He lay beside the body, talked to it, wept and begged the dead man to awake. The peasants arranged a bier. They wished to carry the peasant’s body down to his house. They had respect for the dead and spoke softly in his presence. When they lifted him up on the bier, Tord rose, shook the hair back from his face, and said with a voice which shook with sobs,—
“Say to Unn, who made Berg Rese a murderer, that he was killed by Tord the fisherman, whose father is a wrecker and whose mother is a witch, because he taught him that the foundation of the world is justice.”
THE LEGEND OF REOR
There was a man called Reor. He was from Fuglekarr in the parish of Svarteborg, and was considered the best shot in the county. He was baptized when King Olof rooted out the old belief, and was ever afterwards an eager Christian. He was freeborn, but poor; handsome, but not tall; strong, but gentle. He tamed young horses with but a look and a word, and could lure birds to him with a call. He dwelt mostly in the woods, and nature had great power over him. The growing of the plants and the budding of the trees, the play of the hares in the forest’s open places and the fish’s leap in the calm lake at evening, the conflict of the seasons and the changes of the weather, these were the chief events in his life. Sorrow and joy he found in such things and not in that which happened among men.
One day the skilful hunter met deep in the thickest forest an old bear and killed him with a single shot. The great arrow’s sharp point pierced the mighty heart, and he fell dead at the hunter’s feet. It was summer, and the bear’s pelt was neither close nor even, still the archer drew it off, rolled it together into a hard bundle, and went on with the bear-skin on his back.
He had not wandered far before he perceived an extraordinarily strong smell of honey. It came from the little flowering plants that covered the ground. They grew on slender stalks, had light-green, shiny leaves, which were beautifully veined, and at the top a little spike, thickly set with white flowers. Their petals were of the tiniest, but from among them pushed up a little brush of stamens, whose pollen-filled heads trembled on white filaments. Reor thought, as he went among them, that those flowers, which stood alone and unnoticed in the darkness of the forest, were sending out message after message, summons upon summons. The strong, sweet fragrance of the honey was their cry; it spread the knowledge of their existence far away among the trees and high up towards the clouds. But there was something melancholy in the heavy perfume. The flowers had filled their cups and spread their table in expectation of their winged guests, but none came. They pined to death in the deep loneliness of the dark, windless forest thicket. They seemed to wish to cry and lament that the beautiful butterflies did not come and visit them. Where the flowers grew thickest, he thought that they sang together a monotonous song. “Come, fair guests, come to-day, for to-morrow we are dead, to-morrow we lie dead on the dried leaves.”