Chapter II. The Gifts of Two Heroes.
I will not say that my steps did not falter when we came to whence we could see the mound. But it was lonely and still and silent; no shape of warrior waited our coming.
“Almost do I fear to go nearer,” said Kolgrim.
“Put fear away, comrade,” said I; “we shall fare ill if we turn our backs now.”
“Where you go I go,” he answered, “though I am afraid.”
“The next best thing to not being afraid is to be afraid and not to show it,” I said then, comforting myself also with a show of wisdom at least. “Maybe fear is the worst thing we have to face.”
So we went on more swiftly, and at last were on the tongue of land on the tip of which the mound stood. Still, since we could not see the open doorway, which was towards the water, the place seemed not so terrible. Yet I thought that by this time we should have seen Sigurd, or maybe heard his voice from the tomb. So now I dared to call softly:
“Jarl Sigurd, here is one, a friend’s son, who will learn what you will.”
My voice seemed to fill all the ring of mountains with echoes, but there was no answer. All was still again when the last voice came back from the hillsides.
Then I went nearer yet, and passed to the waterside, where I could look slantwise across the doorway. And again I called, and waited for an answer that did not come.
“It seems that I must go even to the door, and maybe into the mound,” I said, whispering.
“Not inside,” said Kolgrim, taking hold of my arm.
But I had grown bolder with the thought that the hero seemed not angry, and now I had set my heart on winning the sword of which the jarl had told me, and I thought that I dared go even inside the tomb to speak with Sigurd.
“Bide here, and I will go at least to the door,” said I.
So I stepped boldly before it, standing on the heap of newly-fallen earth that had slipped from across it. The posts and lintel of the door were of stone slabs such as lay everywhere on the hillsides, and I stood so close that I could touch them. The doorway was not so high that I could see into it without stooping, for it was partly choked with the fallen earth, and I bent to look in. But I could only see for a few feet into the passage, as I looked from light to darkness.
“Ho, Jarl Sigurd! what would you? Why have you opened your door thus?”
Very hollow my voice sounded, and that was all.
“Sigurd of Orkney—Sigurd, son of Rognvald—I am the son of Vemund your friend. Speak to me!”
There was no answer. A bit of earth crumbled from the broken side of the mound and made me start, but I saw nothing. So I stepped away from the door and back to my comrade, who had edged nearer the place, though his face showed that he feared greatly.
“I think that the mound has been rifled,” I said. “Sigurd would have us know it and take revenge.”