26. The Affair of Kjartan and Silksif

         We begin with the Brygjafaelers leaving the court of Earl Thorvald Long-Legs. He has gifts for each of the visitors:

Skallagrim said goodbye to Thorvald, explaining politely that while he appreciated the previous offer, he did not think it would be wise for him to stay after killing Thorvald's nephew Agnar though he was a traitor.

         On the return trip from Hvalrik to the Oddson's river, they decided to land and hunt in an uninhabited region along the coast near Connecticut territory. Secretly Poul and Skallagrim have decided that Ingjavald could use more experience, so they decided to go on a bear hunt. Poul, Skallagrim, Thorgerd, Arnor, and Ingjavald leave on the trip. Eldgrim opts to stay with his family at the camp by the boat, and Kjartan and Silksif stay with him along with the huscarl Amundi.

         Thorgerd tracks a large bear, which they find is deep in a thicket. They spread out around the brush, while Arnor volunteers to flush it out. He feels that he has something to prove, since the previous year he had been mauled by a bear on the hunt and was saved by Poul and Thorgerd (who was at that time disguised as her late brother Thorfinn). In fitting with their marriage, Thorgerd goes in with him to flush it out. Wordlessly they agree to try to drive the bear towards Ingjavald. Ingjavald fights bravely and pins the bear's paw with his spear, but he then tries to finish it with his sword and it bites and breaks his leg. The others quickly arrive and finish it off before it does more damage, though. At this point it is getting late, so they make camp there for the night and clean and dress the bear by the fire.

         Meanwhile, back at the camp, Eldgrim is spending time with his family whom he feels very protective of since their capture a few weeks prior. Kjartan and Silksif go for a walk in the woods and talk. One thing leads to another, and it is a long time before they come back.

         The next day the hunting party returns. Most of them are concerned over Ingjavald or simply triumphant over the hunt. However, Poul notices the looks which Kjartan and Silksif give to each other, though he keeps it to himself. He is aware that Aud has intended Kjartan to marry a girl in the family of Vigfus the Proud.

         The group then proceeds back to their home waters. Their first stop is at Groenholt, the homestead of Vigfus the Proud and Skallagrim's fiancee Borgny the Sharp-tongued. Vigfus prepares a feast to welcome them, but Skallagrim finds that Borgny is away investigating their future lands. Borgny's daughter Vagnhild is there, though. Over dinner Kjartan sings of their adventures in Hvalrik. After dinner, Skallagrim talks to Vagnhild and tongue-in-cheek apologizes for not getting killed -- and Vagnhild mockingly forgives him since "it wasn't for lack of trying."

         Silksif wears her necklace of false gold to the feast, and watches with interest how various members of the household react to it since it's magic shows how greedy people are. There are a number of the granddaughters who gather round her to admire it, including Ingirid Goldenhair and Hallgerd. However, it is clear that Vigfus as well as Vagnhild and others think little of it. Especially because the necklace is one of the gifts by which they judge the Earl Thorvald, opinion is divided about him as well.

         They then return to Brygjafael where they are also warmly greeted. After the initial feast, Aud has a talk with Kjartan. She has heard that he came back from Groenholt, and asks him what he thought of Vigfus' granddaughters. Kjartan tries awkwardly to avoid naming any of the granddaughter's in particular, while not saying that he dislikes them all. Aud soon discerns that his mind is on someone else, but he does not say who. Rumor quickly spreads within Brygjafael that Kjartan is in love with someone in Hvalrik, and some guess that it is the Earl's wife who seemed to act strangely towards the guests.

         The next day Silksif returns to Tjaraholt, while Skallagrim and Eldgrim go to their land nearby. Silksif discovers that Herdis died the day she left, nearly two months ago. She wears her necklace at home as well. At dinner, everyone can see that her great-uncle Ivar is obsessed with it. However, Silksif also notices that Brom is watching her intently and feels that he is trying to secretly plot something.

         Skallagrim and Eldgrim go to their lands, where they find that Borgny has directed a number of hired men to stack a huge pile of cut lumber near the shore. A bit uphill is where she feels a good site for a house would be. She gladly meets Eldgrim and Busla, gives Skallagrim a brief peck but keeps propriety by leaving shortly thereafter. She has set that she would be married only once a proper home was built.

         Over the next three weeks, plots deepen at the different homes. Skallagrim and Eldgrim are hard at work building a longhoouse, aided by three huscarls of Borgny's. At Brygjafael, work resumes on the farm. Poul begins to rebuild his forges based on what he learned in Camrik. Also, rumors spread about Kjartan. After a few days, Aud privately speaks to her son Poul and forcefully demands he tell her who Kjartan is in love with. Poul reluctantly admits that he knows, and tells her that it is Silksif. He defends Kjartan, saying that his marriage to Amagansa was also frowned upon. Aud somewhat cuttingly replies that while there was nothing wrong with Maushop, the results of that marriage were not to be emulated. For the moment, Aud does nothing about it except to keep Kjartan busy with work on the farm.

         At Tjaraholt, Silksif wonders about what to do about the necklace. Ivar has quietly tried to buy it from her, though obviously offering far less than what he thinks it is worth (4 cows). Silksif decides to talk to her mother Ingrid about it, going for a walk to gather herbs late one afternoon. She tells her about Ivar's offer, and also about the enchantment. They agree that selling it to him would be disastrous if he found out. However, they are interrupted when Silksif hears a horse approaching them from in the woods. Silksif is unnerved and they immediately run for the house. They arrive safely, seeing only indistinctly the figure of a horseman who stopped at the edge of the wood.

         Three weeks later, the families gather for Skallagrim and Borgny's wedding. It takes place at Skallagrim's new house. All of Groenholt is there, of course. Skallagrim invites various members of Brygjafael, Tjaraholt, and Syfjaourholur to fill out his side of the wedding party.

[...various events...]

         The next day, the various parties are returning to their homes. Kjartan and Silksif have snuck off to be alone in the forest. They hear Ingjavald riding off, but then Kjartan notices that someone else rides off after him, keeping off the road. They decide that they should do something about this, and so they slip back to the house without being obvious about it. Poul, Thorgerd, and Arnor decide to join them in investigating this. Kjartan suspects Brom is going to ambush Ingjavald.

         They catch up with Ingjavald stopped along the road, where he is tending to his horse which threw a shoe. He is fine, and Poul helps him with his horseshoe which was missing nails that Ingjavald couldn't find along the road where it happened.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Mon Jan 6 18:19:11 2003