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“ Far north in the Salten Fiord,
By rapine, fire, and sword,
Lives the Viking, Raud the Strong;
All the Godoe Isles belong
To him and his heathen horde."
Thus went on speaking
Sigurd the Bishop.
“A warlock, a wizard is he,
And lord of the wind and the sea;
And whichever way he sails,
He has ever favouring gales,
By his craft in sorcery:
Here the sign of the cross made
Devoutly King Olaf.
"With rites that we both abhor,
He worships Odin and Thor;
So it cannot yet be said,
That all the old gods are dead,
And the warlocks are no more,”
Flushing with anger
Said Sigurd the Bishop.
Then King Olaf cried aloud:
“I will talk with this mighty Raud,
And along the Salten Fiord
Preach the Gospel with my sword,
Or be brought back in my shroud!”
So northward from Drontheim
Sailed King Olaf !
XI.-BISHOP SIGURD AT SALTEN FIORD,
Loud the angry wind was wailing
As King Olaf's ships came sailing
Northward out of Drontheim haven
To the mouth of Salten Fiord.
Though the flying sea-spray drenches
Fore and aft the rowers' benches,
Not a single heart is craven
Of the champions there on board.
All without the Fiord was quiet,
But within it storm and riot,
Such as on his Viking cruises
Raud the Strong was wont to ride. And the sea through all its tide-ways Swept the reeling vessels sideways, As the leaves are swept through sluices,
When the flood-gates open wide,
"'Tis the warlock! 'tis the demon
Raud !” cried Sigurd to the seamen;
“ But the Lord is not affrighted
By the witchcraft of his foes.”
To the ship's bow he ascended,
By his choristers attended,
Round him were the tapers lighted,
And the sacred incense rose.
On the bow stood Bishop Sigurd,
In his robes, as one transfigured,
And the Crucifix he planted
High amid the rain and mist.
Then with holy water sprinkled
All the ship; the mass-bells tinkled;
Loud the monks around him chanted,
Loud he read the Evangelist.
As into the Fiord they darted,
On each side the water parted;
Down a path like silver molten
Steadily rowed King Olaf's ships;
Steadily burned all night the tapers,
And the White Christ through the vapours
Gleamed across the Fiord of Salten,
As through John's Apocalypse, ---
Till at last they reached Raud's dwelling
On the little isle of Gelling;
Not a guard was at the doorway,
Not a glimmer of light was seen.
But at anchor, carved and gilded,
Lay the dragon-ship he builded;
'Twas the grandest ship in Norway,
With its crest and scales of green.
Up the stairway, softly creeping,
To the loft where Raud was sleeping,
With their fists they burst asunder
Bolt and bar that held the door. Drunken with sleep and ale they found him, Dragged him from his bed and bound him, While he stared with stupid wonder,
At the look and garb they wore. Then King Olaf said: “O Sea-King ! Little time have we for speaking, Choose between the good and evil:
Be baptized, or thou shalt die!"
But in scorn the heathen scoffer
Answered: “I disdain thine offer;
Neither fear I God nor Devil;
Thee and thy Gospel I defy!"
Then between his jaws distended,
When his frantic struggles ended,
Through King Olaf's horn an adder,
Touched by fire, they forced to glide.
Sharp his tooth was as an arrow,
As he gnawed through bone and marrow;
But without a groan or shudder,
Raud the Strong blaspheming died.
Then baptized they all that region,
Swarthy Lap and fair Norwegian,
Far as swims the salmon, leaping,
Up the streams of Salten Fiord.
In their temples Thor and Odin
Lay in dust and ashes trodden,
As King Olaf, onward sweeping,
Preached the Gospel with his sword.
Then he took the carved and gilded
Dragon-ship that Raud had builded,
And the tiller single-handed,
Grasping, steered into the main. Southward sailed the sea-gulls o'er him, Southward sailed the ship that bore him, Till at Drontheim haven landed
Olaf and his crew again.
XII.-KING OLAF'S CHRISTMAS.
Ar Drontheim, Olaf the King.
Heard the bells of Yule-tide ring,
As he sat in his banquet-hall,
Drinking the nut-brown ale,
With his bearded Berserks hale
Three days his Yule-tide feasts
He held with Bishops and Priests,
And his horn lilled up to the brim;
But the ale was never too strong,
Nor the Saga-man's tale too long,
O'er his drinking horn, the sign
He made of the Cross divine,
As he drank, and muttered his prayers;
But the Berserks evermore
Made the sign of the Hammer of Thor
The gleams of the fire-light dance
Upon helmet and hauberk and lance,
And laugh in the eyes of the King;
And he cries to Halfred the Scald,
Gray-bearded, wrinkled, and bald,
Sing me a song divine,
With a sword in every line,
And this shall be thy reward.”
And he loosened the belt at his waist,
And in front of the singer placed
Quern-biter of Hakon the Good,
Wherewith at a stroke he hewed
The millstone through and through, And Foot-breadth of Thoralf the Strong, Were neither so broad nor so long,
Nor so true.”
Then the Scald took his harp and sang,
And loud through the music rang
The sound of that shining word;
And the harp-strings a clangour made,
As if they were struck with the blade
Of a sword.
And the Berserks round about
Broke forth into a shout
That made the rafters ring;
They smote with their fists on the board,
And shouted, Long live the Sword,
And the King !"
But the King said, “O my son,
I miss the bright word in one
Of thy measures and thy rhymes.”
And Halfred the Scald replied,
· In another 'twas multiplied
Then King Olaf raised the hilt
Of iron, cross-shaped and gilt,
And said, “Do not refuse;
Count well the gain and the loss,
Thor's hammer or Christ's cross:
And Halfred the Scald said, “This
In the name of the Lord I kiss,
Who on it was crucified !"
And a shout went round the board,
“In the name of Christ the Lord,
Who died !"
Then over the waste of snows
The noonday sun uprose,
Through the driving mists revealed,
Like the lifting of the Host,
By incense-clouds almost
On the shining wall a vast
And shadowy cross was cast
From the hilt of the lifted sword,
And in foaming cups of ale
The Berserks drank “ Was-hael
To the Lord !"
XIII.—THE BUILDING OF THE LONG SERPENT.
THORBERG SKAFTING, master-builder,
In his ship-yard by the sea,
Whistled, saying, "Twould bewilder
Any man but Thorberg Skafting,
Any man but me!"
Near him lay the Dragon stranded,
Built of old by Raud the Strong,
And King Olaf had commanded
He should build another Dragon,
Twice as large and long.
Therefore whistled Thorberg Skafting,
As he sat with half-closed eyes,
And his head turned sideways, drafting
That new vessel for King Olaf
Twice the Dragon's size.
Round him busily hewed and hammered
Mallet huge and heavy axe;
Workmen laughed and sang and clamoured;
Whirred the wheels, that into rigging
Spun the shining flax !
All this tumult heard the master,
It was music to his ear;
Fancy whispered all the faster,
“Men shall hear of Thorberg Skafting
For a hundred year!"