he was so furious, and the rabble followed after him.

Now as King Hrolf sees King Adils thundering along right near him, he takes the ring, Sviagris and casts it on the path.

And when King Adils sees the ring, he said, "Whoever gave this treasure to King Hrolf was more loyal to him than to me. But nonetheless, I shall enjoy it now, and not King Hrolf," and he reaches out with his spear-shaft to where the ring lay, and wanted to get it by any means, bends now low over his horse, as he thrust the spear down through the hole of the ring.

King Hrolf sees this now. He turns his horse round then and said, "Now I've made the greatest of the Swedes stoop like a swine."

But when King Adils tries to pull the spear-shaft towards himself along with the ring, that's when King Hrolf rushes at him and hacked off both his buttocks, right down to the bone, with the sword Skofnung, the best of all swords to have ever been borne in all the north.

King Hrolf spoke to King Adils and told him he'd have to bear this shame for a while, "and now you can recognise Hrolf Kraki and see who he is, this man you've been seeking so long."

King Adils is afflicted by a great loss of blood, so that he grows faint, and has to turn back, so much the worse for his foray, but King Hrolf took back Sviagris. They parted company there. It's not told that they met again. They also kill all the men who had ridden out furthest in front and risked the most. That lot didn't have long to wait for King Hrolf and his champions, and none of the champions thought themselves too good to serve them, and they didn't argue over turns, as soon as a chance presented itself.

46. Of Farmer Hrani

King Hrolf and his men go on their way now and ride the whole day nearly. And as night fell, they find a farm and came to the door. There before them stands Farmer Hrani, who offers them every hospitality and says things have not gone so very differently to how he expected, on their travels. The king confirms that and says there's no smoke in this man's eyes.

"Here are some weapons, I want to give you," says Farmer Hrani.

The king said, "These are monstrous weapons." It was a shield, a sword and a coat of mail. But King Hrolf would not take the weapons.

Hrani bristles at this, to the brink of losing his temper, and feels he's been done a great dishonour here. "You are not being so clever in this matter, King Hrolf, as you probably think you are," said Hrani, "and you are never as wise as you imagine." The farmer took great offence at this snub.

There was no chance of a night's lodging now, and they just want to ride on their way, even though the night is dark. The displeasure is plain to see in Hrani's face, and he thinks he's been vastly underrated, when they wouldn't accept gifts from him, and he does nothing to stop them riding off as they like. They ride away now, leaving him like that, and nothing was said by way of farewells.

And before they'd got very far, Bodvar Bjarki halts. He spoke thus: "Sense comes late to fools, and so it comes to me now. I fear we've not been terribly wise, for we turned down what we should have taken, and chances are we've turned down victory."

King Hrolf says, "I suspect the same, because this must have been old Odin, and he certainly was a one-eyed man."

"Let's turn back as fast as we can," says Svipdag, "and see."

They go back now, and by then both farm and farmer had disappeared.

"There's no point looking for him," says King Hrolf, "as he's an evil spirit."

They go on their way now, and nothing is told of their journey till they come to Denmark, to their own land, and they settle down quietly now.

Bodvar advised the king not to get into too many battles after that. It seemed more likely, to him, that they wouldn't be attacked much if they stayed put, but he said he was afraid he didn't know whether the king would be victorious from now on, if it was put to the test at all.

King Hrolf says, "Luck rules each man's life, not that evil spirit."

Bodvar said, "Leaving you is the last thing we'd do, if it's up to us, but all the same, I have a strong feeling that it won't be long before grave news comes to us all."

They leave the matter there, and from this expedition they earned great fame.

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