Romsdal the sixth part: In which Thorstein steals the robber’s short-sword.
As the goat upon the mountain,
As the long-ship on the wave-road,
As the sword in battle swinging
So the poet’s swift in speaking.
First, to prove the robber’s slumber,
As a mouse at midnight scraping
Thorstein made a sound, and listened …
And he stirred and dreamed of ambush.
Then again to prove his slumber
Thorstein made a louder clatter;
Less he stirred, the long-haired sleeper,
And he dreamed of red wounds flowing.
Then he crossed the hall more boldly,
And he struck a blow like thunder
On the the bedpost of the sleeper,
Who lay still, and dreamed of grave-worms.
Had he left the bed in darkness,
Stol’n to safety? Thorstein wondered.
So again he stirred the fire-up,
By its low light saw him lying.
Thorstein had not seen his equal –
Taller, stronger than old Ketil,
In a silk shirt of Samarcand,
Hair like gold embroidery glistening.
As to take a crown of silver,
Seven year’s work of a master,
And to cast it in the ocean,
So it seemed, to kill this stranger.
But the words of grey-haired Ketil
Followed Thorstein to the forest,
From the Fjord in grey-cliff’s shadow,
From the grass-capped hall in Romsdal.
“Greater honor to our family
Would a man be great of spirit,
Not a man like little Thorstein
Who knows sword-play like a woman.”
Thorstein reached to take the short-sword,
Grasped the sword made sharp for slaughter,
Tempered with the blood of strangers
By the man who lay beside it,
Clenched the hilt and raised his hand up
As a priest would, or a murderer:
Brought it down and broke his breastbone,
Stabbed the sword straight through the sleeper.
Thorstein’s sword-thrust tore through silk shirt,
Thrilled through heart-chest, struck the bed-board.
All at once he felt five fingers
Seize his arm and pull him upward.
Illustration by Christian Krohg