Eirik the Red - a short extract
... Thorgeir Vifilsson found himself a wife, marrying Arnora the daughter of Einar of Laugarbrekka, the son of Sigmund, the son of Ketil Thistle who had settled Thistilfjord. The second of Einar's daughters was called Hallveig, whom Thorbiorn Vifilsson married, getting land at Laugarbrekka, at Hellisvellir, along with her. Thorbjorn moved house there and became a man of great note. He was a good farmer and had a fine estate. His daughter, Gudrid by name, was a most beautiful woman and distinguished in everything she did and was.
Living at Arnarstapi was a man by the name of Orm, who had a wife named Halldis. Orm was a good farmer and a close friend of Thorbjorn's, and Gudrid was there a good long time with him as his foster-child.
Living at Thorgeirsfell was a man by the name of Thorgeir. He was prosperous and in his day had been freed from slavery. He had a son named Einar, a handsome, accomplished sort of person, who made his living by trading overseas, and had done well at it. He spent his winters in Iceland and Norway alternately. One autumn, when Einar was in Iceland, he set off to sell his wares in Snæfellsnes. He came to Arnarstapi, where he accepted hospitality from Orm, for they were on very friendly terms together. Einar's goods were taken into a storehouse where he unpacked them, showed them to Orm and his household, and invited him to help himself to anything he liked. Orm accepted, vowing that Einar was a good trader and one of fortune's favourites.
As they were busying themselves with the wares a woman walked past
the storehouse door. "Who could she be," Einar asked Orm, "that
lovely woman who walked past the doorway there? I have not seen her
"That is my foster-child Gudrid," replied Orm, "Franklin Thorbjorn's daughter from Laugarbrekka."
"She must be a fine match," said Einar. "Do a lot of men come asking for her?"
"Yes, naturally she has been asked for," Orm told him, "but it is the general opinion that she will be rather particular in her choice of a husband, as will her father too."
"'All the same," said Einar, "she is the woman I mean to try for, so I would like you to put a case for me to her father, and make an effort to see that it succeeds, for I shall repay you with the full weight of my friendship. Master Thorbjorn must surely see that such family ties would suit us both admirably. He is a man of high reputation and great estate, yet his means I am told are diminishing fast; whereas I and my father with me are short of neither land nor money, and it would do Thorbjorn a world of good if this marriage could be arranged."
"I regard myself as your friend," said Orm, "but I am not at all eager to put forward this proposal, for Thorbjorn is proud man, and ambitious too."
Einar was emphatic that nothing would satisfy him but for his proposal to be put to Thorbjorn, so Orm agreed he should have his way. Einar then travelled back south until he reached home again.
Some time later Thorbjorn held a harvest feast as was his custom,
for he was a princely sort of man. Orm attended from Arnarstapi,
together with a good many other friends of Thorbjorn's. Orm found an
opportunity to talk to Thorbjorn. He told him how Einar from
Thorgeirsfell had visited him recently, and what a promising sort of
man he was, then went on to raise the question of marriage on Einar's
behalf, claiming it would prove a good thing for everybody. "It could
well prove of great assistance to you, Franklin, particularly from a
financial point of view."
"I did not expect such words from you", replied Thorbjorn, "that I should marry a daughter of mine to the son of a slave. You must be convinced my money is running out, and since you consider her worth so poor a marriage she will not be going back home with you."
After this Orm returned home, and all the other guests to their respective households. But Gudrid stayed behind with her father and spent the winter in her own home. Then in the spring Thorbjorn sent out invitations to his friends, and a fine feast was prepared. A lot of people attended. In the course of the feast Thorbjorn called for silence, then spoke as follows: "I have lived here a long while and had strong proof of men's goodwill and affection for me. I believe we have all got on well together, but now my affairs are taking a turn for the worse, though so far my estate has not been held a dishonourable one. Now I prefer to uproot my home rather than destroy my good name, and will sooner leave the country than bring shame on my family. I plan to fall back on the promise of my friend Eirik the Red, which he made when we parted from each other in Breidafjord, and if things go according to plan I mean to go to Greenland this summer."
Thorbjorn gave presents to his guests, the feast came to an end, and everyone returned to their home. Thorbjorn sold his lands and bought himself a ship which had been laid up in Hraunhafnaros. Thirty men decided to undertake this voyage with him, among whom were Orm from Arnarstapi, together with his wife, and those of Thorbjorn's friends who could not bring themselves to part from him. In due course they put to sea. As they set off the weather was fine, but once they were out at sea the good wind dropped; they were caught in a great storm, and made slow progress the whole summer through. Next sickness broke out in their company, and Orm died, as did Halldis his wife, and half their ship's company. A big sea got up, and they suffered great hardship and misery of all kinds, yet with it all reached Herjolfsnes in Greenland right at the start of winter. Living there at Herjolfsnes was a man by the name of Thorkel, a man of many skills and an excellent farmer. He took Thorbjorn into his house for the winter with his entire crew, and right royally he entertained them. ...