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Old Norse - Hrolfs saga kraka

The Saga of Hrolf kraki: Böðvarr encounters a strange man

Síðan fór Böðvarr leið sína til Hleiðargarðs. Hann kemr til konungs atsetu. Böðvarr leiðir þegar hest sinn á stall hjá konungs hestum hinum beztu ok spyrr øngvan at; gekk síðan inn í höll, ok var þar fátt manna.

Hann sezk útarliga, ok sem hann hefr setit þar nökkra hríð, heyrir hann þrausk nökkut útar í hornit í einhverjum stað. Böðvarr lítr þangat ok sér, at mannshönd kemr upp ór mikilli beinahrúgu, er þar lá; höndin var svört mjök. Böðvarr gengr þangat ok spyrr, hverr þar væri í beinahrúgunni. Þá var honum svarat ok heldr óframliga:

‘Höttr heiti ek, bokki sæll.’

‘Því ertu hér,’ spyrr Böðvarr, ‘eða hvat gørir þú?’

Höttr svarar: ‘Ek gøri mér skjaldborg, bokki sæll.’

Böðvarr segir: ‘Vesall ertu þinnar skjaldborgar.’

Böðvarr þrífr til hans ok hnykkir honum upp ór beinahrúgunni. Höttr kvað þá hátt við ok mælti:

‘Nú viltu bana mér! Gør eigi þetta, svá sem ek hefi nú vel um búizk, en þú hefr nú rofit í sundr skjaldborg mína, ok hafða ek nú gørt hana svá háva útan at mér, at hon hefr hlíft mér við öllum höggum ykkar, svá ekkert högg hefr komit á mik lengi, en ekki var hon þó enn svá búin sem ek ætlaða hon skyldi vera.’

Böðvarr mælti: ‘Ekki muntu nú fá skjaldborgina gørða lengr.’

Höttr mælti, ‘Skaltu nú bana mér, bokki sæll?’

Böðvarr bað hann ekki hafa hátt, tók hann upp síðan ok bar hann út ór höllinni ok til vatns nökkurs sem þar var í nánd, ok gáfu fáir at þessu gaum. Hann þváði hann upp allan.

Síðan gekk Böðvarr til þess rums sem hann hafði áðr tekit, ok leiddi eptir sér Hött ok setr hann þar hjá sér.

En hann er svá hræddr at skelfr á honum leggr ok liðr, en þó þykkisk hann skilja at þessi maðr vill hjálpa sér.

Eptir þat kveldar ok drífa menn at höllunni ok sjá Hrólfs kappar at Höttr var settr í bekk upp ok þykir þeim sá maðr hafa gört sik œrit djarfan, er þetta hefr til tekit.

Illt tillit hefr Höttr, þá hann sér kunningja sína, því hann hefr illt eitt af þeim reynt; hann vill lifa gjarna ok fara aptr í beinahrúgu sína, en Böðvarr heldr honum, svá at hann náir ekki í burt at fara, því hann þóttisk ekki jafnberr fyrir höggum þeira, ef hann næði þangat at komask.

Hirðmenn hafa nú sama vanða ok kasta fyrst smám beinum um þvert gólfit til Böðvars ok Hattar. Böðvarr lætr sem hann sjái eigi þetta. Höttr er svá hræddr, at hann tekr eigi á mat né drykk, ok þykir honum þá ok þá sem hann muni vera lostinn.

Anthony Faulkes (ed.), A New Introduction to Old Norse. Part II: Reader (London 2002), pp. 3–11.

Then Böðvarr went on his way to Hleiðargarðr. He arrives at the king’s residence. Böðvarr immediately leads his horse to a stable beside the best horses of the king and asks no-one about [it]; then he went into the hall and there were few people [there].

He sits down at the far end of the hall and when he has sat there for some time, he hears a certain rummaging noise further away in the corner in a particular place. Böðvarr looks in that direction and sees that a man’s hand comes up out of a large bone-pile which was lying there; the hand was very black. Böðvarr goes over there and asks who might be there in the bone-pile. He was answered then, and rather timidly.

‘I’m called Höttr, good fellow.’

‘Why are you here?’ asks Böðvarr, ‘or what are you doing?’

Höttr answers: ‘I’m making myself a shield-fortress, good fellow.’

Böðvarr says: ‘You and your shield-fortress are pathetic.’

Böðvarr grabs at him and pulls him up out of the bone-pile. Höttr then cried out loudly and said:

‘Now you want to kill me! Don’t do that, as I have now protected myself well but you have just broken apart my shield-fortress and I had just made it so high around me that it has protected me from all your blows, so that no blow has landed on me for a long time, but still it was not yet constructed as I intended it should be.’

Böðvarr said: ‘You will no longer get the shield-fortess made.’

Höttr said: ‘Will you kill me now, good fellow?’

Böðvarr told him not to be so loud, took him away then and carried him out of the hall to a certain lake that was nearby and few people paid any heed to this. He washed him thoroughly all over.

Then Böðvarr went to the seat he had previously taken and led Höttr after him and sat him there beside him. But he is so afraid that [every] bone and joint in him trembles; nonetheless he thinks he can tell that this man wants to help him. After that, evening draws in and men make their way to the hall and Hrólfr’s champions see that Höttr was seated up at the bench and it seems to them that the man who has done this has behaved in a daring enough way. Höttr has a displeased look when he sees his acquaintances because he has only experienced bad from them; he wants very much to live and go back to his bone-pile, but Böðvarr holds him so that he can’t manage to get away because he [Höttr] felt he was not as exposed to their blows if he could manage to reach there [the bone-pile]. The retainers now resume the same practice and first of all throw small bones across the floor towards Böðvarr and Höttr. Böðvarr behaves as if he doesn’t see this. Höttr is so afraid that he takes neither food nor drink and thinks at every moment he will be hit.