Meanwhile Eric and Gudruda came to the house and there Asmund greeted them well, for he was troubled in his heart about his daughter, and very glad to know her living, seeing that men had but now begun to search for her, because of the snow and the darkness.
Now Gudruda told her tale, but not all of it, and Asmund bade Eric to the house. Then one asked about Swanhild, and Eric said that he had seen nothing of her, and Asmund was sad at this, for he loved Swanhild. But as he told all men to go and search, an old wife came and said that Swanhild was in the kitchen, and while the carline spoke she came into the hall, dressed in white, very pale, and with shining eyes and fair to see.
“Where hast thou been, Swanhild?” said Asmund. “I thought certainly thou wast perishing with Gudruda in the snow, and now all men go to seek thee while the witchlights burn.”
“Nay, foster-father, I have been to the Temple,” she answered, lying. “So Gudruda has but narrowly escaped the snow, thanks be to Brighteyes yonder! Surely I am glad of it, for we could ill spare our sweet sister,” and, going up to her, she kissed her. But Gudruda saw that her eyes burned like fire and felt that her lips were cold as ice, and shrank back wondering.
HOW ASMUND BADE ERIC TO HIS YULE-FEAST
Now it was supper-time and men sat at meat while the women waited upon them. But as she went to and fro, Gudruda always looked at Eric, and Swanhild watched them both. Supper being over, people gathered round the hearth, and, having finished her service, Gudruda came and sat by Eric, so that her sleeve might touch his. They spoke no word, but there they sat and were happy. Swanhild saw and bit her lip. Now, she was seated by Asmund and Bjoern his son.
“Look, foster-father,” she said; “yonder sit a pretty pair!”
“That cannot be denied,” answered Asmund. “One may ride many days to see such another man as Eric Brighteyes, and no such maid as Gudruda flowers between Middalhof and London town, unless it be thou, Swanhild. Well, so her mother said that it should be, and without doubt she was foresighted at her death.”
“Nay, name me not with Gudruda, foster-father; I am but a grey goose by thy white swan. But these shall be well wed and that will be a good match for Eric.”
“Let not thy tongue run on so fast,” said Asmund sharply. “Who told thee that Eric should have Gudruda?”
“None told me, but in truth, having eyes and ears, I grew certain of it,” said Swanhild. “Look at them now: surely lovers wear such faces.”
Now it chanced that Gudruda had rested her chin on her hand, and was gazing into Eric’s eyes beneath the shadow of her hair.
“Methinks my sister will look higher than to wed a simple yeoman, though he is large as two other men,” said Bjoern with a sneer. Now Bjoern was jealous of Eric’s strength and beauty, and did not love him.